20 February 2009

* Israeli Soldier Disappears on Border with Lebanon

Al-Arabiya television channel was the first to report that an Israeli soldier disappeared while doing physical exercise near the border with Lebanon.

Israel notified UNIFIL Friday evening that an Israeli soldier went missing near the Lebanese border
Israel also notified UNFIL that an Israeli boat disappeared yesterday in the Lebanese territorial waters . Israel did not explain what the boat was doing in Lebanese water
Shortly after the news report, bomb flares lit the sky over the border area of Naqoura, where the United Nations Interim Forces in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) is located.
UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane told VOL: So far we still have no reports about the disappearance of an Israeli soldier near the border with Lebanon. She did however confirm that flares were fired over Lebanese territorial waters, but gave no further details.
Unconfirmed Lebanese reports indicated that the missing Israeli soldier might have drowned, explaining why flares were being dropped along the coastal area of Naquoura.
Hezbollah which fought with Israel for 34 days in 2006 over the kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers has denied Friday any involvement in the disappearance of the missing Israeli soldier.

Israel reportedly fired flare shells off the town of Naqoura in the south Friday night amid information that an Israeli soldier disappeared while doing physical exercise near the border with Lebanon.
Al-Arabiya TV network said that Israel fired the shells off Naqoura.

Other information said an Israeli soldier drowned on Thursday while doing water sports and Israel is still looking for his body.

UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane told Voice of Lebanon Radio station that U.N. peacekeepers have no information about the disappearance of a soldier and Israel fired the flare shells 4-6 kilometers off the Lebanese coast.


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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.