Monday, January 29, 2007

Balloons floating in from Israel have residents of South on edge

Balloons floating in from Israel have residents of South on edge
Initial test results show no sign of danger

By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff

TYRE AND NABATIEH: Balloons advertising an Israeli newspaper drifted into South Lebanon over the weekend, causing concern among residents and the Lebanese Army. Five civilians in Nabatieh were reportedly admitted to hospital with nausea, asphyxia and dizziness after alleged exposure to gas in the balloons. The green and orange balloons, branded with the Hebrew word Ha'ir (The City), floated into Lebanese territory 10 days after a separate batch of balloons landed in gardens and yards in South Lebanon. The source of the earlier balloons was said to be a birthday party taking place near the border.

The Lebanese Army has repeatedly warned civilians not to touch Israeli balloons. The army, with help from United Nations peacekeepers, rounded up the balloons for a controlled explosion in an open field near Tyre on Saturday. Some balloon samples were brought to Italian UN troops for examination. "While our investigation and analysis are continuing, we have told local inhabitants not to touch such balloons in case they contain a toxic gas," said an army spokesman who wished to remain anonymous. Hizbullah-run television station Al-Manar said that the balloons had been dropped by Israeli military aircraft and contained toxic gas.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the balloons were part of promotional campaign for a Tel Aviv-based newspaper. An Israeli military spokeswoman in Jerusalem said the balloons had been filled with helium for distribution at "a kind of open-air ceremony" organized by the Ha'ir newspaper. "It was a public relations sort of gathering," the spokeswoman said. "They gave out balloons with helium in them and the balloons made their way into Lebanon." Sources from UNIFIL said that lab results have shown the Israeli balloons did not contain any toxic gases. The spokesperson of the Italian contingent, Captain Thomaso Magistretti, declined to comment pending results of a separate study. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an army source told The Daily Star that primary lab results had not shown the balloons to be toxic. "However, final results will be made public on Monday," the source said.

Some of the balloons reached the backyard of the Mali family in Nabatieh. Five members of the family - father, mother, a grandmother and two daughters - reportedly went a nearby hospital after inhaling some of the gas contained in the balloons. - With AFP

1 comment:

mansour said...

Bonjour jounoun votre site ma plus énormement c'est bien ce que vous faites , continuer , j'ai même inserer votre lien dans mon modeste blog que je vien de créer , je est dédié au Liban :

Naharnet Lebanon News

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