Tuesday, August 20, 2013

  • Tuesday, August 20, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Now Lebanon:
Notwithstanding the dramatic Roueiss car bomb and the innocent victims it caused in Dahiyeh, what many Lebanese went through in the wake of the attacks on Thursday has caused much frustration. Convoys of cars going in and out of Dahiyeh waited for hours to pass through the many fixed and mobile roadblocks manned by Hezbollah.

Since the blast, Dahiyeh has come to resemble more of a military barracks. Some residents went as far as to dub it as a prison – where Hezbollah deployed its members – the majority of whom were young men barely beyond their teenage years. These members stopped cars and passerbys without any exception, searching each vehicle they regarded as suspicious and asking each driver for identification and the reasons for entering Dahiyeh.

Indeed, entering the Hezbollah-controlled Dahiyeh has become anything but an easy feat since Thursday’s attack. Employees, shop owners, and other citizens at large were impacted by the new roadblocks. Many individuals NOW spoke with were frustrated with the new security checkpoints in Dahiyeh even though they also appreciated that these measures would protect them from future attacks.

Ali H., a shop keeper in Dahiyeh, stressed the need for both Hezbollah and the Lebanese state to spare no effort in protecting residents from the threat of “terrorists and takfiris.” Ali insisted that protecting lives is more important than having roadblocks delay traffic for an hour or even less. He argued that some hope to provoke media clamor in order to use it against Hezbollah. However, Ali wishes that more advanced methods are adopted at the road blocks including the use of police dogs, which he says will alleviate the burden of these measures for the good of Dahiyeh’s residents and visitors.

At the same time, residents questioned the usefulness of such roadblocks given the operational methods of the youths manning each station. NOW saw no evidence of armed individuals at each of the checkpoints it passed, but it also saw that each officer donned Hezbollah’s yellow armband insignia.

While many argue that pre-emptive security measures are justified following the Bir al-Abed and Dahiyeh explosions, some politicians including MP Antoine Zahra say that only the Lebanese state and its security institutions should control the country’s checkpoints. “Auto-security [by Hezbollah] is the most dangerous phase a country could reach at the brink of collapse,” Zahra told the Orient radio station earlier today.

Other than Ali, the majority of Dahiyeh shop owners with who NOW spoke with complained about the security measures following Thursday’s blast. While most shopkeepers said they welcomed protection from future attacks or explosions, they also said they do not want Dahiyeh closed off from its own people. Many also complained that no clients visited their stores following the implementation of roadblocks, noting that many people visiting the Dahiyeh fear they will stand accused by entering it.

Another resident of Dahiyeh by the name of Ali G. told NOW that motorcycles had followed him and other residents around town – later requesting their names, where they came from, and where they were heading in Dahiyeh.

Walid Q., a resident of Dahiyeh, said that his car was searched and his seats were removed at one of Hezbollah’s roadblocks. Walid said that he was then forced to head to the nearest repair shop to have his car restored to its original state.
Can't wait for the UN and EU to condemn this use of roadblocks that is strangling the residents of the area.

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