Gaza bomb suspect, two Hamas security officers killed in raid

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas ride a pickup truck during an operation to arrest the main suspect in an assassination attempt against Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in the central Gaza Strip Mar. 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Gaza bomb suspect, two Hamas security officers killed in raid

NUSEIRAT: The main suspect in a recent bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister in the Gaza Strip was killed in an arrest raid on Thursday that also left two members of the Hamas security forces dead.
One of the suspect’s alleged accomplices was also killed in the raid after Hamas, the extremist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, launched a manhunt.
The interior ministry in the Gaza Strip announced the deaths. The two suspects were earlier said to have been arrested, but the ministry issued a statement later saying they had died from their wounds.
A third suspect was under arrest.
The members of the security forces were named as Hammad Abu Swerah and Ziad Al-Howajri, with the interior ministry saying they “died while carrying out their national duty in a security operation this morning.”
A clash with an exchange of fire had erupted earlier in the day in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City, a day after Hamas named Anas Abu Koussa, born in 1993, as the lead suspect.
Dozens of new checkpoints had been erected throughout the Palestinian enclave and armed security forces were searching cars, an AFP correspondent said.
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah was unhurt by the roadside bomb that struck his convoy on March 13, in what Palestinian officials have called an assassination attempt as he entered Gaza on a rare visit.
Palestinian Authority intelligence chief Majid Faraj, who was accompanying Hamdallah, also escaped injury.
The roadside bomb, believed to have weighed around 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds), exploded a few hundred meters (yards) from the border with Israel, shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy entered the territory.
A second bomb failed to explode, officials said.
Hamas did not give a possible motive for the attack on Hamdallah, head of government in president Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.
On Wednesday, a Hamas security source said investigators had arrested and were questioning three people, including two members of the PA-run intelligence services.
On Monday, Abbas accused Hamas of being behind the blast and said he would take new measures in response, without specifying details.
Abbas has previously taken a series of measures, including reducing electricity payments for Gaza’s two million residents, in what analysts said was an attempt to punish Hamas.

 


UN Yemen envoy pushes Security Council for robust truce monitoring

Updated 14 December 2018
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UN Yemen envoy pushes Security Council for robust truce monitoring

  • Griffiths called for deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of a cease-fire in Hodeida and the withdrawal of Houthi militia
  • Saudi Arabia says it is committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen

JEDDAH: A robust monitoring regime is urgently needed in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah to oversee compliance by the warring parties with an agreed cease-fire in the region, United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday.
The Iranian-aligned Houthis and the Arab Coalition-backed Yemen government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi agreed on Thursday to stop fighting for Houthi-held Hodeidah and withdraw their troops, the first significant breakthrough for UN-led peace efforts in five years of conflict.
“A robust and competent monitoring regime is not just essential, it is also urgently needed and both parties have told us they would very much welcome it and indeed depend on it,” Griffiths told the 15-member council, adding that UN officials were already planning for such a deployment.
Such a monitoring mission needs the backing of the Security Council in a resolution, diplomats said.
Griffiths said in a video briefing that retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert had agreed to lead the monitoring component of the agreement, which took effect on Thursday when the deal was published. He said Cammaert could arrive in the region within days.
“Being present in the field soon is an essential part of the confidence that needs to go with the implementation of this agreement,” Griffiths said.
The council was already discussing a British-drafted resolution to enshrine five requests made by UN aid chief Mark Lowcock — one of which was for a truce around facilities needed for aid and commercial imports — and diplomats said that would now be reworked to endorse the agreement reached in Sweden.
“We hope to be able to work expeditiously with colleagues to bring about a Security Council resolution which will give the firmest possible support to what has been achieved so far,” British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce told the council.
“As requested we will of course want — with colleagues — to address the monitoring requirements,” she said.
“The UN will take on a leading role in supporting Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation in management and inspections at Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa,” Griffiths said. “The UN ... has developed a plan seeking specific support from member states in the port.”
Meanwhile, in a statement by Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom backed “the agreements reached in Sweden in UN-sponsored talks between a delegation of Yemen’s legitimate government and the Houthi rebels,” the official SPA news agency reported.
“The Kingdom remains engaged in the search for a political solution in Yemen which guarantees the security and stability of the country,” the statement said.
The statement also called on the Iran-aligned Houthis to “embark on this path” toward a political solution.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry also said on Friday that it welcomed the agreement between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi militia. 
The ministry said that the Kingdom was committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen.
The handing over of the port of Hodeidah to the control of the United Nations will help to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, the ministry stressed.