Statements of solidarity with Syriac Maronite Patriarch al-Raï following campaign of criticism by Hezbollah supporters

BEIRUT — Following his calls for the Lebanese Army to prevent rockets being fired into Israel from southern Lebanon, Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Boutros al-Raï was the target of Hezbollah supporters on social media who said his comments were a “surrender to Zionism”. Hezbollah has not commented on Patriarch al-Raï’s statement.

Despite the criticism, support for the Patriarch was widespread and vocal.

Among the supporters was the Episcopal Committee of the Media and the Catholic Center, which released a statement saying that the campaign against him will not affect the Patriarch and those who believe in his proposals, which are made in the interest of the Lebanese people.

The Executive Body of the Maronite General Council, headed by Michel Matta, also condemned the abuses launched at Patriarch al-Raï and expressed the Council’s support for his call for the army to control the entirety of Lebanese territory to ensure the safety of Lebanon in the midst of its internal collapse.

The Bishop of Beirut and its Environs of the Greek Orthodox Bishop Elias Odeh also voiced his support, saying, “What the Patriarch announced is the will of every Lebanese for his country.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced that he had contacted the Patriarch and assured him that the campaign against him and the Maronite Church is unacceptable and that freedom of opinion and expression is protected by the Constitution.

Head of the Lebanese Forces political party, Dr. Samir Geagea, condemned the campaign launched by Hezbollah supporters against Patriarch al-Raï, adding that Hezbollah officials, as usual, are accusing others of working with third parties while doing the bidding of Iran.

Geagea added that what happened in Shweya to stop Hezbollah elements would have happened in the same way if it had happened anywhere else in Lebanon because the majority of the Lebanese people do not want conflict.

Regarding to the investigation into the Beirut port explosion, Geagea said Hezbollah officials reached out to the senior defendants in the case and asked them not to attend and submit to the investigation.

During an interview with media outlet MTV, a truck driver at the port confessed to moving two loads of ammonium nitrated stored in warehouse 14 to southern Lebanon — large parts of which are under Hezbollah control — adding that at dawn of 4 August 2021, the day of the disaster, there were intensive security movements within the port.

As for why he has been silent for a whole year, the driver said that he did not dare say anything for fear of being killed by Hezbollah.