20 Palestinians hurt in border clashes, says Gaza ministry

Palestinian medics help evacuate a wounded protester during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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20 Palestinians hurt in border clashes, says Gaza ministry

  • Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its decade-long blockade of the enclave

GAZA: Palestinian medical officials said that 20 Gazans were wounded on Friday by Israeli fire during weekly clashes on the border, while Israeli police said one officer was hurt by an explosive device.
“Twenty injuries by the Israeli occupation forces with live ammunition,” the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement.
The Israeli army said that 11,000 “rioters and demonstrators” gathered at several points along the border barrier, with people throwing rocks at soldiers and the fence, as well as “several explosive devices and grenades” aimed at the troops.
“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.
Israeli police said an officer operating at the border was lightly wounded by shrapnel in his leg.
Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its decade-long blockade of the enclave. At least 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, the majority shot during clashes, though others have been hit by tank fire or air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations and attacks, which it accuses Hamas of seeking to orchestrate. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

Palestinians killed
Israeli troops on Jan. 25 fatally shot a Palestinian and wounded another as they threw stones at Israeli motorists in the occupied West Bank, the army said.
Soldiers “responded by firing at the suspects, who received medical treatment. One of the suspects later died of his wounds and another was injured,” a statement said. Residents of the dead youth’s village of Silwad, near Ramallah, named him as Ayman Hamed, 17.
A Palestinian was also shot dead the same day by Israeli fire during fresh clashes along the Gaza border.


Film cameras start to roll again in Damascus studios

Updated 26 March 2019
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Film cameras start to roll again in Damascus studios

  • The film and television business has been hit hard by a war that has killed half a million people

DAMASCUS: On a long-disused film set outside Damascus featuring mud houses, palm trees, alleyways and camels, actors in flowing robes are making a television series that the producers say is part of a gradual revival of their industry.
Like most other sectors of the economy in Syria, the film and television business has been hit hard by a war that has killed half a million people, forced millions from their homes and laid waste to swathes of the country since 2011.
Any films or TV series made by Syrian production houses during the war were rarely bought by the customers in the Gulf and elsewhere that once made up an important part of their market. Actors and directors moved abroad. Studios lay silent.
However, fighting around Damascus ended last year after a series of massive government offensives, reflecting a wider increase in state control around the country, and Syrian studios are starting to work again.
Ziad Al-Rayes, head of the television producers’ association in Syria, said it was again possible to film comfortably and effectively.
“Here you can find four seasons. Here you have mountains, desert, valleys and snow,” he said. It is cheaper to film in Syria than elsewhere, he added.
The television series being produced outside Damascus is about a Sufi cleric called Muhiy Al-Din bin Arabi, and is set in historic Makkah, the holiest city of Islam located in modern-day Saudi Arabia.
It is being made to air in the United Arab Emirates, the producers said. Television series are also being made for broadcast in Lebanon and in Syria’s two closest allies Russia and Iran, the producers’ association said.
The film set was part of a large studio lot that was unused for most of the war and shows signs of disrepair. A nearby set in the same studio is made up like an ancient Roman city.
During the war many famous Syrian actors left the country to work in other Arab states. One well-known actor, 41-year-old Qays Al-Sheikh Najib, is now filming for the first time in Syria for eight years, playing a photographer in a new series called A Safe Distance, which looks at how the Syrian war affected people.
“Syrian actors always tried to keep up their good level and they could maintain their level in the Arab world,” he said.