Lebanon pupils skip school for third day to demand change

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Student protesters wave their national flags and shout slogans, as they protest against the government in front of the education ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (AP)
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A student protester holds a smoke flare during a protest against the government in front of the education ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (AP)
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Lebanese students wave the national flag and chant slogans as they gather outside the Ministry of Education and Higher Education during ongoing anti-government protests, in the capital Beirut on November 8, 2019. (AFP)
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Lebanese students wave the national flag during an anti-government demonstration in the southern Lebanese village of Hasbaya on November 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Lebanon pupils skip school for third day to demand change

  • With youth unemployment running at over 30 percent, school students have joined en masse since Wednesday demanding a better country so they don’t have to emigrate
  • Across Lebanon, students protested outside state institutions and banks including in Saida, Tripoli, and Baalbek

BEIRUT: Thousands of high school students across Lebanon skipped classes Friday for a third day in a row to carry on the flame of the country’s anti-graft movement.
Lebanon has since October 17 been gripped by massive cross-sectarian protests demanding a complete revamping of a political system they say is corrupt and inept.
With youth unemployment running at over 30 percent, school students have joined en masse since Wednesday demanding a better country so they don’t have to emigrate.
In Beirut, a teenage student who gave her name as Qamar was among thousands of pupils chanting slogans outside the ministry of education on Friday.
“So what if we lose a school year compared to our entire future?” she said. “I don’t want to study in Lebanon and then have to travel abroad” to find a job.
Around her, students waved red-green-and-white Lebanese flags, as others set off yellow, green, blue and purple flares into the sky.

A poster in rhyming Arabic said: “No studying or teaching, until the president falls.”
Across Lebanon, students protested outside state institutions and banks including in the southern city of Saida, Tripoli in the north and the east’s Baalbek.
What started as a spontaneous and leaderless movement has become more organized in recent days, with protesters targeting institutions viewed as particularly inefficient or corrupt.
Early Friday, dozens of activists and retired army officers for the first time briefly closed down the entrance to Beirut’s port.
Among them, music producer Zeid Hamdan, 43, had come to denounce what he viewed as a customs collection system riddled with corruption.
“As a musician whenever I bring an instrument into the country, I pay 40 percent of it” to customs, he said, sporting a light beard and wearing sunglasses.
“It stays stuck in the port for weeks. You need connections, to bribe everybody to get it out,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's national news agency says the country's banks will be closed for two extra days over the weekend amid deepening turmoil and public anxiety over liquidity and sustained anti-government protests.
The National News Agency says the banks will be closed both on Saturday and Monday, along with the regular Sunday closure for the weekend.
The report says this will allow for the observation of the holiday celebrating Prophet Mohammad's birthday, which is set for Monday in Lebanon.
Earlier, banks were closed for two weeks amid nationwide protests calling for the government to resign. After reopening last week, individual banks imposed irregular capital controls to protect deposits and prevent a run on the banks.
Lebanon is one of the world's most heavily indebted countries.
Lebanon’s cabinet stepped down last week but no official consultations have started on forming a new government, and outgoing premier Saad Hariri remains in a caretaker capacity.
The World Bank has urged Lebanon to form a new government quickly, warning of the threat of a further economic downturn in a country where almost a third of the population lives in poverty.


Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

Updated 15 November 2019

Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

JERUSALEM: Israel says it has completed a series of airstrikes on targets linked to the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza after rocket fire that rattled a day-old truce.
The military statement early on Friday indicates that Israel is willing to abide by the cease-fire if there are no additional rocket attacks.
The statement says Israel struck a military compound, a rocket-manufacturing site and a militant headquarters in the town of Khan Younis.
The airstrikes came after a barrage of rockets late Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.
It’s unclear whether the fighting would continue. The unofficial cease-fire that began early Thursday ended a two-day escalation triggered by Israel’s targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander.
The fighting killed 34 Palestinians, including 16 civilians.