UN chief calls for immediate halt to Libya fighting

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to the media during his visit at Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan April 6, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2019

UN chief calls for immediate halt to Libya fighting

  • Libya has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday strongly condemned the military escalation near Tripoli and called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Libya.
The appeal followed an air attack by the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar on the Mitiga airport east of the capital.
Guterres “urges the immediate halt of all military operations in order to de-escalate the situation and prevent an all-out conflict,” said a UN statement.
He “strongly condemns the military escalation and ongoing fighting in and around Tripoli, including the aerial attack today by a Libyan National Army (LNA) aircraft against Mitiga airport.”
The air strike shut down Tripoli’s only functioning airport as fighting raged around the capital and thousands fled.
Haftar’s self-styled LNA claimed Monday’s air strike against the airport, with a spokesman saying the attack targeted a MiG-23 military plane and a helicopter.
Haftar launched the offensive on Tripoli last week just as Guterres was in Libya to push for a political deal on holding elections.
A UN-backed unity government controls the capital, but its authority is not recognized by a parallel administration in the east of the country.
As fighting escalated over the weekend, the United Nations called for a humanitarian pause to allow civilians trapped in the violence to escape, but the appeal fell on deaf ears.
Libya has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


Israel reduces Gaza fuel supply after rocket attack

Updated 7 min 44 sec ago

Israel reduces Gaza fuel supply after rocket attack

  • Israel imposes cut after rocket attacks from Gaza
  • Palestinian enclave suffers chronic blackouts

JERUSALEM: Israel said on Monday it was cutting by half the amount of fuel it supplies to Gaza’s only power plant, in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory.
Three rockets were fired from the Hamas Islamist-run enclave at southern Israel on Sunday and two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility.
After the attack, Israel launched an air strike against what the military described as a Hamas military compound. No casualties were reported on either side of the volatile border.
In a statement, COGAT, a unit in the Defense Ministry that coordinates civilian issues with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said “cutting the amount of diesel in half will significantly reduce” the plant’s output.
It said the measure, “following the firing of rockets ... and the continued violation of stability and security” will be in effect until further notice.
Gaza has long suffered from a shortage of electricity and chronic blackouts. A new power line from Israel has been proposed to alleviate the situation.
Mohammad Thabet, spokesman for the Gaza power company, described the Israeli decision as collective punishment.
“We already are in a crisis and now the Israeli decision will make it worse. It will have a grave impact on the lives of 2 million people and on vital services such as hospitals,” Thabet told Reuters.
Currently residents get six hours of electricity followed by 12 hours of blackout. Thabet said the fuel cuts would decrease power time to only four-hour periods.
In a series of border confrontations in recent weeks, Israel said it killed at least eight Palestinian militants who tried to infiltrate its territory.
Israeli and Egyptian blockades have brought the Gazan economy to the brink of collapse. Recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’s rival in the West Bank, have worsened the situation.