Assad troops block medical aid to Eastern Ghouta; 50 more dead in new regime bombardment

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Trucks from Syrian Red Crescent and humanitarian partners are seen in Ghouta, Syria, on Monday in this photo obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
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Workers unload parcels of humanitarian aid at the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria on March 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh)
Updated 06 March 2018

Assad troops block medical aid to Eastern Ghouta; 50 more dead in new regime bombardment

BEIRUT/GENEVA: Assad regime troops ordered aid agencies to remove vital medical supplies from a humanitarian convoy into Eastern Ghouta on Monday.
As the first aid trucks rolled into the besieged opposition enclave east of Damascus, 50 civilians were killed and 190 injured in a renewed regime bombardment that has killed more than 740 people in the past two weeks.
The regime also pressed ahead with its ground assault. Syrian and Russian troops have captured more than a third of Eastern Ghouta, threatening to slice the last major opposition-held area near the capital in two, despite Western accusations that they are violating a cease-fire ordered last month by the UN Security Council.
The Assad regime ordered 70 percent of medical supplies to be stripped out of a humanitarian aid convoy, preventing trauma kits, surgical kits, insulin and other vital material from reaching the area, the World Health Organization said. The Red Cross said some of its medical equipment was also blocked.
Up to 400,000 people are trapped inside the besieged enclave, and were already running out of food and medical supplies before the assault began with intense airstrikes two weeks ago.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said new strikes on Monday targeted front lines near the town of Harasta and the villages of Beit Sawa and Hosh Al-Ashari.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the only way to end the conflict was to support the Syrian regime.
The US condemned the assault and accused Moscow of ignoring a UN resolution calling for a 30-day cessation of hostilities.
It said Russia had killed “innocent civilians under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations.”
The UN Human Rights Council on Monday ordered investigators to examine the latest violence.
A resolution tabled by Britain specifically condemned “the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments against civilians, and the alleged use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta.”


Palestinians slam Pompeo over pro-settlement efforts

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, walks with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as he prepares to board a plane at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Pompeo is en route to the United Arab Emirates. (AP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Palestinians slam Pompeo over pro-settlement efforts

  • US actions ‘will not change international consensus,’ says former UN envoy

AMMAN: Palestinian officials have downplayed the effectiveness of a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The statement included a move to allow products made in the occupied territories to be labeled “Made in Israel,” a clear contradiction to recent UN Security Council resolutions and efforts by the EU to reject such labeling.

Nasser Al-Kiddwa, former Palestinian envoy to the UN, told Arab News that the US efforts are “dangerous,” despite being ineffective.

“This is a dangerous move even though it will not have much of an effect and is reversible,” he said.

In harsh comments, Al-Kiddwa said that, while President Donald Trump’s administration is keen to help Israelis and settlers, the country’s efforts constitute helping Israel “commit a war crime.”

“While the Trump team wants to support settlements and settlers, their action makes the US an accomplice in a war crime,” he said.

Al-Kiddwa said the Pompeo statement violates UN Council Resolution 2334, which calls for differentiating between the West Bank and Israel. He said it was also a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Jamal Dajani, a lecturer at San Francisco State university, said the Trump administration is not “recognizing the reality on the ground,” but rather creating its own fictitious reality by implementing Benjamin Netanyahu’s settler-colonial vision.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement violates UN Council Resolution 2334, which calls for differentiating between the West Bank and Israel.

Nasser Al-Kiddwa, Former Palestinian envoy to UN

Dajani, who previously served as director of strategic communications and media in the Palestinian prime minister’s office, said the “true reality on the ground” is that Area C in the West Bank is an internationally recognized occupied territory. He added that the presence of Israeli colonial settlements in the region is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Al-Kiddwa, who is a member of the Fatah Central Committee, told Arab News that the US action will not alter the international consensus. “This is a biased administration that does not care about international law or the future of the region.”

He called on the newly elected administration in the US to reverse the decision.

“As a world citizen, I believe that the new administration must reverse all the decisions that were carried out without coordination with the US Congress, which are in clear violation of the way things are carried out,” he said.

Wadie Abunassar, a Haifa-based political analyst and the director of the International Centre for Consultations, told Arab News that the Trump administration has ignored the more than 7 million Palestinians to the west of the Jordan River.

“This administration repeatedly damaged US chances to be perceived as an honest broker by the vast majority of Middle East residents. The US would do well by respecting international law and encouraging Israel to do so.”

Senior Palestinian officials contacted by Arab News said that the gifts being bestowed on the Netanyahu government will not change anything on the ground.

“Trump and Pompeo are playing in lost time and their actions will not change anything regarding the occupied territories.”