Save the Children urges end to Gaza violence as child deaths reach 31

Children watch the funeral of Palestinian boy Hussien Hamad, who was killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021. (Reuters)
Children watch the funeral of Palestinian boy Hussien Hamad, who was killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 14 May 2021

Save the Children urges end to Gaza violence as child deaths reach 31

Children watch the funeral of Palestinian boy Hussien Hamad, who was killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021. (Reuters)
  • ‘If this does not end, more children will be killed,’ Gaza-based expert warns
  • Conflict could lead to ‘trauma, mental health issues’ for almost 1m children

LONDON: Children’s charity Save The Children has called for an immediate end to all hostilities in Gaza and Israel as the number of children killed by Israeli bombardment reaches 31.

“Save the Children is urging the international community to use its influence with parties to the conflict to seek an urgent path to de-escalation as fatalities in Gaza and southern Israel continue to soar,” said a statement issued by the charity to Arab News on Friday.

“Save the Children can confirm that at least 31 schools and a health facility in Gaza have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes,” it said.

In total, 33 children have now died in the violence — 31 in Gaza, and another two in Israeli territory.

The total death toll from the fighting, which continues to escalate, has now reached 126, including 119 Palestinians and seven Israelis. Hundreds more Palestinians have also been injured in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Gaza-based Mazen Naim, a communications officer at Save the Children, told Arab News: “I’ve been talking to my family, consistently checking in with my friends and colleagues — the situation is very bad everywhere.

“The 2 million people living in Gaza do not feel safe at all in any way. There are explosions and airstrikes and attacks everywhere. There was houses that were hit, even some of them with people inside. Families were wiped out.”

Naim said that children will pay a “serious and lasting price” for the heaviest attack on Gaza in nearly a decade.

“Many children were alive yesterday that are not alive today. If this does not end, more children will be killed. If this continues, we could be looking at a huge humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

Not only are dozens of children being harmed physically, he added, but the fighting is causing lasting mental distress to the Gaza Strip’s 800,000 children.

“Children are feeling fear, anxiety and sleeplessness. They are having nightmares at night — no one feels safe in any way, everyone is feeling like we could die at any moment.

“This might end soon, but they will still have nightmares for a long time. This will affect their personality, and their ability to cope and communicate. It will affect their education. Every time they will hear a loud noise — a door shutting, for example — they will have these memories brought back to them.”

Studies show that a large number of people still suffer from mental health issues rooted in previous violent flare-ups in Gaza and elsewhere, Naim said.

Densely populated Gaza has languished for over a decade under an Israeli blockade that has prevented the territory from developing its economy and has eroded critical infrastructure.

The healthcare system, in particular, suffers from a chronic lack of funding, a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and compounded by the sudden influx of seriously injured people.

“The health system in Gaza was actually suffering because of the 14-years blockade on Gaza, but also from a shortage of staff, shortage of medical supplies and the coronavirus crisis,” said Naim.

“And now with this conflict happening, there’s a shortage of hospital beds, a shortage of drugs, and nobody knows when more supplies can enter the territory.”


Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues
Updated 19 min 21 sec ago

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues
  • Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani receives written message from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
  • Egypt and Qatar FMs also meet in Doha to discuss the re-activation of bilateral cooperation between countries

CAIRO: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Tuesday held talks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who visited Doha to deliver a message from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The Qatari news agency reported: “The emir received a written message from the president of Egypt on enhancing relations between the two countries and means of strengthening bilateral relations in a way that serves the interests of the two brotherly countries and peoples.”

Shoukry arrived in Doha on Sunday carrying El-Sisi’s message on the positive developments in Egyptian-Qatari relations following the AlUla Declaration.

The declaration “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood among our countries and peoples in order to serve their aspirations,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the GCC Summit when the AlUla Declaration was signed on Jan. 5.

El-Sisi said in his letter that Egypt looks forward to taking more measures during the upcoming period to enhance bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the interests of both peoples and countries, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

Shoukry also held talks with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani as they discussed the re-activation of bilateral cooperation and means of settling all the outstanding issues between both countries.

Hafez said the meeting also covered the most prominent challenges facing the Arab countries and the region.

Both ministers also discussed the Arab League meeting held on Tuesday about the most prominent regional issues and ways to deal with external interventions harmful to Arab national security, Hafez said.

They highlighted the importance of stressing Arab solidarity with Egypt and Sudan during a session scheduled to be held on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he said.

Shoukry will attend the meeting, following a request from Egypt and Sudan.


Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife
Updated 39 min 39 sec ago

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife
  • Joint task force of Dubai police and municipal authorities responded to many cases of violation during the past weeks
  • Authorities are working to curb violators and confiscate wild and dangerous animals to keep them away from residential areas

DUBAI: Dubai authorities said Tuesday a joint task force was cracking down on the illegal possession of dangerous animals in the Gulf emirate, where owning exotic wildlife remains popular in some circles.
The joint task force of Dubai police and municipal authorities “has responded to many cases of violation during the past weeks,” a police statement said.
Authorities are working “around the clock to curb violators and confiscate wild and dangerous animals to keep them away from residential areas,” it said, urging members of the public to report and hand over such animals.
In mid-May, Dubai police said a hunt was underway for a wild animal on the loose in a residential neighborhood, after reports of an escaped big cat.
A video of what appeared to be a big black cat circulated on social media groups, and residents of The Springs community were warned to “exercise all necessary caution.”
Local media later reported that animal turned out to be a domestic cat.
A 2016 federal law prohibits people “from owning, possessing, trading or breeding dangerous animals,” with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a 500,000 dirham ($136,000) fine, according to the statement.
Despite the penalties, private zoos are not uncommon in the United Arab Emirates.


Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles
Updated 15 June 2021

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles
  • Exhibits showcase pieces from across Mesopotamia and relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria

LOS ANGELES: The Getty Villa Museum in Los Angeles is reopening with two exhibits on ancient Iraq: a showcase of pieces from across Mesopotamia organized by the Louvre and, on loan from the British Museum, relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria.

“The late Assyrian empire rose around 900 B.C. and dominated the entire Middle East for about 300 years,” explained Jeffrey Spier, the museum’s senior curator of antiquities.

“We have some of the reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II hunting lions which was a popular pastime of the kings to glorify the kings. We have scenes of battles, rather gruesome scenes, very graphic scenes of battles. And we end at the time of Ashurbanipal, the most famous of the kings in the 7th Century BC who defeated the Elamites in Iran, is shown and is shown at a banquet, one of his famous scenes is here.”

The importance of these sculptures has increased after several of those in Iraqi museums were destroyed or damaged by Daesh extremists during their occupation of large parts of the country. 

“The ones still in Iraq are being preserved now,” Spier said. “I know they’re doing very good work at restoring what was damaged.”

The Louvre’s Mesopotamian artifacts will be on display until August 2021, and the Assyrian relief sculptures until 2022. In that time, the Getty Villa is excited to show the culture of ancient Iraq to everyone traveling to Southern California.

“Los Angeles has become a place for tourism again,” Spier said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors especially from the Middle East.”


International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy
Updated 15 June 2021

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy
  • Palestinian ambassador to UK: ‘Leaving two sides to sort it out … is like leaving the wolf with the lamb’
  • With sufficient global support, ‘transformation is imminent,’ Husam Zomlot tells event attended by Arab News

LONDON: The key to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “a very clear message from the international community,” the Palestinian ambassador to Britain told a London think tank on Tuesday.

In a conversation hosted by Chatham House and attended by Arab News, Husam Zomlot told the audience that the Palestinians have fulfilled their part “in making sure that we enforce ourselves into the Israeli public so that apathy doesn’t continue.”

He added that the biggest factor for increasing awareness and forcing change in the region will be “what our youth do,” pointing to the intensity of the next generation’s campaigning over the last month.

Zomlot said youth campaigns “have been very intense,” adding: “Our message was delivered to every Israeli household. It has cost us a lot, a lot of bravery and heroism. I’m following these kids in Jerusalem on social media, speaking to the media with such beautiful eloquence, framing the issue. It’s hitting the Israeli public and the world.”

However, he said despite this energy and enthusiasm from youth activists, the lack of a clear message from the international community has limited the efficacy of their efforts.

“What’s missing isn’t the Palestinian readiness to stand up — we’ve proved that 100 times in the last 100 years … All the way to the Jerusalem uprising, we’ve been delivering the message. What’s missing is a very clear message from the international community,” he added.

“Leaving two sides to sort it out … is like leaving the wolf with the lamb. What we can do is to resist, but resistance on its own won’t tilt the balance. We need the force of the third party that created the situation.”

Zomlot said with sufficient international support following the latest wave of global attention, “transformation is imminent.”


Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video
Updated 15 June 2021

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video
  • Ahmad Al K reportedly served as local leader of Al-Nusra Front before fleeing to Europe
  • Other European countries have prosecuted individuals who took part in crimes during Syrian war

LONDON: In the first case of its kind in the country, a refugee residing in the Netherlands has gone on trial for war crimes over alleged murders that he oversaw during the Syrian war.

Ahmad Al K, 49, arrived in the Netherlands with his family in 2014. He was arrested in 2019 after being spotted in a crude video showing the murder of an unarmed Syrian soldier.

Following the arrest, he admitted to being present at the time of the video, but his lawyer argued that he was seeking a prisoner exchange from the captive in an effort to free siblings who had been jailed by the Syrian regime. 

However, it has been alleged that Al K oversaw the killing using the name Abu Khuder, and operated as a local leader of the Al-Nusra militant group.

The 2012 video shows a captured lieutenant colonel in the Syrian air force being led to a river before being shot dead.

A second video has emerged from German investigators, in which prosecutors allege that Ahmad Al K is clearly identifiable.

The case is the result of a Dutch undercover operation that involved a key witness in Syria who spoke to investigators through WhatsApp.

Al K claimed in court on Tuesday that he fled to Turkey in 2013 and arrived in the Netherlands via Greece the following year. He was provided temporary asylum by Dutch authorities.

The investigation was initiated after German police shared data from witness statements that linked him to Al-Nusra.

In court, Al K argued that he had been living in the eastern town of Mohassen when it was attacked by Syrian regime forces.

Investigators believe that he fled and established one of the first rebel battalions in the war, before eventually joining Al-Nusra. 

A 2012 interview with The Guardian could prove crucial in the case. In the feature, a man named Abu Khuder told Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad that he had deserted the Syrian military and pledged allegiance to Al-Nusra.

Though the case is the first of its kind in the Netherlands, other European countries have successfully prosecuted individuals who took part in crimes during the Syrian war.

Earlier this year, a German court handed a former Syrian intelligence officer jail time for his involvement in crimes against humanity.

Another former Syrian officer, 58-year-old Anwar Raslan, is facing trial over his alleged involvement in the torture of at least 4,000 people from 2011 to 2012. He faces charges of murder, rape and sexual assault.