A number of opposition MPs issues a joint statement denouncing "a horrific, militia-style attack under the watchful eye of the security forces and the army, who neglected their role as decision-makers."
The text states that 12 MPs went to Kahaleh to offer their condolences to Fadi Bejjani's family: four Kataeb MPs, two opposition MPs, four Lebanese Forces MPs, and two members of Michel Moawad's Renewal bloc.
"What happened yesterday is a dangerous political and security crossroads, which has clearly shown that the coexistence of the state with the Hezbollah mini-state has become impossible," the statement continues.
"Continuing to cover up this party's practices is tantamount to bringing down the State, the people and the institutions ... a new phase of national, patriotic, political and popular confrontation must be opened," the statement concludes.
"Destiny and fate willed that yesterday’s incident took place in Kahaleh, and its repercussions developed, and incitement almost made it a gateway to sedition," tweets former Lebanese President Michel Aoun. "We know how it begins and we do not know how it ends."
"What is required today is calm instead of incitement, building bridges of trust instead of spreading poisons of hatred, and waiting for the results of the investigation," Aoun adds.
Hezbollah's “Loyalty to the Resistance” parliamentary bloc indicates in a statement that unnamed persons "created serious tension that led to the martyrdom of the heroic resistance fighter Ahmed Ali al-Qassas in an attack carried out by motorists belonging to an armed militia in the town of Kahaleh."
The statement adds that the incident took place close to the anniversary of the Israeli "defeat in the aggressive July war against Lebanon and its people in 2006 and the victory of the resistance and its success in confronting that fierce war.”
The bloc also "strongly condemns the programmed tension in Kahale ... while the intervention of the Lebanese Army was hindered."
The bloc says this is "the product of stupid and hateful incitement and mobilization, which constitutes a fictitious material that short-sighted people tend to employ or those involved in projects hostile to the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese."
"This tension and what resulted from it is in the custody of the ongoing investigations to confirm the facts, uncover those involved and instigators, and bring them to justice," the statement concludes.
(Photo credit: Joao Sousa / L'Orient Today)
"Constant coordination with the army is underway to ensure the safety of citizens, because the people only want the protection of the legitimate army [as opposed to protection from Hezbollah]," stresses caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi.
Regarding the ammunition found in the truck, Mawlawi asserts that "the army is doing what is necessary under judicial supervision."
The inhabitants of Kahaleh village confirmed in a press release that a "popular funeral" will be held for Fadi Bejjani on Friday.
The body of the deceased will arrive at the village at 11 a.m., and the funeral will take place at 4 p.m. Residents and the Bejjani family are calling on all funeral participants "not to use firearms, in order to preserve the dignity of the occasion."
They also ask participants "whether citizens or politicians, to be careful when expressing their opinions, given the symbolism of Kahaleh, and the media not to take statements during the funeral."
Commenting on the Kahaleh incident, Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil said in a tweet: "A national defense strategy is of great importance because it is what regulates the issue of weapons, so that no one feels threatened by them in any area in Lebanon."
"Communications inside the country are much more important than the axes outside it. Believe me, this would be a mercy for the country and for the martyrs, and may God have mercy on the martyrs of yesterday," he added.
"It is not enough for there to be Shiite unity, despite its importance, so that the Resistance will be okay and the country will be okay— the national unity will remain greater and more fortified," Bassil concluded.
At a press conference, the head of the Kataëb party, Samy Gemayel, said: "We no longer want to live with arms and a militia in Lebanon. This is a national position to which most Lebanese adhere".
"The army leadership must understand that the way Hezbollah is handling things will lead the country to dangerous consequences. If the army does not assume its responsibilities and put an end to all these practices, it will itself become complicit in what could happen in the country", he warned.
In a statement, the Hezbollah parliamentary group referred to a "dangerous incident provoked by seditionists inside Lebanon, which caused the death of Ahmad Ali Kassad."
Heavy gunfire was heard in and around Beirut's southern suburbs as Hezbollah prepared to hold the funeral of one of its fighters killed in an incident in Kahaleh on Wednesday.
The coffin of Ahmad Ali Kassas, a Hezbollah member killed on Aug. 9 during the Kahaleh incident, surrounded by a crowd on Aug. 10 in the southern suburbs of Beirut ahead of the funeral planned by the Shiite party.
(Photo Joao Sousa)
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel reacted to the Lebanese Army's statement, saying it was "unacceptable and minimizes the seriousness of what happened." He added, "The text deliberately or unintentionally fails to mention the entity responsible for transporting the ammunition."
"What is even more worrying is that the army has not provided any clarification as to whether the shipment was stored in one of its barracks or handed over to one of the military installations belonging to the militia," Gemayel added.
Fadi Bejjani's family announced in a death notice that the funeral will be held between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday at Saint-Antoine de Kahaleh church.
While Fadi Bejjani's relatives meet to decide on the exact date of the victim's funeral, now scheduled for Friday afternoon, Father Fadi organizes the ceremonial and local youths prepare for the commemoration. Picture: A portrait of Fadi Bejjani, gun in hand.
(Picture: Stéphanie Khouri)
Charles Jabbour, spokesman for the Lebanese Forces (LF), told L'Orient-Le Jour that "we are facing a problem of illegal weapons in the presence of a regional geopolitical project that reduces the role of the state to its most restricted meaning and undermines its authority while posing a threat to the population." He added, "The state must stand firm in order to preserve its role and prestige. Otherwise, it will drive people to turn to self-defense."
"Rushing into a civil war will not be a walk in the park. There will be a high price to pay," warned MP Jamil al-Sayyed, who is close to Hezbollah, in a message on X. "Let the army do its job," he added.
Fadi Bejjani's family has still not set a date for his funeral because one of his three children lives in Canada and needs time to make arrangements to travel to Lebanon, reports our journalist on the ground.
The Lebanese Forces (LF) branch in the Aley region asserted in a statement yesterday evening that the village of "Kahaleh has never been and will never be the target of uncontrolled armed gangs and cross-border schemes." It added, "The grip of gangs and weapons will not prevail in Kahaleh. The lives of the town's young people, from Joe Bejjani [a photographer killed in unsolved circumstances in December 2020] to Fadi Bejjani, as well as those of all Lebanese, from Kahaleh to Ain Ibl, are extremely precious, and we will not allow them to be sacrificed," the statement continues.
An army truck reopened the Kahaleh road on Thursday morning after it was blocked by angry local residents.
(Picture: Stéphanie Khouri)
"If the army had intervened in time, none of this would have happened," a Kahaleh resident told our reporter. While calm has returned to the area this morning, three military vehicles and a score of soldiers continue to watch over the main road in Kahaleh.
Independent Tripoli MP Ashraf Rifi said this morning that "Hezbollah wants the international community to understand that it is Hezbollah that runs the country." Speaking at a press conference for the Sovereignist Front, he said that "the people of Kahaleh have the right to know who killed Fadi Bejjani. The shooter must be handed over to the authorities."
Forces of Change MP Mark Daou wrote on "X" (formerly Twitter) yesterday evening: "We expect the security forces to intervene immediately and arrest all those who shot at the people of Kahaleh, not to protect illegal weapons," referring to the contents of the overturned truck and Hezbollah. "The judiciary must open an investigation and reveal the identities of all those involved in this case, and arrest them immediately," he added.
Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP for Aley Cesar Abi Khalil visited the scene of the incident on Wednesday evening. "I'm currently standing outside the home of the victim [Fadi Bejjani] and there was no militia [attacking the Hezbollah truck] or anything! Before any further discussion, it is imperative to hand over the shooters to the Lebanese authorities," he told reporters. "A man from Kahaleh was killed five meters from his house, and any dialogue must start by handing over the perpetrators of this crime to the justice system." The FPM has long been an ally of Hezbollah, but disagreements over the presidential election have caused the relationship to become increasingly strained in recent times.
Hezbollah has confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that one of its members killed on Wednesday in Kahaleh, Ahmad Ali Kassas, will be buried today at 3 p.m. in the cemetery of Raoudat al-Haoura' Zainab, in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Condolences will be received near the cemetery from 1.30 p.m.
According to a member of the security forces interviewed by our journalist, Fadi Bejjani was shot dead while firing at Hezbollah members, before they fired back. His car is still parked on the roadside where he left it. A pool of blood is still visible.
By 10.20 a.m., the main road in Kahaleh was almost completely cleared of all traces of the previous day's incidents. Most of the bullet casings and the glass had been removed. The Civil Defense reportedly came at dawn this morning to undertake the cleanup. Johnny expressed concern that the clean-up had removed evidence, saying, "they've wiped everything out"
Johnny, owner of a grocery store adjacent to Saint-Antoine Church next to where the incident took place, witnessed the scene yesterday evening. He says no one was able to verify what was inside the truck. "Residents simply saw large, heavy, closed wooden crates," he says.
According to LBCI, the coroner who examined Fadi Bejjani's body confirmed that he had been shot several times.
A second victim has been identified. He was a local resident in his 60s. Several posts circulated on social networks, and a person who knew the victim to whom L'Orient-Le Jour spoke, name the second man killed as Fadi Bejjani.
While Hezbollah did not give the identity of the party member killed in the incident, journalist Ali Shoeib of the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar channel claimed on X (formerly Twitter) that the victim's name was Ahmad Ali Kassas, alias "Mohammad Ali."
The Lebanese Army confirmed on Thursday morning that the Hezbollah-owned truck was carrying "ammunition," adding that the cargo has now been "transported to one of the army's barracks."
A quick recap of the facts we know to date: The incident took place in front of a Kataeb party office in Kahaleh. Hezbollah claimed one of its members died when he was shot by "militia elements" while he and others were trying to tow the overturned truck. Hezbollah added that these “militia elements” were attempting “to take control” of the truck. The second victim is reported to be a local resident in his 60s.
Security forces are on the ground this morning to gather information and evidence as part of their investigation into yesterday's incident, according to our reporter in Kahaleh, Stéphanie Khouri.
At least two people, including a Hezbollah member, were killed in the shootout yesterday, which followed the overturning of a Hezbollah-owned truck in Kahaleh.
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage this Thursday morning following yesterday evening's shootout in Kahaleh, Aley.
You have reached your article limit
Stay updated on the news for only $1.
You have reached an article that is only available to L’Orient Today subscribers.
Already have an account? Log in