More than 130,000 dead since Syria conflict began

Updated 09 January 2014
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More than 130,000 dead since Syria conflict began

BEIRUT: More than 130,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria nearly three years ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
In a new tally, the group said 130,433 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, among them 46,266 civilians.
They include more than 7,000 children and more than 4,600 women, the Britain-based watchdog said.
The group said 52,290 pro-government fighters had been killed, among them more than 32,000 regular troops and 262 reinforcements from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
On the rebel side, the group counted 29,083 deaths, including 6,913 fighters from groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Observatory said it had also recorded the deaths of 2,794 unidentified individuals.
Syrian activists said a missile struck a bus in a rebel-held area of the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 10 people.
The observatory said that another missile landed nearby as medics were evacuating the wounded from the first explosion.
The Observatory says the missiles were fired from a plane and that at least two children were among the killed.
Meanwhile, insecurity and power cuts have cut Syria’s daily flour output capacity to 3,000 tons from 7,700 tons since its conflict began in 2011, forcing it into costly imports and causing low stockpiles in some provinces, the regime’s prime minister said.
“Importing flour places many burdens on the government. It’s not easy to be a flour importer,” Wael Al-Halqi told parliament on Tuesday.
Halqi said Syria was importing most of its flour at a cost of $580 per ton to meet daily domestic demand of about 6,110 tons.
He said many of Syria’s 57 flour mills have gone out of operation and face problems “in securing electric power and oil derivatives to run off generators.”
Other difficulties included “the unsafe conditions for transferring wheat to and from the mills and mill workers’ difficulty in reaching their workplaces.”
The beginning of winter has made Syria’s plight even more urgent, prompting the United Nations to begin airlifting food this month into eastern parts of Syria from Iraq.
“Sometimes the difficulties in securing flour is what leads strategic reserves to reach low levels and vary from one province to another,” Halqi 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.