Israel and Lebanon have been officially at war since 1948, when Israel was founded. In the year 2000, thousands of Lebanese settled in Israel after the end of its occupation of parts of southern Lebanon. Many of these Lebanese had ties to the South Lebanon Army, a pro-Israel militia that collapsed when the Israelis withdrew.
The Jerusalem Post reported on July 22 that Judge Fadi Akiki, who is handling the case, told the Lebanese newspaper Annahar that the funds came from Israeli residents, “the majority of whom work in the interest of the enemy. “.
The money is subject to laws regulating everything entering Lebanon from Israel, he added. According to the judge, the archbishop was not arrested but only subjected to the same rules of inspection for all those who cross the border.
“I respect the church, but there is a law which is the boycott of Israel and it is my duty as a judge to enforce it,” the judge said.
The American Episcopal Conference has expressed its support for the Maronite Church.
“As Lebanon goes through difficult times and crises, we renew our solidarity with Cardinal Rai and the Synod of Bishops,” Bishop Malloy said August 12. “We also pray for the protection of the Church in Lebanon and its charitable work as it comes under increasing pressure. We further support Patriarch Raï’s call for the ‘active neutrality’ of Lebanon, so that it remains a place of fellowship between Christians and Muslims and a beacon of hope for all Christians in the Middle East.May Lebanon once again prosper and enjoy full sovereignty and lasting peace.
There are two Maronite eparchies in the United States. The two Maronite bishops, in a July 29 letter to Cardinal Rai, said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of Bishop El-Hage’s arrest and detention.
Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn and Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles expressed their solidarity with the Cardinal, the Synod of Bishops, and with “all our brothers and sisters who suffer in Lebanon.”
“Lebanon is a beautiful country, where religious beliefs are a bridge, not an obstacle, to conviviality and cooperation,” they said, expressing their support for Lebanon’s “active neutrality”.
“If we do not remain united as a people working together for the future of our country, we risk falling victim to outside influences,” the two bishops say, expressing prayers for a peaceful, sovereign and prosperous Lebanon .
In a July 31 statement, Cardinals Wilton Gregory of Washington, Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, and Timothy Dolan of New York expressed solidarity with the detained Lebanese archbishop, speaking as honorary chairs of the advisory council. religious for the defense of Christians. .
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“Bishop El-Hage is the spiritual shepherd of many peoples and he regularly travels between these lands. His recent arrest, detention and interrogation by Lebanese authorities upon his return from his episcopal see in Haifa – as well as the confiscation of medical and financial aid intended for the needy in Lebanon – are most disturbing,” they said. .
“We congratulate Cardinal Rai and the Maronite Synod for their strong support for Bishop El-Hage. In the interest of regional stability and human rights, we further support calls for affirmative action to protect Church leaders, their charitable work and lay Christians in the Middle East,” said the three cardinals.