Houthis open fire on UN bomb safety team in Yemen

Houthi militants attacked members of the United Nations, Yemeni government liaison officers and an engineering team responsible for surveying and demining areas. (File/AFP)
Updated 31 January 2019

Houthis open fire on UN bomb safety team in Yemen

  • Houthi militants attacked members of the United Nations, Yemeni government liaison officers and an engineering team responsible for surveying and demining areas
  • A government spokesman explained that the liaison officer waited for the UN delegate to enter the Red Sea Mills, but the Houthi militia refused to allow the road to be opened

JEDDAH: Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen have attacked an explosives safety team who were on their way to clear land mines from a vital food store in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis opened fire on the UN-backed demining team on Wednesday while the safety experts were trying to clear access to grain silos in the Red Sea Mills in the city.

Yemeni government spokesman Rajeh Badi said the Houthis attacked UN liaison officers belonging to the Yemeni government and an engineering team, preventing the team from reaching the silos.

The World Food Programme has been unable to gain access to the grain store since September. More than 50,000 tons of UN wheat is stored there, enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month.

The grain storage silos are at a frontline flashpoint on the eastern outskirts of the city. Last week, two silos were damaged by fire caused by Houthi mortar shelling.

Yemeni Prime Minister Moeen Abdelmalek said on Wednesday it was important to exert more efforts to improve the administrative and financial conditions in security and health services, and to focus on humanitarian aid and relief. 

He said the government was finalizing  procedures for the payment of administrative staff salaries, and working on the operating budgets for local authority offices.

The prime minister said a specialized operations room in the interim capital of Aden would  raise the level of coordination and communication between ministries.


Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”