Many people in Lebanon are worried that the Iranian-backed Islamist group Hamas and other Palestinian terror factions might drag Lebanon into another war with Israel.
The concern was expressed after several rockets were fired in early April from south Lebanon into Israel. Several reports have suggested that Hamas was behind the rocket attack. According to these reports, Hamas could not have carried out the rocket attack without the blessing of Hezbollah, Iran's terror proxy in Lebanon.
The voices condemning Hamas for using Lebanon as a launching pad to attack Israel reflect the widespread fear in Lebanon of engaging in another war with Israel, especially as the country faces an unprecedented economic crisis. According to a March 2023 report in Axios:
"Unsustainable borrowing and financial mismanagement by Lebanon's sectarian elite coupled with virtually nonproductive economic growth has fueled one of the worst economic crises the world has seen in centuries, economists say."
Another report published late last year revealed that amid a deepening economic crisis and alarming levels of poverty and food insecurity, the majority of the people in Lebanon are unable to secure their social and economic rights.
So, the last thing the people of Lebanon need now is for a Palestinian terror group to drag their country into another war with Israel – a war that would wreak havoc on Lebanon and further exacerbate the economic crisis there. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups have already brought death and destruction on the two million residents of the Gaza Strip by using it as a launching pad for firing rockets at Israel. Since 2008, Israel has been forced to launch several military operations in the Gaza Strip in response to recurring rocket and missile attacks by Palestinian terrorists.
That is doubtless why many Lebanese, when they heard about the rockets that were fired at Israel from their country, were quick to denounce the Palestinian terror groups, specifically Hamas, for putting their lives and properties at risk by increasing the chances of sparking another military confrontation with Israel.
During the last war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, large parts of the Lebanese civilian infrastructure were destroyed, including 400 miles of roads, 73 bridges and 31 other targets such as Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, and 15,000 homes. Some 130,000 more homes were damaged.
The fear of another war with Israel has prompted some Lebanese to go as far as taking legal action against Hamas, which they hold responsible for the recent barrage of rockets fired into Israel from south Lebanon.
A Lebanese group named Sovereign Front for Lebanon filed a complaint to a military court in Beirut against the Hamas for endangering Lebanon's security. The group demanded that the Lebanese authorities launch an investigation against any foreign organization that "assaults" Lebanese sovereignty.
The group revealed that Hamas and other Palestinian groups have established military bases in various parts of Lebanon. "The most dangerous of these military bases is the Al-Na'ameh base that overlooks Beirut International Airport," it noted.
"These bases contain hundreds of militants. On April 6, southern Lebanon witnessed security tension as a result of the firing of 34 rockets from Lebanese territory towards Israeli settlements. Although that attack did not result in deaths, it did necessitate an Israeli response that targeted Hamas positions in the Rashidieh camp, south of Tyre."
Elie Mahfoud, a lawyer for the group Sovereign Front for Lebanon, said of the decision to lodge a complaint against Hamas:
"What we have done is a formality, but it serves as a legal cry that there are those who seek to turn Lebanon into a military base. What [Hamas] did [by firing missiles at Israel] will be an incentive for other organizations to carry out similar military actions that could drag Lebanon into disaster."
Lebanese lawyer Ayman Jezzini held both Hamas and Hezbollah responsible for firing the rockets from Lebanon into Israel. Jezzini said there was "no justification for the rocket attack.
Jezzini scoffed at claims by Hezbollah and Hamas that Israel's defeat is just around the corner.
"Ignoring that Tel Aviv has become known as Tel-Tech [technology] and that it has expanded its science and industry to reach the ranks of the developed world. There are 2.4 million poor Lebanese today, of whom 1.1 million are below the poverty line, and these make up about 275,000 families, according to the World Bank."
Veteran Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah also held Hezbollah and Hamas responsible. Hezbollah, he said, "is under the illusion that the world does not know that Hamas cannot fire a rocket without receiving the blessing of the Iranian-backed militia (Hezbollah)." The world, Kheirallah remarked, "is not as stupid as Hezbollah imagines."
"It is also no coincidence that the rockets were launched from southern Lebanon at a time when Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of Hamas, was in Beirut to hold talks with the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, and to meet with the leaders of the Palestinian factions based in Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah has proven that it is the only authority in Lebanon and that the Islamic Republic of Iran controls all aspects of the country."
Kheirallah also took the Lebanese foreign ministry to task for protesting against Israel when it fired back "instead of asking itself what Hamas and its rockets are doing in Lebanon."
Several Lebanese politicians have also come out against Hamas, accusing it of endangering the lives of Lebanese citizens.
Samy Gemayel, a politician, lawyer and member of the Lebanese Parliament who serves as the leader of the Kataeb Party, criticized the speaker of the parliament for not speaking out against the rocket attack:
"It seems that the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament is satisfied with the use of south Lebanon as a platform for launching more than 60 rockets by Hamas, endangering its people. We didn't hear anything from him."
Fares Souaid, a Lebanese politician, former member of parliament and secretary-general of the March 14 Alliance, the movement behind the ending of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 2005, said the Lebanese people refuse to let their country turn into a pawn in the hands of Iran and its proxies.
"The refrigerators of the [Lebanese people's] houses are empty without war," Souaid complained. "What if the war enters the house of each of us? What if Israel bombed our facilities? We want life."
In another comment on Twitter, Souaid accused Hezbollah of establishing "Hamas Land" in southern Lebanon under the eyes of the Lebanese army. He said the Lebanese government bears the responsibility "for not considering Lebanon under Iranian occupation and contenting themselves with talking about illegal weapons."
Another Lebanese politician, Nadim Gemayel, wrote:
"Iran's [Hezbollah] militia and its ally Hamas and the axis of terrorism insist that Lebanon be a launching pad for missiles...
They insist on dragging Lebanon into wars that have nothing to do with it...
They insist on destroying what is left of Lebanon...
If they want to liberate Palestine, they and [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh should go and do so from inside the Palestinian territories, not from Lebanon."
The growing opposition to attempts by Iran and its terror militias to use Lebanon as a launching pad to attack Israel suggests that many Lebanese are not interested in another war with Israel.
This is good news, especially in light of the dire economic conditions in Lebanon. The bad news, however, is that Lebanon will continue to be used by Iran's ruling mullahs and their proxies as a launching pad to attack Israel as long as the Lebanese people do not rise up against them.
More bad news: this is exactly what will happen if and when a Palestinian state is established next to Israel. This new state will be used by Iran and its terrorist militias as a base for attacking Israel and killing as many Jews as they can.
It is refreshing to hear the voices denouncing Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah for targeting Israel, but as long as the terrorists continue their war on Israel, the refrigerators of many Lebanese families will remain bare.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.