According to reports by the local MTV station most of the women who attacked the two investigators affiliated with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) were clad in veils with their faces covered, and were believed to be men dressed in women clothes.
The attack took place when the investigators started questioning some women at the Sharara clinic which is located in Dhahiya, a Hezbollah stronghold south of the capital, Beirut .
STL was created to try the killers of Lebanon’s former PM Rafik Hariri who was assassinated in 2005.
Tension escalated in Lebanon following reports that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will soon issue its indictment into the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Last July, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the tribunal is “an Israeli project” that will indict Hezbollah members. Nasrallah accused Israel of being behind Hariri’s assassination but refused to provide the evidence to STL to support his claim. Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have been calling for the abolition of STL.
Some leaders like MP Walid Jumblatt are concerned that should the court indict Hezbollah members, it could lead to a Shiite-Sunni strife, but others disagree since Hezbollah and its allies the Syrian backed Palestinian militants are the only armed militias in Lebanon.
The two STL investigators and their translator were entering the Sharara clinic, when some 150 women blocked them from proceeding any further, according to local television stations.
Iman Sharara, who runs the clinic, and is believed to have close links with Hezbollah, said the investigators who came to her office had previously scheduled the appointment and that they “wanted to know the phone numbers of some 14 to 17 people who had visited her clinic since 2003.”
“They asked me for the phone numbers of between 14 and 17 patients since 2003 and I told them it would take me some time to review my files,” she said
When she opened the door to inform her secretary of the files needed, Sharara said she was surprised to see the huge crowd women that stormed the waiting room although she had canceled all appointments for the morning.
The television station, which supports the March 14 majority in Parliament, said it was not the first time that investigators had visited the doctor’s clinic.
AMAL movement MP Yassin Jaber said, however, the incident was a sign the tribunal was “not welcome” in Lebanon.
Observers believe that the attack on the investigators was planned and carried by Hezbollah supporters aiming to convey to the UN tribunal in the Hague that it was unwelcome.
“The dispute with UN investigators that occurred in Dr Sharara’s clinic … is a moral scandal under the banner of searching for truth, and a blatant attack by the international investigation commission on a gynecology clinic,” the Hezbollah-run television station al-Manar said in its nightly bulletin.
Lebanese General Prosecutor Said Mirza has opened an investigation into Wednesday morning’s attack on the STL officials.
According to a Lebanese judicial source the STL was annoyed by what happened and described the incident as ” very serious.”
STL Prosecutor General Daniel Bellemare’s office denounced in a statement issued on Wednesday, the “use of violence” against two of its investigators and their interpreter saying that the event will not deter the office’s investigation.
The STL’s statement said its team had obtained approval from Lebanese authorities for its visit to the doctor’s office as a “legitimate step in [the STL’s] ongoing investigation,” and that the doctor had received approval from the Beirut Order of Physicians and agreed to the meeting.
“The session with the doctor was conducted in a respectful manner. During the meeting, a large group of people showed up unexpectedly and violently attacked the investigators and their female interpreter,” the statement said.
“Several items belonging to [Bellemare’s office] staff were stolen during the attack,” it added.
The three team members were taken by the Lebanese army and received medical attention at the STL’s office in Beirut, the statement also said.
Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr has asked the Ouzai police department to submit its report on Wednesday’s attack on Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigators in Dhahiya, National News Agency (NNA) reported on Thursday.
March 14 MP Jamal al-Jarrah told Future News TV on Thursday that Wednesday’s incident in Dhahiya demonstrates Hezbollah’s method of dealing with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and its investigators.
“Investigations were not going to go any further than asking for phone numbers,” said Jarrah, adding that “ Clinic owner Doctor Iman Charara had already called the Doctors Syndicate for approval before allowing the investigators to come to the clinic.”