US fires warning shots to stop Iran navy vessel in Gulf

1 / 2
An Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat heading toward the USS Thunderbolt in the Gulf. (AFP)
2 / 2
US Navy ships (US Navy/Reuters)
Updated 26 July 2017
0

US fires warning shots to stop Iran navy vessel in Gulf

JEDDAH: A US Navy ship fired warning shots when an Iranian vessel in the Gulf came within 150 yards (137 meters) of it on Tuesday, in the first such incident since President Donald Trump took office, US officials said.
The last major incident was earlier in January, though a US vessel fired a flare in March when a US Navy ship was forced to change course after multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) came too close.
In a statement to Reuters, US Naval Forces Central Command said the patrol craft, named USS Thunderbolt, fired the warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel after it ignored radio calls, flares and the ship’s whistle.
The Iranian vessel was from IRGC, the statement said, adding that it stopped its unsafe approach after the warning shots were fired.
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the Iranian boat was armed but that the weapons were unmanned.
The USS Thunderbolt was accompanied by a number of other vessels, including those from the US Coast Guard.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst told Arab News that the Iranian objective is to take control of the strategic waterways in the Gulf.
“We saw multiple acts from the IRGC against the US Navy under the Obama administration. The difference now is that under Trump, the US Navy seems to have been authorized to push back harder against IRGC naval threats,” said Shahbandar.
The Iranian navy issued a statement on Tuesday noting that an American “battleship” moved toward one of its patrol boats in international waters in the northern Gulf and fired two shots in the air, according to Sepah News, the official news site of the IRGC.
In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, the US State Department this week said Iran was the world’s “foremost” state sponsor of terrorism in 2016, a dubious distinction the country has held for many years.
It said Tehran was firm in its backing of proxies that have destabilized Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
The report added that Iran continued to recruit in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Shiite militia members to fight in Syria and Iraq, and Iranian support for Hezbollah was unchanged.
Tehran used a unit of the IRGC, the Quds Force, “to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations and create instability in the Middle East,” the report said.


Two killed, dozens injured in Gaza City rallies and clashes

Palestinians take part in a Hamas rally in the Gaza Strip’s Jabalia refugee camp on Dec. 8, 2017, against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Israel deployed hundreds of additional police officers following Palestinian calls for protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
Updated 09 December 2017
0

Two killed, dozens injured in Gaza City rallies and clashes

GAZA CITY: Tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the Gaza Strip after the end of Friday prayers, while clashes broke out between hundreds of youths and Israeli forces along the border between Gaza and Israel. At least two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured.
The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, staged military parades in which masked men wearing military uniforms carried rifles and ammunition. The participants chanted slogans condemning America’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and calling for a revolt to “liberate Jerusalem from occupation.”
Fathi Hammad, a member of the Hamas political bureau, told demonstrators in the northern Gaza Strip: “Today we declare an uprising against the occupation, and there are no half solutions.
“We call upon all the free people of the world to boycott America and Israel, and we call on the Arab and Islamic countries to take a serious stand and support our people.”
He added that a US Embassy in Jerusalem would be “an occupation entity like any other.”
He also called for the return of the Palestinian diaspora: “Isn’t it time for anyone who (has believed) in this alleged peace for more than a quarter of a century to return to embrace his people and to join us in the trench of resistance?”
In East Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip, clashes broke out along the border with Israel. As Palestinian youths burned tires, Israeli forces reportedly responded with tear gas and live rounds. At least two Palestinians were killed and dozens were injured, some critically.
Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan said during another march in Gaza City: “The Palestinian Authority must take urgent decisions, by declaring the failure of Oslo Accords and the end of that period, ending security coordination (with Israel) and permitting resistance in the West Bank.


“Hamas leaders declare the intifada for the freedom of the West Bank and Jerusalem, in response to President Trump’s decision,” he said. “Jerusalem will remain the capital of the state of Palestine.” 
“Trump’s decision ended any mediation role the United States could play in the political process, destroyed the peace process, and destroyed any talk about a deal to bring peace to the region,” Osama Al-Qawasmi, a Fatah spokesman, said in a statement.
Friday sermons in the Gaza Strip addressed the issue of Jerusalem and the American decision to transfer its embassy there, and urged the rejection of any attempt to harm “the sanctity of the city.” 
One of the protesters, Ahmed Al-Aksh, blamed “the weakness of the Palestinian people because of the division between Fatah and Hamas” for the US decision, “as well as the preoccupation of Arab countries with internal issues.”
Now, Al-Aksh said: “We must go out to the streets and face that decision.”​