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A Hezbollah spokesperson confirmed to L’Orient Today that three party members were injured yesterday after Israeli army soldiers used unspecified “means” to drive away suspects approaching the southern Lebanese border security fence. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah later the same day said the party was investigating the incident during a speech commemorating the 17th anniversary of the July 2006 war. The Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) cordoned off the area near the border town of Boustan. A security source told L’Orient Today that the three men were injured by an Israeli grenade thrown across the border. The Israeli military told Reuters it used "a non-lethal weapon" to distance "a number of suspects" attempting to damage the security fence. The incident comes one day after Lebanon said it would file a complaint to the UN over Israel’s annexation of the northern part of the village of Ghajar, split by the organization’s Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. Last Thursday, days after Israeli forces fenced off northern Ghajar, Israel and unidentified parties in South Lebanon exchanged artillery fire.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for sanctions targeting Lebanese officials obstructing the presidential election and the investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast. The resolution demanded an "international fact-finding mission" to be sent under the aegis of the United Nations and for the authorities to "cooperate with Judge [Tarek] Bitar," the investigating judge in charge of the case. The investigation remains frozen due to outstanding complaints against Bitar that cannot be settled due to judicial vacancies.
Security forces Wednesday night managed to halt a boat filled with people smugglers and irregular migrants from leaving the coast of Akkar, a security source and eyewitnesses told L’Orient Today. The evening’s operation was the second one this month halting would-be irregular migrants from setting off on perilous Mediterranean Sea journeys from Lebanon’s shores. Last week, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said they arrested more than 200 Syrians and several Lebanese citizens in North Lebanon in two separate raids as they were preparing to set out in irregular migration boats to Italy. Between Jan. to Dec. 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it received reports of 51 boats involved in irregular sea crossings from Lebanon, totaling 4,334 passengers. The crossings are often deadly.
A Lebanese judge set a hearing for next Tuesday with Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh, his brother Raja and his former assistant Marianne Hoayek, after questioning the central bank chief for over three hours yesterday. Raja Salameh and Hoayek were present at yesterday’s hearing but were not questioned, a judicial source said, expecting that they also will not be directed any questions during the next session. Beirut's first investigating judge, Charbel Abou Samra, asked Riad Salameh a series of questions prepared by Judge Helene Iskandar, head of the State Litigation Department — which represents Lebanon’s interests as a civil party in the French case against the central bank chief. The French judiciary, which leveled corruption charges against Riad Salameh and Hoyek, last week maintained the seizure of tens of millions of euros in assets, allegedly acquired with embezzled central bank funds.
Work on the Mar Mikhael Square project was “forced to stop without a legal document … despite the support of most of the residents of the region,” the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut said yesterday. The statement cited “fierce campaigns of misinformation” and “obstruction of work.” The new public space’s construction faced repeated interruptions since its inception. After work was suspended in June, Lebanese Forces MP Ghassan Hasbani told L’Orient Today that the area’s residents petitioned against the project, fearing it would cause “traffic jams in the whole area.” Project coordinator Cynthia Bou Aoun told L’Orient Today that Armenia and Pasteur streets, where the square was being constructed, will “still be a vehicular artery but with pedestrian priority. The roads are currently blocked to implement the works, but they will be reopened” — noting that experts advised a study to assuage fears about traffic issues.
Greek authorities on Tuesday night briefly detained Lebanese activist and former prisoner Suha Bechara, the Lebanese Communist Party confirmed to L'Orient Today. Greek authorities said Bechara — a former prisoner at the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army’s Khiam prison — “poses a threat to Greek national security,” the party's political office head Omar Deb told L’Orient Today. Deb added that Bechara was prevented from transiting to Switzerland, where she holds citizenship, and was sent back to Lebanon. The Lebanese Communist Party statement called on the Foreign Affairs Ministry to “summon the Greek ambassador immediately and take strict measures.” Bechara spent 10 years at the Khiam prison center, where torture was widespread according to rights groups, after attempting to assassinate South Lebanon Army (SLA) leader Antoine Lahad in 1988.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “In 2022, 63 percent of Lebanon's visitors were Lebanese expats”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz