Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory

Israel shells Lebanon after failed launches toward Israeli territory
Lebanese soldiers stand in Maroun Al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon. (Reuters/File)
Short Url
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.


Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program

Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program
Updated 19 June 2021

Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program

Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program
  • Foreign minister Yair Lapid calls Iran's new president the 'butcher of Tehran'
  • Says Ebrahim Raisi is committed to the regime’s nuclear ambitions and to its campaign of global terror

JERUSALEM: Israel on Saturday condemned Iran’s newly-elected president Ebrahim Raisi, saying he was its most extreme president yet and committed to quickly advancing Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Iran’s new president, known as the Butcher of Tehran, is an extremist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. He is committed to the regime’s nuclear ambitions and to its campaign of global terror,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter.
A separate statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Raisi’s election should “prompt grave concern among the international community.”
Israel’s new government, sworn in on Sunday, has said it would object to the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and its arch-foe, Iran.
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat. Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Toeing the policy line set by the administration of Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the foreign ministry said: “More than ever, Iran’s nuclear program must be halted immediately, rolled back entirely and stopped indefinitely.”
“Iran’s ballistic missile program must be dismantled and its global terror campaign vigorously countered by a broad international coalition.”
Raisi, a hard-line judge who is under US sanctions for human rights abuses, secured victory as expected on Saturday in Iran’s presidential election after a contest marked by voter apathy over economic hardships and political restrictions.


Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU

Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU
Updated 48 min 50 sec ago

Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU

Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU
  • The meeting comes amid the sixth round of indirect talks between Washington and Tehran
  • These formal meetings are usually an indication that the latest round will be adjourned

PARIS: Parties negotiating a revival of the Iran nuclear deal will hold a formal meeting in Vienna on Sunday, the European Union said on Saturday.
Iran and six world powers have been negotiating in Vienna since April to work out steps for Washington and Tehran to take. The United States withdrew in 2018 from the pact, under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of many foreign sanctions against it.
Sunday's formal meeting comes more than a week after this round of talks resumed and is an indication that the talks are likely to be adjourned.
Officials over the week have indicated that differences remain on key issues.
"The Joint Commission of #JCPOA will meet on Sunday, June 20," Mikhail Ulyanov Russia's envoy to the talks said on Twitter.
"It will decide on the way ahead at the #ViennaTalks. An agreement on restoration of the nuclear deal is within reach but is not finalised yet."
The remaining parties to the deal - Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union - meet in the basement of a luxury hotel.
The US delegation to the talks is based in a hotel across the street as Iran refuses face-to-face meetings, leaving the other delegations and EU to work as go-betweens.
Since former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran has embarked on counter measures, including rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear bombs.


Turkey highlights Syrian success stories on World Refugee Day

Turkey highlights Syrian success stories on World Refugee Day
Updated 19 June 2021

Turkey highlights Syrian success stories on World Refugee Day

Turkey highlights Syrian success stories on World Refugee Day
  • Turkey provides refugees with education and health care facilities
  • The country is home to 4 million refugees, including about 3.7 million Syrians

ANKARA: Turkey, which hosts the world’s largest refugee population, will mark UN World Refugee Day on June 20 with a focus on integration under the motto “Together we heal, learn and shine.”

The country is home to 4 million refugees, including about 3.7 million Syrians. 

Omar Kadkoy, a migration policy analyst at the Ankara-based think tank the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, is a Syrian refugee whose success story is a source of inspiration for many in Turkey.  

Kadkoy moved from Damascus to the Turkish capital in 2014. He began learning Turkish, which is now his second foreign language. 

The policy analyst is now viewed as one of the key experts on integration issues in Turkey, is also a student at Ankara’s prestigious Middle East Technical University and is writing his master’s thesis on the naturalization of Syrian students in Turkey’s tertiary education system.

He is looking forward to beginning his Ph.D. studies once he graduates. 

Kadkoy is proud of his professional, academic and linguistic efforts. 

“Achieving is limitless. In terms of integration, I find myself on a journey of a thousand miles. I began with the necessary steps, but there is much more to explore, learn and contribute,” he told Arab News.

Turkey is both a reception and transit country for refugees. About half of the Syrian refugees in the country are children. 

As part of its social cohesion and integration policies, Turkey provides refugees with education and health care facilities, and helps them find employment opportunities. 

However, with more than 4 million refugees in the country, Turks are growing less willing to accept new arrivals. 

According to the latest Ipsos survey, 75 percent of Turkish respondents support closing borders to refugees entirely, while 60 percent believe that government spending on refugees should be decreased, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A 2020 survey by Bilgi University and the German Marshall Fund of the United States revealed that 86 percent of Turks support the repatriation of Syrians. Meanwhile, other surveys show that 90 percent of Syrians do not want to return to their homeland now.

Philippe Leclerc, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, recently said that Turkey should be given more support by the international community to handle the refugee issue. 

The EU has been supporting Turkey, with €6 billion ($7.1 billion) committed to helping refugees and hosting communities in key areas such as education, health, socio-economic development and basic needs.

Cash assistance provided by the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net helps Syrian refugee households cover some of their debts and daily living costs.  

According to Kadkoy, providing access to health care and education, and building the vocational and language skills of refugees does not necessarily result in integration. 

“There are many ways to look at integration. For example, are refugee students integrating well into schools? The answer would be by looking at the performance of refugee students in Turkey’s national education system and comparing it with that of the citizens,” he said. “Differences would tell us what is and isn’t working and allow us to revamp what didn’t work.”

He added: “When similar and other pointers are absent, it is difficult to talk about integration collectively. Instead, we end up with ad hoc celebrations of individual stories.”

Kadkoy said that the post-pandemic era could be a time to readdress the issue in Turkey, especially the discriminatory practices refugees face in the labor market. 

“Most of the 3.7 million Syrians seem to consider Turkey as a permanent destination. In Turkey, Syrians under the Temporary Protection rule enjoy access to public education. Around 650,000 Syrian students attend Turkish schools, access to free public health services, and there are roughly 820,000 Syrians in the labor market as either wage-workers or business owners,” he said. 

According to last year’s official statistics, there were 9,041 firms with Syrian owners in Turkey. 

The Turkish government cooperates with the international community, especially with the UN, to provide vocational training to Syrian refugees.

The education ministry recently announced that Syrian students can attend vocational training centers once a week. Students will be supported with one-third of the minimum wage during their four-year education while they receive skills training in business on other days.

World Refugee Day was established by the UN to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.  


UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia

UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia
Updated 19 June 2021

UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia

UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia

CAIRO: The United Arab Emirates will suspend travelers from entering the country from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Namibia on national and foreign flights from Monday, June 21, Emirates News Agency (WAM) said on Saturday.
WAM said the restrictions would also include transit passengers, with the exception of transit flights traveling to the UAE and bound for those countries.


Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings
Updated 19 June 2021

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings
  • Tensions have remained high since the ceasefire on May 21
  • Latest Israeli airstrikes in Gaza brought back fears of a military escalation

GAZA CITY: Gazans had hardly recovered from the sound of the explosions during the 11-day war between Israel and the Gaza Strip when they returned less than a month later.

The Israeli bombing of Hamas military training sites in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night was in response to incendiary and explosive balloons launched toward neighboring Israeli towns. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The helium-filled balloons are intended to set fire to farmland and bush surrounding the Gaza enclave.

Tensions have remained high since the ceasefire on May 21.

The explosions in the Gaza Strip brought back fears of a military escalation, especially in light of the Israeli restrictions in place since May.

Israel have kept the two crossings with the Gaza Strip, Kerem Shalom for commerce and Erez for individuals, semi-closed, only allowing food and some other items, as well as medical emergencies.

The closure of the two crossings severely affected the daily lives of Gazans, stopping the flow of goods to shops of all kinds and mail between Gaza and the West Bank and the outside world, including thousands of passports printed in Ramallah, as well as visas, making it hard for merchants to travel.

Iman Shaheen, 33, who suffers from breast cancer, said: “I am waiting to get my passport, the application for which I sent to Ramallah before the war, but the mail has stopped since then, preventing me from completing the process of traveling to Jordan for treatment. I follow the news daily and wait impatiently for the crossing to be re-opened for mail.”

Israel also prevents construction materials from entering the Gaza Strip, which affects the reconstruction process war, prevents fuel from entering the power plant and blocks Qatari grants to poor families.

Hamas and Israel reached an agreement to facilitate the entry of Qatari funds and increase the capacity of the Kerem Shalom crossing, and to allow some materials that it classifies as dual-use in exchange for stopping the demonstrations along the border, known as the Great Return March, which lasted for about two years.

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qassem tweeted that the bombing of the Gaza Strip “is a failed attempt to stop the solidarity of our people and the resistance with the Holy City” (Jerusalem), and to “cover up the unprecedented state of confusion of the Zionist establishment” by organizing the so-called Flags March.

Hamas military wings seem to have limited patience over the Israeli bombing.

Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad official, said that “the resistance factions informed Egypt in a message that they would respond in kind to any upcoming military attacks, and would not allow the occupation government (Israel) to impose its conditions on the resistance or isolate Gaza.

“The joint operations room of the resistance factions has crystallized a final and unified position to deal with the repetition of Israeli behavior in the coming days, and it will not hesitate to confront it, whatever the results.

“The launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli towns is linked to the occupation’s continued imposition of the siege on the Gaza Strip and its closure of the crossings for more than a month and a half.”

However, commentators have said that Hamas and the other factions will not be in a hurry to return to war again.

Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said: “Hamas needs to restore what was destroyed in the last war, whether at the level of its military capabilities or the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and use this opportunity for funds to enter the Gaza Strip.”

Husam Al-Dajani, a political analyst, said: “The resistance factions do not want to return to military confrontation again, but if the reality remains unchanged on the ground, things may escalate in the Gaza Strip.”

Al-Dajani believes that Hamas’ failure to respond to the Israeli bombardment is “to give the mediators an opportunity to put pressure on Israel and improve living conditions in the Gaza Strip.”