News from Beirut August 9 1997 ...Search

South Lebanon and April's Understanding

-Two Israeli warplanes launched today at 12.30 a.m. local time its 50th raid this time against a Hizbullah base at Janta near the town of Nabichit in the Bekaa killing one Hizbullah member and wounding 4 others. The raid came on verge of a fresh tour in the region by US peace coordinator Dennis Ross also on verge of tomorrow's meeting of the five nation ceasefire monitoring committee that will examine ten complaints presented equally by both Lebanon and Israel. The Italian prime minister's visit to Lebanon Thursday gave an Italian go ahead to its helicopter team serving under UNIFIL to resume its flights and transport the Lebanese and Syrian delegations to the meeting at Naqoura. The cause for the crash of an Italian helicopter is not yet cleared out.

-While preparing this edition, news reports said Israeli warplanes raided this evening Reiit in Zahle region. The target was an PFLP base. No further information were available on the time.

-US coordinator Dennis Ross is due to arrive this evening to Israel with a mission conceived to security issues related to Israel and the Palestinians. "Ceiling of his mission would lead to Arafat serving as a police to Israel, paving the ground for a Palestinian inter civil war", Lebanon's foreign minister said today.

-Yasser Arafat on verge of Ross' tour confirmed that the two suiciders who carried the bombing operation in Jerusalem came from outside, and hinted that they came from Lebanon. He was trying to excuse his self authority rule of its responsibility after it was accused by Israel of failing to combat the Islamic armed groups. Arafat said "they came from outside the Palestinian territory as we were told by an Israeli security official and for that the Israeli army is now striking in Lebanon". He said members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine were not involved in the double operation that killed 13 Israelis. The Palestinian Jerusalem's news agency has said that the two suiciders came from the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain Helwe near Sidon. Israel did not confirm such report yet and its defense minister reiterated that the two came from the Palestinian self rule authority's land. Israel today said Arafat has every interest to say that the two suiciders came from outside in order to lessen his authority's responsibility.

-Lebanon's foreign minister Fares Boueiz at a press conference today said Yasser Arafat is playing now a role that is wanted by Israel and he is becoming an executive of Israel's security sides. Boueiz said Arafat is giving Israel the pretext to strike Lebanon by linking the bombing to Lebanon and by that helping Israel. He said the linkage is not true as Arafat knows. Boueiz said the Katyusha was not sent by a Lebanese group and Hizbullah did not claim the responsibility of firing. Boueiz said linking Arafat's declaration on the suiciders and sending Katyushas without any address are both indicating a scheme planned by Arafat. He said the Katyusha, Arafat's declaration and tapped communications between Israel and the SLA on shelling civilians are all indicating a deliberate scheme aimed to drop down the April's understanding and strike at Lebanon and perhaps Syria. Boueiz said Israeli units have landed lately at Barouk and hills in Bekaa for reconnaissance and in preparation for an unclear operation.

-The Katyusha rockets that struck Galilee in north Israel and the latter's tone blaming Syria the responsibility of the Katyusha rocketing are reminding of the "Grapes of Wraths" phase. Hizbullah denied its responsibility of the rocketing. Some circles in Beirut hint that the rocketing is suspicious at this stage and its not the usual Hizbullah rocketing. Washington called all the parties including Syria to show more moderacy but refrained to condemn the Israeli artillery shelling against civilians. Despite Hizbullah denial of rocketing Kiryat Shimone, Israel's military sources continued to blame it for the rocketing and said it was confirmed that the rockets were fired from the vicinity of Barachit and Shaqra villages. The Israeli sources noticed that Hizbullah has began to release itself recently of operations it is carrying itself and perhaps the rocketing was retaliation to the commando raid at Kfour.

-Lebanon's prime minister Rafic Hariri accused Israel of the escalation of the military situation in south and of disrespecting the April's understanding. He said the problem will not be solved unless the UN resolution 425 is implemented but Lebanon does not want any escalation to take place. On the Katyusha rocketing and the casualties among civilians, Hariri said any civilian casualty is definitely not justified and Lebanon is not with the killing of any civilian.

Muslim Shiite's Dismay Over Remarks Degrading the Community

-The Lebanese Muslim Shiite senior religious leaders in their Friday's sermon have reflected a crisis that has been evoked at a time the government measures to clamp down on civil disobedience and revolution's calls was put on a hot boiler. Three of the Shiite's senior clergy sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah and Mufti Abdel Amir Kabalan asked a Lebanese "official" to apologize to the community on words he said at the cabinet session Wednesday which hint to the Shiites of being outlaw people. Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine said the Muslim Shiite's project is the project of the state and they have no special projects such as cantons or else. He said the community is not aliens or guests but born here and survived here despite unfair. Sayyed Fadlallah said the way the government is dealing with the issue is a confusion, and speaking on the Shiites as trouble makers hopefully is a slip of tongue and not a new plot against this community. The Sayyed said he does not want the army to be involved in internal complications and bickerings but to serve as a force facing the occupation and works for the liberation.

-Hizbullah secretary general sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at a press conference rejected the government security measures saying it is part of a package that was held with the US administration, and part of the arrangements that were agreed upon on the issue of lifting the travel ban. Nasrallah rejected deployment of the Lebanese army in the southern suburbs because on surface it is to ban gatherings and calls for civil disobedience and hunger revolutions, but in fact it aimed at something else. The deployment in the suburbs is not that simple and ordinary. He said the government decision has placed the southern suburbs and Bekaa under a sort of state of emergency or declared military zone. He outlined that the government is introducing both regions as an outlaw one and have no relation with the country, furthermore, a scene of crimes, violations and out of the order. He said that image is definitely rejected and the government decision is very serious and unacceptable. On other hand, Nasrallah called sheikh Subhi Tufeili to drop down the "pretext" of civil disobedience from the authority's hand which wants to use it for different purpose. Tufeili himself, at another rally and a mounting tone at Brital in Bekaa, said "it will not be allowed to anyone to dare on you and who threat us with death should know that we are death lovers". He called for a military alert at the hills and down in the valleys, saying it is to face any Israeli scheme. President Elias Hrawi was quoted by his visitor MP Shaker abu Suleiman saying he is very much concerned of consolidating the state image and enforce order. Hrawi was quoted saying that prosecuting the violators is now up to the judicial authority and it decide who should be prosecuted. He also said there should be no compromise on that because the state would be shaking if mini states were allowed to take place here and there. The state prosecutor Adnan Addoum after a meeting of prosecutors said the justice is slow but always reach its objective. He said the security forces will start as of Monday to collect information and evidences on the law violators in order to prepare judicial files for each. He said the information includes all that belong to those calling for disobedience or not to pay taxes. Addoum said all the law violators from all regions and areas are to be prosecuted and not only one precise person, and "if sheikh Tufeili is among them let it be ". He emphasized that all people are equal before the law.

-Information minister Bassem Sabbaa yesterday declared that the government decisions were not aimed against certain specific Lebanese regions or communities. He said the southern suburbs of Beirut is not a shelter for disobedience and chaos.

-Foreign minister fares Boueiz in an interview with the Egyptian weekly Al Ahram said he regrets lack of Arab aids to Lebanon that were promised since many years. Boueiz said it is unfortunate to say that the reconstruction of Lebanon was carried by the Lebanese only and all the Arab promises were not materialized. He said neither the $2bn aid that was decided at Taif nor the $2.5bn of Fuz summit in Morocco have been delivered to Lebanon. Boueiz said there is only a shy cooperation between Lebanon and Two of the Gulf states, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which from time to time open the door for some easy term loans. He criticized the economical summit in Doha-Qatar on Nov. and said he regrets that some Arab countries continue to respond to some foreign pressures. Boueiz said Israel's prime minister Netanyahu is trying to make a partial withdrawal only from south Lebanon and the cost of the Lebanese resistance operations against Israel was high for Israel, which lost more than it had ever lost in its wars against the Arabs.

-Patriarch Sfair conferred with Kesrouan three MPs Elias Khazen, Mansour el Boun, and Camille Ziadeh over the region's demands. The three Mps said they are forming now a parliamentary bloc of three without elaborating. Fourth Mp Rshayd el Khazen has initiated a gathering at Mayrouba earlier and outlined demands that related to government services and others. The Patriarch told a German delegation that the south is suffering but other regions of the country are suffering too, the political life is paralyzed in addition to the socio-economic hardships.

-The NLP party reiterated that oppression is not the mean and method to deal with living conditions and the socio-economic hardships and said the state is responsible of serving the citizen. The party statement said "with understanding to the reasons behind sheikh Subhi Tufeili's move, the party is not sharing him his call to violate the law and to build illegal constructions, and at the same time the party is looking for defining responsibility of senior officials' outnumbered violations and acts, that were known to everyone.

-Druze chieftain minister Walid Jumblat and acting sheikh Akl of the community, both at odds since three years, are to meet at a launch Sunday at Niha- Chuf. The launch was initiated by the sheikh Akl elder son who maintained normal relation with Jumblat. News reports speculate that the meeting will put an end to the rift between the two Druze officials and helps to resolve the post of sheikh Akl.

-Former Mp and minister Mikhail Daher questioned why the financial prosecution maintained silence after the house speaker Nabih Berri accused the troika of embezzlement. Daher argued how can there be any credibility for any authority with such way of dealing toward the basic issues.

-Islamic and leftist political parties in south Lebanon said it has noticed a suspicious harmony between the Israeli escalation in the south and the government measures to clamp down on law violators threatening more oppression and terrorism.

-The audio-visual media stations in Tyre were reported to have abided by the government decision to close nonlicensed stations. A TV station Al Basaer started to transmit under the emblem of the Shiite council. Two media stations continued to defy the decision to close down in Bekaa. At some mosques in Beirut a sit in was staged in support of two religious media stations that were not granted license.

-The national petition calling for municipal and mayoral elections already went ahead starting at Beirut Theater at Ain Mreisse instead of the Long Beach as scheduled before. The interior ministry did not grant a permission to hold the meeting and the police obstructed the move. Several MPs attended the gathering and signed the petition.

-Eviction of squatters at the Maramel in the southern suburbs and the destruction of the buildings there to pave ground for the Cocodi-Cola highway continued today.

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