Lebanon today filed a complaint to the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group over the Israeli bombardment yesterday of two villages in South Lebanon. Israeli forces yesterday directed mortar fire from the security zone against two nearby villages damaging several houses. Lebanon said he shelling was a violation of the April 1996 agreement between Israel and Hizbullah not to attack civilians or launch attacks from civilian areas.
The accord is monitored by an international commission consisting of representatives from France, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the United States.
Despite the accord, 40 Lebanese civilians have been killed and another 120 injured this year in the South.
For a third day today, the Israeli siege continues on the village of Shibaa which lies inside the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon. Entrance to exit from the village are still barred. Israeli intelligence today arrested another civilian Nassar Hussein Nassar from the village and took him to the Khiam detention center. Two days ago, Israeli intelligence arrested Marwan Kenaan and his wife.
From the beginning of this month, 10 people were detained from Shibaa. Meanwhile, Israeli artillery today bombed the Iqlim Al-Touffah hills. The resistance in the South said it attacked an Israeli post this morning in Kassaret Al-Aroush in Rayhan.
The resistance also attacked an Israeli allied militia position in Bir Kallab. It said direct hits were scored in the two operations.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today received two phone calls from Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad and his deputy Abdel Halim Khaddam on the occasion of Christmas and the holy season. Sources at Baabda said the two presidents also discussed over the phone current developments in Lebanon and the region. Hrawi received a similar note from the Lebanese-American surgeon professor Michael Dabaghee who visited Lebanon last month. Dabaghee thanked Hrawi for his great hospitality. Also at Baabda, Hrawi received a delegation from the syndicate of Regee workers congratulating him on the occasion. The president also held talks with Minister of Immigrants' Affairs Talal Arslan and received the Lebanese thinker Monah Al-Soloh.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's visitors at Koraytem today quoted him as saying municipal and mayoral elections will be held in May. Hariri reportedly called on all the Lebanese to be active participants in local elections. The premier today received a delegation from the Islamic Charity Association for Scientific Guidance headed by Jamil Ibrahim. Hariri also met the Omani consul in Lebanon.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today held discussions in Bkirki with deputy Emile Nawfal. Nawfal later stressed the necessity of holding municipal and mayoral elections. Sfeir also met deputy Boutrous Harb who later said the amended municipal and mayoral election law is much better than the original form of the law. The Maronite Patriarch also received deputy Joubran Taouk, former deputy Shafik Badr, former minister Michel Sassine, and head of the Lebanese national news agency Rafik Shlala.
A government official today said Saudi Arabia has deposited 600 million dollars with the Lebanese central bank to help it overcome the financial crisis and maintain the level of the Lebanese pound. The official added the privately owned Al-Ahli bank deposited the money for three years at a very low interest rate. A senior Lebanese official also said the Saudi authorities gave their blessing to the move, which could not have been made without their consent. The official who requested anonymity added the money would allow Lebanon to support its currency and economy and would show that friendly countries would not allow the Lebanese economy to come under pressure.
The Lebanese central bank intervenes in the market periodically, selling foreign currencies from its reserves to maintain the value of the Lebanese pound in accordance with the government's policy of financial stability. The cost of its interventions in 1997 exceeded two billion dollars or more than half its total foreign currency reserves.
Trade was dull today as the year drew to an end on the Beirut Stock Exchange. Banque Libanaise pour le Commerce ended the week unchanged at $21.625. Banque Audi traded at $30.125, its record maintained uninterrupted since November 4 and Bank of Beirut held steady at $6.5625. All three listed banks were flat. Total BSE weekly turnover dropped to 459,128 shares from 618,958. There was also no trade in the shares of Ciments Libanais and Ciments Blancs.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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