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Maronite patriarch vows to help displaced Arab Israelis

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai (centre right) waves to Arab Israeli followers of the Maronite community at a church in the ruins of the Palestinian village of Kfar Birem, near the northern Israeli Kibutz of Baram on May 28, 2014Kufr Bir’im (Israel) (AFP) – The Lebanese patriarch of the Maronite church vowed Wednesday to help the displaced Christians of a village in northern Israel, as he pushed forward with a controversial trip to the Jewish state. In 1948, six months after Israel was established, the army asked Iqrit and Kufr Bir’im’s residents to leave their homes for two weeks because of military operations in the area. “We are with you and we will help you however we can,” Beshara Rai told exiled villagers of Kufr Bir’im, near the Lebanese border, who now live in nearby towns and cities. In a letter to the pontiff, the people of Kufr Bir’im and Iqrit, all of them Catholics, begged Francis to “intensify” efforts to pressure Israel to end the injustice inflicted upon their community.

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