Anger in Beirut’s southern suburbs over increased thefts and shootings

People walk past Lebanese police patrol cars in Souk Sabra in the southern suburbs of the Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP file photo)
People walk past Lebanese police patrol cars in Souk Sabra in the southern suburbs of the Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 18 April 2022

Anger in Beirut’s southern suburbs over increased thefts and shootings

People walk past Lebanese police patrol cars in Souk Sabra in the southern suburbs of the Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP file photo)
  • Machine guns and rockets used in clashes, says one resident

BEIRUT: The lack of security in Beirut’s southern suburbs has led to an increasing number of complaints and outcries from people, with armed robberies taking place in broad daylight also on the rise.

A security source linked “the poor security conditions in Beirut’s southern suburbs to the deepening of the economic crisis.”

However, the source told Arab News that the main reason for these crimes was the loss of the state’s reputation.

A security source said there were armed robberies of motorcycles every day after robbers previously used to steal them at night.

Saleh said he was going to work in Haret Hreik and had parked his motorcycle on the side of the road due to heavy traffic. Someone pointed a knife at him, forcing him to leave his vehicle, before fleeing the area.

Thieves and gunmen have become bolder in carrying out their armed operations without any concern for security or party officials in Beirut’s southern suburbs, which are a Hezbollah stronghold and centers for the Amal Movement.

The suburbs have had security checkpoints since the 2014 attacks by Daesh suicide bombers.

People hear armed clashes every night without knowing the reasons or the identity of the shooters. They only know what happens through unsubstantiated information circulating on social media.

Reports from the Internal Security Forces showed that, after each raid by thieves or gunmen in these suburbs, most perpetrators were “wanted with some of them committing their crime because of dealing or using drugs.”

According to unofficial figures, the region is home to more than a million Lebanese citizens. Some migrated from the countryside to the capital in the second half of the 20th century.

Some are residents of towns included in Beirut’s southern suburbs, while others moved there due to apartments having cheaper rents than in the capital.

Hayy Al-Sullom is one of the poorest neighborhoods and is home to the marginalized and wanted individuals who use political parties for protection.

But having influence also extends to the owners of electric generators, internet providers, and owners of cable television. In March, armed clashes between two groups took place in Bi'r al-Abed due to one encroaching on the other's areas of influence.

Two weeks earlier, there were clashes in Laylaki at night due to fights between electric generator owners over clients. A month earlier, there were armed clashes between internet providers in Choueifat.

In the past few days, the drawing and firing of weapons have become easier. A fight broke out between two groups during a suhoor meal and shisha.

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, concerned by public complaints ahead of upcoming elections, issued a joint statement recently about the increase of thefts, armed robberies, and breaches of security in different areas of Beirut’s southern suburbs to the “extent of spiraling out of control and posing a threat to life and safety.”

They asked representatives from security and military agencies to “strictly handle all people breaching security,” stressing that they would not defend anyone implicated.

The security source stressed: “Official security agencies are present in the southern suburbs, pursuing the wanted people and, in some cases, Hezbollah facilitates our mission and might lead us to the hiding place of a wanted person. While in some others, we do not inform Hezbollah that we will raid a specific place in the southern suburbs.”

Political agreements have given Hezbollah’s security committees the last word in the southern suburbs in all security-related matters.

On whether this meant that Hezbollah was protecting wanted people when it knew their hiding places, the source said: “Those thugs have reached a level of carelessness. They no longer fear Hezbollah.”

“Those thugs do not read or respond to statements,” the source added, when asked about the night-time shootings and daytime thefts despite Hezbollah and the Amal Movement’s decision to stop covering for anyone involved.

Zeinab, who lives in Al-Mureijah near Hayy Al-Sullom, said she feared her children would be unsafe if they wanted to leave the house at night and come back late.

She said machine guns - and even rockets - were used during clashes that erupted over trivial matters sometimes.

Two weeks ago, two armed robberies took place in the afternoon. The first was in a store for money transfers. Two people on a motorcycle broke into the shop and stole $8,000 from a client before fleeing. It was revealed they had been previously watching him.

Another gunman entered a smartphone store during the day and stole a client’s purse, then shot the shop's owner for trying to stop him, injuring his hand.

 


Saudi Arabia, Egypt hold talks on increasing investment

Saudi Arabia, Egypt hold talks on increasing investment
Updated 8 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Egypt hold talks on increasing investment

Saudi Arabia, Egypt hold talks on increasing investment
  • The meeting followed the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Egypt,

CAIRO: A delegation from the Saudi National Real Estate Committee has held talks with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones in Egypt on how to boost investment cooperation between the two countries.

The talks were led by Mohamed Abdullah Abdel Aziz Al-Murshed, who chairs the Saudi committee, and Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, CEO of the Egyptian investment authority. Also present were Tariq Shukri, who chairs Egypt’s real estate development chamber, and representatives of 27 leading Saudi companies in the fields of real estate development, industry, agriculture and building materials.

The meeting followed the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Egypt, on the sidelines of which 14 investment agreements were signed between the two nations, according to a press release.

Abdel-Wahab stressed the “importance of strengthening investment relations between the two countries, especially in light of what the current period is witnessing in providing unprecedented support to the private sector, and encouraging Arab and foreign companies to pump more investment into the Egyptian market, including the construction sector.”

He said the sector was “one of the main pillars of the national projects being implemented, such as the Suez Canal axis, and fourth generation cities such as the Administrative Capital, New Alamein and others, which aim to create smart cities based on electronic services and renewable energy, in addition to implementing a huge network of roads and bridges to connect national projects and new cities.”

The meeting looked at ways to enhance cooperation by exploiting the competitive advantages of Egypt as a destination for investment in the region, and reviewing the investment opportunities available.

It also highlighted the importance of strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.

Abdel-Wahab said the investment authority was keen to attract more Saudi investment in Egypt by intensifying communication with major companies and introducing the Saudi business community to the latest developments there.


Ukrainians in Gaza describe shared experience of homeland and Palestinian struggle

Ukrainians in Gaza describe shared experience of homeland and Palestinian struggle
Updated 16 min 52 sec ago

Ukrainians in Gaza describe shared experience of homeland and Palestinian struggle

Ukrainians in Gaza describe shared experience of homeland and Palestinian struggle
  • Ukrainian local community in Gaza highlight similar struggles civilians face in the Russian occupation and Israeli occupation

LONDON: There are around 830 Ukrainian-born people living in Gaza, the largest population of foreigners living in the blockaded coastal zone, according to community leaders.

While for decades, their families in Ukraine have feared for safety in the Gaza Strip, these expats are now also fear for their families’ safety in Ukraine.

Natalya Hassoumi, a endocrinologist in Beit Lahia, was frequently unable to contact her family in Ukraine for days at a time while airstrikes targeted the Palestinian territory.

Now, she has not heard from her parents and siblings in Russian-occupied Kherson for three weeks.

“I never thought that war could happen in Ukraine, no food, no electricity … Gaza and Ukraine have the same problems now,” she told the Guardian.

The Soviet Union was a major supporter of the Palestinian cause, offering scholarships and business visas to people from West Bank and Gaza for decades, according to Hassoumi.

Many of those ties remained after Ukraine declared independence in 1991.

The vast majority of Ukrainians in Gaza are women who met their Palestinian husbands while studying at Ukrainian universities.

Approximately 120 Gaza families with ties to Ukraine were evacuated during the 11-day war last May between Israeli forces and Palestinian militant groups, which killed 256 people in Gaza and 14 people in Israel.

However, less than a year later, Viktoria Saidam and her husband Ibrahim have decided to seek refuge with Ibrahim's parents in the southern Gaza Strip, where the population suffers from electricity shortages, polluted water and political turmoil, according to the Guardian report.

Natalya Mabhouh has lived in Gaza since 1997. Her mother, sister are still in her home town of Kharkiv.

“When I came to Gaza the economic situation was good, there was peace, but we got used to wars and escalation since then. This has been a huge shock. Russians and Ukrainians are like one people … I still don’t understand how this could happen,” the hairdresser said to the Guardian.

In general, the Palestinian society have supported Russia over Ukraine, viewing it as a proxy superpower struggle with the US, Israel’s most important ally.However, neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority has taken a public position on the Russian invasion.

The Russian invasion has also heightened tensions between Gaza's Ukrainian and Russian-speaking communities.

Many local Ukrainians were upset after a pro-Moscow demonstration was held in March.

In March, many local Ukrainians were upset after a group of Russians held a pro-Moscow demonstration, causing many long lived friendships to end.“It is really difficult,” said Hassoumi. “My mother is Ukrainian and my father is Russian and suddenly people are not talking to me. I feel like many people don’t care about the details, but it’s an occupation, like the Israelis.”

The Ukrainian community in Gaza remains worried about the prospects of both their homeland and their adopted home.Ashraf Al-Nimr, a leader of the local Ukrainian community, told the Guardian: “We built a life here, so despite everything we will stay”.

He says that 15 of his wife’s family members in Mariupol have gone missing since Russia’s siege began. “We can help by giving people in Ukraine instructions on how to deal with war, how to hide, and raising money. Any way we can help, we will,” he said.


Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn
Updated 27 June 2022

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn
  • Country’s anti-torture unit lacks govt budget, laws and courts ‘ineffective’

LONDON: Lebanese authorities must protect people from torture and ill-treatment in detention, a group of organizations including Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The appeal came on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at HRW, said: “Despite an improvement to Lebanon’s anti-torture framework on paper, torture remains prevalent, and accountability for torture and ill-treatment is elusive.

“Lebanon needs to show that it is serious about combating torture, and it should start by moving forward the many torture complaints that have been languishing before the judiciary without effective investigations.”

In 2019, 44-year-old Hassan Al-Dika died in custody reportedly as a result of torture. An HRW investigation found that judicial authorities failed to investigate Al-Dika’s allegations of torture before his death.

They had also tasked the same security agency that Al-Dika accused of torture with investigating his claims.

And in the case of actor Ziad Itani, who was accused and later exonerated of spying for Israel, Lebanese justice authorities have yet to take action regarding his claims of torture at the hands of State Security officials.

The Lebanese Parliament passed a law criminalizing torture in 2017. Two years later the government appointed five members to the National Preventative Mechanism against Torture.

But the unit has yet to be allocated a budget to allow the fulfillment of its mandate.

“The Lebanese authorities should promptly and impartially investigate all complaints of torture, allocate a sufficient budget to allow the torture prevention unit to get to work, and bring the anti-torture law in line with international standards,” Majzoub said.

Torture remains prevalent in Lebanon, despite complaints regularly being filed under the 2017 law.

The HRW warned that the 2017 law fails to abide by Lebanon’s obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, because it fails to criminalize cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.


Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday
Updated 27 June 2022

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

CAIRO: Bahraini Royal Court says Egyptian President to visit kingdom on Tuesday, will hold talks with King, the state-run news agency said.  

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will receive President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and his accompanying delegation upon his arrival in Bahrain tomorrow, Bahrain news agency said. 

During  the visit, the leaders will hold talks related to bilateral relations, in addition to the latest developments on the regional, Arab and international arenas.


Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions
Updated 27 June 2022

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

KHARTOUM: Sudan said Monday it will recall its ambassador to Addis Ababa for “consultations” following accusations that the Ethiopian army executed seven captured Sudanese soldiers and a civilian.
“In an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives,” the Sudanese armed forces said late Sunday.
The army said “this treacherous act will not pass,” vowing to respond to “this cowardly behavior.”
Tensions have risen in recent years, sparking sporadic armed clashes, over the Al-Fashaqa border strip which is close to Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region.
There was no immediate response from Ethiopia.
A Sudanese military official who requested anonymity told AFP the soldiers were taken into captivity from a border area close to the Al-Fashaqa region.
On Monday, Sudan’s foreign ministry said it “will immediately recall its ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations” and submit a complaint with the UN Security Council.
“The Ethiopian ambassador to Khartoum will also be summoned to inform him of Sudan’s condemnation of this inhumane behavior,” the ministry said.
Relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa have soured over Al-Fashaqa, a fertile strip long cultivated by Ethiopian farmers but claimed by Sudan, sparking sporadic deadly clashes between the Sudanese and Ethiopian sides.
Tensions were heightened further after fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020, sending tens of thousands of refugees fleeing into Sudan.
Khartoum and Addis Ababa have since been locked in a tense war of words, trading accusations of violence and territorial violations.
The border dispute feeds into wider tensions in the region, including over Ethiopia’s controversial Blue Nile dam.
Sudan and Egypt, both downstream countries, have been opposed to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and pushed for an agreement over the filling of its reservoir and the operation of the dam.
In February, Khartoum and Cairo slammed Addis Ababa for unilaterally deciding to start power generation at the dam.