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Christian Lebanese leader: Hezbollah a 'culture of death'

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi in an interview with CNBC in April 2021 (Photo: Screenshot)

One of Lebanon’s most senior Christian officials blasted Hezbollah on Sunday, calling the Iranian-backed terror group a “culture of death” that endangers Lebanon’s future.

During his Sunday sermon, Christian leader Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi revealed that many residents in southern Lebanon feel let down by the country’s government.

“Allow me to say it loud and clear - not as an abandonment of national or Arab issues, but rather out of my honesty with myself - I refuse to make myself and my family members hostages, human shields, and sacrificial lambs for failed Lebanese policies, and for the culture of death that has brought nothing but imaginary victories and shameful defeats to our country,” al-Rahi stated, in a veiled reference to Hezbollah and its policy of border aggression against neighboring Israel.

“The people of the border villages in the south express to us their pain at the state’s abandonment of them and of its duties and responsibilities towards them,” al-Rahi said.

“They, both old and young, are living through the brunt of the war imposed on them and rejected by them, as they consider that Lebanon and the Lebanese have nothing to do with it.”

In the 1930s, Lebanon was predominantly a Christian nation. Since then, much of the country’s educated Christian middle class has emigrated to the West, due to the lack of economic opportunities and threats from radical Muslims.

During its heyday, the Lebanese capital Beirut was known as the ‘Paris of the Middle East,’ ad was one of the most liberal and westernized urban centers in the region. However, civil war and powerful external players like the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as well as Syria and Iran, have turned a once-thriving Lebanon into a poor, weak and fractured state.

Many Lebanese fear the Iran's terror proxy Hezbollah, which is considered more powerful than the conventional Lebanese Armed Forces. However, al-Rahi has emerged as one of the few prominent religious leaders to denounce the terror group for its policy of prioritizing Iranian interests over domestic Lebanese interests.

In December, al-Rahi publicly spoke against a war between Hezbollah and the Jewish state. The Christian official echoed recent statements by French foreign ministers and defense ministers, calling for the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.

UN Resolution 1701 was adopted after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when Hezbollah launched a surprise border attack against Israel. The attack ignited a war that lasted for about one month, and brought much destruction to southern Lebanon especially in locations where Hezbollah terrorists embedded themselves among civilians.

“Let everyone respect (UN) Security Council Resolution 1701 and all its articles for the sake of Lebanon’s welfare,” al-Rahi said.

While the resolution calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed and retreat from the Israel border, it has never been implemented. Instead, Hezbollah has only become more powerful. According to the latest public estimates, the group has a substantial number of rockets and missiles (about 150,000) that can reportedly reach any part of Israel.

The Maronite leader openly called for the Lebanese government to step in: “It must be stopped, and the Lebanese people, their homes, and their livelihoods must be protected, as they have not yet emerged from the disastrous results of the Lebanese war. We demand the removal of any rocket launcher planted between homes in southern towns that would require a devastating Israeli response.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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