Saudi National Day celebrated by GCC neighbors

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A team of greeters welcome Saudis arriving at Dubai International Airport (Twitter)
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A man is welcomed to Dubai International Airport from Saudi Arabia (Twitter)
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Kuwait towers lit up with Saudi national flag (Twitter)
Updated 21 September 2017
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Saudi National Day celebrated by GCC neighbors

DUBAI: UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed has congratulated Saudi Arabia on its 87th National Day.
Taking to Twitter the Dubai Ruler took to Twitter on Thursday saying: “Congratulations to our brothers in KSA on their 87th National Day; our countries share a cherished partnership and their joy is our joy.”
The Saudi national day is being marked across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with various events taking place over Thursday and Friday.
In the UAE events include spectacular firework displays across Dubai and Arab pop stars Balqees, Dalia Mubarak, Waed, and Rakan Khaled will all be performing concerts over the two days.
Meanwhile the UAE has also taken to social media to mark the event with a special Arabic hashtag which translates to Together_Forever.
The hashtag creates an emoji Saudi King Salman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

And mobile customers in the UAE will probably have noticed that both Etisalat and du have the message “UAE KSA TOGETHER” running across the top of their phone screens.
In a prayer also tweeted by Sheikh Mohammed he called on “Almighty Allah” to “bring glory on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his Crown Prince.”
He added: “Together_Forever Saudi Arabia and the UAE, their success is our success, their country is our country and their ruler is our pride. Together forever in fate, in the service of Islam and in defense of our nations.”
The celebrations were also marked on Wednesday at the arrivals area of Dubai International Airport where visitors were met by a team of greeters handing out sweets, flowers and gifts.

In Dubai Creek at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday there will be a fireworks display, and visitors to the various malls will be able to watch and participate in various events.
And in Kuwait Souq Al-Mubarakeya market was decorated and the iconic Kuwait Towers were lit up with the Saudi flag.
Meanwhile shoppers in Bahrain will be entertained with traditional music and dance at the country’s largest shopping mall “City Center Bahrain.”
There will also be a selection of prizes to be won and special promotions laid on to mark the event.
This weekend also marks the Islamic New Year — Hijri – but while much of the GCC was given the day off to celebrate on Thursday, Oman announced late Wednesday that Sunday would be a national holiday.
The announcement came after the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said it could not sight the moon of Muharram of the new Hijri year 1439 AH on Wednesday evening.
But the ministry added that Thursday, Sept. 21 would be the last day of the current Islamic year.
“Friday will be the first day of Muharram which falls on September 22, 2017,” the ministry said in its moon sighting statement.


Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

Updated 15 August 2018
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Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

  • A military fact-finding mission into the “Black Friday” assault showed that a criminal investigation was “not warranted”
  • It acknowledged, however, that up to 70 civilians were "unintentionally killed"

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military on Wednesday closed its probe into a deadly 2014 assault in Gaza that followed the capture of a soldier despite a rights group’s charge of possible war crimes.
A military fact-finding mission into the “Black Friday” assault in which Amnesty says more than 130 Palestinian civilians died during the 2014 Gaza war showed that a criminal investigation was “not warranted,” the army said in a statement.
It acknowledged, however, that up to 70 civilians were “unintentionally killed as a result of attacks directed at military targets and military operatives.”
At least 42 Palestinian militants were also killed, the statement said, citing information gathered by the military advocate general.
The assault in Rafah, southern Gaza, on August 1, 2014 was launched after the kidnapping of Israeli Lt. Hadar Goldin shortly after the announcement of a cease-fire.
Two other soldiers were killed in fighting that led to the kidnapping in the Hamas-run enclave, while Goldin himself was later declared dead.
In response, the military implemented the so-called Hannibal Directive — a controversial procedure which allows for an intensive military response to secure the rescue of a captured soldier.
Israel bombed the city of Rafah and the surrounding area near the border with Egypt.
In 2015, Amnesty International said there had been “strong evidence” of war crimes by Israeli forces as it published a detailed analysis of the assault using eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery, photos and videos.
According to Amnesty, at least 135 civilians were killed in the air and ground assault.
Civilians had begun to return home due to the cease-fire announcement, Amnesty said, alleging “massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets.”
Israel’s statement on Wednesday said the use of force was “in accordance with operational considerations and with an effort to mitigate, as much as possible, harm to civilians.”
“No grounds were found to support the allegation that the objective of the (military’s) actions were to extract revenge following the abduction of Lt. Goldin,” it said.
The statement said there was no evidence that the Hannibal Directive led to “the use of force in a disproportionate or unrestrained manner.”
The decades-old directive has since been revoked by the military and replaced with a new one.
More than 2,250 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children, in the 2014 war, the third between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008.
Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.