Lebanon

The Israeli government agreed “in principle” on November 17 to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, a village in the occupied Golan Heights. The village was conquered by Israel in 1967, during the six-day war. In 2000, Ghajar was split in two. The northern part was to be controlled by Lebanon, the southern part by Israel. The southern part of Ghajar was deemed by the United Nations (UN) to be a part of the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
On February 12 Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, a leader of Hezbollah — which led the successful resistance to Israel’s July-August 2006 war on Lebanon — was assassinated in Syria.
Sporadic fighting was reported to have erupted on May 29 on the edges of the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon between the Lebanese Army and a Sunni Arab Islamist group called Fatah al Islam. On May 21, the Lebanese Army had laid siege to the camp and its 45,000 residents after the pro-US government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora alleged that members of the little known Islamist group had carried out a bank robbery the previous day.
On January 22, the Lebanese parliamentary opposition, led by the Shiite-based Hezbollah movement, organised a general strike to demand the resignation of the US-backed government of PM Fuad Siniora.
On December 1, up to 2 million people attended a rally in Beirut called by Hezbollah and its allies to demand the resignation of US-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora’s government.
The November 21 assassination of industry minister Pierre Gemayel has provided a focus for US-backed Lebanese politicians to rally their supporters for a possible confrontation with the Hezbollah-led opposition bloc. Gemayel served as the representative of the Christian-based far-right Phalangist party in Prime Minister Fuad Siniora’s government.
The US-backed government of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim prime minister, Fuad Siniora, has been thrown into crisis after five Shiite cabinet ministers resigned over the November 10-11 weekend after Siniora refused to change the makeup of his government to give more cabinet posts to Hezbollah and its allies.
Israeli cabinet minister Jacob Edery admitted on October 22 that Israel had used white phosphorus, a substance that burns when it comes into contact with air, during its 34-day July-August war on Lebanon.
On October 1, Alexander Ivanko, the chief spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), denied Israel’s assertions, made earlier that day, that all Israeli troops had been withdrawn from southern Lebanon. He told a Lebanese radio station that Israeli troops were still occupying Ghajar — a village with 1800 residents the UN recognised in 2000 as straddling the Lebanon-Syria border.

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