Above, the moment of the terrible explosion on the evening of Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in Beirut, Lebanon. The massive explosion unleashed a terrific shock wave that traveled outward for 6 miles, knocking out windows, killing more than 150, and wounding thousands.

    Above, two different views of the explosion, one a close-up, and one from a distance. Experts are studying the color and shape of the clouds as they attempt to determine what caused the explosion.

    Below, on the left side, in the round circle of water, is the crater left by the explosion. The large building in the middle foreground was not demolished, and to a certain extent protected the city to the right of that building from the shock wave.

    Below, two maps, both showing Lebanon, southern Syria, and northern Israel. The round lake in the middle marked “Lake Tiberias” is the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus preached and where the apostles fished.

    The Golan Heights are a contested zone on the far side of the Sea of Galilee, between northern Israel and Syria.

    Beirut is on the coast just beneath the word “Lebanon.”

    The gas fields marked out in the Mediterranean are major new deposits of valuable natural gas discovered in recent years.

    The orange disputed area in the sea is a portion of the sea bottom which is disputed between Lebanon and Israel, depending on which angle is used to draw the measurement out from the coastline.

    The second map is important because it contains little green and red and blue and red squares which mark the locations of attacks by Israel on Lebanon, and by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel.

    This shows graphically that the area in the north of Israel and in Lebanon to the north of the border all the way up to Beirut has been subject to attacks in this multi-decade conflict.

Letter #20, Friday, August 7, 2020: Lament for Lebanon

    Open your doors, Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedars! Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen; the stately trees are ruined!—Zechariah 11:1

    Oh, how doth the city sit solitary that was once full of people!—Lamentations of Jeremiah 1:1

    I am profoundly saddened for what has happened in Lebanon.

    All of us should shed a tear for what has happened to Lebanon’s beautiful capital, Beirut.

    Beirut is the lovely port city of a gorgeous mountainous country just to the north of Israel, just to the west of Syria, stretching along the turquoise coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It should be a paradise.

    Three days ago, on the evening of August 4, at about 6:07 p.m., an explosion in the harbor of Beirut sent a brief mushroom cloud billowing into the sky, followed by clouds of red and grey smoke and a powerful shock wave (but comparatively little heat — something observers noted — the heat would have set the city on fire).

     The shock wave raced through the city.

    “The Paris of the East,” so-called because of its pleasant climate, beautiful streets, and hospitable people, crumbled, with windows shattering into millions of tiny pieces, causing many injuries.

    So the day of August 4, 2020, much like September 11, 2001, in the United States, will go down as a day of tragedy and sorrow for Lebanon’s people.

    More than 150 people were killed, and thousands were injured as windows and walls were shattered by the intense shock wave as much as 10 miles from the blast.

    Officials say as many as 250,000 people may be homeless in coming days due to the tremendous damage done.

    And many silos of grain stored at the harbor were destroyed — Lebanon’s food supply for coming months. Officials say it may be difficult to import replacement food with the port infrastructure destroyed.

    We have several dear friends who are Lebanese, and they are well, thank God.

    But our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Beirut, and of Lebanon, who have been harmed and traumatized by this terrible explosion.

    Experts are now attempting to offer an explanation for what happened, and we are attempting ourselves to piece together what circumstances caused this terrible explosion, and what it may mean.

    The explosion was at first attributed by government officials to the accidental explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the harbor for the past six years, and never moved though several harbor officials asked government authorities to remove the potentially dangerous substance. The shipment was being transported by a Russian ship from the Black Sea to Africa, carrying thousands of tons of fertilizer. But the ship was impounded by Beirut port authorities in 2013, and the ship’s Russian owner abandoned the ship, which later sank in the harbor. All of its contents were brought ashore and left for 7 years in the warehouse that just blew up.

    “In 2013 the man identified as Igor Grechushkin, was paid $1 million to transport the high-density ammonium nitrate to the port of Beira in Mozambique,” Zerohedge writes. (link) “That’s when the ship, named the Rhosus, left the Black Sea port of Batumi, in Georgia.”

    So it seems clear there was a large storage building filled with fertilizer originating in Georgia which was kept for seven years in Beirut’s harbor and never moved or used.

    And then it blew up on Tuesday. What caused it to blow up?

    Lebanese authorities at first said it was touched off by a fire in a fireworks factory next to the warehouse.

    But then U.S. President Donald Trump said in an August 4 press conference that his top generals had indicated to him that the explosion may not have been accidental, but touched off by “a bomb.” (link)

    Trump said he had been briefed by “our great generals” and that they “seem to feel” that the explosion was not an accident. “According to them – they would know better than I would – but they seem to think it was an attack,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It was a bomb of some kind.”

    There are even videos now on the internet which seem to show a missile striking the stored ammonium nitrate, igniting it — but commenters note that such a video could be “photo-shopped,” that is, that the tiny white streak showing the missile could be fake, added to the video. (link and link and link and link)

    So the “mainstream” opinion now remains that the explosion was an accident.

    Still, President Trump, on the day after the attack, Wednesday, August 5, seemed to double down on his contention that the explosion was intentional. (link)

    “How can you say ‘accident’ if somebody left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around… perhaps — perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack,” Trump told reporters during a White House briefing. “I don’t think anybody can say right now. We’re looking into it very strongly right now.

    “Some people think it was an attack and some people think it wasn’t.

    “In any event, it was a terrible event and a lot of people were killed and a tremendous number of people were badly wounded, injured. And we’re standing with that country.”

    Trump continued: “But whether it was a bomb intentionally set off — it ended up being a bomb,” he said. “But no, I’ve heard it both ways. It could have been an accident and it could have also been something that was very offensive.” (link)

    Then, speaking earlier today, August 7, the President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, also seemed to change his position from the original one that it was a terrible accident, saying the Beirut explosions could have been “due to negligence or foreign interference through a missile or bomb.” (link)

    He said he had asked French President Emmanuel Macron to provide Lebanon with satellite imagery which might show there were any missiles or airplanes in the area which may have had something to do with the explosion.

    So there seems to be some slow movement in official circles to look more closely at the possibility that there was intent behind the explosion — which would, of course, make it not a lamentable accident, but a terrible crime.

    It is true that there have been tensions for years between Israel and Lebanon. This stems from the presence in southern Lebanon of many Muslim Palestinians who fled from Israel after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and after the 1967 and 1973 wars. Many belong to the group Hezbollah, which is now the dominant political party in Lebanon (the Maronite Catholics, numbering about 1 million, were formerly the largest single religious group in the country, but emigration due to civil war and lower birth rates have lowered their numbers.)

    Israel will inflict a “crushing” military blow on Hezbollah and Lebanon if Hezbollah dares to strike Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an Israeli cabinet meeting more than a year ago. (link)

    Netanyahu’s comments came after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, gave an interview on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV to mark the 13th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Nasrallah said that “Any war will be bigger than the 2006 war for Israel, and it will put it on the brink of extinction.”

    Netanyahu called Nasrallah’s comments “boastful words,” and asserted that if Hezbollah “dared to do something foolish and attack Israel, we would impose a crushing military blow on it and on Lebanon.”

    Because many people in Beirut were pointing their cell-phones at the fire in the harbor which began minutes before the final explosion, there may be the possibility of examining many different angles to determine what really happened.

    But there may also be the danger that the party blamed may be innocent, as the evidence may not mean what it seems to mean. So great care must be exercised before concluding any investigation of this terrible explosion.    

The people of Beirut are in need of assistance and we have spoken with our friends, the Maronite Monks, about how we can help. You can make a tax-deductible donation here and all donations will go to the Maronite Church in Lebanon in order to assist those who are in need in Beirut, Lebanon.

Click Here to Help

Pope Francis prays for victims of Lebanon explosion (link)

    At his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, August 5, Pope Francis prayed for victims of a massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, which killed dozens and caused serious destruction

    By Vatican News

    During the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis prayed for Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.

    “Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction,” said the Pope.

    “Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing,” the Pope prayed.

    Lebanon is in mourning after a massive explosion ripped through its capital Beirut and surrounding areas on Tuesday evening, killing at least 100 people and injuring thousands, with many feared still trapped under rubble.

    According to local authorities, the explosion was caused by tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the port of Lebanon’s capital.

Feast of the Transfiguration

    Pope Francis also reminded the faithful that Thursday (August 6) is the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

    In his address to the Polish-speaking faithful, the Pope said that Jesus revealed His Divine Majesty during the Transfiguration to His disciples, and through them, to all of us. We should therefore obey God’s command at the Transfiguration when the voice from heaven said “this is My beloved Son…listen to Him” (Mt 17:5).

    The Holy Father invited everyone to “keep their gaze always fixed on the resplendent face of God” in the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor, because “He is the light that illuminates the events of every day.”

    Pope Francis resumed the weekly General Audience from the library of the Apostolic Palace on Wednesday after a short summer break during the month of July.

Beirut after the August 4 explosion

The people of Beirut are in need of assistance and we have spoken with our friends, the Maronite Monks, about how we can help. You can make a tax-deductible donation here and all donations will go to the Maronite Church in Lebanon in order to assist those who are in need in Beirut, Lebanon.

Click Here to Help

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