Lebanese politicians called out Lebanon's Hezbollah-supported government for its relative silence and inaction concerning recent tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.
The Kataeb Party demanded that "the President of the Republic and the government prove their presence, especially since the supposed response was or will be from Lebanese territory in retaliation for an Israeli operation targeting Iranian and Hezbollah sites in Syria," according to Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA).
The party stressed that the "absence of the government" was "an existential abolition of the state and its institutions" and that they'd "had enough of witnessing [Lebanon] being used as a mailbox and a guard for the interests of regional powers and agendas."
The Kataeb party encouraged seriously consider proposing neutrality in order to allow the state to take back control of decision-making from external powers.
Former director of the Lebanese national police and minister of justice Ashraf Rifi stressed that while airstrikes target Syria and Iran, "the response is from Lebanon, the hostage and the victim," according to NNA.
"Where is Lebanon's interest? Where is the security of the Lebanese people? Where is Lebanon's protection? Where is the Lebanese opinion?" added Rifi. "The homeland is ours, and we will not remain hostages forever. Enough."
The Future Movement, led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, demanded that the state and military take responsibility, "in light of the incomprehensible absence of the government and the competent ministries which decided to distance itself from challenges at this level of seriousness and importance, and hand over the full control of the affairs to partisan entities," NNA reported.
"Defending Lebanon is not a military and political jurisdiction of a group of Lebanese," added the movement, pointing to the government's "suspicious absence" from the southern border with only a condemnation made 24 hours after the actual incident occurred.
Lebanese Forces Party leader Samir Geagea told the Associated Press that "Monday’s military activity along the border with Israel was a clear indication the current Hezbollah-backed Lebanese government, doesn't have sovereignty in the south, along Israel’s border, where thousands of UN peacekeepers are based.”
“Which Arab and foreign countries want to deal with a government that considers itself nonexistent at a time when there is a security danger along its border?” added Geagea, stressing that as soon as Hezbollah "withdraws its fighters from Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and stops implementing Iran's policy, the Arab countries will rethink restoring their relations with Lebanon."Lebanese politicians and protesters have begun speaking out more and more against Hezbollah's power in the country since protests began last year amid an economic crisis in the country.
In June, protests demanding that Hezbollah relinquish its weapons were organized by the Sabaa party, which is associated with anti-Hezbollah parties such as the Christian Kataeb and Lebanese Forces parties and Sunni politicians Bahaa Hariri and Ashraf Rifi who both oppose Hezbollah having weapons, according to Al-Arabiya.
During the October protests, officials from the Kataeb and Lebanese Forces parties spoke out multiple times against Hezbollah and other government officials. MPs from the Lebanese Forces party were some of the first to step down during the October protests. Clashes have broken out between protesters and Hezbollah supporters multiple times since the anti-government protests began.
Tensions remain high along the Lebanese-Israeli border after the IDF thwarted a Hezbollah terrorist attack Monday afternoon near Mount Dov along the border with Lebanon. Israel's defense establishment is concerned Hezbollah might still carry out an attack against the military.
A Hezbollah cell, which numbered between three and five operatives, crossed the border, also known as the Blue Line, several meters into sovereign Israeli territory and was identified by the IDF, which opened fire on them with machine guns and tank shells.
Hezbollah said its response to the death of one of its members in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria was “definitely coming” and that the damage to one of the houses in the village of Al-Habariyah “will not pass quietly.”
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.