News from Beirut February 19  1997  .......Search

South Lebanon-Civilian targets

A 33 years old Lebanese woman named Naeemeh Hallal was killed yesterday's morning in the village of Habbouche near Nabatieh, when the Israeli forces shelled villages around Nabatieh. Two other civilians were wounded in the same village and another wounded in the nearby village Arab Salim.

The Israeli shelling occurred between 8.30 and 9.00 a.m. The woman was the first Lebanese civilian killed this year and the 5th since last April's truce accord. The shelling also hit the villages of  Kfarruman, al-Nabatieh al -Fawka and Kfartubnit. More than 40 artillery shell hit the Habbouche village. The shelling came shortly after the Islamic resistance launched series of attacks against the SLA posts inside the security zone, including the Sueida, Tohra, Dabsheh and the Ahmadieh post, all facing the central sector opposite to Habbouche and Kfarruman. The resistance claimed the responsibility of the attacks and said its fighters were able to score direct and accurate hits.

The resistance reported to have fired more than 50 mortar shells at the SLA posts. The Lebanese government immediately filed a complaint to the 5 nations monitoring group and the panel is due to meet today at Naqoura at 11.00 a.m. The Israeli shelling prompted immediate reaction from the Hizbullah official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq who vowed to retaliate harshly. He said during the burial of the woman "the resistance now has the right to respond with all the means it deems appropriate and that leaves the field open to all possibilities". He charged Israel of trying to scrap the April's understanding to free itself from the restrictions on its actions in south. The attacks and the shelling caused panic among the public in the area, and the schools also shops were closed all of the day in the Nabatieh and it nearby villages. The SLA did not report any casualties among its men.

In the meantime, the Israeli warplanes staged mock raids over the three sectors of south and drew anti aircraft machinegun fire. Its navy continue to siege the coastline banning fishermen boats to go further than 1  Km in Lebanon's territorial water.

The Tuesday flare up came shortly after the monitoring group on Monday discussed two complaints by Lebanon and Israel. The Lebanese foreign ministry said the panel did not endorse the Israeli claim that the explosive blasts jeopardised the civilian's lives and the Lebanese team to Monday session affirmed that the resistance fighters had proved they were avoiding the civilian targets. The Lebanese team also said the Israeli forces are deployed inside villages something pose danger to the civilians and considered that a breach of the ceasefire understanding.

They accused Israel of using human as shield to protect its forces. The foreign ministry praised the panel's work which stopped the situation from deteriorating further and for protecting the civilians. It  also said the panel is not an international court which condemns countries, but it is playing a major role for Lebanon, despite the fact that it cannot find a final solution to the situation in the south through the unconditional withdrawal of  Israeli  forces.

The parliamentary bloc lead by the speaker Nabih Berri said after a meeting yesterday " the Lebanese government should pass the panel and lodge a complaint directly to the UN security council in order to put an end to the daily violence, as long the panel is being restricted to investigate the breaches of the ceasefire.

The Shiite cleric Mufti Abdel Amir Kabalan said the panel is dead and Israel does not respect its decisions. He said yesterday Israel bombed the April's understanding by bombing the civilians on their way to their work or home,before the ink of the panel's decision on Monday dried. He called on the panel's present chairman, the French Jean Pierre Gaussot, to stop the meetings of the panel because it is unable to make Israel comply with its resolutions.

The Hizbullah has launched a website on the internet and an e-mail service to inform the world community of its anti-Israeli resistance activities in Lebanon, Hizbullah said yesterday. The Hizbullah's Islamic resistance Aid Committee said yesterday that computer users can chat with the group through their e-mail address at The Internet users can also call up the Hizbullah website page at   The Hizbullah home page has a graphic of the former secretary general Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, who was assassinated by Israel in 1992. The site urges all with any opinion to suggest to get in touch. The website will contain information particularly the operations against Israel. The Hizbullah spokesman said most of the users who send e-mail were Lebanese nationals living in the USA or Europe as well as Arab citizens. He said whether Christians or Muslims they express sympathy with the resistance and some asked for video tapes about the resistance's operations. He added that the service is very important for the morale of the resistance fighters, because they are very happy to know that people around the world are backing them.

The Hizbullah S.G Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah quoted by the head of the journalists association Melhem Karam saying " we can never accept an entity called Israel, and its against his party's ideology to recognise Israel as something other than an occupying force which has seized Arab and Palestinian territory even if the peace is achieved. He told Karam that there is no such thing as jerusalem the temporary or permanent capital of  Israel in his dictionary, because the holy city will always be an Arab city and the cradle of all heavenly religions. He believes that the American and the French attempts to restart the peace negotiations will come to nothing because Israel reject the Syrian conditions, and Syria will never surrender a single inch in the Golan or in south.

He said "Israel has suddenly remembered the 425 resolution", and warned that Netanyahu is preparing for a large scale military operation in the region.

Lebanon- Japanese Red Army

News reports in Beirut said five Japanese including a woman and four men, and a Lebanese woman, were rounded up by the state security forces in raids on apartments in Beirut, according to Lebanon interior minister. The minister Michel Murr, emerging from a meeting at Baabda palace after the weekly session of the government, which joined him, P.Hrawi, Prime minister Hariri and the foreign minister together yesterday, "a government source briefed the ministers on the details of the case and the initial results of the interrogations."  The five and the Lebanese woman were still in custody late last night following their arrest during the raids in Bekaa and Beirut. Mr. Murr, who heads all the state security branches, said only one of  the Japanese suspects holds a Japanese passport, another is holding a passport of the people's republic of China. He also said that his ministry will issue a a statement on the arrest within two days.

A Japanese government delegation met yesterday noon with the prosecutor general Adnan Addoum in Beirut who told the delegation, including the embassy counsellor and two other unidentified men, that the preliminary investigations into the case will be completed within 24 hours. The news reports from Tokyo said the Japanese government had sent a special team to help with the investigation.

The Japanese embassy first secretary Massanori Yagi said he is not authorized to reveal the identity of the two men nor to say if they are embassy officials. He said the Japanese delegation offered every possible assistance to the Lebanese authority to identify the captured people. He also said his country will seek their extradition if they are confirmed to be members of the red army and have violated the Japanese laws. The arrests were made on Friday and Saturday in the quarters of Hamra, Qureitem, Sakiet el Janzir and Ramlet el Baida. Four Lebanese suspects were arrested in connection with the case, including Omaya Abboud, her sister Majida and two relative men, all were arrested Saturday morning, and all released except Omaya. The Omaya sisters were first cousins of  Loyla Abboud, who blew herself in 1985 in a suicide operation against the Israelis in Bekaa.

The Japanese Red Army had gained reputation in May 1972, when it attacked the Tel Aviv airport where 24 people killed . The news say the Lebanese government want Japan to return back to Beirut a high level diplomatic delegation, and committed itself since 2 years to hunt down any of the Red Army men who might taken refuge here, following that understanding Japan appointed an ambassador in June 1995.  

Lebanon foreign minister said the men are under investigation concerning their implication in some events. Among the arrested Kozo Okamoto, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel for his role in the Tel Aviv attack, who was released in May 1985 in a prisoner swap.  Since then he was reportedly living in Lebanon and Syria.

In a first reaction , the US ambassador Richard Jones praised the arrest as an "excellent example of the improvement in the security climate in Lebanon". He cautioned saying he did not have complete information but heard reports on that. He said if they are being arrested indeed it will be very positive development. The reports in Beirut said the Lebanese authorities withheld the information on the arrest but Tokyo revealed it through the media.

Government-Parliament Bickering

The war of words through sources and visitors has again erupted this time between the prime minister and the speaker shortly after the war of words and squabbles between the speaker and the president. The flare up was the declarations and counter declarations on the evictions at Ouzai-Maramel quarter.

P.Elias Hrawi urged the politicians yesterday during the government session to stop their public bickering and focus instead on the regional challenges, stemming from the deadlock in the peace talks, and noted that the recent Israeli attacks, particularly the air raids at Baalbeck, suggested that Israel is bent on extending the range of its aggression. He said "one would hope that the politicians could rise above the internal political squabbles."

The speaker 's sources ridiculed yesterday the leaks to the media which misinterpreted his remarks. The sources quoted Mr Berri saying" those who speak over Berri threat to return to Feb 6 do not know the Arabic or they do not want to know, as the remarks of the speaker are clear enough, recalled that he warned that such practices and unfair might lead to a flare up, same as in Feb 6 which, however, is a pride not shame."  The sources cleared that Mr Berri clearly distinguished the situation now from that in Feb 6 uprise, by assuring that the army now is ours, also the police and the Elyssar company, but he was only warning that such practices and unfair would shift this mandate to a similar mandate of the then P.Amin Gemayel.

The speaker's circles also said that he has intervened in the past days to avert the repercussions which might have occurred , as a result of the insistence of some parties to deal with the evictions in an appropriate way.

It also said that despite the cautioning of such practice, the prime minister was determined to carry out the demolish and eviction by force, giving special orders to the governor of the mountain to carry on with the help of a great police force.

The government at its weekly session yesterday under P.Hrawi approved a  number of items on the agenda, one of which appeared directly linked to the case of Ouzai-Maramel area. The information minister said the government agreed an additional L.L 8 bn for Elyssar, apparently allocated to allow the company to improve increase the compensations to the Ouzai residents.

The government also approved other items, including the creation of a snow clearing centre in Baskinta, medical centres in Khiam, Harajel, and Tripoli, and regulating the real estate acquisition by the government in north.

The government approved a proposal to revive the Baalbeck arts festival, last held in 1974. The government took notice that prime minister Hariri is to head Lebanon's delegation to the Islamic Conference in Islamabad on Mar 23, and the foreign minister to head the delegation to the Non Aligned Movement meeting in New Delhi - India  in April.

Minister walid Jumblat, who is a frequent attendant of the government sessions, did attend the yesterday's meeting.

News reports said Mr Rafic Hariri has proposed the appointment of Mohammed Shatah as a new ambassador of Lebanon in the USA, to succeed the outgoing present ambassador Riyad Tabbara, but some ministers opposed the idea before a profile is presented on Shatah. Tabbara will return back to Lebanon finally on March 8th.

Hariri-Rome Visit

The Italian ambassador, after a meeting with Mr Hariri yesterday, said Mr Hariri imminent trip to Rome will focus on the political issues in light of  the recent visit to Italy by Mrs Albright. Mr Hariri will leave to Rome and the Vatican on Sunday. He will discuss in Rome the possibility of the Italian firm Ansaldo, awarded the building of two electricity plants with the German Siemens for $534mn, to have more projects in Lebanon. Italy has loaned over $326.8mn to Lebanon for the reconstruction project.

Lebanon Pope Visit

Cardinal Sfair is due to leave today to Rome to take part in a synod on Asia and to discuss the details of the visit to Lebanon by Pope John Paul II . He will try at the vatican to remove any misunderstandings surrounding the visit, according to a source in Bkerke. The final statement of the Synod on Lebanon, which will be released during the pontiff's visit, will be worked out. A preliminary statement issued last year drew criticism from most of the Muslim circles, because they thought the statement equalled between the Syrian army presence and the Israeli occupant forces in Lebanon.

The final statement may have softer attitude. Cardinal Sfair may have a meeting with the prime minister Hariri who will be in the Vatican on Sunday. The visit has been welcomed yesterday by Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who said" his pontiff represents a large number of believers and he is a man of stature. Nasrallah urged the Pope to support the idea of the "humanitarian resistance", because it works for the protection of the national territory and not something political or military. The Hizbullah deputy leader said earlier he hopes the Pope will bless the resistance not Israel.

News In Brief

- The Lebanese parliament is expected to discuss tomorrow the mandate of the mayoral and municipal councils, and possibly it will extend the mandate for only six more months, that is until the date set earlier for electing new councils which is June, with emphasis on finishing the election identity card and the relevant procedures. It will discuss all the measures aim to immune the supervisory commissions which will help the public administration reform. The parliament general debate will coincide with the ongoing public bickering and the political squabbles.

- The US ambassador Richard Jones said he expects France would want to play a prominent role in the peace process, and hoped that the cooperation between France and the USA on that issue will help push the peace efforts forward. He said after a meeting with prime minister Hariri, who is back recently from France, that the Middle East is very important to the French national interests. He expected no major developments in the peace process before the mid of next month, following the visits to the USA by the Jordanian monarch and the Egyptian president. He also did not expect a visit by Mrs Albright to Lebanon.

- A parliamentary committee that was assigned to arrange for the commemoration of last year Qana's massacre discussed the schedule of activities set on Mar 14-18 with P.Hrawi.

-The follow up committee for the Lebanese detainees in Israel announced yesterday it has completed a 100 page report which will be distribute here and abroad to support the freeing of the Lebanese detainees.

-Lebanon and Sweden discuss a health agreement namely on the cancer treatment, to boost the cancer care treatment and equip the medical centres here with the high cost technology. The Swedish health minister is currently visiting Beirut.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz discussed with the Iranian ambassador wide range of issues and his projected visit to Iran. Also discussed with the Russian ambassador here the visits to Russia by Yasser Arafat, Mrs Albright and the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu.

-The Lebanese university teachers are on strike today afternoon as they stage a sit in protesting the political meddling in the appointment of the deans of various faculties which is pending for long time.

-A news report in Beirut highlight the discrimination of the travellers with Arabic names aboard airliners in the USA and the proposal by a White House panel on the aviation security.

-PLO Farouk Kaddoumi is due to arrive today to Beirut coming from Damascus. He  will have talks with the foreign minister on the Palestinian Lebanese relations and the peace process.

-The Austrian foreign minister is expected to arrive to Beirut tomorrow for three days visit and scheduled to meet senior officials, also to augurate an Austrian 5 weeks long cultural festival at Al Bustan hotel .

-The Kesrouan district's 5 parliament deputies held a meeting in Zouk to discuss issues such as the A-2 highway linking Beirut with the north across the heart of Jounieh, the environmental problems and water. Foreign minister Fares Boueiz who is a deputy said the A-2 plan as designed is halted and buried and they will demand closure of some quarries in their constituency.

-The Papal Nuncio is to convey to the Vatican the reactions of the various Islamic figures regarding the Pope visit.

-Druze Sheikh Akel Mufid Ghaith said he wishes the Pope won't visit Jerusalem before it is liberated from Israel.

-The National Gathering representing the Christian opposition said yesterday the reservations on the pontiff visit aim to turn his pontiff's attention to the abnormal situation imposed on the Lebanese, also it aim to serve as notice to the officials here not to use the visit for their political purposes.

-The interior ministry distributes the application forms for the election identity card.

-The Lebanese national scientific centre announced it is now on the internet and the home page is   It is providing a coverage of Lebanon's science life.

-Typhoid is blamed for the outbreak of the fever in Bekaa and the reason is the polluted water and vegetables.


-The higher committe for the Lebanese soccer federation received a report on the investigations about a racial discrimination claimed by the African and Caribbean soccer players in Lebanon. The committee decided a temporary suspension of five African players including David Nakid of Al Ansar, Janji Jacobs  of the Safa, Mohammed Babayaro of the Burj, Fanny Bokari of the Racing, and Ganio Bakar of Hikmeh until the investigation is completed. The S.G of the federation and his deputy have already interviewed some 26  foreign players to see to their allegations which was relayed to the UEFA.

-In the Davis Cup now held in Saudi Arabia  the Lebanese Ali Hemadi beat yesterday the Saudi No one player Osman Anzi 6-1, 6-2, and 6-4. In another match the Lebanese Shaun Karam beat the Saudi Badr Moukbel with 6-4, 6-3, and 6-4.  Moukbel loss was second time only in the 12 Davis Cup he played.

-The Arab sports ministers now meeting in Cairo under the framework of the Arab League, including the Lebanese minister Jean Obeid, slammed yesterday the decision of the European parliament to withhold support for the sporting federations in countries which refuse the female participation in the Olympic games.

-The deputy chairman of the Hikmeh club says they will win the basketball cup.

-Lebanon won against Cyprus in Judo scoring 50 games and losing only 10.

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