News from Beirut November 26  1997 ...Search

Hizbullah says two fighters killed in the South

Hizbullah today said that two of its guerrillas had been killed in fighting with Israeli troops in South Lebanon three days earlier. A Hizbullah statement said "with great honor and pride, the Islamic resistance announces the loss of two of its fighters with Zionist troops in the South". On Sunday, an Israeli army spokesman said at least three guerrillas had been killed by an armored force operating in the north-western part of the zone Israel occupies in the South. The weekend fighting followed clashes in the zone between Israeli troops and Moslem guerrillas, during which at least eight Lebanese civilians ere killed in the village of Beit Leif which Israel lamed on the Amal movement. Amal denied it was behind the attack and said it lost four of its fighters in a confrontation with Israeli troops inside the zone but far from the village.

Monitoring groups meets over Lebanese and Israeli complaints

The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today met to discuss two complaints filed by Lebanon and four others lodged by the Israeli side over alleged truce violations. The panel convened this morning at the headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the town of Naqoura near the Lebanese-Israeli borders. Lebanon lodged two complaints concerning an Israeli bombardment on Sunday that wounded a women near the Tyre and damaged two houses in Nabatieh. The protests did not include the killing of eight civilians and injury of seven others in Beit Leif on Sunday. A source of the Lebanese delegation to the committee said the casualties fell when a French-made Milan rocket slammed on the village. The source added Israel and the militia have these kinds of rockets, but the resistance does not. Meanwhile, Israel lodged four complaints with the cease-fire committee concerning the Beit Leif attack and rockets which landed inside Israel also on Sunday. two other complaints concerned mortars and rockets launched against Israeli positions allegedly from civilian areas. Two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded by shrapnel.

Berri meets Catholic clerics and journalists in parliament

In parliament this morning, House Speaker Nabih Berri held a meeting with visiting Catholic clerics and journalists. In reply to one question, Berri said the Syrians say 4,000 to 5,000 of their troops were killed during Israel?s invasion of Lebanon in the year 1982 but they, like the Lebanese, prefer to hide facts. Berri revealed the real figure was 12,000 with hundreds of vehicles and tens of warplanes destroyed. The House Speaker also said the moment the Israeli troops start to withdraw from Lebanon, the Lebanese government will start discussions on the Syrian withdrawal. Asked why Syrian troops do not go to South Lebanon where Israel still occupies a 15-km zone. Berri said there is an Arab and international ban on their going to the South. Berri stressed the legitimate right of the resistance in the South. Berri also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of causing the existing deadlock in the Mideast peace process.

Hariri meets Japanese aid mission

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today received an official Japanese delegation which arrived in Beirut on Monday to study ways to help Lebanon fund reconstruction projects. The meeting was attended by the Japanese ambassador to Lebanon Yasuji Ishigaki and the head of the council for development and reconstruction Nabil Al-Jisr. After the meeting, the Japanese ambassador told reporters at the government palace his team's visit is a follow-up to the Friends of Lebanon conference held in Washington last December. The Japanese official also said the visit was agreed upon earlier this month during meting in Tokyo between Hariri and his Japanese counterpart Ryotaro Hashimoto. Ishigaki added the delegation had intensive official consultations with officials at the CDR and Lebanese ministers adding the team had fruitful discussions about Lebanon's economic situation and what can be done concerning future cooperation between the two countries. The delegation also stressed the importance of the Lebanese government ratifying japan's first loan which is still in parliament before japan can consider other new projects. The four-day mission is headed by the deputy director general of the bureau for economic cooperation of  Japan's ministry of foreign affairs, Fumiaki Takahashi. The delegation had also convened yesterday with Al-Jisr in the Council of Development and reconstruction office. The delegation also held talks yesterday at the foreign ministry.

Forum on child labor held in Beirut

The national forum on child labor was opened today in Beirut. The seminar is organized by the Labor Ministry along with the International Labor Organization. Labor minister Asaad Hardan was represented by lawyer Jamal Fakhouri who said the subject of child labor was given top priority on the ministry's schedule. The deputy regional director of the world labor organization in Lebanon Taleb Al-Rifaii explained possible ways to fight child labor. Recent statistics conducted by the organization revealed that the number of working children around the world has gone up to 93 million.

This number may go up to 250 million if those children working with drug dealing and prostitution are added to the list. Representatives of  humanitarian organizations and social agencies also participated in the two-day seminar at the Riviera Hotel. UNDP Resident coordinator in Lebanon Ross Mountain said there are 6,000 children aged between 10 and 14 years who are employed in Lebanon. This according to statistics organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs with the support of the UNFPA. Mountain added that UNICEF statistics indicate that the majority of working children in Lebanon belong to poor families, are either illiterate or have not finished their elementary education, and are employed especially in metal works and repairs, and as handicraft workers in the industrial sector. Mountain  explained the conditions under which these children are employed are very bad, with the majority working long hours and earning below the minimum wage rate declares by the government, with also minimal health and security coverage.

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