Mona Alami

In south Lebanon, tourism develops despite threat of war

KHIAM, Lebanon (IPS) - The contours of a modern medieval castle stretch along the Wazzani River delineating Lebanon’s border with Israel. A few meters away from the United Nations-mandated Blue Line, on Lebanon’s first line of fire with Israel, a tourism project at an estimated cost of 20 million dollars is slowly taking shape. 

Women prepared to break the siege of Gaza

BEIRUT (IPS) - The Maryam, an all-female Lebanese aid ship, currently docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli, is getting ready to set sail for Gaza in the next few days. The ship, which aims to break Israel’s siege on the Palestinian territory, will carry about fifty aid workers, including some US nuns keen to deliver aid to the long-suffering women and children of Gaza. 

Palestinian refugees in Jordan stuck in a no man's land

AMMAN (IPS) - According to the records of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), Jordan is home to 1.9 million displaced Palestinians. “Jordan hosts about 42 percent of the total refugee population,” says Mattar Sakr, director of public relations for UNRWA in Jordan. Sakr adds that most refugees reside in 13 camps, three of them considered unofficial dwellings because they were not assigned by the government. 

No law for detained Palestinians

BEIRUT (IPS) - Palestinian refugee Youssef Shaaban was released from prison early this month — after serving 16 years in a Lebanese prison for a crime he did not commit. Shaaban was convicted by Lebanon’s Justice Council in October 1994 on charge of shooting and killing the first secretary of the Jordanian embassy, Naeb Imran Matiyeh. 

"Incoherent" agreement spells the way forward

BEIRUT (IPS) - The Lebanese unity government has finally came to terms with its ministerial declaration after weeks of political haggling. What promises and threats does the incoherent declaration hold for Lebanon in a polarized local and regional context? “The ministerial declaration is an impossible document that carries many contradictions,” says Oussama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Political Studies, a local Lebanese think tank. 

Hizballah, in opposition, takes charge

BEIRUT, 10 May (IPS) - At least 11 people are dead and 30 injured during ferocious gun battles pitting opposition Shia Amal and Hizballah fighters against members of the Sunni Future Movement, which is part of the majority March 14 alliance in government. As the opposition’s militia men clamped down on government headquarters, the balance of power seems to have been shifted permanently in the Land of the Cedars. 

Palestinians rush for confirmation they exist

BEIRUT, 29 January - The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters in the posh neighborhood of the now closed Summerland Hotel in Beirut is buzzing with activity. A few men in black, Kalashnikovs firmly in their hands, guard the entrance to the elegant building. A handful of women and older men carrying papers scurry past them up the stairs to the PLO offices. In the waiting room, al-Jazeera news channel is showing footage of Palestinians in Gaza storming into Egypt, and carrying back baskets of food and consumer goods.