The Moslem holy month of Ramadan today began in Lebanon and in most Arab countries including Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates as well as the Palestinian territories and Arab East Jerusalem. But Iraq, Oman, and Tunisia were among those countries that put off the beginning of the fasting month until tomorrow. During Ramadan, Moslems abstain themselves from eating, drinking, and smoking between sunrise and sunset. Those who are ill or traveling are exempt.
Representatives of the Red Cross today managed to enter the village of Shibaa held under Israeli siege for the past 10 days. Red Cross vehicles carried goods, oil and essential supplies to the village present inside the zone Israel occupies in the South and where about 2000 families live. The 400 shares supplies were provided by the government's council of the South.
They were carried into Shibaa from the village of Kfar Tibnit across Marjeyoon. The first batch of supplies was handed to the village's two mayors Mohammed Atwi and Assaad Farhat who later distributed the goods to the residents of Shibaa. A second batch of goods is also expected to arrive in the village soon. Meanwhile, the siege which began 10 days ago continues on the village with Israeli forces barring entry to and exit from the village. Israeli Intelligence forces have also detained tens of villagers on charges of connections to the Lebanese resistance in the South. Today, intelligence forces also arrested five residents from Shibaa and then released them after interrogation.
In another development, Israeli artillery this morning bombed the outskirts of Sojod, Rayhan and Mazraat Okmata. Earlier today, Israeli shells fell around the towns of Nabatieh and Ali Attaher. Meanwhile, the resistance in South Lebanon said it attacked this morning Israeli machinery in the post of Kassaret Al-Aroush. The resistance also scored direct hits on the two Israeli posts of Dabshe and Ali Attaher.
Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held intense discussions with the American Embassy's charge d'affairs in Lebanon Greg Perry. Talks focused on the deteriorating situation in the village of Shibaa now under Israeli siege. After meeting the premier, the US diplomat said he will inform Washington of the latest developments in this regard in an attempt to end the suffering of the people of Shibaa. Perry reiterated his country's continuous interest in the developments in Lebanon and the region.
The premier later received high ranking government and security officials who congratulated Hariri on the occasion of the holy season. Hariri also met Miss Lebanon for the year 1997, Joelle Bohlok who was elected one of the 10 finalists in the Miss World ceremony last month. Bohlok also congratulated the prime minister on the occasion of the new year.
In a reception held for all journalists and reporters at the presidential palace in Baabda on the occasion of the holy season, President Elias Al-Hrawi praised the 600-million-US-dollar Saudi deposit blessing all those who worked for such a step to be accomplished. Hrawi held talks with the journalists on a number of economic and political issues. They also discussed with the president the subject of local elections. Hrawi stressed the necessity of the implementation of UN resolution 425 which calls on Israel's unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon. Hrawi also reiterated his support for local elections saying it was necessary for the preservation of national unity.
The president earlier met high-ranking security and military officials who congratulated the president on the occasion of the new year.
Parliament will be in session between the 6th of January and the 15th of March. Top on the agenda will be the draft 1998 state budget. Discussions will also tackle other draft laws and suggestions.
In parliament today, House Speaker Nabih Berri received the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon Ahmad Al-Kuhaimi and a high-ranking security delegation on the occasion of the new year. Meanwhile, the parliamentary budget and finance committee continued studying the draft 1998 sate budget. The committee ratified the budget allocated to the ministry of the displaced and it was expected to study the budget of the Lebanese university later today.
The employees and workers on the state-run Tele Liban today staged a sit-in in front of the TV station in Talet Al-Khayyat demanding immediate pay of their salaries and overdue. The syndicate of TL employees also announced transmission will stop for three days as of tomorrow. The station is also suffering from longer-term and financial problems
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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