Turkey launches new raid in northern Iraq

Turkey launches new raid in northern Iraq
The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2021

Turkey launches new raid in northern Iraq

Turkey launches new raid in northern Iraq
  • Turkish media said commando forces landed in the Metina region from helicopters while warplanes dropped bombs on Kurdistan Workers’ Party targets
  • The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq

ISTANBUL, Turkey: The Turkish army on Saturday launched a new ground and air operation against outlawed Kurdish militants’ bases in northern Iraq, officials and local media reported.
“Heroic commandos of the heroic Turkish Armed Forces are in northern Iraq,” the defense ministry said in a tweet without specifying how many soldiers were involved.
Turkish media said commando forces landed in the Metina region from helicopters while warplanes dropped bombs on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets.
Turkish television showed images of paratroopers jumping from helicopters and camouflaged soldiers firing guns.
The PKK, listed as a terror group by Turkey and much of the international community, has for decades used Iraq’s northern mountains as a springboard for its insurgency against the Turkish state.
The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq.
In February, Turkey launched an operation dubbed “Claw-Eagle 2” against PKK rebels holed up in the northern Iraqi region of Dohuk.
That operation created controversy because it was designed in part to rescue 12 Turkish soldiers and an Iraqi held captive by the PKK in a cave.
Turkey accused the PKK of executing the 13 men before they could be freed.
The Kurdish insurgency against the Turkish state is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people since being launched in 1984.


UN agency says 52,000 displaced in Gaza, Amnesty wants war crimes investigation

UN agency says 52,000 displaced in Gaza, Amnesty wants war crimes investigation
Updated 57 min 28 sec ago

UN agency says 52,000 displaced in Gaza, Amnesty wants war crimes investigation

UN agency says 52,000 displaced in Gaza, Amnesty wants war crimes investigation
GENEVA: More than 52,000 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli air strikes that have destroyed or badly damaged nearly 450 buildings in the Gaza Strip, the UN aid agency said on Tuesday.
In a separate statement on the conflict, rights group Amnesty International said Israel air strikes on residential buildings might amount to war crimes. Israel says it hits only legitimate military targets and that it does all it can to avoid civilian casualties.
About 47,000 of the displaced people have sought shelter in 58 UN-run schools in Gaza, Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, told reporters.
Laerke said 132 buildings had been destroyed and 316 had been severely damaged, including six hospitals and nine primary health care centers as well a desalination plant, affecting access to drinking water for about 250,000 people.
The UN agency welcomed the fact that Israel had opened a border crossing for humanitarian supplies but called for another crossing to also be opened.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are providing food and other assistance to displaced families when the security situation allows, Laerke said.
There is a severe shortage of medical supplies, a risk of water-borne diseases and the spread of COVID-19 because of displaced people crowding into schools, said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization.
London-based Amnesty International called for an investigation into air strikes on residential buildings in Gaza.
“Israeli forces have displayed a shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians by carrying out a number of airstrikes targeting residential buildings in some cases killing entire families — including children — and causing wanton destruction to civilian property, in attacks that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Amnesty said.
Israel says it strikes only sites it deems military targets used by militants and that it regularly issues prior warnings to evacuate buildings it sees as legitimate targets as part of wider efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
Amnesty, which urged both sides last week not to violate humanitarian law, said it had documented four deadly attacks by Israel launched on residential homes without prior warning and called on the International Criminal Court to investigate.
It said Israeli strikes on May 11 destroyed two residential buildings belonging to the Abu Al-Ouf and Al-Kolaq families, killing 30 people, 11 of them children. A mother and three children were killed on May 14 when the Al-Atar family’s three-story building was hit, it said.
It said the home of Nader Mahmoud Mohammed Al-Thom, where he lives with eight others, was attacked without warning on May 15.
Israel did not immediately comment on the specific cases.

Macron, Egypt’s El-Sisi, Jordan king to hold talks seeking Mideast cease-fire

Macron, Egypt’s El-Sisi, Jordan king to hold talks seeking Mideast cease-fire
Updated 18 May 2021

Macron, Egypt’s El-Sisi, Jordan king to hold talks seeking Mideast cease-fire

Macron, Egypt’s El-Sisi, Jordan king to hold talks seeking Mideast cease-fire

PARIS: France’s President Emmanuel Macron, his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II will hold talks Tuesday aimed at seeking a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, the French presidency said.
El-Sisi is currently in Paris for summits on Africa while Abdullah will join by video conference, the Elysee said.
“The trilateral meeting aims above all to work for a rapid cease-fire and prevent the conflict from extending,” the presidency said.
 


Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up
Updated 18 May 2021

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up

Israel-Gaza violence shows few signs of slowing as global diplomacy ramps up
  • Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week
  • Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children

GAZA/TEL AVIV: More than a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas showed few signs of abating on Tuesday despite intense US and global diplomacy to stop the region’s fiercest hostilities in years.
The Israeli military said late on Monday that Hamas and other Palestinian groups had fired about 3,350 rockets from Gaza – 200 of them on Monday alone – and that Israeli air and artillery strikes had killed at least 130 militants.
Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.
Amid seemingly fruitless diplomatic efforts to stop the violence, the top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, warned that the violence could spread.
“My assessment is that you risk broader destabilization and you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters before landing in Brussels on Monday for talks with NATO allies. “It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting.”
Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave continued overnight. Soon after dawn, missiles struck two buildings in Gaza City, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.
Militants in the Strip fired rockets early on Tuesday that set off sirens in southern Israeli cities, sending thousands running for bomb shelters.
There were no immediate reports of injuries on either side.
The overnight rocket fire from Gaza appeared to be less than in previous nights. There was a six-hour lull in rocket fire overnight before they again began being launched at dawn, according to rocket siren information from the Israeli military.
US President Joe Biden expressed his support for a cease-fire during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the White House said in a statement.
But Netanyahu told Israelis earlier that strikes against militant sites and leaders in Gaza would carry on.
“The directive is to continue to strike at terror targets,” he said in a televised speech, after meeting with military and intelligence chiefs. “We will continue to act as necessary to restore peace and security to all residents of Israel.”
The armed wing of Hamas promised more rockets in return: “The criminal Zionist enemy intensified its bombing of homes and residential apartments in the recent hours, and therefore, we warn the enemy that if it did not stop that immediately, we would resume rocketing Tel Aviv,” said spokesman Abu Ubaida.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all sides to protect civilians.
Although stressing that Israel had the right to defend itself, Blinken said he had not seen any evidence from Israel about its suggestion that Hamas was operating out of a building housing media outlets – including the US-based Associated Press – which was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike at the weekend.
Hamas denied having offices in the building. “These are false allegations and an attempt to justify the crime of targeting a civilian tower,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
Egypt and UN mediators also stepped up diplomatic efforts, while the UN General Assembly will meet to discuss the violence on Thursday.
The Biden administration approved the potential sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, and congressional sources said on Monday that US lawmakers were not expected to object to the deal.
Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The hostilities between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza have been accompanied by an uptick of violence in the West Bank, where the Palestinians have limited self-rule.
There have also been clashes between Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities in mixed areas.
Israel’s president has warned that tension between Jewish and Arab Israelis could devolve into “civil war.”
General strikes are planned for Tuesday in Arab towns within Israel and Palestinian towns in the West Bank, with posts on social media urging solidarity “from the sea to the river.”


Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory
Updated 18 May 2021

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

TEL AVIV/BEIRUT: Six shells were fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel on Monday but fell short of crossing the border, the Israeli military said.
It said that in response, artillery was fired at "the sources of the launches" in Lebanon.
A Lebanese security source said shells were heard being fired from south Lebanon and efforts were being made to identify the location. The source said about 22 shells were fired by Israeli artillery on Lebanese territory.
There were no reports of casualties or damage, and the shelling did not appear to signal the opening of a new front in Israel's fighting with militants in the Gaza Strip.
The Lebanese shelling caused Israeli air raid sirens to blare near the kibbutz of Misgav Am, along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
It was the second incident of cross-border fire in the past week. On Thursday, three rockets were launched from Lebanon toward northern Israel but landed in the Mediterranean Sea, causing no damage or casualties.
Israel fought a 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, who have sway in southern Lebanon and advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.
Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired sporadically on Israel in the past.


Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200
A man inspects the rubble of destroyed commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on the upper floors of a commercial building in Gaza City, on Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP)
Updated 18 May 2021

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200

Gaza facing water, power crisis after deadly Israeli attacks lift death toll to 200
  • Gaza City mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj accused Israel of deliberately targeting infrastructure and destroying main streets, including access to Al-Shifa Hospital
  • 59 children, 35 women among victims of Gaza strikes

GAZA CITY: Residents of the Gaza Strip were awakened in the early hours of Monday by the heaviest Israeli bombardment since the conflict escalated a week ago as residential buildings were hit and vital power and water links destroyed.

The overnight attacks brought the Palestinian death toll to almost 200, including 59 children and 35 women, while more than 1,300 have been injured.

Israel targeted homes, apartments and commercial buildings, and also struck a car and a cafeteria on the seashore, resulting in deaths and injuries.

The relentless bombardment has severely hit electricity, water and sanitation services in Gaza, raising fears of a deepening humanitarian crisis for the 2 million people living there.

Gaza City mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj said that essential services had been cut back significantly in recent days due to limited resources and damage to roads, power lines and water pipes.

He accused Israel of deliberately targeting infrastructure and destroying main streets, including access to Al-Shifa Hospital.

Sanitation and water supply to the population have been badly hit, Al-Sarraj told Arab News.

“The only desalination plant in Gaza City has stopped working as a result of the Israeli bombardment of the surrounding areas and the inability of workers to reach it, and the continuous electricity cuts have affected the pumping of water in the wells into homes,” he said.

Ziad Sheikh Khalil, 44, is trying to provide lighting for the house he shares with his wife and four children by charging batteries during the few hours that electricity is available.

“We hardly get three hours of electricity a day,” he told Arab News.

“When the power is on, all the family members work quickly to charge mobile phones, as well as operate the washing machine and pump water to the tanks at the top of the building.”

The Gaza Strip has suffered from severe electricity shortages for many years, but in recent days the crisis has worsened due to the lack of fuel and damage to the 10 power lines that come from Israel.

Six of Gaza’s 10 electricity lines are down and supply has been more than halved, according to Mohammed Thabet, a spokesperson for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.

“There are some border areas completely cut off from electricity,” he said.

Repair crews are unable to fix the lines due to continued attacks.

The closure of the Kerem Abu Salem crossing has also hit fuel supplies for the only power station in the Gaza Strip, he said.

Thabet added: “Electricity networks inside the Gaza Strip also have been hit by the Israeli bombing of residential areas. It increases the difficulties facing the company.”