29 April 2008

-Lebanese Army: 12 Israeli Warplanes Flew over Country

Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace on Monday, flying on reconnaissance missions over Beirut and elsewhere in the country, the Lebanese army said.
The army said in a statement that "12 enemy Israeli warplanes" violated Lebanese airspace before noon, four flew over the Mediterranean off the coastal city of Byblos in the north and headed toward the eastern province of Hermel.

Eight other Israeli warplanes flew over the southern town of Rmeish and then headed north to Beirut, the Chouf mountains, southeast of the capital, and Hermel before heading back to the "occupied territories," the statement said. It added that the Israeli over flights lasted about an hour.

There was no immediate statement from the Israeli army which usually does not comment on its flights in Lebanon.

Israeli warplanes frequently fly over south Lebanon in what Israel says are reconnaissance missions. The over flights have drawn ground fire from Lebanese troops on at least two occasions since a U.N.-brokered cease-fire ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah in August 2006.

Lebanon insists incursions into its waters or airspace violate the United Nations Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 conflict.

The over flights have been a constant source of tension between the two countries.

Lebanon has complained in the past to the U.N. about the Israeli over flights. The U.N. has repeatedly called on Israel to stop its over flights, describing them as a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
(naharnet/ap)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.