The streets of downtown Beirut has turned into a real vicious battlefield on Saturday, January 18, between the protesters and riot cops. The clashes resulted in more than 65 civilians hospitalized (as of this moment) and 100 wounded treated on ground by the Lebanese Red Cross.
For days, revolutionaries across Lebanon have called on people from all areas in Lebanon to protest on Saturday in one unified and centralized demonstration in Riad El-Solh, Beirut.
The call ensued at the officials failing to form a rescue government of independent experts. Three months after the onset of the Lebanese 17 October Revolution, the ruling politicians still struggle to form even a messed up government based on sects and political parties.
Three months of neglecting the urgent needs of an agonizing country and the pressing demands of a suffering people, while they go on with their own political-sectarian conflicts.
In massive groups, and under the slogan We Will Not Pay the Price, protesters marched their way to Riad El-Solh to pressure the 128 Parliament members - elected by the people to represent the people- decide the fate of a country going down, down, downhill.
A group of "infiltrators" started throwing stones, signs, metal bars, and fireworks at Parliament cops and ISF who were guarding Nejmeh Square, which caused hell to practically break loose.
Many described the scene as a scene of war; people were breaking tiles to extract the stones and use them to throw at security forces.
In return, security forces went all-in with water hoses, tear gas, and physical assaults on civilian protesters, whether the ones affected were causing riots or just protesting peacefully.
Lebanese Civil Defense rushed to Beirut after a garage near the Annahar Newspaper building caught on fire, as well as the tents of protesters.
ISF, Parliament cops, and riot cops denied setting fire to the tents and accused anyone trying to point fingers at them as people trying to cause strife and even more trouble.
Official Lebanese Internal Security Forces announced on twitter, "After the warnings, and after we have called out throughout media for peaceful demonstrators to leave the area, rioters will be chased down, arrested, and brought to justice."
Around 7:17 pm, the Lebanese Red Cross confirmed that additional support teams arrived in downtown Beirut, adding that they raised their alert in order to respond to urgent requests of help.
Security forces have been sending out pleas to maintain the peace throughout the whole day, but all went in vain as more fireworks and rocks were thrown at security forces, and as more tar geas and chase-downs were done by security forces.
Some peaceful protesters rushed to take refuge in Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, while others went using the Mosque's chairs to throw outside.
Riots cops tried chasing down the rioters in the Mosque, as the Imam of the Mosque appealed to both parties to disperse and cease the violence.
Minister of Interior and Municipalities Raya Al-Hassan tweeted, "More than once I pledged to protect peaceful demonstrations, and I was always asserting the right to protest."
"However, when these demonstrations turn into a blatant attack on security forces and public and private properties, this is condemned and is never acceptable," her Tweet ended.
اكتر من مرة تعهدت انو احمي التظاهرات السلمية، وكنت دايمن اكد ع أحقية التظاهر. بس انو تتحول ه التظاهرات لاعتداء سافر على عناصر #قوى_الامن والممتلكات العامة والخاصة، فهو امر مدان وغير مقبول ابدا. @LebISF— Raya Haffar El Hassan (@rayaelhassan) January 18, 2020
The clashes are still ongoing as of this moment and are only getting worse as the night has fallen down and the sky turned darker.
Riot police have declared war on us in downtown Beirut. The most aggressive use of tear gas I've witnessed. There is a clear political decision to end the uprising. They will fail to stop us. #Lebanon #لبنان__ينتفض#لبنان_يثور pic.twitter.com/hV6Go19IGF— Nizar Hassan || نزار حسن (@Nizhsn) January 18, 2020