UN Gaza relief chief called in by bosses after comments over Israeli air strikes

UN Gaza relief chief called in by bosses after comments over Israeli air strikes
Matthias Schmale, UNRWA's Gaza director, gestures as he inspects the damage at UNRWA'S headquarters, in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 June 2021

UN Gaza relief chief called in by bosses after comments over Israeli air strikes

UN Gaza relief chief called in by bosses after comments over Israeli air strikes
  • Protests have erupted in the territory over the comments by UNRWA Gaza chief
  • Schmale has apologised for his remarks in which he was commenting on the ferocity of air strikes

GAZA: The Gaza director of the UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees has been called in for consultation with his bosses in Jerusalem after angering Palestinians with comments.
The comments they said favored Israel during last month’s fighting.
Protests have erupted in the territory over the comments by UNRWA Gaza chief Matthias Schmale in an interview with Israel’s N12 television on May 22, in which he said he did not dispute Israel’s assertion that its air strikes were “precise.”
Eleven days of conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted on May 10. More than 250 Palestinians were killed in hundreds of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. More than 4,000 rockets, many intercepted, fired by Gaza militants killed 13 people in Israel.
Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the enclave has ridiculed him as “a spokesman for the Israeli military.”
Schmale, based in Gaza, has apologized for his remarks in which he was commenting on the ferocity of the air strikes and said: .”.. precision was there but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side.”
Sami Mshasha, UNRWA’s spokesman in Jerusalem, said on Wednesday Schmale and his deputy had been “called in for consultation and discussion at the Jerusalem headquarters over the latest developments in Gaza.”
Another official told Reuters that Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth would temporarily lead the Gaza team.
UNRWA provides education, health and relief services to around 5.7 million Palestinian registered refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
“In the coming few weeks, UNRWA will review the emergency response mechanism in Gaza to determine lessons and conclusions to improve UNRWA’s response and performance during times of crisis and emergency,” Mshasha said in a statement.
In a statement on May 25, Schmale said in apology: “There is no justification whatsoever for killing civilians.” He said: “Military precision and sophistication are never a justification for war.”
Israel’s foreign ministry has said its forces acted “in accordance with international law, in defending our citizens from Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire.”


8-year-old girl born under Daesh control to return to US

Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
Updated 1 min 45 sec ago

8-year-old girl born under Daesh control to return to US

Aminah Mohamad, 8, pictured during an interview with ICSVE in northeast Syria on July 31. (Credit: icsve.org)
  • Aminah Mohammed’s mother and father were killed while members of terror group
  • Rescued from Syrian camp with help from US diplomat and Canadian former Daesh member

LONDON: An American-born girl who grew up under the control of Daesh is set to be returned to the US from a Syrian detention camp, a former diplomat has said.

Aminah Mohamad, 8, who was born in Chattanooga in Tennessee, was rescued from the camp thanks to information provided to Peter Galbraith, US ambassador to Croatia from 1993 to 1998, by a Canadian woman who has since left and denounced Daesh.

Mohamad’s mother, Ariel Bradley, reportedly fled the US to join the terrorist group in 2014 after converting to Islam from Christianity and marrying the girl’s father, Yasin Mohammed, in 2011.

Bradley and her second child, also born under Daesh control in Al-Bab, were reportedly killed in an airstrike by the US-led anti-Daesh coalition in 2018. The girl’s father was also killed, making her an orphan.

She was then left in the custody of one of her stepfather’s other wives, a Somali woman who remained a staunch supporter of Daesh, before her rescue began.

Galbraith and the Canadian woman, speaking to news outlet BuzzFeed, detailed their 18-month operation to secure the girl’s release from the camp, which included hiding her identity from Kurdish camp guards or anyone who might reveal her American nationality.

“Children in the camps have the worst start to life,” the woman, who chose to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety, said.

“They are already traumatized by losing one or more parents and growing up around violence, poverty, and misery. They deal with constant danger, lack of food, lack of education, and their lives are simply going to waste,” she told BuzzFeed.

Mohammed, who was removed from the camp on July 17, is now in a secure location in northeast Syria and has been interviewed by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism about her life under Daesh. She is undergoing DNA testing to certify her US citizenship.

“The United States has repatriated 12 adult US citizens and 16 US citizen minors from Syria and Iraq,” the US State Department told BuzzFeed News.

“Of the adults, the Department of Justice has charged 10 with federal criminal charges. We have no comment on specific numbers of US citizens remaining in facilities in northeast Syria.”

Galbraith, who has spent decades as a key figure in US dealings with the Kurdish people, also helped secure the release of the Canadian woman who is now waiting in Iraq to return to Canada.


Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage
Updated 03 August 2021

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage

Israeli-linked tanker attacked off Oman arrives at UAE anchorage
  • Low visibility due to high humidity made it difficult to see the damage to the vessel in its mooring

FUJAIRAH: An Israeli-linked vessel that was attacked off Oman last week anchored off the UAE emirate of Fujairah Tuesday amid accusations Iran was behind the attack in which two crew members were killed.
Low visibility due to high humidity made it difficult to see the damage to the vessel in its mooring in the Gulf of Oman off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates, an AFP correspondent reported.
Tracking service MarineTraffic said the Liberian-flagged vessel reached its mooring at 2:47 am (2247 GMT Monday).
The UAE, which normalized ties with Israel last year, has not officially commented on the tanker incident.
Both the United States and Israel have said their intelligence assessments of Thursday’s incident concluded that an Iranian drone attacked the ship, managed by prominent Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, as it sailed off Oman.
Tehran denied the accusation and warned against “adventurism.”
A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in what analysts said bore all the hallmarks of the “shadow war” between Iran and Israel, which has included attacks on shipping in waters around the Gulf.
Washington on Monday promised to lead a “collective response” against Tehran, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling the MV Mercer Street incident “a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce.”
Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador and demanded that vessels navigate freely in the oil-rich region.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, meanwhile, said that Israel “must stop such baseless accusations” and called on the US and Britain to provide evidence to support their claims.
Iran “will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests, and will immediately and decisively respond to any possible adventurism,” Khatibzadeh said.


UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries
Updated 03 August 2021

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries

UAE lifts ban on transit flights from India, Pakistan, other countries
  • Transit passengers traveling from countries where flights had been suspended must present negative PCR tests taken 72 hours prior to departure

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will lift a ban on transit passenger traffic from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries from Aug. 5, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said on Tuesday.
The UAE, a major international travel hub, has banned passengers from many South Asian and African countries for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NCEMA said on Twitter that passengers traveling from countries where flights had been suspended would be able to transit through its airports from Thursday as long as they present negative PCR tests taken 72 hours prior to departure.
Final destination approval would also have to be provided, the authority said, adding that UAE departure airports would arrange separate lounges for transiting passengers.
The transit ban had also included Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
NCEMA said that a ban on entry to the UAE for passengers from these countries would also be lifted for those with valid residencies and who are certified by Emirati authorities as fully vaccinated.
However, they would need to apply for online entry permits prior to traveling and would need to present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure.
Those working in the medical, educational or government sectors in the Gulf Arab state as well as those studying or completing medical treatment in the UAE would be exempt from the vaccination requirement as would humanitarian cases.


Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade
Updated 03 August 2021

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade

Bahrain, Abu Dhabi vow to protect maritime trade
  • In a statement released by Bahrain’s state media, both men drew upon their countries’ “brotherly ties”

DUBAI: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said Tuesday that coordination with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyanis ongoing to protect international navigation from any threats. 

In a statement released by Bahrain’s state media, both men drew upon their countries’ “brotherly ties” during the meeting and vowed to “continue coordinating a joint strategic vision to establish security and stability.”

“Protect international maritime traffic from any threats that negatively affect the course of global trade,” is of the utmost importance, the statement said.


Graduating Syrian-British doctor meets family of deceased medic who inspired him

Graduating Syrian-British doctor meets family of deceased medic who inspired him
Updated 03 August 2021

Graduating Syrian-British doctor meets family of deceased medic who inspired him

Graduating Syrian-British doctor meets family of deceased medic who inspired him
  • UK inquest found Abbas Khan was unlawfully killed in regime prison
  • Karim Al-Jian: ‘Someone out of the goodness of their heart went to this country — where they have no connection — to save lives’

LONDON: A newly qualified Syrian-born British doctor has had an emotional meeting with the siblings of the deceased British surgeon who inspired him to enter the field.
Karim Al-Jian, 24, who was born in Aleppo but raised in Britain, recently met with the brother and sister of Dr. Abbas Khan, an orthopaedic surgeon from London who was killed in a Syrian prison after he left the safety of his home to care for victims in the war-torn nation.


Al-Jian posted a photo of himself with a portrait of Khan with the caption: “In 2012 British surgeon Abbas Khan went to Aleppo, Syria to treat wounded civilians. He was consequently tortured and murdered by the Syrian regime. His story touched many, including a … boy from Aleppo who wanted to be like Dr. Khan. Today that boy graduated a doctor.”

Khan’s sister Sara, 31, asked Twitter users to locate Al-Jian. “This is so touching it has brought tears to my eyes,” she wrote. “I would like to send him a message if possible.”

The BBC organized a meeting between the new medic and Khan’s family. Sara told Al-Jian: “It is inspiring the fact that you dedicated your medical career to Abbas. I cannot explain to you how touched my family and I are. It was so beautiful to read it.”

The deceased doctor’s brother Shah, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon, has said he will keep in touch with Al-Jian to give him advice about his career path. Al-Jian intends to share the same specialism as the Khan brothers.

Al-Jian said when he was a teenager, he saw the news of Khan’s sacrifice, which inspired him to turn to medical training.

On his graduation and eight years after the surgeon’s death, Al-Jian paid tribute to Khan on social media, posing with his portrait while donning his academic robes.
Khan traveled to Syria via Turkey to lend his expertise by assisting the victims of bombed hospitals, which were being regularly targeted by regime forces.
He was arrested and jailed for over a year in a regime-controlled prison. In December 2013, he was found hanging in his cell. He was 32. A British inquest in 2014 concluded that he had been unlawfully killed.
Al-Jian said Khan’s story had an enormous impact on him, and he shared in the pain and suffering that he saw.

“That someone out of the goodness of their heart went to this country — where they have no connection — to save lives was astounding to me. He put the lives of others before himself,” said Al-Jian. “I really felt that his mother’s pain was the pain of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.”

Living in northern England at the time, Al-Jian was awarded a place to study on the country’s south coast at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. He graduated last month after five years.