Houthi mines at 500,000 spots killed 700 in Yemen

Soldiers loyal to Yemen's government stand next to mines planted by the Houthi rebels in locations where they controlled in frontline in the province of Marib, in this October 4, 2015 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 April 2017
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Houthi mines at 500,000 spots killed 700 in Yemen

JEDDAH: Houthi militias and fighters of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to plant land and sea mines amid international silence. This is despite the fact that the use of such explosives is considered a crime against humanity, according to Yemeni government and military officials.
As a result, Yemen needs years to eliminate the mines because there are no maps to locate where they were planted. The Houthi militias planted mines in sensitive areas to stop the advance of government forces, especially after the southern governorates have been liberated.
Statistics show that hundreds of civilian victims fell victim to the explosives, killed or maimed, and the figure is increasing due to the spread of the war in urban areas.
Col. Haytham Haloub, chief of the Military Engineering Division in the Fourth Military Region and director of the National Mine Action Center in Aden, said that coup militias planted many mines in a haphazard manner, including the prohibited anti-personnel mines as well as homemade bombs and anti-tank mines.
He added that until last May, engineering teams defused more than 31,000 mines in Aden, Lahj, Abyan and some parts of the Taiz Governorate.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights, in its last report, said the Houthis planted mines at more than 500,000 locations in Yemen, which were responsible for 700 deaths. Engineers of the Arab coalition have dismantled 40,000 mines so far.
The Yemeni government has sought the international community’s help to defuse the mines planted in densely populated areas in the liberated areas.
The government said the mines are banned internationally; pose a threat to life and lead to losses of civilian lives, especially women and children. They are difficult to find because there are no maps with their position, it said.
The government has sought help from the international community because Yemen lacks the required equipment. Yemeni engineering teams, with the support of the Arab Coalition, extracted and dismantle several Iranian-made naval minefields of various sizes.
They were planted by the coup militias on the coasts of the Midi region, in the northwest of Yemen.
One such naval mine hit a boat on the Midi coast, leading to the deaths of eight fishermen. Col. Mohammed Salam Al-Asbahi, commander of the Naval Arrow operation, said the Yemeni Army began the process of combing and clearing the coasts and islands from mines planted by rebel militias.
Al-Asbahi said the locations of the mines were identified and marked to help fishermen avoid dangerous areas. He added that the engineering teams started the disposal process, dragging the mines to one of the unpopulated islands where they are detonated.
Omar Jawhar, brigadier general of the Fifth Military Region War in Midi, said the aim is to clear the Red Sea islands and coasts of Iranian mines.
In statements to the media, he said the process is not limited to sea mines only, but covers the wild coasts of Midi.
He added the mines lifted from the Red Sea came from Iran. The discovery corroborates testimony by Gen. Joseph Foteil, US commander of the American forces in the Middle East, to the US Congress Armed Forces Committee that Houthi rebels are strongly supported by Iran and threaten shipping in the Hormouz and strategic Bab Al-Mandab straits. He said: “Houthis, with Iran’s support, spread along the Hormouz rockets and radar systems, in addition to mines and explosive boats.”
He added that the Arab coalition forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle mines over sea routes to the western beaches of Yemen.


Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

Palestinians celebrate the resignation of Israel's defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

  • The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM: A knife-wielding Palestinian attacker sneaked into a Jerusalem police station and lightly wounded four police officers before he was shot and captured, Israeli police said on Thursday.

The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip that ended two days of heavy fighting, the area’s most severe violence since the 50-day Gaza war in 2014.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the knife-wielding attacker climbed over the station’s fence late on Wednesday night and began stabbing officers inside. Other officers then shot the assailant and captured him; he was later taken to hospital.

In the two days of heavy fighting, Palestinian militants had fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel, while Israel carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. A rocket fired from Gaza killed a Palestinian laborer in Israel.

The latest round of violence was triggered by a botched Israeli raid on Sunday that left seven Palestinians and a senior Israeli military officer dead. Before the raid, Egyptian and UN mediators had made progress in reducing tensions.

In recent days, Israel had allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of government workers.

The cease-fire led to the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the Palestinian rocket attack but appeared to have been overruled by Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Resignation

The resignation threw the government into turmoil and pushed the country toward an early election. Netanyahu presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military’s recommendations. 

But Lieberman and fellow hard-liner Education Minister Naftali Bennett later expressed reservations, saying they favored a stronger response.

Hamas has staged  near-weekly border protests since March in an effort to lift the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.  This has inflicted heavy damage on Gaza, but Hamas remains firmly in power. Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, most of them unarmed.

Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party was demanding to be given the defense portfolio or he would withdraw his eight seats from Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

Another key coalition partner, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of center-right Kulanu, reportedly told Netanyahu elections should be called as soon as possible because a stable government was needed to keep the economy on track.

Premier Netanyahu’s political popularity is in large part due to his reputation as Israel’s “Mr. Security,” as he has often been dubbed, and he has defended his decision saying: “Our enemies begged for a cease-fire.

“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said.