Nations warned of consequences of abandoning citizens in Syrian camps

The experts reminded the 57 states with nationals in the camps that the repatriation process must be carried out in accordance with international human-rights law. (AFP/File)
The experts reminded the 57 states with nationals in the camps that the repatriation process must be carried out in accordance with international human-rights law. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 February 2021

Nations warned of consequences of abandoning citizens in Syrian camps

Nations warned of consequences of abandoning citizens in Syrian camps
  • Human-rights experts say not only are some countries ignoring responsibilities, they are creating the perfect conditions for radicalization
  • More than 90,000 people, mostly women and children related to Daesh fighters, live in increasingly desperate conditions in detention camps

NEW YORK: UN human-rights experts on Tuesday urged 57 countries whose nationals are detained in the notorious Al-Hol and Roj detention camps in northeastern Syria to repatriate them “without delay.”
They warned that failure to do so could be tantamount to torture under international law.
The experts raised the alarm about the worsening security situation and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the overcrowded camps, which are home to more than 90,000 Syrians, Iraqis and “third-country nationals.” Most are women and children with family connections to Daesh fighters.
The majority of residents were moved to the camps in 2019 following the defeat of Daesh in the eastern province of Deir Ez-Zor, the group’s last stronghold. However several thousand have been in Al-Hol since 2016.
“The continued detention, on unclear grounds, of women and children in the camps is a matter of grave concern and undermines the progression of accountability, truth and justice,” said 12 special rapporteurs in a joint statement.
Special rapporteurs are independent experts who serve in individual capacities and on a voluntary basis at the UN’s Human Rights Council. They are not members of UN staff and are not paid for their work.
They painted a bleak picture of life in the camps, where an unknown number of detainees have already died because of the poor conditions. They highlighted high levels of violence, exploitation, abuse and deprivation — and said nations that continue to allow their citizens to be subjected to such conditions might be guilty of torture under international law.
“Knowingly leaving nationals outside the protection of the rule of law is both a possible contravention of the state’s obligations under international human-rights law, and risks being counterproductive,” the experts said.
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, an Irish lawyer specializing in human rights law, is a special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.
She told Arab News: “When you leave thousands of women and children in an arid desert in subhuman conditions, without access to education, health or even the most basic human-rights protections, you create the conditions conducive for radicalization and violence, (particularly among) younger people in the camps, given the lack of exit opportunities for them.
“It does not take a UN human rights expert body for states to understand that. So if states are thinking about their long-term security interests, as concerns their nationals (in the camps), they would repatriate (them). Because if they leave the situation as it is, the danger and the security issues will only increase — not only for the individuals in the camps but for the broader security of the states concerned.”
During the most recent meeting of the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria, members were asked to address this issue of foreign nationals held in the camps. British ambassador Barbara Woodward reiterated that the UK government is opposed to repatriating its citizens from the camps on the grounds that alleged criminals should be prosecuted in the country where the crime took place.
But Ní Aoláin said: “There is zero chance that there will be trials in northeastern Syria. It is obvious to everyone that neither Syria nor Iraq are capable of running the scale and complexity of trials that are involved, if such trials are justified.
“There are deep and profound concerns about fair trials being run in either of those states. And I take it that we do not assume that the non-state actors will be running trials on behalf of the states. So this (the British argument) is an illusionary argument because no trials are forthcoming.
“What it allows certain states to do is to pretend to create a facade of accountability, when the only real accountability for victims of terrorism in Iraq and Syria is the return of those people who have committed such crimes to countries that are capable of running these trials.”
The rapporteurs also raised concerns about the large-scale collection of sensitive, personal biometric data from women and children by the Syrian Democratic Forces in July last year.
“We have concerns that this data was shared with countries of origin and that no consent to the data collection or sharing was given by the women and children who were subjected to it,” said Ní Aoláin.
“We are deeply concerned that the data collection and sharing will be used to further deprive these individuals of certain inalienable rights — including, for example, their rights to citizenship and their rights to be treated equally.”
The experts reminded the 57 states with nationals in the camps that the repatriation process must be carried out in accordance with international human-rights law, they must refrain from exposing individuals to further human-rights violations when they return home, and must actively support their social and psychological re-integration into society.
Ní Aoláin said the list of 57 countries that have failed to repatriate their citizens is “really a list of shame. It speaks to a collective security and human-rights failure by states.”
She added: “States should not want to be on this list — and many states are working actively, including during (the COVID-19 pandemic), to get themselves off this list.
“Some states are making no efforts in that regard but are engaging in what can only be described as pedantic justifications for a policy that is both a failed security policy and the human rights-deficient and morally bankrupt policy of failure to return their most vulnerable citizens to their countries of origin.”
 


Hospitality’s next generation envisions a more ethical and sustainable hotel industry

Hospitality’s next generation envisions a more ethical and sustainable hotel industry
Updated 13 sec ago

Hospitality’s next generation envisions a more ethical and sustainable hotel industry

Hospitality’s next generation envisions a more ethical and sustainable hotel industry
  • Hotelschool the Hague created Sustainable Hospitality Challenge to provide a platform for hospitality professionals
  • Students are seen as future drivers of taste by their willingness to challenge the hospitality industry status quo

DUBAI: What attracts guests to a hotel? Fine dining, Egyptian cotton sheets and 24-hour room service, certainly. But that model of hospitality may be changing — at least if a new generation of hoteliers, bar owners and restaurateurs has its way.

Rather than reviewing the contents of the minibar or revising the coffee shop menu, this new breed of hotel operator is intent on combating loneliness, sourcing from local farmers, fighting climate change and building a sense of community.

In 2014, Hotelschool the Hague, a training institute, created the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge to provide a platform for the next generation of hospitality professionals who want to reinvent what hotels and restaurants have to offer.

These students are seen as future drivers of taste by their willingness to challenge the industry’s status quo. NEOM, the futuristic smart city in northwest Saudi Arabia, sponsored this year’s competition.

Saudi Arabia's natural beauty is matched by the opulent interiors of Riyadh's premium hotels (Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh/ Expedia.com)

“The NEOM giga-project, which we all call ‘the city of the future,’ aims to incorporate smart-city technologies and innovation with a focus on sustainability,” Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality and chair of the jury, told Arab News.

“It comes as no surprise that NEOM has sponsored the challenge this year, bringing all finalists to the event in the UAE.”

The event invited 30 universities from across the globe to submit ideas that would help the industry play its part in reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Last month, six finalists presented their concepts to a jury of hospitality industry investors in Dubai.

Eve Mignot, a member of the winning team from Switzerland’s Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, said hospitality is at a crossroads. The sector has historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to embracing change, she said.

“It is time to reverse this stereotype and stigma and become leaders in sustainable innovations. With our concept, we anticipate the hospitality industry of 2050 to be a community builder, innovator and a responsible and ethical member of society.”

Marloes Knippenberg CEO Kerten Hospitality. (Supplied)

The winning team proposed a concept dubbed “Shared Economic Value through Co-living Cooperative Opportunities,” or SEVCCO, which aims to incorporate sustainability through communal living operated by hospitality companies, for which they see immense potential in growing cities.

This will require a reimagining of lifestyles, business models and strategies. “There has never been a more pressing time to reinvent the industry,” Mignot said.

The team hopes this concept of “neo-hospitality” will transform societies and become a driving force that inspires communities and other industries to engage in the transformation of the world by 2050.

Lukas Lauber, another team member, said that while oil has accelerated growth and development in the Middle East, secondary consumption of oil has had negative consequences in terms of climate change and its effects on the environment.

This photograph taken on July 23, 2021 shows a view of the Park Royal Collection Hotel at Pickering Street in Singapore. (AFP)

However, in recent years, many countries in the region have adopted diversification strategies to their national economies as well as introduced policies to reduce their dependence on oil reserves and promote renewable energy. This is where SEVCCO comes in.

“Countries in the Middle East are hoping to attract foreign investment. A large part of this strategy involves tourism and hospitality, as seen by the re-branding of Dubai as a tourism hub and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy whereby it seeks to develop cities and destinations,” Lauber told Arab News.

As countries in the region develop, he said sustainable communities and cities must be built to promote a more cyclical and regenerative society. “This is where we promote SEVCCO, the creation of co-living environments for tomorrow,” said Stefano Abedum de Lima Hanzawa, a third team member.

“It is imperative that the Middle East incorporates sustainability and regenerative growth into their strategy for economic diversification and development.”

FASTFACTS

* NEOM, the futuristic smart city in northwest Saudi Arabia, sponsored this year’s Sustainable Hospitality Challenge competition.

* Some 30 universities were invited to submit ideas that would help the hospitality industry play its part in achieving the UN’s SDGs.

These concerns are made more pressing as the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals draws nearer. By then, national economies must mobilize to prevent a 1.5 Celsius increase in global temperatures and implement strategies to shift away from fossil-fueled economies.

The team developed the SEVCCO concept to empower individuals and communities to come together and co-create a city of the future that complies with these goals.

“The concept of cognitive cities is gaining traction, as seen by the NEOM development in Saudi Arabia, and this acceleration and momentum will continue to grow,” Hanzawa said.

“We believe cyclical and sustainable co-living has incredible potential to change the way we behave and live for a better tomorrow. We wish to tackle the most pressing issues such as urban loneliness — exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Muslim pilgrims add food to their plates from the buffet of a restaurant at a luxury hotel overlooking the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, and its encompassing Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP/File Photo)

Other ills listed by the competitors include unsustainable production and consumption of scarce resources, resource inefficiencies, housing shortages experienced by generations Y and Z, growing elderly care home demand, the difficulties of waste management and the challenges of reducing carbon footprints by 2030.

“SHC brings forth innovative ideas about sustainable, implementable projects. The corporate world launches and brings them to life only if and when they are presented to them,” said Knippenberg. “The challenge (has) become a platform that reaches decision-makers today and is not just a school engagement.”

This year, the initiative brought together the student community, the corporate world, and investors. As 70 percent of the Middle East’s population are younger than 35, the competition is relevant to the region, the organizers said, as governments invest heavily in shifting toward knowledge-based economies.

“Especially in the Middle East, there is a great opportunity to implement ‘out of the box’ ideas,” said Paul Griep, director of industry and alumni relations at Hotelschool The Hague and founder of the challenge.

“As the region grows exponentially, it is of utmost importance for the region to become the showroom of the world when it comes to implementing sustainable solutions. Sustainability projects are the core of the multiple giga-projects in Saudi Arabia, (such as) NEOM.”

Picture from thestage from the award ceremony on stage at AHIC, in September 2021, with members of the jury and the winners. (Supplied)

Aside from EHL, the Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland, the Hotel Management School Maastricht Zuyd and the Hotelschool The Hague, Ryerson University from Canada, and CY Cergy Paris University in France took part, as did students from the Middle East.

The judges said the SEVCCO concept developed by EHL won out because it looked long term.

“Their concept was unique, well thought of and very 2050,” Knippenberg said. “Their idea seems like a natural evolution — community build, supporting the locality and the local supply chain and doing things with a truly sustainable mindset.”

Griep said that the younger generation coming into management is especially passionate about sustainability. “In fact, they no longer wish for it but actually require it,” he said.

“It has been proven that, thanks to this mindset, innovative solutions have already been developed. The challenge provides an opportunity for these students to work with industry partners, universities and companies alike, which help them make their concepts become real hospitality projects.”

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Twitter: @CalineMalek


19 arrested after Beirut clashes leave 7 dead

19 arrested after Beirut clashes leave 7 dead
Updated 33 min 45 sec ago

19 arrested after Beirut clashes leave 7 dead

19 arrested after Beirut clashes leave 7 dead
  • Specialized military units are still investigating the direct cause of the deadly shootout
  • Saudia Arabia condemned the gunfights, said Lebanon needs “real, serious change”

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army on Friday set up checkpoints in the Tayouneh area and on roads leading to Beirut’s northern and southern suburbs after gunfights left seven people dead on Thursday.
Investigations by specialized military units have not identified the direct cause of the clashes between armed members from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement on one side, and opposing gunmen that the two parties claimed were from the Lebanese Forces Party.
“The army command’s statement about Thursday’s events left things ambiguous until further investigations,” a military source told Arab News. “But what we are sure of is that the sniper shots fired at Hezbollah and Amal targeted the head, chest, and abdomen areas as most injuries were among those.”
The shootout lasted more than three hours and also left 32 people injured, including two soldiers. 
What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration on Thursday quickly turned into anarchy. Hezbollah and the Amal Movement had hit the streets demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation of the Beirut port blast before bullets and rocket-propelled grenades started flying.
On Friday, the military source said “13 persons were arrested, including concierges of the buildings that snipers used to shoot at the demonstrators in the streets from their rooftops. Members affiliated with the Lebanese Forces party, who were spotted on the battlefield, were also arrested. The army resorted to CCTV footage for evidence.”

Later in the evening, state National News Agency said Lebanon had detained 19 people in relation to recent gunfire in Beirut.
A national day of mourning for the victims was declared on Friday as schools, banks, and government offices across Lebanon were shut down. Guns were fired in the air during funerals for the victims in Beirut’s southern suburbs and Bekaa.
The full extent of damage caused to buildings, properties, and parked cars during the shootout was revealed on Friday. People who returned to their homes expressed deep anger at the events and asked, “Who will compensate us for the human and material losses?”
Signs of destruction were left by the B7 grenades while bullet holes were very clear on the buildings in the Tayouneh area. An uneasy calm reigned on Friday as shops were closed and very few people walked in the streets. All cars and motorcycles that passed through the area were searched by authorities.
In order to prevent more escalation, a military source said the airborne division was assisting the army in Ain Remaneh and Chiyah, “in case something happens, given that this area has become very sensitive.”
Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said he is “certainly worried” about the political and economic situation in Lebanon as it requires action “now.” He said the events over the past two days showed that Lebanon needs real, serious change and that the responsibility lies with the country’s leaders.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Kingdom is following events in Lebanon closely. The Kingdom hopes the situation will stabilize as soon as possible and that Saudi Arabia stands with the people of Lebanon, the statement said.
According to their sources, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have requested to remove Bitar from the investigation into the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4, 2020, which killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands.
“The judiciary must find a formula that can restore the constitutional order and declare that the defendants, who are former ministers and deputies, should be prosecuted before the Court of Ministers and Presidents,” An official source from Amal Movement told Arab News.
Lawmaker Jalal Abdullah said the case is very sensitive and requires accurate follow-up. 
“Why did a demonstration, which was supposed to be peaceful, turn into an armed clash? The truth needs to come out,” he said. “The demarcation lines carry a bloody history in the memories of the Lebanese, and we do not want to reminisce these memories regardless of what happened.”
Abdullah told Arab News that “after what happened on Thursday, all kinds of immunity of the highest-ranking to the lowest-ranking security officials must be lifted to allow the truth to come out. Some are very concerned about this investigation and the role of Judge Bitar in his investigations. What is needed today is for everyone to abide by the process of the law.”
Mohanad Hage Ali, director of communications and a fellow at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said the Tayouneh crime might be used politically to counter the port crime.
“I do not think that Hezbollah was not expecting blood by getting its supporters into this sensitive area,” he said. “Hezbollah is very concerned about the investigations and the possibility of being accused by Judge Bitar. This is only a possibility. But what we know so far at face value, is that Hezbollah is defending its allies, the Amal Movement and Marada Movement, whose ministers are defendants in the port explosion case.”
Ali expressed concern about Hezbollah’s behavior and feared assassination attempts in the near future. 
“Just like what happened after the assassination of (former premier) Rafic Hariri until the assassination of (author and activist) Luqman Slim,” he said.
The EU condemned the use of violence and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims, calling for “utmost restraint to avoid further senseless loss of life.”


Islamic Jihad threatens to go to war for prisoners in Israel

Palestinian members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terror group, parade with a replica rocket on a truck during a march in Gaza in 2018. (AP/File Photo)
Palestinian members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terror group, parade with a replica rocket on a truck during a march in Gaza in 2018. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 15 October 2021

Islamic Jihad threatens to go to war for prisoners in Israel

Palestinian members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terror group, parade with a replica rocket on a truck during a march in Gaza in 2018. (AP/File Photo)
  • The movement, along with Hamas, said the alleged abuse of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners will lead the ‘region toward a wide explosion’
  • Palestinian Prisoners Club said 250 of Islamic Jihad’s detainees in Israeli prisons started an open hunger strike to protest ‘atrocious measures’ against them

GAZA CITY: In a move that may create a new armed confrontation between the Palestinian factions and Israel, the Islamic Jihad movement has threatened to go to war in support of its prisoners in Israeli jails, while its military wing Al-Quds Brigades has announced a general mobilization.

Ziad Al-Nakhala, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, said the movement would support the prisoners with everything it has, “even if it requires us to go to war for them, and no agreements or other considerations will prevent us from that.”

The Al-Quds Brigades responded to Al-Nakhala’s threats, with the announcement of a “general mobilization” and confirmation that it was “fully ready.”

In light of these developments, a meeting — whose venue was not specified — brought together a leading delegation headed by Al-Nakhala, and the other from Hamas, headed by Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of its political bureau.

The two sides stressed that Israel’s abuse of Palestinian prisoners inside its prisons “leads the region toward a wide explosion,” according to a statement issued by Hamas.

The statement said the two movements warned “the enemy government against testing the patience and resistance of our people,” stressing that “harming the prisoners is an insult to all our people, and the occupation must bear the consequences of this foolish policy that may lead the region toward a wide explosion.”

Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said on Wednesday that 250 of Islamic Jihad’s detainees in Israeli prisons have started an open hunger strike to protest the “atrocious measures” against them, noting that “after seven days, 100 of them will also stop taking water.”

Of the approximately 5,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons, about 400 are affiliated with Islamic Jihad.

According to the Prisoner's Club, the striking prisoners are calling for “the prison administration to stop the abusive measures that it had imposed doubly against them after Sept. 6, the date of the Freedom Tunnel operation,” a reference to the escape of six prisoners — five of them from Islamic Jihad — through a tunnel from Israel’s Gilboa Prison. They were captured within two weeks.

Hasan Lafi, an analyst and political writer affiliated with Islamic Jihad, said Al-Nakhala’s statements and the quick response of the military wing, “are not an option or a threat, but rather a decision to go to war in the event that the lives of our prisoners in the occupation’s prisons are affected.

“Al-Nakhla possesses a balance of action and the ability to carry out promises, and he has already done so when he issued a threat in the matter of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and followed it with the launch of a missile.”

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted Islamic Jihad sources as saying that it conveyed a message to Israel via Egypt that it is “going toward escalating steps, including firing rockets and igniting the border with the Gaza Strip, if the enemy does not reverse its measures against its prisoners.”

Complexities in the Palestinian arena are increasing. Hamas’ dialogue with Egyptian officials in Cairo over the course of six days on enhancing the Hamas-Israel truce and the prisoner-exchange deal did not result in a “real breakthrough.” The movement, however, received Egyptian promises to speed up the reconstruction process, without setting timetables.

Palestinian and Egyptian sources close to these meetings affirmed that they reject what they describe as “Israeli prevarication and betting on the time factor,” and categorically refuse to conclude agreements related to the truce and the exchange deal that does not meet its conditions.

Hamas demands the release of 48 prisoners, who were re-arrested by Israel following their release under the Gilad Shalit (Israeli soldier) prisoner-exchange deal, and also the release of the six who fled the Gilboa prison through a tunnel. 

Also on the demand list is the release of Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat, Fouad Al-Shobaki, and a number of its military leaders serving life sentences.

Hamas is betting on its demands with four Israelis detained in Gaza, including two soldiers it captured during the third war on Gaza in 2014. It refuses to reveal their fate. The other two are an Arab and an Ethiopian who entered Gaza under mysterious circumstances.

But Cairo, according to the sources, told Hamas that it does not expect the Israeli government to respond to its conditions due to “what it suffers internally and its fear of collapse.” 

However, Egyptian officials promised to continue their efforts to reach an exchange deal, which Cairo sees as a basis for cementing the truce and preventing any deterioration that leads to military confrontation.

Zaher Jabarin, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said that Israel offers lies and misinformation regarding the developments of the exchange deal. “We will not give up on our demands,” he said.


Lebanese hold funerals for 7 killed in Beirut gunbattles

Lebanese hold funerals for 7 killed in Beirut gunbattles
Updated 15 October 2021

Lebanese hold funerals for 7 killed in Beirut gunbattles

Lebanese hold funerals for 7 killed in Beirut gunbattles
BEIRUT: Lebanon on Friday mourned seven people killed in gunbattles in the streets of Beirut the previous day. The confrontation erupted over a long-running probe into last year’s massive port blast in the city and raised fears of the country being drawn into further violence.
Underlying the violence are Lebanon’s entrenched sectarian divides and growing pushback against the port investigation by the two main Shiite Muslim parties, the powerful Hezbollah militant group and its allied Amal Movement.
Schools, banks and government offices across Lebanon shut down for a day of mourning Friday, while funerals were held in several parts of the country.
At a cemetery in a southern suburb of Beirut, Hezbollah members in military uniforms paid their respects, standing before three coffins draped with the group’s yellow flag and covered with white roses. Senior Hezbollah officials were present. Hundreds of women, dressed in black robes, also attended the funeral.
At a separate funeral for an Amal fighter, also in southern Beirut, gunmen opened fire in the air for several minutes.
Thursday’s clashes saw gunmen battling each other for several hours with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in the streets of Beirut. It was the most violent confrontation in the city in years, echoing the nation’s darkest era of the 1975-90 civil war.
The firefight raised the specter of a return to sectarian violence in a country already struggling through one of the world’s worst economic crises of the past 150 years.
The violence broke out at a protest organized by Hezbollah and Amal which called for the removal of the lead judge investigating last year’s massive explosion at Beirut port. Officials from both parties have suggested the judge’s investigation is heading toward holding them responsible for the blast, which killed at least 215 people.
Many of the protesters on Thursday had been armed.
Ali Haidar, a 23-year-old Shiite who took part in the protest, said nearby residents first started throwing rocks, bottles and furniture, before snipers on rooftops opened fire on the protesters from two directions, leaving people stuck in the middle.
“Then everyone started defending their neighborhood,” he said.
It was not clear who fired the first shot, but the confrontation quickly devolved into heavy exchanges of gunfire along a former civil war front line separating predominantly Muslim and Christian areas of Beirut.
The two Shiite groups accused the Christian Lebanese Forces party of starting the shooting. The Lebanese Forces party denied the charges.
The death toll rose to seven of Friday, after an man succumbed to his injuries, the Health Ministry said. The dead included two fighters from Hezbollah and three from Amal.
Residents in the Tayouneh area of Beirut, where most of the fighting played out, swept glass from the streets in front of shops and apartment buildings. Soldiers in armored personnel carriers deployed on the streets, and barbed wire was erected at some street entrances. Several cars were still parked in the area, damaged in Thursday’s firefight.
Tayouneh has a huge roundabout that separates Christian and Muslim neighborhoods. Newly pockmarked buildings off the roundabout sat next to the ones scarred from the days of the civil war.
One of those killed in the neighborhood was identified as Mariam Farhat, a mother of five. She was shot by a sniper bullet as she sat near the door of the balcony of her second floor apartment, her family said Friday.
“We started screaming, she was taken on a stretcher but did not reach the hospital,” said Munira Hamdar, Farhat’s mother-in-law. She said Farhat’s youngest daughter does not know that her mother was killed, and has been staying with her maternal aunt since Thursday.
Farhat was laid to rest Friday, along with the two Hezbollah fighters, in the Hezbollah ceremony in south Beirut. Her casket also draped with a Hezbollah flag.
Tensions over the port blast have contributed to Lebanon’s many troubles, including a currency collapse, hyperinflation, soaring poverty and an energy crisis leading to extended electricity blackouts.
The probe centers on hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate that were improperly stored at a port warehouse that detonated on Aug. 4, 2020. The blast killed at least 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed parts of nearby neighborhoods. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and further devastated the country already beset with political divisions and financial woes.
Judge Tarek Bitar has charged and issued an arrest warrant for Lebanon’s former finance minister, who is a senior member of Amal and a close ally of Hezbollah. Bitar also charged three other former senior government officials with intentional killing and negligence that led to the blast.
Officials from both Shiite parties, as well as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, had attacked Bitar for days, accusing him of politicizing the investigation by charging and summoning some officials and not others.
A senior Hezbollah official, Mohammed Daamoush, said in a sermon during Friday prayers that the group will keep pushing to get Bitar removed and “return the port investigation on its right track.” He did not elaborate but analysts close to Hezbollah said they expect Shiite Cabinet ministers and some of their allies to boycott Cabinet meetings.
No Hezbollah officials have so far been charged in the 14-month investigation.
Bitar is the second judge to lead the complicated investigation. His predecessor was removed following legal challenges.

Arab coalition: Over 180 Houthis killed, 10 military vehicles destroyed in Abedia operations

Arab coalition: Over 180 Houthis killed, 10 military vehicles destroyed in Abedia operations
Updated 15 October 2021

Arab coalition: Over 180 Houthis killed, 10 military vehicles destroyed in Abedia operations

Arab coalition: Over 180 Houthis killed, 10 military vehicles destroyed in Abedia operations
  • Coalition said it had carried out 40 operations targeting Houthis in Abedia district over the past 24 hours

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Friday that ten military vehicles were destroyed and over 180 Houthis killed in operations it carried out in Abedia.

The coalition said that it had carried out 40 operations targeting Houthis in Marib’s Abedia district and the villages surrounding it over the past 24 hours.

Abedia is a district in Yemen’s Marib which has been under a Houthi siege since Sept. 23, hindering movement of civilians and impeding humanitarian aid flows, including medical supplies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week.

The Houthi militia continues to ignore international humanitarian laws by threatening the lives of civilians in villages and towns with missiles and sieges, the coalition said.