Israel arrests Palestinian suspect in deadly shootings

The attacks boosted tensions and led to Israeli raids in parts of the West Bank. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Israel arrests Palestinian suspect in deadly shootings

  • Assam Barghouti is accused of shooting the soldiers at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf settlement in the Ramallah area on Dec. 13
  • At least two other people, including another soldier, were wounded, the army said at the time

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces arrested overnight a Palestinian accused of shooting dead two soldiers in the occupied West Bank last month and involvement in another attack that caused a baby’s death, authorities said Tuesday.
Assam Barghouti is accused of shooting the soldiers at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf settlement in the Ramallah area on December 13, police said.
At least two other people — including another soldier — were wounded, the army said at the time.
Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, also accused him of involvement along with his brother in another shooting attack nearby, close to the Ofra settlement, that caused the death of a baby and wounded seven.
In the December 9 shooting, a pregnant woman was seriously wounded and her baby was born prematurely and later died.
Barghouti’s brother, Salah, 29, was killed during an arrest raid on December 12.
The armed wing of Palestinian militant movement Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, had claimed Salah Barghouti as one of its “fighters.”
The attacks boosted tensions and led to Israeli raids in parts of the West Bank, including in Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has his base, triggering Palestinian protests.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter saluted the arrest of a “vile terrorist.”
Jewish settlers and their right-wing supporters had held angry demonstrations over the December attacks.
Assaf Barghouti was arrested at the home of an alleged accomplice in the West Bank village of Abu Shukheidim near Ramallah and was allegedly preparing more attacks, the Shin Bet said.
An AK-47 rifle, night-vision equipment and ammunition were seized during his arrest, according to the Shin Bet.


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”