Israel, Cyprus agree travel deal for vaccinated citizens

Israel, Cyprus agree travel deal for vaccinated citizens
Israeli medical worker fills an international certificate of vaccination for coronavirus at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan near the coastal city of Tel Aviv on Dec. 19, 2020. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 February 2021

Israel, Cyprus agree travel deal for vaccinated citizens

Israel, Cyprus agree travel deal for vaccinated citizens
  • Israel reached a similar agreement with Greece last week
  • Israel’s aggressive vaccination campaign has seen 3.8 million receive the first of two required doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

JERUSALEM: Israel and Cyprus have agreed in principle a deal allowing coronavirus-vaccinated citizens of the two countries to travel between them without limitations, once flights resume, Israel’s president said Sunday.
Israel reached a similar agreement with Greece last week, as the Mediterranean nations seek to revive tourism industries battered by the pandemic.
“Let me say how pleased I am with the recent understandings that will allow the renewal of flights between Israel and Cyprus and call on more countries to adopt the ‘green pass,’” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement after meeting his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.
Rivlin’s spokesman Jonathan Cummings confirmed to AFP that the ‘green pass’ referred to an arrangement whereby vaccinated people from both countries would be permitted reciprocal travel with few restrictions.
Anastasiades, who is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Sunday, was quoted in the Israeli statement as saying that Cyprus and the Jewish state had “an ambitious plan of action for cooperation between our countries.”
Israel’s aggressive vaccination campaign has seen 3.8 million receive the first of two required doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while 2.4 million have received the second shot.
The country of nine million people, currently easing restrictions after ending its third nationwide lockdown this month, is aiming to vaccinate everyone over the age of 16 by the end of March.
Israel has recorded 723,038 coronavirus cases, including 5,368 deaths. The country’s airport remains closed to all non-emergency travel.
Cyprus has begun cautiously easing its national lockdown following a decline in the spread of Covid-19 infections that peaked after Christmas.
Cyprus went into lockdown on January 10 for the second time during the pandemic, after daily cases hit a record 907 on December 29.


Medical profession protests ‘unfair’ Lebanon court ruling in favor of girl

Medical profession protests ‘unfair’ Lebanon court ruling in favor of girl
Updated 3 min 26 sec ago

Medical profession protests ‘unfair’ Lebanon court ruling in favor of girl

Medical profession protests ‘unfair’ Lebanon court ruling in favor of girl
  • Doctors and private hospitals refuse to receive patients due to court ruling in favor of a child who had her limbs amputated
  • Parent Hassan Tannous praises ‘honest judiciary’

BEIRUT: All Lebanese doctors have stopped working from Monday until the end of the week in protest against a court verdict.

The medical profession in Lebanon is protesting against the judicial decision to pay high compensation to Ella Tannous, who had her limbs amputated due to a medical error six years ago.

The protesting doctors have been joined by private hospitals, which have stopped receiving patients, except in emergency cases.

The girl’s father Hassan Tannous, however, praised the “honest judiciary.”

Many doctors, including the head of Lebanese Order of Physicians, Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf, and the head of the Syndicate of Private Hospital Owners, Suleiman Haroun, staged a sit-in in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, calling the ruling “unfair.”

The Tannous case goes back to February 2015, when she was admitted to Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil due to her high temperature.​

Ella was diagnosed with a cold at the time, but her condition deteriorated and the child suffered septic shock, which led to gangrene that caused the amputation of her limbs.

The girl’s father had taken her to the Hotel Dieu Hospital, which refused to receive her.

He transferred her to the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where doctors decided to save her life by amputating her four limbs.

The tragedy led her parents to file a complaint in March 2015 before the Lebanese Order of Physicians against the doctor who examined her and Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil, on charges of neglecting the child’s health and not providing her with the necessary care.

More than one doctor was arrested and released on bail.

Those involved in the case exchanged accusations for years. The girl’s family objected to a medical report issued by the medical committee of the Lebanese Order of Physicians two months after the incident, calling it a “distortion of the facts.”

The final ruling, issued unanimously at the end of last week, by the Beirut Appeals Court, headed by Tarek Bitar, gave the girl’s family a positive surprise, while the Lebanese medical profession reacted to the ruling in a state of amazement and condemnation.

The ruling obligated the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Beirut, Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil and the two doctors — Essam M. and Rana Sh. — “to pay in joint and several liabilities to the child Tannous an amount of LBP 9 billion ($5.9 million) for damages, in addition to a monthly income for life estimated at four times the minimum wage.”

The ruling also stipulated “obliging the convicts to pay in joint and several liabilities an amount of LBP 500 million to the father of the child and LBP 500 million to her mother in exchange for damages.”

Medical errors committed against patients have often resulted in settlements. Some cases are still pending in the courts.

The head of the National Health Authority, Dr. Ismail Sukkarieh, told Arab News that the judicial ruling “is based more on emotions than wisdom, justice and scientific facts.”

Sukkarieh added: “The judiciary focused on the tragedy of the child’s condition, which cannot be compensated with money, without checking the stages of the disease and the accumulation of its causes.”

He said: “Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil was not equipped with intensive care for children. As for the doctors who saved the child through the amputation, they were spiritually affected.”

Hassan Tannous said that although the ruling “does not compensate for the loss of Ella to her limbs, it is a moral compensation.”

The father said the ruling “is a very strong message in the face of the perpetrators of medical errors, that there is an honest judiciary capable of restoring the rights of the owners.”

The girl’s family moved to France for her rehabilitation but continued to pursue the lawsuit until the end.

“It is a public rights issue to protect all Lebanese children from medical neglect,” said Hassan.

During the sit-in at the Palace of Justice on Monday, Dr. Abu Sharaf said: “There are complications that occur as a result of the medicines, and mistakes happen sometimes, but the doctors have no criminal intent. After today, no doctor will dare to work on difficult and rare cases.”

Dr. Ashraf called for “work to remove the effect of the judicial decision, and to establish a body specialized in medical matters in the judiciary to study medical problems.”

Hotel Dieu Hospital de France announced that it would stop receiving patients in all its departments and private clinics.

“It is unacceptable for doctors to pay the price for a health policy that does not exist in the first place,” said Elias Shallal, head of the hospital’s medical committee.

“It is unacceptable to applaud doctors for their role in the fight against coronavirus and after the Beirut Port explosion, and then attack them because of a medical error.”

The administration of Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil described the ruling as “unfair.”

It stopped receiving patients except in emergency cases.

The American University Medical Center in Beirut closed its clinics until further notice and stopped receiving patients, except for emergency cases.


Israel defies international community as conflict with Palestinians continues

Palestinian medics evacuate wounded protesters as Israeli security forces fire tear gas in Jerusalem's Old City on May 10, 2021. (AFP)
Palestinian medics evacuate wounded protesters as Israeli security forces fire tear gas in Jerusalem's Old City on May 10, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 9 min 42 sec ago

Israel defies international community as conflict with Palestinians continues

Palestinian medics evacuate wounded protesters as Israeli security forces fire tear gas in Jerusalem's Old City on May 10, 2021. (AFP)
  • Outrage prompted over targeting of civilians, holy sites, and use excessive force
  • Former PLO committee member challenges Americans, Europeans to ‘grow a backbone’

AMMAN: Despite calls from the international community for an end to the hostilities between Israeli security forces and Palestinians, clashes continued in Jerusalem on Monday, with violence erupting at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, for the second day in a row.

Over 300 people have reportedly been injured, with the Red Crescent saying half a dozen Palestinians are in a critical condition.

On Friday, May 7, US State Department spokesman Ned Price called on both sides to show restraint, saying Washington was “extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah,” condemning an attack on Israeli soldiers and “reciprocal attacks on Palestinians.”

US-based outlet Axios, meanwhile, said the White House had pressed Israel to restrain Monday’s planned Jerusalem Day celebrations, marking the capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, so as not to stoke further tension in the city, but that Israel had rebuffed these advances.

Former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi challenged the US and European leaders to “grow a backbone” and “translate their words into action,” over restraining Israel against Palestinian worshippers.

She said: “Americans must learn to grow a backbone and work hard to enforce their position and to use their financial and political power. This is not a big deal to ask to ensure freedom of religion.

“This is the language that the Israelis understand; if they are being rewarded, nothing will happen,” she continued. “There has to be a cost and this is a test of the Biden administration. Americans must say enough is enough.”

Ashrawi added that what is happening is a “crime” and a clear case of multiple human rights violations, including targeting civilians, vandalizing holy sites, and using excessive power against worshipers.

Protests at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, meanwhile, drew the presence of right-wing Israeli members of the Knesset and a large number of Palestinians and their supporters.

The UN secretary-general and senior world leaders were among those to condemn the violence, and express their concerns over the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah.

Jordan summoned the Israeli chargé d’affaires in Amman, and threatened to recall its ambassador in Tel Aviv. There were also loud demonstrations outside the Embassy of Israel in Jordan calling for its closure.

Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Arab News that Jerusalem is the symbol of the Palestinian cause.

“The reunification of the homeland and its national institutions requires the full (cooperation) of all Palestinians regardless of where they are,” said Fayad.

“Such reaction is the strongest response to the Israeli aggression and the terror of its army and settlers against our holy places and our people in Jerusalem,” he added.

Fayyad continued that the basic right of people to live in their homes and homeland was fundamental “to allow our people to extract their right to self-determination.”

Hazem Kawasmi, a Jerusalem civil society activist, told Arab News that what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah was the continuation of the last 70 years of evictions of Palestinians from their homes and land across the country.

“Trying to evict 28 families from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah is a clear case that (shows) the Israeli apartheid regime and transfer policy to implement their ‘Judaizing’ of the city, emptying it of its indigenous Palestinian population,” Kawasmi said.

“Not surprisingly, the international community are watching and doing nothing to stop the rogue state of Israel from practicing its ethnic cleansing policies.”

There are fears that Israel’s actions in Jerusalem could also provoke wider problems beyond the city. Senior Hamas figure Salah Aruri warned that “by playing with fire in Jerusalem, the occupiers (Israel) will witness a burning response on their heads.”


US ships fire warning shots to fend off Iranian speedboats in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon

US ships fire warning shots to fend off Iranian speedboats in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon
Updated 29 min 18 sec ago

US ships fire warning shots to fend off Iranian speedboats in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon

US ships fire warning shots to fend off Iranian speedboats in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon

US ships fire warning shots to fend off Iranian speedboats in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon


US names ambassador Richard Norland as special envoy for Libya

US names ambassador Richard Norland as special envoy for Libya
Updated 59 min 49 sec ago

US names ambassador Richard Norland as special envoy for Libya

US names ambassador Richard Norland as special envoy for Libya
  • Norland will lead US diplomatic efforts for a negotiated political solution in the North African country

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday named Richard Norland, US ambassador to Libya, as the US special envoy for the country, the US State Department said, to lead diplomatic efforts for a negotiated political solution in the North African country.
The appointment comes as the Presidency Council, which functions as Libya’s head of state for now, was chosen through a United Nations-facilitated process that also selected a new Government of National Unity that took office in March, replacing rival administrations in east and west.


Iraqi journalist targeted in shooting undergoes brain surgery

Ahmed Hassan, a journliat who worked for Alforat TV, was shot outside his home in Diwaniya province. (Al-Forat TV)
Ahmed Hassan, a journliat who worked for Alforat TV, was shot outside his home in Diwaniya province. (Al-Forat TV)
Updated 10 May 2021

Iraqi journalist targeted in shooting undergoes brain surgery

Ahmed Hassan, a journliat who worked for Alforat TV, was shot outside his home in Diwaniya province. (Al-Forat TV)
  • The attack on Ahmed Hassan came exactly 24 hours after anti-government campaigner Ihab Al-Wazni was shot dead

BAGHDAD: A prominent Iraqi journalist, shot by gunmen Monday in southern Iraq, has undergone brain surgery and is in a critical condition, a Baghdad hospital said.

The attack on Ahmed Hassan came exactly 24 hours after anti-government campaigner Ihab al-Wazni was shot dead, also in the south, sending protest movement supporters onto the streets to demand an end to official impunity.

Hassan was shot several times by an assailant as he arrived home at night near Diwaniyah, in images captured on a surveillance camera as in a string of previous attacks.

He had to be transported to a hospital in the capital that specialises in neurological surgery.

"Ahmed Hassan has been operated on and transferred to intensive care where he will be kept under constant surveillance for a critical period of two weeks," hospital spokesman Mohammed Mouyed said.

He said that Hassan, who works for Al-Forat satellite television, underwent several procedures.

On Sunday, Wazni was shot dead in an ambush outside his home in the city of Karbala.

Around 30 activists have died in targeted killings and dozens of others have been abducted or survived attacks since October 2019.

None of these attacks have been claimed but activists have repeatedly blamed armed groups linked to Iran who wield considerable influence in Iraq.

Authorities have consistently failed to publicly identify or charge the perpetrators of these killings.

Al-Forat's owner Ammar al-Hakim, a prominent Shiite politician, Monday urged the government to "protect freedom of speech" and to "urgently" shed light on the assassinations.

After Wazni's murder, Al-Beit Al-Watani (National Bloc), a movement born out of the anti-government protests, said it would boycott parliamentary elections slated for October.