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.


Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
Updated 55 min 55 sec ago

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
  • "This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up,” said Liz Truss

LONDON: British foreign minister Liz Truss urged Iran on Wednesday to sign up to the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it was “the last chance” to do, just a day before talks were expected to resume.
“This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up and I strongly urge them to do that because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons,” she told the Chatham House think tank.
“So they do need to sign up to the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement, it’s in their interests to do so.”


Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
Updated 11 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
  • The coalition also carried out 16 operations in Marib, killing over 95 Houthi fighters

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday it intercepted and destroyed two drones in Yemeni airspace, one of which was monitored and launched from Sanaa airport.
“We are in the process of implementing strict operational measures to deal with the sources of the threat,” Saudi state TV reported citing the coalition.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said it carried out 16 operations targeting the Houthi militia in Marib in the last 24 hours.
It said 95 militants were killed and 11 Houthi military vehicles were destroyed during the operation.
The coalition has stepped up operations targeting Houthi military targets after an increase in cross-border attacks in recent days aimed at Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom’s defense ministry said Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a hostile air target in the early hours of the morning that was headed toward the western region.
Spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said that the ministry “is taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the security and safety of the Kingdom and protect its national capabilities, as well as civilians and civilian objects,.”
He also said that the ministry “will take deterrent and resolute measures to stop such cross-border hostilities.” a statement on Saudi Press Agency reported.


Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow
Updated 08 December 2021

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow

Libyan political body calls for election delay as disputes grow
  • The High State Council’s statement comes less than three weeks before the vote
  • The electoral commission has not yet announced a final list of candidates for the presidential race

TRIPOLI: A Libyan political body on Wednesday called for a Dec. 24 presidential election to be delayed to February amid growing jostling over the rules and legal basis of a vote aimed at ending a decade of instability.
The statement by the High State Council (HSC), an advisory body installed through a 2015 peace agreement but not recognized by all other Libyan political entities, comes less than three weeks before the vote.
In Libya’s complex, fractured political environment the extent of the HSC’s powers is debated, but its statement adds to the doubts surrounding the election.
The electoral commission has not yet announced a final list of candidates for the presidential race following a fractious process of court appeals over the eligibility of the 98 who registered to run.
The arguments over some highly divisive candidates, including major figures from Libya’s conflict, have already threatened to torpedo the contest.
Those disputes revealed deeper disagreements over the basis for a voting process that has already diverged from both the UN-backed roadmap that set the vote and a controversial election law issued in September by the parliament speaker.
The roadmap envisaged the election as a way to end disputes over the legitimacy of Libya’s rival political bodies, which were formed during earlier transitional periods following the 2011 revolution that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.
The HSC was drawn from members of a national assembly elected in 2012 who rejected the results of a 2014 election that created the current parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR).
Despite the 2015 political agreement that enshrined a legislative role for the HoR and an advisory role for the HSC, they do not formally recognize each other, though they have held sporadic peace negotiations in Morocco.
Some Libyans fear the disputes over the current election process could trigger a similar crisis to that surrounding the 2014 vote, when Libya split between warring eastern and western factions with parallel administrations in Tripoli and Benghazi.
The HSC statement on Wednesday said the presidential and parliamentary elections should both take place on the same day, as was originally demanded by the UN roadmap.
Laws issued in September and October by HoR speaker Aguila Saleh, a presidential candidate, set a first round presidential vote for Dec. 24 but delayed the parliamentary vote.
Saleh’s critics accuse him of issuing the laws without a quorum or a proper vote in parliament and after intimidation against some members. Saleh and his allies deny wrongdoing and say the laws were passed properly.


French top diplomat visits Algeria to mend relations

French top diplomat visits Algeria to mend relations
Updated 08 December 2021

French top diplomat visits Algeria to mend relations

French top diplomat visits Algeria to mend relations
  • Le Drian's trip, kept secret until the last minute, is a "working visit, to evaluate and relaunch the relationship"

ALGIERS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks in Algeria Wednesday in a bid to heal the latest rift between the North African country and its former colonial ruler.
Le Drian’s trip, kept secret until the last minute, is a “working visit, to evaluate and relaunch the relationship” and he is set to meet President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a French foreign ministry source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Algeria’s APS state news outlet confirmed that the French diplomat had met his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra during “a working visit and evaluation of bilateral relations.”
Relations between Algiers and Paris have been strained for much of the six decades since the former French colony won its independence after a 130-year occupation.
President Emmanuel Macron has gone further than his predecessors in owning up to French abuses during the colonial era.
But ties collapsed in October after Macron accused Algeria’s “political-military system” of rewriting history and fomenting “hatred toward France.”
In remarks to descendants of independence fighters, reported by Le Monde, Macron also questioned whether Algeria had existed as a nation before the French invasion in the 1800s.
Coming a month after Paris decided to sharply reduce visa quotas for citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, those comments sparked a fierce reaction from Algeria.
The country withdrew its ambassador and banned French military planes from its airspace, which they regularly use to carry out operations against jihadist groups in West Africa and the Sahel region.
The comments also prompted Tebboune to boycott a major November summit in Paris on Algeria’s war-torn neighbor Libya, vowing that Algeria would “not take the first step” to repair ties.
The dispute prompted a rare expression of contrition from the French presidency, which said it “regretted” the misunderstandings caused by the remarks.
An aide from Macron’s office said the French leader “has the greatest respect for the Algerian nation and its history and for Algeria’s sovereignty.”
Algerian Foreign Minister Lamamra welcomed that statement and, in the end, represented Algeria at the Libya conference.
Le Drian’s visit comes as Algeria prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its independence in March.
Macron, France’s first leader born after the colonial era, has made a priority of historical reconciliation and forging a modern relationship with former colonies.
Earlier this year, he recognized that French officers tortured and killed Algerian lawyer Ali Boumendjel in 1957.
Macron also in October condemned “inexcusable crimes” during a 1961 crackdown against Algerian pro-independence protesters in Paris, during which French police led by a former Nazi collaborator killed dozens of demonstrators and threw their bodies into the river Seine.
A report commissioned by the president from historian Benjamin Stora earlier this year urged a truth commission over the Algerian war but Macron ruled out issuing any official apology.
And as he seeks re-election next year, he is wary of providing ammunition to far-right nationalist opponents Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.


Egypt sends medical aid to South Sudan

Egypt sends medical aid to South Sudan
Updated 08 December 2021

Egypt sends medical aid to South Sudan

Egypt sends medical aid to South Sudan

Cairo: Egypt’s military announced that under the directives of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, tons of medical and pharmaceutical aid have been sent to South Sudan.

The aid, transported by a military plane, was provided by the Ministry of Health and Population.

Officials in South Sudan expressed their appreciation for Egypt’s support, which they said strengthens bilateral relations.

During floods that swept South Sudan earlier this year, Egypt sent aid such as food and medical supplies.