A Lebanese military court has sentenced a doctor to 10 years in prison for being a ‘traitor’ simply because he carry out voluntary work with the charity that helps take injured Palestinians to Israeli hospitals.
Sydney based Doctor Jamal Rifi was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Lebanese military court because of his work on ‘Project Rozana’ which helps Palestinians get healthcare at Israeli hospitals.
Doctor Rifi said he had no idea about the court case, which was carried out in absentia, until a journalist told his brother that he had been sentenced on Wednesday (25th August).
Jamal, who was born in Lebanon but now calls the city of Sydney in Australia home, told ABC that he was sentenced by a corrupt system that will do anything to silence those that criticise the Lebanese government and Hezbollah.
He added: “There is a judicial system in Lebanon, but there is no justice.
“The judicial system in Lebanon is being used to subjugate and silence everyone who criticises Hezbollah and the current regime.”
Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group which several countries including the European Union have labelled as a terrorist group.
Doctor Rifi also thinks he may have been targeted because of his brother, who is a prominent dissident voice in Lebanon.
He said: “He is one of the loudest voices against Hezbollah”
He added: “They wanted to affect his name and reputation and they are using my humanitarian work to label me, and through me to my brother, as being traitors and that sort of thing, to minimize his voice.”
Project Rozana works to provide medical care to Palestinians who often don’t have access to proper treatment.
The programme involves taking people to hospitals, providing medical training to Palestinians and sourcing equipment such as ventilators for those that are suffering from COVID-19.
Doctor Riffi explained: “We have Palestinian volunteers who pick up the patient and their carer — Mum, grandmother — and they take them from their home to the checkpoints or the border,”
He added: “they cross the checkpoint or border, and they will be picked up by an Israel volunteer who will take them to the hospital.”
Project Rozana has also contributed to the COVID-19 relief effort in Palestinian as it successfully delivered 30 ventilators to the Palestinian authority.
Doctor Riffi said: “The ventilators were worth their weight in gold.”
Doctor Rifi is very well known in Sydney’s Lebanese community where his work in preventing young Muslims from being radicalised by ISIS has earned him praise and even several awards.
In 2010, he was declared “Australian of the Year” by The Australian newspaper and The Univesity of Canberra awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2017.
Doctor Rifi has vowed to fight the sentence until his name is cleared so that he can return to helping Palestinians get the medical care they so badly need.
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