Israeli assassination of Hamas leader denounced

Updated 15 November 2012
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Israeli assassination of Hamas leader denounced

CAIRO/GAZA: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned yesterday a series of Israeli strikes that killed a top Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip and urged the Jewish state to end them immediately.
“Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned the series of airstrikes that Israel is currently conducting against Gaza Strip and which led to the killing of Ahmed Al-Jabari,” the statement released by Egypt’s foreign ministry said.
“He called on Israel to stop its strikes on Gaza Strip immediately,” the statement added.

The attacks marked the biggest escalation between Israel and Gaza fighters since a 2008-2009 conflict and came despite signs on Tuesday that neighboring Egypt had managed to broker a truce in the enclave after a five day surge of violence.

 

Hamas said Ahmed Al-Jabari, who ran the organization’s armed wing, Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, died along with an unnamed associate when their car was blown apart by an Israeli missile. Palestinians said nine people were killed, including a seven-year-old girl.
Video from Gaza showed the charred and mangled wreckage of a car belching flames, as emergency crews picked up what appeared to be body parts.
Israel confirmed it had carried out the attack on Jabari and warned that more strikes would follow. Reuters witnesses reported numerous explosions around Gaza, with Hamas security compounds and police stations among the targets.
“This is an operation against terror targets of different organizations in Gaza,” military spokesman Avital Leibovitch told reporters. Immediate calls for revenge were broadcast over Hamas radio.
Hamas’ armed wing of said the strike has “opened the gates of hell.” 
“The occupation has opened the gates of hell on itself,” said a statement from the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, which vowed its militants would “continue the path of resistance.” Smaller groups also vowed to strike back.
“Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences,” Islamic Jihad said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an urgent Arab League meeting over Israel’s aggression.
Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party said Egypt would no longer stand by as Israel attacked Palestinians. The FJP said Israeli strikes required “swift Arab and international action to stop the massacres.” Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past,” the party statement said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has proposed in a policy paper “toppling” Mahmoud Abbas if a Palestinian bid for state observer status at the UN is approved later this month.
“Toppling Abu Mazen’s (Abbas’s) regime would be the only option in this case,” the position paper obtained by AFP says.
“Any other option ... would mean waving a white flag and admitting the failure of the Israeli leadership to deal with the challenge.”
The position paper is a draft document that is expected to be endorsed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who would then present it to the Israeli officials charged with formulating Israel’s response to the Palestinian bid.

The escalation in Gaza came in a week when Israel pounded Syrian artillery positions it said had fired into the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights amid a civil war in Syria that has brought renewed instability to neighboring Lebanon.

Hamas has been supported by both Syria and Iran, which Israel regards as a rising threat to its own existence due to its nuclear program.
Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet said Jabari was responsible for Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, when the group ousted fighters of the Fatah movement of its great rival, the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
It said Jabari instigated the attack that led to the capture of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit in a kidnap raid from Gaza in 2006. Jabari was also the man who handed Shalit over to Israel in a prisoner exchange five years after his capture.
Israel holds a general election on Jan. 22 and conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under pressure to respond firmly against Hamas, with residents of southern Israel complaining bitterly about repeated missile strikes
Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the 2008-2009 conflict. There was a lull in hostilities after that, but the violence has flared again in recent months and Israel has repeatedly warned of dire consequences unless Hamas and its fellow fighters stopped rocket attacks.
In the latest confrontation, which appeared to have ended on Tuesday, more than 115 missiles were fired into southern Israel from Gaza and Israeli planes launched numerous strikes. Seven Palestinians, three of them gunmen, were killed. Eight Israeli civilians were hurt by rocket fire and four soldiers wounded by an anti-tank missile.
Helped by Iran and the flourishing contraband trade through tunnels from Egypt, Gaza militias have smuggled in better weapons since the war of 2008-09, including longer-range Grad rockets and anti-tank missiles of the type they fired last week at an IDF patrol vehicle.
But Gaza’s estimated 35,000 Palestinian fighters are still no match for Israel’s F-16 fighter-bombers, Apache helicopter gunships, Merkava tanks and other modern weapons systems in the hands of a conscript force of 175,000, with 450,000 in reserve.
Israel’s shekel fell nearly one percent to a two-month low against the dollar yesterday after news of the Israeli airstrikes broke.
 
— With input from agencies

 


Houthi militias 'recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines'

Updated 4 min 40 sec ago
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Houthi militias 'recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines'

  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.
  • The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militias are recruiting children by force and making them fight on the front lines, the Saudi-led coalition said on Monday.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.

The claims came a day after Saudi air defenses intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis over the capital.

The attack brings the total number of ballistic missiles launched by the militia against Saudi Arabia to 155, Al-Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh.

In Yemen, he said coalition forces were removing hundreds of thousands of land mines planted by the Houthis. 

Army engineering support teams were continuing demining operations in Hajjah, northwestern Yemen and more than 600,000 planted by the Houthis in Hodeidah have been removed so far, Al-Maliki said. 

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Arab coalition are fighting to seize the city from the Houthis. The capture of the city and its port - one of the main supply lines to the country, could prove to be pivotal in the outcome of the war. 

The coalition have called on the Houthis to withdraw from the city.  

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in Aden on Wednesday for talks with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee the capital Sanaa when the Houthis seized the city in 2014. 

Al-Maliki also gave an update on progress made by pro-government forces in other parts of the country.

The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

They were captured on Monday along with a senior Houthi leader in the Al-Malahit district.

Al-Maliki said Yemeni forces had succeeded in controlling several villages in Al-Bayda province and that the Yemeni army had regained control of several positions in Harf Sufyan, west of Taiz.

“The Yemeni army, with the support of the Saudi-led coalition, continues its advances in Saada,” he added.

Al-Maliki said the Saudi-led coalition supports all the efforts of UN envoy Griffiths.

The Saudi coalition sent 12 trucks carrying aid to Hodeidah and the coalition will continue to allow relief vessels to enter the port, despite Houthi efforts to block aid access to civilians.