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Hundreds of people Friday commemorated the third anniversary of the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast. Demonstrators marched from the Karantina Fire Station towards Beirut port, where the known victims’ names were read out, a minute of silence for the more than 220 people killed was observed and victims’ family members gave speeches. “Hezbollah, along with judges and security apparatuses in the country that are obstructing the investigation are all terrorists and accomplices in the crime that happened at the port,” said activist William Noun, whose brother, Joe, was a firefighter killed while responding to the blast. Noun chastised political figures for ignoring their summonses while he and other victims’ relatives have repeatedly been summoned for alleged vandalism while demonstrating to demand the probe resume.
Attempts to extinguish a blaze that broke out Tuesday night were ongoing Saturday amid “extremely difficult conditions,” a Civil Defense spokesperson told L’Orient Today. The fire inside a textile warehouse in Beirut’s southern suburbs killed one firefighter and injured four others earlier this week. Civil Defense spokesperson Raymond Khattar said clutter within the warehouse impeded firefighters’ access to the fire. Wildfires linked to rising temperatures have already charred swathes of forestland since the start of summer. Last month, Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud announced a series of measures aimed at reducing fire risks, accentuated by Lebanon's ongoing heatwave.
Former Banque du Liban governor Riad Salameh is scheduled to appear for further questioning Wednesday, after State Legal Department head Helene Iskandar successfully appealed his release. Iskandar’s appeal came after Judge Charbel Abou Samra presided over three consecutive weeks of hearings. Abou Samra had not scheduled another hearing with the former central bank chief but asked him to remain at the judiciary’s disposal. Salameh is accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the public purse.
A North Lebanon judge investigating the death of five-year-old Lynn Taleb in June following repeated sexual assaults issued arrest warrants for her uncle and maternal grandmother, a senior judicial source confirmed to L’Orient Today. North Lebanon investigating judge Samaranda Nassar accused Taleb’s uncle of rape, citing “strong evidence” according to the same source. Taleb’s grandmother, the source said, is accused of repeatedly refusing to hospitalize the victim to conceal her ultimate cause of death. Taleb’s mother was arrested for allegedly concealing the serial assaults while her maternal grandfather also faces rape charges.
All six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states issued travel advisories directed at citizens in, or intending to travel to, Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates Sunday called on their citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon or leave Lebanese territory. Qatar and Oman advised vigilance while the latter explicitly mentioned avoiding “areas of armed conflict.” The advisories come after armed clashes broke out in Saida’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, which left at least 13 people dead, injured dozens and compelled hundreds of families to flee the camp.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati Saturday issued a statement to clarify caretaker Economy Minister Amin Salam’s comments after they provoked Kuwaiti backlash. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem al-Sabah on Saturday criticized “a lack of understanding of decision-making in Kuwait.” Hours after the Kuwaiti diplomat called for Salam to withdraw his statement, Mikati said that Lebanon "respects the principle of not intervening in the internal matters of all countries.” The same day, Salam told L’Orient Today he believed his use of the expression “with a stroke of a pen” in reference to a Kuwaiti promise to rebuild the silos had been “misinterpreted.” The minister said the expression referred to expediting the rebuilding, clarifying that he “didn't mean at all that we were going to impose anything on Kuwait.”
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “What's behind the call for Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon?”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz