Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. (Photo credit: (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
During a televised speech on 26 November, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that the resistance movement has spent over $10 million since September in both free and subsidized fuel for Lebanese people and institutions.
Nasrallah revealed that during the “first phase” of their fuel-importing plan, $7.5 million were spent in subsidizing prices and $2.6 million were spent in giving fuel to Lebanese NGOs, municipalities, government hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, and other organizations free of charge.
He then announced that the “second phase” of Hezbollah’s project is set to begin in the next few days, following the arrival of a fourth Iranian fuel tanker to Syria’s Baniyas Port. The next phase of the fuel distribution program will reportedly prioritize people living above an altitude of 500 meters, with the fuel being subsidized at 1 million Lebanese liras per barrel.
On 16 September, Hezbollah started the process of bringing Iranian fuel into Lebanon as part of efforts intended to help ease a crippling energy crisis. However, the oil tankers have been forced to unload their cargo in Syria before the fuel could proceed to Lebanon using trucks on land routes in order to circumvent US sanctions.
During his speech, the resistance leader also called on Lebanon’s political elite to review the recent lifting of subsidies on medicine, warning that “thousands of people are at risk of dying as a result of these uncalculated decisions.”
“It is not permissible to lift subsidies on medicines [under the justification] that the government doesn’t have enough money for them.” He then suggested that new steps need to be taken in order to maintain the subsidies, including “abolishing ministries.”
Nasrallah then announced that Hezbollah has activated its institutions and clinics “to secure the largest possible number of medicines that citizens need,” adding: “It is not important to which political line the Minister of Health belongs. The country is in danger, and as in the previous ministry, we are currently putting all our capabilities at the service of the current ministry.”
The Hezbollah chief also criticized the recent decision by Australia and the UK to list the group as a terrorist organization. Regarding this, Nasrallah said it “may have something to do with developments in the region or parliamentary elections,” before underlining that “putting the resistance on terrorism lists will not affect the determination of the resistance or the awareness of the environments that embrace it.”
He also spoke about the recent developments in the investigation of last month’s massacre at the Tayouneh neighborhood in Beirut, in particular, the release of several suspects who admitted to being part of a plan to ambush and shoot supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement.
“Some of the detainees were released, and there is pressure [from political and religious figures] to release the rest of the detainees,” Nasrallah said, adding that this pressure on judicial authorities has been present since the start of the investigation.
He added that the suspects who have been released, as well as others who had a hand in the massacre, are staying in Maarab under the protection of the far-right Lebanese Forces (LF) party.
Nasrallah then warned that “continuing with the current path in the Tayouneh ambush affair is dangerous and could push the country into sedition.”
Finally, the resistance leader criticized the decision by Lebanon’s Court of Cassation to allow Judge Tarek Bitar to remain at the front of the investigation into last year’s blast at the Port of Beirut.
“Is there today within the Lebanese judiciary a judge who dares to disqualify [Bitar]?” Nasrallah asked before saying that “what is taking place right now is that the members of the Lebanese judiciary are protecting one another.”
An in-depth investigation by The Cradle reveals that Bitar has outright refused to hold members of Lebanon’s judiciary accountable for their role in last year’s devastating blast.
According to a report provided to Bitar by Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF), seven judges and a state attorney suspected of negligence have been identified as those most liable for the judicial system’s failure to destroy the dangerous materials that eventually exploded with devastating consequences last year.