Hamas slammed for honoring Houthi aid to Palestine 

Hamas slammed for honoring Houthi aid to Palestine 
International aid deliveries to Yemen are frequently disrupted by Houthi militia. Above, spoiled World Food Program (WFP) wheat flour is disposed of, outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 28, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Hamas slammed for honoring Houthi aid to Palestine 

Hamas slammed for honoring Houthi aid to Palestine 
  • Mouath Abu Shemala, a Hamas figure based in Sanaa, met with high-profile Houthi official Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi and presented him with a Hamas plaque
  • Yemenis slammed Hamas for honoring the Houthi movement, which is responsible for the killing of thousands of people in the country and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

ALEXANDRIA: Yemeni human rights activists, journalists and politicians have strongly criticized Hamas for honoring the Iran-backed Houthi militia shortly after fighters launched a ballistic missile and explosive-laden drone that killed 21 civilians in the central Yemeni city of Marib.

Mouath Abu Shemala, a Hamas figure based in Houthi-held Sanaa, met on Sunday with high-profile Houthi official Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi and presented him with a Hamas plaque in recognition of the group’s latest fundraising campaign for the Palestinian militant organization.

Houthi media reported that Abu Shemala thanked the Houthi movement for responding to Palestinian appeals for assistance during the latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

The meeting sparked outrage in the country.

Yemenis slammed Hamas for honoring the Houthi movement, which is responsible for the killing of thousands of people in the country and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Shouqi Al-Qadhi, a member of the Yemeni parliament, said on Twitter that he was “shocked” by the Hamas decision, demanding that it issue an “official clarification” or Yemenis would “sever ties.”

He added: “We are waiting for a full clarification from Hamas about its shocking stance. Does this person (Abu Shemala) officially represent it?”

Hamadan Al-Alyae, a Yemeni journalist, accused Hamas of “betraying” Yemenis by honoring Houthi militants, who oversaw the deadly missile and drone strike on Marib.

“We waited for Hamas to issue a statement denouncing the Houthi crime of burning children in Marib. Instead, the representative of the movement went to honor one of the leaders of the gang that committed the heinous crime,” he said.

Many Yemenis have long accused Houthis of exploiting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to recruit new fighters, pushing them to fight government forces in Yemen.

Hesham Al-Zaiady, a Yemeni news anchor, said senior Houthis view the Hamas move as recognition of their advocacy for Palestine, and will use it in Yemen to recruit more fighters.

He added: “Do you know, after this picture, how many fighters the Houthis will mobilize to fight their Yemeni brothers in Marib, Taiz and Al-Dhale, with the justification of liberating Jerusalem?”

Amer Al-Saudi, a poet, described Hamas’ honoring of the Houthis as a “wound,” adding that it could cause a decline in support among some Yemenis, who have long supported the movement by donating funds, and naming their children and schools after its leaders.

“Other Yemenis will not forget this wound and this vile reward of their killers,” Al-Saudi said.


Iran court sentences German woman to decade in jail: daughter

Iran court sentences German woman to decade in jail: daughter
Updated 47 min 22 sec ago

Iran court sentences German woman to decade in jail: daughter

Iran court sentences German woman to decade in jail: daughter
  • Taghavi was arrested at her Tehran apartment on Oct. 16 after years fighting for human rights in Iran
  • Taghavi suffers from pre-existing conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes

BERLIN: A German-Iranian woman held in Iran has been given a decade-long jail term by an Iran court for participating in an outlawed group, her daughter said Wednesday.

Nahid Taghavi, 66, was given “ten years for membership in an illegal group” and “eight months for propaganda against the regime,” said her daughter Mariam Claren.

Taghavi was arrested at her Tehran apartment on Oct. 16 after years fighting for human rights in Iran, in particular for women’s rights and freedom of expression, according to the rights group IGFM.

According to Claren, Taghavi has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where she contracted Covid-19 last month.

Claren has repeatedly flagged up warnings about her mother’s health, saying that she suffers from pre-existing conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Germany’s foreign ministry said in October that it was aware of the arrest of a German-Iranian woman in Iran, but did not name the detained citizen.

Frank Schwabe, who is the spokesman on human rights issues for the Social Democrats, condemned the verdict.

“The charges are baseless and the verdict a farce,” he wrote on Twitter.


UAE reports 1,519 new coronavirus infections, 5 additional deaths overnight

UAE reports 1,519 new coronavirus infections, 5 additional deaths overnight
Updated 04 August 2021

UAE reports 1,519 new coronavirus infections, 5 additional deaths overnight

UAE reports 1,519 new coronavirus infections, 5 additional deaths overnight
  • The UAE is one of leading countries in coronavirus testing and immunization

DUBAI: The UAE health ministry on Wednesday reported 1,519 new coronavirus cases and five more COVID-19 related fatalities overnight, bringing the country’s caseload to 686,981 with 1,965 deaths.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said it conducted 191,032 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, as the Emirates aggressively pursues early detection of the highly contagious disease for necessary treatment and the prevention of community infection.

The UAE, one of leading countries in coronavirus testing and immunization, has deployed an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccines to 79.3 percent of its population, while 70.96 percent have been fully vaccinated.

A total 16,884,412 doses have been dispensed so far, for a vaccine distribution rate of 170.72 doses per 100 people.

The vaccination drive is in line with plans to provide the vaccine to the populace to acquire herd immunity, which will help reduce the number of cases and control the spread of the virus.


Macron seeks $350 million in donor aid for blast-scarred Lebanon

Macron seeks $350 million in donor aid for blast-scarred Lebanon
Updated 04 August 2021

Macron seeks $350 million in donor aid for blast-scarred Lebanon

Macron seeks $350 million in donor aid for blast-scarred Lebanon
  • The Aug. 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut port killed at least 214 people

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron aims to raise at least $350 million in emergency aid for Lebanon on Wednesday at a donor conference held on the first anniversary of a massive blast that gutted part of Beirut.
The August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut port killed at least 214 people, traumatizing the nation and bringing an already stuttering Lebanese economy closer to the brink of collapse.
Fuel, medicine and food have all grown scarce, but bickering between Lebanon’s political parties has held up the formation of a new government, delaying a much-needed international bailout.
France says Wednesday’s video conference, which is being co-hosted by Macron and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, needs to raise $357 million to meet the most urgent needs of the Lebanese people in terms of food, health, clean water and education.
“One year after the tragedy, Lebanon can continue to count on France’s solidarity,” Macron tweeted ahead of the virtual meeting.
US President Joe Biden, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi and Lebanon’s own President Michel Aoun will be among the participants from around 40 countries and multilateral organizations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the International Monetary Fund.
The conference is the third in aid of Lebanon to be organized by former colonial power France in as many years.
Each time, donors have pledged millions in emergency relief but conditioned a broader rescue plan on Lebanese politicians forming a government that commits to tackling rampant corruption, among reforms.
Lebanon has been without a government for all of the past year.
Najib Mikati, the billionaire businessman recently appointed prime minister, had hoped to form a cabinet by the anniversary of the blast but squabbling over cabinet posts continues.
“There is no still no progress on the formation of a government or the implementation of urgent reforms. Given the dramatic deterioriation of the economic, this is irresponsible,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas, who is taking part in the donor conference, said on Wednesday.
The EU said last week it was ready to impose sanctions on members of the ruling elite who obstruct attempts to improve governance and public sector accountability.
France has already barred several Lebanese officials from its territory, without naming them.
“It’s a first step, those who are targeted know it. The pressure will continue to grow,” one of Macron’s aides told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One of the chief demands of the Lebanese population and the international community is that top officials be investigated over the warehouse fire that triggered the port blast.
The depot contained hundreds of tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate.


Rocket fire from Lebanon prompts Israeli shelling: Army

Rocket fire from Lebanon prompts Israeli shelling: Army
Updated 04 August 2021

Rocket fire from Lebanon prompts Israeli shelling: Army

Rocket fire from Lebanon prompts Israeli shelling: Army
  • The military said in a statement the alerts sounded in at least three communities near the border with Lebanon

JERUSALEM: Rocket fire from Lebanon hit northern Israel on Wednesday prompting retaliatory shelling, the army said, as tensions rise between Israel and arch foe Iran.

“Three rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement, adding that one had fallen short of the border.

“In response... artillery forces fired into Lebanese territory.”

Rocket warning sirens sounded in northern Israel near the Lebanese border, the Israeli military said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The military said in a statement the alerts sounded in at least three communities near the border with Lebanon.

The border has been mostly quiet since Israel fought a 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, who have sway in southern Lebanon and advanced rockets.

But small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired sporadically on Israel in the past, and two rockets were launched at Israel on July 20, causing no damage or injuries. Israel responded to that incident with artillery fire.

 


Pope Francis back to full-time work with call for Lebanon aid

Pope Francis back to full-time work with call for Lebanon aid
Updated 04 August 2021

Pope Francis back to full-time work with call for Lebanon aid

Pope Francis back to full-time work with call for Lebanon aid
  • ‘Today I appeal to the international community to help Lebanon along the path to resurrection through concrete gestures, not just words’

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis returned to work full-time on Wednesday following a colon operation, urging the international community to help a struggling Lebanon.
The 84-year-old took time to bless children and pose for selfies in the Vatican at the weekly general audience one month to the day after the delicate operation, which saw him hospitalized for over a week.
“Today I appeal to the international community to help Lebanon along the path to resurrection through concrete gestures, not just words,” Francis said.
Lebanon was Wednesday marking a year since a cataclysmic explosion ravaged Beirut, killing at least 214 people in its worst peace-time disaster, when the country’s economy was already in tatters.
The spiralling economic crisis has been branded by the World Bank as one of the planet’s worst since the mid-19th century. Lebanon has also had to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis said he hoped an international conference co-hosted by France and the UN on the day of the anniversary to raise humanitarian aid proves “productive.”
According to the Vatican News portal, the general audience marked the resumption of normal activities for the pope, who underwent planned surgery for inflammation of the colon at Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital on July 4.
Francis, who had previously been in fairly good health, had been taking it easy since the operation although he led the Sunday Angelus prayers both from hospital and from the Vatican window on his return.