Rocket alert sirens sound in Israeli communities near Gaza frontier

Protesters gather while Israeli troops fire teargas near the fence of Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (AP)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Rocket alert sirens sound in Israeli communities near Gaza frontier

JERUSALEM:Rocket alert sirens sounded on Thursday in Israeli communities near the border with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said.
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The alert came shortly after Israeli army radio reported unspecified Israeli military activity near the border with the Palestinian enclave.
Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip have tailed off in recent weeks as Egypt has tried to mediate a long-term ceasefire with Israel.
But tensions have remained high along the Israel-Gaza border, where Palestinians have been mounting protests that have included attempts to breach a security fence.
Israeli forces have killed at least 195 Palestinians since the protests began in March, Gaza medics say, and one Israeli soldier has been killed.
Citing security reasons, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions on their borders with Gaza, a policy that has deepened economic hardship in the territory of two million Palestinians.


Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

Updated 21 February 2019
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Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

  • Forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa
  • The second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters

NEW YORK: The expected pullout of forces from three key ports in Yemen provides an opportunity to move to the major goal of ending the four-year conflict that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN envoy for the war-battered country said on Tuesday.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Yemen’s government and Houthi militias demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from the ports.

He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.

Griffiths called on the parties to fully implement the first phase and to agree on details of the second phase of the redeployment of forces, “which we hope will lead to the demilitarization” of Hodeidah, whose port handles about 70 percent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

A UN official said the first phase involves pulling back several kilometers, and the second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters. In some places in Hodeidah city, the opposing forces are facing each other about 100 meters apart, the official said.

The UN is appealing for more than $4 billion to assist 15 million Yemenis this year and UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock implored donors to pledge generously at a conference next week in Geneva.