BEIRUT: Around 200 protesters gathered near Beirut’s international airport Monday to warn the government over allowing the body of the head of Israel's former proxy militia in south Lebanon to be buried in the country.
The protest comes three days after Antoined Lahd, former head the dissolved South Lebanon Army, reportedly died of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 88.
“Even if he was brought to Lebanon and taken to his village, we promise that this traitor will never be buried in Lebanon’s soil,” an organizer of the protest told Al-Manar TV. “If necessary, we will use a cannon to hurl him to occupied Palestine from Lebanon’s southern borders."
The protesters held flags of the Lebanese Communist Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
The Daily Star could not confirm Lahd’s death, which was reported by Lebanon's French-language newspaper L’Orient Le Jour Saturday, citing “sources close to the family.”
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s right-wing former minister and chief of Yisrael Beytenu Party, mourned Lahd in a long statement on his Facebook page Sunday.
“The general was a brave man who tied his fate to Israel’s, and fought with us as part of a real alliance,” he said. “Unfortunately, he and his men were abandoned by the state of Israel.”
Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post also reported the death, citing a statement by his former "SLA comrades."
Lahd, from the southern village of Kfar Atra, fled to Israel after the withdrawal of Israel's army in May 2000. Reports said he was initially denied permanent residency in France, so he took refuge in Tel Aviv.
In 2003, he opened a restaurant in Tel Aviv, before resettling in Paris again sometime later.
A Lebanese court sentenced him to death in absentia over treason, murder and torture.
“Lahd was not any regular traitor... He competed with [Israel]’s level of brutality to tell them that he is as cruel,” a statement read aloud by a protester said.
“We swear by the blood of our martyrs and the tears of mothers and children... that we will not tolerate the burial of the top traitor Antoine Lahd in our land, whatever the price.”