Hamas closes Qatari-Palestinian cellphone provider over PM attack

Residents pass by close offices of a Qatari-Palestinian cellular, Wataniya Mobile, in Gaza City, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2018

Hamas closes Qatari-Palestinian cellphone provider over PM attack

GAZA CITY: Hamas on Saturday shut the offices of a Qatari-Palestinian telecommunications company in connection with its investigation into an explosion that targeted the visiting Palestinian prime minister.
Hamas police spokesman Ayman Batniji said on Saturday that Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar’s Ooredoo, was being closed down for “refusing to cooperate” in the inquiry.
A roadside bomb struck a convoy carrying Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this week after he crossed into Gaza from Israel, wounding some of his bodyguards. Local reports say a second bomb that failed to detonate contained a Wataniya SIM card.
Hamdallah’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) held Hamas responsible for the attack. Hamas rejected the accusation and blamed Israel.
Wataniya’s mobile telephone service was not cut off.
There has been no claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s bomb attack.
Hamas has launched an investigation and made several arrests.
The apparent assassination attempt further complicated an already faltering reconciliation agreement between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah party.
Hamdallah is prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah and controls the West Bank. Fatah has been in dispute with Hamas since 2006, when the movement won legislative elections in the Occupied Territories by a landslide.
Tensions erupted in Gaza a year later, with both sides carrying out public executions of rival fighters. Hamas emerged victorious and has controlled the strip ever since.
While the two factions signed a reconciliation deal last October, ill-feeling persists. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum wrote on Facebook that Fatah had used the assassination attempt to launch a media campaign “steeped in hatred and exclusion of Hamas.”
Hany El-Masary, 36, told Arab News that customers at his hairdressing salon had been feverishly discussing the attempt on Hamdallah’s life.
“We seriously fear the dispute between Fatah and Hamas will continue for a long time and reconciliation will become impossible. We are lost between the two rivals,” he said.


UAE airports screen passengers from China amid coronavirus outbreak

Updated 26 January 2020

UAE airports screen passengers from China amid coronavirus outbreak

  • Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports confirmed thermal screening had begun for people on direct flight from China
  • The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 56 on Sunday morning, with the number of infected people also rising to almost 2000

DUBAI: Major airports in the UAE started screening passengers arriving from China over the weekend, as countries continued to step up precautions against the spread of the viral outbreak.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports confirmed thermal screening had begun following directives from the UAE’s Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Health.

“All passengers arriving on direct flights from the People’s Republic of China must receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival and be provided with informational leaflets,” the Dubai Airports said in a statement.

The check-ups will be held at “secured, closed gates” by airport medical teams and the Dubai Health Authority, according to Dubai Airports, assuring it “will continue to provide medical teams with any and all support that may be required.”

The Abu Dhabi International Airport also released a six-point list of “preventive tips” for people travelling to China.

UAE officials earlier confirmed there were no cases of coronavirus in the country, adding it was “in constant touch with the World Health Organization (WHO) to find out latest updates, recommendations and procedures taken in this matter.”

“The health situation poses no grounds for concern and the ministry is closely following up on the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone,” said the National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics in a statement.

The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 56 on Sunday morning, with the number of infected people also rising to almost 2000, according to Chinese authorities.

The contagion remained centered on the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, but more than a dozen other cities in the province have been locked down in fears of further spreading.

The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.