Yemen military offensive ‘still open if Houthis reject Hodeidah pullout’

A government offensive on Yemen’s Hodeida remains an option if Houthi militias refuse to withdraw from the port city, a minister said on Friday, as the negotiators met for UN-brokered talks. ( AFP)
Updated 08 December 2018
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Yemen military offensive ‘still open if Houthis reject Hodeidah pullout’

  • Talks between Yemen’s government and Houthis, linked to Iran, opened on Thursday in Sweden
  • Agriculture Minister Othman Al-Mujalli said military decisiveness may be an option if the Houthis are not responsive

STOCKHOLM: A government offensive on Yemen’s Hodeidah remains an option if Houthi militias refuse to withdraw from the port city, a minister said on Friday, as the negotiators met for UN-brokered talks.
“We are now in negotiations in response to calls by the international community, the UN and the UN envoy. We are still looking into means toward peace,” said Agriculture Minister Othman Al-Mujalli.
“But if they (the Houthis) are not responsive, we have many options, including that of military decisiveness,” he told reporters in response to a question on the Houthi-occupied city. “And we are ready.”
Talks between Yemen’s government and Houthis, linked to Iran, opened on Thursday in Sweden.
While the days leading up to the gathering saw the government and Houthis agreeing on a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of wounded insurgents for medical treatment in Oman, both parties traded threats as the talks began. The two sides have not yet met face-to-face.
Talks are expected to focus the fate of Hodeidah, a city on Yemen’s western coastline that houses the country’s most valuable port.
The government accuses the Houthis of arms smuggling through Hodeidah —  also a conduit for 90 percent of food imports — and has demanded the militias withdraw from the port.
Al-Mujalli said the government was not open to negotiations on control of the port. The UN, he said, could play a “supervisory” role, but he rejected the idea of placing management of the port in the hands of a third party.
UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths urged both parties to spare Hodeidah.
“It’s the humanitarian pipeline to the rest of the country,” he said.
Negotiations also cover a prisoner swap between the two sides and the potential reopening of Sanaa airport, located in the Houthi-occupied capital and largely shut down for three years. 
The government is demanding planes be searched in one of two government-controlled areas — Aden or Sayoun — en route to or from Sanaa.
“We are keen on the opening of Sanaa airport, and we demand the opening of Sanaa airport and we know that the Yemeni citizen should have the right to reach any country in the world through Sanaa airport,” said Abdulaziz Jabari, a presidential adviser and member of a Yemeni government delegation at the talks.
“But... we are looking into who will supervise Sanaa airport,” Jabari said, adding that the airport could serve as a hub for domestic flights.
But Houthis on Friday turned down the government demand.”Sanaa airport is an international airport,” said Houthi representative Abdulmalik Al-Ajri.


Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

Updated 41 min 8 sec ago
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Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

  • Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it
  • Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014

EL AMARI REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank: Israeli forces on Saturday demolished the family home of a Palestinian charged with killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, the military and witnesses said.
Israel says Islam Abu Humaid, 32, threw a 40 pound (18 kg) marble plate from a rooftop, killing an Israeli special forces sergeant, Ronen Lubarsky, 20, during a May arrest raid in El Amari refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it, the military said in a statement.
The Abu Humaid family home has been destroyed before and rebuilt. Two other Abu Humaid sons are in Israeli custody, charged with the killings of five Israelis, and another two face lengthy incarceration for serious security offenses.
A sixth Abu Humaid son was killed by Israeli forces in 1994 after himself being involved in a deadly ambush against an Israeli intelligence officer in the West Bank.
According to the indictment against him, Islam Abu Humaid told interrogators that he wanted to avenge the injury of one of his brothers in a previous Israeli army raid.
“What can we do? This is an enemy who thinks that by doing such actions they will terrorize us and make us fear them,” said Islam’s mother, Latifa Abu Humaid.
“On the contrary, our animosity becomes stronger, and with it our perseverance and strength.”
Israeli rights groups have criticized family-home demolitions of Palestinian attackers as acts of vengeance and collective punishment.
Israel’s Supreme Court has largely upheld the demolition policy. Israeli officials have termed it both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue operating in order to thwart terror and maintain security in the area,” the military said.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the demolition.
Tensions flared this week in the West Bank with a string of Palestinian attacks that killed an Israeli baby and two Israeli soldiers and Israeli forces shot dead four suspected Palestinian assailants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that in response to the attacks, slated demolitions would be sped up.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.