The day before, explosions and gunfire had plunged the Mediterranean city into chaos. Gunmen first fired on a protest led by Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement. Hezbollah supporters then fired back, setting off an hours-long street battle that evoked memories of the country’s civil war.
Hezbollah and its political allies had called the demonstration to urge the removal of a top judge from an investigation into the massive blast at Beirut’s main port last year. In a statement, Hezbollah and the allied Amal movement said that the violence was carried out “by organized and armed groups” aiming “to drag the country to purposeful disorder.”
But even as the streets quieted Friday, the latest escalation could test what remains of Lebanon’s stability. In recent years, the tiny nation has faced compounding crises, including the pandemic, severe shortages of basic goods and fuel and the erosion of the state’s legitimacy.