Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

Hamas has blamed Israel for the explosion in Sidon that wounded Mohammed Hamdan in his leg. (AN photo)
Updated 14 January 2018

Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

BEIRUT: A Hamas official narrowly escaped death when his car exploded in Sidon, south Lebanon, on Sunday afternoon. 
He escaped the assassination attempt with leg injuries and underwent surgery at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon.
The explosion, from a 500-gram device placed under the driver’s seat, targeted Hamas member Mohammed Omar Hamdan, (aka “Abu hamzah“). It happened while Hamdan was entering his car, which was parked in Albustan Alkabir neighborhood. 
Reporters at the scene said Hamdan told his rescuers he was trying to open his car boot to clean it when the explosion happened.
Jihad Taha, Hamas deputy political official in Lebanon, said: “Hamdan is a member of the movement, and he works at the office of its political official in Lebanon, Ahmad Abdul Hadi.”
Ghassan Ayoub, from the Palestinian People’s Party at Ain Al-Hilweh camp, told Arab News that Hamdan was not active in Sidon; rather, his activities are limited to Beirut. 
“The explosion aimed to kill the target, not just injure him,” Ayoub noted. 
“If Israel targeted Hamdan, it wouldn’t be the first time Israel failed to kill its target.”

The official Lebanese National News Agency reported later that “the explosion resulted from a 500-gram explosive device which was placed under the driver’s seat.”
The Lebanese army command said in a statement: “The explosive device went off in a grey BMW in Albustan Alkabir, which resulted in the injury of its Palestinian owner Mohammad Hamdan. The army forces imposed a security cordon around the area, and the military expert checked the location of the explosion to determine its size and nature.”
Hamdan was the only casualty in the blast, although his wife and one of his children were following him.
A security source said “The forensic evidence section collected the videos recorded by local cameras and listened to witnesses who were present at the scene. The investigation is trying to find out whether the explosion was caused by remote control or due to friction, as well as deciding the time Hamdan parked his car, and whether another person was driving the car.”
Taha accused the Israelis of targeting Hamdan, and so did Ayman Shana’a, a Hamas political official, who stressed that “we are waiting for the results of the investigations of the security forces.”
Hamas declared in a statement that “the initial indicators point to the presence of Zionist links behind the criminal act.” 

Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

Updated 21 January 2019

Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

  • Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil called for 'effective solutions' for the return of Syrian refugees to their country
  • Summit also called for dialogue over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine

BEIRUT: The fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit was held in Beirut on Sunday, in an effort to, among other things, find ways to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the Middle East.

The summit, though attended by representatives from 20 Arab nations, was soured by the absence of most Arab heads of state, and was divided over several issues, including the absence of Syrian delegates, and a boycott by Libya.

The summit did, though, call for dialogue with the international community over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Delegates expressed their support for the Palestinian people, and cited the “collective responsibility” of all parties towards maintaining the city of Jerusalem’s “Islamic and Christian identity.”

In a statement, the summit declared: “We reiterate Palestinian refugees’ rights of return and compensation, according to the UN General Assembly’s resolution 194 of 1948.”

Delegates also discussed at great length the need for international cooperation to support the growing digital economy across the region. They emphasized “the importance of building the necessary capacity” to benefit from the digital economy, and praised the initiative launched by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to create a sovereign investment fund to support the development of technology in the Gulf and the Middle East.

They urged all Arab nations to “support this initiative to strengthen the joint Arab economy,” and called on other Arab banks and funds to invest in it.

The summit also praised the role of small and medium businesses across the Arab world for their contribution to flourishing Arab economies, as well as the implementation of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030, to ensure power across the region becomes cleaner and more sustainable.

The summit was far from harmonious, though, with the Lebanese foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, addressing the hall to ask the international community “to assume its responsibilities by finding effective solutions for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

Bassil called on Arab nations and others to “shoulder the burden, honor their commitments and meet the refugees’ needs.”

There were also disputes over the attendance of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, as well as the boycott by Libyan delegates.

“I am saddened because of the absence of the Libyan delegation, and by the circumstances that led to this point,” Arab League president, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said.

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, echoed the words of his foreign minister, calling on the international community “to exert all efforts to provide the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and to present incentives so they can contribute to their country’s reconstruction.”

He proposed the establishment of an international Arab bank to help affected countries overcome the crisis, and invited established Arab funds to Beirut to discuss his proposals.

“I deplore the absence of other Arab presidents and kings, but each of them has his reason. Our union remains of great importance given that we will not be able to address the challenges facing our region and peoples, unless we agree on key issues,” Aoun said.

The next Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be held in Mauritania in 2023.