News from Beirut August 18  1997 ...Search

Sidon Under Israeli Shelling :

-Six Lebanese civilians martyred today and over 40 others wounded in a sudden Israeli and SLA heavy artillery shelling at the coastal town Sidon as of 2.00 p.m. The shelling was timed during the peak hours of the day. Lebanon described the shelling as the most serious military escalation and a maximum challenge of the last year April's understanding. The first two shells struck Sidon commercial center at 2.00, 15 minutes later two more shells struck Bawabeh Fawkah, followed by another shell at Riyad Solh main street. A total of 16 artillery shell struck the town. The Lebanese army said in a communiqué issued this afternoon that the shelling was from the SLA outpost at Ain Tohra in Jezzine area. The communiqué said the Lebanese army pounded the SLA post with its 120 and 155 mm artillery and scored direct hits. Israel's radio quoted Israeli military sources denying its responsibility of the shelling and said it is the SLA behind the artillery shelling.

- Earlier, two Lebanese civilians including a 20 years old young male and his 12 years sister martyred in a roadside bomb explosion while in their car at the Kfarhouneh- Aishiyeh main road in Jezzine area. Hizbullah strongly denied its responsibility of the explosion and accused Israel and its agents of planting the bomb. The party called the Lebanese government to carry on its responsibility in protecting the Lebanese civilians in and out of the occupied security zone. Hizbullah affirmed that its enemies are only Israel and its agents not the civilians.

-In retaliation to the Israeli shelling of Sidon 10 Katyusha rockets said to have struck the H.Q. of the SLA in Merjeuoun. Another 10 artillery shells struck later, in an apparent counter retaliation, the village of Joun in Iqlim Kharoub north east of Sidon and out of the security zone. Instant reports did not mention any casualties.

-Lebanon is to file an urgent complaint to the five nation ceasefire committee which will meet within the coming days. Hizbullah said the Israeli new massacre in Sidon is an Israeli government's decision since the SLA is not capable to take such decision. The party said Israel has went beyond the red lines.

-The sudden artillery shelling came amid last week's row over Saidoun's pull back. The SLA pull back from a 7 km line at Saidoun east of Sidon has proved to be an Israeli trap, Lebanese officials said. On August 16 two Israeli warplanes raided at 6.00 and 8.00 p.m. the hills of  Naameh south of Beirut and fired four air to surface missiles at the Palestinian PFLP g.c's centers. No casualties were reported. This is Israel's second raid against Naameh hills in a week time after 8th August raid. The Israeli warplanes flew on low altitude over the coastal highway leading to the south causing panic to the traffickers going for the weekend. The Lebanese army air defenses opened its fire against the raiding planes.

-Lebanon defense minister Mohsen Dalloul said Sunday the Lebanese government was right in exercising a cautious stand over the pull back from Saidoun. He said the pull back was a deception and a trap that aimed at the Lebanese army, the government and the people. Dalloul said the patience and cautious was not hesitation neither fear but it was in fact an attempt to collect more information and explore the situation so that the decision taken is solid enough.

-House speaker Nabih Berri speaking Sunday at the south Lebanon's pharmacists conference that was held at Moseileh said the Jezzine case is not a Christian Maronite case but a Lebanese. He said he pledges that even one slap won't take place if Israel withdraw from the region. Mr. Berri hailed the Lebanese army and the resistance's high sense of responsibility that have foiled all the Israeli schemes. He said there is no Jezzine First, or Kafra First or the liberated area First, and that there is no inter Lebanese problem. He said "let Israel withdraw two meters in Jezzine and the Lebanese army will station immediately, and if Israel withdraws from the entire Jezzine's region the army will take over " . The speaker said "we do not accept any slogans by any group that supports "Jezzine First" as a solution.

-The Muslim Shiite Mufti Abdel Amir Kabalan said the Israeli and SLA recent redeployment at east Sidon was not for the sake of Jezzine people and their safety but for its own safety. He said Israel planned to force the remaining population in Jezzine to leave the region.


-Minister Walid Jumblat in a declaration given Sunday renewed his critics against the security agencies and the way the government dispatched the army to Bekaa. He argued if "the distribution of the thousands of arms licenses by the outnumbered clubs of intelligence is necessary to prove the state image". He argued too the closure of main roads and insulting the people each time a statesman host another at a banquet, and if the behavior of the senior officers' young boys at the night clubs escorted by so many body guards, is also necessary for that image. He ridiculed the speeches of the statesmen over regaining the state image by sending troops "as if the state did not exist two months ago". He said "the citizens should know, under the present jungle of security agencies, where the state image should stop if there is any, and where the personal freedom exist if there is anything left". Speaking to his PSP party's National Center for Development and Rehabilitation he attacked the electricity minister Elie Hubeika without naming. Jumblat said "it is unfortunate that local and regional reasons have forced Walid Jumblat to join this government and it is up to him to decide when to attend or not the government meetings". Jumblat added that "memory of the Lebanese and Palestinian people is still alive and will not forget the Sabra and Shatila massacre". He said "we need no one to give us lessons in patriotism".

- Lebanon's political parties, leftists and rightists, Christians and Muslims, are to hold today a broad meeting at Bristol hotel at 11.00 a.m., the first since the leftist national movement and the rightist Lebanese front, after the Israeli invasion in 1982 and the consequent developments, forced most of the political parties to shrink and collapse. The meeting, initiated by Hizbullah, will join together the Kataeb, Communists, Nasserites, and many others, except the communist group led by Mohsen Ibrahim and Gen. Michel Aoun loyalists. Representation of the participant parties will be on high level and possibly by its secretary general. They are going to sign a joint platform that express their views and concepts and outline the collective dealing with the authority. The meeting today will consecrate Hizbullah's turning to local politics. News commentators said the objective of the meeting to remedy and shape up the country's political parties is too difficult. They said while the parties are looking for a foothold and suffering from inter ideological conflicts, the present regime is rejecting the collective moves and favor instead individualism.

-Lebanese immigrant youths now visiting Lebanon toured the ISF Helou's barrack in Beirut, Bshamoun town where leaders of the independence announced their first government and Jeita. The young immigrants were hosted by minister of immigrants Talal Arsalan. He said his ministry is not for a community or sect but it is a community for the entire Lebanon.

-The "Big Blue" environment campaign that aimed to spread environmental culture and clean the beach from north to south ended Sunday. The campaign was joined by many clubs, unions, boy scouts and the Red Cross.


-The Lebanese football team Al Ansar won the Viceroy Championship Cup /97 beating Nijmeh 2-0 in the final game played Sunday at Bourj Hammoud stadium. Result of the first match was 1-0 with Al Ansar in the leading seat.

- Many foreign players in Lebanon are now jobless following the Lebanese Football Federation's decision to ban the second grade football teams to recruit foreign players.

-Iraq basketball union, next to Iraq football and volleyball teams, is looking to visit the country and play with Lebanese counterparts. Head of the Iraqi basketball union said he conveyed the wish to play with Lebanon via the Iraqi football team, which already left to Beirut. The Iraqi football team will play Thursday in Lebanon with the national team. The visit of the team to Lebanon was upon an invitation from the Lebanese football federation.

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