Houthis violate truce with impunity

A man walks on the rubble of a house destroyed during the Houthi attack on the first day of a 48-hour cease-fire in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2016
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Houthis violate truce with impunity

RIYADH: A 48-hour cease-fire announced by the Saudi-led Arab coalition on Saturday was violated many times by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Asiri, spokesman for the Arab coalition forces, told Arab News that the Houthis had violated the truce inside Yemen as well as along the border with Saudi Arabia.

“Yes, they violated the truce by firing inside Yemen and on the border with Saudi Arabia,” he said via WhatsApp.
On whether the cease-fire would continue in view of Houthi intransigence, Al-Asiri said: “The cease-fire will continue, but the coalition reserves the right to respond to Houthi violations.”

Al-Asiri’s comments were confirmed by Sanaa Resistance spokesperson Abdullah Al-Shandaqi. The Sanaa Resistance enjoys the backing of the internationally recognized goverment of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Shandaqi as saying that 15 violations had occurred since the cease-fire was announced.
“The Houthis bombed military sites of the Yemeni Army using heavy weapons in Al-Manarah mountain, Al-Qarn Naham mountain, Al-Jabalian and Malah,” he said.

Al-Shandaqi also confirmed that resistance troops were still committed to the cease-fire in those sites and they reserved the right to respond if the Houthi militias continued to break the truce.

A few hours after the cease-fire took effect at midday (0900 GMT), fighting still raged around Taiz. Clashes were heaviest in the town of Salo, southeast of Taiz, Hadi military sources said, reporting casualties on both sides.

Inside Taiz itself, Houthi rocket fire into a residential district killed three civilians and wounded two, military and medical sources said.

Near the Saudi border further north, two ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis hit the Yemeni coastal area of Midi killing two Hadi soldiers and wounding four, a military commander said.

The 48-hour truce, which came at President Hadi’s request, could be extended if the Houthis hold fire and allow aid into besieged loyalist enclaves, a statement from the legitimate government said.

The coalition insisted that aid must be allowed into those areas in order for the cease-fire to be extended.

The president asked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for the pause “in response to UN and international efforts to bring peace to Yemen” and allow aid deliveries, the statement added.

“The truce will be renewed if the Houthis adhere to it, include its representatives in the DCC (De-escalation and Coordination Committee) for Dhahran Al-Janoub, and lift the siege on Taiz,” a statement carried on Saudi Press Agency said.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged all parties “to encourage full respect for the cessation of hostilities and to ensure that it leads to a permanent and lasting end to the conflict.”

UN humanitarian office deputy spokesman Jens Laerke hoped that, if respected, the truce would offer respite to civilians and give humanitarian organizations an “opportunity” to respond to needs for aid nationwide.

Six previous attempts to clinch a cease-fire have foundered, the latest in October.
— With input from agencies


Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

Updated 13 min 32 sec ago
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Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

  • Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis
  • Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis.
Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.
The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel.
The PA, which is already running a deficit, will "pay the salaries of civil servants in time, but they will be reduced", said PA finance minister Shukri Bishara after a meeting with EU representatives in Ramallah.
The cuts will not apply to salaries "paid to pensioners and families of martyrs, wounded or prisoners", he added, adding that wages below 2,000 shekels ($550) would also not be affected.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them as martyrs.
Under a 1994 agreement, Israel collects around $190 million each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The money it then transfers to the PA is the authority's most important source of revenue.
The Palestinians want EU countries to pressure the Israeli government to rescind its decision, said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy of Abbas's Fatah party.
Palestinian leaders will take steps to "boycott Israeli goods", he said, adding they had already prepared "a list of Israeli products that have local (Palestinian) equivalents".