ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite bishops sound the alarm: escalation of war has already affected Lebanon

Thursday, 4 January 2024 oriental churches   middle east   wars   sectaniarism   extrajudicial killings   political islam  

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The escalation of the war in the Middle East has hit Lebanon, exacerbating the risks of worsening a situation that has already become a kind of "time bomb" due to the presence of more than a million Syrian refugees on Lebanese territory. The bishops of the Maronite Church, who met for their monthly meeting at the Patriarchate of Bkerké on Wednesday, January 3, under the presidency of the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, are therefore sounding the alarm. The escalation, the bishops said in a detailed 9-point statement released after the meeting, had already caused "casualties and injuries among residents of the region as well as massive destruction in several localities in southern Lebanon, not to mention the use of phosphorus bombs that have burned green spaces". This escalation, the Maronite bishops' statement continued, "reached the southern suburbs of Beirut yesterday (Tuesday, editor's note)". A direct reference to the missile that on Tuesday killed, among others, Hamas leader Saleh el-Arouri, in an attack that rocked a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite party Hezbollah. In the first point of their statement, the Maronite bishops call on the Lebanese deputies to "fulfill their constitutional obligation" to elect a new President of the Republic "in order to save the country from collapse and instability." Regarding the war in the Holy Land, the Maronite Bishops express their deep regret "at the killings, destruction and violence" carried out, particularly against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, "by the Israeli army and the Israeli settlers" and call for "a final ceasefire" that will form the basis for negotiations between the parties involved on the basis of the so-called "two-state solution". In view of the escalation of the conflict in the areas near the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Maronite Bishops call on the "friends of Lebanon in the world" to "contribute effectively to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), which is the only way forward "to put an end to Israel's aggression and to define a clear and effective framework for peace in southern Lebanon". In another important passage of their statement, the Maronite bishops sounded the alarm about the problems linked to the large presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanese territory. "The searches carried out by the military and security forces," the Bishops said, "have shown that the displaced people are in possession of ammunition and sophisticated weapons. This is a time bomb that poses a real threat to the Lebanese people." Therefore, the national and supranational authorities must "take serious steps and adopt the necessary diplomatic and political measures to free Lebanon from this burden that weighs on its demography, its economy and its balance". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2024)