Circling back to the Lebanon explosion

In August last year, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, leaving over 200 people dead, and over 6,500 people injured. The blast was caused by a massive quantity of explosive chemicals that had been stored unsafely at the port over a long period of time. At least 150 people now have life-altering wounds as a result, while more than 300,000 people were displaced following severe damage to homes. 

The explosion led to a two-week state-of-emergency and an estimated US$15 billion in property damage. The explosion came amid an ongoing financial crisis and the pandemic. 

The latest? 

A few days after the explosion, several politicians resigned, including the entirety of the Lebanese cabinet. Prime Minister Hassan Diab also resigned, however agreed to remain as caretaker PM until a new cabinet formed. Almost three months later, Saad Hariri was announced as Prime Minister. Fast forward to last week, a new government failed to form after nine months of political gridlock, and Hariri resigned. 

An investigation into the explosion remains ongoing, with investigators attempting to find out more about the lead up to the explosion and who is responsible.

Earlier this month, Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the judicial investigation into the explosion, requested the lifting of immunity of several politicians and security officials in order to prosecute them on the suspicion of criminal negligence, as well as homicide with probable intent over the explosion. 

It was reported by Al Jazeera this week that at least 50 MPs in Lebanon have pledged support for a parliamentary motion to try the officials at the Supreme Council (the judicial body charged with matters of impeachment). This move has been met with criticism because if the Ministers are tried in the Supreme Council, then Judge Bitar will not be able to charge them.

It is unclear what will happen with the investigation, and when information will come out about the explosion. Many civilians remain dissatisfied that no senior officials have been held to account. The economic and political crisis in Lebanon has continued to deepen, as protests that started in 2019 (well before the explosion) are still ongoing. Most recently, families who lost relatives took to the streets, demanding that officials were punished over the explosion.

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