Syrian landmines wash into Lebanon due to floods

Syrian landmines wash into Lebanon due to floods
Syrian refugee tents in Bar Elias town are inundated with floodwaters, Bekaa valley, Lebanon, January 7, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 May 2021

Syrian landmines wash into Lebanon due to floods

Syrian landmines wash into Lebanon due to floods
  • Multiple accidents have been recorded this year along the northern border, a Lebanese military source told Arab News
  • Authorities urge citizens to avoid suspicious areas, stay on paved roads, and do not approach or tamper with any suspicious object 

BEIRUT: As authorities continue to find and extract landmines left behind from the Lebanese Civil War, a new wave of explosives has entered the country’s border due to a natural disaster.  

The Lebanese Armed Forces on Wednesday said landmines planted along the Lebanese-Syrian border have washed into Lebanese territories due to winter flooding. 

“Landmines planted on the Lebanese-Syrian borders are a result of the Syrian conflict,” a Lebanese military source told Arab News.

“As these mines drifted into Lebanese territories, it has become harder for the Lebanese army to clear them. Multiple accidents have been recorded this year, which has injured many who were not familiar with the nature of the foreign objects they found.”

The source said a majority of accidents occurred in the northern border region due to the flooding and soil erosion caused by the winter floods. All injuries were on Lebanese soil.

The army command issued a statement, which warned “ammunition comes in different shapes and sizes and may be camouflaged in different ways and dispersed randomly.”

Areas that are potentially contaminated with landmines are not marked with signs or barbed wire to warn people yet. The army command has urged citizens to avoid suspicious areas, stay on paved roads, and not to approach or tamper with any object or unexploded ordnance.

The Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC), which is part of the Lebanese Armed Forces, has been carrying out the Lebanese National Mine Action Program with support from the UN Development Program to cover shortfalls.

The LMAC aims to secure a safe country where civilians can walk and move freely without the threat of landmines by the year 2025. The center’s mission focuses on areas in south Lebanon, which is the most contaminated area with landmines and suspicious objects.

“The closer we get to a minefield in the remote areas of south Lebanon, the more red-painted stones we see,” United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Officer Captain Yang Dong from China said.

“The red stones remind us of safe and unsafe areas. They remind us not to step around. If there are red stones nearby, it is dangerous and there could be some mines there.”

In January 2020, the UNIFIL’s scope of work increased with the signing of a new agreement with the LMAC while the country marked International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4.

Over the past five years, the UNIFIL’s demining efforts have cleared nearly 5 million square meters of mine-infested land in south Lebanon. It has also destroyed more than 43,500 landmines, bombs, and unexploded ordnances.

The threat of landmines is real and spreading awareness is vital for the Lebanese people.

Since 1975, landmines and unexploded materials left behind from the Lebanese Civil War have led to 3,847 deaths and injuries. The most casualties were recorded in 2006 when 209 people were killed or injured, including 40 children under the age of 12.


Explosion rocks southern Iraqi city of Basra, local reports say

Explosion rocks southern Iraqi city of Basra, local reports say
Updated 6 sec ago

Explosion rocks southern Iraqi city of Basra, local reports say

Explosion rocks southern Iraqi city of Basra, local reports say

BAGHDAD: Explosion rocks southern Iraqi city of Basra; local reports say multiple casualties from what was likely a car bomb


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 33 min 50 sec ago

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 27 min 47 sec ago

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.


Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard
Updated 07 December 2021

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian teenager who drove his car into an Israeli security checkpoint in the occupied West Bank was shot dead on Monday by a security guard at the scene, officials said.

The car-ramming occurred after 1 a.m. at the Te’enim checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, an Israeli Defense Ministry statement said, adding that the assailant had been “neutralized.”

It was not immediately clear if the alleged attacker was killed, but the official Palestinian news agency Wafa later reported that 15-year-old Mohammed Nidal Yunes died from injuries after being fired on at a checkpoint.

An Israeli security official confirmed to AFP that the driver of the vehicle was killed.

The Defense Ministry said that a security guard was “seriously injured” in the attack.

Israel’s Sheba Hospital said the guard’s injuries were not life threatening.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and the Palestinian territory is now home to roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers living in communities widely considered illegal under international law.

Attacks on checkpoints are common, often carried out by individual Palestinians armed with knives, as well as attempted car-rammings and occasional shootings.

Monday’s incident came after a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli civilian and attempted to attack police on Saturday near the Damascus Gate entry to the Old City in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

The assailant was shot dead by officers who appeared to fire on the suspect after he was on the ground, stirring debate about excessive force.

Israeli authorities have insisted the officers acted appropriately.

BACKGROUND

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and the Palestinian territory is now home to roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers living in communities widely considered illegal under international law.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities freed a prominent Palestinian prisoner, two weeks after striking a release deal that ended his marathon 131-day hunger strike.

Kayed Fasfous, 32, had remained in an Israeli hospital since ending his strike on Nov. 23.

He was the symbolic figurehead of six hunger strikers protesting Israel’s controversial policy of “administrative detention,” which allows suspects to be held indefinitely without charge.

Israel claims the policy is necessary to keep dangerous suspects locked away without disclosing sensitive information that could expose valuable sources.

Palestinians and rights groups say the practice denies the right of due process, allowing Israel to hold prisoners for months or even years without seeing the evidence against them.  The law is rarely applied to Israelis.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, a group representing former and current prisoners, confirmed Fasfous had returned home to the occupied West Bank through a military checkpoint near the southern city of Hebron on Sunday afternoon.

Online footage showed the former prisoner in a wheelchair celebrating his return to his southern hometown of Dura before being taken to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The plight of the six hunger strikers ignited solidarity demonstrations across the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza in November mounting pressure on Israel to release the detainees.

At least four of the five other hunger strikers have since ended their protests after reaching similar deals with Israeli authorities. They are expected to be released in the coming months.

Hunger strikes are common among Palestinian prisoners and have helped secure numerous concessions from Israeli authorities.

The nature of these strikes vary from individuals protesting detention without charge to groups calling for improved cell conditions.

Around 500 of the 4,600 Palestinians detained by Israel are held in administrative detention according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner rights group.