Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let the conspiracy theories begin

[Originally posted at NOW]

Though you would barely know it from reading your Twitter feed today, a car bomb detonated in Tyre late yesterday afternoon, wounding the mayor of Yaroun, a tiny southern village just a few hundred meters from the Blue Line. While some outlets are calling it an accident, others including al-Jadeed say it was an assassination attempt – a prospect made all the juicier by reports that the victim, Hassan Moussa Awada, was a Hezbollah affiliate.

Since we don’t and probably never will know for sure what happened, let’s run down the various possible scenarios:

Israeli assassination attempt

Yaroun is a mixed Shiite-Christian village to the east of Rmeish, approximately 1km from the Israeli border and 2km from the Israeli villages of Yir’on and Bar’am. Moreover, it’s about 5km south of the famous Hezbollah fortress town of Bint Jbeil, where Nasrallah gave his victory speech following the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, and which the Israelis tried and failed three times to capture in the 2006 war.

Yaroun has also been used as a rocket launch site by Hezbollah in the past. A Human Rights Watch report investigating the 2006 war found that Party militants fired rockets from “several places inside the village,” resulting in overwhelming Israeli retaliation that “virtually completed destroyed” it and killed at least 5 civilian residents.

It seems almost certain, then, that Yaroun’s mayor would have to be on friendly terms with Hezbollah, if not indeed a party member. Perhaps Israel had a score to settle or merely saw a window of opportunity and took it.

Hezbollah assassination attempt

By the same token, Mayor Awada would be an equally endangered man if he was not on friendly terms with Hezbollah. With such a major increase in Israeli aerial incursions in recent weeks, the Party may be taking no chances with those it doesn’t fully trust.

Organized crime

The former Israeli occupation zone in the south has for decades been home to a murky underworld of Mafiosi, warlords, drug bosses, agents, double-agents, hitmen and gangsters in general. The celebrated case of Ramzi Nohra is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t wish to make disobliging speculations about Mayor Awada’s character – for all I know he is a man of unimpeachable integrity. But in the shadows of the occupation zone, anything is possible.

Sheer accident

Of course, this could all be perfect nonsense, and Mayor Awada may have been the victim of a tragic accident – faulty gas canister, freak engine malfunction, you name it.

Whatever the case, I wish him a swift and complete recovery, and hope that any crime involved is met with full and firm justice.

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