Winter rain floods Gaza homes damaged in last spring’s war

Winter rain floods Gaza homes damaged in last spring’s war
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Some 56,000 homes across Gaza were damaged in the conflict, and over 2,100 others were either completely destroyed or damaged so heavily they are uninhabitable. (AP)
Winter rain floods Gaza homes damaged in last spring’s war
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Palestinians cover the roof of their house, in Beit Lahiya of northern Gaza Strip, with nylon to protect it from rain leaks after it was damaged during the 11-day war in May. (AP)
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Updated 25 November 2021

Winter rain floods Gaza homes damaged in last spring’s war

Winter rain floods Gaza homes damaged in last spring’s war
  • The farming town of Beit Lahiya, near the frontier with Israel, was hit by Israeli airstrikes during the war
  • Gaza has endured four wars and a punishing Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip: The first rainstorm of winter sent water pouring into Ghalia Al-Attar’s house through cracks in the walls and tin roof, as the widow, her children and grandchildren spread buckets across the floor.
Their home was among tens of thousands that were damaged during the 11-day Gaza war in May between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the isolated and impoverished territory. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed, and reconstruction efforts have yet to get off the ground.
Families like the Al-Attar’s have patched things up as best they can, but winter in the seaside territory brings chilly nights and periodic rainstorms.
“I have never seen a night worse than that,” Al-Attar said the next day, as she and her relatives spread blankets and mattresses on ropes to dry.
The farming town of Beit Lahiya, near the frontier with Israel, was hit by Israeli airstrikes during the war. Several surrounding homes were damaged, and trees were gashed by shrapnel.
Israel says it only took aim at military targets and made every effort to spare civilians, but of the more than 250 people killed in Gaza, more than half were civilians, according to the UN Thirteen people were killed on the Israeli side.
According to the United Nations, some 56,000 homes across Gaza were damaged in the conflict, and over 2,100 others were either completely destroyed or damaged so heavily they are uninhabitable. Israel launched hundreds of airstrikes during the war, often into populated areas where it said Hamas was staging attacks, as Gaza militants fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
Gaza has endured four wars and a punishing Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, when Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep the militants from rearming, while critics view it as a form of collective punishment.
Naji Sarhan, an official with the Hamas-run Housing Ministry, says residents need $170 million to rebuild, but so far only $13 million has been disbursed. That’s covered some repairs, but the funds aren’t deemed sufficient to cover the rebuilding of homes that were destroyed. The World Bank, which helps coordinate international aid to Gaza, has provided similar estimates on what is needed to rebuild.
“Donor countries are tired,” Sarhan said. “There are houses that were destroyed three times. In each war, this or that house is destroyed, then rebuilt, then destroyed.”
Many families whose homes suffered only minor or moderate damage have remained in them, often because they cannot afford other lodging. But after months without repairs, and with the arrival of rainy weather, the cracks are widening.
Qatar, which is the main donor to Gaza and a political ally of Hamas, has allocated $50 million for rebuilding and repairing homes. Egypt has pledged $500 million for infrastructure and housing, but it’s unclear how much of that funding has materialized. Sarhan said Hamas officials are in talks with Qatar to increase its contribution.
Israel has eased the blockade as part of an informal cease-fire brokered by Egypt and is issuing 10,000 permits for Palestinians in Gaza to work in Israel, mainly in construction and menial labor. That will provide a vital influx of cash to Gaza, where unemployment hovers around 50 percent. Building materials are allowed in for those who can afford them.
The morning after the rainstorm, some homes in Beit Lahiya were still flooded. Ali Al-Attar, a cousin who married and moved into his own place in January, waded through foot-deep (30-centimeters) water as he carried his furniture out and moved it into his parents’ house. He tried to salvage wet carpets that stank from the brackish water.
“We hope to rebuild this house and make it good, but I cannot,” Ghalia said.


Israeli agents convinced Iranian scientists to blow up their own nuclear facilities

Israeli agents convinced Iranian scientists to blow up their own nuclear facilities
Updated 14 sec ago

Israeli agents convinced Iranian scientists to blow up their own nuclear facilities

Israeli agents convinced Iranian scientists to blow up their own nuclear facilities
  • They posed as Iranian dissidents and smuggled bombs into the Natanz facility disguised as food
  • Israel had pledged to never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

LONDON: Agents from the Mossad convinced Iranian scientists to blow up their own nuclear facilities by “posing as dissidents” and smuggling explosives disguised as food into facilities, according to reports.

According to The Jewish Chronicle, Israeli agents convinced up to 10 scientists to destroy the Natanz nuclear facility, wiping out 90 percent of its centrifuges – crucial for research into nuclear weapons.

They are said to have smuggled some explosives into the plant in food lorries, while others were dropped in via drones and picked up by scientists – who they convinced to use against the nuclear sites by posing as Iranian dissidents.

The attack on the facility is just one of a long line of Israeli sabotages of Iranian nuclear facilities, a strategy that they have engaged in more as Iranian nuclear research has progressed.

The Natanz facility, a critical nuclear research site, has been hit by at least three attacks linked to the Israeli secret service, the Mossad.

In another incident, agents used a quadcopter drone to fire missiles at the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company in an attempt to disrupt its research.

In recent years, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iran has increased its atomic energy research, including enriching growing quantities of uranium above the levels required for civilian nuclear activity such as energy production.

In April Iran said that it would start enriching uranium up to 60 percent after the attack on its Natanz plant which it blamed on Israel – that is closing in on the 90 to 95 percent enrichment required for nuclear weapons.

This week – much to the ire of Israel – Iran and the US returned to the negotiating table to try to find a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for relief from crushing economic sanctions imposed on the country by the US and its allies.

But on Thursday, Israeli officials called on the US directly to cease those negotiations.

In a phone call with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for “concrete measures” to be taken against Iran.

He said that Tehran was carrying out “nuclear blackmail” as a negotiation tactic and that “this must be met with an immediate cessation of negotiations and by concrete steps taken by the major powers,” according to a statement released by his office.

The Israeli leader also expressed his concern about a new report from the UN, issued during the US-Iran talks in Vienna, which showed that Iran had “started the process of enriching uranium to the level of 20 percent purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordo underground facility.”

Israel, the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, has pledged never to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.


Lebanon information minister resigns

Lebanon information minister resigns
Updated 15 min 8 sec ago

Lebanon information minister resigns

Lebanon information minister resigns

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Information Minister George Kordahi has officialy submitted his resignation on Friday to “give Lebanon a chance.”
“I will resign this afternoon,” Kordahi earlier told AFP. “I do not want to cling to this position, if it can be useful, I want to give Lebanon a chance.”
An official at the presidency confirmed to AFP that President Michel Aoun had received a call from Kordahi confirming he would submit his resignation.


UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour
Updated 6 min 52 sec ago

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour

UAE, France sign $18 bilion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour
  • Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar

DUBAI: French President Emmanuel Macron met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Friday at the start of a two-day Gulf tour that saw France sell the UAE 80 French-made Rafale warplanes for $18.08 billion (€16 billion). 
France’s Defense Minister said the deal was France’s largest-ever weapons contract for export while the Minister for the Armed Forces hailed the deal as "historic."

There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Emirati officials. Macron was greeted at the leadership pavilion at Dubai’s Expo site for talks with Sheikh Mohammed, known as “MBZ."
“I don’t want to reveal the Christmas present” before the meeting, UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash told journalists in the build-up to the talks in Dubai.
Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar, host of next year’s World Cup, before traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The UAE, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, is expected to order dozens of Rafale jets to replace its Mirage 2000 aircraft acquired in the late 1990s.
The Emirates is the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry with $5.31 billion (€4.7 billion) from 2011-2020, according to a parliamentary report.
Macron is accompanied by a large delegation in Dubai including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Defense Minister Florence Parly.


Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog
Updated 03 December 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has urged Syrian authorities to cooperate with the chemical weapons watchdog and implement all decisions related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Kingdom’s position on the matter was reiterated by the Saudi permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ziyad Al-Attiyah.

He said: “The use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as weapons anywhere by any person and under any circumstances is reprehensible and completely contradicts the provisions of the convention and the legal rules and standards of the international community.”

His comments came during the 26th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Al-Attiyah also highlighted the importance his country attached to implementing its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, believing in its objectives, and based on its consistent policy to strengthen cooperation to ban weapons of mass destruction and prevent their spread.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia was keen to help free the Middle East of all WMDs, a move that would increase international peace and security.

Al-Attiyah thanked the organization’s director general, Fernando Arias, for his efforts toward the cause, adding that the Kingdom would be supporting his reappointment for a second term.


Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
Updated 03 December 2021

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
  • The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil

IRBIL: At least three civilians and seven Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have been killed in northern Iraq in an attack blamed on the Daesh jihadist group, the forces said Friday.
The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil, killing three civilians, a statement said. The peshmerga, Kurdistan’s armed forces, launched an operation in response, and seven fighters died when “an explosive device planted by Daesh elements” blew up.