Netanyahu demands ‘total’ Gaza cease-fire

Netanyahu has come under political pressure to act more strongly against Hamas. (Jim Hollander/Pool via Reuters)
Updated 12 August 2018
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Netanyahu demands ‘total’ Gaza cease-fire

  • There have been efforts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas
  • Since July, there have been three major flare-ups of violence

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday demanded a “total” cease-fire from Gaza’s Hamas rulers in his first public comments on another deadly flare-up between the two sides.
There have been efforts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, though Israeli officials have not commented on them.
Since July, there have been three major flare-ups of violence.
“We are in the midst of a campaign against terror in Gaza,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. “It will not end with one blow.
“Our demand is clear: a total cease-fire. We shall not be satisfied with less than that,” he added.
“Until now we have destroyed hundreds of Hamas military targets and with every round of attacks the Israel Defense Forces exact another heavy price from Hamas.”
Netanyahu has come under political pressure to act more strongly against Hamas, though both sides are reluctant to start a fourth war between them since 2008.
Israel has also sought an end to kites and balloons carrying firebombs over the Gaza border fence to burn Israeli farmland.
An informal truce reached on Thursday night has largely held despite the deaths of three Palestinians since then from Israeli army fire during border protests and clashes.
Thursday saw extensive Israeli air strikes in retaliation for the launching of more than 180 rockets and mortar rounds by Hamas and its allies beginning on Wednesday night.
Three Palestinians were killed in the Israeli strikes, including a mother and her 18-month-old daughter, while seven Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire as hundreds took refuge in bomb shelters.
It was one of the most serious escalations since the 2014 Gaza war and followed months of rising tensions.
At least 168 Palestinians have been killed since Gaza border protests and clashes began on March 30, with most succumbing to Israeli fire during demonstrations. Others have died in air strikes.
Over the same period, one Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.


Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

Updated 1 min 16 sec ago
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Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has been hailed by tourism chiefs for staging his son’s lavish wedding reception on home turf.
The influential Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon saluted Saab “for holding the wedding party of his son, Elie Jr., and the Lebanese bride, Christina Mourad, in Lebanon instead of abroad, as do tens of Lebanese leaders and lords.
“Holding wedding parties abroad has deprived the tourism sector as well as other sectors in Lebanon of important revenues that can revive the national economy,” the syndicate said.
The nonprofit body that represents restaurateurs, added that the glittering event had “turned the country into a huge wedding attended by more than 3,000 guests from inside and outside Lebanon.
“People shared their joy on social media, communicating Lebanon’s image of civilization and tourism to the world. This wedding filled Lebanese hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and stirred the economic cycle for more than 10 days before and after the wedding. We salute the man who loves peace and Lebanon a thousand times.”
Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon (ATTAL), told Arab News: “The syndicate’s stance comes in response to a phenomenon that emerged a few years ago. Distinguished people have been holding lavish weddings for their children abroad, where they spend millions of dollars. This has not only been done by politicians, but also businessmen and senior employees, as if it has become a trend or an added value.”
The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels. “We have outstanding wedding planners who get employed to plan weddings abroad,” he added.
Abboud pointed out that the tourist season in Lebanon this year had so far been promising with the number of visitors from GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, up on 2018 figures. He added that the 2019 draft budget approved by Parliament last week had not put “any burdens on the tourism sector.”
Chairman of the Hotel Owners Association in Lebanon, Pierre Al-Ashkar, estimated the cost of wedding parties held by Lebanese people abroad to be around $400 million, including hotel accommodation, purchases and transportation, in addition to the expenses of the wedding itself.
He said: “There is no longer a difference between politicians and businessmen who choose to hold their children’s wedding parties abroad. It is true that these weddings are no more than a few hundred, but their expenses are huge and, therefore, deprive Lebanon of this money.”
Al-Ashkar pointed out that the number of tourists choosing Lebanon this summer had risen, highlighting a significant 30 percent increase in the proportion of visitors from Europe.
“However, the number of tourists from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, has not been as we had wished,” he added.
“Maybe this is because these tourists, who have not been visiting Lebanon for five to seven years, now have business in other countries or investments in tourist places outside of Lebanon, especially as some countries now offer incentives to attract tourists carrying certain passports and residence permits.”