BEIRUT — A Franco-Israeli businessman making a layover at Beirut International Airport was briefly arrested and then expelled from the country, a senior source at Lebanon's General Security confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour on Friday.
The man, who was traveling to Iraq via Beirut, was arrested "after suspicions by General Security ... He then admitted to the security services that he was Jewish and held French and Israeli nationalities," according to the same source, who requested anonymity.
"The businessman was eventually released when investigators confirmed that he was not involved in Israeli security activities,” the source added.
The Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, close to Hezbollah, reported in its Wednesday edition that the traveler was detained for 48 hours and confessed to having served in the Israeli army. The newspaper also reported that he had contacts with the Israeli government. According to al-Akhbar, "he was released, given that he had nothing to do in Lebanon and that he holds a European nationality.”
According to the Israeli television channel i24, the traveler was released thanks to the intervention of several countries approached by Israel. The General Security source denied this information to L'Orient-Le Jour, adding that "no pressure was exerted on the Lebanese authorities in this matter."
The i24 channel also reported that "this incident provoked a strong reaction from Israel's National Security Council, which emphasized 'the extreme danger' faced by Israelis traveling to countries prohibited by law, including for the purpose of making connections."
Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations, and security and military tensions are frequent along their common border. Lebanon prohibits entry to its territory by anyone holding Israeli nationality and refuses entry to anyone with an Israeli visa or stamp on their travel documents.
In 1955, Lebanon passed a law prohibiting contact with Israelis or economic relations with Israeli companies. This legislation prohibits any person or entity from having contact with Israelis or persons residing in Israel. It also prohibits any type of commercial, financial or other transaction with Israel. Violation of this law is punishable by three to ten years in prison with hard labor.
Furthermore, Article 285 of the Penal Code punishes commercial transactions between a Lebanese citizen or resident and a national or resident of an "enemy country."
In 2006, the last major confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah left more than 1,200 dead on the Lebanese side, mostly civilians, and 160 dead on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
The man, who was traveling to Iraq via Beirut, was arrested "after suspicions by General Security ... He then admitted to the security services that he was Jewish...