BEIRUT — On January 2, after a car bomb exploded in the Haret Hreik neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs killing five people, Maria Jawhari, an 18-year-old resident of the area, posted on her Facebook page: “This is the third bombing I escaped from, I don’t know if I’ll die in the fourth.”
More than two weeks later, her words would transform into a tragic reality.
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Jawhari died due to injuries sustained from a suicide attack that struck the same neighborhood, not far off from where the last bombing in the Beirut’s southern suburbs occurred.
Nusra Front’s Lebanon branch claimed responsibility for the blast that killed Jawhari, Ali Bashir, Ahmed Obaidi, and Khodr Srour, and wounded 31 others.
Like the previous bombings that struck Lebanon in the past few weeks, Jawhari’s tragic death resonated strongly with the public. As it was for previous victims before her such as Mohammed Shaar and Malak Zahwe, the social and mainstream media circulated her personal pictures, and mourned the loss of another Lebanese youth.
The same was true for 19-year-old Engineering student Ali Bashir, another young victim of Tuesday’s bombing who was at the same cafe Jawhari was at. He died soon after at the Bahman hospital from severe injuries.
As with Jawhari, his picture was actively passed around Facebook and Twitter, with many expressing utmost sorrow that his future potential was suddenly and violently snuffed out.
A third, older victim was Ahmed Obeidi, a 50-year old father of four children. He died in his car right next to the blast. His son was with him and survived.
“He was on his way to drop off some things in the neighborhood. This is his car here,” Obeidi’s brother told Lebanese channel New TV, as he gestured towards the smoldering, blackened vehicles. “I didn’t think I’d ever lose my brother like this.”
“We are from Tariq al-Jadidah,” he added, referring to a mostly Sunni district just north of Haret Hareik. “We come here all the time, we are open with everyone, Shi’a, Sunnis, Maronites, Christians, it doesn’t matter. We are all families.”
“Ahmad Obeidi and Ali Ibrahim Bashir…Sunni blood mixed with Shia blood…O, terrorist, congratulations, you have failed and do not try again…,” wrote a Lebanese Twitter user.
The final victim was Khodr Srour. Not much is known of Srour at the moment and he was not killed by the blast itself. Instead, he died from a fatal heart attack at the scene. His loss is no less important, for his family, friends, and the country, than the three others that fateful morning.
The bodies have been buried, tears have been shed and eulogies have been written. Politicians will likely use these deaths, as with others before, to further their own interests. But Lebanese society will endure, as it must, and continue to live as normally as possible in circumstances that are painfully extraordinary.
— Al-Akhbar, TAAN