Israeli shells southern Lebanon, escalating military tension

Israeli shells southern Lebanon, escalating military tension
An Israeli soldier walks past tanks positioned near the northern Israeli settlement of Shtula along the border with Lebanon. (AFP)
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Updated 20 July 2021

Israeli shells southern Lebanon, escalating military tension

Israeli shells southern Lebanon, escalating military tension
  • Security issue doubles anxiety of the Lebanese, who try to celebrate Eid during crippling economic crisis
  • Religious leaders rap ruling authorities in sermon 

BEIRUT: Israel shelled Lebanon on Tuesday in response to rocket attacks, the Israeli Army said, as the UN urged all sides to show “maximum restraint.”

The UN peacekeeping force in the border region, UNIFIL, said it had boosted security in the area and “launched an investigation” with the Lebanese military.

No party claimed responsibility for the two 122mm Grad rockets fired at dawn on Tuesday from the Qlaileh plain, south of the city of Tyre, in southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese Army announced that three bases for launching the rockets were found in the vicinity of Qlaileh.

It said a ready-to-fire rocket found on one of the bases was disabled by a specialized unit.




UN peacekeepers stand next to a Hezbollah flag raised on the Lebanese side of the border fence with Israel, near the northern Israeli settlement of Shtula on July 20, 2021. Israel shelled Lebanon in response to earlier rocket attacks, the Israeli army said. (AFP)

A similar security incident occurred in May when unknown individuals fired Grad-type rockets from the same area towards Israel, against the backdrop of the bombing of the Gaza Strip.

“The warning sirens sounded in the region of Western Galilee after the two rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Israel,” Israeli Army spokesman Avichay Adraee announced on Tuesday.

Adraee said one was intercepted and the second fell in an open area.

According to the Lebanese Army Command, Israel responded “less than half an hour later with 12 155-caliber artillery shells, targeting the Wadi Hamul area in the Bint Jbeil district,” which borders the Occupied Territories. No casualties or damage were reported.

The Commander of the South Litani Sector in the Lebanese Army Brig. Gen. Maroun Al-Qubayati and other senior officers inspected the rocket firing site in the Qlaileh plain.

They were briefed about the process of dismantling the bases and the unfired rocket, which was moved elsewhere.

The Lebanese Army Command said its soldiers conducted a survey of the area and prevented anyone from approaching it.

It added that soldiers patrolled along the coast between Ras Al-Ain and the Qlaileh plain and erected checkpoints.

Candice Ardell, deputy director of the UNIFIL Media Office, said its radar “detected that rockets were fired from an area northwest of Qlaileh toward Israel, and later on, the Israeli Army artillery responded.”

Ardell added: “The UNIFIL was in direct contact with the parties to the conflict to urge them to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid further escalation.

“Together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, we have strengthened security in the area and launched an investigation.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened that “Israel will react to any threat to its sovereignty and its citizens.”

Gantz added: “We will not allow the social, political and economic crises in Lebanon to turn into a security threat to Israel.”

Gantz held the Lebanese state responsible for the exchange of fire, arguing that it allows terrorist acts to be carried out from its territory.

Gantz said: “Israel will respond in accordance with its interests when and where it is appropriate,” calling on the international community to work to restore stability to Lebanon.

This security development doubled the anxiety of the Lebanese, especially Muslims, who tried on Tuesday to celebrate Eid Al-Adha amid an unprecedented economic crisis.

The Lebanese barely shopped for Eid Al-Adha this year, with limited access to food or clothes, let alone presents.

In their Eid sermons, clerics took aim at Lebanese officials.

Some clerics addressed President Michel Aoun by name, while others criticized him indirectly.

A prayer was held at Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut in the absence of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab. Analysts believe political officials are avoiding appearing in public places for fear of having to confront the people’s resentment.

The Secretary of Dar Al-Fatwa in the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Amin Al-Kurdi, said in his sermon: “This country is misfortunate because it is ruled by warlords, corrupt politicians and people who chose to remain silent in the face of corruption.

“Today, the dignity of the citizens has been dragged through the mud in the queues of humiliation for fuel, food and medicine. Children died and patients could not use their oxygen concentrators due to power cuts.”

Regarding the ongoing investigations into the crime of the Beirut port explosion, Sheikh Al-Kurdi stressed that “there is no immunity for the corrupt and the perpetrators, and there is no cover for any of them, no matter how high their ranks are.”

The Mufti of Sidon Sheikh Salim Sousan criticized “those who overwhelmed the country, spread corruption and brought the homeland and the citizens to this state we live in, and did not abide by the principles, charters, the Constitution, the Taif Agreement and the National Pact.”

Sheikh Sousan added: “What does this corrupt authority that destroyed Lebanon and its economy and plundered its currency want? They want to go to hell? So let them go along with those who support them, but we want to live in a homeland that is an oasis of peace, security and stability, and there must be a real, peaceful popular uprising.”

The Mufti of Hasbaya and Marjayoun Sheikh Hassan Delly directly addressed Aoun: “Since you were elected president of the country, the people have been unjustly humiliated to get some liters of gasoline and crumbs of bread.

“We have children dying at the doors of hospitals, we have no medicines and the Lebanese pound’s value hit record lows. This happened under your reign and history will be forgiving towards you.”

Sheikh Delly addressed the Sunni leaders warning that “harming our rights and powers would harm one of the basic components of this nation’s entity.

“We must unite so that we do not become easy prey for others.”

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had stepped down from forming a government on July 15, nine months after he was assigned, failing to reach an agreement with Aoun.

Parliamentary consultations are expected to take place to assign an alternative Sunni figure next Monday, amid Sunni resentment over how the president and his political team handled the constitutional powers of the prime minister.


US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury
Updated 46 min 56 sec ago

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

US imposes fresh Syria-related sanctions: Treasury

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed fresh Syria-related sanctions on several individuals and entities, according to the Treasury’s website, increasing pressure on President Bashar Assad’s government.
The United States blacklisted eight individuals and 10 entities in separate counterterrorism and Syria-related actions taken on Wednesday, including branches of the Syrian general and military intelligence, according to the website.


Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system
Updated 28 July 2021

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system

Schools in Egypt flourishing with Tokkatsu system
  • Japanese system develops all the skills of the student, focusing on creativity and thinking rather than conservation and indoctrination
  • Egyptian-Japanese schools in Egypt are preparing for the new academic year, which begins in October

CAIRO: The Japanese education system, Tokkatsu, continues to flourish in Egypt as the country had 48 schools that used the system during the last academic school year. 

These Egyptian-Japanese schools teach Egyptian curriculum in addition to the Japanese Tokkatsu educational system, which develops all the skills of the student, focusing on creativity and thinking rather than conservation and indoctrination.

Safwat Al-Jamai, an educationist, told Arab News the Tokkatsu method relies on activities that help the students with daily life, self-development, health, safety, and creativity.

“It encourages students to help with the management and planning of the activities, and there are cultural exchange programs for different age groups within the school,” Al-Jamai said.

“It also entails activities that develop a sense of belonging and solidarity toward others and working for the public interest through practical activities carried out by students."

These activities, according to Al-Jamai, transform the role of the teacher into that of a facilitator. They no longer merely teach facts and concepts leading students to a right-or-wrong answer, but rather facilitate social and emotional learning for the student through trial and error in an individual or group environment.

The activities also enable the development of the personal and social skills needed when students enter the real world, and it requires them to share tasks, set rules, experience leadership as well as follow rules and adhere to order.

Egyptian-Japanese schools in Egypt are preparing for the new academic year, which begins in October. One of them is in Sharm El-Sheikh, which was inaugurated by the Egyptian Minister of Education, Tariq Shawky, and the Governor of South Sinai, Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, last March.

The Egyptian-Japanese School in Sharm El-Sheikh is located near King Salman University and consists of 28 classrooms from kindergarten to secondary school. It is the second such school in the governorate after another that was established in Tur Sinai in October 2018.

The Egyptian-Japanese School finished conducting personal interviews for students initially accepted to the school for the academic year 2021-2022. Prospective students applied to enroll in the school through the school's website, under the supervision of the Egyptian-Japanese Schools Administration Unit at the Ministry of Education.

They canceled paper submissions due to coronavirus (COVID-19) safety precautions. 

The admission process for students included a personal interview with parents, submission of supporting documents with the application, a math test, and a cognitive skills test for the child. Personal interviews were also conducted for students applying for kindergarten.

Mahmoud Abdel-Aal, director of the Egyptian-Japanese School, said interview results will be announced after they are completed in all schools nationwide.


Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon
Updated 28 July 2021

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon

Lebanon's Mikati hopes to form government soon
  • Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said he hoped to form a government in the "near future"

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said on Wednesday that he hoped to form a government shortly after securing the approval of President Michel Aoun for most of his nominees.
Mikati, a businessman, is the third potential prime minister to be nominated since Hassan Diab's government resigned after an explosion in Beirut's port area on Aug. 4 last year that killed more than 200 people and flattened large areas of the city. He spoke to reporters after meeting Aoun.
Diab's government has stayed on in a caretaker capacity, but Lebanon's currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts in the country's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
"I gave my proposals, President Aoun approved most of them and he made some remarks which are acceptable; God willing ... we will be able to form a government soon," Mikati said.
Mikati has been prime minister twice before and, unlike many Lebanese leaders, does not represent a political bloc or hail from a dynasty.
Like the previous nominee, Saad Al-Hariri, he must navigate the sectarian, power-sharing structure and secure agreement on a cabinet equipped to address the financial meltdown in Lebanon, one of the world's most heavily indebted states. 


UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors
Updated 28 July 2021

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors

UAE starts granting golden visas to doctors
  • All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022

DUBAI: The UAE has started to grant golden visas to doctors in what the government described as “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices and being the frontline heroes.”

The golden visa will grant doctors and their families a 10-year residency, ensuring stability in their jobs and livelihood in the UAE as well as the development of the health care sector.

“This initiative promotes a motivational work environment and high-quality living standards by attracting and retaining the top talents in the medical field, and providing opportunities for medical staff to work and reside in the UAE,” a report from state news agency WAM said.

All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022 online through smartservices.ica.gov.ae.

Dubai-licensed doctors meanwhile may apply via smart.gdrfad.gov.ae.

Seven offices across the Emirates affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will accept applications from doctors who wish to apply for the golden visa personally.


Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor
Updated 28 July 2021

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

Daesh attack kills seven Syrian troops: Monitor

BERLIN: Daesh group militants killed at least seven soldiers and militiamen in eastern Syria on Wednesday, the latest in a series of deadly attacks, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Several government positions came under attack in a desert area of Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Several troops were also wounded, some of them critically, while five militants were also killed.
A Kurdish-led offensive overran the last patch of Daesh-held territory in Syria in March 2019 but sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in the vast desert that stretches from central Syria east to the Iraqi border.