Lebanon sentences four people to jail for links to Jews or Israel

A prominent Australian doctor, Jamal Rifi of Lebanon, was sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison in Lebanon for the crime of “normalizing with Israel,” VOA and Albawaba reported Wednesday.

Dr Rifi is working with the Sydney Jewish community on a charity program that organizes treatment for Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. The program trains Palestinian medical personnel and helps transfer sick children from Gaza and other Palestinian areas to Israeli hospitals. They also helped during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing ventilators to the Palestinian health system.

Dr Rifi’s brother, Ashraf, is a former justice minister in Lebanon and informed him of the conviction due to his association with Jewish organizations in his charitable work.

“The Lebanese military court sentenced me to ten years in prison for being a collaborator and a traitor with the enemy,” Dr Ashraf told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “No one wants to be labeled as a traitor, and I’m really upset, and it’s a distraction from the work I’m doing right now.”

He added that the conviction was a reflection on the corruption of the Lebanese system.

Judge’s hammer, illustrative (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The conviction means that if Dr Rifi tries to visit his family in Lebanon, he will be immediately arrested and put in prison for ten years.

Dr Rifi is not the only person to have been sentenced to prison for links to Israelis or Jews.

Amin Muhammad Mari Baydoun has American nationality and was sentenced to 5 years in prison for “relations with the Israeli enemy”, according to Albawaba.

Baydoun was arrested at Beirut airport in June.

Likewise, according to the Albawaba report, Marc Charbel Tanios was sentenced to two years in prison for “communicating with the Israeli enemy and exchanging emails with him”, and the Lebanese political opponent Kinda el-Khatib was sentenced to three years in prison for working with Israel.

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