Libya clashes leave four dead east of Tripoli: ministry

Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord man a checkpoint in the Hay al-Andalus neighbourhood of Tripoli in March 2017. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2017
0

Libya clashes leave four dead east of Tripoli: ministry

TRIPOLI: Clashes between forces loyal to Libya’s unity government and rival fighters east of Tripoli have left four people dead including at least two civilians, the health ministry said.
Another 21 people were wounded in the fighting on Sunday and Monday in Garabulli about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of the capital, the ministry said overnight on Facebook.
Two foreign workers, whose nationalities were unclear, were among those killed, it said.
Clashes broke out on Sunday evening between forces loyal to the Government of National Accord and fighters aligned with former prime minister Khalifa Ghweil who refuses to recognize the UN-backed government in Tripoli, witnesses said.
The violence was continuing at dawn on Tuesday, they said.
Pro-GNA forces backed by dozens of tanks and pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns deployed east of the capital heading for Garabulli on the weekend, the witnesses said.
On Friday the GNA warned groups it described as “outlaws” against attempting to advance on Tripoli, adding that it had instructed security forces to prevent an assault on the capital.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with various militias and administrations vying for control of the oil-rich country.
A rival authority based in the country’s east has refused to recognize the GNA since it started working in Tripoli in March last year.


Israel closes people crossing with Gaza

Updated 23 min 1 sec ago
0

Israel closes people crossing with Gaza

  • Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire
  • Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence

JERUSALEM: Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases after border clashes, the latest tightening of its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
The move could prevent Gazans from traveling via the crossing for this week’s Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, which runs from Monday night until Thursday night, but Israeli officials did not say how long the closure would last.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement the closure was due to “violent incidents on the border last Friday.”
Border protests and clashes on Friday saw two Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire.
Israel’s army said firebombs and improvised explosive devices were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory. No Israelis were reported wounded.
The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.
Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.
The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.
Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.
Gaza’s only other border is with Egypt.
Egypt’s Rafah crossing with Gaza had largely been kept closed in recent years, but Cairo opened it in mid-May and it is has mostly remained so since.
Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.
At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.
The latest was on August 9, when Israel responded to some 180 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza with widespread air strikes.
UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.
Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.
Two Israeli civilians, both said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas. Israel is also seeking their return.
Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya told AFP on Friday that he believed a durable truce with Israel was near.
He said that UN and Egyptian talks taking place in Egypt with various Palestinian factions have “taken a big step forward toward understandings with the occupation... and the possibility of restoring calm.”
An Israeli official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that an initial set of “understandings” had been reached with the help of the UN and Egypt, leading to several days of calm on the border last week and the opening of the goods crossing.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has however expressed concern over any agreement that bypasses the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, have been deeply divided for more than a decade.