UNIFIL rescues boat carrying 32 Syrians, 1 Lebanese

A UNIFIL team approaches a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 13 October 2018
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UNIFIL rescues boat carrying 32 Syrians, 1 Lebanese

  • The boat, believed to be run by people smugglers, was on its way to Cyrprus
  • It was the first time that the UNIFIL had carried out such a mission at sea

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Navy received on Thursday a boat rescued by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). 

The boat was carrying 32 Syrians and one Lebanese. The incident was linked to a similar one around three weeks ago, against a backdrop of increased maritime people smuggling, Lebanon’s military told Arab News.

UNIFIL said in a statement that its Maritime Task Force “participated in a search and rescue operation at sea after receiving reports on Wednesday of a missing boat off the coast of Lebanon.”

The statement added: “UNIFIL was informed that a small boat, allegedly heading toward Cyprus, was missing. UNIFIL tasked its Maritime Force to locate the missing vessel.”

It said: “UNIFIL’s flagship, BRS Liberal, found a small white boat northwest of Beirut in the area of responsibility of Rescue Coordinator Center Beirut.”

According to UNIFIL, “there were 32 passengers on board: 19 men, six women and seven children. The boat was out of fuel and the passengers had been without food and water for four days.”

The statement said: “While waiting for the Lebanese Navy to arrive, UNIFIL naval peacekeepers distributed water and food, and provided medical assistance.”

It added: “After the Lebanese Navy arrived at the scene, the passengers were able to board the Lebanese patrol boats and arrived at Beirut port on Friday, escorted by UNIFIL.”

UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said this was the first time that the interim force had carried out such a mission at sea.

“This task isn’t within the mandate given to us by the (UN) Security Council as per resolution 1701, but international maritime laws allow us to carry out this mission,” he told Arab News.

“UNIFIL has seven ships roaming Lebanese waters. One of them received a signal from the boat and traced its location, and UNIFIL communicated with Lebanese authorities in this regard.”

The Directorate of Orientation of the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement that the passengers “underwent a medical examination by military medical teams and the Lebanese Red Cross, and investigations started under the supervision of the competent judiciary.”

A Lebanese military source said the Lebanese man on board was “the one sailing toward Cyprus. The boat set off from an illegal point on the northern Lebanese coast.”

Some three weeks ago, the Lebanese Navy rescued 39 people on board a boat that carried them from an illegal point in northern Lebanon toward Cyprus but sank in Lebanese waters.

A naval patrol retrieved the body of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy and rescued the others, most of them Syrian and Palestinian refugees from Nahr Al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon.


Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

Updated 16 min 13 sec ago
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Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

  • The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians
  • Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third

AMMAN: Israel was accused on Thursday of humiliating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by placing Ramallah on virtual lockdown amid a 24-hour outbreak of violence in which five people died.

The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians suspected of earlier attacks. Salah Barghouti, 29, was accused of shooting seven Israelis on Sunday at a bus station near the Ofra settlement. Ashraf Naalwa, 23, shot two Israelis dead in the Barkan industrial zone settlement in October.

Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third when he opened fire at the Ofra bus station.

Israeli forces chased the gunman into Ramallah, where they set up road blocks, launched raids and placed the town under virtual siege. In the hunt for the gunman, a Palestinian was shot dead in Al-Bireh neighborhood of Ramallah.

Abbas Zaki, a leading Fatah official, told Arab News Palestinian frustration was being fueled by Israel. “They barged into Ramallah in violation of existing agreements and came very close to the home of President Abbas.

“What more do people need to see to let them give up on a process when Israelis are willing to humiliate in such a way the father of Palestinian peace?”

Abbas himself condemned the anti-Israeli attacks but blamed Israeli raids as a potential cause.

“The climate created by the policy of repeated intrusions into the cities, the provocations against the sovereignty of the president and the lack of a horizon for peace are what led to this unacceptable violence that we condemn and reject,” he said.