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4 Aug, 2020 21:02

HRW chief jumps to blame Hezbollah for devastating Beirut blasts – and backpedals immediately

HRW chief jumps to blame Hezbollah for devastating Beirut blasts – and backpedals immediately

Human Rights Watch head Kenneth Roth was quick to join a social media chorus blaming Hezbollah for deadly explosions in Beirut on Tuesday. Perhaps realizing the claim lacked a shred of evidence, he soon deleted it.

Roth rushed to blame Hezbollah for the huge explosions near the port of Beirut, blasts which killed at least 50 people and are believed to have wounded over 3,000 more. “Is this Hezbollah’s way of saying don’t mess with us for allegedly killing former Lebanese PM Hariri?” he asked in a tweet posted almost immediately after news of the explosions hit social media on Tuesday.

The HRW executive director called for a UN tribunal prosecuting four Hezbollah members for the 2005 truck-bomb killing of former Lebanese PM Rafik al-Hariri to “deliver its verdict as planned on Friday” and “pressure” the Shi’a group to “surrender anyone convicted.”

However, Roth soon deleted the tweet without explanation, posting nothing further on the gargantuan blasts that were reportedly heard as far away as Cyprus, some 150 miles from Beirut.

Also on rt.com Both Israel AND Hezbollah deny devastating Lebanon blasts were a rocket attack

The four Hezbollah members Roth referred to are being tried in absentia for the 2005 bombing, which left Hariri and 21 others dead and triggered massive protests culminating in Syria’s withdrawal of its longstanding military presence from Lebanon, as a UN-led probe fingered Damascus for the bombing. Hezbollah has denied any role in the assassination and has slammed the tribunal as a politically-motivated show trial masterminded by the US and Israel.

Roth was far from the only one to pin the explosions on Hezbollah, though he may have been the only leader of a supposedly-neutral human rights organization to do so. A slew of pro-Israel accounts came out of the woodwork to blame the militant political party for the carnage, noting that Israeli officials have previously claimed Hezbollah uses the port of Beirut to traffic weapons and claiming the blast site was a munitions factory.

The IDF was also quick to deny involvement with the explosion, though at least one of the pro-Israel commentators allowed that the mysterious (and highly explosive) misfortunes befalling both Hezbollah and Iran in recent weeks might have something to do with Tel Aviv’s itchy trigger fingers.

Lebanese authorities have claimed the blasts were the result of an unspecified “incident” at a storage depot holding explosive materials, and both Hezbollah and Lebanese Director of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim denied an Israeli rocket attack was the culprit. However, SV News and a handful of other outlets published unconfirmed reports of a “missile” striking the area, citing witnesses.

Hundreds of Beirut residents wounded in the explosions have been taken to nearby hospitals in what Beirut city governor Marwan Aboud called “a national disaster akin to Hiroshima.” The number of wounded victims has surpassed 3,000, according to Lebanese authorities. 

Also on rt.com BEIRUT BLAST AFTERMATH: Parts of Lebanon’s capital lay in ruins after explosions leave dozens dead & buildings destroyed (VIDEOS)

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