The Israeli army chief of staff Amon Shhak along with the Northern Sector Commander General Amiram Levine this morning toured the area Israel occupies in South Lebanon. They held meetings with Israeli allied militia officers in the area. The radio of the militia which reported the visit said it was held on the occasion of Christmas.
The radio reported Shahak as stressing the importance of the presence of the Israeli allied militia in the South adding that Israel will continue its support for the people of the occupied zone until a peace is reached between Lebanon and Israel. For his part, Levine was quoted by the radio as saying the resistance in South Lebanon can never force the Israelis to pull back not even by one centimeter adding if that happens then the resistance must pay the price.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops held a siege on the Southern village of Shibaa which lies inside the zone Israel occupies in the South. No one was allowed to enter of leave the village today. Security sources in the area said Israeli intelligence informed the residents that the siege will continue on their village for 10 days but no reports were given on the possible causes of the move. In another development, Israeli forces last night arrests a Lebanese civilian Marwan Kannan and his wife Huda from the village of Shibaa. Both were taken to the Khiam detention center. Also today, Israeli planes overflew the Iqlim Al-Touffah Hills and launched mock air-raids on the area.
On Christmas eve, president Elias Al-Hrawi today congratulated all the Lebanese from his presidential palace in Baabda. He hoped next year will bring the Lebanese people happiness and peace on all levels. Hrawi also reiterated Lebanon's wish to see the South and the Western Bekaa free from Israeli occupation. The president also hoped that during the next year, the displaced could go back to their villages and homes. Hrawi today received congratulating messages from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Czech President Vaclav Havel on the occasion of Christmas and New Year. The president was handed the letters today at Baabda by the Egyptian and Czech ambassadors to Lebanon. Early tomorrow, Hrawi will attend the Christmas mass at Bkirki. He will later hold talks with Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today called on all the Lebanese to have faith in their country because it will always be the symbol of freedom and co-existence. Sfeir said the Leabnese should always be proud of their country which was and always will be an ideal for the East and West. Sfeir also congratulated the Lebanese people on the holy night of Christmas. The Maronite Patriarch met today the French ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouaneau. After the meeting, Jouaneau told reporters at Bkirki discussions centered on last year's important events in Lebanon.
Jouaneau hoped next year the UN resolution 425 calling on Israel to withdraw from all part of Lebanon will be implemented. He also reiterated France's position which supports Lebanon and its cause to achieve freedom, sovereignty and the rights of its people.
Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today reiterated Lebanon's co-existence does not need a law to reinforce it. Hariri held discussions with a number of delegations who visited the government palace today. He held talks with a delegation from the board of trustees at the American university of Beirut.
The delegation informed the premier the College Hall building in the campus will be reopened next June. Hariri also held talks with a delegation from the Dentists' syndicate. Head of the delegation Antoine Khouri said he suggested all children under the age of 12 be able to benefit from the social security when visiting their dentists. The premier promised to look into the suggestion before transferring it to the ministry of Labor. The prime minister also met two delegations from the Lebanese University and the Pharmacists' syndicate.
People have been crowding the shops in Lebanon's capital Beirut as they prepared to celebrate Christmas. The night skies were lit up with thousands of Christmas lights as shoppers clamored to buy last minute gifts for family and friends. People in the streets were determined to enjoy the festive mood to the full. Shops reported record sales as traffic clogged the roads outside.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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