Exposed: The Houthi charge sheet: killing civilians, recruiting child-soldiers

Houthi rebels and forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh recruit children aged 9, 10, 11 and 12 to fight. (Reuters)
Updated 04 January 2017
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Exposed: The Houthi charge sheet: killing civilians, recruiting child-soldiers

CAIRO: A report alleging human rights violations in Yemen by Houthi rebels has recorded 949 cases of damaged public property and 2,673 instances of private property damage, the Saudi Embassy here reported on Tuesday.
The damage varied between complete and partial by bombardment from Houthi militants and loyalists of deposed President Abdullah Saleh against civilian homes and government and private facilities, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the embassy.
The statement also said that Houthi rebels attacked and looted facilities. They also occupied some civilian buildings to be used as military barracks.
The report recorded 3,027 cases in which Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists allegedly undermined the powers of the state — which included financial, administrative imbalances, intervention in the tasks, issuance of appointments outside the framework of law, exclusion of some civil servants from their jobs and their positions, creating private prisons and checkpoints — and other acts of looting and tampering with public money during the first half of 2016.
The statement said the Houthis and Saleh militias are using heavy weapons against populated areas. As a result, more than 1,529 people were killed, including 102 women and 221 children in the governorate of Taiz.
Saudi Arabia and coalition forces are keen to use targeted, sophisticated and high-cost smart weapons to avoid civilian loss of life.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Sept. 7 during a speech at Chatham House Institute: “There is a lot of criticism to our (military) operations in Yemen, but the matter that is not understood by many people is that we run it with the utmost care and caution.”
He pointed out: “We have a highly professional air force and high-precision weapons. We try as much as possible to avoid causing any civilian casualties, and when accidents occur or questions arise, we do the necessary investigation and then work on changing the mechanisms we follow in order to avoid repetition. But the same criticisms do not address the Houthis and Saleh rebels who recruit children aged 9, 10, 11 and 12. They indiscriminately shell towns and villages, imposing blockades on them. They are starving people and stealing the humanitarian aid to use it as a bargaining tool in order to make political progress.”
He added: “We are working under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (2216), which condemned the Houthis for their role in the seizure of the government and calls on them to withdraw from the territories they occupied and requires them to hand over their weapons. But they flagrantly violated all these demands, and yes I do not see any criticism to them.”
The embassy’s statement stressed that the achievements of “Restoring Hope” and “Decisive Storm” operations could not be ignored. The coalition has succeeded in liberating more than 80 percent of the land of Yemen and handed it over to the legitimate government.
The “Decisive Storm” managed to destroy the Houthi air force and more than 95 percent of ballistic missiles captured by the militias, in addition to destroying 98 percent of tanks and armored vehicles seized by them.
The Arab coalition has also secured the international shipping lines across Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which led to the elimination of alleged Iranian influence in Yemen and the end of the threat posed by the Houthi militias against the Kingdom.


Israel PM Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalition

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago
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Israel PM Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalition

  • Most media see little way for Netanyahu to avoid calling a snap general election

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was battling to keep his government afloat on Friday after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman quit over a ceasefire deal for Gaza.
Left with a single seat majority in parliament after the walkout by Lieberman and his hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party, most media saw little way for Netanyahu to avoid calling a snap general election.
The veteran prime minister was expected to hold crunch talks later on Friday with his other main right-wing rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose religious nationalist Jewish Home party has threatened to quit unless he is given Lieberman’s job.
The Gaza ceasefire, which ended the worst flare-up between Israel and the territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas since a 2014 war, faced its first major test later on Friday as Palestinian demonstrators were expected to gather along the border for mass protests that have triggered deadly violence in previous weeks.
The deal has already drawn heavy criticism, however, in Israeli communities near the border that faced barrages of rockets earlier this week.
Hundreds joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Thursday despite a promise from Netanyahu of more public money for emergency services.
Pro-Netanyahu freesheet Yisrael Hayom daily predicted that the prime minister would do all he could to avoid a general election while his hard-won security credentials were at issue.
“Holding elections with the fiasco in Gaza in the background cracks the image of the ultimate leader that he has built over the course of years,” it said.
“The chances of stopping this speeding train appear impossible, but Netanyahu is still trying.”
The eight lawmakers of Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home party are not the only threat to Netaynahu’s razor-thin parliamentary majority.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose center-right Kulanu party hold 10 seats, has reportedly told Netanyahu that a snap election is necessary to provide a stable government to keep the economy on track.
But Yisrael Hayom said Bennett was key to efforts to avoid an early election and could yet prove Netanyahu’s political salvation.
“Naftali Bennett as defense minister and Netanyahu as prime minister could together project stability and embark on a coordinated offensive against anyone who gets in the way,” it said.
In a speech on Thursday, Bennett did not reiterate the resignation threat but made his case for why he should get the defense post.
“The most dangerous thing for the state of Israel is that we begin to think that there is no solution to terrorism, to terrorists, to missiles,” he said.
“There is a solution. When Israel wants to win, we will win.”
There were no official details of when or where Bennett would meet Netanyahu on Friday or what public statements if any would be made.
Hundreds of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening calling for tougher action against Hamas which has portrayed the ceasefire and Lieberman’s resignation as a victory.
Netanyahu — flanked by Kahlon, Interior Minister Arie Deri and army top brass — met with the leaders of Israeli border communities.
He briefed them on military efforts to quell Hamas attacks and also announced a 500 million shekel ($139 million) two-year package to improve emergency medical and social services, a government statement said.
With a major domestic political battle on his hands, Netanyahu canceled a planned two-day visit to Austria next week for a conference on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
There has long been speculation that Netanyahu would call a general election before its scheduled date of November 2019.
Police have recommended he be charged in two separate corruption cases and the attorney general is expected to announce in the coming months whether to put him on trial.
Analysts say the prime minister would be better positioned to fight any charges with a fresh mandate from the voters.
But he would not have chosen to go the polls with voters’ attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire and his rivals’ efforts to outbid his security credentials.