Lebanese terror group Hezbollah criticized the head of the Maronite Christian Church, Lebanese cardinal Bechara Rai, for visiting Israel as part of the group of religious figures accompanying Pope Francis during his tour of the region last week. The cardinal was also blasted for meeting and praying with exiled fighters of the South Lebanese Army while on the visit.
We dot not want “Israeli agents among us,” said Hezbollah MP Ali Meqdad.
“Some people went to occupied Palestine to convince [Israeli] agents who withdrew with the Israeli enemy in 2000 to come back to Lebanon, and their response was that they have become Israeli citizens now and do not want either the Lebanese or Arab identity,” Meqdad was quoted by Lebanon’s Daily Star as saying.
“The resistance was very careful after liberation and it did not take revenge or hold any of the agents or their families accountable but left things up to the judiciary,” he said.
“We tell those who are preparing a draft law or a proposal to bring back those agents who betrayed the country … We do not want Israeli agents among us here in Lebanon,” Meqdad added.
“We suffered enough from them during the occupation. They are not even proud of their Lebanese citizenship and we are not proud to call them Lebanese,” Meqdad said.
Trained, financed and armed by Israel, the Christian South Lebanon Army (SLA) battled Palestinians and Hezbollah fighters during the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.
Many SLA veterans feel they have been abandoned by Israeli authorities in their adopted home, often working in low-paying factory, restaurant or cleaning jobs, but unable to return home for fear of retribution from Hezbollah and others who considered them traitors.
Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel and bans its citizens from entering the Jewish state.
But Maronite clergy are permitted to travel to Israel to minister to the estimated 10,000 faithful there.
Rai’s visit made him the first Lebanese religious leader to set foot in Jerusalem since Israel captured its traditionally Arab eastern sector in the 1967 Six-Day War.
AFP contributed to this report.