As anti-government protests are renewed in Lebanon amidst a continuing economic crisis, some protesters called for the disarmament of the Hezbollah terrorist group, leading to violent clashes with Hezbollah supporters.
Dozens were injured as pro-Hezbollah and anti-Hezbollah protesters clashed in Beirut on Saturday amid massive demonstrations.
Anti-Hezbollah protesters held signs reading “No weapons but legal weapons. 1559, make it happen,” according to Al-Arabiya. UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon.
“With their weapons, they are controlling the state, they are controlling everything,” said one protester to Al-Arabiya. “The smuggling comes from the weapons, the poverty comes from the weapons, the stealing comes from the weapons, the corruption comes from the weapons. If we got rid of the weapons, the rest of the problems will be solved.”
Another protester pointed out that only Hezbollah has weapons “on the ground” and only the Lebanese Army should have weapons.
The demonstration on Sunday was organized by the Sabaa party, which is associated with anti-Hezbollah partites such as the Christian Kataeb and Lebanese Forces parties and Sunni politicians Bahaa Hariri and Ashraf Rifi who both oppose Hezbollah having weapons, according to Al-Arabiya.
During the October protests, officials from the Kataeb and Lebanese Forces parties spoke out multiple times against Hezbollah and other government officials. MPs from the Lebanese Forces party were some of the first to step down during the October protests.
Some protesters objected to the anti-Hezbollah statements on Saturday, accusing the protesters of sowing discord. A separate demonstration was organized by other activist groups who focused on the economic demands of protesters.
The protests on Saturday became violent amid clashes between protesters and between protesters and security forces. Supporters of Hezbollah and the pro-Hezbollah Amal Movement threw rocks at protesters and security forces and later fired on some protesters in Beirut, leading to a number of injuries, according to Al-Arabiya. Continued gunfire could be heard in video reportedly from the scene.
رصاص حي في بيروت يطلق الآن على المتظاهرين، وأنباء عن سقوط جرحى. حزب الله لم يهمه يوما أمن لبنان وسلامته ولن يكترث له الآن، المهم تنفيذ الأجندة الإيرانية في المنطقة. pic.twitter.com/Adf4JcPRMm — Maryame Mohammed (@RaMaryame) June 6, 2020
During the anti-government protests that began in October last year, protesters also clashed a number of times with Hezbollah and Amal.
Multiple incidents were reported during the October protests in which Hezbollah supporters violently attacked both protesters and security forces. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah denied reports of clashes at the time. Protesters at the time often chanted “Kullun yaani Kullun,” meaning “all of them means all of them,” to emphasize that the entire government must step down, including Hezbollah.
Most of the protests throughout Lebanon in October expressed solidarity with the demonstrators in Nabatieh, a major Hezbollah stronghold. Over 25 people were injured in the city and journalists were prevented from filming.
After the Lebanese government was dissolved in light of the October protests, a government largely controlled by Hezbollah and its allies was formed after a long series of negotiations in January.