Kuwait requests emergency UN Security Council meeting on Gaza on Tuesday: official

Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Al-Otaibi, requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting after the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians during protests in Gaza. (KUNA)
Updated 15 May 2018

Kuwait requests emergency UN Security Council meeting on Gaza on Tuesday: official

  • Kuwait requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday
  • EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urges “utmost restraint”

LONDON: Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians during protests in Gaza.
“We condemned what has happened,” the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Al-Otaibi, told journalists. “We will see what the council will do.”
He said he was consulting with the Arab Group at the UN and with the Palestinian ambassador to the world body.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli troops in Gaza along its border with Israel, as thousands protested the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, in the deadliest day in Gaza since a 2014 war with Israel.The head of the United Nations says he is worried about the news coming from Gaza, “with the high number of people killed.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his concerns Monday in Vienna, as clashes were taking place along the Israeli-Palestinian border and senior aides to US President Donald Trump were in Jerusalem celebrating the opening of the new US embassy there.
Guterres said, “I’m particularly worried about the news coming from Gaza with the high number of people killed.”

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour urged the council Monday to condemn the killings. Speaking to reporters, Mansour called the Israel military response a “savage onslaught” and an “atrocity.”

The council held an emergency meeting when the protests began in March. Members then urged restraint on both sides but couldn’t agree on any action or joint message.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged “utmost restraint.”

“Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence. We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life,” Mogherini said in a statement.
“Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force. Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means.”
Former Italian foreign minister Mogherini urged both sides to return to negotiations, saying that the European Union remained committed to its role in trying to foster peace in the region.
She warned that “any further escalation of an already extremely tense and complex situation would cause again further unspeakable sufferings to both peoples, and will make the perspective of peace and security even more remote.”

The world’s largest body of Muslim-majority nations says it “strongly rejects and condemns” the White House’s “deplorable action” to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation said it considers the US move an “illegal decision” and “an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people.” The organization said the move Monday also represents “an affront to international peace and security.”
The OIC said the US administration has “expressed utter disdain and disrespect to Palestinian legitimate rights and international law” and shown disregard toward the sentiments of Muslims, who value Jerusalem as home to one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa mosque complex.

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the targeting of unarmed Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupation forces, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries.
The source stressed the need for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop the violence and protect the Palestinian people, reiterating the Kingdom’s steadfastness toward the Palestinian cause and restoring their legitimate rights in accordance with the resolutions of international laws and the Arab peace initiative. 

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said the bloodshed along Gaza’s border with Israel is an “abhorrent violation” of human rights.
“We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights in Gaza.... This must end immediately,” the London-based human rights group said on Twitter.
The rights group said hundreds of people had been injured “with live ammunition” and that many were reporting injuries to the head and chest.
“This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes,” Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in a separate statement.
“As violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries.”
“The rising toll of deaths and injuries today only serves to highlight the urgent need for an arms embargo,” Luther added.
“While some protesters may have engaged in some form of violence, this still does not justify the use of live ammunition.”


Schools in Lebanon reopen, other sectors gradually

Mask-clad shoppers walk past shops in Beirut's Hamra street on May 7, 2020, as Lebanon gradually eases its lockdown measures against the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2020

Schools in Lebanon reopen, other sectors gradually

  • The death toll in Lebanon has reached 1,000, while the total number of confirmed cases has jumped to more than 126,000 cases, at a rate of more than 1,200 cases per day during the past two weeks

BEIRUT: The Ministry of Education will reopen schools for integrated education starting on Monday.

This comes after two weeks of closure and amid objections from civil bodies and commentators working in the public field.

Hilda El-Khoury, director of the counseling and guidance department at the Ministry of Education, said: “Returning to education through the combined method will be within the preventive measures that were previously approved.”

However, the Civil Emergency Authority in Lebanon said: “The decision will lead to a health crisis affecting the most vulnerable people, namely children and underage students, especially with the number of cases not declining since before the closure, and with the noticeable increase in the daily number of deaths.”

The Ministerial Committee for Combating the Coronavirus has meanwhile maintained its decision to impose a partial curfew in Lebanon but amended its implementation hours. Instead of starting at 5:00 p.m. each evening, the curfew now begins at 11 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m., provided that restaurants, cafes and malls close at 10:00 pm.

During its meeting on Sunday, the committee decided to restore vehicle movement on roads but maintained the suspension of social activities, cinemas and nightclubs.

Health minister for Lebanon’s caretaker government, Hamad Hassan, said that the adoption of the strategy, permitting odd/even license plate vehicles on the roads on alternate days, had doubled the number of COVID-19 cases due to people’s reliance on shared transportation.

He said: “The rate of commitment to complete closure in all Lebanese territories has reached 70 percent over the past two weeks.”

Hassan said that the aim of the measures was to alleviate the pressure on the medical and nursing staff.

“The required medical measures, completed in terms of expanding the hospitals’ capacity to accommodate the COVID-19 cases, have been completed,” he said.

The death toll in Lebanon has reached 1,000, while the total number of confirmed cases has jumped to more than 126,000 cases, at a rate of more than 1,200 cases per day during the past two weeks.

Abdul Rahman Al-Bizri, an infectious disease specialist and member of the emergency committee on coronavirus, regretted the lack of plans for the period following the closure due to a lack of coordination on COVID-19 between state departments.

He said that this had kept the country in a state of confusion and chaos while citizens paid a high price in light of the difficult economic and living conditions.

Al-Bizri said: “The repeated closures are unsuccessful, and one of their consequences is the decline in economic activity, the life cycle, and the living conditions.”

Meanwhile, video footage of Health Minister Hamad Hassan went viral on Saturday. It showed him cutting a cake for the birthday of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in the open market in Baalbek city.

The video was circulated on social media and caused a scandal following a similar episode in which the same minister was involved months ago.

The people of his town in the Bekaa met him during the peak of the spread of coronavirus, and he danced among them carrying a sword. Some people carried him on their shoulders and other social distancing measures were also not observed.

The Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs and Pastries has called in the past few days for the sector to reopen to save what is left of it.

In a statement issued on the eve of the ministerial committees’ meeting, the syndicate called on the caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, to “adopt a health-economic approach for the benefit of the rest of the sector.”

The syndicate added: “The sector has fully fulfilled its duties with regard to the preventive measures.

“We have also advanced a new approach related to the capacity of institutions, whereby chairs and tables are reallocated to accommodate only 50 percent of the original capacity, guaranteeing that no overcrowding will occur.

“We insist on adopting this as a new measure, and we discussed it with the minister of interior, and the sector will reopen its doors on Monday morning while remaining committed to all procedures and laws.”

Bechara Asmar, the head of the General Labor Union, called for the reopening of the country “because it secures a return to the economic cycle during the month of the holidays, protects workers, employees and daily-paid workers in all private, public, and official sectors, and preserves their livelihood at a time when they risk having their wages reduced, starving to death or dying of the coronavirus.”