In brazen attack by settlers, Palestinians see larger threat

In brazen attack by settlers, Palestinians see larger threat
A Palestinian man leans on his smashed vehicle, following a settlers attack from nearby settlement outposts, in the West Bank village of Al-Mufagara, near Hebron, Sept. 30, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Updated 06 October 2021

In brazen attack by settlers, Palestinians see larger threat

In brazen attack by settlers, Palestinians see larger threat
  • Footage released by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem showed Israeli soldiers standing among the settlers as they hurled stones
  • Even as the settlements develop largely unchecked, the 1,300 Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta are unable to build or maintain basic infrastructure

Al-MUFAGARA, West Bank: Dozens of Jewish settlers swept down from the dusty hills, hurling rocks at a small Palestinian village in broad daylight, smashing windows, cars and water cisterns as families hid inside their homes and Israeli soldiers looked on.
Palestinians in this rural part of the occupied West Bank say last week’s attack was especially violent but not unusual. They view it as part of a much larger effort by Israel to force them off their land, including by cutting off vital water resources in a parched region.
Days after the attack — in which a 4-year-old boy was hospitalized after being struck in the head by a stone as his family hid inside their home — residents of the village of Al-Mufagara surveyed the damage. It included the smashed water cisterns on which the Bedouin community and its livestock rely.
“They attacked everything we have, our water containers, our animals, our trees, our houses,” said Mohammed Rahbi, deputy head of the rural Yatta regional council. “It was an attack on humanity itself.”
The hardscrabble region is in what’s known as Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control, according to agreements reached in the 1990s. Palestinians say it’s nearly impossible to secure building permits, even for basic infrastructure like water and electricity. The military has designated an area that includes Al-Mufagara as a firing range, making it even harder for residents to remain on the land.
Israeli authorities have meanwhile tolerated the construction of two nearby settlement outposts that are illegal even under Israeli law, where those who took part in last Wednesday’s attack are believed to have come from.
After ambushing a local shepherd and killing a number of his sheep, the settlers — shirtless with scarves wrapped around their faces — rampaged through the small cluster of stone homes and animal pens.
Footage released by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem showed Israeli soldiers standing among the settlers as they hurled the stones. At one point a soldier threw a tear gas grenade and shoved the Palestinian who was filming the attack. “This is our home,” the Palestinian shouted.
Israeli police said they arrested five Israeli suspects, including a teenager. All have since been released.
The military declined a request for an interview. But its top commander overseeing the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, last week held a rare meeting with Palestinian residents and said Israel is committed to the security of everyone in the area.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the attack as “terror” and blamed it on a “violent and dangerous fringe” that he said should be brought to justice. The US State Department also condemned the violence.
But rights groups say settlers have launched several similar attacks over the past year, with the military doing little to stop them.
“This is happening all the time,” said Hagai El-Ad, the head of B’Tselem. “Soldiers sometimes even participate directly in such assaults on Palestinians. And this is part of that bigger state project of forcible transfer of Palestinians from their communities in large parts of the West Bank.”
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war and has granted the Palestinian Authority limited autonomy in cities and towns that make up less than 40 percent of the territory. The Palestinians want the entire West Bank to form the main part of their future state.
Around 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank amid more than 2.5 million Palestinians. Most settlers live in the more than 120 settlements authorized by the Israeli government, but more radical settlers have built dozens of outposts without state permission in rural areas.
The nationalist parties that dominate Israel’s political system view the West Bank as the biblical heartland of the Jewish people and support the settlers. Israel’s current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is a longtime supporter of settlements who is opposed to a Palestinian state.
Israeli authorities are reluctant to evacuate outposts because doing so ignites clashes between soldiers and settlers, and successive governments have retroactively authorized 15 outposts. Israel subsidizes settlements and provides water and electricity to many outposts.
The Palestinians view all settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace, a position with wide international support.
Even as the settlements develop largely unchecked, the 1,300 Palestinians living in Al-Mufagara and the surrounding area, known as Masafer Yatta, are unable to build or maintain basic infrastructure. According to statistics published by Peace Now, an anti-settlement Israeli monitoring group, Israeli authorities approved around 1 percent of Palestinian requests for Area C construction permits submitted between 2009 and 2016.
“Israel is just trying to empty Masafer of the communities that have lived there for generations,” said Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, director of Haqel, a rights group that works with local communities.
Rahbi said he has submitted dozens of applications for new housing and irrigation projects that have been rejected. He says Israel only approves such projects in the nearby community of Al-Tuwani, which is outside its declared firing range.
A spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli defense body that grants the permits, said the refusals in the military zone were for the safety of the residents. Speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, he could not explain why settler communities, including unauthorized outposts, do not face the same barriers.
This was not the first time local sources of water have been harmed.
Over the last two years, the military has destroyed nearly all the pipelines linking Masafer to Israel’s national water carrier, as well as more than 20 local wells, according to Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group. COGAT had no immediate comment.
Rural Palestinian communities often struggle with shortages. A report released Friday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said 660,000 Palestinians have “limited access to water” and denounced Israel’s recent destruction of vital water sources in Masafer. Israel refused to comment on the report, saying the UN is biased against it.
According to Rahbi, most communities have built small pipes that connect to Al-Tuwani, the only village in the area connected to Israel’s water supplier, Mekorot.
But Rahbi said it isn’t enough. Residents collect rainwater during the winter months in plastic cisterns and purchase expensive water tankers from nearby cities. Suppliers often charge extra because of the poor roads.
During the settler attack on Wednesday, many of the plastic cisterns and pipes were damaged and will be costly to replace.
Despite the growing hardships, the Palestinians say they are determined to stay.
“People here are rooted, in love with the land,” Rahbi said.


Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting
Updated 5 sec ago

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting
  • A widely circulated video shot by a bystander appeared to show an officer from Israel’s paramilitary Border Police shooting the attacker
  • Israel says its security forces make every effort to avoid harming civilians and that it investigates alleged abuses
TEL AVIV, Israel: Israel’s Justice Ministry said Sunday that two police officers were brought in for questioning following the shooting death of a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli man in east Jerusalem.
Israeli police released surveillance video in which the attacker can be seen Saturday stabbing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and then trying to stab a Border Police officer before being shot and falling to the ground. Police identified the attacker as a 25-year-old from Salfit, in the occupied West Bank. Police could later be seen carrying the body away on a stretcher.
A widely circulated video shot by a bystander appeared to show an officer from Israel’s paramilitary Border Police shooting the attacker when he was already lying on the ground, and another appeared to show police with guns drawn preventing medics from reaching him, prompting calls for an investigation into possible excessive use of force.
The shooting drew comparisons to a 2016 incident in which an Israeli soldier was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground.
The Justice Ministry’s police investigations unit said the police officers were questioned shortly after the incident and released without conditions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement in support of the officers. Other leaders also defended their actions.
“It’s not clear if the terrorist maybe has an explosive belt. All sorts of things could happen,” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who oversees the police, told Israeli Army Radio Sunday. “They acted correctly.”
The incident happened near Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, a tense and crowded area that is often the scene of demonstrations and clashes.
The Old City is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war along with the West Bank and Gaza. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and considers the entire city its capital. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, to include the West Bank and Gaza.
There have been dozens of attacks in recent years in and around the Old City, nearly all carried out by individual Palestinians with no known links to armed groups.
Palestinians and Israeli rights groups say security forces sometimes use excessive force in response to attacks, killing suspected assailants who could have been arrested or who posed no immediate threat to security forces.
Rights groups also say Israel rarely holds members of its security forces accountable for the deadly shootings of Palestinians. Investigations often end with no charges or lenient sentences, and in many cases witnesses are not summoned for questioning.
Israel says its security forces make every effort to avoid harming civilians and that it investigates alleged abuses.
In the widely publicized 2016 case, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground. Azaria later served two-thirds of a 14-month sentence after being convicted of reckless manslaughter.
His case sharply divided Israelis. The military pushed for his prosecution, saying he violated its code of ethics, while many Israelis, particularly on the nationalist right, defended his actions.
In a more recent case, a Border Police officer was charged with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City last year.
The indictment came just over a year after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq, whose family has criticized Israel’s investigation into the killing and called for much tougher charges. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib
Updated 19 min 53 sec ago

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib
  • The attack comes after Yemen’s military and resistance forces made progress in Marib

RIYADH: The Houthi militia in Yemen reportedly fired three missiles in one hour in the country’s Marib governorate, Al Arabiya TV reported on Sunday. 

One missile landed in the airport, a correspondent for the channel said. 

The attack comes after Yemen’s military and resistance forces made progress in Marib, resulting in heavy losses for the Houthi militia. 

Major General Mansour Thawaba, the official in charge of operations carried out in Marib, confirmed the Yemeni army’s ‘remarkable progress’ in the area on Saturday.


World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure

World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure
Updated 05 December 2021

World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure

World’s tallest Egyptian woman dies from kidney failure
  • Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records
  • Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands

DUBAI: The world’s tallest Egyptian woman Huda Abdel-Gawad died in Egypt’s Sharqiyah province at the age of 27 after suffering from kidney failure, according to local reports.

Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records: the largest hand of a living woman with a length of 24.3 cm, the largest foot at 33.1 cm and the widest arms of a surviving woman at 236.3 cm.

Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands, which affected their weight and height.

Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, 33, got two Guinness World Records: the widest arms of a living man at 250.3 cm, and the widest hand of a surviving man at a length of 31.3 cm.


Daesh attack on Iraqi village kills 10 soldiers, Kurdish government says

Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2021

Daesh attack on Iraqi village kills 10 soldiers, Kurdish government says

Iraqi security forces stand guard during Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Sadr City district as violence continues to affect several areas of the country. (AFP)
  • Kurdistan’s PM calls for greater security cooperation between Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi security forces

SULAIMANIYA: An attack by Daesh militants on a village in northern Iraq on Friday killed three villagers and 10 Kurdish soldiers, officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on an affiliated Telegram account.
The attack took place in the Makhmour region, a hotbed for Daesh activity that sees regular attacks against Kurdish forces, Iraqi forces and often civilians.
Makhmour is a mountainous area about 70 km southeast of Mosul and 60 km southwest of the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called for greater security cooperation between Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi security forces to stop Daesh’s insurgent activities.
Iraqi officials and analysts have long blamed a lack of coordination along a stretch of territory claimed by both Baghdad and Irbil for Daesh’s continued ability to wage deadly attacks.
Daesh controlled roughly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, including the remote Makhmour region but also major cities including Mosul.
A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.
Western military officials say at least 10,000 Daesh fighters remain in Iraq and Syria.
A statement from the Kurdistan region’s armed forces, the peshmerga, said Daesh militants attacked the village in the early hours of Friday killing three residents.
It said peshmerga forces intervened, resulting in clashes that killed at least seven of their soldiers.
Kurdish security and hospital officials said the final death toll was at least 10 peshmerga soldiers and three villagers.
In a separate development, Kurdish demonstrators in The Hague stormed the headquarters of the global chemical weapons body on Friday, sparking clashes in which six people were hurt and 50 arrested, Dutch police said.

FASTFACT

A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the Daesh extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.

Dozens of protesters alleging that Turkey is using toxic arms in northern Iraq broke through security to enter the grounds of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.
A number of them managed to get inside the lobby of the building before police removed them, diplomatic sources said, while the rest staged a noisy protest outside the front doors.
Police dragged the demonstrators off one by one, put them on the ground and handcuffed them, journalists saw. Some were bundled into waiting vans, but the large number meant many were taken away in a hired bus.
At least a dozen police vehicles sealed off the road outside the OPCW, which is opposite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence. Several ambulances and a medical helicopter were also at the scene.
Two police officers and four protesters were wounded when the demonstrators “stormed the building,” The Hague police said.
Turkish jets regularly attack the separatists’ bases in northern Iraq and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, with several villages having emptied of their inhabitants since a new Turkish army offensive in April.
The PKK and Kurdish organizations in Europe have in recent months accused Turkey of using chemical weapons, including a nerve agent and sulfur mustard gas, in dozens of attacks in northern Iraq.
“We have called on OPCW and all international bodies to come and independently investigate the use of chemical weapons,” Zagros Hiwa, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union, the PKK’s political branch, told AFP.


Sudanese group condemns UN’s call to support reinstated premier

 Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 December 2021

Sudanese group condemns UN’s call to support reinstated premier

 Sudan's then-Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, speaks during a Reuters interview in Khartoum, Sudan August 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
  • Hamdok was deposed as part of the Oct. 25 coup by military leaders that brought international criticism and disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy

CAIRO: A Sudanese pro-democracy group has condemned comments by the UN chief urging citizens to support a deal that reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, so the country can have “a peaceful transition toward a true democracy.”
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which was at the forefront of the uprising against former autocrat Omar Bashir, rejected late on Friday Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s comments as a “moral and political failure.”
Hamdok was deposed as part of the Oct. 25 coup by military leaders that brought international criticism and disrupted Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy. He was reinstated last month amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight.
The SPA said Guterres’s comments were seen as a “justification for violence” against anti-coup protesters, who vowed to continue their street demonstrations against the deal despite deadly violence by security forces.
The US, its allies and the UN have condemned the use of excessive force against protesters who have since taken to the streets en masse. Dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds of others were wounded since the Oct. 25 coup. The agreement, signed on Nov. 21, has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.
Guterres told a news conference Wednesday that he understands “the indignation” and outrage of Sudanese who have seen the military coup and don’t want any solution involving the military.
“But I would like to appeal for common sense,” he said. “We have a situation which is, yes, not perfect, but which could allow for a transition toward democracy.”
The UN chief warned that calling into question the solution that led to Hamdok’s reinstatement “would be very dangerous for Sudan.”
The SPA said it would continue peaceful protests until the establishment of a “full civilian” government to achieve the democratic transition.
Since his appointment in 2019, Hamdok has been the civilian face of the government and one of the pro-democracy movement’s most respected figures.
But Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have said the deal that reinstated him falls short of their demands for full civilian rule.