There is “growing frustration” among demonstrators clashing with security forces in Beirut one week after the deadly explosion that killed at least 171 people, injured thousands, and plunged Lebanon into political chaos, Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst reported on “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday.
Gunfire and tear gas were exchanged minutes after thousands of people observed a minute of silence at 6:08 p.m. local time, the moment on Aug. 4 that thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the city’s port where it had been stored for six years, reportedly with the knowledge of top political and security leaders who did nothing about it.
The cause of the fire in the port warehouse that triggered the explosion of chemicals remains unknown after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his entire cabinet, while President Michel Aoun, accused of being a “puppet for Hezbollah and the Iranian regime,” is still in power.
“You have what is basically a shadow government that is allowing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to operate freely on the ground here,” Yingst told host Sandra Smith, “and not only affect the internal politics and the people that you see in the street today, who many are now homeless and hungry, but also the external politics, the ongoing tension with U.S.-ally Israel … even as we speak right now the Israelis remain on high alert, fearing an attack from Hezbollah.”
President Trump joined an international donor call on Sunday hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. World leaders and international organizations have pledged nearly $300 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Beirut in the wake of the explosion but warned that no money for rebuilding the capital would be made available until Lebanese authorities commit themselves to the political and economic reforms demanded by the people.
The demonstrators, Yingst explained, are trying to get the focus back on the people and are willing to do anything to get that done.
“Oftentimes you hear chants and you see slogans against the Iranian regime,” he added. “They’re concerned that Hezbollah, the real group in power, is getting all of the attention, while the hungry children and now the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, are getting no attention.”
He said there are no Lebanese government officials in the streets passing out aid, but rather it is all international agencies and organizations, and the biggest fear for the Lebanese people is that when the focus leaves Beirut the corruption will continue.
“What we’ve seen over the past week is violence that erupts and the violence doesn’t often bring lasting change,” Yingst said, noting UNICEF officials told Fox News over the weekend that over 80,000 of the displaced people are children.