A wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes since 2015

Palestinians step on crossed-out posters depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump during a tent city protest near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2018

A wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes since 2015

JERUSALEM: Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians in September 2015 the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. They last three days and the unrest spreads across Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

• On Oct. 1, a settler couple are killed when Palestinians fire on their vehicle in the West Bank. The violence spirals as young Palestinians clash with Israeli troops and Jewish settlers, followed by a series of knife attacks targeting Israelis.

• On Oct. 9, seven young Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire during clashes at the Gaza border. Days later, following a rocket attack, Israel carries out a retaliatory raid on Gaza, killing a pregnant Palestinian woman and her daughter.

• In January, a Palestinian stabs a nurse to death in front of her children in an Israeli settlement. On Jan. 1, an Israeli Arab fires on shopfronts in Tel Aviv, killing two before being shot down.

• In June, two Palestinians fire on customers in a bustling area of the city, killing four before being arrested. Over a few days in June and July, four Palestinian attacks leave two Israelis and three attackers are killed.

• Jerusalem, bitterly disputed between Israelis and Palestinians, is the scene of frequent attacks throughout 2017.

• In January, four Israeli soldiers are killed when a Palestinian rams his truck into a group of soldiers visiting the city. The driver is killed on the spot.

• In July, three Israeli Arabs shoot dead two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City before being shot themselves in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel, saying weapons were hidden inside the compound, bars access for two days and imposes stringent security measures, including metal detectors and surveillance cameras.
Tensions spiral into clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Worshippers gather for protest prayers outside the compound.
Under international pressure, Israel withdraws its metal detectors, later removing the remaining new security measures.

• On Oct. 12, members of the militant groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas are killed when Israel blows up a tunnel from Gaza into its territory.

• In December, US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of advice from world leaders, sparking outrage from Palestinians. Trump orders the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, set to take place in May 2018.

• In January, a rabbi, Raziel Shevah, is shot dead near the settlement where he lived. Three Palestinian suspects are killed. Two days later, Israeli fire kills two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

• In February, a Palestinian fatally stabs an Israeli in the West Bank and two weeks after that, two Palestinians are killed near Rafah.

• On March 16, two Israeli soldiers are killed in the West Bank in a Palestinian truck attack. A Palestinian later stabs an Israeli officer in Jerusalem’s old town, seriously injuring him before being killed.


Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

Updated 24 August 2019

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

  • Egyptian social startups are taking alternative approaches to fostering awareness and reducing waste

CAIRO: Global plastics production reached 348 million tons in 2017, rising from 335 million tons in 2016, according to Plastics Europe. 

Critically, most plastic waste is not properly managed: Around 55 percent of it was landfilled or discarded in 2015. These numbers are extremely concerning because plastic products take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose, and the effects on the environment, especially on marine and human life, are catastrophic.

While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively.

“We’re the first website in the Middle East and North Africa that trades waste,” said Alaa Afifi, founder and CEO of Bekia. “People can get rid of any waste at their disposal — plastic, paper and cooking oil — and exchange it for over 65 products on our website.”

Products for trading include rice, tea, pasta, cooking oil, subway tickets and school supplies.

Bekia was launched in Cairo in 2017. Initially, the business model did not prove successful.

“We used to rent a car and go to certain locations every 40 days to collect waste from people,” Afifi, 26, explained. “We then created a website and started encouraging people to use it.”

After the website was launched, people could wait at home for someone to collect the waste. “Instead of 40 days, we now could visit people within a week.”

To use Bekia’s services, people need to log onto the website and specify what they want to discard. They are assigned points based on the waste they are offering, and these points can be used in one of three ways: Donated to people in need, saved for later, or exchanged for products. As for the collected waste, it is given to specialized recycling companies for processing.

“We want to have 50,000 customers over the next two years who regularly use our service to get rid of their waste,” Afifi said.  

Trying to spread environmental awareness has not been easy. “We had a lot of trouble with initial investment at first, and we got through with an investment that was far from enough. The second problem we faced was spreading this culture among people — in the first couple of months, we received no orders,” Afifi said.

The team soldiered on and slowly built a client base, currently serving 7,000 customers. In terms of what lies ahead for Bekia, he said: “We’re expanding from 22 to 30 areas in Cairo this year. We’re launching an app very soon and a new website with better features.”

Go Clean, another Egyptian recycling startup dedicated to raising environmental awareness, works under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment. “We started in 2017 by recycling waste from factories, and then by February 2019 we started expanding,” said founder and CEO Mohammed Hamdy, 30.

The Cairo-based company collects recyclables from virtually all places, including households, schools, universities, restaurants, cafes, companies and embassies. The customers separate the items into categories and then fill out a registration form. Alternatively, they can make contact through WhatsApp or Facebook. A driver is then dispatched to collect the waste, carrying a scale to weigh it. 

“The client can be paid in cash for the weight of their recyclables, or they can make a donation to a special needs school in Cairo,” Hamdy explained. There is also the option of trading the waste for dishwashing soap, with more household products to be added in the future.

Trying to cover a country with 100 million people was never going to be easy, and Go Clean faced some logistical problems. It overcame them by hiring more drivers and getting more trucks. There was another challenge along the way: “We had to figure out a way to train the drivers, from showing them how to use GPS and deal with clients,” said Hamdy.

“We want to spread awareness about the environment everywhere. We go to schools, universities, companies and even factories to give sessions about the importance of recycling and how dangerous plastic is. We’re currently covering 20 locations across Cairo and all of Alexandria. We want to cover all of Egypt in the future,” he added.

With a new app on the way, Hamdy said things are looking positive for the social startup, and people are becoming invested in the initiative. “We started out with seven orders per day, and now we get over 100.”