Israel today shelled the outskirts of the village of Lwayzeh in South Lebanon. The shelling also targeted the fields of Sojod, Rayhan and Mazraat Okmata in the Iqlim Al-Touffah area.
Meanwhile, fishermen in the port of Tyre said Israel fired bullets in the direction of some of their boats. Two boats carrying six fishermen were damaged but miraculously no one was hurt.
Last night, heavy Israeli shelling targeted a number of villages in the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain ridges. Earlier yesterday, mortar rounds hit a UNIFIL vehicle injuring one UN soldier inside and a nearby Lebanese civilian. The Irish soldier was driving towards his battalion base in the village of Haddatha. Ali Karneeb, a resident of the village, was also wounded in the attack. UNIFIL today filed a strong-worded complaint to Israel in this regard. Sources in the South said UNIFIL has also opened an investigation into the incident.
July 14 is the day of the Lebanese detainee held in Israeli jails. It was today celebrated in different parts of the country especially in a number of cities and towns in South Lebanon.
In Sidon, the newly elected municipal council of the city headed by Hilal Qobrously organized a sit-in. The Ali Sheikh Ammar, the head of the political office of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiyyah, representatives of Palestinian committees and a number of dignitaries in the city also attended the event.
In Tyre, a similar sit-in was held by a number of freed detainees who were kept by Israel in front of the UN headquarters in the city. They handed a memorandum to the officers of the base.
As for the sit-in of the southern village of Nabatieh, it was attended by a number of freed detainees from the village in addition to a number of political, religious, social and party officials.
A delegation of freed detainees previously held by Israel today visited Prime Minister Rafik AL-Hariri at government palace. The head of the Council of the South Qabalan Qabalan attended the meeting. The delegation hoped the government's concern for freed detainees will not fade. Qabalan told reporters that the premier revealed practical measures would be implemented in a bid to help the freed prisoners reintegrate in their society.
A delegation of the follow-up committee of Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails headed by Mohammed Safa today visited Boustrous Palace accompanied by some 25 recently freed detainees. Boueiz told his visitors Lebanon had two main issues top on its agenda: the liberation of the South and the situation of detainees in Israeli jails. For his part, Safa called for the release of all remaining Lebanese prisoners held in Khiam and in a number of Israeli prisons. A French lawyer who accompanied the delegation hoped Suha Bshara will be released next September saying her detention is administrative adding a number of lawyers will join her in her defense of Bshara.
The follow-up committee earlier today held a sit-in in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut. The event was joined by a number of Arab and international delegations.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held talks related to the war displaced file with his visitors at government palace. The premier met a delegation from the Caritas Organization, a private institution in charge of facilitating the return of the war displaced to their villages and towns. He later discussed the same problem with Former Minister Joseph Al-Hashem. Al-Hashem later told reporters at the palace he briefed the premier on the outcome of a meeting he recently held with representatives of around 37 displaced towns in the Chouf area. Al-Hashem described the suffering faced by the war-displaced people in these towns. He added the whole issue of the displaced should be given a more national dimension.
For a fourth consecutive week, joint parliamentary committees today continued studying the public sector pay scales project. The joint committees ratified one part of the issue of the retired. Other related topics were referred to a sub-committee that groups deputies Khalil Al-Hrawi, Anwar Al-Khalil and Mohammed Abdel Hamid Baydoun who are expected to prepare a report in this regard in coordination with Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura. The committee will continue its discussions this week and throughout the coming week. Deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Ferzli said the whole project will be ratified by parliament before the opening of its extraordinary session.
The Finance Ministry today announced the government's budget deficit has showed a decrease of 35% during the first half of the current year. This percentage is even lower than that set by the government in the 1998 budget. On the other hand, an increase of 28% was witnessed in the revenues. The Finance Ministry today reiterated it was following all the necessary measures to control expenditure on the one hand and boost revenue on the other. The ministry added this will enable the government to reduce its budget deficit gradually during the next coming years.
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