A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was heading back to his hometown in the Chouf. Knowing the road like the back of his hand, he didn’t think there would be a military checkpoint which was set up there in the few hours he wasn’t home. So while driving back, he didn’t stop at the checkpoint.
As a result, the army spiked his car’s tires, deflating them all and stopping him in his tracks. He ended up paying over $500 for new tires. In retrospect, my friend was very lucky.
If this had happened with him today, my friend would have been dead.
Charbel Rahme is the latest casualty to the Lebanese army. What was Charbel Rahme’s fault? He didn’t stop at the Madfoun checkpoint. Should he have stopped? Definitely. Everyone should stop at a Lebanese army checkpoint. But is not stopping enough reason for the army to kill someone?
I refrained from commenting on the army killing Sheikh Abdul Wahed last week. Let’s wait for the investigation, I figured. Perhaps Sheikh Abdul Wahed had a ton of arms with him in the car. Perhaps his convoy shot at the army first. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Too many suppositions.
But in Charbel Rahme’s case, he didn’t shoot at the army. He didn’t threaten their lives. And still he died. His car was shot 6 times. There’s no room for randomness with 6 bullets. He was shot in the head. He died instantly. He was 38.
Charbel Rahme’s brother is a major in the army as well.
Two theories come to mind. Either this is the act of reckless individuals within the army, in which case they should be trialed as soon as possible. Or there’s a command from high-above to shoot to kill. When it comes to the former, the fact that this incident has happened twice in one week means there are way too many reckless individuals within the army and if the “myth” of the army being protective to all Lebanese is to stand then massive pruning is needed.
As for the latter theory, how can I expect protection from an army who would kill me if I run a checkpoint? The argument that I’m a civilian who “doesn’t understand” doesn’t stand. I’m the civilian whose life is threatened here. I’m the civilian getting killed in a meaningless situation no one should die in. I’m the civilian whose trust in the army is waning dangerously thin. I’m the civilian whose support the army desperately needs. I’m the civilian who can’t understand why I have to die if I don’t stop at a checkpoint.
We are not hypocrites. We supported the Lebanese army when the hypocrites proclaiming Lebanese army love today laughed at some of the army’s martyrs. But when it comes to our lives, some things need to be said. The Madfoun checkpoint has a puzzle of barricades to prevent people like Charbel Rahme from speeding away from the checkpoint. The army would have had way too much time to spread out the spikes needed in order to stop the car.
The spikes wouldn’t have allowed Charbel Rahme’s car to go more than 20 meters with deflated tires. Even if Charbel Rahme had continued trying to move away, his body has way too many points the army can hit without killing. And yet, Charbel Rahme’s body is lying cold in the morgue of the Batroun Hospital with a bullet hole in his head.
There’s no other way to spin it. The Lebanese army is getting reckless with the lives of the people it should be protecting. The Lebanese army is becoming way too reckless with the weapons it has especially with people against whom these weapons should never be used.
Alla ye7me l jeish? I beg to differ. Alla ye7mina ne7na iza heik.
Is Lebanon fast turning into a military state where your life ends depending on how you behave at checkpoints? Is not stopping at a military checkpoint now a threat to the national security of the country?
The people of Bsharre are now ringing the bells of their churches, lighting candles and praying for the soul of Charbel Rahme. May he rest in peace. His death was unnecessary, uncalled for and much more dangerous than the death of Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahad. Why? Because Charbel Rahme was a regular citizen, like you and me.