BEIRUT: Maronite bishops condemned Wednesday Israel’s latest aerial attack on Hezbollah, adding that Syrian shelling of Lebanon was the price of Lebanese intervention in the crisis next door.
“The bishops strongly denounce the Israeli air raid on Lebanon and Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty as well as Syrian shelling and [attacks] along the border with Syria [with the aim of] intimidating the Lebanese,” the bishops said in a statement released following their monthly meeting.
“This shows the exaggerated involvement by various Lebanese factions in Syrian [affairs] at a time when evading the destruction of homes and infrastructure and the displacement of innocent people is needed,” the statement added.
Hezbollah is deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, often spearheading military campaigns against rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Sunni militants, who back the Syrian opposition, have also sent militants to fight alongside the rebels.
The bishops criticized the “campaign” against President Michel Sleiman, who has exchanged harsh rhetoric with Hezbollah over whether a government policy statement should include a mention of the party’s resistance role.
The statement dubbed the verbal spat an “insult” to Sleiman “who is the symbol of national dignity” and urged various political sides to stop attacking the president.
The bishops had hoped the policy statement would be inspired by a National Charter recently announced by the seat of the Maronite Church, according to the statement.
The charter calls for a return to the National Pact, which guarantees equal rights and representation for both Muslims and Christians.
The charter also warns against foreign meddling and involving Lebanon in foreign conflicts, saying the country should adopt a policy of neutrality and commit to the Baabda Declaration.
The bishops also slammed rules imposed by a jihadist group on Christians in Raqqa, a city in northern Syria, and urged the United Nations as well as Arab and Muslim countries to put an end to these “violations.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has demanded Christians in besieged Raqqa renounce their faith and embrace Islam or face death.
The announcement came in a statement posted online earlier this month. Raqqa was seized by ISIS late last year.