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July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

Lebanon Calls for US Help to Pilfer Israeli Gas

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Lebanon’s parliament speaker announced Thursday that Beirut would ask the United States for help to cut in on Israel’s natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, the Times of Israel reported Thursday.

The field is located off the coast of Nahariya, south of Lebanon’s territorial waters. The area in question is a 1,400- square kilometre maritime that is considered part of Israel’s exclusive economic zone. US geologists believe the area contains up to 123 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

Until that discovery was made, Lebanon had never laid claim to the area.  Since then, however, Hezbollah spokespeople have mentioned the issue repeatedly in their speeches, apparently planning to turn the area into a “maritime Sheba Farms,” a reference to the area of Israel that Hezbollah claims as “occupied” Lebanese territory. The United Nations regards that area as part of Syria, where as UN maps show the site as clearly being inside Israel.

For Hezbollah, however the supposedly-“occupied” Farms create pretext to continue preparations to fight the Israeli enemy.

Seize the momentum

Apparently seeking to seize on the momentum created when the United States legitimised Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian unity government, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri asked Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday to intervene on Lebanon’s behalf. who paid a surprise visit to Lebanon Wednesday.

TOI quoted the as-Safir newsper, which said that Berri told Kerry he hoped the US would mediate between Lebanon and Israel “in a balanced and fair manner.” Berri also apparently tried to bribe Kerry, offering an opportunity for US companies to become “partner(s) in oil exploitation in Lebanon,” the website added.

Lebanese factions fought a devastating civil war from 1975-90, destroying the country’s tourism industry and much of its export trade. In the past, the country, which is poor in natural resources, has been a haven of cultural freedom and tolerance, with a thriving nightlife and culture scene in the capital, Beirut.  Since then, the country’s economy has basically stagnated.

In addition, Lebanon has essentially been taken over by Iran, via its local proxy, Hezbollah. Following Israel’s withdrawal from the security zone the terror group has repeatedly kidnapped Israeli soldiers, most recently provoking the Second Lebanon War in 2006. As a result, Beirut has incurred massive national debt with little ability to repay it.

TOI reported that the United States has asked Lebanese officials to hold off on drilling in disputed waters until a final deal on borders can be reached.

Lebanese Priest Hopes to Re-Patriate SLA Vets

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported Thursday that Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who is currently on a landmark visit to Israel, said he would ask Lebanese authorities to allow former members of the South Lebanon Army to return to their homeland.

The SLA fought alongside Israel during the latter’s maintenance of the security sone, a 17-kilometer stretch of Lebanese territory north of the Israeli border following the 1982 Operatio Peace for Galilee. The organization collapsed after Israel dismantled the security zone in May, 2000, and thousands of SLA soldiers fled to Israel, many with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Meeting with former SLA soldiers Capernaum, a Christian holy site overlooking the Kinneret, Rai said, “You are among those who are paying the expense of a certain international and regional plot. We are following up on your sufferings with authorities in Lebanon.”

The paper reported Rai, who accompanied Pope Francis to Israel but was sharply criticised in Lebanon for “granting legitimacy” to the Jewish state, is the first Lebanese religious leader to visit Israel despite the formal state of war between the countries.  Hezbollah, the controlling force in south Lebaon, issued a thinly-veiled threat to the Patriarch that the visit could have “dangerous and negative repercussions.”

 

Historic Visit to Israel by Lebanon’s Courageous Maronite Patriarch

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In honor of Pope Francis, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church defied threats to his life this week and came to Israel.

Cardinal Beshara Ra’i is the first Lebanese cleric to arrive in the Jewish State since 1948. Having arrived on Saturday to begin a week-long visit, he joined the pontiff Sunday for the first leg of his two-day tour of the Holy Land in Bethlehem. Much of the weekend, however, he spent traveling around Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem’s Old City and surrounds.

But on Monday he took what critics saw as an irrevocable political step by crossing into “pre-1967″ Israel — arriving at a Maronite community in the ancient port city of Jaffa (Yafo), next to Tel Aviv. There are numerous Lebanese Christians living in Israel, many of whom emigrated in order to stay alive after the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Lebanese media called the cleric’s visit a “historic sin,” though he was greeted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas with a medal, the ‘Star of Jerusalem’ for his efforts.

“We came here for the goal of strengthening our belief,” he told journalists when asked why he had taken the risk.

Sources aligned to the Hezbollah terrorist organization warned last week the Cardinal’s visit “cannot not pass quietly,” the Times of Israel reported. Likewise the Lebanese As-Safir quoted unnamed sources who said, “The patriarch’s move puts the Christian existence in the east in danger at a time when their presence is being increasingly targeted in the entire region.”

Christians have long been tormented by various Islamist groups, not only in Lebanon but also in Egypt. They have also been harassed in Palestinian Authority-controlled Bethlehem, where the city’s former Christian majority has now dwindled to a bare ten percent of its current Muslim majority population.

The pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar ran a fiery op-ed against the visit one week ago, warning, “When Beshara Ra’i travels to ‘Israel’ with the knowledge and consent of the occupation authorities, he creates a dangerous precedent . . . he humanizes the enemy, breaking the taboo and opening the door to all the believers eager to visit the holy sites. When will organized tours begin, guarded by Tzahal (the Israeli army) and hosted by Israeli companies eager to smuggle their products into Lebanon for years?”

The Cardinal responded with an interview in the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, pointing out, “His Holiness the Pope will grace the patriarchate with his visit and it would be inappropriate for us not to welcome him in our lands Jordan and Palestine, which is Israel today. I know full well that Israel is an enemy state which occupies Lebanese land as well, and I respect Lebanese law [banning visits to Israel.] We have no meetings with Israeli officials and I am sorry that some Lebanese wish to create problems where there are none.”

Pope Francis, who began his visit to the region in Amman, pointed out before leaving Jordan that the freedom of worship is an essential human right, and expressed the hope of seeing that upheld throughout the Middle East.

It would appear that only in Israel are members of all three monotheistic faiths assured of their rights to worship.

Senior Maronite Archbishop Paul Sayah added the Cardinal’s visit was purely religious and not linked to the “regrettable situation that exists between Lebanon and Israel.”

Hezbollah Celebrates Anniversary of Israeli Withdrawal; Barak Silent

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah celebrated the 14th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the south Lebanon security zone Sunday with a warning that the terror group’s operatives are, “active day and night to improve our deterrence capabilities,” and that this progress “worries the Israeli enemy.” Since Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew from Lebanon against the advice of IDF and civilian security officials, six IDF soldiers have been kidnapped across the international border. The second kidnapping incident, in 2006, led to the Second Lebanon War.

Former Prime Minister Barak did not real ease any statement about the anniversary.

Lebanon Jews Denounce Israel as Beirut Synagogue Reopens

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The Jewish community in Lebanon has officially denounced the State of Israel as the country’s sole synagogue prepares to reopen in Beirut.

“We have no connection to those who wanted to live in Palestine and kill innocent people,” Isaac Arazi, head of Lebanon’s dwindling Jewish community, announced to a reporter.

He spoke with the London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview this week ahead of the impending reopening of Magen Avraham, the only remaining synagogue in Lebanon.

Founded in 1925, Magen Avraham was one of 16 synagogues in Beirut, named for the son of Abraham Sassoon, Moise Abraham Sassoon of Calcutta, and built on land donated by Isaac Mann. The synagogue is located in the former Jewish district of Wadi Abu Jamil in Beirut and was allegedly abandoned after shelling destroyed the building during the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s.

During the 1982 Lebanon War with Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization forces headed by terrorist Yasser Arafat holed up in the Jewish neighborhood. They used the synagogue as a shield, forcing Israeli pilots to attempt a surgical air strike that failed, further damaging the building.

Renovations in process since May 2009 were estimated at approximately $1 million. “We even raised money from Lebanese Jews outside the country – but Christians and Muslims have also helped us renovate,” Arazi noted. “Even the company that is responsible for development and rehabilitation of Beirut helped us in accordance with the law that the state should help to renovate houses of worship.”

Arazi said as head of the community, he spoke for all of the remaining few dozen Jews who are left in the country north of Israel, home also to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization.

Although the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization, an Iranian proxy, is committed to Israel’s destruction, the group claimed it has no problem with the Jews in its midst. “We respect the Jewish religion just like we do Christianity,” a spokesman for the terrorist organization told the newspaper. “The Jews have always lived among us. We have an issue with Israel’s occupation of land.”

The sectarian fighting that takes place between Hezbollah and other groups within Lebanon and in Syria seems to belie the statement, however. Likewise, the massive flight of Jews from Lebanon that left the community almost entirely bare leaves one to wonder why, if conditions among the Lebanese are so convivial, so many other Jews found it necessary to flee.

“Not all Jews are Zionists. We identify as Lebanese and we belong in Lebanon 100 percent,” Arazi told the Arabic newspaper. “Our condition is just like that of the rest of Lebanon. We suffer just as they do from politicians and officials whose only worry is how to put our money in their pockets.”

The majority of Lebanon’s population is Muslim, although there is a significant Christian minority. The newspaper did indeed also report that Gentile in-laws of intermarried Jews are not as likely to ignore the differences between them as the Lebanese Jews are.

One woman who was interviewed, “Sonia,” age 60, said that although she stayed with her Gentile husband and children when the rest of her family made aliyah, her in-laws nevertheless were opposed to her because of her faith.

Still, she told the newspaper, “There’s no such thing as Zionist or Jewish. The Jews are all one, and there’s no way to run from their identity.”

Elite IDF Bedouin Trackers Eliminate Israel’s Northern Border Threats

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

A special unit in the Israeli army comprised solely of Bedouin trackers is keeping Israel’s northern border safe.

The Northern Bedouin Tracking Unit commanded by Lt. Col. Majdi Mazarib protects Israel from kidnapings, infiltrators and 100,000 rockets, among myriad other threats emanating from Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization.

Speaking in Arabic, Lt. Col. Mazarib tells an interviewer in a video piece on his unit, “From Israel’s founding, the Bedouin community has chosen to volunteer and serve in the IDF, and actively participate in founding the country.”

The unique skills of a Bedouin tracker are unmatched anywhere else in the region, and cannot be duplicated by technology – a fact the IDF understands and accepts.

“Without the Bedouin, Israel would not be able to properly protect its borders,” the commander adds.

Bedouin are not obligated to serve in the IDF, though they volunteer in large numbers.

“The skills that they possess are unique” and the Bedouin soldiers are essential to the protection of Israel, notes the report on the unit posted this week on the IDF Blog.

“I am Israeli, and proud to be an Israeli Arab and to serve in the IDF,” Lt. Col. Mazarib says.

Hezbollah Reportedly Faces Financial Crisis

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

A report in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, citing sources in Lebanon, said Hezbollah is facing increasing financial pressure over austerity measures by the Iranian government since President Hassan Rouhani took office last summer, as well as strain over the terror group’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Additionally, the report said Hezbollah is facing financial pressure from more aggressive prosecution by the United States and Europe over foreign sources of funding from Latin America and Africa.

Last week, several members of the U.S. Congress proposed a new bill to increase sanctions on Hezbollah by targeting its banks and other financial institutions that support the terror group.

Germany, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that it banned the German charity Orphan Children Project Lebanon for raising money for Hezbollah. German police staged raids across the country on homes and offices used by the charity.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hezbollah-reportedly-faces-financial-crisis/2014/04/10/

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