Tel Aviv Shows Solidarity With Lebanon, Drawing Right-wing Ire

Tel Aviv Mayor says City Hall will be lit up in the colors of Lebanon's flag: 'Humanity precedes conflict'

Bar Peleg
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Tel Aviv City Hall, lit up in the colors of the Lebanese flag, August 5, 2020.
Tel Aviv City Hall, lit up in the colors of the Lebanese flag, August 5, 2020.Credit: Tel Aviv Municipality Spokesperson
Bar Peleg

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai announced on Wednesday that city hall will be lit up in the colors of the Lebanese flag in a show of solidarity with the country a day after a massive explosion shook its capital, killing over 100 people and wounding thousands.

"Humanity precedes any conflict, and our hearts are with the Lebanese people following the terrible disaster it experienced," Huldai wrote on Twitter.

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Accusations of cozying up to Israel's enemy were quick to follow. Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote that the orange color – associated with opponents of the Gaza disengagement 15 years ago – should have lit up city hall. "Instead, we got a flag of an enemy state. An upside-down world."

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Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz said that while offering humanitarian aid to Lebanon is the right thing to do, "waving the flag of an enemy country in the heart of Tel Aviv is morally questionable." Yair Netanyahu, the premier's son, wrote that the initiative was a felony.

Tuesday's blast flattened much of the city's port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Hours later, ambulances still carried away the wounded – now over 4,000 – as army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.

Officials did not say what caused the initial blaze at the port that set off the blast. A security source and media said it was started by welding work being carried out on a warehouse.

Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020.
Firefighters spray water at a fire after an explosion was heard in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. Credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla

Several countries, including Israel, have offered Lebanon aid following the explosion. On Wednesday, the director of the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, Dr. Masad Barhoum, said they were "prepared to take in the wounded."

According to Barhoum, he had contacted Diab, as well as Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the country's parliament to extend a helping hand. He reiterated that in the past the center has treated 3,000 wounded from the Syrian civil war, and added that the Israeli army informed him of the possibility that some of the injured from Lebanon would arrive for treatment.

Iran's president, Hassan Rohani, also offered on Wednesday to send medical aid to Lebanon and treat the injured, according to state TV. 

"We hope that the circumstances of this incident will be determined as soon as possible and that peace will return to Beirut," he said.

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