BEIRUT — Nearly 200 people staged a protest in Abdeh, Akkar, on Monday afternoon against the repatriation of the body of a former militiaman with the South Lebanon Army (SLA) who died in Israel, according to L’Orient Today’s correspondent.
Faced with the indignation of the inhabitants of Abdeh, the body of Mounir al-Cheikh is currently being kept in a hospital morgue in northern Lebanon while a decision is made, according to Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) Georges Kettaneh.
The SLA was formed in 1976 by soldiers who defected from the Lebanese Army. The SLA later received support from Israel, notably in the wake of the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon as part of Operation Peace in Galilee, against Palestinian factions. After the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in 2000, many SLA fighters, fearing reprisals, opted for exile. Many settled in Israel.
On Monday, demonstrators in Abdeh blocked the highway to prevent the passage of the convoy transporting Cheikh's body. The army was deployed to the scene.
According to L'Orient Today's correspondent on the scene at the protests, Cheikh died in Israel at the age of 85. His remains were transported to Lebanese territory at 11 a.m. on Monday, via the Naqoura crossing, to be buried in his hometown of Hakour, in Akkar governate.
Kettaneh explained that this is not the first time this type of repatriation has taken place.
"The procedure is clear. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is informed of the death. They notify the Lebanese General Security, who gives the go-ahead for the body to be repatriated," Kettaneh told L'Orient Today. "The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) then receives the body, which is entrusted to General Security, who in turn hands it over to the LRC."
The Akkar branch of the Baas party in Lebanon publicly rejected the burial of Cheikh in Hakour "so that the soil of Akkar remains pure." In a statement, the party called on the "inhabitants of Hakour to refuse to bury the agent's body in their cemeteries."
Around 7,500 Lebanese, some of whom are accused of collaboration with Israel for fighting with the SLA or working on the other side of the border, now live in Israel.
Reporting contributed by Michel Hallak.
BEIRUT — Nearly 200 people staged a protest in Abdeh, Akkar, on Monday afternoon against the repatriation of the body of a former militiaman with the South Lebanon Army (SLA) who died in Israel, according to L’Orient Today’s correspondent.Faced with the indignation of the inhabitants of Abdeh, the body of Mounir al-Cheikh is currently being kept in a hospital morgue in northern Lebanon...