Washington, DC- In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa, calls for a de-escalation of tensions in light of the escalating violence in Beirut, Lebanon.
Early Thursday morning, hundreds of Hezbollah militia members and their political allies led a demonstration through Beirut’s Christian neighborhoods demanding the removal of the neutral judge assigned to investigate the August 2020 Beirut explosion.
The Iran-backed Shiite demonstrators were heavily armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and vehicle-mounted heavy machine guns, and inflicted destruction on the Christian neighborhoods.
The menacing display–reminiscent of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990–left the neighborhood’s Christians fearing for their lives and families’ safety. Initial reports appear that exchanges of fire took place that left over a half dozen people dead, and over 30 injured. Many Christians have fled their homes and evacuated their neighborhoods.
The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) responded to the clash to enforce an end to the violence. It’s not yet clear whether the LAF made attempts to prevent the Hezbollah militiamen from entering the Christian neighborhoods. The U.S. today committed an additional $67 million to the LAF.
“We stand with the Christians and all Lebanese who believe in a free and democratic Lebanon during these difficult times,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini. “The LAF and police should protect neighborhoods from illegal invasions, such as what we witnessed today. In the absence of such protection, communities will act in self-defense.”
“The terrorist group Hezbollah, and its political allies, continue to sabotage the justice system through violence. This proves yet again that they stand against peace and stability in Lebanon,” Baaklini continued.