Vigils have been held in multiple cities across the world to honour the victims of the deadly blast in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, which has left at least 137 people dead and more than 5,000 injured.
Tuesday’s was the most powerful explosion to hit a country that has seen more than its share of destruction. Rescuers searched desperately under the rubble, hoping to find survivors.
Lebanon was already being crushed by an economic crisis, its healthcare system overloaded as it tried to deal with scarce resources in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Ambulances were called in from outside Beirut to help ferry the thousands of injured people to what medical facilities remained standing after the explosion.
In solidarity with the victims, dozens of Palestinians in the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip participated in a blood donation drive sponsored by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. “I donated my blood in a moment of loyalty to the Lebanese people,” said Abu Diab Ouida.
Organisers said they would coordinate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to try to get the blood donations delivered to Lebanon.
The Gaza Strip has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, and it remains unclear whether the donated blood will be able to reach Lebanon.
In Israel, the Tel Aviv municipality lit up City Hall with the Lebanese flag in solidarity, with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai posting on Twitter that “humanity takes precedence over every conflict, and our hearts are with the Lebanese people following the horrible disaster that befell it”.
Not everyone agreed with the sentiment.
Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, called the decision “simply insane” on Twitter. “Lebanon is officially an enemy state. By law, it is a criminal offence to fly an enemy flag,” he posted. No such law exists in the Israeli legal code.
Israel and Lebanon are officially in a state of war and do not have diplomatic relations.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark at midnight (22:00 GMT on Wednesday) to mourn those who lost their lives. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to arrive in the shattered Lebanese capital on Thursday.