The statue of late Prime Minister Riad Al-Solh was today unveiled in downtown Beirut during an official ceremony attended by President Elias Al-Hrawi, House Speaker Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
Saudi Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal Bin Abdel Aziz, Al-Solh's grandson, and a high-ranking Syrian delegation also participated in the event. The statue recently underwent rehabilitation and reconstruction. The phrase, "From the country to Riad Al-Solh" was inscribed on its bottom. President Elias Al-Hrawi praised Al-Solh for his nationalist principles adding his quest to abolish sectarianism should be fulfilled to protect national unity in the country. For his part, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri said the statue's return is yet another indication of the return of peace to Lebanon.
With a parliamentary and a popular consensus around his election, Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud will be elected tomorrow as the country's 10th head of state since Lebanon's independence. Lahhoud will also be the 2nd army commander elected as president in the history of Lebanon. Parliament yesterday ratified a constitutional amendment to Article 49, which would allow Lahhoud to run for presidency. The law was immediately published in a special edition of the Official Gazette after being signed by President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. According, House Speaker Nabih Berri received a copy of the gazette and called on parliament to convene tomorrow to elect the upcoming president. The amendment was earlier ratified by the justice and administration parliamentary committee and by cabinet during last week's session.
During a meeting with some 75 officials in Kraytem, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri defined the main headlines of the upcoming phase. He told the gathering General Emil Lahhoud's presidency would be a chance that should be utilized on the national level, especially that he was selected on the basis of the will of the Lebanese people and government. Hariri called on the gathering to participate in the new presidential term's workshop. The premier added he will cooperate with Lahhoud by all means. After a series of meetings with Lahhoud, Hariri added, he found out that he agreed with the upcoming president on all that relates to the national public good.
One Israeli soldier was slightly wounded this morning in a Hizbullah mortar attack launched at a military outpost on the Israeli border. The Hizbullah Resistance Movement in a statement said the attack was a warning to the Israeli Army to stop its aggression against civilians and civilian areas in South Lebanon. The statement added Hizbullah's retaliation would be greater if Israel continues to hit the South.
Israeli attacks late last night blazed huge fires in the southern villages of Kafra and Yater as a result of the use of phosphoric shells. Civil Defense teams faced huge difficulties in encircling these fires due to the continuous Israeli bombardment. These teams were obliged to evacuate three families, whose homes were surrounded by fire. The families spent the night at a nearby UNIFIL base. Also in Yater, a number of olive fields and orchards were completely burnt as a result of the shelling. Fires also erupted in the fields of Sojod, Rayhan, Lowaizeh, Gargoua, Jabal Al-Rafii, Gargoua, Arab Saleem, Wadi Al-Hojeir and Al-Mansouri as a result of Israeli attacks.
Heavy Israeli shelling also targeted Wadi Al-Hojeir and the outskirts of Touline and Qabreekha from the Israeli outpost in Taibeh. Early this morning, the outskirts of Baraasheet, Ayta Al-Jabal and Haddatha were also subject to heavy bombardment. The shelling was accompanied by Israeli MK inspection flights over villages in the central sector of the occupation zone.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group accused Israel of violating the April 1996 understanding by shelling civilian areas in the village of Baraasheet where a number of civilian cars and homes were damaged. The group welcomed the Lebanese statement saying the Lebanese side will continue its efforts to avoid civilians while launching attacks on Israeli targets in South Lebanon. The international panel met yesterday at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into two complaints, one filed by Lebanon and the other by Israel. The Israeli complaint claimed the resistance launched attacks on Israeli outposts from civilian areas in the South, but the group did not verify the Israeli claim.
Greenpeace activists demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Lebanese Industrialists' Association (LIA) to reveal that the association's plans to sue Greenpeace. The legal threat is an attempt to prevent the international environmental organization from campaigning against industrial pollution.
The activists held a banner in Arabic and English reading, "We will not shut up - Stop industrial Pollution", and they distributed to passers by leaflets to inform them about the non-violent protest. Security from the building took away the banners by force.
LIA President Jacques Sarraf had invited several representatives and lawyers of companies to meet at the association's headquarters in Beirut to discuss ways to sue Greenpeace for allegedly "slandering industrialists and damaging their image". Greenpeace had sampled these companies and proven that they are polluting the marine environment, some of them in a serious way. Last week, LIA officially informed Greenpeace that it does not wish to discuss with Greenpeace any issue.
Fouad Hamdan, Greenpeace Lebanon campaigner, said: "Greenpeace appeals to Mr. Sarraf and his follow industrialists to accept the fact that many companies are dumping a cocktail of toxic outflows into the environment. This is having a very negative effect on the health of the people and the marine environment. We are ready to cooperate with industrialists and assist them in formulating plans to eliminate at source toxic products in all processes."
In its statement, Greenpeace also appealed to Premier Rafik Al-Hariri and to Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb to tackle the issue of industrial pollution. The statement added the solution is to convince industrialists with incentives and laws to end pollution at source and stop dumping their wastes in the environment at the expense of the people and economic sectors like the tourism one.
Weather sources at Beirut's International Airport today predicted the exceptional heat wave, which is causing fires all around the country, to decline this evening.
But for the fourth day today, fires are still raging in many areas across the country. Beirut's fire-fighting department this morning reported its various teams are still working hard to extinguish the different blazes.
Fires this morning erupted in different areas in the district of Saida, Naameh, Ras Al-Metn, Hammana, Qernayel, Selvaya, Lowaizeh, Alaye, Arayyah, Batroun, and Kesrouan where 10 homes were burnt yesterday. At least four people suffered slight burns in the Mount Lebanon region yesterday.
Thousands of pine, olive and oak trees were burnt in different areas since the beginning of the heat wave, which is being aided by fast warm winds.
Environmentalists in the country say this is a horrible environmental catastrophe. Civil Defense teams are complaining from the lack of cars, helicopters and proper equipment. Residents and the Lebanese Army are also working hard in fighting the fires that blazed in different areas in the South, Iqlim Al-Kharroub, Mount Lebanon, Akkar, Al-Metn, and Akkar.
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