Attack in Beirut: Daesh claimed the attack in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood

IMG_406843 dead and more than 230 injured in the double bombing attack happened around 6pm on November, 11, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, between the Palestinian camp of Burj al-Barajneh and Dahiye, a Hezbollah stronghold. Two Palestinian bombers blew themselves up and a third, from Syria was the victim of the explosion. A fourth one is missed but according some witnesses would be captured by civilians, although the news has not been confirmed. The first people injured were transported by civilians’ cars and motorcycles to the Sahel andBahman hospitals in Beirut. Many came dying and others with serious injuries all over their body. Immediately civilians went to the hospital to donate blood.

At 9.30 pm, the hospitals had enoughblood bags. The director of the emergency department of the second hospital explained that “the hospital had been equipped for emergency cases and all the personnel rushed directly when heard the news from the media”. It was since January 2014 that Lebanon did not suffer an attack of such dimension. The explosions happened in the heart of a neighborhood controlled by Hezbollah, the political party with a military wing, engaged in the Syrian war alongside the regular army of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian Pasradan and the Russian military. A real retaliation from Daesh, that comes during the most aggressive offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and against al-Nusra, as explains Kamel Wazne interviewed by Al Jazeera.

Daesh – the acronym that stands for the Islamic state – has claimed responsibility for the attack in its twitter account after few hours. But why does Daesh attack Lebanon? And why that neighborhood? The twin bombings occurred in a sensitive place. It was few minutes after the end of the evening prayer when the explosion hit dozens of civilians who came out of the mosque and poured through the streets of the crowded predominantly Shiite neighborhood, close to the Souks of Dahiye. It wasn’t a casual time nor a random place. In fact, the attacks took place during the forty days of Ashura celebration, during which Shia Muslims commemorate the death of Huseyn, the grandson of Muhammad, killed in Karbala’s battle in 632 and that still marks the rift with the Sunnis brothers.

The site is also symbolic: close to Husseiniya mosque where the majority of worshipers is used to go to pray. Also the terrorists should not be underestimated: two Palestinians and a Syrian residents in the same area of the attacks. A signal that shows how Isis finds support and coverage in Lebanon. Over the past two years, the Lebanese army is committed along the Syrian border, near the town of Arsal, in the rejection of the Islamic jihadists who seek to penetrate into Lebanese territory. Prime Minister Tammam Salam has promulgated a national day of mourning and ordered the closure of all schools and public institutions while the French President Hollande has strongly condemned the bombings in the Lebanese capital, calling them “despicable”. The terrorist attacks hurt a fragile country, divided on sectarian which risks to be overwhelmed by the division between Shiites and Sunnis that is spreading throughout the region, from Syria to Yemen, from Iraq to Lebanon. But on such division, subtly manipulated, the future of the region and the geopolitical balance of the Middle East is at stake.

Sara Manisera – volunteer I-Lab / Libera International