0

Comments

Facebook

Twitter

Google

send


Alex Rowell

The deadly reality of ‘celebratory’ gunfire

Another death this weekend adds to the long toll of the illegal, but widely-tolerated, shooting of guns at social occasions

An X-ray shows a bullet inside the head of 5-year-old Munir Hazeena, killed in June 2015 by attendees at a funeral for a Hezbollah fighter

Lebanon’s civil war may have ended 26 years ago, but its citizens still fire lethal weapons at one another on a regular basis. From politicians’ speeches to funerals to weddings to high school graduations, almost any occasion is liable to be accompanied by the discharge of military-grade firearms into the sky – and, thus, onto the roofs, balconies and streets of surrounding neighborhoods. Unsurprisingly, the practice routinely leads to the killing and maiming of luckless innocents, a large proportion of them children.

 

The latest victim is Wissam Baleeq, shot fatally in his car Saturday evening by what most reports hold was a stray bullet. His death capped an especially bloody May – between the municipal elections and three TV appearances by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, the month has seen an average of more than one casualty per week. In total, 2016 has so far witnessed at least seven such shootings, four of them fatal.

 

Lebanese law expressly forbids the firing of guns in the air. “Anyone who opens fire in populated areas or amid crowds of people, whether with licensed or unlicensed weapons, is to be punished by a jail sentence of between six months and three years,” reads Article 75 of the 1959 Weapons and Ammunition Law (Legislative Decree No. 137). The custom has also been occasionally discouraged by party leaders, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah, though without any apparent enforcement at ground level. Unless and until the authorities apply the law, the gruesome harvest of innocent lives seems, tragically, sure to continue.

 

Below, NOW profiles a sample of the victims in recent years.

 

Infograph

An X-ray shows a bullet inside the head of 5-year-old Munir Hazeena, killed in June 2015 by attendees at a funeral for a Hezbollah fighter

In total, 2016 has so far witnessed at least seven such shootings, four of them fatal.