January 2, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11053

Hizbullah Facing Criticism In Lebanon For Firing Rockets From South Lebanon Villages, Thus Endangering Their Residents And Forcing Them To Leave

January 2, 2024
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 11053

In the recent weeks, amid the fighting between Hizbullah and Israel, Lebanese public figures and citizens, some of them residents of South Lebanon, have become increasingly furious at Hizbullah for attacking Israel not from Shi'ite localities but rather from Christian, Sunni, and Druze ones, and thus causing Israel to direct its retaliatory fire at these localities. The recent discovery of rocket launchers near homes in Rmeish, a Christian-majority town on the border that has been badly hit during the recent fighting, only intensified this rage. The Patriarch of the Maronite Church in Lebanon, as well as politicians from Lebanon's Christian parties – the Lebanese Forces Party, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Kataeb party – accused Hizbullah of placing the lives of the townspeople at risk and demanded to keep the rocket launchers away from South Lebanon localities.

Similar criticism was voiced by Lebanese citizens, including residents of towns and villages adjacent to the Israeli border. They stated that Hizbullah's policy of firing at Israel from inhabited areas is aimed at forcing the residents to leave so it can use the areas for its own purposes. The mayor of the Christian town of Rmeish spoke in a similar vein. Another claim made by Lebanese citizens is that some of the rockets that hit the Christian localities in South Lebanon were not fired by Israel at all, but rather by Hizbullah.

This criticism of Hizbullah joins that of other voices in Lebanon which, in recent months, have opposed dragging the country into a war with Israel that will cost the Lebanese dearly.[1]

This report reviews the furious statements made by the Maronite Patriarch, by Christian politicians and by Lebanese citizens, some of them residents of towns and villages in South Lebanon, against Hizbullah for attacking Israel from these localities.

Discovery Of Rocket Launchers Near Town Of Rmeish Sparks Fury, Condemnations From Christians In Lebanon

One of the localities that has been badly hit by Israel's retaliatory fire is the Christian-majority town of Rmeish on the Lebanon-Israel border, many of whose residents have been forced to leave their homes in the recent weeks. On December 30, 2023 it was reported that that Father Najib al-Amil, a Maronite priest in Rmeish, had discovered two rocket launchers in an olive grove close to homes in the town.[2] Jean Al-Alam, the representative of Lebanese Forces Party head Samir Geagea in South Lebanon, told the Nidaa Al-Watan daily about this incident. He said that, upon the discovery of the launchers, he informed the Lebanese military intelligence about them, and a unit of the army's engineering corps immediately came to dismantle them and took them away.[3]

One of the rocket launchers found in Rmeish (Image:, December 30, 2023)

Maronite Patriarch: We Demand To Remove All Rocket Launchers From South Lebanon Localities, Implement UN Resolution 1701

This incident sparked criticism from Christian elements in Lebanon, chief of them the Maronite Patriarch and Christian political parties. Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi referred to it in his December 31, 2023 Sunday sermon, calling to remove the launchers from the vicinity of homes in South Lebanon. He said: "We are against the [Gaza] war spreading to South Lebanon. It is vital to stop this and protect the Lebanese people, their homes and their livelihood, for they have not yet recovered from the consequences of the despicable internal [Lebanese] war. We demand the removal of every rocket launcher installed near homes in the villages of the South, for each [launcher] will surely attract a devastating Israeli reaction. Is that the purpose [of placing them there]? Everyone must respect [UN] Security Council Resolution 1701, and all its clauses, for the sake of Lebanon…"[4]    

Christian Politicians: We Will Not Allow To Risk The Lives Of The People Of Rmeish

Jean Al-Alam, the representative of the Lebanese Forces Party in South Lebanon, condemned "any action that risks the lives of the people of Rmeish and places them in any kind of immediate danger, especially for the sake of an issue that does not benefit us. Stressing that UNSC Resolution 1701 must be respected, he added: "We have complete confidence in the Lebanese army and its commanders when it comes to the defense of the homeland." He noted, however, that "we do not know who placed the launchers [there] – Hizbullah, Hamas or Saraya Al-Quds [the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad] – and in the absence of proof we cannot blame anyone …"[5]

The Free Patriotic Movement, headed by former foreign minister Gebran Bassil, likewise  condemned the placing of the launchers near residents' homes, which puts their lives in danger. A post on the Facebook page of the Free Patriotic Movement in Rmeish stated: "Rmeish does not oppose the action of the resistance in its vicinity, near the border… But we were opposed, are still opposed and will [always] be opposed to any attempt to place Rmeish and its people in danger.  The rocket launcher discovered today on the property of one of the town residents, near the entrance to an enormous tourist resort, was no more than 50 meters away from people's homes. That is the source of the danger. Israel's retaliatory [fire] will surely target the launch site, and [as a result] the tourist resort, as well as homes and orchards, will be hit, and this is something we will not accept and will not remain silent about. We will not allow further disasters and exposing the residents to danger. What is worse is that we do not know who placed the launcher there. Was it the Lebanese Islamic resistance [i.e., Hizbullah], or Hamas, or one of the [other] armed factions that have often used South [Lebanon] to carry out actions do not serve the cause of South [Lebanon] but rather some other cause [i.e., the Palestinian one]?..."[6]

Hizbullah Is Exposing The People Of Rmeish And Other Localities To Deadly Danger    

Elias Hankash, a member of the Christian Kataeb party, said: "The discovery of the rocket launchers among the houses of Rmeish proves that Hizbullah is taking Lebanon and its people hostage in the service of Iran's agendas... This is unacceptable, because Israel will retaliate against our people by means of [its] killing machine, which we have seen in action in Gaza and elsewhere, and [its response] will be cruel. Hizbullah is exposing the people of Rmeish and other [localities] to the danger of death, destruction and displacement."[7]

The discovery of rocket launchers in Rmeish also sparked anger among  Lebanese social media users. A post on an X account called "Nemer Assaf," which describes itself as associated with the Kataeb party, stated: "Rmeish and its people are against the war. Stay away from our homes and our town. Enough of this injustice. We are not human shields for you or for anyone else.  Our homes are not [platforms] for rocket launchers and our land is not a war zone."[8]

Lebanese user Jalal Rachid Mina wrote: "We warn again against the insolence and filth of the Hizbullah militia and its people, who place their [rocket] launchers among people's homes in order to cause Israel to attack [the launchers] and gain phony sympathy. A rocket launcher… no more than 50 meters from a tourist resort and from the houses of the village."[9]

Rmeish Mayor: Is The Firing Of Rockets From Inside Our Villages Meant To Cause Us To Leave?

Rmeish mayor Milad Al-Alam criticized Hizbullah already on November 2023 for firing rockets at Israel from the town and its environs, and called on the Lebanese Armed Forces and on UNIFIL to implement UNSC Resolution 1701, which prohibits any Hizbullah military presence to the south of the Litani River. In statements to the Nidaa Al-Watan daily, he asked, "Does [Hizbullah] want us to migrate and evacuate our town? Where shall we go? Is there a plan that was consolidated and evaluated by the state and its official bodies for dealing with these grave circumstances? Do we not have the right to be reassured regarding our fate and our existence? Moreover, what is the benefit of using residential areas or their environs to launch rockets or conduct any other military activity?…" Al-Alam stressed the need to protect the civilians and demanded "not to provide the Israeli enemy with any excuse to broaden the scope of its fire or to involve the area in war." He also expressed concern that the situation would deteriorate and "the areas adjacent to the houses will again be used to fire at enemy positions, which would have severe and negative consequences for the residents who are standing firm in the town and have refused to be displaced."[10]

Lebanese On Social Media: Hizbullah Draws Christian And Sunni Villages Into The Battle In An Attempt To Compel The Residents To Leave

Lebanese X users, many of them Christian, wrote that Hizbullah chooses to launch rockets at Israel specifically from Christian and the Sunni villages in South Lebanon, and not from Shi'ite ones, so that Israel would bomb them, thus compelling their residents to flee. On October 21, 2023, journalist Rami Na'im wrote, "Why does Hizbullah deliberately shoot at Israel from the Christian and Sunni villages on the border? Why does it try to draw the localities of Rmeish, Qali'a, Alma Al-Sha'b and Yarine into the campaign, but not the Shi'ite villages and localities? Is it trying to destroy the homes of the Christians and the Sunnis, knowing that Israel will only bomb the source of the fire?..."[11]

Christian Lebanese businessman and entrepreneur Imad Choueiry posted, "[Hizbullah says that it is fighting] 'on the path to [liberate] Jerusalem' and not 'on the path [to liberate] the Shebaa Farms and [the village of] Ghajar!!!' Many of the villages that have been hit [because of] the rockets fired at occupied Palestine from their lands are Christian (Rmeish and Ain Ebel)!!..."[12]

User Mansour Yousuf wrote: "[Hizbullah,] just look away from the Christian villages for a bit. We know how to defend ourselves. We defended ourselves in the past from the Palestinian betrayal, when the state abandoned us. We know how to defend [ourselves]. Leave Rmeish and the Christian villages alone. You suffer from a certain blindness of the heart, you insolent people. You don’t realize that we hate everything that reminds us of your party [i.e. Hizbullah], which looks like anything except for Allah."[13]

An account called "The Lebanon Revolutionary Organization" shared a video showing an attack on the Christian town of Ain Ebel, and wrote, "Hizbullah bombs the Christian village of Ain Ebel in South Lebanon and blames Israel. The above video provides conclusive proof that the rocket [comes] from the direction of the areas under Hizbullah control. [This is] an Iranian plot intended to cause the Christians to migrate from South Lebanon. Hizbullah is a terrorist [organization]."[14]

Christian Lebanese political activist Jossy Hanna Khalife posted images of damage caused by rockets, and wrote, "How accurate are the rockets of the terror militia [Hizbullah]. They were launched from the village of Al-Tiri in South Lebanon and fell in the village of Ain Ebel in South [Lebanon]! By God, what precision! This is not the first time this has happened. Is it meant to cause the residents in the areas of Ain Ebel and Rmeish to migrate? Is that why you deliberately launch rockets from their lands?! Honesty, Hizbullah is a terrorist [organization] and its actions prove this!"[15]

Jossy Hanna Khalife's post

Lebanese Journalist: The Residents Of The South Have Been Abandoned To Their Fate; The Druze And Sunnis Clash With Hizbullah For Firing From Their Lands, But The Christians Are Afraid

In an article published in the Lebanese daily Nidaa Al-Watan, journalist Jean Feghali, news editor in chief at the LBCI channel, likewise described the locals' opposition to Hizbullah's firing of rockets from their lands, and claimed that, while the Sunnis and the Druze are not afraid to clash with Hizbullah over this matter, the Christians don't dare to do so for fear of being persecuted or accused of treason. He said that the residents of the south are helpless and have been abandoned by the state.

Feghali wrote, "On one occasion an incident developed in the [Druze-majority] town of Shwaya in South [Lebanon], between locals and some people who arrived in a small truck carrying rocket launchers, who planned to fire [rockets at Israel] from the town. The locals opposed this and prevented the launch of the rockets, claiming that firing them from the town would cause Israel to retaliate against it. [As a result] all hell broke loose against the Shwaya locals, so much so that some of the local merchants were attacked when they went to Sidon to sell their summer crops.[16]

"Today, there is a crisis between the South Lebanon towns and villages and the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah], specifically with those who launch the rockets. A three-way situation prevails in the south: [First,] there are Shi'ite-majority towns and villages, which are a 'supportive environment' for the resistance, and the resistance operates in them with ease. [Second, there are] Druze-majority areas, where there is opposition [to the firing of rockets]. [This opposition] started in Shwaya and continues today in more than one town and village, to the extent that the locals in these towns and villages systematically monitor everyone who enters them, especially at night. When they suspect that a vehicle is carrying rockets, they stop and search it, and if there are rockets it is denied entry. This has led to numerous incidents in Druze-majority localities.

"Attempts have been made to contain the indirect repercussions [of these clashes] between Mount [Lebanon, the Druze stronghold] and the Dahiah [Hizbullah's stronghold in Beirut], but every time [the tension] subsides it resurges even more intensely after [another] attempt [by Hizbullah] to enter one of the localities. What applies to the Druze-majority villages also applies to Sunni-majority ones, where [there have also] been numerous incidents with the locals, who are determined to prevent the use of their lands as a platform for the launch of rockets.

"[Third, there are] the Christian-majority villages, especially Rmeish, Ain Ebel, Qali'a, Deir Mimas and Kawkaba, whose residents cannot even request [that rockets not be launched from their villages] for fear of being accused of treason. That is what happened to the head of the municipal authority of one of those villages, who is a member of one of the resistance parties. Time and again he called to keep the rocket launcher away from his village, but his membership in one of the resistance parties did not help him or save him from a campaign in which he was accused of treason and was threatened on social media and directly, on the phone…

"The residents of the south have been abandoned to their fate… They implore the state [to help them], but to no avail. They are afraid to migrate, willingly or under duress... They have [already] suffered more than one wave of displacement and exile in past years. Their uprooting from these villages is no longer [on an] individual [basis]. Is there a preplanned decision to banish them? And what is the point of exhorting them to cleave to their land if they are destined to pay the price for [Hizbullah's] operation and [the price] of the response [to it]?"[17]


[2], December 30, 2023.

[3], December 30, 2023.

[4], December 31, 2023.

[5], December 30, 2023.

[6], December 30, 2023.

[7] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 31, 2023.

[8], December 30, 2023.

[9], December 30, 2023.

[10] Nidaa Al-Watan (Lebanon), November 21, 2023.

[11], October 21, 2023.

[12], December 3, 2023.

[13], November 26, 2023.

[14], November 23, 2023.

[15], November 23, 2023.

[16] On August 6, 2021, Hizbullah operatives launched a barrage of about 20 rockets at the northern part of the Israeli Golan Heights. Residents of the Druze village of Shwaya, in the Hasbaya Governorate, stopped the truck of armed Hizbullah operatives who were responsible for the launch and were furious at them for firing rockets from the vicinity of  their town, which could result in an Israeli attack on the area. A confrontation ensued and the Lebanese Armed Forces arrived on the scene. The truck was reportedly carrying a rocket launcher and 32 rockets. According to the  Lebanese army, it arrested four people who had fired rockets at Israel and seized the rocket launcher. It was later reported that the four arrested men had been freed. In a statement it released, Hizbullah claimed that its operatives had not fired the rockets from the vicinity of the village but rather from an area "far from population centers, so as to ensure the safety of the residents." Al-Nahhar (Lebanon),,, August 6, 2021;  Nidaa Al-Watan (Lebanon), August 7, 2021.

[17] Nidaa Al-Watan, December 4, 2023.

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