Maronite Patriarch Denounces Hezbollah: ‘We Will Not Be Sacrificial Lambs’

The Maronite Patriarch in Lebanon has just delivered an impassioned speech against Hezbollah, and the possibility that the terror group will yet again drag Lebanon into a war with Israel that no one in the country, save the goose-stepping bezonians of Hezbollah, wants. More on Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi can be found here: “Lebanese patriarch to Hezbollah: We refuse to be sacrificial lambs for cult of death,” by Tzvi Joffre, Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2024:

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi spoke out against the escalation of tensions between Hezbollah and Israel on Sunday, saying that residents of southern Lebanon had told the Maronite Church that they refuse to be “sacrificial lambs” for a “culture of death” in an apparent criticism of Hezbollah’s escalation along the border.

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,” said Rahi in his Sunday sermon. “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.”

The people of southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel, find themselves in the middle of the escalating exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah aways starts these exchanges, either shooting its artillery pieces, or launches a rocket, into the civilian villages of the northern Galilee, and Israel hits back with greater force. This has not discouraged Hezbollah, which ratchets up the destructiveness of its next round, to which Israel again responds with still greater force. And now both sides are talking of a possible all-out war. Naturally, this makes the Lebanese who are not part of Hezbollah anxious and fearful. They — the Christians, the Sunni Muslims, and even many of the Shi’a — want no part of the violence Hezbollah is intent on directing at Israeli civilians, and most definitely do not want war.

The patriarch stressed that the residents of southern Lebanon told him that they are, “experiencing the psychological pressures of war” and that children in the area are unable to go to school due to the conflict….

“They add: 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.”…

The Patriarch is speaking not just for his people — the Maronite Christians — but for all the Lebanese whose lives have been turned upside down by the Hezbollah-generated violence. They are being used as human shields in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah; like Hamas, Hezbollah embeds its weapons and fighters in civilian areas. The Patriarch quotes a resident of southern Lebanon bewailing the “failure, chaos, and anxiety” experienced by children in southern Lebanon, who, because of the daily exchanges of fire, are too scared to go to school. And he quotes another resident in the south who declares his refusal to allow himself and his family to be used as human shields, and “sacrificial lambs” to the manic aggression of Hassan Nasrallah. He saw how in 2006, at the time of the first Israel-Hezbollah War, the IDF soundly defeated Hezbollah and devastated the infrastructure in the south of Lebanon. When Al-Rahli refers to the “culture of death,” he is alluding to the Muslim boast that “we love death the way you [the Infidels] love life.” It’s clear he wants no part of that “culture of death.” And he knows that ever since the 2006 war Hezbollah, which clearly suffered defeat in that war, nonetheless preposterously continues to claim that it emerged victorious in that war. Furthermore, in the tit-for-tat exchanges since between Hezbollah and Israel, the former always claims to have inflicted more damage on the latter, but the reverse is true.

The Maronite Patriarch is trying desperately to head off a full-scale war — and not just an exchange of blows — between Hezbollah and Israel. He has heard the warnings of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who in November warned “what we are doing in Gaza we can do in Beirut,” and the statement of Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, who in mid-January said that if war breaks out with Hezbollah, “all of Lebanon would be a war zone.”

Rahi has already rejected the possibility of Hezbollah opening a second front to take the pressure off of Hamas in Gaza. He wants to head off the threat of war between Hezbollah and Israel, which, according to the IDF Chief of Staff, becomes more likely with every passing day, as Hezbollah continues its shelling of northern Israel. It would not take much — a dozen or so Israelis killed by Hamas shelling — to send the IDF into southern Lebanon.

The patriarch called on everyone to “respect Security Council Resolution 1701 with all its provisions for the good of Lebanon.”…

That was the Resolution that called for a pullback by Hezbollah from the border with Israel, with a buffer zone to be patrolled by UN Peacekeepers and the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah initially agreed to those terms, but then reneged on its promise, and has remained in place right up to the border, from where it has continued to fire artillery and shoot missiles at Israel with ever greater frequency.

This time, Rahi did not repeat his call for the Lebanese Army to disarm Hezbollah. He recognizes that in the curent circumstances, the army doesn’t dare try to take on Hezbollah.  Hezbollah is much the stronger force, with 100,000 trained fighters, while the Lebanese Army has fewer than 80,000 less well-trained troops, and its armory of weapons is nothing like what, thanks to Iran, Hezbollah has available, including 150,000 precision-guided missiles.

Rahi’s appeal is to the outside world: we Lebanese don’t want to be dragged into this war by Hezbollah. Please pressure Nasrallah to pull back from the border, and to at long last honor the pledges he made long ago, with UN Resolution 1701. According to that resolution, Hezbollah was to agree to be disarmed, and to withdraw its forces north of the Litani River. The area south of the Litani River right up to the border with Israel, was supposed to be patrolled by the Lebanese Army and UN peacekeepers. But Hezbollah did not disarm, and it has repeatedly sent troops south of the Litani.

Will Rahi be heeded? After the recent killing and wounding of American soldiers by Iran’s Iraqi ally, the Kata’ib Hezbollah, perhaps Washington will want to land another blow against Iran by providing immediate, and substantial, deliveries of weapons to the Lebanese Army, so that it might be able to face down Hezbollah and take control of southern Lebanon from the Israeli border up to the Litani River. That would likely end Hezbollah’s attacks, and Israel’s counterattacks, and prevent a repeat of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War — a prospect that frightens the Maronite Patriarch and every non-Hezbollah Lebanese.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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