Nabatieh rises against Hezbollah and Amal

Nabatieh rises against Hezbollah and Amal
Demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-government protest in the southern city of Nabatieh, Lebanon, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 26 October 2019

Nabatieh rises against Hezbollah and Amal

Nabatieh rises against Hezbollah and Amal
  • The sectarian and quota systems must change, says protester

BEIRUT: Young activist Duha Sabbagh, a protester in the Lebanese city Nabatieh, had strong words when asked why she has taken to the streets to protest. “Nabatieh rose up because its citizens have to beg to find a bed in the state hospital, so that they can die in it,” she said, referring to her own experience of trying to care for her mother, when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Duha is one of many young people to have joined the protest movement in the southern city, known as being a stronghold of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, who control its municipal council.
It is the city that elected Mohammed Raad as a deputy, who is the head of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc (the city gave him 65 percent of its votes) and two MPs, Yassin Jaber and Hani Qubaisi, belonging to the Amal Movement.
Their offices were the first to be targeted in Nabatieh at the start of Lebanon’s protest movement, which is now entering its ninth day.
Thousands of people are demonstrating daily in the city’s central square. Amongst the demonstrators, you can find doctors, engineers, the unemployed, men, women, retirees and young people alike.
Pediatrician Dr. Jamal Badran told Arab News that he takes to the streets every day, heading to the hospital early in the morning to check on his patients and see others in the clinic, before returning to the sit-in.
“The sectarian and quota systems must change. If we fail to do so, we cannot say that we have achieved liberation,” he said.
Nabatieh is the most important city in the Jabal Amel region in southern Lebanon, due to its economic and cultural stature. Every year, the city commemorates the Battle of Karbala, and hundreds of thousands of visitors come to participate in the memorial service. This city is the home of many prominent figures, most notably Sheikh Aref Al-Zain and the scientist Hassan Kamel Al-Sabah. Its people are known for their strenuous resistance to the Israeli Defense Force during the occupation in the early 1980s.
What could make such a place turn on its leaders?
“Those who were in power know what they did to people, 30 years after the civil war. The system is still based on rentiers, corruption, mediation, neglect of people. You have people who are very poor struggling to make a living, while a small group is piling money. They refused and still refuse to hear our cries, and they are determined to take the country to the abyss,” Badran said.

SPEEDREAD

Thousands of people are demonstrating daily in the city’s central square. Among the demonstrators, you can find doctors, engineers, the unemployed, men, women, retirees and young people alike.

“We are used to oppression, but we try to avoid any bloodshed, and the violence against us will not break our will. The pro-bipartisan people sitting in their houses sympathize with our demands.”
Samer Wehbe, a local journalist, agreed. “Amal and Hezbollah were certainly surprised by the popular movement, otherwise they would not have tried to intimidate people at night,” he said.
“They seem to regret their attacks on the people, as a Hezbollah deputy has tried in the past few hours to confirm that what happened was a mistake and should not be repeated, because the demonstrators enjoy popular and regional solidarity.
“There was an attempt to place responsibility for the attack on the municipality, so that the two parties would disavow it, but independent members in the municipality resigned in protest, including a member who is always running on Hezbollah’s lists in the city.”
Wehbe stressed: “Southern Lebanon is one of the most affected areas by the quota system. It is true that we have highways and schools, but people are suffocated by widespread corruption, especially bribes and fabricating files for those who disobey.”
Hatem Ghabris, president of the Nabatieh Engineers Union, said: “The civil movement is a continuation of a movement that began in 2011 against neglect of all kinds. If people dared to confront Israel, would not they dare to face the corrupted class?
“Nabatieh has embraced the protest movement with 15,000 people taking to the street because they are threatened with their livelihoods, unemployment and immigration.
“We prefer to go down to Beirut to protest in its squares, not in Nabatieh, because this move has broken the barrier of fear among the people, especially the partisans, given that our protest is peaceful,” he said.


Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival
Updated 08 May 2021

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

CAIRO: Egypt will require all visitors arriving from “countries where variants of the virus have appeared” to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival, its health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement did not specify the countries from which passengers would take the 15-minute DNA test, called ID NOW.
Egypt’s new coronavirus cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. On Saturday it reported 1,125 new cases and 65 deaths, although experts say that reflects only a fraction of total cases.
In a statement on Saturday, Egypt’s tourism ministry clarified that restaurants and coffee shops attached to hotels were exempt from a recent decree that such outlets as well as malls and stores would close at 9 p.m. local time (GMT +2) in order to not affect tourism.


Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
Updated 08 May 2021

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
  • Clashes erupted when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM: A night of heavy clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem left more than 200 Palestinians wounded, medics said Saturday, as the city braced for even more violence after weeks of unrest.
Nightly protests broke out at the start of the holy month of Ramadan over police restrictions at a popular gathering place and have reignited in recent days over threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides in the decades-old conflict.
It was unclear what set off the violence at Al-Aqsa, which erupted when Israeli police in riot gear deployed in large numbers as thousands of Muslim worshippers were holding evening prayers at the sprawling hilltop esplanade.
Throughout the night large groups of protesters could be seen hurling rocks as Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades. At one point, the police entered one of the buildings in the complex, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.
The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 88 of the wounded were hospitalized. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 83 people were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, including three who were shot in the eye, two with serious head injuries and two with broken jaws.
The Israeli police said protesters hurled stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces,” it said in a statement late Friday.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the biblical temples. It has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Some 70,000 worshippers had attended the final midday Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.
At the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their daylong fast. The move set off two weeks of clashes before Israel lifted the restrictions.
But in recent days, protests have grown over Israel's threatened eviction in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem of dozens of Palestinians embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about both the violence and the threatened evictions, and was in contact with leaders on both sides to try and de-escalate tensions.
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace,” the US State Department said in a statement. “This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”
The European Union also urged calm. It said the potential evictions were of “serious concern," adding that such actions are "illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground.
Neighboring Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has also condemned Israel's actions, as has the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israel last year in a US-brokered deal.
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more unrest in the coming days.
Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa.
Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its capital.


Drone attack on Iraqi base hosting US troops

Drone attack on Iraqi base hosting US troops
Updated 08 May 2021

Drone attack on Iraqi base hosting US troops

Drone attack on Iraqi base hosting US troops
  • The US accuses Iran-backed militia groups of launching regular rocket attacks against its troops in Iraq

BAGHDAD: A drone strike early on Saturday targeted a military base in Iraq that hosts US troops, causing only minor damage and no casualties, Iraq’s military and the US-led coalition said.
The pore-dawn attack damaged a hangar, tweeted coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto. He said the attack was under investigation. An Iraqi military statement also said no losses were reported.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The US has blamed Iran-backed militia groups for previous attacks, most of them rocket attacks that have targeted the American presence in Baghdad and military bases across Iraq.
Drone strikes are less common. In mid-April, an explosive-laden drone targeted the military section of the international airport in Irbil, in Iraq’s northern Kurdish-run region, causing no casualties or damages. The base also hosts US troops.
The attacks have been frequent since a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport last year. Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. The strike drew the ire of mostly Shiite Iraqi lawmakers and prompted parliament to pass a non-binding resolution to pressure the Iraqi government to oust foreign troops from the country.
The Biden administration has resumed strategic talks with Baghdad, initiated under President Donald Trump, in which the future of US troop presence in Iraq is a central point of discussion.


Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list
Updated 08 May 2021

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list
  • Omani citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families are excluded from the latest rule

DUBAI: The Philippines and Egypt were the latest inclusion in Oman’s list where travelers from the said countries are banned from entering the Sultanate.

The decision was issued by the Supreme Committee, which takes lead in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and took effect on Friday, May 7.

Travelers from Egypt and the Philippines, and those who transited in any of the said countries during the 14 days, are particularly affected by the travel restriction a report from Times of Oman said.

Omani citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families are excluded from the latest rule but are subject to the procedures adopted upon entering the Sultanate, the report added.

Oman earlier added India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the travel ban list, joining Sudan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom where their residents have been barred from entering since February 24.


UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 08 May 2021

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours
  • The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is now at 532,710 since the pandemic began

DUBAI: UAE health authorities reported 1,766 new coronavirus cases after conducting 211,462 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, as well three deaths fatalities from the contagious disease.

The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is now at 532,710 since the pandemic began, with 1,607 confirmed deaths, a report from state news agency WAM said.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention reiterated its call for residents to adhere coronavirus protocols and maintain social distancing to ensure public health and safety.

Meanwhile, 141,283 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been provided during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of doses provided to residents and citizens to 11,048,547.

The rate of vaccine distribution now stands at 111.71 doses per 100 people.