News from Beirut May 16 1997 ...Search


-News reports said at least one Israeli solider killed and 5 others wounded in a 3 hour flare up in west Bekaa after an Israeli commando force attempted 9.00 p.m. yesterday to advance from the Israeli outpost Ahmadieh-Kaoukaba to Daidabeh hills 2-3 kms north of the occupied security zone. The raiding force clashed with a resistance ambush in the area and Israeli helicopter gunships intervened to comb the area and evacuate the casualties drawing anti- aircraft machine-gun fire from Lebanese army posts stationed in the area.

At 10.00 p.m. the resistance was reported to have fired 8 rockets at the Kaoukaba post. At 11.00 p.m. Israeli commandos attempted again another incursion preceded by extensive shelling with ratio of 5 shells per minute, but failed to make its way down thanks to air defenses of the Lebanese army and resistance. One of the army posts at Zillaya reported to have fired one missile against the raiding helicopters which in turn returned the fire. No casualties were reported among the army men but news said one of its vehicles has been hit. Until dawn today clashes were continuing also duels of artillery traded shelling. Reports said 350 Israeli artillery shell struck the villages of Libaya, Qilya, Mimes, Jabal Dahr until midnight. The Israeli television said since 8.00 p.m. yesterday heavy artillery battles are going on and Israeli air force planes and helicopters areas shelling Hizbullah posts at Rihan in the eastern sector of the security zone.

-New report noon today May 16 said the Israeli death toll in the ongoing battles in west Bekaa now stands at 3 killed and 7 wounded, rising up total casualties since early this year to 9 killed and 48 wounded. Reports also said the confrontation continues at top hills in west Bekaa including Ahmadieh, and Kaoukaba. Israeli air force warplanes raids since the start of the flare up 9.00 p.m. yesterday now stands at 15 consecutive raid. Israel dispatched more military reinforcements to the battle ground. The Israeli fatalities increased after its helicopter gunships tried to evacuate at 11.00 p.m. yesterday earlier casualties which were inflicted by a resistance ambush, trying to repel an Israeli advancing commando force. The Islamic resistance put the Israeli death toll since yesterday at 20 killed and wounded. The Lebanese army has been placed in total alert after an army tank destroyed by an Israeli helicopter missile fired at its post at Zilaya. The resistance fighters are also on alert to repel further attempts. UNIFIL estimated artillery shells fired by Israel at hills in west Bekaa by 400.

- Israeli coordinator Uri Lubrani, in a seminar in Washington on the Iranian danger and ways to counter it, admitted that Israel is not able to score victory against Hizbullah in south Lebanon. Lubrani said things are not bad as some people say but the war in south Lebanon cannot be won as long Iran is there financing Hizbullah. He claimed Iran has dispatched in the first 4 months of this year a total of 37 Jumbo plane load of advanced weapons to Hizbullah via Damascus, adding that the weapons had not been used before in Lebanon. He said the peace talks with Lebanon are suspended because the peace track with Syria is at halt. He pointed out that "nothing important will take place on the Lebanese track unless a progress is made on the Syrian one and I see nothing in sight now". Lubrani said all possible moves should be done to contain Hizbullah and prevent it from intervening in the Israeli ordinary activities, and that it has to "enhance defenses against the Hizbullah attacks, though we are improving, but not always successful".

Lubrani ridiculed the proposal "Lebanon First", jokingly elaborated saying he is "always looking for the man who can say he is the one behind the proposal and perhaps the media was the one". He said when the peace talks resume with Syria, Israel should focus primarily on the Lebanese affair and place it on top of the agenda, adding that Israel should insist on that, because on this front there are bloodshed , while no blood is let down in Golan. Lubrani said this is something persistent and should be dealt with at first chance. Asked about the reason why the 425 resolution is not implemented, Lubrani said "the resolution simply means Israel's pull out and hand over south to the Lebanese army, which we know is not able, and moreover not willing to do so, unless after Syria decides that". Lubrani, defining Israel's terms on withdrawal from Lebanon, said Hizbullah is receiving its orders from Tehran not Syria or Beirut, and if Israel can have the guarantees that Hizbullah is to be disarmed and the south people who cooperate with Israel won't face punishment or harassment, including the SLA men, then Israel will withdraw.

Lubrani said "if a progress is made in the talks between Israel and Syria, then Iran and Hizbullah will accept it as de facto, because Iran is a pragmatic state, and Hizbullah realizes it should be transformed into a political party in Lebanon, and it is preparing itself for that by building the necessary infrastructure to become an active party".

- Lebanon foreign minister Fares Boueiz, who is going to end his 5 days official visit to Rumania today, said in Bucharest yesterday there is an ongoing Vietnamisation of south Lebanon. He said the main concern at present, before the political rebuilding of the present institutions, is to liberate south Lebanon and release the prisoners-hostages in the Israeli concentrations. Boueiz regretted that the USA has stopped its role in the M.E peace process, and "if the Americans do not want anymore to undertake their role in the process, we have no objection to Europe replacing it".

Government-Army Trading Declarations

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri critics against the army accusing it of smashing the civil institutions and Gen. Emile Lahoud response through 'guidance letter" are top story in Lebanon's media nowadays.

The PSP party under minister Walid Jumblat in a statement published today said "in such a delicate situation after the visit of the Pope which is expected to be invested in and out of the country in its favor, we are surprised of words issued by the army commander, with serious signals and dimensions, which would cause arguments and row harming stability and running of the state, foiling the outcome of the Pope visit, merit of the apostolic guidance, showing Lebanon a country that is stagnated by forces, posts, and institutions, which should be first of all under the authority of the political decision".

The PSP statement said "the political umbrella is what protects the drive of the country, and the basic guarantor is the political decision and consensus, not the army, which could not have rise up without it". The PSP said "none should exaggerate his stands and behavior or to act as an extraordinary potential as if he is above humans, institutions, and all the entire state".

News observers enlisted minister Walid Jumblat as the first joining the battle of Hariri against the the army. However, it said the ministers are split on this point.

One minister was quoted saying Mr. Hariri should have consulted the council of ministers before making such accusation against the army, and the minister of defense Mohsen Dalloul is being let aside and not assuming his post as he should be. The minister said neither the PSP statement, nor the declaration of minister Elie Hubeika, saying the political climate only has led to the rebuilding of the constitutional institutions, can deny the fact that the army restored security allover the country, and that security allowed parliament elections which produced the mother institution of the parliament. The minister added that Hariri is in fact masterminding a government of militias-financial companies, and danger of the militias inside the government is more serious than its danger out of the government, because a militia influence can be exercised inside the government, while it can be silenced out under the motto of security priority. He recalled that Mr. Jumblat spent some $800mn together with Hariri for repatriating the displaced but the displaced did not return back yet. The army command refused to comment or respond to statements given by minister Jumblat and Hubeika saying it said what it should say in the guidance bulletin.

News Summary

- President Elias Hrawi told visitors that the outcome of the Pope visit is starting to emerge through his pontiff's follow up and pursue. He said tangible results will appear in the due course of time. He said Lebanon was beneficent of the visit both regionally and internationally and namely on foreign media level. He reiterated appreciation of the security measures that have been enforced and which reflected a general relaxation despite the size and magnitude of the visit.

- Prime minister Hariri's marathonic agenda in S.Korea on the second day of the official visit included bilateral talks between him and Korean counterpart, also bilateral talks between Lebanese and Korean ministers. State minister for finance Fouad Seniora said building relation with the far east countries is based on first the measures to build confidence and second patience. Hariri affirmed that the Korean firms definitely have the chance to share in reconstruction of Lebanon, starting with two agreements on investments and double taxation. He said he discussed ways to increase Lebanese exports to Korea, and the S.Koreans interested in all sectors, particularly the free zones. Hariri said he understood that the Korean  private sector has been given political green light on investing in Lebanon.

- Deputy speaker Elie Firzli after a visit to Papal nuncio Pablo Puente said the dialogue between Syria and the Christians is continuing and will have results in future time. News reports said Patriarch Sfair asked the Maronite bishops not to be involved in the file of Syria-Christian dialogue and let it up to politicians.

- Former head of the Constitutional Council jurist Wajdi Mallat is thinking holding a press conference to respond to critics against his resignation and stands. The council is expected to announce its rulings on parliament election's appeals, also to have draw on 5 of the members, all at one session expected early next week.

- Leader of the Russian communist party said his country is supporting a comprehensive just peace in the M.E and it has to play larger role in support of Lebanon and Syria. The visiting communist leader met president Hrawi, deputy speaker Elie Firzli, minister Walid Jumblat, and was hosted at a reception in his honor held by the Lebanese communist party at Coral Beach hotel.

-Today's commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and his family.

Ashoura commemoration day is a day off in Lebanon. Hizbullah commemorations are to be staged this morning at NabiChit in Bekaa, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and at Nabatieh. The hometown of Hizbullah late former S.G Abbas Mussawi is the site where Hizbullah commemoration takes place in the Bekaa. Another former S.G Subhi Tufeili is staging separate commemoration site at Merjet el Ein in Baalbeck town. Tufeili has announced recently the movement "starved revolution" which he regards as a popular movement.

He called yesterday for a collective stand to not pay any taxes or charges, described the Lebanese state as an insect which absorbs blood of the people. Tufeili said his call for the starved revolution is not a political move and that the Syrians have nothing to do with it. Why the timing now, Tufeili answered saying the families that offered their sons to martyrdom against Israel and now starved told him he should stand with them and he decided to do so.

Tufeili denied split in Hizbullah and said he discussed the move with the party S.G Hassan Nasrallah. Reports said Hizbullah will not participate in the movement of Tufeili, and the party circles said they are in favor of the demands raised but disagree on the methods and practice.

- Labors are clearing Baalbeck temple main playground in preparation for the once most famous Baalbeck festival which will starts on as scheduled as of  July 24 with Caraculla folk dance and later with Italian and Russian performances.

- Human rights organization demand halt of judicial procedures against Lebanese journalist Pierre Atallah who would be sentenced to at least 3 years jail.

- Hizbullah S.G Hassan Nasrallah received resistance men who carried the operation at Sojod offering each of them a copy of the holy book Koran and hailing their heroic action.

Sports Round Up

- The Korean Samsung volleyball team is in the lead of Asian clubs championship after beating the Saudi Hilal easily yesterday. The team scored so far 6 points in three games. The result was a surprise to the organizers  and various teams after having seen the Saudi players beating the Iranian Baikan and Lebanese Bushrieh. The Korean team includes an elite of key players, with 3 Olympic players. The Iranian Baikan defeated Ghazir yesterday with 3-0.

- Lebanese Football Federation S.G Rahif Alameh will negotiate in Cairo next week the Egyptian couch Mahmoud Saad to train the Lebanese football Olympic team. Saad has led his country's team to Barcelona Olympiad of 1992 and worked couch for the Egyptian Zamalek. He had been the couch of the Lebanese Safa in the early 80's.

- Two Ghanaian players Raja Mohammed and Farouk Giamni are still under test by the Nejmeh club before signing with either both or one of them to play for the Lebanese Nijmeh team.

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