Lebanon News

Remove illegal buildings in 48 hours, ISF warns

SIDON: South Lebanon’s top security and political officials granted violators 48 hours to dismantle illegal buildings Monday, warning residents that security forces will intervene if they don’t take action themselves, said a statement released following a meeting in the southern port city of Tyre.

Meanwhile, before the statement was released and as officials of Hezbollah and Amal Movement were discussing the situation with Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces officers, six policemen were injured as they tried to stop illegal construction on public property in east Tyre.

Stepping up efforts against contractors undertaking illegal construction, southern officials called on owners of cement mixers and merchants of raw materials to stop supplying contractors operating in the districts of Zahrani and Tyre during the next two weeks.

The participants in the meeting also said security forces would take all necessary measures to remove violations, in cooperation with administrative and judicial authorities, as they called on municipalities to assist security forces by providing machinery to demolish illegal constructions.

The meeting at Tyre’s cultural center brought together south Lebanon prosecutor Samih al-Hajj, ISF south Lebanon commander Mouzer Ayoubi, the head of south Lebanon’s Lebanese Army Intelligence Services Ali Shahrour, Amal Movement official Mohammad Ghazal and Hezbollah’s Sayyed Ahmad Safieddine.

As the meeting got under way around midday, residents of Tayr Felsay pelted an ISF patrol with stones, injuring six of its members and a passerby, an eyewitness told The Daily Star.

The patrol withdrew and called for backup from the Lebanese Army.

Officials of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, which enjoy strong support in south Lebanon, reiterated during a meeting Friday that they provided violators no political cover to carry out illegal construction and urged security authorities to act to enforce the law.

However, the two parties were still critical of security forces.

“The attendees tackled the main issue of illegal constructions on public property and the twisted ways adopted by security forces when dealing with the issue, which raises doubts when it comes to their seriousness,” said the statement Friday.

Two weeks ago, two civilians were shot dead and two others were wounded when police opened fire to disperse residents in Tyre, who were attempting to stop police from tearing down illegal buildings in the southern city.

Several policemen were injured Friday when they tried to stop illegal building on public property in the southern Beirut suburb of Ouzai.

Among the injured were three police officers, Lt. Col. Joseph Naddaf, Capt. Suleiman Zeineddine and Lt. Nabil Oweidat.

Other angry residents blocked the inner Ouzai road with concrete barriers in protest against the ISF’s campaign against violators of construction and public property laws.

Last week the ISF, backed by the army, demolished illegal construction around Rafik Hariri International Airport, as part of an effort to safeguard operations there.

Despite the clashes, caretaker Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi praised security forces for taking action against violators upon the request of caretaker Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 03, 2011, on page 2.




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