SIDON, SOUTHERN LEBANON
Speculation that Israel was planning further withdrawal from Southern Lebanon was heightened on May 15 by the ceremonial handover of the former Israeli headquarters in Sidon to a representative of Lebanon's central government.
SIDON, SOUTHERN LEBANON
1. GV ZOOM OUT Lebanese flag at military headquarters in Sidon 0.08
2. SV PAN Soldiers blow bugles, and General Lahad salutes and shakes hands with officer and walks away 0.45
3. GV ZOOM IN Lebanese flag raised at headquarters 0.58
4. SV Translator speaks and Lahad seated on left listens (ENGLISH SOT) 1.21
SPEECH TRANSCRIPT (SEQUENCE FOUR):
TRANSLATOR FOR MAJOR-GENERAL LAHAD: "Now the number is not enough as we hope to have, but (in the) future, nearly future, we will have enough number to take over all the South, all the duties."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: SIDON, SOUTHERN LEBANON
Speculation that Israel was planning further withdrawal from Southern Lebanon was heightened on May 15 by the ceremonial handover of the former Israeli headquarters in Sidon to a representative of Lebanon's central government. The handover was carried out by Major-General Antoine Lahad who succeeded as commander of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), an Israeli-backed militia numbering 2,500 men. Israelis were present as the bugles blew and the Lebanese flag was raised over the building, but they took no part in the proceedings. Major-General Lahad indicated in his statement that the SLA would be ready to assume total control of Southern Lebanon if he had more men under his command. Israel has been strengthening the SLA in hopes of preventing the return of Palestinian guerrillas to the area in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. Though reports and circulated in Israel that the Cabinet had discussed plans for Lebanon's future, this was not confirmed by official spokesmen. In the night following the handover, an SLA checkpost in South Lebanon was attacked and one militiaman was killed and another wounded. The next morning, (May 16), Israeli troops sealed off a Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, and Lebanese security sources said the Israelis blew up 12 houses and detained about 150 people. Israeli military sources confirmed that troops had conducted an overnight search in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp. Foreign relief workers said at least four people were injured and residents declared a general strike in protest.
Source: REUTERS - ELI FASTMAN