A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, January 5, 2017

1970s Activist Melkite Archbishop Hilarion Capucci Dies at 94

Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who made headlines in 1974 when Israel arrested him for supplying arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization, died January 1 in Rome. Born in Aleppo in 1922, he was arrested in August 1974 by Israel, charged with using his Mercedes sedan to smuggle arms into the Occupied West Bank. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was freed after Vatican intervention and expelled by Israel in 1978.

Lionized by many Arab countries, he remained an activist for Palestinian and other causes. He was active during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-80, negotiating the repatriation of US soldiers killed at Deser One, but was unsuccessful in negotiating the release of the Embassy hostages. In 2010 he was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara protest ship headed for Gaza when it was seized by Israel; he was held brieffly by Israel and then expelled.

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