Shock, anger after French Embassy blast in Tripoli

Updated 26 April 2013
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Shock, anger after French Embassy blast in Tripoli

TRIPOLI: Haj Mohammed Mokhtar sits on the curb staring in shock at the smoke rising from a palm tree in his garden after a powerful car bomb yesterday targeted the French Embassy next door.
“I survived the war and NATO bombardments (during the 2011 conflict) but I never felt such a powerful explosion,” said Mokhtar, whose house was largely destroyed by the blast.
French Embassy staff and diplomats had still not arrived at work when an explosives-packed car blew up out outside the mission at 7:10 a.m., wounding two French guards, and some neighbors, including a girl.
It also caused extensive damage in Gargaresh, the posh neighborhood of villas and narrow streets where the mission is located.
The blast blew away windows and doors and demolished the stone wall that surrounded the two-story villa in which the embassy is housed, which had been recently restored to erase damage caused during the 2011 uprising against the Qaddafi regime.
It created a two-meter-wide crater outside the gates of the embassy and ruptured underground water pipes, causing neighborhood streets to flood and turning the neighborhood into what looked like a war zone. At least two homes, including Mokhtar’s, were badly damaged, two cars parked nearby were destroyed, and the windows of a shop 200 meters away were shattered from the impact.
“It was a close call for me,” said Jamal Omar, who lives across the street from the embassy and was slightly injured in the face. “I was sweeping outside my house, and there wasn’t any car in front of the embassy. The explosion happened less than five minutes after I went back inside.”
Omar speculated that one or more individuals had parked the car outside the embassy’s gates and quickly activated the bomb before fleeing.
Embassy staff who arrived on the premises after the attack were visibly shaken as they surveyed the damage.
“There is nothing left of my office,” said a French employee.
Outside the desolate embassy, residents vented their anger, furiously shouting that their neighborhood should not have hosted an embassy.
“This is not a neighborhood to host embassies. It is densely populated, the street is narrow and we don’t even know where to park our cars,” one man said.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.