News from Beirut February 14  1997  .......Search


The Israeli helicopter gunships rocketed dawn yesterday a deserted house in the Loussi village, north of the security zone's eastern sector, destroying it and damaging nearby houses. Israel said the house is being used by the resistance men to launch attacks against the border strip. The Israeli warplanes resumed their reconnaissance flights flying over the villages close to the frontline, also over Nabatieh, IqlimToffah and deep over Beirut.

The Israeli helicopters combed the outskirts of the Dellafeh village and the Litani river's course. The Israeli gunboats opened their machine guns fire at the coastal town Qlaile, near Tyre, forcing a fishing boat to sail back to the port. The ICRC arranged a visit of some 20 family parents of the detainees at Khiam prison. The families were given two hours to see their children and parents. They declared the state of the detainees urges to sound an alarm. The Israeli civil affairs' director in the security zone said yesterday his government will continue to extend all possible assistance to the security zone to maintain the present economical progress. He also said that Israel will not obstruct the projects carried by the Lebanese government in the security zone.

"France is ready to participate in a global Lebanese-Syrian accord with Israel, but with other countries too including the USA, so the principle of land for peace, can be enacted with Syria and Lebanon as it was with the other M.E countries", the French defense minister said yesterday in Israel.

His aide was more explicit and said " France is ready to participate in sending troops to be stationed on the Golan and in south Lebanon, but in an international framework and with the accord of all the parties concerned. He also said that the peace force would be separate from the existing UNIFIL, and it could exist only if it were stationed on both the Syrian Israeli borders and the Lebanese Israeli borders. The weekly magazine Nouvel Observateur said Paris had suggested it could give safe haven to the SLA commander Antoine Lahd if Israel withdraws its troops from south Lebanon, if and when an international agreement permits an Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon. The magazine said Lahd's family is now living in France.

In Beirut, P.Elias Hrawi said yesterday there is no guarantee that the Israeli air raids will not be repeated, added that Israel is evidently not ready to resume the peace talks from the point where it stopped and that delays the peace drive. He said the air raids were not only an alarm but also in depth a revenge action. The Hizbullah secretary general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah expected yesterday an Israeli large scale military operation . He pledged that the resistance will put all its potentials to face Israel if the conflict develops, affirmed also that the resistance is not concerned of giving any guarantees to anyone because the Lebanese government is the party which will extend its authority when Israel pull out from south Lebanon. He emphasised that the debate inside Israel will mount up everytime an operation by the resistance could inflict more casualties, saying this would be similar to the same debate in 1985 when the large war of attrition led to the demonstrations inside Israel and force its then government to withdraw from Lebanon. He said his party is counting on more and more operations to force the largest possible classes of the Israeli society and the military establishment to take a decision on the pull out. He also said his resistance movement is concerned of  liberaitng the land and not to give guarantees to anyone because it is not neither a state nor a government. He said Netanyahu is trying, after he signed the Hebron deal and recovered his image, to knock the door of the Arab states seeking the normalization of the relations.

The Allama Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said " thanks to the Islamic revolution in Iran which turned the Islamic resistance in Lebanon into a political and security impasse to Israel. The news reports said the Iranian defense minister Mohammed Fourouzandeh arrived to Damascus yesterday for talks on the military cooperation.


P.Elias Hrawi yesterday quoted saying the visit of the Pope to Lebanon would be a balsam to Lebanon and the region, in view of the brotherly and unionist thoughts he is representing for the mankind. The Papal Nuncio in Lebanon Pablo Puente, after a visit yesterday to the speaker of the parliament, said the preparations for the visit is in progress but he refrained to give any details before an official announcement is issued. He said he thinks, if the visit takes place as we wish, will last for 24 or 48 hours and it will have only religious nature, during which he will announce The message on the Synod for Lebanon. He added that the real deep meaning of the visit is that the Pope coming as a friend to a house which is still suffering. He said the date which was announced earlier on 10th May is not an official date but it is a possible one . He added that the visit will be only to Lebanon and he will leave back directly to Rome, and he will reside at the Vatican's embassy not else. The Papal Nuncio said the Pope was wishing to go to South, particularly to Sidon and Tyre, which are regarded as  a holy land because Jesus had passed across, but he may not go this time to south, and if not he will make a special gesture by expressing his hope that south will be liberated. He said that the only sermon will be at Beirut and there will be one official visit only to Baabda palace, also he will meet the religious leaders of both the Christians and the Muslims. The news reports here said that the preparations for the visit, now underway, characterizes a political nature.

After the meeting with the speaker, the prime minister Rafic Hariri will visit the Vatican 10 days from now and both the meeting and the visit are in that context. Reports in Beirut said the visit of the Pope was the major topic of discussion between the speaker, the Hizbullah S.G Hassan Nasrallah, the Iranian ambassador in Lebanon, and the head of the Hizbullah parliamentary bloc Ibrahim Amin Sayyed. They discussed at a launch hosted by the secretary general of Hizbullah the visit of the Pope, especially in view of the news saying the Pope will not visit the south Lebanon during his short stay for one day and half. They reviewed a stand on the visit in the shadow of the latest campaign against receiving the Israeli prime minister in the Vatican.

A delegation from the National Syrian Socialist party NSSP led by Inaam Raad met yesterday with the Papal Nuncio and quoted him saying there is no visit to Jerusalem by the Pope in the foreseeable future. The NSSP delegation expressed satisfaction and said Israel would have bent on exploiting the visit to Jerusalem in favor of its occupation of the holy city. Clerics from south of  Lebanon welcomed the visit of the Pope and wished it could highlight the issue of the Israeli occupation. The Qana martyr's committee said it wishes the Pope could visit the Qana village to observe the first of Jesus' miracles and the largest mass carnage carried by the Israelis there.

The Lebanese government is planning to form a special security team assigned to take all measures needed for the visit of the Pope, and represent all the security agencies under the direct orders from the interior minister.


A Palestinian joint committee from both the PFLP and Fatah-Arafat loyalists is investigating the explosion which took place Wednesday at the Ain Helwe camp near an UNRWA school to reveal its backgrounds. The committee listened to the brothers of the man killed in the bomb explosion he was carrying, and inquired his affiliations and links.

The consecutive series of incidents at Ain Helwe camp, since the beginning of this year, and especially the Wednesday bomb explosion which exploded near a crowded UNRWA run school, is an indicator of instability at this camp, the largest in Lebanon with an estimated 100 thousand population. The analysing says that things appear to be a scheme aimed at destabilising the camp and bringing it to a boiling point. The purpose of such turmoil would be to preoccupy the opponents of Mr Arafat, or to control the camp by the Arafat loyalists, so that they will have a major say when and if the status of the Palestinians in diaspora comes under discussion in the future time.

The number of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is a row and an uncertainty. The exact figures are not available due to the consecutive influxes by the refugees to Lebanon in the war time. There are three estimations at present including:

1-An estimation by a former high ranking retired officer who puts the number at 425 thousand

2.The refugees department at the interior ministry put it at 395,400.

3.The UNRWA records put it at 350 thousand.

The three sources agree that a large number of the Palestinian refugees are not registered, but disagree on estimating their number, something rise the total number up to even 500 thousand. The highest Palestinian official in Lebanon Chafic El Hout says the number is sort of  a  " political secret", as it sometime squeezed to the lowest and put it at 100 or 200 thousand, and some other times it rise it up to even 800 thousand. He thinks that such numbers are not based on real scientific basis. El Hout says hundreds of the Palestinians entered Lebanon during the Guerilla era, but nothing had  happened to the archives and records of the refugees department. He says also that some 50 thousand were naturalized since the 50's excluding the latest naturalized according to the recent decree. He asserted that the resettlement of the Palestinians here would be inevitable and it would be a de facto to both the Palestinians and the Lebanese, who agree to reject the resettlement but do not coordinate their stands to avoid such a surprise .


The minister of education Jean Obeid, in a rare and unprecedented move by an education minister since the 70's, inspected the public schools in the most remote areas of Lebanon, including Hermel, Baalbeck, Rashaya and the West Bekaa. He listened to the grievances and demands of the teachers, students and their parents, which mainly focused on the poor facilities, the economical problem, and the various needs, promising to meet as much possible because his ministry's financial capability is not enough to respond to all. He was told that around 300 families moved to live in the border towns in Syria at the beginning of this scholastic year where they were offered free books and education.


The information minister Bassem Sabbaa warned all the unlicensed radio stations it should stop immediately its political programmes and news bulletins. He said some radio stations went far in violating the law prohibiting such broadcasts. Some radio stations claimed their broadcasts are not political but only social and economical, some others claim that private radio stations in Sidon (hometown of the prime minister) are openly carrying the Radio Orient news bulletins ( Prime minister's private radio in Paris). The minister warned he will take legal actions. He earlier set Tuesday as final deadline to receive applications for the audio-visual media licenses. On other hand, he met yesterday with the members of the ministry's satellite broadcasting censorship. He praised the work done by the team, and said the experience of the two past weeks guarantees the safety of our media orientation.

Lebanese University

The Lebanese university teacher's association urged all the staff members to join the sit in protest on Wednesday to press the government to meet their long standing demands. The association said all the afternoon classes at all the branches will be cancelled to allow the teachers to join the sit in. They demand that the university deans to be appointed after the repeated hold ups. They say the delay of the appointments undermines the entire function of the university, and that the issue has been marred in the political and the sectarian conflicts which will lead to the destruction of the public institutions.


The investigating magistrate demanded yesterday the imprisonment from five to ten years of three men charged of importing 680 tons of contaminated wastes from Germany last year. The judge Saeed Mirza charged the men, named as Jean Zakhiya Beaino, Efram Beaino, and Mickail Salim Andraous, with the import of 36 containers of polluted plastic waste and toxic chemicals which are dangerous to the public health. Jean Beaino told the prosecutor that his brother brokered the deal with a German, Jordanian, and a Dutch while in  Russia. The German Brend Georg Bretzing is in jail in Germany on charges of exporting toxic wastes to Lebanon.

US -Lebanon

The US ambassador Richard Jones held talks with the finance minister and later with the state minister Michel Edde. He was accompanied by the representative of the USAID agency. He said there is a plan to intensify the US aid to Lebanon after it was declined in past years. He also said the aid is not extended in cash directly to the government but it is invested in specified projects defined by the Lebanese government.

The former US ambassador in Lebanon John Gunther-Dean, who served in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion in 1982, is now in Beirut in a private visit. He visited yesterday P.Hrawi and the speaker Mr Berri. Dean praised the tremendous progress that has been made since the end of the most devastating civil war. Mr Dean, who is now a businessman said his talks centered on the development projects not on the politics.


The minister of culture and high education Fawzi Hubeish received yesterday the former French counterpart, who is presiding now a research foundation, and discussed the cultural cooperation and to promote researches with the French universities.

News in Brief


Lebanon Tennis team leaves to Saudi Arabia to participate in the cup Davis and play with the Saudi team, in the Asian-Oceania elimination phase.

The basketball championship second phase today include 3 games.

The Lebanese delegation to the Toronto winter Olympiad scored 5 gold and silver medals.

The Lebanese sports editors received their special cards to attend and cover the Mediterranean tournament due to be held in Bari-Italy.

Lebanon and Jordan kick boxing unions are going to meet to discuss the bilateral cooperation.

The director of sports and youths Zaid Khiam congratulated the schools basketball team for its performance during the first game it played.

More news from International Agencies

[ Weekly Business Reports ]

© 1995-1997 Interactive
All Rights Reserved.

Back to Local News Wire