Lebanon News

Pain lingers after Haret Hreik bombing

Lebanese soldiers check the site of explosion in Haret Hreik, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Until Thursday afternoon, Ali Khadra was a Grade 12 student planning to go to university next year to major in engineering. But the blast that hit Beirut’s southern suburb of Haret Hreik later that day put an end to the 17-year-old’s dreams.

Khadra, who was shopping in the area, died in the explosion. His body was transferred to the Rasoul al-Aazam Hospital, where his brother Mohammad Khadra identified him Thursday evening.

“Just like every young man of his age, he had his plans. He chose the General Sciences section [of Grade 12] because he intended to major in engineering at the Lebanese University,” Mohammad Khadra told The Daily Star Friday. “He got copies from the courses taught at the university in order to start studying.”

The suicide bombing targeted a crowded street in Haret Hreik, killing five people, wounding scores of others and inflicting extensive damage on surrounding properties.

Asked who he thought was responsible for his brother’s killing, Khadra refused to answer. “It is very clear who is responsible for all that,” he said, without elaborating.

Khadra said he was still waiting for the DNA tests to be concluded at the hospital to fully confirm that the body belonged to his brother. “The tests usually take 48 hours, but we were promised that they would be finalized today [Friday],” he said.

Ali Khadra, who hailed from the southern city of Tyre, will be buried in the Rawdat al-Shahidayn Cemetery in Beirut’s southern suburb of Ghobeiry Saturday at 2 p.m.

His colleagues at Al-Moustafa school visited the crime scene Friday and laid a wreath.

Adnan Awali was another victim of Thursday’s blast. The 62-year-old was the director of a travel company located in a building in the street hit by the blast.

His son, Ali Awali, said his father had been driving back home from work when the explosion took place. He said his father had been going past the suicide bomber when the explosives-laden car was detonated.

“We started looking for him after the explosion happened, his phone was ringing every time we called, but no one was picking up,” Awali said.

“At around 5:30 p.m., a member of the Civil Defense picked up and said that my father’s body was in a hospital near the headquarters of the Civil Defense,” Awali explained as he received condolences in Haret Hreik. “They found his burned wallet.”

Awali, 25, got married just over two months ago. “Before my dad was martyred, he was happy that I got married,” he said proudly.

Awali said he had visited his father Thursday morning. “I am personally very happy that my father was martyred this way, he is a martyr on this path, the path of defending [Prophet Mohammad’s granddaughter] Sayyida Zeinab,” he said. “Our path is the path of resistance, we are proud of our martyrs,” he said.

Awali, who has an 18-year-old brother, works for the Beirut municipality’s Traffic Department.

Addressing his father’s killers, who he described as takfiris, Awali said: “You are only a germ that should be eradicated and God willing we will smash you.”

Adnan Awali’s funeral will be held in the Beirut neighborhood of Bir Hasan Saturday morning.

For Iman Hijazi and her stepdaughter Malak Zahwa, they had no idea their shopping trip in Haret Hreik would be their last.

“Malak was hanging out with her stepmother in the area and they entered a clothes shop when the explosion took place,” said Abu Mustafa, Zahwa’s uncle.

Zahwa, 16, was a student at Al-Kawthar school. After living in Brazil for many years with her father and stepmother, they all moved to Lebanon three years ago.

“She was a young girl and that innocence was clear on her face – her name resembled her characteristics,” Abu Mustafa explained, referring to the fact that “malak” means “angel” in Arabic.

“Does Islam allow this to happen? I am speechless,” he said.

In a call for solidarity, social media websites circulated photos of Zahwa and Mohammad Shaar, the 16-year-old student who died in the Dec. 27 explosion in Downtown Beirut that killed former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah.

Hundreds of mourners joined the funerals of Hijazi and Zahwa in the southern village of Majdal Silm. The two were carried in coffins wrapped with the flag of the Amal Movement, which enjoys large support in the village. Mourners opened fire in the air and chanted Ashoura-inspired slogans protesting against humiliation.

Meanwhile, forensic experts concluded their search for evidence at the crime scene, which was closed for the second day by authorities.

Acting State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud and Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr also visited the blast site, while Hezbollah teams began inspecting the damage in order to put together compensation payments for local residents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 04, 2014, on page 3.




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