Court reduces Palestinian teenager’s sentence

Ahmad Manasra, center, after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a stabbing attack in October last year, Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2017

Court reduces Palestinian teenager’s sentence

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Supreme Court has reduced the sentence of a Palestinian teenager who became a symbol of a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2015.
Ahmed Manasra, now 15, was sentenced to 12 years last November after being found guilty of the attempted murder of two Israelis, a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy, in a stabbing attack with his cousin in a Jewish settlement in annexed east Jerusalem.
The sentence was reduced to nine and a half years by the court, said his lawyer Leah Tsemel.
A 180,000 shekel ($47,000) fine will remain in place, she said.
“It is not the best we wanted, but that’s what we got,” she said.
At the beginning of a wave of violence that began in October 2015, then 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan entered the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev and stabbed the two Israelis.
Hassan was shot dead by security forces.
The stabbings led to a propaganda war between Palestinians and Israelis, sparked by surveillance footage later released of the incident.
Footage of a bloodied Ahmed, who was hit by a car as they fled, on the ground as Israeli Jews shouted abuse at him after the attack sparked anger among Palestinians.
Since October 2015, 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis and 47 Jewish Israelis have been killed, according to an AFP toll.
Israel says the majority of Palestinians were attackers, though others were killed at protests or during raids.
In a separate development, figures from World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the Palestinian Authority had dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, WHO said in a statement.
Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year.
The Palestinian Authority has officially denied any change in policy, but President Mahmour Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza’s rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments.
Punitive measures
“We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation,” he said recently.
In a statement to AFP, health ministry official in Gaza Medhat Muhesan condemned the “punitive measures.”
“We need international organizations to pressure Abbas’s government to stop the punitive measures against Gaza,” he said.
Hamas seized Gaza from the president’s Fatah party in 2007 and the two have been at loggerheads since.
Gazans seeking medical care outside of the strip must first apply to the Palestinian Authority for permission and financial aid, before seeking Israeli permits.
Poverty is widespread in the enclave, with unemployment at some 42 percent, while advanced medical equipment is lacking.
Last month, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories warned politicizing medical care was unacceptable.
“The Palestinian Authority has been taking certain measures to at least slow access to proper health care,” Robert Piper said.
“These sorts of measures for us are not acceptable.”


Protests hinder Yemen’s efforts to combat coronavirus

Updated 10 min 13 sec ago

Protests hinder Yemen’s efforts to combat coronavirus

  • Amid complaints about the city’s poor health facilities, hospital staff and fearful residents began protesting

AL-MUKALLA: As workers in Yemen’s major port Aden began preparing a coronavirus quarantine facility at Al-Sadaqa Hospital, rumors swirled around the city claiming that if patients were locked inside the hospital, the disease would quickly spread through neighboring areas. 

Amid complaints about the city’s poor health facilities, hospital staff and fearful residents began protesting. People living nearby besieged the hospital, while health workers inside staged a sit-in, refusing to work unless the Health Ministry canceled plans to build the isolation room.

“They threatened to kill me,” Dr. Wafaa Dahbali, Al-Sadaqa Hospital manager, told Arab News.

The hospital’s administration was forced to ask the Health Ministry to move the facility to another location, she said.

“Now we cannot even bring in basic protective items such as masks or gloves since workers will think we still plan to build the quarantine room,” she added.

Yemen, which is gripped by a civil war that has killed thousands of people since late 2014, has intensified efforts to counter coronavirus. But due to crumbling heath services, lack of awareness among people and the influx of hundreds of African migrants via the southern coastline, health officials fear the virus could spread undetected across the country.

Yemen’s Ministry of Health in Aden on Wednesday said that Yemen is free of the disease and all Yemenis returning from China had tested negative. Health Minister Nasir Baoum opened a quarantine center at Seiyun Airport in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Sunday, and said that he had ordered all sea, land and air entry points to ramp up detection measures.

Financial constraints

Health officials across Yemen told Arab News this week that health facilities are working at full capacity to cope with the influx of war casualties, and cases of seasonal diseases such as cholera, dengue fever and H1N1.

The appearance of coronavirus in Yemen would increase the burden on the country’s crumbling and cash-strapped health facilities, they said.

Ibn Sina Hospital in Al-Mukalla provides health services to patients from the three southern provinces of Hadramout, Shabwa and Mahra in addition to treating victims of the conflict in Abyan and Jawf. 

Recently the Health Ministry decided to build a quarantine center at the hospital. Lacking sufficient space, a three-room kitchen was turned into an isolation facility.

However, Dr. Alabed Bamousa, the hospital’s director, told Arab News that the facility could not afford to furnish the unit with medical equipment and staff lacked proper know-how.

“We have nothing at the moment. We asked the ministry for the names of health workers who would be trained by the World Health Organization on dealing with coronavirus patients,” Bamousa said.

He said that workers are not being encouraged to wear masks and gloves in order to avoid triggering panic. 

“My viewpoint is that we shut up till we are ready,” Bamousa said.

Health officials at Al-Mukalla, one of Yemen’s busiest ports, have asked sailors to complete declarations showing their movements before docking.

Riyadh Al-Jariri, head of the Health Ministry’s Hadramout office, said that teams of six health workers in each district in the province are visiting Yemenis who have returned from China. 

In the streets, people say that they get information about the virus from social media rather than official channels or local media outlets.

Hassan, a shopkeeper, said that he learned about symptoms of coronavirus and protection measures from WhatsApp. 

“I know that the virus targets the lung and causes fever. We are advised to wash hands and wear marks,” he said.