World anger mounts over Gaza deaths

Palestinians who live in Greece wave Palestinian flags atop a police bus during an anti-Israeli rally in Athens. (AP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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World anger mounts over Gaza deaths

  • Almost 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops during protests to mark the 70th anniversary of Nakba
  • Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday reaffirmed the Kingdom’s rejection of the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem

AMMAN: Israel faces mounting regional and international pressure over the deaths of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border, with South Africa, Turkey, Belgium and Ireland withdrawing their ambassadors from Tel Aviv and the UN Commission on Human Rights calling for an independent inquiry. 

Almost 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops during protests to mark the 70th anniversary of Nakba — the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes — and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday reaffirmed the Kingdom’s rejection of the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, a day after its official opening.

“This step represents a significant bias against the historical, permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem,” an official statement said.

Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinian leadership would file a legal case against Israel with the International Criminal Court over settlement activity on occupied Palestinian territory.

Former Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher, now senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Arab News that the killing of Palestinian protesters, coupled with the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, shows why “Israel cannot be trusted” to bring about peace in the region.

“I believe Jordan’s preferred course of action is the adoption of a policy that would keep Palestinians on their soil and that would not cooperate with Israel in any way,” he said.

Nour Al-Emam, a lawyer and member of the Palestine National Council, said the US was now complicit in the killings of unarmed Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers.

Media coverage of the killings in Gaza has also been criticized. Writing on his personal Twitter account, media specialist Mureed Hammad said that the “world media has shown a different face to dealing with Palestinian blood.”

James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, condemned The New York Times for saying that Palestinians had “died” rather than Palestinians were “killed.”

Some Arab voices are also objecting to the silence of many Arab leaders. Mohammad Ersan, the host of a Radio Al-Balad talk show in the Jordanian capital, ended his program on Tuesday by asking if the Israeli ambassadors in neighboring countries would be sent home. His comment followed a decision by Turkey to order Israel’s ambassador to leave.

Veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin told Arab News that the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem “is harmful to chances of peace and goes against international accepted positions that the future of Jerusalem must be decided and resolved by Israel and Palestine together.” 


UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

Updated 16 October 2018
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UN warns of worsening hunger crisis in Yemen

  • The World Food Programme is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance
  • Eight million people in Yemen are already considered to be in the brink of famine

GENEVA: Some 12 million Yemenis could soon be on the brink of famine if the security and economic situation in the war-ravaged country does not improve, the UN warned Tuesday.
“Yemen is currently facing the world’s worst hunger crisis, with almost 18 million people throughout the country not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman Herve Verhoosel told reporters in Geneva.
Over eight million people are already considered to be on the brink of famine in Yemen, he said, adding that the situation was being exacerbated by sky-rocketing food prices, which have soared by a third in the past year alone.
“If the situation persists, we could see an additional 3.5 million severely food insecure Yemenis, or nearly 12 million in total, who urgently require regular food assistance to prevent them from slipping into famine-like conditions,” he warned.
This means the UN agency will need more funding, Verhoosel told AFP, pointing out that “the more people (who need help), the more money is needed.”
WFP is in the process of scaling up its activities in Yemen to provide emergency food assistance to some eight million of the country’s hungriest people each month, Verhoosel said.
But he lamented that due to the dire security situation in the port city of Hodeida, the UN agency still did not have access to some 51,000 tons of wheat stocks at its Red Sea Mills facility there, which would be enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure access to these wheat stocks,” Verhoosel said.
Yemen’s air, land and sea ports are currently functioning, so WFP had several ships filled with aid headed toward Yemen, and is working to reposition stocks in case routes are cut off, he said.
The agency has also begun using the port of Salalah in Oman as a supplementary route, he said.
WFP currently has enough grains in Yemen to help 6.4 million people for two months.
But Verhoosel warned that distribution across the country was difficult at best, insisting that aid workers need access and guarantees that their neutrality will be respected.
“We need an end to the fighting,” he said.
Yemen’s brutal conflict has since 2015 left some 10,000 people dead and has created what the UN has dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.