Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage

Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage
1 / 3
Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria May 10, 2018. (REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki)
Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage
2 / 3
Missile fire is seen over Daraa, Syria May 10, 2018. (REUTERS/Alaa al Faqir)
Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage
3 / 3
An image released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) early on May 10, 2018 purportedly shows what the official news agency said was air defense systems intercepting Israeli missiles over Syrian airspace, without specifying the location. (AFP PHOTO / SANA)
Updated 10 May 2018

Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage

Syrian radar site destroyed as Israel hits back after Iranian rocket barrage
  • The missiles, some of which were intercepted by Israel's anti-missile system, did not cause any casualties
  • Israel hits back, firing missiles into Syrian territories, Syrian state media reported

JERUSALEM/DAMASCUS: Rocket fire destroyed a Syrian radar installation early on Thursday, Syrian state news agency SANA said, as Israel hit back against Syria after a rocket barrage on Israeli frontline in Golan. 

“Air defenses confronted tens of Israeli rockets and some of them reached their target and destroyed one of the radar sites,” SANA cited a military source as saying.

Iranian forces based in Syria fired 20 rockets at Israeli front-line military positions in the Golan Heights early Thursday, the Israeli military said, triggering a heavy Israeli reprisal and escalating already heightened tensions in what appeared to be the most serious violence in years.
The Israeli military said its Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted some of the incoming projectiles, while others caused only minimal damage. There were no Israeli casualties.
Syria’s capital of Damascus shook with sounds of explosions just before dawn, and firing by Syrian air defenses over the city was heard throughout the night. An Israeli official said Israel was targeting Iranian positions inside Syria. Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted a Syrian military official as saying Israeli missiles hit air defense positions, radar stations and a weapons warehouse, but claiming most incoming rockets were intercepted.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unidentified security official as saying Israel’s attacks inside Syria were the most extensive since the two nations signed a disengagement agreement after the October war of 1973.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said earlier that Iran’s Al Quds force fired the rockets at several Israeli bases, though he would not say how Israel determined the Iranian involvement. The incoming attack set off air raid sirens in the Israeli-controlled Golan, which was captured from Syria in the 1967 war.
Israel “views this Iranian attack very severely,” Conricus told reporters. He said Israel had responded, but did not provide details.
“This event is not over,” he said.
Syria’s state media said Syrian air defenses intercepted “hostile Israeli missiles” early Thursday that were fired over southwestern Damascus. Hours later, state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast a live feed of Syrian air defenses firing into the sky above the capital, and loud explosions and air defense firing were heard through the night.
Syrian activists reported Israeli airstrikes hitting targets near Damascus. One video posted online showed a large explosion and shrapnel flying in the air. Residents reported loud sounds that rocked their buildings. It was not immediately clear what was hit.
An Israeli army spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said on Twitter that Israel was “acting against Iranian targets inside Syria,” a rare admission by an Israeli official.
Al-Ikhbariya TV said Israel also targeted military posts in southern Suweida province, including an air base, and struck near Homs in central Syria. The state TV station said the attacks were foiled.
Iranian officials offered no immediate comment on Israel’s claim about the missile fire. Iranian state media reported on the attack and the subsequent Israeli strikes in Syria, relying on foreign news reports.
Syrian media earlier said the hostilities began with Israeli fire at Syrian positions in southern Syria from across the border. Pro-Syrian media said Syrian missiles then fired at Israeli forces. One TV station, Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen, said at least 50 missiles were fired from Syria at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. Al-Ikhbariya TV said missiles targeted 10 Israeli positions.
Syrian media said it was the first time in years that Syrians had fired at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.
Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating an Iranian attack following Iranian vows to retaliate to what it says are recent Israeli strikes in Syria targeting Iranian outposts.
Late Tuesday, Syrian state media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, killing at least 15 people, eight of them Iranians.
Last month, an attack on Syria’s T4 air base in Homs province killed seven Iranian military personnel. On April 30, Israel was said to have struck government outposts in northern Syria, killing more than a dozen pro-government fighters, many of them Iranians.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied most of the airstrikes. But for months, it has repeatedly said it will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria.
In February, Israel shot down what it said was an armed Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace. Israel responded by attacking anti-aircraft positions in Syria, but an Israeli warplane was shot down during the battle.
Iranian forces moved into Syria after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 to back the forces of President Bashar Assad. As that war winds down, and Assad appears to be headed toward victory, Israel fears that Iran, along with tens of thousands of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen, will carry out attacks against Israel. President Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the US was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has triggered uncertainty and threatened to spark more unrest in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow on Wednesday to meet with President Vladimir Putin and discuss military coordination in Syria.
Russia has also sent forces to Syria to back Assad. But Israel and Russia have maintained close communications to prevent their air forces from coming into conflict.
Together with Putin, Netanyahu toured a parade celebrating the anniversary of the World War II victory over the Nazis and then met the Russian president at the Kremlin for consultations.
After 10 hours together, Netanyahu said he conveyed Israel’s obligation to defend itself against Iranian aggression.
“I think that matters were presented in a direct and forthright manner, and this is important. These matters are very important to Israel’s security at all times and especially at this time,” he said.
Israel views Iran as its archenemy, citing Iran’s calls for Israel’s destruction, support for militant groups across the region and growing military activity in neighboring Syria. Israel has warned that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.
Israel’s military went on high alert Tuesday and bomb shelters were ordered open in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights following reports of “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria.” After an uneventful night, the military on Wednesday called on residents to return to “full civilian routine,” meaning studies and excursions would continue as usual, although the shelters would remain open.
Amos Gilead, a retired senior Israeli defense official, told a security conference in the coastal town of Herzliya that Iran’s intentions in Syria meant a wider conflagration may only be a matter of time.
“They want to build a second Hezbollah-stan,” he said, referring to the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militant group that last fought a war with Israel in 2006. “They are determined to do it and we are determined to prevent it. It means we are on a collision course.”


Egypt launches KSA marketing drive to boost tourism

Egypt launches KSA marketing drive to boost tourism
Updated 1 min 25 sec ago

Egypt launches KSA marketing drive to boost tourism

Egypt launches KSA marketing drive to boost tourism
  • Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries for travel to Egypt before the pandemic

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is among the top markets for tourism in Egypt, and now that the Kingdom has opened its borders for international travel, the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board (ETPB) is ramping up its marketing drive in the Kingdom.

Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the ETPB, told Arab News: “Revenues from tourism reached the highest point at $12.6 billion in 2019. Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries for travel to Egypt before the pandemic. The Saudi market represents the first and most important Arab market, ranking fifth for visitors to Egypt. The trend continued into the first two months of 2020 that recorded 8 percent year-on-year growth in terms of numbers and revenues, with 2.4 million tourists visiting the country during this period.”

Tourism is a big revenue generator for Egypt, reaching $13 billion in 2019. About 3.5 million visitors traveled to the country last year, compared to 13.1 million in 2019. Although numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels, many establishments have resumed operations in a bid to kick-start the tourism sector, the chairman said.

Saudi Arabia is an important market for Egypt, which is why the ETPB is making significant investments in promotional activities.

“Now that the country has opened its borders for international travel, we plan to run promotions in partnerships with Saudi tour operators,” Youssef said. “In addition, we have incentive programs in place for the aviation industry, where airport landing and housing fees have been discounted by 50 percent. We also launched a digital campaign in the GCC, especially in Saudi Arabia, starting the last week of Ramadan (May 2021).”

“We are already seeing strong interest from travelers based in Saudi Arabia, especially Arab families. Our two countries share similar culture and values, which, in addition to the relative proximity, makes Egypt a highly attractive destination for Saudi tourists,” he said.

Wego, one of the biggest online travel marketplaces in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, said in the run-up to the resumption of international travel on May 17 that Egypt topped the list of desired destinations.

Youssef said: “Our main goal now is not to measure the number of tourists but to reassure visitors that Egypt is a safe tourist destination. Saudi Arabia has now opened its borders for its nationals to travel again. We have also started receiving tourists from Saudi Arabia and we are hoping they will enjoy their time here.”

Egypt has adopted strict precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 while taking steps to support the economy, including the tourism sector.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) granted Egypt its Safe Travels stamp, the ETPB chairman said.

“We have introduced the requirement for tourists to carry a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate from their country issued up to 72 hours before the time of departure (96 hours for travelers arriving from Japan, China, Thailand, the US, Canada, South America, as well as London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt airports). Exceptions apply to travelers arriving by plane at the most frequented tourist destinations — Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam — who can do a PCR test upon arrival at a cost of $30,” Youssef said.

The ETPB is targeting tourism revenue of $8 billion and aiming to attract 8 million overseas visitors in 2021. Demand is expected to stabilize and lead to a growth in reservation rates for the 2021-2022 winter season.

“We hope the numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels by fall 2022,” Youssef said.


King Salman Energy Park wins US green building award

King Salman Energy Park wins US green building award
Updated 12 min 49 sec ago

King Salman Energy Park wins US green building award

King Salman Energy Park wins US green building award
  • SPARK is being built on an area of 50 square kilometers

RIYADH: The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) has been awarded the 2021 US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership Award for the Middle East in recognition of its environmentally friendly approach to construction and development.

SPARK was the first industrial city in the world to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification.

Developed by the US Green Building Council, LEED aims to reduce the environmental impact of the construction process, limit resource use, reduce carbon emissions and proactively address climate change.

Saif Al-Qahtani, president and CEO, said in a press statement: “At SPARK, we are committed to ensuring sustainable solutions are continuously implemented as we grow to become the leading energy-centric ecosystem in the world. 

“We have achieved many firsts in our initial stages of development and will continue to adopt and support innovative initiatives that help improve the quality of life for our people, while also strengthening our business and the Kingdom’s economy. 

“We are very proud of our team and the work they have done to guarantee SPARK provides long-term value and supports national and regional programs aimed at building a more sustainable future.”

The 2021 USGBC Leadership Award recipients are selected from among USGBC’s around 10,000 member organizations and the 106,000 LEED commercial projects in more than 180 countries.

SPARK is being built on an area of 50 square kilometers. Phase one will be 14 square kilometers, in addition to a dedicated logistics zone and dry port. SPARK announced in March that 80 percent of the project’s first phase was officially complete.

Oilfields Supply Center Ltd. (OSC) announced in April it is to invest $570 million in building a center at SPARK.


Behind MBC’s tell-all Carlos Ghosn documentary

Behind MBC’s tell-all Carlos Ghosn documentary
Updated 37 min 11 sec ago

Behind MBC’s tell-all Carlos Ghosn documentary

Behind MBC’s tell-all Carlos Ghosn documentary
  • The documentary promises to shed light on the human side of the businessman that was not covered

LONDON: “How on earth do you get to the point where somebody like Carlos (Ghosn) has to hang out with shadowy figures to smuggle him out across an international border, halfway across the world, safely?” Nick Green, the director of an upcoming documentary about the former Nissan chairman called “The Last Flight,” told Arab News.

The question of how Ghosn slipped through one of the tightest borders on the planet has been on everyone’s minds ever since he fled house arrest in Tokyo and escaped to his native Lebanon.

“This is a story that you think you know, but there’s a human being behind the story. And to get the human story of what is effectively a heist is completely unique,” Green said.

Ghosn, dubbed “Mr. Fix It” for essentially saving Nissan from bankruptcy, was arrested in Tokyo over allegations of false accounting and financial misconduct, including underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal benefit.

The 65-year-old businessman spent 13 months in custody or living in his Japanese home under 24-hour surveillance and strict bail conditions. But, in Dec. 2019, he pulled off a complex and dramatic escape that could have come straight from the pages of a TV or film script. 

‘The Last Flight’ runs at 103 minutes and will also be shown as a three-part series. It will also air on ShahidVIP and the BBC.

And yet it was all true.

Arab News had an exclusive inside look into the magic behind the highly anticipated documentary, which was the first venture into international production for Saudi Arabia’s MBC Studios in partnership with the French company ALEF ONE and the UK’s BBC Storyville.

“It’s a truly sort of global story,” said Green. “And so, obviously, you have to sort of travel the world to tell it. Critical parts of the story obviously happen in Japan. Critical parts of the story happen in Beirut. Critical parts of (the) story happen in Paris. Nobody knows about the story before, Carlos has never spoken about it.”

Every step of Ghosn’s arrest and escape was heavily covered by news agencies across the globe, however, “The Last Flight” promises to shed light on the human side of Ghosn that was not covered.

“With the press and the international outlets (they) have covered the story on a day-to-day basis, but from an outside perspective. Here we are having a unique and, for the first time, the inside perspective, meaning an inside one from Carlos Ghosn and Carole Ghosn, his wife,” Nora Melhli, the documentary’s executive producer, told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

• Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo over allegations of false accounting and financial misconduct, including underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal benefit.

• The 65-year-old businessman spent 13 months in custody or living in his Japanese home under 24-hour surveillance and strict bail conditions.

• In Dec. 2019, he pulled off a complex and dramatic escape that could have come straight from the pages of a TV or film script.

• MBC Studios secured the rights to Ghosn’s story in 2020 and announced its plans for it in October of that year.

“This is the first time they are telling how their story started first and how they lived it from the inside,” she said, adding that the documentary allowed viewers to ultimately become insiders.

Global filming during a pandemic

There were multiple filming locations because of Ghosn’s global connections including Lebanon, Japan, France, the UK, and South Africa, a challenging scenario as flights were grounded and travel was at a standstill amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I couldn’t travel to Cape Town because at the time there was the South African variant, so I ended up having to shoot these shots with everything on a Zoom call,” Green said.

He was sent images through the director of photography’s (DOP) monitor, and another director on location was being told through headphones what to do and tell the DOP.

“We ended up sort of finding our way to working with some extraordinarily sort of talented people who, you know, (are) just very cool at working in this sort of new way, a COVID-19 way,” he added.

Among those interviewed for the documentary were officials from Japan’s Ministry of Justice, a Japanese prosecutor, Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer, the former French minister of finance, and Ghosn’s former boss. 

Ghosn’s former Japanese lawyer Junichiro Hironaka faces the media outside his office in Tokyo. (AFP/File)

“This is a story told with the vision of some people all together. I want to say on the same table but of course, they have never met each other,” Melhli said. “You have (a) different paradigm, different perspectives, so it permits the audience to understand because of course it’s a very complicated story and of course it permits the audience to make their own point of view.”

As there was no footage of Ghosn’s actual escape, the retelling was done through what Green described as a slight visualizing palette with pictures, with all the Japanese posters and signage being shot in Cape Town.

MBC Studios go global

MBC Studios secured the rights to Ghosn’s story in 2020 and announced its plans for it in October of that year.

The CEO at the time, Marc Antoine D’Halluin, told Variety magazine that this project would mark the start of “a long lineup” of other MBC shows of this type.

“I think it’s going to change the perception of MBC Group and MBC Studios,” he said.

Less than a year later and the documentary is an official selection at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, which is the third-largest documentary festival in the world.

“This was my first collaboration with MBC and they gave me and Nick (Green) the director, a total kind of green card, they gave us what we needed to make it in the best way,” Melhi said. “We have a very strong vision all of us together, MBC and the creative team, and they just gave us everything we needed to follow our vision and trusted it.”

“The Last Flight” runs at 103 minutes and will also be shown as a three-part series. It will also air on ShahidVIP and the BBC.


Egypt and Sudan will confront any unilateral Ethiopian action on the Renaissance Dam — FM

Egypt and Sudan will confront any unilateral Ethiopian action on the Renaissance Dam — FM
Updated 58 min 42 sec ago

Egypt and Sudan will confront any unilateral Ethiopian action on the Renaissance Dam — FM

Egypt and Sudan will confront any unilateral Ethiopian action on the Renaissance Dam — FM

AMMAN: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country and Sudan will confront politically and decisively any unilateral Ethiopian action on the Renaissance Dam.
Developing...


Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide
A man displays his details on his mobile phone using the Tawakkalna app as he enters a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 min 28 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide
  • An app launched last year by Saudi authorities to help track coronavirus infections is available in 75 countries worldwide
  • The Tawakkalna app was recently updated to show someone’s COVID-19 health status, showing them to be vaccinated or infected, and now functions as a “passport”

JEDDAH: Countries in the first phase of the app’s international availability include: Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, Morocco, Tunisia, Djibouti, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Nigeria, India, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Bangladesh, Portugal, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Norway, Austria, the US, Japan, Greece, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Brunei, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Finland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Canada, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Malta, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Netherlands, Maldives, and Azerbaijan.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs office in Jazan temporarily closed the Budaiya Mosque in Abu Arish governorate after it was confirmed that the imam had COVID-19.

Field teams undertook preventive and precautionary measures, including sterilization operations and comprehensive maintenance, in preparation for reopening the mosque and receiving worshippers at a later date.

The ministry noted the keenness of worshippers and their active role in reporting mosques that did not comply with health and safety instructions and failed to implement preventive measures.

FASTFACTS

464,780 Total cases

446,960 Recoveries

It asked everyone to report future similar incidents by calling 1933.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday reported 16 more coronavirus-related fatalities, taking the overall death toll to 7,553.

There were 1,077 new cases, bringing the total number of infections 464,780. There are 10,267 active cases, of which 1,562 are in a critical condition.

Of the newly recorded cases, 348 were in Makkah, 225 were in Riyadh, 149 were in the Eastern Province, and 69 were in Madinah.

Authorities said a further 906 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries to 446,960.

The country has so far carried out more than 20.27 million PCR tests, with 75,059 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the onset of the pandemic.

Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual.

Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Saudi Arabia has vaccinated 15,633,787 people to date.