During a tour taken on August 30, 2022 by several Lebanese ministers along the Lebanon-Israel border, two of them, Energy Minister Walid Fayad and Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar, threw rocks towards Israeli territory as a display of hostility towards it and support for Hizbullah.
For a MEMRI TV clip of this, click below:
The two ministers, both of whom are Christians, belong to the Free Patriotic Movement, which was founded by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a known supporter of Hizbullah, and is currently headed by his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil. Footage of the incident, which was circulated on social media, evoked ridicule from Lebanese citizens, who wondered whether the ministers thought this was a way to scare Israel or liberate Palestine, and called on them to address Lebanon's urgent problems, such as the energy crisis, instead of throwing rocks.
Ministers Hector Hajjar (left) and Walid Fayad (right) throwing rocks towards Israel (Source: almarkazia.com, August 30, 2022)
Among those who responded in this vein was Lebanese journalist Khairallah Khairallah, a columnist for the London-based daily Al-Arab. Sharply criticizing the ministers' action, he stated that they should address the dire troubles and crises afflicting Lebanon instead of making "foolish" and "silly" gestures. He added that this gesture by the two members of Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement was meant to please Hizbullah and signal loyalty to it and a willingness to serve it. The incident, he concluded, reflects the depth of Lebanon's tragedy as a country that is now completely controlled by Hizbullah and Iran.
The following are translated excerpts from his article.
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"[The incident in which] two Lebanese ministers came to a place near the Israeli border in South [Lebanon] and threw rocks towards Israeli territory reflects the extent of Lebanon's collapse into an apparently bottomless [pit]. [Energy] Minister Walid Fayad and [Social Affairs] Minister Hector Hajjar are part of Lebanese President Michel Aoun's [Free Patriotic] Movement, headed by [Aoun's] son-in-law, Gebran Bassil. What is the point of throwing rocks at Israel? Will it restore Jerusalem [to Arab control], liberate Palestine or resolve the issue of delineating the maritime and land border between Lebanon and Israel? How can Lebanon, the foundations of whose very existence have all collapsed, derive any benefit from such behavior, which is silly more than anything else?... What is certain is that Lebanon is no longer anything more than a deformed country whose ministers play foolish games, a country that is out of touch with what is happening in the region and the world.
"One of the important 'achievements' of Energy Minister Walid Fayad is his failure to make any progress towards improving the electricity situation [in Lebanon]. Since he came into office, the condition of the power grid has only gotten worse. He avoided welcoming an official of the French electric company who, after the establishment of the current government headed by Najib Mikati, came to Lebanon with a plan for [rebuilding the country's] power [sector]. The minister was not required to adopt this plan, but [merely] to take a look at it and see that Lebanon is not doomed to be plunged into darkness. Nobody knows what kept him from receiving the French company official, but his conduct, which indicates a desire to see Lebanon remain in the dark, is suspicious.
"As for Minister [Hajjar], who is a Christian [like Fayad], the only thing he is known for is saying, after coming into office, that Chinese families do not use disposable diapers, so the Lebanese should do without them as well. This statement about diapers and the Chinese position on them is probably not the only tragicomic statement he has uttered since his appointment as social affairs minister in Najib Mikati's government.
"The two ministers' behavior is difficult to explain… unless it is an attempt to curry favor with Hizbullah and show it that Michel Aoun's and Gebran Bassil's [Free Patriotic] Movement can, without a doubt, be of use to it. The message conveyed by throwing rocks at Israel is that no party can compete with Aoun's movement in pandering to Hizbullah. And [note that] this is happening when Michel Aoun is scheduled to leave the Ba'abda [Presidential] palace on October 31, , namely less than two months from now.
"The message conveyed by the two ministers is very clear, and encapsulates Lebanon's tragedy by showing that [the Free Patriotic Movement] wants Hizbullah to impose the appointment of Gerbran Bassil as Lebanon's [next] president, just as it imposed the appointment of Michel Aoun in 2016. After all, nobody can compete with Gebran Bassil in performing services for Hizbullah.
"What these two ministers fail to understand is that it is becoming clearer every day that rebuilding Lebanon is almost impossible. The last parliamentary election was useless because of our election law, which granted Hizbullah a complete monopoly over the Shi'ite representatives. It is impossible to discuss any reform of any kind when an entire sect [i.e., the Shi'ite sect] is represented in the Lebanese parliament by a group of MPs who regard the Iranian regime as their role model. The two ministers also fail to understand that presidential elections are pointless when Hizbullah can undermine the parliament and close it down unless an agreement is reached that will place its candidate in the Ba'abda [presidential] palace.
"Lebanon has collapsed, and its collapse has been terrible. The country has fallen, and its president is nothing but a false witness who does not dare to say a word against Hizbullah's interference in the war that has afflicted the Syrian people for more than 11 years.
"How can we rebuild a country that is controlled by a militia which is identified with a particular religious sect [i.e., the Shi'ites] and does not recognize the existence of Lebanon's borders? Hizbullah, with Iran behind it, canceled the border between Lebanon and Syria, while the Lebanese president looked on and did not dare to utter a word, for it was an Iranian decision to force Hizbullah to interfere in Syria. The gravest aspect of this issue is that the border between the two countries, which is supposed to let each of them enjoy sovereignty over its land, was eliminated for the sake of a purely Shi'ite [interest]. The Shi'ite factor, which was Hizbullah's excuse for intervening in Syria, has become more important than the factor that unites the citizens of the state called Lebanon. It is no longer possible to unite these two different worlds on Lebanese soil…
"In anticipation of what is about to happen in Syria and especially in Iraq, the question in the next phase will be whether it is possible to rebuild Lebanon... Today there are two worlds in Lebanon that have nothing in common, now that the president, who is president on Hizbullah's behalf, has accelerated the collapse of all the elements that constituted Lebanon's foundations even before it became independent in 1943. The issue of electing a new Lebanese president is no longer relevant, because he too will be completely impotent as long as there is there is one supreme authority [i.e., Hizbullah] that controls all the other [state] authorities – the executive, judiciary and legislative branches – and which, moreover, controls the state's [border] crossings and its decisions of war and peace.
"The scene of the two ministers, Fayad and Hajjar, throwing rocks towards Israel says everything that needs to be said about the Lebanese tragedy and everything it implies. There is no longer any political authority in Lebanon that is committed to the interests of the state. Everything is now allowed, even two ministers throwing rocks in hope of ingratiating themselves and Aoun's movement with Hizbullah and with Iran, which is behind [Hizbullah]. Is there any greater collapse than this Lebanese collapse?"