News from Beirut July 14  1997 ...Search

South Lebanon, The Ongoing Turmoil

-The cycle of violence in south Lebanon is once again under light. Lebanon filed a complaint to the five nation cease-fire monitoring committee after a 70 year old Lebanese farmer martyred under Israeli artillery shelling at his village inside the security zone on Saturday. The committee will be called to convene to examine the complaint. It will be the 14th meeting since early this year. There were casting doubts over the monitoring committee's mission turned to be merely recording events and preoccupied in interpreting provisions of the April's understanding, instead of specifying responsibility and releasing the violating party. The Lebanese delegation to the panel will present evidence that the farmer killing was intentional.

-Two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded Sunday in a Hizbullah attack on their outpost in the occupied zone. Israel said the clash took place in the central part of the security zone. Hizbullah said its fighters attacked the Dabsheh outpost near Nabatieh, also another outpost at Ali Taher. Israel retaliated with artillery fire that hit civilian areas in Nabatieh and Kfar Tibnit, damaging two houses and several cars.

-Hizbullah statement said "The Zionist enemy should realize that its continuation to violate the understanding, going on killing more Lebanese civilians, even inside the occupied sector, will not pass without a punishment". The party described the April's understanding "A weapon with two edges". Hizbullah called the concerned parties to observe application of the understanding and to take the firm measures that ensure safety of the Lebanese civilians, otherwise they would turn into idle witnesses who only count fatalities. The party is said to have indirectly hinted to the possibility of shelling the Israeli settlements if Israel continues shelling Lebanese civilian areas.

-Twelve Israeli soldier have been killed and 51 wounded since early this year. The latest Hizbullah attack came a day after the elderly farmer martyred inside his village Adsheet. Israel said the incident was accidental and regretted the incident. Eight Lebanese civilians have been killed in south Lebanon since the beginning of the year.

-Foreign minister fares Boueiz pledged that members of the SLA who defected from the militia of their own free will would not face prosecution here. He added that this was one of the reasons why the government had chosen to reopen the Kfarfalous crossing. The foreign minister added that before referring a militiaman to court, authorities have to make sure he has left the SLA on his own and has not been sent to free Lebanon as a spy. The minister said the reopening of the crossing would enable the SLA members to defect. Boueiz said "Even if the government's effort to reopen the crossing failed, residents of Jezzine will know that their government has not forgotten them. He warned that Lebanon may complain to international organizations if Israel continued to prevent the crossing from being reopened.

The Eighth Pan Arab Games, An Outlook

-The Eighth Pan Arab Games were inaugurated Saturday by president Elias Hrawi, who said "From the Camille Chamoun Sports City, I declare the Pan Arab Games open".

-Spectators who were barred from entering the stadium because of over-capacity were pushed back by security provoking scuffles. At 6.30 p.m, the stadium was already packed. Its seating capacity is 50,000 and tickets distributed exceeded 150,000.

-Crowds lucky to have seats inside the stadium cheered warmly the Arab teams, as they filed one after another past the VIP section. Only 19 Arab member attended with Iraq, Somalia and Comoros not participating.

-Hundreds of youngsters dressed in purple and orange costumes performed traditional Lebanese dances. Huge fireworks ended the ceremony.

-21 sporting events are scheduled but four were canceled for lack of players.

-President Hrawi in his opening speech said Lebanon would do all it could to make the games a success. "From Lebanon we say to the world; The Lebanese have returned to their heritage and unity, they have returned to build a Lebanon for heroes, youth and peace". He thanked Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for financing the construction of the Sports City. He also expressed gratitude to the efforts deployed by premier Hariri for supervising the construction.

-Prime minister Rafic Hariri said in his speech The opening ceremony marked the day when "Construction won over destruction, and peace over war" and "Every stone built in this place is a victory for the martyrs who died during the war". Hariri added saying "Israel transformed this place into a graveyard but it has become a place for unity, peace and Arab solidarity under president Elias Hrawi's mandate”.

-President of the Pan Arab Games Association prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdel Aziz said "This is a tournament of solidarity between the Lebanese people who have established credibility in their country and given rise to this great sporting event". "Bombs can destroy a city but can never shake the faith of believers", he said.

-Secretary general of the Arab League applauded Lebanon for accepting the challenge to host the event and "those who doubted Lebanon's capabilities to organize the event were not aware of its deep-rooted strength or its cultural and educational heritage”.

-Lebanon foreign minister said Sunday "Lebanon was left in a difficult position, inviting Iraq and losing the participation of countries whose relations with Lebanon are of paramount importance, or excluding Iraq to safeguard relative inter-Arab accord, because full accord was not possible". Boueiz , who was commenting on the exclusion of Iraq, was the first official to admit that Iraq had not been invited because its arch rivals Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had threatened to walk out. Boueiz added " There is no secret that, even in sports, the repercussions of the Gulf war can still be felt".

-The Iraqi athletes, trapped at the Lebanese border point Masnaa, and in an attempt to express their stand carried banners which read "Saddam Hussein's athletes are the first to call for Arab solidarity", and "Yes, to sports that unite people and no to sports that separates the Arabs". Head of the Iraqi team Assil Tabra said "The athletes endured a hard trip by land in order to participate in the games and it was a sign that they held a deep respect for Arab nationalism".

-Secretary General of the Arab League Issmat abdel Maguid declared that banning Iraq from participation in the games was painful, but the "least harmful had to be chosen". He said "This issue could have been solved last April when Lebanon answered and Arab League request and sent invitations to all Arab countries, which was a normal thing to do".

-President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, reflected that keeping sports out of politics was not an easy task. "It is very easy to say that sports has nothing to do with politics, but you can find politics everywhere" and "This problem is solved bit by bit, step by step,, I am sure it will be solved".

-The Iraqi most influential daily Babil said "Lebanon had prevented the athletes from entering for silly financial profits".

-Algerian woman runner Dalila Meyale won the first gold medal of the Eighth Arab Games yesterday clocking 1:26:41 in the 21 km half marathon that started at the Sports City and ended same place after running throughout Beirut streets. The second gold medal was for the Tunisian runner Attaher Mansour in the 42.195 km men's marathon race with a time of 2:28:19. He was the first to win this race in two consecutive Arab games.


-Prime minister Rafic Hariri is due to leave today to Spain in a three day official visit. He will go next to London and meet the new prime minister. Lebanon's cabinet will not hold its weekly session this week. The Parliament won't convene in an extra session and some ministers did not favor such session in order to avert debates that would harm the summer season. Paper reports said he might be seeking EU loans to finance his designed social blitz that he has revealed recently. Hariri, in interview with the Spanish media, said the situation in south Lebanon will remain as it is now as long the Israeli occupation continues. He denied that the US is pressing Lebanon and said he thinks Israel won't attack Lebanon once again.

-Patriarch Sfair in his Sunday's sermon at Diman denounced the government decision to postpone municipal elections for two more years. He said the gap is widening between the rulers and the ruled. He also said the public debate that took place last week flagrantly exposed that differences between the people and the government are being aggravated constantly. "The government should go to the people and evaluate their opinion before taking any decision instead of ignoring their will”. He said the government's actions are against the Pope's apostolic exhortation, which stressed the importance of boosting Christian-Muslim cooperation, notwithstanding personal or private interests. "Muslims and Christians should work together for their common good in order to protect morality, justice, peace and the family", he said. The patriarch said Lebanon was suffering from many problems that mainly stem from Israel's occupation and the dangers inherent in the Palestinian issue.

-Eastern orthodox patriarch Ignatius Hazim IV yesterday called on officials to make a new movement towards achieving national unity and alleviating the problems of the poor. In such a rare comment on domestic affairs, patriarch Hazim said he hoped the government pays more attention to what is humanitarian and what is good. He said "People must be able to speak from the heart and be listened to. Asked about sheikh Tufeili's hunger revolution, he said it is "Completely unacceptable that a human being could be humiliated because of poverty or because they were in need".

-Sheikh Subhui Tufeili speaking Sunday at Beit Shama village in Bekaa said "I order Fransabank and the UN to return the property deeds to the people because I will not allow anyone to steal the people's land". He was referring to a UN project for rural development in which Fransabank gave L.L5mn to people who wanted to purchase property. Tufeili told those unable to continue repayment not to. He said the people responsible for the project were thieves and not qualified. Tufeili also criticized the project to distribute 3,000 dairy cow in deprived areas saying "the US cows that were sold to people by installments eat more than they produce”.

-Syria's farming minister with his advisers toured Sunday a dairy farm, vineyards and a sugar factory in Bekaa. The delegation will visit south Lebanon later. Lebanese agriculture minister hoped the visit will have positive results for local farmers. Southern farmers have repeatedly asked Syria to lift import restrictions on the locally produced bananas, and other issues including the prevention of dumping local market of Syrian crops such as potatoes and poultry. Today, the two ministers visited south farms in south. This evening the two will sign an agriculture cooperation agreement.

-MP Qabalan Issa el Khoury during a visit to Cardinal Sfair Sunday said he is against extending term of the president "for the good of Lebanon".

-Governor of Athens met minister Walid Jumblat, visited downtown Beirut reconstruction's project and held a meeting at Solidere.

-Head of the Maronite League Pierre Helou said he has desire to contact all parties to unite the internal stand. Helou said the issue of returning all displaced should be given top priority.

-Sit ins are to be held today in Beirut and other Lebanese towns on the day of "Lebanese captives" upon call from the Follow Up Committee To Support Lebanese Detainees in Israeli Jails. The committee demanded release of patients and wounded and reveal whereabouts of the missing detainees.

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