As Palestinians observe ‘Nakba’ worldwide, Israeli forces go on rampage in Gaza

Palestinians attend the funeral of two women and eight children of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City, who were killed by an Israeli air strike, on May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
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Palestinians attend the funeral of two women and eight children of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City, who were killed by an Israeli air strike, on May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians burn an Israeli flag in the occupied-West Bank town of Bethlehem on May 15,2021, as they commemorate the Nakba, the
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Palestinians burn an Israeli flag in the occupied-West Bank town of Bethlehem on May 15,2021, as they commemorate the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948. (AFP / HAZEM BADER)
Palestinians march with a banner reading
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Palestinians march with a banner reading "We will not live the Nakba twice" in the occupied-West Bank town of Bethlehem on May 15, 2021, as they commemorate the Nakba. (AFP / HAZEM BADER)
Protesters and activists gather near the Washington Monument in the US capital to voice their anger at Israeli military action in Gaza that has left many civilians dead. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)
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Protesters and activists gather near the Washington Monument in the US capital to voice their anger at Israeli military action in Gaza that has left many civilians dead. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)
People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
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People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
People participate in a demonstration at the Houston City Hall on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas in support of Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP)
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People participate in a demonstration at the Houston City Hall on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas in support of Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP)
People gathered for a demonstration marking Nakba Day on May 15, 2021 in New York City and in support of Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images/AFP)
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People gathered for a demonstration marking Nakba Day on May 15, 2021 in New York City and in support of Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 16 May 2021

As Palestinians observe ‘Nakba’ worldwide, Israeli forces go on rampage in Gaza

People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
  • Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza
  • Protesters march in major North American, European cities in support of the Palestinian cause

GAZA CITY/LONDON/NEW YORK: Palestinians on Saturday marked the anniversary of the Nakba, the “catastrophe” when more than 700,000 were driven from their homes to establish the state of Israel in 1948.

Israel observed the day by killing two women and eight children from one family in an airstrike on a refugee camp.

Three heavy missiles also destroyed the 12-story Al-Jala’a Tower in Gaza City, which housed the offices of media outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, and bombed the home of Khalil Al-Hayeh, a senior Hamas leader.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least 139 people, including 39 children and 22 women.

 

 

Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and killed eight people, the latest on Saturday when a man died in a rocket strike on the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

There was outrage over the attack on the AP building, which also contained residential apartments. The Israeli military said Hamas was operating inside the building, but offered no evidence.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” AP chief executive Gary Pruitt said. “We are shocked and horrified.”

Earlier, an Israeli air raid on the densely populated Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City killed 10 Palestinians from one family, Israel’s deadliest single strike of the conflict.




Palestinians burn an Israeli flag in the occupied-West Bank town of Bethlehem on May 15,2021, as they commemorate the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948. (AFP / HAZEM BADER)

Missiles targeted the three-story home of Alaa Abu Hatab, 35, killing his wife, four of his five children, his sister, and four of her five children. A five-month-old baby survived, along with Abu Hatab’s daughter, who is in intensive care.

Abu Hatab’s brother-in-law Muhammad Al-Hadidi wept as he told Arab News how his children had insisted on spending the night at their uncle’s house to play with their cousins.

“I heard the sound of the bombing, but I did not know it was the building my wife and children were in. I received a call to tell me Abu Hatab’s house was targeted. I went quickly, to find all my children with my wife, under the rubble.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

As Israeli airstrikes continued, Heba Al-Attar, 45, told Arab News: “The feeling I have is, when will I be killed? When will our house be destroyed? How will my three children live without me if they survive? I feel scared every day, I can’t sleep at night.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on Saturday for an immediate ceasefire. They urged “the international community to confront the aggressive Israeli practices against the brotherly Palestinian people.”

Tens of thousands march

As Israeli forces stepped up the bombardment of Gaza, tens of thousands of protesters marched in major European cities including London, Berlin, Madrid and Paris in support of the Palestinian cause.

In London, several thousand protesters carrying placards reading “Stop Bombing Gaza” and chanting “Free Palestine” converged on Marble Arch, near the British capital’s Hyde Park, to march toward the Israeli embassy.

 

 

Packed crowds stretched all along Kensington High Street where the embassy is located.

“This time is different,” Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot told the demonstrators.

“This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression.”

Simon Makepace, a 61-year-old accountant told AFP he had joined the protests because “the whole world should be doing something about it, including this country.”


Click here to read our previous stories about the Nakba 



'Palestine will be free'

In cities across North America, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators also called for an end to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The protests were held on the anniversary of Nakba Day, or “catastrophe,” that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced during Israel’s creation in 1947-1948.

Gatherings to show solidarity with Palestinians on the anniversary of Nakba Day, took place in cities including New York, Boston, Washington, Montreal and Dearborn, Michigan.

Several Jewish people attended, carrying placards that said “Not in my name” and “Solidarity with Palestine” as the protesters took over a street in the area which has a large Arab population.




Protesters and activists gather near the Washington Monument in the US capital to voice their anger at Israeli military action in Gaza that has left many civilians dead. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)

“I’m here because I want a Palestinian life to equal an Israeli life and today it doesn’t,” said 35-year-old Emraan Khan, a corporate strategist from Manhattan, as he waved a Palestinian flag.

“When you have a nuclear-armed state and another state of villagers with rocks it is clear who is to blame,” he added.

Alison Zambrano, a 20-year-old student, traveled from neighboring Connecticut for the demo.

“Palestinians have the right to live freely and children in Gaza should not be being killed,” she told AFP.

Mashhour Ahmad, a 73-year-old Palestinian who has lived in New York for 50 years, said “don’t blame the victim for the aggression.”

 

 

“I’m telling Mr. Biden and his cabinet to stop supporting the killing. Support the victims, stop the oppression.

“The violence committed by the Israeli army recently is genocide,” he added, raising a poster above his head that said “Free Palestine, End the occupation.”

President Joe Biden spoke separately Saturday with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, expressing his “grave concern” over six days of violence that has left scores dead or wounded.

He expressed Washington’s “strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the White House said.




People in Montreal attend a demonstration on May 15, 2021, to denounce Israel's military actions in the Palestinian territories. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Throngs of people gathered in Copley Square in Boston, while a few hundred rallied on the Washington Monument grounds in the US capital.

Several thousand demonstrated in Montreal, Canada, calling for “the liberation of Palestine.”

Protesters also denounced “war crimes” committed by Israel in Gaza and carried placards accusing Israel of violating international law during the protest in the center of the Canadian city.

(With AFP)

Decoder

What is the Nakba?

The Nakba, or "catastrophe", is commemorated by Arabs worldwide as the day more than 710,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their villages and cities during Israel’s creation in 1947-1948. Palestinian society has never been the same since, with many still living until today in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza.


Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
Updated 25 min 56 sec ago

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
  • Coalition says it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said Monday that the Saudi Arabian air defense has intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched by the terrorist Houthis militia towards Khamis Mushait, Al Arabiya TV reported. 

The coalition said it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects.

Adding that the coalition is taking all operational measures to protect civilians from such attacks.


Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes
Updated 14 June 2021

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes

Iran vote turnout poses test of youth frustrations and hopes
  • Young urban Iranians appear united only in their weariness with a cheerless status quo
  • All seven candidates have been wooing youthful voters and have used social media to reach the 60 percent of the 85 million population

DUBAI: Like many young Iranians yearning for democracy, Shirin doesn’t believe elected officials want to deliver greater political and social freedoms, and doubts Iran’s ruling theocracy would let them even if they tried.
How many share her frustration may become apparent in a June 18 vote, when Iran holds a presidential election seen as a referendum on the Islamic Republic’s handling of an array of political and economic crises.
Official polls suggest record low participation, a prospect critics of the government ascribe to economic hardship and to a lack of choice at the ballot box for an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions.
Religiously devout, less well-off communities are expected to go to the polls and vote for the hard-line front-runner, the strongly anti-Western Ebrahim Raisi, but young educated voters in towns and cities and some villages may well stay home.
After a hard-line election body barred heavyweight moderate and conservative candidates from standing in the race, young urban Iranians appear united only in their weariness with a cheerless status quo.
“I want freedom, I want democracy. Iranian presidents have no authority and desire to change our lives ... So why should I vote?” said French literature student Shirin, 22, from Tehran.
Like most other young people interviewed for this story, Shirin declined to be identified by her full name due to the sensitivity of the election contest.
Under Iran’s clerical system, the powers of the elected president are circumscribed by those of the hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in office since 1989.
Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani won the presidency in 2013, bolstered by the support of many women and young people encouraged by his comments that Iranians deserved to live in a free country and have rights enjoyed by others around the world.
But critics say Rouhani, who is not permitted to run for a third consecutive term, has failed to make good on his pledges.
“I am undecided. I have always believed in voting and I voted for the incumbent president in the past two elections, said 28-year-old sales manager Sudabeh.
“But he could not fulfil his promises.”
Hundreds of Iranians at home and abroad – including relatives of dissidents killed since Iran’s 1979 revolution – have called for an election boycott. The hashtag #NoToIslamicRepublic has been widely tweeted by Iranians in the past weeks.
There is also lingering anger over the bloody suppression of a series of street protests in recent years and the military’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2020 in what Iranian authorities said was an error.
All seven candidates – five hard-liners and two low-key moderates – have been wooing youthful voters in speeches and campaign messages and have used social media to reach the 60 percent of the 85 million population who are aged under 30.
Khamenei, like many other officials, has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram, although access to social media is officially blocked in Iran.
The ban rankles with many young Iranians. Many get around it by using virtual private networks, while insisting social media should be unblocked.
“Now that they need my vote to pursue their own political agenda, they promise unblocking the social media ban ... I will not vote as long as my freedoms are restricted,” said university student Saharnaz, 21, from the northern city of Sari.
Amid growing anger over economic hardship, candidates have promised to control galloping inflation, create jobs and end the rapid fall in the value of Iran’s currency without detailing their plans.
Jamshid, 27, from the southern city of Ahvaz, was skeptical.
“No, no, and no. I will not vote. I am jobless and hopeless. They get richer. Why should I vote in a system that is the source of my miserable life,” Jamshid said.
The economy, the authorities’ biggest challenge, is beset by mismanagement and US sanctions reimposed after the United States withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal three years ago.
Prices of basic goods like bread and rice rise daily. Meat is too dear for many, costing the equivalent of $40 for a kilogram. The minimum monthly wage equates to about $215. Iranian media regularly report layoffs and strikes by workers not paid for months.
Many voters preoccupied by bread-and-butter issues said they would vote for Raisi, a Shiite cleric who has been a strong advocate of Khamenei’s “resistance economy,” a project to increase self-reliance in Iranian manufacturing and services.
But taxi driver Alireza Dadvar supports low-key moderate former Central Bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati.
“I don’t care about politics. I care about my family’s daily struggle ... Hemmati is the only candidate who can fix the economy,” said Dadvar, 41, a father of three in Isfahan.
Appointed by Khamenei as head of the judiciary in 2019, front-runner Raisi lost to Rouhani in a 2017 election. He is counting on poor Iranians to carry him to victory.
“Of course I will vote. It is my religious duty to vote and to choose a president who is loyal to the revolution. My vote will be a slap in the face of our enemies,” said first time voter Sajjad Akhbari from Tabriz, a city in north Iran.


Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta
Updated 14 June 2021

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta

Abu Dhabi removes UK, Tajikistan from COVID-19 Green List, adds Malta
  • Passengers arriving from Green List countries will only be required to undergo a PCR test at Abu Dhabi Airport
  • The UK has placed the UAE on its red list where passengers arriving from the country must isolate in hotels after their arrival

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi has removed the UK and Tajikistan from its Green List of countries exempting travelers from quarantine requirements upon arrival in the emirate.
Passengers arriving from Green List countries will only be required to undergo a PCR test at Abu Dhabi Airport, the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism tweeted.
Both the UK and Tajikistan have been included in the list since April, while Malta was recently added to it.
The UK has placed the UAE on its red list where passengers arriving from the country must isolate in hotels after their arrival.
“Countries, regions, and territories included within the Green List will be regularly updated based on international developments,” the department said.
It added that the list only applies to countries passengers are arriving from rather than citizenship.

Related


Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam
Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011. Egypt and Sudan are calling for a binding and comprehensive deal with Ethiopia that guarantees the rights and interests of all three countries. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 June 2021

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam

Egypt sends letter to UN Security Council about Renaissance Dam
  • Cairo fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile

CAIRO: Egypt has sent a letter to the head of the UN Security Council to highlight developments in the Grand Ethopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, as it and Sudan drafted a resolution about the dam to be presented to Arab foreign ministers next week.

Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011. Egypt fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s letter to the UN Security Council included the country’s objection to Ethiopia’s intention to continue filling the dam during the upcoming flood season. It also expressed the government’s rejection of Ethiopia seeking to impose a fait accompli on the downstream countries through unilateral measures.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the letter aimed to reveal the truth about the intransigent positions Ethiopia was taking as these were stalling the efforts made over the past months to reach a fair, balanced and legally binding agreement on the issue.

HIGHLIGHT

The Council of Arab States, at the level of foreign ministers, is scheduled to hold an extraordinary session in Doha on Tuesday at the request of Egypt and Sudan to discuss developments regarding the dam issue.

Hafez said that an integrated file was also deposited with the UN Security Council to serve as a reference for the international community on the issue, as well as to document the constructive and responsible positions taken by Egypt.
Hossam Zaki, assistant secretary-general of the League of Arab States, said there was an Arab consensus supporting Egypt and Sudan’s rights in the Nile waters and that there was not a single country outside this consensus.
He indicated that Ethiopia’s attempt to “drive a wedge” between Arab and African countries on the Renaissance Dam issue would not succeed.
The Council of Arab States, at the level of foreign ministers, is scheduled to hold an extraordinary session in Doha on Tuesday at the request of Egypt and Sudan to discuss developments regarding the dam issue, he added.
Zaki said the session would be held on the sidelines of the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers that was being held in Doha.
Egypt and Sudan are calling for a binding and comprehensive deal that guarantees the rights and interests of all three countries.


Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel
This handout picture released on January 29, 2020, by the Turkish Defence Ministry Press Service shows migrants in a rubber boat rescued by Turkish navy soldiers on January 28, 2020, off the Libyan coast. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2021

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel

Greece says Turkish patrol boat damaged coast guard vessel
  • Greece in April had accused Turkey of seeking to “provoke an escalation” in the Aegean with “dangerous” maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants

ATHENS: The Greek coast guard said that one of its patrol vessels was “harassed” by a Turkish patrol boat on Sunday, causing minor damage, a day before the Greek and Turkish leaders hold talks in Brussels.
There were no injuries in the incident, which occurred east of the Aegean island of Lesbos, the coast guard said in a statement.
It said “a patrol vessel of the Turkish coast guard harassed a patrol boat of the Lesbos coast guard, causing minor damage.”
Such incidents are common in the Aegean Sea during patrols for boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece.

SPEEDREAD

• A patrol vessel of the Turkish coast guard ‘harassed a patrol boat of the Lesbos coast guard, causing minor damage.’

• Such incidents are common in the Aegean Sea during patrols for boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece.

• Greece had accused Turkey of seeking to ‘provoke an escalation’ in the Aegean with ‘dangerous’ maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants.

Greece in April had accused Turkey of seeking to “provoke an escalation” in the Aegean with “dangerous” maneuvers and illegal assistance to migrants.
Athens wants Ankara to better police migration routes and take back hundreds of asylum seekers found ineligible for refugee protection.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.
Mitsotakis said on Friday that good bilateral relations will depend on de-escalation efforts and on whether “Turkey participates constructively in the dialogue and respects the conditions set by the EU” in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.