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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

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.

Lebanese Media Report Two IDF Tanks Crossed Border

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Two Israeli Merkava tanks crossed the electronic fence on the northern border and entered Lebanese territory Tuesday, the Lebanese-run National News Agency reported.

The IDF refused to confirm or deny the report, and military spokeswoman explained to The Jewish Press, “We do not comment on reports from foreign media.”

The Lebanese news agency claimed that the two tanks remained in Lebanese territory for approximately two hours before leaving.

It added, “At the same time, Israeli warplanes violated the Lebanese airspace over the central sector, while a reconnaissance aircraft flew over (the southern regions of) Bint Jbeil and Marjeyoun,” according to the same source.

Israeli helicopters reportedly flew over southern Lebanon near the border and fired flares.

The activity could be related to Israeli military drills in the area but also may be a reaction to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s boast on Monday when he took responsibility for a bomb explosion aimed at an IDF patrol last month.

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Claims Galilee Threat from Syria

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Hezbollah terrorist chief Hassan Nasrallah claimed this week that Israel’s Galilee region is being threatened by events in Syria.

He noted that Israel was growing more worried about Iran as the days pass, and that the Jewish State is now closely guarding the Galilee region areas near the Golan Heights due to fear of cross-border attacks.

Nearly a month after an IDF jeep was blown up as soldiers patrolled along the northern border, Nasrallah also claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it came in response to one he blamed on Israel that prevented his group from receiving sophisticated arms from Iran.

But Israel has yet to acknowledge its part in the air strike, which left four Hezbollah terrorists dead. A missile launcher and two trucks that set out from Syria bearing supplies of missiles allegedly able to carry newer, heavier warheads never reached the Hezbollah warehouses.

According to a report in the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper quoting an interview published Monday in the As-Safir newspaper, Syrian government forces have begun to re-establish their control over Damascus and surrounds. Not good news for the State of Israel, said Nasrallah, who told the newspaper the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is no longer in jeopardy.

Nasrallah claimed that although opposition forces in Syria appeared to have the upper hand last year, the fact that Assad remained in office was proof “the danger of the Syrian regime falling has ended and we have exceeded the risk of partition.”

The Shi’ite terror chief added that although there had been one group in Syria that had opposed Hezbollah’s presence, but that the issue had been settled. Nasrallah said that the presence of “radical groups” in Syria are an existential threat to Lebanon and the region.

The Al Qaeda terrorist organization – a radical Islamist Sunni group – has been referred to by rival terrorists  as a “radical” organization. While the conflict in Syria often appears to Western eyes as a basic civil war, that is not what this is really about.

In the absence of an orderly transfer of power from Assad to another strong administrative hand at the helm, Syria is now in the process of being systematically hacked apart by rival groups backed by various Arab countries, each vying for a piece of the land in which to set up independent emirates.

Many are radical Islamists linked to groups like Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, although some are independent. A separate sector of groups is loosely tied together in the moderate secular council of opposition forces known as the Syrian National Council.

It is this group with which the West tried to form a relationship – only to discover that any military support it provided was handed over to radical Islamic terrorists whenever the groups united together to fight Syria’s government army.

Israel has been providing medical support to the opposition forces – and possibly to Assad’s forces as well, it is not really clear – in a field hospital set up in the ‘no man’s land’ buffer zone in the Golan Heights. Critically wounded Syrians are somehow spirited over the border and brought to Israeli hospitals in Tzfat and sometimes elsewhere in Israel for special care.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hezbollahs-nasrallah-claims-galilee-threat-from-syria/2014/04/07/

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