Lebanon’s Health Minister Calls Beirut Blast Deaths “Fate”

Annahar | AP/Hussein Malla

During a televised interview with Al-Jadeed, Caretaker Minister of Health Hamad Hassan was quoted calling the catastrophic and devastating deaths that were a result of the August 4th blast as “fate”, which basically means ‘predestined’ or ‘prone to happen.’

The Health Minister blatantly compared the victims of the port explosion to the deaths of the COVID-19 patients.

“You could say those who died on August 4th, it was fate. On the other hand, COVID patients, in my opinion, it is at their own will,” he said.

It is a bizarre opinion, from someone deemed a health professional, to believe that the pandemic was caused by the will of the people.

The victims didn’t create the coronavirus and they were not the ones who had allowed the first plane carrying the virus to enter the country, neither the recent one from the UK carrying the mutated virus. Blaming the victims for their deaths by a global pandemic is not only callous but also absurd.

The absurdity even exceeded all rationality and sense of responsibility, from a government official, to designate the deaths of hundreds of people by the Beirut explosion as fate, aka a predestined matter.

The caretaker minister himself is a member of the government that failed to protect these victims from the horrific explosion that could have been easily prevented.

Hussein Malla/AP

The blame is not on fate but on the successive governments that turned a blind eye to the existence of the ammonium nitrate in the capital that was prone to explode at any time. The current government, of which he is part, is also accountable for neglecting to act.

The Lebanese are used to officials redirecting blames away from them, but, after the catastrophic explosion of the port, they no longer tolerate it.

Many took to Twitter to respond to the minister, including parents and family members who lost their loved ones.

Sarah Copland, who tragically lost her two-year-old son Isaac in the blast, slammed Hassan’s comment and demanded to hold accountable the people behind cutting her son’s life short.

The same Health Minister, who compared the victims of the Beirut explosion to COVID-19 patients, has failed at implementing his one job, which is decreasing the number of cases and taking control of the medical situation in the country.

He is also behind redirecting hospitals’ funds in favor of Hezbollah-linked hospitals, which aren’t after all at the frontline of the pandemic and weren’t devastated by the explosion.

Public hospitals in Lebanon have been already struggling with the economic crisis and the government failing to support them, leading to hundreds of layoffs and too many health professionals leaving the country.

They now have reached their maximum capacity for both regular coronavirus patients and those who need intensive care as the numbers keep increasing at a rate the country can no longer handle.

The health ministry, headed by Hamad Hassan, has failed to control the situation. With the public health situation becoming more catastrophic in the face of a surge in cases, Lebanon has just announced a full lockdown for at least 25 days with a new curfew.

Meanwhile, Hassan goes public to blame the victims of the pandemic for their deaths, and offend the still-grieving families of the Beirut Blast’s victims with a callous remark.

Beirut Explosion Picture Among Time's Top 10 of 2020
AP/Hassan Ammar

Lebanon’s officials might continue to ignore the excruciating pain they have inflicted on the people, probably assuming that, with the course of justice dragging and the politicians raising the flag of immunity, people will end up giving up and forgetting.

However, this is far from reality. The people have no intention to ever forget nor forgive. They won’t rest until justice is served and those responsible, not fate, will be duly judged and punished.

Get the latest news and updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon along with a live monitor of cases in Lebanon as well as resources and information to help you guide the outbreak on our dedicated coronavirus page.