07/28/2020, 16.47
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Amid tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, Lebanese neutrality is ever more necessary

Shia fighters and Israeli forces clash at the border. Netanyahu attacks Hezbollah for “playing with fire", pledges a "strong response". The pro-Iranian group denies involvement. A source in the Maronite Patriarchate calls for stronger Lebanese neutrality amid regional tensions.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The clashes that took place yesterday on the Lebanese-Israeli border between the pro-Iranian Shia Hezbollah and Israeli forces are a new blow to Lebanon's "openness and neutrality" policy, a position backed by Card d Bechara Al-Rahi several times.

In light of the situation, the Maronite patriarchate has stressed the need for Lebanon to take a neutral stance amid fears of a possible war not of its making, amid increased tensions.

According to Israeli media, yesterday a group of Hezbollah fighters tried to cross the border and fire anti-tank missiles against an armed position held by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The clash took place at Kfarchouba, near Mount Hermon, and follows action by Hezbollah in retaliation for the killing of Ali Kamel Mohsen, one of the Shia group’s prominent leaders, during an Israeli raid into Syria on 20 July.

Reacting to yesterday's incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in constant contact with government ally and Defence Minister Benny Gantz, spoke of a "complicated" security situation.

The Israeli leader slammed Hezbollah for “playing with fire,” threatening "a strong response" to any attack or retaliation against his country or interests in the region.

Hezbollah's response was immediate. It strongly denied taking part in any "clashes" with Israeli forces along the border near Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, in the wake of an attempted "terrorist infiltration".

Commenting on the violence of the past few hours, a Maronite patriarchate source cited by L'Orient-Le Jour said that "this incident highlights" what Card Al-Rahi means "for the positive neutrality of Lebanon in the face of tensions and regional conflicts.”

The country, the source goes on to say, "cannot bear the consequences of a conflict of which it is not a party, but in which it is being dragged despite itself by an army that takes its orders from Tehran.”

In yesterday's clashes, “the attempt to free a part of Lebanese territory is not a game", but a "partly psychological response to an Israeli attack in Syria". And it is the Lebanese people "who risk paying the price.”

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