Egypt, Arab League rap Israeli ‘attacks’ in Syria

Updated 08 May 2013
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Egypt, Arab League rap Israeli ‘attacks’ in Syria

CAIRO: Egypt yesterday condemned Israeli airstrikes on Syria, with the Arab League also demanding that the UN Security Council act to stop what it called “Israeli attacks” against the war-torn country.
The Egyptian presidency said in a statement the airstrikes “violated international law and principles that will further complicate the situation.” The raids reportedly targeted rockets destined for Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The Arab League, which like Egypt sides with rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, demanded the Security Council “act immediately to end Israeli attacks on Syria,” which it called a “dangerous violation of an Arab state's sovereignty.”
The presidency in Cairo affirmed “its extreme opposition” to the Syrian regime's brutal crackdown on rebel-held areas, but accused Israel of “exploiting its internal conflict”.
A senior Israeli source said an overnight aerial assault hit Iranian weapons destined for the Hezbollah, which is closely allied to the Syrian regime.
A diplomatic source in Beirut told AFP three sites were targeted — a military facility, a nearby weapons depot and an anti-aircraft unit in Sabura, west of the capital Damascus.
Syria's information minister said that Israeli air raids against three targets on the outskirts of Damascus “open the door to all possibilities.”
Omran Zoabi's comments in Damascus yesterday came after an emergency Cabinet meeting organized to respond to the new attack.
Although Zoabi did not hint at a concrete course of action, he said it was Damascus's duty to protect the state from any “domestic or foreign attack through all available means.”
Meanwhile, the commander of the Minnigh military airport in northern Syria, the scene of fierce fighting between government troops and opposition forces, has been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday.
“Gen. Ali Mahmud was killed on Saturday with two of his bodyguards inside the airport, where fighting is ongoing,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“The rebels have advanced, but they have not yet taken control” of the facility, he added.
Since the beginning of this year, rebel fighters have been trying to seize a string of northern airports, including Aleppo international airport, and the Jarrah, Kwiyres, Minnigh and Nayrab military fields.
They took Jarrah military airport on Feb. 12. Elsewhere, the Observatory reported regime air raids on the Jobar neighborhood of the capital Damascus and against the rebel-held town of Raqa.


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.