Iran jolted by moderate, light earthquakes; 290 injured

A series of moderate earthquakes in southern and western Iran injured an estimated 150 people. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 July 2018
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Iran jolted by moderate, light earthquakes; 290 injured

  • Two quakes struck a remote region near the town of Lar in the southern Hormozgan province
  • A series of moderate earthquakes in southern and western Iran injured an estimated 150 people

TEHRAN: Iran was jolted by a series of moderate and light earthquakes on Sunday, including a 5.9 magnitude temblor in a mountainous western region in which officials said some 290 people were injured.
The first temblor, measuring a magnitude of 4.6 rocked the town of Ruydar, in Hormozgan province, earlier in the day. The town is located some 940 kilometers, or 580 miles, south of the capital, Tehran.
It was followed shortly after by a 5.4 magnitude aftershock, according to the United States Geological Survey. Iran’s semi-official news agency had initially reported the magnitude at 5.7.
No injuries were reported.
In the afternoon, a 5.9 magnitude quake rocked an area in western Iran near the border with Iraq in Kermanshah province.
The head of the country’s agency that handles responses to emergencies and natural disasters, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state television that 146 people were injured, including 21 who were taken to hospitals for treatment. Kolivand did not mention any fatalities and could not be reached by phone for further details.
Some houses in the region were damaged, and the earthquake caused a landslide that temporarily shut down a local road, the governor of Karmanshah, Houshang Bazvand, told semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Local residents reported multiple aftershocks through the day, said Morteza Salimi, an official with Iran’s Red Crescent aid agency.
Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to regular earthquakes. A magnitude 7.2 quake hit western Iran in November, killing more than 600. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

Updated 18 August 2018
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

  • Israel rejects report saying the protection should be against Palestinian leaders
  • The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.

But the report has been rejected by the Israelis.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement late Friday that “the only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership.”
“Instead of suggesting ways to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should instead hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for continually endangering its own people,” Danon said.
“The report’s suggestions will only enable the Palestinians’ continued rejectionism.”
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.