News from Beirut December 24  1998 ...Search

Israel vows to retaliate against Katyusha attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to retaliate after Hizbullah launched more than 60 Katyusha rockets at northern and western Galilee in response to the killing of seven Lebanese civilians in the Eastern Bekaa a day earlier. "We can not remain silent. We will respond in our own time and according to our considerations," Netanyahu said.

For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai seemed astonished as to why Hizbullah had chosen to launch Katyusha attacks on Northern Israel given that Israel had apologized for killing seven Lebanese civilians a day earlier by mistake.

Kahalani suggests bombarding Lebanon's infrastructure

Israeli Internal Security Minister, Avigdor Kahalani, suggested as usual bombarding the Lebanese capital's infrastructure in retaliation for the Hizbullah Katyusha attacks launched yesterday at Northern Israeli settlements. Kahalani said it is unthinkable that residents of Northern Israel have to spend their nights and days in shelter while residents of Beirut go about their business as if nothing was up. Kahalani called for shelling electricity networks in Beirut.

Kahalani was speaking before the Inner Security Cabinet met late yesterday headed by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. During its meeting, the Inner Security Cabinet took "secret decisions" after examining its options in light of the renewed escalation in the South.

Annan deplores killing of seven civilians in Bekaa

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last night deplored the killing of seven members of the Othman family in the Israeli raid on Junta late Tuesday. Annan also expressed concern about the escalating situation in South Lebanon.

The UN chief urged both Israel and the Lebanese Resistance "to put an end to the violence and, in particular, to respect the non-combatant status of civilians. For its part, the UN Security Council expressed similar concern about the deteriorating situation in the South.

Hoss requests French help to calm tensions in the South

Last night, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss received a phone call from French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine over the situation in South Lebanon. The premier requested the help of France to calm tensions in the South, describing the southern situation as very dangerous.

Lebanon had filed a complaint to the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group shortly after the air raid on Junta. Vedrine, whose country currently presides over the international panel, said France will urge the group to convene as soon as possible to discuss the Lebanese complaint. Vedrine also expressed sorrow for the loss of seven civilian lives in Eastern Bekaa Tuesday.

Tension prevails in southern villages as Israeli attacks continue

Tension remains high along the southern occupation zone as Israeli warplanes intensified their flights today. Israeli occupying troops this morning heavily bombarded the area between Touline and Sawwaneh, in addition to the outskirts of Wadi Al-Qeissieh, Wadi Slouqi, Tamrieh, Majdel Selem and Qabreekha.

Residents of the South and the Western Bekaa had spent their night in shelters due to heavy Israeli shelling on their villages.

For its part, the Lebanese Resistance announced it carried out an operation against the Israeli position in Taibeh.

Lahhoud stresses the rule of law

President Emil Lahhoud stressed the state's different administrations are ready to serve all citizens adding those departments that are receiving their complaints revealed high incidence of law violations.

Lahhoud was quoted by a visiting delegation of AUB graduates. The delegation also reported the president reaffirmed that every Lebanese citizen has a very important role to play in the process of reconstruction.

Lahhoud also reportedly stressed the importance of activating the judiciary bodies in the country. The president also called on the graduates to be optimistic adding this was the only way to rebuild their country.

Hoss discusses situation of health and economic sectors in Lebanon

Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss today tackled the situation of the health sector in Lebanon during a series of meetings he held at the Grand Saray today with delegates from the Syndicate of Private Hospital Owners and the Syndicate of Doctors in Lebanon. Hoss promised to pay more attention to the demands of this sector in the coming period.

The premier also held talks on the economic situation in the country with a delegation from the Beirut Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Adnan Al-Qassar. Al-Qassar later said the country is now in a critical phase adding that the budget deficit is the most acute problem facing the government.

Information Minister discuss media cooperation with Britain

Information Minister Anwar Al-Khalil held talks with the British Ambassador to Lebanon David Ross MacLenin on boosting media cooperation between the two countries.

The British Ambassador told reporters after the meeting, his country aims at boosting bilateral media cooperation with Lebanon through providing training courses for employees at the Information Ministry and the National News Agency. MacLenin added the choice of Beirut as the 1999 Cultural Capital was a good choice by UNESCO.

Al-Khalil also discussed bilateral ties with the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Adel Al-Khodari and the Brazilian Ambassador Sergio Basselos.

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