Lebanese cleric summoned to court after visit to parish in Israel

A senior Lebanese Maronite cleric’s detention and military court summons after a trip to his parish in Israel draws indignant reactions from Christian leaders.

As the Patriarch of the Diocese of Haifa and the Maronite Holy Land, Mussa al-Hajj is, along with other Christian religious figures, allowed to cross Lebanon’s southern border and enter Israel, unlike regular Lebanese citizens.

While Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war, Hajj visited Israel because he heads a community of Lebanese Christian Maronites living there, many of whom are refugees who collaborated with Israel during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

But he was questioned for eight hours earlier this week upon his return from Israel, local media says, before a military court summoned him for further questioning today.

Hajj has ignored the military court summons, issued for violating boycott laws imposed on Israel and for involvement in money laundering, an official close to the case says, asking for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

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