Israel captures Palestinian knife attack suspect: army

Israeli soldiers control cars at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus after according to the army, an Israeli reserve soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack, on October 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Israel captures Palestinian knife attack suspect: army

  • Israeli forces detained a Palestinian suspected of stabbing and wounding a soldier.
  • A manhunt continued for a second Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli civilians.

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces detained a Palestinian suspected of stabbing and wounding a soldier but a manhunt continued for a second Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli civilians, the army said Friday.
The army spokesman’s office released video it said had been taken late on Thursday showing a cuffed and blindfolded man being led by soldiers in what appears to be a military facility.
“A short while ago, the terrorist who committed the terror attack... this afternoon was caught,” regional commander Col. Sagiv Dahan said in the Hebrew-language clip.
An army spokesman told AFP that details of the suspect and his arrest were being withheld for the time being as his interrogation was still in progress.
He is suspected of stabbing and wounding an army reservist on guard at a junction near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday afternoon.
A civilian was moderately wounded from shrapnel when soldiers fired in the direction of the fleeing assailant, the army said.
The fugitive who remains on the run is suspected of killing two Israelis and wounding a third in a shooting on Sunday in the Israeli-owned industrial zone where they all worked near the northern West Bank Jewish settlement of Barkan.
“Activity continues to catch the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack at Barkan,” an army statement said in Hebrew.
The army has named the wanted man as Ashraf Naalwa, 23, from the northern West Bank village of Shuweika.
The two attack sites and Shuweika village all lie within a 32 kilometer (20 mile) radius but so far there has been no indication of any connection.
A wave of mainly lone-wolf Palestinian attacks against Israelis erupted in 2015 but it has since largely abated.


Thousands flee bombs and hunger in eastern Syria

Updated 12 December 2018
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Thousands flee bombs and hunger in eastern Syria

  • UN Spokesperson says at least 16,500 people have been forced to flee their homes
  • Almost 320 civilians have been killed, including 113 children

AL-HOL, Syria: Faraj was born in the pouring rain on a nondescript stretch of desert road in eastern Syria as his family fled escalating fighting over the Daesh group’s last bastion.
His family was part of a group of around 200 civilians who managed to escape from a pocket of territory in Deir Ezzor province that is still held by the jihadists.
“I had to resist hunger, cold and rain,” the newborn’s mother Kamela Fadel tells AFP in a camp for displaced people in the northeastern region of Al-Hol.
The young woman, her husband and their four children now sleep under white tents, with hundreds of other people who fled eastern flashpoints in past weeks.
They are huddled on straw mats laid out directly on the gravely earth, wrapped in blankets and hugging bags packed with their meagre belongings.
A nurse helps an elderly lady to the camp clinic as children play at scaling piles of foam mattresses and families sit cross-legged, eating from tin cans.
It is still cold in the vast tent but at least they are sheltered from the rain.
They walked for several days in the winter weather before being met last week by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battling IS in Deir Ezzor.
“It was hunger that prompted us to leave, there was nothing left to eat,” says Kamela’s husband, still sporting the thick beard the jihadists impose on all adult men.
He and his family were living in Al-Shaafa, one of the last villages, together with Sousa and Hajjin, that are still under the control of IS.
The SDF, with the support of air strikes by the US-led coalition against IS, launched a major operation against the last rump of the jihadists’ moribund “caliphate” in September this year.
The jihadists hunkering down in their Euphrates Valley heartland have offered stiff resistance, thwarting coalition hopes of a quick victory.
Warplanes have been raining bombs on IS targets in and around Hajjin, causing significant civilian loss of life in the process, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory says almost 320 civilians have been killed, including 113 children.
“There is destruction everywhere because of the fighting and the bombardment. We were scared for the children,” says Faraj’s father.
Local camp official Mohamed Ibrahim told AFP around 1,700 civilians had arrived in Al-Hol in recent days.
The intensity of the bombardment and the remoteness of the area make it is difficult to estimate the number of civilians who remain, voluntarily or not, in the IS pocket.
“In Syria, displacement leads to food insecurity as people leave their belongings behind,” said Marwa Awad, a spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme in Damascus.
“This is why it’s vital to maintain a lifeline of food assistance for vulnerable families such as those escaping violence in Deir Ezzor,” she said.
Awad said at least 16,500 people had been forced to flee their homes in Hajjin and surrounding areas since violence in the area intensified in July this year.
SDF fighters too suffered heavy losses in their assault on Hajjin, where a group of die-hard jihadists with little to lose are making a bloody last stand.
“There are land mines everywhere on the roads,” says Abu Omar, one of the displaced in Al-Hol.
Fearing retribution against relatives who have stayed behind in IS-controlled territory, he refused to give his full name.
“The village and our homes have been destroyed by the bombardment,” says Abu Omar, a man in his thirties.
“There are still high-ranking members of IS and foreigners there, but most are on the Hajjin frontline,” he says. “They won’t give up easily, they are fighting to the death.”
The US-led coalition puts the number of jihadist fighters holding out in that area at around 2,000.
“The day we managed to flee, the fog was thick and gave us cover. Had they seen us, they would have wiped us out,” says Ziba Al-Ahmed, who escaped the town of Sousa.
“The bombardment was so scary and our bellies were crying,” says the mother of four.
Their farming machinery was too precious to leave in Sousa and her husband stayed behind with one of their daughters.
“We’re worried about them, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”