UN says Israeli closure will worsen conditions in Gaza

Israeli soldiers face the smoke from a fire caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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UN says Israeli closure will worsen conditions in Gaza

  • UN agency for Palestinian refugees says new Israeli restrictions on Gaza will worsen living conditions there
  • Gaza is home to nearly 2 million people, 80 percent of whom rely on humanitarian aid

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says new Israeli restrictions on Gaza will worsen living conditions there.
Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said Thursday it could have “profound and far-reaching consequences for already desperate civilians.”
Gaza is home to nearly 2 million people, 80 percent of whom rely on humanitarian aid.
Israel this week shut the only cargo crossing with Gaza in response to incendiary kites and balloons sent across the frontier into Israel. It is still allowing food, medicine and humanitarian aid in through the crossing.
The kites are part of a campaign led by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers against a crippling blockade Israel and Egypt imposed when the Islamic militant group seized control of the territory in 2007.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 10 min 52 sec ago
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.