Al-Abiad also remembers finding Omar by the white tent. By that time, Omar was already in critical condition. “He was already fading and losing consciousness,” said al-Abiad. “It looked like the bullet came out of the lower part of his stomach.”
Imad jumped into the ambulance with Omar and another wounded protester who was shot in the foot. Khodor followed. They arrived at Nini Hospital a little afterbefore 10 p.m. After about half an hour, doctors began to operate on Omar. The doctors worked on him until about two in the morning — almost four hours. “The doctor said he had a one percent chance of making it,” Khodor said with a deep sigh. “And he didn’t make it.”
Hospital officials confirmed that Tayba was shot in the lower back, with the bullet escaping through his abdomen. They told The Public Source that Tayba was already in critical condition by the time he arrived at the hospital. The hospital officially informed Omar’s family of his death the following morning. “We were officially notified of Omar’s passing at 8 a.m.,” Ahmad said. “But someone from the hospital told us he passed away overnight, and another told us at dawn.”
Later that morning, an intelligence official approached Ahmad and his father Farouk in the waiting room at the hospital. He asked them what Omar was doing at the protest, then offered his condolences and said the incident would be investigated. The hospital administration said they shared Tayba’s medical file with the ISF for their investigation.
Omar Tayba is the third person killed by Lebanon’s security agencies at protests in Tripoli in less than a year. On October 27, 2019, Ahmad Tawfik was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet at a protest, and succumbed to his wounds on February 17, 2020. Protesters and media outlets lodged accusations against the army, the ISF and former Tripoli MP Mesbah el-Ahdab’s bodyguards; no investigation was ever made public. And on April 27, 2020, the Lebanese army shot 26 year-old Fawaz al-Samman during a protest at Nour Square. Al-Samman died the following morning. The army “expressed its deep regret” over the incident and pledged to investigate. To date, neither Tawfik’s nor al-Samman’s families has learned the details of how their loved ones died.
The Tayba family is skeptical whether they will ever see justice for Omar. The ISF told Farouk Tayba, Omar’s father, that the investigation is ongoing. But when Farouk tried to follow up, an ISF colonel told him that he should have brought in a coroner to examine Omar’s body. “When we retrieved the body at the hospital, we never were informed about the need to bring in a coroner and so on,” said Ahmad. “We weren’t aware of these things. My father had to find out himself who was handling the investigation.”
The family has since brought in lawyers to pursue Omar’s case. “We want justice for Omar, but not only for him. He’s gone, and he’s not coming back,” said Ahmad. “We don’t want other families to taste the misery we have.”
His voice shook as he held back tears. “He was loved,” said Ahmad. “Everyone loved him. He was a young man, and you know how the situation is here for them. He felt he had no future here.”