El-Sisi wants return of Egypt militant held in Libya

This handout picture released on October 8, 2018, by the Libyan Armed Forces shows Egyptian jihadist leader Hisham al-Ashmawy after being arrested in the Libyan city of Derna. (AFP)
Updated 11 October 2018
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El-Sisi wants return of Egypt militant held in Libya

  • Hisham el-Ashmawy was arrested by Haftar's forces on Monday in the eastern city of Derna
  • “We want him to serve time in prison,” El-Sisi said in a televised speech

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi asked Thursday for a suspected extremist leader and former Egyptian special forces officer captured this week in Libya to be handed over to his country.
Forces of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who supports an administration vying for power with Libya’s UN-backed unity government, have said they arrested Hisham el-Ashmawy on Monday in the eastern city of Derna.
“We want him to serve time in prison,” El-Sisi said in a televised speech on the sidelines of a military conference.
A spokesman for Haftar’s forces, who are backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, said Ashmawy was an alleged member of the Islamist extremist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and wanted over the attempted assassination of an ex-interior minister in September 2013.
Ashmawy left the Egyptian army in 2012 and joined Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, based in the eastern Sinai Peninsula.
He is believed to have gone to Libya in 2013, before Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Daesh group in November 2014.
He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt’s Western Desert.


Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull

Updated 8 min 15 sec ago
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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull

  • Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose
  • Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army

JERUSALEM: Israel ordered the country’s goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened on Sunday, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory strikes.
The move followed efforts to prevent an escalation in ongoing violence that has raised fears of a new war between Israel and the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
“The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts Hamas made to restrain” demonstrators, a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office read.
On Wednesday, Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, after a rocket from the Palestinian territory hit a home in southern Israel, prompting the Jewish state to strike 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as alarm over a potential broader conflict rose.
Near daily protests along the Gaza border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.
More than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the violence.
On Friday, thousands again gathered for protests in northern Gaza, but demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that while most of the protesters stayed back from the fence, some came close and threw explosive devices and hand grenades at troops, while burning tires.
At least 130 Palestinians were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli soldiers, the Gaza health ministry said.
Hamas officials were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Israel had on Wednesday also suspended the delivery of fuel for the Palestinian territory’s power plant that had been trucked daily into Gaza under a deal brokered by the United Nations.
“The decision on the renewal of the fuel from Qatar has been put off as for the time being, and will be examined in a number of days based on the events,” the Sunday statement from Lieberman said.
An Egyptian security delegation that visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday had encouraged Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to calm the protests, according to an Egyptian official.
On Friday, United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov also urged all sides “to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation.”
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and fears of a fourth have spurred efforts by Egypt and the United Nations for a wider deal that would see Israel ease its blockade in exchange for a long-term truce with the militants.