SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon municipality has filed a lawsuit against a number of individuals for cutting down several old trees without permission and in the face of repeated instructions to stop.
The incident, which occurred Tuesday, took place on the southern city’s Zawareeb al-Najasa Street and has sparked anger among the residents.
The Daily Star has been informed that a non-Lebanese landowner, whose property is next to the stretch of pavement with the municipality-planted trees, was responsible.
One person has been arrested by the security forces over the incident for further investigation.
“The municipality received a complaint from residents that a number of workers assigned by a landowner had been cutting a number of trees on the pavement,” Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi said in a statement.
“A police patrol was sent to the scene and was subjected to provocations.” the statement added.
After a dispute, the patrol was able to confiscate the hacksaw used by the workers and received assurances the landowner would stop the operation.
However, according to Saudi, the owner and his workers continued anyway, prompting security forces to summon them based on a decision by the environmental prosecutor.
“It seems that the landowner thought he was above the law,” Saudi explained. “Just as he left the police station the last tree on the pavement was cut down.”
Although the landowner and a worker were summoned again Tuesday night, a well-informed source said a local group had intervened and provided the landlord with cover from the charges.
The incident comes at a time when the country’s green spaces are increasingly at risk due to various factors, most notably a recent spate of forest fires.