Othman Apologizes to Media, Says ISF Facing 'Great Violence, Infiltrators'
Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman apologized to journalists and media outlets on Thursday following a new night of violent demos that involved assaults on journalists at the hands of ISF members.
“I sincerely apologize to the media and to the journalists who were covering the events yesterday outside the Helou barracks,” Othman said at a rare press conference.
“A probe has been launched into the attacks on journalists,” he added.
“The ISF members are not robots and they err as every human,” Othman explained.
He lamented that policemen are “facing great violence and infiltrators who have criminal records.”
“Going to a military barracks and attacking it is something totally unacceptable and the law considers it a crime,” Othman added, referring to the fierce clashes outside the Helou barracks in the Beirut areas of Mar Elias and Corniche al-Mazraa.
“When a policeman is hit by a rock, this is considered attempted murder, and this is not a simple thing at all,” Othman warned.
He added: “Do you want security forces to withdraw from their role in preserving security? Is the revolution a place for violence, rioting, chaos and attempted murder?”
Earlier on Thursday, protesters decried the ISF’s use of violence during rallies over the past two days, including the attacks on journalists and the detention of over 100 people.
Dozens of people, including journalists, rallied outside the Interior Ministry denouncing what they said was the systematic use of force against members of the media. Many raised photos of journalists getting beaten by riot police.
Protests turned violent Tuesday in Beirut’s Hamra area when demonstrators pelted security forces with stones and water bottles and smashed windows of commercial banks they accuse of corruption and denying them their deposits. Security forces responded by firing tear gas heavily, beating up several protesters and arresting dozens of people.
A fresh round of similar violence erupted overnight Wednesday outside an ISF barracks in Beirut and a number of nearby banks were vandalized.