Card Beshara al-Rahi Photo: InfoVaticana

Lebanon: Maronite Catholic patriarch says Lebanese oppose war against Israel

For Card Beshara al-Rahi, the Lebanese do not want an escalation on the southern border, in the wake of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United States and Europe are intensifying diplomatic efforts to prevent further violence. Blinken and Borrell warn about worse to come. Hackers attack Beirut airport with messages about Hezbollah and Iran.

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Fady Noun

(ZENIT News – Asia News / Beirut, 01.165.2024).- The United States and Europe, as well as some of their Arab partners, like Qatar and Jordan, are currently involved in intense diplomatic efforts to prevent Lebanon from being dragged into the Gaza war. In Lebanon, some are speaking out more loudly after Hezbollah opens a southern front to support Gaza.

The war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, now in its fourth month, could blow up in the region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Sunday during a tour of Arab countries and Israel.

On a visit to Lebanon, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said: “I think that the war can be prevented, has to be avoided and diplomacy can prevail,” he explained.

Arriving in Lebanon the day after Israel’s assassination of Hamas’s number two, Saleh el-Arouri, in a Hezbollah’s stronghold, he was briefed «on the current risks of escalation along the Blue Line» in southern Lebanon, during a meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of UNIFIL, General Arnoldo Lazaro.

Capital of sympathy

Yet, despite the amount of sympathy for the Palestinian cause (due in part to the Israeli army’s relentlessness against the civilian population of Gaza), a large majority of Lebanese, particularly in the border region, remain adamantly opposed to Hezbollah’s support, as well as any Palestinian armed action from Lebanon.

«The Gaza war has spread to southern Lebanon against the will of the Lebanese and friendly countries,» Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi said on Sunday on World Day of Peace.

The head of the Maronite Church once again called for the resolution of this conflict through negotiation and diplomacy, stressing that «Lebanon is protected from a conflict with Israel by Security Council Resolution 1701,» which forced Hezbollah to retreat north of the Litani River.

«Our community, too, has a say in the future of Lebanon,» the Sunni Mufti of the Republic insisted during a social event in which he defended the state against Hezbollah’s «mini-state.»

During his flagship programme, one of Lebanon’s most followed TV commentators, Marcel Ghanem, expressed his sadness at seeing so many men sacrifice their lives in southern Lebanon (including some 140 fighters and cadres of the pro-Iranian party), with their deaths having no apparent impact on the fighting in Gaza.

Rafik Hariri Airport hacked

The conflict took on an eye-catching form on Sunday, when information display screens at Beirut’s international airport were hacked by domestic anti-Hezbollah groups.

Instead of flight schedules, there was a text hostile to Hezbollah that read, addressed to Hezbollah’s leader: “Hassan Nasrallah, you will no longer have supporters if you curse Lebanon with a war for which you will bear responsibility and consequences”.

The message went on to say that airfield was “not the airport of Hezbollah and Iran”.

Accompanied by the logo of Jounoud el-Rab (the Soldiers of the Lord) and that of the online account «Saheb el Kalima» («The word is mine»), the text was displayed on Sunday at around 5 pm on the airport’s information screens.

But in a video shared on social media, the Jounoud el-Rab group, which has made a name for itself in Achrafieh, the Christian neighbourhood of Beirut, for its fight against the LGBTQ+ movement, denied any responsibility for the hacking and saw in the exploitation of its logo «a malicious act aimed to sow dissension».

«Israel will not be saved by war,» said a former minister, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Only by giving the Palestinians a future will it be able to live in peace.

“What I am saying here is not angelism, but realism. Love, in international relations, is giving others as many opportunities to build themselves in the long term as we give to ourselves.»

“But where can we find the leaders on both sides who will rise to the occasion of this historic challenge?» he wonders.


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