Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack

Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
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Fire and smoke below above buildings in Gaza City during reported Israeli strikes on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
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Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25. (Reuters)
Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
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Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City March 25. (Reuters)
Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
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An Israeli helicopter shoots flares over the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
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Smoke rises above buildings in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli strikes on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019

Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack

Gaza under fire: Israeli jets strike Hamas targets after Tel Aviv attack
  • Warplanes target office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, troops on the move toward border
  • Hamas says Egypt had brokered a cease-fire after the flare up

GAZA: Israeli warplanes pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday after an apparent rocket attack near Tel Aviv. One Israeli strike targeted the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. He was not thought to have been in the office at the time, as Hamas routinely evacuates its buildings when it expects Israeli attacks.

“If there is any violation of the red lines by the occupation, our people will not surrender and the resistance is able to deter it,” Haniyeh said

Israeli warplanes attacked targets across the coastal enclave. Palestinian radio stations and Hamas TV played patriotic songs calling for “resistance” against Israel.

Another strike destroyed a building in Gaza City that Israel claimed was a secret headquarters for Hamas security and intelligence. Local residents said it housed the offices of the Multasim insurance company. Hamas’s interior security office in Gaza City was also hit. Five Palestinians were injured in the airstrikes.

 

The Israeli military said it was assigning two brigades to the Gaza area and some reservists were being called up. Troops moved toward the border, where the military also closed several roads to civilian traffic.

We are prepared for a wide range of scenarios,” military spokesman Ronen Manelis said.

The airstrikes were retaliation for what Israel claimed was a long-range rocket attack by Hamas early on Monday that destroyed a house near Tel Aviv. Seven people were injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was under pressure to deliver a tough response as he faces a strong challenge in next month’s Knesset elections, analysts said. 




Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25. (Reuters)

In comments from Washington, Netanyahu said “Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” while Trump spoke of Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

Netanyahu said he would return home after meeting Trump, canceling an address to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference on Tuesday.

One Israeli strike destroyed a building in Gaza City that Israel alleged was a secret headquarters for Hamas security and intelligence.

There was no claim of responsibility for the early morning attack near Tel Aviv. The Israeli military claimed Hamas fired the rocket from about 120km, making it the longest-range attack from Gaza since the 2014 war.
Hamas denied firing the rocket.

“None of the resistance movements, including Hamas, is interested in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into the enemy,” an official said.

“The same message was handed over to Egypt, which has acted as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.” 

Netanyahu cut short a visit to the US to return home, as did his main election challenger, former military chief Benny Gantz. “Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this,” Netanyahu said after the rocket strike.

“And as we speak ... Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.”




An Israeli helicopter shoots flares over the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2019. (AFP)

The Israeli prime minister’s options are limited, analysts told Arab News. “He can go in the direction of a serious understanding with Hamas to end the siege of Gaza, or go in the direction of a large operation, but I do not think that would stop the fall of rockets on Israeli cities, as happened in the past,” the Hamas-affiliated political analyst Ibrahim Madhoun said.

“No one wants war, but Hamas cannot tolerate much more Israeli procrastination. If Egypt wants to succeed in its efforts to reach a truce, it should apply more pressure on Israel.”

A joint statement from militant groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, took responsibility for the barrage of rockets fired in response to the Israeli strikes later Monday night.

The rocket from Gaza that hit a house in Israel early Monday was a rare long-distance strike and Israel’s army said it was fired by Hamas.

The Israeli house hit was located in the community of Mishmeret, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Tel Aviv, police said.

The rocket would have had to travel some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where Israel said it was fired from.

The hospital treating the wounded said seven Israelis were injured lightly by burns and shrapnel, including three children.

One of the wounded was a six-month-old child and six of them were members of the same British-Israeli family.

The house was destroyed in the wake of the rocket and subsequent fire, with burnt wood, a children’s toy and other debris piled at the site.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008, and Netanyahu is believed to want to avoid another one with unpredictable results ahead of the elections.

(With AFP)


Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all
Updated 2 min 8 sec ago

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all
  • ‘Like a dove, he’ll bring a twig of peace to all the people living in this land who’ve suffered for too long,’ priest tells Arab News
  • Pope Francis due to arrive in Baghdad on March 5

ROME: The pope’s upcoming visit to Iraq is a “precious gift” not only for the Christians who live there, but for all those who after years of war want a return to peace and coexistence between religions, a priest who worked for eight years in the diocese of Mosul told Arab News.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Pope Francis is coming … to invite us to all be instruments of peace,” said Jalal Jako.

“Like a dove, he’ll bring a twig of peace to all the people living in this land who’ve suffered for too long.”

Jako, currently in Italy, will return to Iraq for the pope’s visit, which will begin on March 5. The pope will be welcomed by Iraq’s prime minister in Baghdad and then visit the country’s president at the presidential palace, where he will meet with local authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps.

Pope Francis will also meet with bishops and priests at the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.

On March 6, he will fly to the city of Najaf and meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. The pope will return to Baghdad that day and celebrate Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph.

On March 7 he will visit Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and meet with religious and civil authorities of the autonomous region. He will also visit the city of Qaraqosh. His return to Rome is scheduled for March 8 from Baghdad.

Jako said: “We can’t fail to be there at such an important moment for us Christians — the first visit of a pope to Iraq. He’ll tell us, ‘No more blood, live all as brothers.’ Thus he’ll send out a message that all the Iraqi people need.”

Jako added: “Pope John Paul II was supposed to come on a pilgrimage in 2000 … but it wasn’t possible for him. Pope Francis is keeping his predecessor’s promise to come to Iraq to visit a Christian community that today has only 500,000 faithful, a third of the number who lived there in 2003. He comes as the leader of a Church that respects all religions and aims to build peace.”


Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
Updated 28 February 2021

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
  • Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines
  • Of the 5.2 million people, only 32,000 have received the vaccine to date

JERUSALEM: Israel will administer COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians who work in Israel or in its settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli liaison office COGAT said on Sunday.
The vaccination campaign, which could apply to around 130,000 Palestinians, will begin within days, COGAT said.
Shaher Saad, secretary-general of the Palestinian Workers’ Union, said thousands of Palestinians who work in the Israeli service and industrial sectors had already been vaccinated privately by their employers inside Israel.
He said Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines, by agreement with Israeli authorities.
Israel has given at least one dose of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine to more than half of its 9.3 million population, including Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
But it has come under international criticism for not doing more to enable vaccination of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians have received around 32,000 vaccine doses to date, for the 5.2 million people who live in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli officials have said that, under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian health ministry is responsible for vaccinating people in Gaza and those parts of the West Bank where it has limited self-rule.


Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules
Updated 20 min 14 sec ago

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules
  • A local news website said the pair had gone to a dinner at an Amman restaurant attended by nine people
  • The sackings come amid Jordanians’ increasing unease about the handling of the pandemic

AMMAN: Two Jordanian ministers resigned on Sunday for violating coronavirus-containment regulations, days after one of them had vowed “zero tolerance” against COVID-19 rule breakers.

Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh asked Interior and Justice Ministers Samir Mubaidin and Bassam Talhouni to step down for violating the defense order put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A government source told Arab News that al-Khasawneh's directives, which were immediately endorsed by King Abdullah, came after the two ministers were at an event that brought together more than six people.

A local news website said the pair had gone to a dinner at an Amman restaurant attended by nine people, in violation of a defense order that allows a maximum of six.

Mubaidin chaired a meeting with senior security officers last Thursday where he had stressed the need to abide by defense orders, notably following the curfew, wearing masks and physical distancing. 

He vowed “zero tolerance” against violators, adding that these measures were aimed at protecting public health.

A royal decree was issued on Sunday accepting the resignation of Talhouni and Mubaidin. 

Another decree assigned the deputy prime minister and minister of local administration, Tawfiq Kreishan, to take on the Ministry of Interior, and for the minister of state for legal affairs, Ahmad Ziadat, to take on the Ministry of Justice, as of Sunday.

Jordan has toughened its health regulations, reinstating a curfew on Fridays and extending lockdown hours, with the country witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases. It has recorded around 387,000 COVID-19 infections and 4,675 deaths.

The sackings come amid Jordanians’ increasing unease about the handling of the pandemic.

“The sacking of the two ministers should have been in fact linked to the failure in handling matters related to citizens’ lives, including vaccines, the health situation and food security,” political analyst Amer Sabaileh told Arab News.


Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya
Updated 28 February 2021

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

CAIRO: Turkey has summoned the Iranian ambassador over accusations by Tehran that Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty, Al Arabiya TV reported Sunday. 

Turkey said it expects from Tehran to stand by Ankara in “combating terrorism”. 

Last week, Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran over comments made by Turkish officials accusing Iran of destabilizing the region by getting involved in Iraq and Syria. 


Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark
Updated 28 February 2021

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran's health ministry said the country's coronavirus fatalities broke the 60,000 mark on Sunday, as the Islamic republic battles the Middle East's worst outbreak of the illness.
"Sadly in the past 24 hours, 93 people lost their lives to Covid-19, and total deaths from this disease reached 60,073," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address.
Iran has registered a total of 1,631,169 infections, according to the ministry.