Lebanese Christian leader slams Hezbollah for provoking devastating Israeli reactions

Most Lebanese people “do not want to involve Lebanon in military operations that provoke devastating Israeli reactions,” a Lebanese spiritual leader said Sunday.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

Increasing numbers of Lebanese civilians and public figures are openly saying that they are fed up with Hezbollah‘s presence in their country.

This sentiment was reflected by comments made Sunday by a dominant Christian leader, Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, leader of a primarily Lebanese ethnoreligious Christian group called the Maronites.

Al-Rahi called on the Lebanese army “to take control of the entire lands of [southern Lebanon]” and to “strictly implement Resolution 1701 and to prevent the launching of missiles from Lebanese territory,” arguing that Hezbollah’s operations not only endanger Israel’s safety, but the safety of Lebanon as well, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA).

The religious leader added that Lebanon “is officially committed to the 1949 truce,” and added that most Lebanese “do not want to involve Lebanon in military operations that provoke devastating Israeli reactions.”

“We are sick of wars, killing, destruction, and displacement,” he concluded.

Following threats made against Al-Rahi, Lebanese prime minister Fouad Makhzoumi released a statement the following day, reiterating Al-Rahi’s remarks, saying that Lebanon “salute[s] the positions of Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi and affirm[s] that any targeting act against him is unacceptable,” NNA reported.

Al-Rahi is considered a harsh critic of Hezbollah and a supporter of Lebanon’s neutrality regarding regional conflicts. In April, the religious leader supported Christian parties that called for the collective resignation of Lebanon’s Parliament, while accusing Hezbollah of hijacking the country and distorting Lebanese identity.

“What can be said about those who intentionally block the formation of the government and paralyze the state, who make the people believe that the problem is in the Constitution, when the Constitution is the solution?” he said at the time.

Then, in May, during Israel’s military operation in Gaza and following an isolated rocket attack carried out from Lebanon to northern Israel, al-Rahi, called on Lebanese authorities to “control the border and prevent Lebanese territory from being used as a missile launch pad,” Asian News reported at the time.

The Maronites constitute approximately 33% of Lebanon’s population, according to data released by the Maronite Church. And a Maronite community of over 11,000 lives in Israel, some of whom define themselves as Armenians.

On Friday 19 rockets were launched toward northern Israel from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made it clear that Lebanon must be held responsible for any attack carried out from its territory. Talking to members of the Knesset’s security cabinet on Sunday, he noted that there is an impotent awakening of “many Lebanese citizens against Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement in the country,” after a video was released showing Druze villagers in Lebanon attempting to prevent Hezbollah terrorists from launching rockets toward Israel.