Airstrike on Libyan hospital leaves 5 dead, say officials

A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces checks the ruins of a building near the the Yarmouk military compound, following airstrikes south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Airstrike on Libyan hospital leaves 5 dead, say officials

  • Armed groups have proliferated, and the country has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty for a better life in Europe

CAIRO: Libyan health authorities say an airstrike hit a field hospital south of the capital, Tripoli, killing at least four doctors and a paramedic.
Malek Merset, a spokesman for the Health Ministry of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) says the attack took place late on Saturday in the Zawya district.
Forces based in the country’s east are currently fighting for control of the capital’s southern outskirts against militias allied with the Tripoli-based government.
Health authorities did not say which side was behind the airstrike, which wounded eight health workers.
The GNA blamed the airstrike on Libyan National Army (LNA), led by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar. The LNA could not immediately be reached for comment.
Haftar’s LNA began its offensive on Tripoli in early April. In past weeks, the battle lines have changed little.
The battle for control of the Libyan capital raged amid increased fighting over the past 24 hours, officials said on Saturday, with both sides relying heavily on airpower to make progress in the stalemated conflict.
LNA has been advancing into the city’s southern outskirts, clashing with an array of militias loosely affiliated with the GNA.
Libyan officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said Haftar’s LNA launched airstrikes overnight against an air base in the western city of Misrata.
The officials said the LNA also took control of the Al-Naqliyah military camp in the south of Tripoli.
They said Haftar’s forces were also fighting to cut off a major route linking Mistrata to Tripoli, which, if they succeeded, would be a major blow to the UN-supported government.
In past weeks, the battle lines have changed little, with both sides dug in and shelling one another in the southern reaches of the capital.
The LNA is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias, and enjoys the support of Egypt, the UAE and Russia. But it has faced stiff resistance from fighters aligned with the UN-recognized government, which is aided by Turkey and Qatar.

HIGHLIGHT

Khalifa Haftar’s LNA is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias, and enjoys the support of Egypt, the UAE and Russia.

The Libyan officials said the LNA airstrikes on the Air Force Academy in Misrata came after armed groups allied with Tripoli launched an air attack a day earlier against Al-Jufra air base, the LNA’s main forward airfield in the Tripoli offensive.
The officials also said heavy fighting was underway in Abu Salim district, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Tripoli’s center, and in Salah Al-Deen, an area that saw previous clashes between rival militias in September.
The LNA’s media office said in a statement that over 10 airstrikes had targeted a control room for Turkish-made drones, along with other targets in Misrata and the western coastal city of Sirte.
A spokesman for the Tripoli-based militias confirmed they had launched an air attack Friday against Al-Jufra air base.
The LNA released a statement saying its forces had taken control of the Al-Naqliyah military camp and advanced in different parts of southern Tripoli.
Fighting for the capital has emptied entire neighborhoods of civilians. Thousands of African migrants captured by Libyan forces supported by the European Union are trapped in detention centers near the front lines. An airstrike on one facility earlier this month killed more than 50 people, mainly migrants held in a hangar that collapsed on top of them.
On Saturday, Libya’s coast guard said it had intercepted 89 Europe-bound migrants in a rubber boat the previous day. The coast guard is continuing its search for the bodies of up to 150 people, including women and children, whose boats capsized Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to cross to Europe.
Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-ruling dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Armed groups have proliferated, and the country has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty for a better life in Europe.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 21 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”