Muted Eid in Lebanon as it battles a triple threat
- The country is going into a lockdown amidst economic turmoil, even as border tensions are flaring up.
Lebanon is in the middle of an economic spiral; some of the worst times it is facing since the end of the civil war three decades ago. The Lebanese lire has fallen sharply and inflation has increased many times over. The prices of basic supplies like rice and bread have shot up, leaving many citizens hungry and desperate. And with the economy on the verge of bankruptcy, life-saving foreign investment is not forthcoming.
Amidst this, the country is going into a two-week lockdown in order to rein in the increasing number of coronavirus cases. There are now nearly 4,000 confirmed cases in the country with the highest number of cases per day reported over the weekend. While they have managed to keep the deaths at 51, the health ministry has said that the outbreak is taking a “dangerous turn” with the hospitals starting to get overcrowded.
The total lockdown will start from July 30 and end on August 10, with two days of respite in the middle. This means the country will be shut down during the days of Eid Al-Adha, a time of gathering and celebration for Muslims world over. The Health Ministry has effectively put a curb on the festivities, after admonishing the public for the “lack of community discipline and disregard” for all preventive measures.
Beirut’s airport, land border crossings with Syria, and seaports are expected to be kept open along with medical institutions, industrial and agricultural firms, and critical government functions, while places of worship, cinemas, bars, nightclubs, sports events and markets have been ordered shut.
As if the economy and the virus weren’t enough, military tensions are brewing along the Israeli border. Reportedly at least four Hezbollah fighters crossed into the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights on Monday. According to the Israeli Defense Forces, they were armed and planning an attack and “fled back to Lebanon” after being shot at. Heavy Israeli shelling was witnessed in the disputed Shebaa Farms area. While Hezbollah denies the attack, it is assumed to be a retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria last week which killed one of their fighters. The Hezbollah has promised revenge. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Prime Minister called for caution and said that Israel had violated their sovereignty with a “dangerous military escalation”.