Jordan widens coronavirus curfew hours

Jordan widens coronavirus curfew hours
This picture taken on October 9, 2020 shows a Jordanian security vehicle enforcing a COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown in the capital Amman. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 November 2020

Jordan widens coronavirus curfew hours

Jordan widens coronavirus curfew hours
  • Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh that parliamentary elections would still be held on Nov. 10
  • Business are now allowed to operate only until 9p.m., from 10p.m. previously

DUBAI: Jordan’s government has changed curfew hours cutting operating hours of businesses and public movement by one hour, as it tightened measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Business are now allowed to operate only until 9p.m., from 10p.m. previously, while the window for public movement has been trimmed from 6a.m. until 10p.m., against an hour later during the previous announcements, state news agency Petra reported.
Petra likewise quoted Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh that parliamentary elections would still be held on Nov. 10, and the premier has spoken to the Independent Election Commission to change instructions for the parliamentary elections.
Jordan will also close fitness centers and swimming pools all over the country, as well as kids indoor play areas starting Monday.
Last month, Jordan said it will reopen some land border crossings for travelers as the Kingdom eases coronavirus restrictions and put into place protocols and procedures through its online travel platform.
The land border crossings – Al-Mudawara border crossing, the King Hussein Bridge, and the Sheikh Hussein Bridge – will start receiving travelers according to procedures and controls for the number of travelers for each crossing, Petra reported.
The allowed movements would be in accordance to health protocols and procedures that require pre-registration on the visit Jordan e-platform, Ali Al-Ayed, the Minister of State for Media Affairs, said in the report.


300 migrants may have died in recent capsizing of ship off Yemen coast: UN

A UN official said on Thursday that as many as 300 migrants may have died after a ship capsized recently off Yemen's Red Sea coast. (Shutterstock)
A UN official said on Thursday that as many as 300 migrants may have died after a ship capsized recently off Yemen's Red Sea coast. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 June 2021

300 migrants may have died in recent capsizing of ship off Yemen coast: UN

A UN official said on Thursday that as many as 300 migrants may have died after a ship capsized recently off Yemen's Red Sea coast. (Shutterstock)

DUBAI: A UN official said on Thursday that as many as 300 migrants may have died after a ship capsized recently off Yemen's coast, highlighting the risks of a longstanding migration route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf states in search of work.

UN resident and humanitarian coordinator David Gressly said the migrants crisis is adding more pressure on an already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.

A number of bodies washed up at Ras Al-Arah on Yemen’s Red Sea coast earlier this month after a migrant boat sank offshore.


Egypt to allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter without PCR test

Egypt to allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter without PCR test
Updated 24 June 2021

Egypt to allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter without PCR test

Egypt to allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter without PCR test
  • Travelers must present officially issued QR-coded certificates to prove they have received one of the six vaccines approved by the Egyptian Drug Authority and the WHO
  • Egypt lifted many restrictions at the beginning of June and hopes to see an upsurge in tourism this year, as that sector usually accounts for 15% of the country’s GDP

CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that the country will allow some foreign travelers who have received their full course of approved COVID-19 vaccines to enter without taking a PCR test.

Travelers must present officially issued QR-coded certificates to prove they have received one of the six vaccines approved by the Egyptian Drug Authority and the World Health Organization: Sputnik, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson (which only requires one dose).

In a statement to airports and ports, the ministry said that entry without a PCR test will be granted to those who received their second jab more than 14 days before traveling.

However, travelers from high-risk countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Brazil, will have to take an ID NOW COVID-19 test on arrival, regardless of their vaccination status. If the result of that test is positive, a PCR test will be performed. If that test is also positive, the passenger will be transferred to a designated hospital to quarantine.

On Thursday, Egypt reported 466 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total since the pandemic began to 278,761.

Egypt lifted many restrictions at the beginning of June and hopes to see an upsurge in tourism this year, as that sector usually accounts for 15 percent of the country’s GDP.


Egypt retrieves 114 smuggled antiquities from France

Egypt retrieves 114 smuggled antiquities from France
Updated 24 June 2021

Egypt retrieves 114 smuggled antiquities from France

Egypt retrieves 114 smuggled antiquities from France
  • Antiquities retrieved following joint investigations by the Egyptian Public Prosecution office and French judicial authorities
  • Alaa Yousef, Egypt’s ambassador to France, praised the collaboration, describing it as an achievement that added to the record of Egyptian-French bilateral relations

CAIRO: Egyptian officials have retrieved 114 looted antiquities smuggled to France following joint investigations by the Egyptian Public Prosecution office and French judicial authorities.

Heading a high-level delegation, Hamada Al-Sawy, Egypt’s public prosecutor, arrived in Paris on Tuesday and visited the Egyptian Embassy, along with Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to resume the retrieval process and halt any attempts to sell the artefacts.

The officials took inventory of the recovered items in preparation for the transfer to Cairo, the Egyptian prosecution said on Wednesday.

The pieces were transferred to the embassy and unpacked with the help of the French Interior Ministry.

Al-Sawy said the public prosecution office is following a plan within the framework of Egypt’s strategy to recover its smuggled antiquities and preserve their history.

He highlighted the need for Cairo and Paris to exchange information on criminal investigation techniques and new technologies in fighting crime.

Al-Sawy also detailed the effective cooperation between all stakeholders in combating organized and transnational crimes, terrorism, money laundering, antiquities smuggling, human trafficking and violence against women.

Alaa Yousef, Egypt’s ambassador to France, praised the collaboration, describing it as an achievement that added to the record of Egyptian-French bilateral relations.

Both countries’ relations have strengthened in several areas over recent years, he added.


Critic of Palestinian Authority dies after violent arrest

Critic of Palestinian Authority dies after violent arrest
Updated 24 June 2021

Critic of Palestinian Authority dies after violent arrest

Critic of Palestinian Authority dies after violent arrest
  • Nizar Banat was a harsh critic of the PA, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank
JERUSALEM: An outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority who was a candidate in parliamentary elections called off earlier this year died after Palestinian security forces arrested him and beat him with an iron rod on Thursday, his family said.
Nizar Banat was a harsh critic of the PA, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and had called on Western nations to cut off aid to it because of its authoritarianism and human rights violations. Earlier this week, another prominent activist was detained by the PA and held overnight after criticizing it on Facebook.
The crackdown on dissent comes as the internationally-backed PA faces a growing backlash from Palestinians who view it as corrupt and increasingly autocratic, a manifestation of a three-decade-old peace process that has yet to deliver an independent state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected to a four-year term in 2005, has little to show after more than a decade of close security coordination with Israel. The 85-year-old leader has been powerless to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements, home demolitions, evictions in Jerusalem and deadly Israeli military raids, and was largely ignored during the recent unrest in Jerusalem and the 11-day Gaza war.
Western nations nevertheless view the PA as a key partner for rebuilding Gaza, which is ruled by the militant Hamas group, and eventually reviving the moribund peace process.
Ammar Banat, a cousin of the deceased, said around 25 Palestinian security forces stormed the home where Nizar was staying, blowing out doors and windows. They beat Nizar with an iron bar and sprayed pepper spray in his eyes before undressing him and dragging him away, Ammar told a local radio station, citing two other cousins who were present during the arrest.
In a brief statement, the Hebron governorate said Nizar’s “health deteriorated” when Palestinian forces went to arrest him early Thursday. It said he was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Representatives of the European Union and the United Nations called for an independent investigation, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh later announced the formation of an investigative committee. He said a doctor chosen by the family would participate in the autopsy and the family would be invited to provide testimony.
Around 100 protesters gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah and tried to march to the PA’s headquarters. Palestinian security forces halted them and fired tear gas as scuffles broke out.
In early May, gunmen fired bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Nizar Banat’s home near the West Bank city of Hebron, where his wife was inside with their children. He blamed the attack on Abbas’ Fatah party, which dominates the security forces, saying only they would have access to tear gas and stun grenades.
“The Europeans need to know that they are indirectly funding this organization,” he told The Associated Press in May in an interview at a home where he was hiding out. “They fire their guns into the air at Fatah celebrations, they fire their guns in the air when Fatah leaders fight each other and they fire their guns at people who oppose Fatah.”
He said prominent Fatah supporters were waging an incitement campaign against him on social media in which they accused him of collaborating with Israel, which most Palestinians view as treason. He denied the accusation, and Hamas and another militant group condemned what they referred to as his “assassination” by PA forces.
More recently, he had criticized the Palestinian leadership over an agreement in which Israel sent the PA a shipment of coronavirus vaccines that were soon to expire in exchange for fresh doses the Palestinians expect to receive later this year. The PA called off the agreement after it faced a wave of criticism on social media. Israel said the doses it sent were safe and effective.
The European Union’s delegation to the Palestinians wrote on Twitter that it was “shocked and saddened” by Banat’s death and called for a “full, independent, and transparent investigation.” The United Nation’s Mideast envoy, Tor Wennesland, also called for an investigation into the incident, saying that the “perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
Earlier this week, Palestinian security forces detained a prominent activist and held him overnight after he took to Facebook to criticize the PA’s arrest of another individual. Issa Amro is an outspoken critic of both Israel and the PA, and has been detained by both in the past. he also criticized the PA over the vaccine exchange.
A recent poll showed plummeting support for Abbas, who canceled the first elections in 15 years in April when it looked like his fractured Fatah party would suffer another humiliating defeat to Hamas. The militant group drove out forces loyal to Abbas when it seized power in Gaza in 2007.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Abbas when he visited the region after the Gaza war last month, and the Biden administration is working to improve US relations with the PA after they fell to an all-time low under President Donald Trump.
The European Union has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid to the PA over the years. Earlier this week, the EU signed an agreement to provide $425 million in loans to the PA and Palestinian banks to help them cope with an economic crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

UK paratroopers dropped into Jordanian desert in military exercise

UK paratroopers dropped into Jordanian desert in military exercise
Updated 24 June 2021

UK paratroopers dropped into Jordanian desert in military exercise

UK paratroopers dropped into Jordanian desert in military exercise
  • Aim is to ‘demonstrate our capabilities and commitment’ to Mideast nation
  • Ministry of Defence: Jordan is key partner in region

LONDON: British paratroopers have taken part in military exercises with Jordanian counterparts to “demonstrate our capabilities and commitment to Jordan.”

The 150 soldiers, flying from the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, were dropped into the desert outside Amman from 800 feet from two C-130 Hercules aircraft. 

The troops, from the 16 Air Assault Brigade, then simulated an attack on a town by foreign adversaries. 

The unit was acting as part of the UK’s Global Response Force (GRF), which features “air manoeuvre and combat aviation” to reduce global response times to emerging crises around the world. 

Brig. James Martin, the brigade’s commander, said Britain retains strong ties with states in the Middle East and North Africa “which are vital to UK prosperity and security.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Jordan is a key partner in the region, and exercises such as this will help expedite the MoD’s “future soldier” concept, allowing the UK to strike, intervene and assist allies across the globe.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the joint exercise “is a showcase of the GRF’s impressive ability to operate across multiple domains and in harsh environments. They are the soldiers of the future, ready to tackle changing threats around the world.”

The Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group, meanwhile, took part in its first operations as part of Operation Shader, flying F-35Bs from aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth against Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq.