Fatah fighters claim rocket attack after inmate’s death in jail

Updated 26 February 2013
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Fatah fighters claim rocket attack after inmate’s death in jail

GAZA CITY: Gaza fighters from Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fired a rocket at Israel yesterday as a “preliminary response” after one of its members died in an Israeli jail.
It was the first time a Gaza rocket had struck southern Israel in more than three months, and stoked fears that the mass protests in the West Bank over the fate of prisoners held in Israeli jails could spread to the Hamas-run territory.
Following weeks of anger in support of four prisoners on long-term hunger strike, the issue came to head on Saturday with news that a 30-year-old prisoner who had been interrogated for throwing stones, had died in custody.
Arafat Jaradat was arrested on Feb. 18 and interrogated by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security services on suspicion of involvement in a “stone-throwing terror attack” in November. Five days later, he died in Megiddo prison.
His death sparked angry demonstrations across the West Bank, with Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqaa saying preliminary results from his autopsy showed he had died “as a result of torture.”
“In a preliminary response to the killing of our hero the prisoner Arafat Jaradat, we claim responsibility for firing a Grad rocket on Ashkelon at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT),” the Gaza branch said in a statement.
The rocket struck a road just south of the Israeli port city, causing damage but no injuries, police said.
Meanwhile Palestinian police were yesterday preventing demonstrators from reaching an area near Jalame checkpoint in the northern West Bank where several mass protests have erupted into violence in the past 10 days.
Earlier, Abbas had instructed the security forces to “maintain the calm” in the West Bank.
US sent a “clear message” to both sides calling for calm, a State Department spokesman said, indicating it expected “all parties to consider the results of the autopsy calmly and without inflammatory rhetoric.”


Nearly a year since fall of Iraq’s Mosul, hunt for bodies goes on

Updated 21 May 2018
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Nearly a year since fall of Iraq’s Mosul, hunt for bodies goes on

  • “The operations will continue until all the corpses are extracted” from the heart of the city
  • The rubble makes it impossible to bring in heavy construction machinery

MOSUL: Atop an enormous mound of rubble under blistering sun in Iraq’s second city Mosul, fire crews and police chip away at a grim but vital task.
Some 10 months after dislodging the Daesh group, they are still extracting bodies from the ruins of the shattered Old City.
“Over three days, 763 bodies have been pulled from the rubble and buried,” Lt. Col. Rabie Ibrahim says.
Despite the overpowering stench, the men work relentlessly, braving unexploded munitions in an area devastated by the nine-month battle.
“The operations will continue until all the corpses are extracted” from the heart of the city, Ibrahim says.
Civilians’ bodies that can be identified are handed to their families, while the remains of Daesh combatants are buried in a mass grave on the western outskirts of Mosul.
Some of the putrefied corpses are sent to Nineveh province’s health services, Ibrahim adds.
The workers, their faces covered with masks or scarves, move with great caution.
The bodies of jihadists are sometimes still clad in suicide belts.
Grenades, homemade bombs and other crude contraptions left by Daesh fighters during their retreat to Syria pose a constant threat.
The improvised boobytraps are hidden under multiple layers and obstacles — the rubble of collapsed homes, disemboweled furniture and uprooted trees, in some places subsiding into the waters of the Tigris that meander murkily below.
Where a maze of cobbled streets was once lined with homes and market stalls, there is now a formless mess populated by stray animals, insects and disease.
The destruction is so great that some residents cannot pinpoint the remnants of their homes or even their street as they try to direct salvage workers to the remains of loved ones.
The rubble makes it impossible to bring in heavy construction machinery, says General Hossam Khalil, who leads Nineveh province’s civil defense force.
His men therefore have to rely on smaller vehicles, but Mosul “only has a few,” he says.
There is a pressure to work as quickly as conditions will allow: residents are exhausted by three years of Daesh rule, nine months of brutal urban combat and now the slow pace of reconstruction.
“But it’s impossible, with this stench, this pollution and the epidemics they can cause,” says Othmane Saad, an unemployed 40-year-old whose home in the old city is entirely destroyed.
Another resident, 33-year-old Abu Adel, wants the authorities “to clear all the corpses as quickly as possible” and to “compensate residents so they can rebuild, then establish public services.”
But the task is titanic.
Since Mosul was retaken in July, “2,838 bodies, including 600 Daesh members, have been retrieved from the rubble,” governor Naufel Sultane says.
Even after the corpses are taken away and buried, they leave harmful bacteria which the Tigris can carry far beyond the old city.
The authorities insist drinking water stations are unaffected and that they pump water from the Tigris’ central depths, avoiding the banks and other shallows.
But gastroenterologist Ahmed Ibrahim advises caution.
“You must boil water before drinking it and don’t use river water, either for bathing or washing,” he says.
Birds and fish “can carry typhus, bilharzia and gastroenteritis,” he adds.