Israel says it shot down drone that crossed from Gaza

A Palestinian protester flees from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during protests along the Gaza border. (AFP/File)
Updated 09 July 2019

Israel says it shot down drone that crossed from Gaza

  • The drones are typically used for reconnaissance along the Israeli-Gaza border

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military said it had shot down a drone that crossed into its territory from the Gaza Strip.

The military says it recovered the downed drone and took it in for examination Monday.

There was no comment from Gaza. Its Hamas leaders are known to have developed a drone program with Iranian help. 

The drones are typically used for reconnaissance along the Israeli-Gaza border and it was unclear if they have potential to carry out attacks. The incident comes amid low-level tensions along the border as Israel and Gaza are still trying to maintain an informal long-term truce between them. 

Recent protests have included Palestinian youths launching incendiary balloons toward Israeli farmland. 

Others have approached the heavily guarded fence at several locations and clashed with Israeli troops.

In another development, an Israeli court has ruled that the Palestinian Authority should be held responsible for 17 anti-Israeli attacks committed by Palestinians between 1996 and 2002.

The ruling came in response to a complaint filed on behalf of victims demanding 1 billion shekels (€250 million, $280 million) in compensation, according to a Justice Ministry statement.

The amount is to be decided by the court at a later date, it said.

The Palestinian Authority refused to participate in the case at Israel’s Jerusalem district court and it is unclear how the judgment would be enforced.

Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for allegedly organizing a series of killings of Israelis, were also held responsible by the court.

“It is a historic victory that finds that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for attacks during the second intifada,” said lawyer Nitzana Darshan-Leitner of Israeli NGO Shourat Hadin, which represented the victims and wages legal battles worldwide against what it calls “Israel’s enemies.”

The second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, lasted from 2000 to 2005.

In November 2017, an Israeli judge ordered the Palestinian Authority and perpetrators of a deadly 2001 attack to pay $18 million in damages to relatives of those killed.


’Sister protests’: Lebanon, Iraq look to each other

Updated 11 November 2019

’Sister protests’: Lebanon, Iraq look to each other

BEIRUT: A Lebanese flag flutters in the protest-hit Iraqi capital. More than 900 kilometers (500 miles) away, a revolutionary Iraqi chant rings out from a bustling protest square in Beirut.
“Don’t trust the rumors, they’re a group of thieves,” sings a group of Lebanese musicians in Iraqi dialect, referring to political leaders they deem incompetent and corrupt.
“The identity is Lebanese,” they continue, reworking the chant by Iraqi preacher Ali Yusef Al-Karbalai, made popular during the street movement there.
Such recent shows of solidarity have become a common feature of protest squares in the two countries, where corruption, unemployment and appalling public services have fueled unprecedented street movements demanding the ouster of an entire political class.
They serve to “shed light on similarities between the two movements and boost morale,” said Farah Qadour, a Lebanese oud musician.
“The two streets are observing and learning from each other,” said the 26-year-old who is part of the group that adopted Al-Karbalai’s chant.
In Lebanon’s southern city of Nabatiyeh, hundreds brandishing Lebanese flags chanted: “From Iraq to Beirut, one revolution that never dies.”
And in the northern city of Tripoli, dubbed the “bride” of Lebanon’s protest movement, a man standing on a podium waved a wooden pole bearing the flags of the two countries.
“From Lebanon to Iraq, our pain is one, our right is one, and victory is near,” read a sign raised during another protest, outside Beirut’s state-run electricity company.
In Tahrir Square, the beating heart of Baghdad’s month-old protest movement, demonstrators are selling Lebanese flags alongside Iraqi ones.
They have hung some on the abandoned Turkish restaurant, turned by Iraqi demonstrators into a protest control tower.
Banners reading “from Beirut to Baghdad, one revolution against the corrupt” could be seen throughout.
Lebanon and Iraq are ranked among the most corrupt countries in the region by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, with Iraq listed as the 12th most corrupt in the world.
Public debt levels in both countries are relatively high, with the rate in Lebanon exceeding 150 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“What’s happening on the streets in Iraq and Lebanon, they’re sister protests,” said Samah, a 28-year-old Lebanese demonstrator.
“They’re the result of an accumulation” of years of problems.
One video that went viral on social media networks showed a masked Iraqi protester dressed in military fatigues demanding the resignation of Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, one of the main targets of protesters in the small Mediterranean country.
In a video released online, a group of young Iraqi men had filmed themselves singing, “Lebanon, we’re with you!“
The two movements also seem to be adopting similar protest strategies.
In both countries, rows of parked vehicles have blocked traffic along main thoroughfares in recent weeks.
University-aged demonstrators wearing medical masks or eye goggles have occupied bridges and flyovers, refusing to believe pledges of reform from both governments.
The big difference is that in Iraq, the demonstrations have turned deadly, with more than 300 people, mostly protesters but also including security forces, killed since the movement started October 1.
Lebanon’s street movement, which started on October 17, has been largely incident-free despite scuffles with security forces and counter-demonstrators rallying in support of established parties.
The two movements, however, are united in their anger about the kind of political system that prioritizes power-sharing between sects over good governance.
The consecutive governments born out of this system have been prone to deadlock and have failed to meet popular demands for better living conditions.
“We are united by a sense of patriotic duty in confronting this sectarian political system,” said Obeida, a 29-year-old protester from Tripoli.
He said he had high hopes for Iraqi protesters because the sectarian power-sharing system there is relatively new, having emerged after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
“In Lebanon, it’s more entrenched,” he said of the arrangement that ended the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
On a Beirut waterfront, dotted with luxury restaurants and cafes, a 70-year-old Iraqi man who has been living in Lebanon for five years looked on as demonstrators laid out picnic blankets on the grass.
With a Lebanese flag wrapped around his neck, Fawzi said the protests looked different but reminded him of those back home.
“The goal is one,” he said.