On Saturday, January 18, Nijmeh Square in Central Beirut witnessed heated encounters between protesters and security forces.
After hours of violent clashes in the perimeter of the parliament building in Beirut, the caretaker Interior Minister Raya El-Hassan took to Twitter to comment on the intense event.
“More than once I pledged to protect the peaceful demonstrations,” the minister began, “and I have always asserted the right to protest. But when a demonstration turns into a blatant attack on the security forces and public and private property, it is condemned and totally unacceptable.”
Less than an hour later, Minister El-Hasan posted another tweet, this time a video, showing a group of people walking together with a few security personnel.
It was captioned: “Escorting the demonstrators out of the Mohamed Al-Amin Mosque under the protection of the security forces.”
As previously reported, these peaceful protesters took refuge in the Mosque from the violence unleashing unexpectedly around them.
That violence that erupted in the capital on Saturday was noted by Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross, Georges Kettaneh, to be more severe than the several previous similar episodes of confrontation in Beirut.
Moreover this time around, the recorded casualties for both sides were much higher than in previous encounters.
As reported by the Lebanese Red Cross, which was put on high alert during the escalations, more than 160 injuries have resulted from the clashes at the time of writing.
More than 40 of the cases required hospitalization while the rest were treated in place.
The causes of these injuries varied between water from high-pressure hoses, thrown rocks, fireworks, tear gas, and direct physical violence.
It was reported that it all started with a group of “infiltrators” throwing stones, signs, metal bars, and fireworks at Parliament cops and ISF who were guarding Nejmeh Square, which caused hell to practically break loose.