News Release

Lebanon Explosion

RANIA MASRI, [in Beirut], rania.z.masri at gmail.com, @rania_masri
Masri is a lecturer and political and social justice activist. She is an elected representative of the political party Citizens in a State, which seeks to end Lebanon’s sectarian political system. She just appeared on the program “Flashpoints” with Dennis Bernstein and was interviewed by the Afro-Middle East Centre, which is based in South Africa.

She said today: “We know that a port hangar containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was improperly stored six years ago was the cause of the large explosion on August 4, an explosion that has so far claimed more than 150 deaths, 5,000 wounded and missing, 300,000 families made homeless, and destruction in the $3 to 6 billion range. (For the record, Timothy McVeigh used 2.3 tons of ammonium nitrate in the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.)

“This catastrophe was neither a natural disaster, nor an accident, nor an external act of terror. This explosion was caused by the criminal negligence of men — encouraged by a political system designed to build clients and not see citizens. There are many official reports that warned of the danger of keeping a similar amount of highly flammable ammonium nitrate stored in a manner that does not take into account public safety conditions, and despite this information, they did not move to disassemble the sleeping bomb before it exploded.

“The coalition of sectarian leaders was aware of this time bomb at the Beirut Port. This catastrophe comes on top of, not only the COVID pandemic, but also a financial and economic bankruptcy. They were also quite aware of the bankruptcy, particularly since they are responsible for it!

“Neither declaring public mourning, nor enforcing a state of emergency for Beirut, nor forming investigation committees (and most definitely not this humiliating farce of a foreign investigation committees) are the solution. The people responsible for this massacre are known. It is the authority of the coalition of leaders of the sects, and their agents and representatives in Parliament, the government, the judiciary, and the administration and the security.”

[Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam has just published a piece quoting an anonymous Israeli official claiming “Israel Bombed Beirut.” Silverstein’s charge is noted by Gideon Levy in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in his more general piece “Israel is in shock, in a sickening show of hypocrisy.”]