Gaza hospitals, clinics to reopen after Emirati grant

An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks machinery at Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after it ceased operating due to a fuel shortage. The United Arab Emirates has provided financing to end the shortage. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Gaza hospitals, clinics to reopen after Emirati grant

GAZA: Nearly 20 medical centers in Gaza will fully reopen in the coming days after the United Arab Emirates provided financing to end a fuel shortage, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Three hospitals and 16 medical centers had stopped offering key services in recent weeks as crippling fuel shortages meant they were unable to keep generators going, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.
Gaza receives only a few hours of mains electricity a day, so hospitals and other vital services rely on private generators run with fuel provided by the United Nations.
After an emergency UN appeal, the UAE has pledged $2 million for fuel for the coming year, said Mahmoud Dahar, head of the WHO in Gaza.
“We have received an announcement from the UAE that they are going to fund two million, which will make the situation a bit easier for another few months,” he told AFP.
He added that he expected the hospitals and centers to fully reopen “in the coming days.”
The ministry said it was awaiting official confirmation of the UAE funds and did not say when the centers would return to normal operations.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for a decade which it says is necessary to isolate the territory’s Islamist leaders Hamas. Critics say it represents collective punishment of two million people.
More than two-thirds of Gazans rely on international aid.
Separately on Thursday Egypt, which has also largely sealed its border with Gaza, opened the Rafah crossing for the first time in 2018. It is to remain open for three days.
US President Donald Trump has also withheld tens of millions in aid for Palestinians in recent weeks.
On Thursday, AIDA, a coalition of 70 international charities working in the Palestinian territories, said that decision would particularly affect Gaza.
It said the funding cuts “will lead to increased food insecurity, aid dependency, poverty, isolation, unemployment and hopelessness.”


US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on top of a building on February 17, 2019, in the frontline Syrian village of Baghuz. (AFP)
Updated 51 min 12 sec ago
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US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

  • Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it wanted to ensure foreign terrorists remain off the battlefield as it weighed options on an American detained in Syria who says she wants to return home.
The United States has urged European powers to take back hundreds of their citizens who fought with the Daesh group in Syria, but acknowledged the situation was complex in the rare case of an American terrorist.
Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old from Alabama who became a prominent online agitator for the extremists, said in an interview published Sunday with The Guardian that she had been brainwashed online and “deeply regrets” joining the movement.
While declining to discuss Muthana’s case specifically, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that the status of US citizens detained in Syria “is by definition extremely complicated.”
“We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” he told reporters.
Palladino said that the United States generally did not see a different solution between what to do with US fighters and with foreigners, saying the fighters pose “a global threat.”
“Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained — that’s the best solution, preventing them from returning to the battlefield,” he said.
The situation of foreign terrorists detained by US-allied Kurdish forces has taken a new urgency as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces say they may have to refocus on fighting Turkey, which has vowed to crush Kurdish fighters it links to separatists at home.
Trump has contemplated reopening the US military base at Guantanamo Bay to take in new foreign inmates, while Britain on Tuesday revoked the citizenship of a female terrorsist who wanted to return home with her newborn baby.
Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution.
Muthana, who was married three times to terrorists and has a son with one of her husbands, fled her family in 2014 to join the Daesh group in Syria, where she took to Twitter to urge attacks on fellow Americans.
In the interview with The Guardian, Muthana said that she was “really young and ignorant” when she joined Daesh and has since renounced radicalism.
“I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East,” she told the newspaper.
Hassan Shilby, a lawyer for Muthana, told ABC television’s “Good Morning America” that the young woman had been “brainwashed and manipulated” and is “absolutely disgusted” by the person she became.