A family of seven died late yesterday in an Israeli attack on the village of Junta in the Eastern Bekaa. Israeli warplanes raided the farm of the Ayyoub family killing the mother, Fadwa Othman and her six children, Sobhi, Ali, Amin, Souaad, Ayda, and Amina who all live and work in the farm. Their burned bodies were hardly identified. The father, Mohammed Amin Othman, was injured in a nearby shelling. He was saved by a miracle for he was fetching water for his fasting family when the raid occurred.
For its part, the Hizbullah Resistance Movement released a statement shortly after the raids saying the resistance knows where and when to retaliate against the enemy.
Today, Hizbullah retaliated by launching Katyusha attacks on settlements in Northern Israel wounding 13 residents. The attacks mainly intensified over the settlement of Keryat Shmouna where great material damage was inflicted.
Earlier reports from the South said the resistance launched Katyusha rockets at an Israeli outpost on the hill of Abbad in addition to other positions inside the occupation zone. Also in the South, an officer in the Israeli Allied Militia was killed in a resistance operation in retaliation to the Israeli raid.
Shortly after the raid on Junta, Lebanese officials started their diplomatic contacts to halt Israeli aggressions against Lebanese civilians. Lebanon entrusted its delegate at the United Nations to inform the UN Secretary General and all the permanent members of the Security Council of the new Israeli aggression against Lebanon and its people.
In his capacity as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss said Lebanon will file an urgent complaint to the April Understanding Monitoring Group. Hoss added that the fierce raid against civilians in the Bekaa is yet another proof of the double standards of the international policies.
The premier also said those who call for freedom, justice, and human rights are the same people who provide Israel with the latest advances in deadly weaponry to use against innocent civilians in Lebanon and to strengthen its hold on Arab territories in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Hoss added Israel is constantly violating all international agreements and human values.
The Israeli inner security cabinet today held a meeting to discuss the Hizbullah Katyusha attacks on Northern Israel. Israeli officials later today inspected the site of the attacks. After the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed his forces will retaliate at the right time and in the right place, adding the attacks violate the April Understanding.
The United States last night informed Lebanese officials that it had contacted Israel regarding the raid on Junta adding that Israel justified the loss of civilian lives there as a mistake.
An Israeli military spokesman said the raid was meant to target a radio station and a training military camp belonging to Hizbullah. Another Israeli spokesman expressed regret over the family's death. The Israeli Army had also called on residents of Northern Israeli settlements to spend their night in shelters for fear of possible retaliatory attacks by the Lebanese Resistance.
House Speaker Nabih Berri denounced the raid on Junta describing it as a "criminal act". Berri added we had warned last Friday that Israel would employ another policy in Lebanon to escape its own internal political problems.
The speaker stressed the importance of solidarity between all the Lebanese people, the army and the resistance against the occupation. He also reiterated the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian peace tracks and the importance of complete Arab coordination in the face of Israeli conspiracies.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today leaves for Cuba in an official visit following the invitation of the head of the National Assembly in Cuba. During his visit, the House Speaker will meet Cuban President Fidel Castro and a number of high-ranking officials there. Berri will be accompanied by MPs Faysal Al-Dawood and Antoine Haddad in addition to an administrative and media delegation.
The speaker will hold talks with Cuban officials that aim at boosting parliamentary ties between the two friendly countries in addition to discussing ways of activating cultural, economic and trade cooperation. Berri will also meet members in the Lebanese community there.
The Lebanese parliament will start an extraordinary session at the beginning of next month. This was agreed upon between President Emil Lahhoud and House Speaker Nabih Berri during a meeting at Baabda.
The House Speaker later discussed the issue with Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss in parliament. The extraordinary session will last until the beginning of the ordinary session on the 15th of March. This year's session will discuss a number of draft laws and projects. Meanwhile, cabinet is expected to finalize the 1999 state budget project within a period of two months.
Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss announced cabinet's future meetings will be held at the headquarters of the Lebanese University Central Administration in the area of the National Museum. According to the Taef Agreement, the cabinet should meet in a building other than the presidential palace and the prime minister's offices, currently at the Grand Saray.
Meanwhile, the LU's administration was re-located to the "Glass Building" just opposite to the museum. The building was constructed to house parliamentary sessions but was never used. LU President Assaad Diab said the new building could comfortably fit the administration's employees and staff.
Shortly after cabinet lifted a 1993 ban on street demonstrations, Lebanese youth held a strike in front of the headquarters of the US embassy in Awkar demanding the embassy be closed in Lebanon and the Arab world. More than 1000 protestors gathered in the area to express their denunciation of the American-British aggression against the Iraqi people.
The demonstration was accompanied by the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces. But no clashes were scored between the security troops and the protestors. It was the largest demonstration witnessed by the country in five years.
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