Exclusive to The Middle East Online
Edited by Nelly Tawil
Wednesday marked the 16th anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
The country commemorated the day known as Resistance and Liberation Day with Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who viewed the Israeli withdrawal from most of South Lebanon on May 25, 2000 as a victory for all Lebanese no matter of sect or political affiliation.
“We tell all Lebanese that deny the importance of this day and are ignorant of it to put their political and sectarian affiliations aside and realize the importance of this celebration,” he said.
“We must pass on the meaning of this victory to the newer generations,” he added.
After 22 years of occupation Israeli troops retreated from a majority of south Lebanon, excluding a portion of the Shebaa Farms in the southeast which Israel still occupies 16 years later.
Hezbollah is credited with leading the resistance that forced Israel to withdraw, although other groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and other secular forces largely set the stage for the event.
“We salute the Resistance that freed Lebanon after 22 years of occupation following the international community’s failure to enforce the execution of the Resolution 425 on Israel,” Free Patriotic Movement founder Michel Aoun wrote on Twitter.
Arun was referring to the U.N. Security Council Resolution adopted in 1978, five days after the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon, calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from the country.
He commended the Lebanese people on the occasion, claiming “We strongly appreciate the sacrifices that have been made, and are still being made by the Resistance and its people. We bow down in front of every drop of blood that has been shed, and is still being shed, for the liberation and the conservation of this land.”
The country also gained praise from Sami Gemayel, Kateeb Party head MP, on the occasion on Twitter.
“The joy of the liberation will be complete with the forced return of the deportees,” Gemayel said, referring to Lebanese who collaborated with the Israeli army and their families who fled the country during the Israeli withdrawal.
He added the hashtag: “It’s their right to return.”
“May 25 is a legend, a people’s sacrifice, a resistance until (we attain) liberation and victory,” Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh tweeted.
“History will remember Hasan Nasrallah and the resisters in letters of gold, and it will condemn all the rulers and the regimes that are conspiring today against the Resistance,” Tawhid Party chief Wiam Wahhab posted on Twitter.
“On a day like this, the resistance freed Lebanon with the blood of its martyrs, the sweat of its people, and exposed the official Arab regime that had convinced us that Israel was invincible,” he added.
Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan applauded the Lebanese people in a statement.
“This holiday belongs to all of us, and it cannot be limited within sectarian shackles for the sake of narrow-minded political and factional considerations,” he said.
“This holiday belongs to every honourable Lebanese, regardless of his sect, because it represents Lebanon’s pride and victory over the injustice and arrogance of the Israeli occupation that was and still is the enemy of Lebanon and the whole Arab nation,” he added.
Former Minister Faisal Karami also extolled Lebanon.
“We proudly reflect upon the great victories that have been attained against the Israeli enemy,” he said.
“However, with all the achievements and the sacrifices, the Israeli threat still exists on land, in the sea, and in the air. This danger cannot disappear without a united stance against Lebanon and the Arab world’s enemy.”