BEIRUT — The town of Kahaleh on Friday gathered to bury Fadi Bejjani, a local resident who was killed in Wednesday's gunfight in the area between local residents and Hezbollah militiamen.
The clash occurred after a Hezbollah truck carrying ammunition overturned as it traveled through the Aley district town. The accident degenerated into a firefight when armed men in civilian clothes pushed back residents who were coming to the aid of the wounded truck driver.
This latest armed incident has raised fears of further security incidents in Lebanon, which remains in the throes of a socio-economic collapse that began in 2019.
Shots in the air and fireworks
At 11 a.m. on Friday, Bejjani's coffin was carried through the streets of Kahaleh by a crowd of around 100 men as a brass band played. The funeral procession was also accompanied by the sound of automatic gunfire and fireworks, while church bells rang out.
Several women dressed all in black led the procession, while others threw rice at the funeral convoy.
"In Kahaleh, there's a martyr in every family. The [Civil] War is over for the rest of the country, but for us, it's never over," said a resident in attendance at Bejjani's funeral.
In the church of Saint Antoine, Bejjani's family received condolences. "There's nothing more to say. Everything has been said," the deceased's wife, Léna, said.
The funeral took place at 4 p.m.
During the mass, Beirut Maronite Archbishop Boulos Abdel Sater, said that "what happened in Kahaleh was a national tragedy that should not be repeated under any circumstances."
Abdel Sater asked officials "to increase efforts to achieve security ... and to prevent fighting between [Lebanese citizens]."
The Archbishop also asked officials to "activate the judiciary" so citizens do not take justice into their own hands. Finally, he called on every leader to make efforts to "prevent sectarian tensions [between parties]."
Fadi Bejjani, a father of three, was close to the Free Patriotic Movement. He was also a former bodyguard of Elie Hobeika, who led the Lebanese Forces in the 1980s. Hobeika was killed in a bomb attack in 2002.
In video footage posted on social networks just a few hours after the truck overturned on Wednesday, Bejjani can be seen firing an automatic weapon at men in civilian clothes also armed with automatic rifles.
It was during this firefight that he was fatally wounded. The fighting also claimed the life of Hezbollah member Ahmad Ali Qassas, who was buried on Thursday in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Meanwhile, tension is high in Lebanon amid fears of further, similar incidents.