Israeli police get right to hold Palestinian assailants’ bodies

Israeli border police can be seen in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Israeli police get right to hold Palestinian assailants’ bodies

JERUSALEM: Israeli lawmakers have passed a controversial bill allowing police to hold the corpses of alleged Palestinian assailants indefinitely, parliament said on Thursday.
The act was passed late Wednesday by 48 votes to 10, a Knesset statement said, hours after another measure permitting the interior minister to strip Palestinians in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem of their permanent residency permits “if they are involved in terrorism.”
The government announced in 2016 that it would not release for burial the bodies of Palestinian assailants killed during attacks unless Palestinians in Gaza released the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to have been killed in a 2014 war in Gaza.
In November 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled that Israel would not repatriate the bodies of five militants killed when the army blew up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in December that the policy was illegal under current law, but it gave the government six months to enact new legislation.
The revised act gives authority to police district commanders “to set conditions for returning the body of a terrorist for family burial,” the Knesset statement said.
If the commander decides that a funeral may spark another attack or turn into a political rally in support of violence he can impose limits on the time, location and number of mourners and “a body could be held until the family agrees to the terms,” the statement adds.
The bill was sponsored by two MPs from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and the religious-nationalist Jewish Home.
Arab MP Yousef Jabareen, of the opposition Joint List party, said it was “a delusional and draconian law of a delusional government.”
It applies only to Israel and east Jerusalem, where the police have authority, and not to the occupied West Bank, which is under army rule.
The legislation on revoking permanent residency permits, proposed by a Likud MP, passed by 48 votes to 18, the Knesset said.
Israel seized control of Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.
It later annexed the territory, in a move never recognized by the international community, and today it is home to about 300,000 Palestinians.
Although they have the right to apply for Israeli citizenship few take up the offer and of those many are refused, often on unspecified “security grounds.”
The vast majority opt for permanent residency status, which gives them free movement throughout Israel, access to health and welfare services and a vote in Jerusalem municipal elections.
They cannot vote in parliamentary elections and they do not hold Israeli passports.


With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

Updated 21 June 2018
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With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

  • UAE commander confirms Hodeidah airport in Yemen is liberated
  • Houthis have been accused of breaking international law by targeting civilians

JEDDAH: Fighting spread to civilian areas of Hodeidah on Wednesday as coalition forces drove toward the port area after driving the last Iran-backed Houthi militias out of the city’s airport. 

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said they had fully recaptured the airport and were now destroying nearby Houthi fortifications. He accused the group of placing tanks inside residential areas.

“Hodeidah port is operating as normal and the movement of ships is normal,” Al-Maliki said. “We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city.”

Many civilians are now fleeing the city. “The streets are almost empty, deserted,” one said, with most heading for Sanaa, Raymah and Wusab, in Houthi-controlled areas inland.

A Coalition commander also confirmed the liberation of Hodeida airport in a video posted by UAE state news agency WAM.

“The airport was completely cleared, Thank God, and is under control,” the coalition commander for the Red Sea coast, Abdul Salaam Al-Shehi said speaking in Arabic in the video posted on Twitter.

 

 

Though the coalition has pledged to try to avoid battles in crowded urban neighborhoods, the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah to protect the key supply line to the core northern territory they control, including the capital, Sanaa.

Most humanitarian aid to Yemen comes through Hodeidah port, but it is also a conduit for the supply of weapons and ammunition from Iran to the Houthi militias, including missiles used to target Saudi Arabia. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the “liberation of Hodeidah is the beginning to ending the war."

“The choice in Yemen is between the state and militia, between order and violence, between peace and war,” he said.

At least 156 Houthis and 28 soldiers were killed in the fight for the airport, according to Hodeidah hospital sources. That raised the death toll in the week-old battle for the city to 348. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

On June 13, Yemen’s army and its coalition allies launched their offensive to clear Hodeidah of rebel fighters who have held it since 2014. The airport is disused but housed a major Houthi base just inland from the coastal road into the city from the south.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.