Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza protests: medics

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a demonstration along the Israeli fence East of Gaza City on September 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza protests: medics

GAZA CITY:  Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians and wounded at least 30 others taking part on Friday in weekly protests at the fortified Gaza Strip border, Palestinian medical officials said.
The Israeli military said it used force necessary to prevent border breaches by some 12,000 Palestinians who massed at several points near the fence, some of them hurling rocks and firebombs at troops under cover of smoke from burning tyres.
Friday's dead, one of them a boy whom medics said appeared to be around 14 years old, brought to 177 the number of Palestinians killed since the sometimes violent protests were launched on March 30 to press several demands against Israel.
The period has also seen occasional shelling exchanges between Hamas and Israel. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper and Israel has lost tracts of forest and farmland to cross-border incendiary attacks.
Israel's tactics against the protests have drawn foreign condemnation, though Washington has backed its ally in accusing Hamas of staging the mass-mobilisation to distract from Gaza's poverty and governance problems and to provide cover for armed Palestinian border incursions. Hamas has denied this.
The Israeli military said that, twice this week, its patrols discovered and dismantled bombs that had been planted for use against them at the fence. Early on Friday, several Palestinians crawled to the fence to throw a pipebomb at troops, who fired back, the military said. There was no word of casualties.
The protesters want rights to lands Palestinians lost during the 1948 war of Israel's foundation, as well as the easing of a crippling blockade that Israel, with the help of neighbouring Egypt, has placed on Gaza to isolate Hamas and deny it weaponry.
UN and Egyptian mediators have been trying to reach a deal to calm Gaza, where Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the last decade. The brokering efforts have been complicated by Hamas's feuding with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has restricted funding to the coastal strip.


Yemen govt, Houthis to start first phase of Hodeidah pullout

Updated 29 min 47 sec ago
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Yemen govt, Houthis to start first phase of Hodeidah pullout

  • The UN statement said both sides ‘made important progress on planning for the redeployment of forces as envisaged in the Hodeidah agreement.’
  • Under Phase 1, the Houthis would withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, used for grains, and Ras Isa, used for oil.

NEW YORK: Yemen’s government and the Houthi militias have agreed on the first stage of a mutual pullout of forces from the port city of Hodeidah, a key entry point for humanitarian aid, the United Nations said.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the government agreed in talks in December to withdraw troops by Jan. 7 from Hodeidah under a truce accord aimed at averting a full-scale assault on the port and paving the way for negotiations to end the four-year-old war.

“The parties reached an agreement on Phase 1 of the mutual redeployment of forces,” the UN spokesman’s office said in a statement without giving details on what was agreed.

Under Phase 1, the Houthis would withdraw from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef, used for grains, and Ras Isa, used for oil. This would be met by a retreat of Saudi-led coalition forces from the eastern outskirts of Hodeidah, where battles raged before a cease-fire went into effect on Dec. 18.

The Houthis occupy Hodeidah, the main entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s commercial and aid imports, while Yemeni government forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi are massed on the outskirts.

The UN statement said the two sides also agreed “in principle” on Phase 2, entailing full redeployment of both parties’ forces in Hodeidah province.

Two sources involved in the negotiations said both sides had yet to agree on a withdrawal timeline or on a mechanism for local forces to take over security at the ports and city.

“The UN is still discussing how to reduce the gap between the two sides on how to choose the forces that will control the city,” one source told Reuters.

The parties could decide within 7-10 days on where they would reposition forces, said the other source, adding that Houthi fighters could pull back as far as 20 km from the port.

Disagreement on withdrawal had delayed opening humanitarian corridors in Yemen.

Under the first phase, the two sides agreed to reopen main roads linking Hodeidah to the Houthi-occupied capital Sanaa and in Yemen’s third city of Taiz, said a UN source.

They also agreed to enable access to Red Sea Mills, which holds some 50,000 tons of World Food Program grain, enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month, the source said. Access to the site has been cut off since September due to fighting.

The Hodeidah truce has largely been respected but there have been intermittent skirmishes in flashpoints on the city’s edges.

Hodeidah became the focus of the war last year when the coalition twice launched an offensive to seize the port and weaken the Houthis by cutting of their main supply line.