BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian expressed hope on Thursday that summits of Arab and Islamic nations being hosted by Saudi Arabia this weekend to discuss the Gaza conflict will achieve positive results.
Derian affirmed that Lebanon and its people stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
His remarks came as dozens of people protested in front of Dar Al-Fatwa in Beirut on Thursday, forcing the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, to postpone a planned visit to the religious leader.
Protesters raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans accusing the US of “being complicit in Israel’s massacres against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
A protester said: “We are here to prevent the US ambassador from meeting the mufti. She should not be received or welcomed.”
Al-Fatwa’s press office said that Shea’s visit was postponed at her office’s request.
The US ambassador is reported to have held talks with Lebanese officials to discuss Lebanon’s abstention from supporting Hamas during the Arab summit meeting.
According to its declared official position, Lebanon “strongly condemns the genocidal war committed by Israel in Gaza and emphasizes the necessity to work internationally to push Israel to adopt an immediate cease-fire.”
In a statement on Thursday, Derian said that it was important the US ended its support for Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip.
He called on Washington to pressure Israel to impose a cease-fire, adopt a humanitarian truce, and allow relief aid to arrive to the affected people in Gaza.
Threats to launch “seismic or atomic bombs on Gaza will not scare the Arab and Islamic nations, but will strengthen their belief in their rights,” Derian said.
He added that the problems of the region will be solved only when the oppressed Palestinian people are treated fairly.
“Justice will prevail only through establishing a free, independent Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, and with its mosques and churches, so Palestine can remain the land of peace and coexistence in the region.”
Derian warned against continuing Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon, saying that the Lebanese people “are united against the brutal and barbaric criminality manifested in killing children and women.”
The grand mufti’s remarks came amid heightened tension on Lebanon’s southern border, with Israeli artillery on Thursday targeting the outskirts of the Lebanese villages of Rmaych, Aayta Al-Shaab, Ramyeh, and Beit Lif.
Israeli forces struck the Al-Kroum area on the outskirts of the Mhaibib village with a drone missile.
Fires also erupted in the Ramyeh and Aayta Al-Shaab villages after Israeli incendiary shelling.
Hezbollah targeted the Israeli Zarit outpost, setting it on fire. It also targeted an Israeli outpost in the occupied Lebanese village of Hounin and the Ramim outpost facing the Markaba village, prompting Israeli army shelling of the outskirts of Houla and Markaba villages.
Israeli media outlets reported that an anti-armor missile was launched from Lebanon toward Margaliot in the Galilee Panhandle region.
Israeli reconnaissance planes were seen over many southern Lebanese villages, as well as over villages adjacent to the Blue Line as far as Tyre, and over the Al-Litani river.
Meanwhile, dozens of journalists, media personalities, and photographers gathered before the Martyrs’ Monument in downtown Beirut as part of a protest organized by the Press Order, the Press Editors’ Syndicate, and the Union of Press Photographers in Lebanon.
The gathering took place after the death toll rose to 42 Palestinian journalists, including Lebanese reporter and photographer Issam Abdallah, who was killed by an Israeli army strike while working on Lebanon’s southern border.