Arab coalition fighters strike Houthi-held positions in Sanaa

Smoke rises during the battle between former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's supporters and the Houthi fighters in Sanaa on December 2. (Reuters)
Updated 03 December 2017
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Arab coalition fighters strike Houthi-held positions in Sanaa

ADEN: Aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi positions in Sanaa overnight on Sunday, residents and local media said.
Saleh announced on Saturday he was ready to turn a “new page” in ties with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen if it stopped attacks on Yemeni citizens, in a move that could pave the way to end nearly three years of war.
The apparent shift in position came as Saleh’s supporters battled Houthi fighters in Hadda, a district in southern Sanaa where members of Saleh’s family, including his nephew Tareq, live. It was the fourth day of clashes sparked by what Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) called an attempt to seize a main mosque in the city.
The fighting has killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and raised concern of further casualties among civilians.
The clashes had added a new layer to an already complex situation in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, where a proxy war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed Hadi has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent times.
Saleh’s announcement was welcomed by the Saudi-led coalition, which has struggled to achieve any progress against the Houthi-Saleh alliance that had controlled most of northern Yemen since 2015 and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.
The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said coalition aircraft pounded Houthi outposts in southern Sanaa, but gave no details on casualties. Residents reported at least five air strikes shook the highlands of the area.
Inside the city, residents said that Houthi fighters seized television studios of Yemen Today, a news channel owned by Saleh, after clashes that damaged the building. Residents said 20 employees were trapped inside the building.
Saleh had on Saturday issued his message to the Saudi-led coalition in a speech broadcast from the studios.
Yemen descended into violence in late 2014 when the Houthis, a group that hails from the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam, marched on Sanaa and seized control of the government.
The group, backed by government troops loyal to Saleh, resumed its march south and attacked Hadi’s interim capital in Aden, forcing Hadi to flee and inviting the Saudi-led alliance to join the fighting.
Yemen’s war has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than two million people, caused a cholera outbreak infecting nearly one million people and led the country to the brink of famine.


Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?

Updated 23 October 2018
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Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?

  • Hamas took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack
  • Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true

JERUSALEM: A theory that a lightning strike triggered Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza last week gained traction in Israel on Tuesday and might explain the Israeli military’s limited response.
Two rockets were launched from the Hamas-ruled enclave on Oct. 17. But the group took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack. Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true.
One of the rockets wrecked a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing no casualties, the other landed in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel responded with air strikes that killed a militant in Gaza.
Soon afterwards, video appeared on social media showing lightning illuminating the night sky in Gaza and then two flaming rockets streaking into the air.
Israel’s best-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet now believed the lighting set off a launch mechanism.
Asked about the report, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the security cabinet, told Israel Radio: “I won’t discuss security cabinet meetings and I don’t know which ministers are chatting with journalists, but I can say that as far as we know, Hamas did not intend to fire those rockets.”
Hamas officials had no immediate comment.
The rocket launchings coincided with Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars in the past 10 years.