Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi on Friday asked the public prosecution to seek the arrest and penalization of those who opened fire in celebration of a much-anticipated speech by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The celebratory gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades sparked panic and damaged cars and the facades of some buildings in the capital Beirut and its suburbs.
In a statement emailed to media outlets, Rifi said he asked State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud to “task the security agencies with conducting investigations to identify the shooters before prosecuting them and handing them the harshest penalties.”
The minister warned that legal measures will always be taken against anyone practicing celebratory gunfire “in any region of Lebanon” and during both “social or political occasions.”
This behavior “threatens the lives of citizens and their security” and “disregards whatever is left of the state's prestige,” Rifi noted.
“Those practicing this behavior are flouting all ethical and national values, defying the authority of the state in its capital, jeopardizing people's lives and sowing panic,” the minister added.
He slammed what he called “the practices of arrogance and provocation and the insistence on undermining state institutions and spreading the chaos of weapons.”
“Today, as a Lebanese citizen, I felt that some parties always insist on weakening the state every time there is hope to make a little progress towards strengthening the state institutions,” Rifi added.
Nasrallah's defiant speech came two days after Hizbullah carried out a missile strike that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others in south Lebanon's occupied Shebaa Farms area on the border.
The strike was in retaliation for a January 18 Israeli air strike inside Syria that killed six Hizbullah fighters and an Iranian general.
Hizbullah's slain militants included Mohammed Issa, a commander responsible for the group's Syrian and Iraqi operations, as well as Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah military commander killed in a 2008 car bombing in Syria which was blamed on Israel.
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