Those guilty of chemical attacks must be held accountable, says UN Chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said perpetrators of chemical-weapon attacks must be identified and held accountable. (Reuters)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said perpetrators of chemical-weapon attacks must be identified and held accountable. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 November 2021

Those guilty of chemical attacks must be held accountable, says UN Chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said perpetrators of chemical-weapon attacks must be identified and held accountable. (Reuters)
  • At start of conference devoted to a nuclear-free Middle East, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called on all parties to work to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal
  • Expansion of existing nuclear-free zones around the world would lead to more robust disarmament and non-proliferation norms, he added

NEW YORK: The perpetrators of chemical-weapon attacks must be identified and held accountable for their actions, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

His comments came as he opened the second session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Currently, 60 percent of UN member states are covered by five nuclear weapon-free zones in Latin America and the Caribbean; the South Pacific; Southeast Asia; Africa; and Central Asia. Guterres said that expanding these zones would lead to more robust disarmament and non-proliferation norms.

“That is particularly the case in the Middle East, where concerns over nuclear programs persist, and where conflicts and civil wars are causing widespread civilian casualties and suffering, undermining stability and disrupting social and economic development,” the UN chief said as he again called on all in the region to exercise restraint and avoid the escalation of conflicts.

The second session of the annual conference, which was delayed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was presided over by Mansour Al-Otaibi, the permanent representative to the UN for Kuwait, which was chosen to inherit the presidency from Jordan after the first session in 2019.

In line with a General Assembly decision, the goal of the conference is to “elaborate a legally binding treaty” to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of “arrangements freely arrived at by the states of the region.”

Guterres praised Kuwait for “actively engaging participants during the intersessional period to learn from the other nuclear weapon-free zones and continue moving the process forward.”

He said the conference represents a chance to produce tangible results for the Middle East and to reinstate dialogue on the “full and effective” implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

He urged “all parties” to work to salvage the agreement, signed in 2015 by world powers and Iran, under which Tehran pledged to halt its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018. A sixth round of negotiations to revive the JCPOA began on Monday in Vienna.

“Your strong political will, together with the international community’s support, can transform the vision of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction into a reality,” Guterres told the participants.


Continued Israeli targeting of Al-Aqsa and holy sites sparks condemnation

Palestinians salvage belongings from the rubble of their home, following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, on August 7, 2022.
Palestinians salvage belongings from the rubble of their home, following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, on August 7, 2022.
Updated 14 sec ago

Continued Israeli targeting of Al-Aqsa and holy sites sparks condemnation

Palestinians salvage belongings from the rubble of their home, following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, on August 7, 2022.
  • Settlers prostrate themselves in mosque's courtyards

RAMALLAH: Tensions rose in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday after more than 2,000 settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque amid tight Israeli police protection throughout the Old City and at the gates leading to the mosque.

Hundreds of settlers will participate in the incursion to revive the so-called “destruction of the temple.”

They had gathered since Saturday evening in the Old City and its surroundings before reaching the Western Wall/Al-Buraq, ahead of their overnight preparation for the incursions, with the participation of far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir.

At dawn on Sunday, Israeli police stopped people under 50 from entering Al-Aqsa to prevent them from confronting the settlers. An arrest campaign was launched on Saturday night, with at least six young men targeted.

The settlers began storming the courtyards of Al-Aqsa in successive groups, with the first group of 50 provided by extremist Yehuda Glick.

Israeli police deployed members of its special units in the courtyards to provide guards for the intruders, keep Palestinians away from the path of the incursions, and prevent their movement during the tours.

Settlers raised the Israeli flag while storming the courtyards.

They organized dancing and singing sessions near the Al-Silsila Gate from the outside. There were also tours and prayers at all the gates of Al-Aqsa from the outside.

Several settlers prostrated themselves in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa, as Muslim worshippers confronted the intruders and their provocations.

A statement from the Islamic Awqaf, which is affiliated with Jordan and in charge of Al-Aqsa, was signed by other Islamic commissions in Jerusalem and obtained by Arab News.

It said: “In an attempt to change the religious, legal, and historical status of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the occupation authorities and their police and intelligence forces turned this morning, Sunday, the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque into a military barracks to secure the storming of groups of Jewish extremists to the premises of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, after their calls to mobilize large numbers to storm the mosque in remembrance of the so-called ‘Destruction of the Temple.’”

According to the Islamic Awqaf, about 2,176 Jewish extremists stormed the courtyards under the protection of the Israeli police and intelligence forces who secured their tours, dances, singing, and laying down as part of their rituals in an apparent provocation to the feelings of Muslims, in return for emptying the mosque of worshippers, pursuing several young men and women, forcibly expelling them outside the mosque, arresting a number of them, and preventing the entry of a large number of worshippers.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it held the Israeli government fully and directly responsible for its ongoing aggression against Christian and Islamic holy sites, the foremost of which was Al-Aqsa, and for its repercussions and dangers on the conflict and the entire region.

 


Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis
Updated 07 August 2022

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis
  • Airstrike kills second senior Islamic Jihad commander; 31 Palestinians, including 6 children and 4 women, dead

GAZA CITY: The Palestinian Ministry of Health has warned that its hospital services would stop within 48 hours if operations at the power plant in Gaza were not restored.

The power station has stopped working since noon on Saturday, as fuel supplies ceased with the closure of Kerem Shalom last week.

During its continuous raids since Friday, Israeli forces have killed at least 31 Palestinians, including six children and four women, and wounded more than 270 others.

Medhat Abbas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said that services would be suspended if around-the-clock electricity was not restored within two days.

“The Ministry of Health needs half a million liters of fuel per month to be able to operate the private generators,” Abbas said. 

He fears a real disaster soon, as fuel is currently unavailable.

Gaza City Mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj said that municipal services were also being negatively impacted due to the lack of electricity.

“As a result of the power plant shutdown, municipal services will be minimal or even stopped. It will minimize the supply of domestic water, the consumption of which increases especially during July and August,” Al-Sarraj said.

“Raw sewage will drain into the sea because the plants are not functioning at full capacity,” he added. 

The power supply has been reduced to four hours a day, and the resulting situation will affect water distribution as well as sewage treatment plants, Abbas said.

Efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with Egyptian and UN mediation.

Local and Arab media quoted Egyptian sources as saying that they were making efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement and to restore calm to the Gaza Strip.

But Israeli warplanes continued to bomb various targets in the Gaza Strip for the third day in a row.

The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, fired dozens of missiles toward Israeli cities.

Missiles were also directed toward Jerusalem for the first time since the start of the latest fighting round. Israel’s assassination of Khaled Mansour, the Al-Quds Brigade commander in Rafah, was a new blow to the Islamic Jihad in Gaza in the wake of the killing of Taysir Al-Jabari, another Islamic Jihad commander.

The Military Council of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza consists of 10 members under the leadership of Akram Al-Ajouri, whom Israel tried to assassinate in Beirut previously.

Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, said in a press statement: “What has emerged from our missile capabilities, which today are draining our foolish enemy, is a small part of what we have prepared.”

He asked the Palestinian people in the West Bank to get involved in the resistance. 

“We call on all the resistance fighters and free people in the West Bank and occupied lands to engage in this epic, and let it be a massive intifada that establishes the demise of our enemy.”

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement: “Around the clock, we are making all required efforts to protect our people and stop the aggression.”


UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
Updated 07 August 2022

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
  • Mansour emphasized Security Council’s responsibility to condemn and halt Israeli aggression and provide international protection for the Palestinian people.

NEW YORK: Palestine’s UN ambassador has said that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the Israeli brutal aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour emphasized that the Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as well as responding to the imperatives of condemning and halting Israeli aggression and providing international protection for the Palestinian people.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings issued a statement on Saturday expressing her deep concern about the situation, which has killed at least 31 Palestinians and injured more than 253.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation” she said.

“The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk,” she cautioned.

An electricity company spokesman said that Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday after running out of fuel five days after Israel closed its goods crossing with the Palestinian enclave, AFP reported.

Hastings added that the movement and access of humanitarian personnel, critical medical cases and essential goods, such as food and fuel, into Gaza must not be hampered in order to meet humanitarian needs.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also scheduled to deliver an important speech before the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, WAFA reported.

Related


El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
Updated 07 August 2022

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
  • El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said that his country’s policy remains consistent on Taiwan, with Egypt supporting the “One China” policy.

During a speech to military students, El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability.

“We do not want more global crises that may affect us all,” he said. “In our foreign policy, we have constants in our policy that do not change, and we are always keen to be supportive of regional and international stability.”

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has angered China, which views the island as part of its territory.

A day after Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, China on Thursday began unprecedented military exercises and fired multiple missiles near Taiwan.

In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China said on Friday that it was suspending talks with the US in a number of areas, including on climate change. China’s foreign ministry announced that it was also halting communications with the US on combating transnational crime and drug trafficking, actions that the US referred to as irresponsible.

On Thursday, the US criticized China’s display of force as an “overreaction” and “provocative” after Beijing launched missiles and stationed fighter jets near Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The Taiwanese defense ministry reported on Friday that it sent out planes to warn off Chinese aircraft that it claimed violated the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary between the two sides, and entered the island’s air defense zone.


Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
Updated 07 August 2022

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
  • Every effort must be made to de-escalate Gaza tension, diplomatic source tells Arab News

ROME: Italy condemns the escalation of violence in Gaza and is “deeply concerned” about the news of casualties among Palestinian civilians, the Italian ministry of foreign affairs said.

The ministry said it “strongly condemns the launch of rockets toward Israel’s territory and reiterates Israel’s right to ensure the safety of its citizens,” and “urges all sides to show moderation to prevent an escalation of the hostilities, which would cause further casualties and pain among civilians.”

“This new wave of violence confirms once again the necessity to relaunch diplomatic efforts to reach a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” an official communique added.

“The situation is escalating badly and may bear unexpected consequences: This is just something we do not want to see in a global situation, which is already full of tensions due to the war in Ukraine and the China-Taiwan contest. This is why we believe that every diplomatic effort must be made in Middle East,” a diplomatic source in the prime minister’s office told Arab News.

The Italian Parliament is also concerned about the escalation in Gaza. Members of the foreign affairs committees of both Houses will meet in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the situation in a joint meeting.

“We are following with great concern what is happening at the border with the Gaza Strip. We must absolutely avoid the prospect of an escalation in the confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians on the border with the Gaza Strip,” Stefania Craxi, senator for the Forza Italia party and chairperson of the Italian Senate’s foreign and international committee told Arab News.

Craxi urged all parties to “work hard in order to foster a structured dialogue between both parts.”

The Middle East, she said, was “thirsty for peace, and no one can ever believe that a conflict is unavoidable. We all must think that the more all this will go on the more all these tensions may be badly destabilizing for all the Mediterranean area. This would certainly have repercussions on a global level in a moment when all geopolitical balances seem to be redefined.”

Piero Fassino, the member of Parliament for the Democratic Party who chairs the Italian Chamber of Deputies’ foreign and international committee, told Arab News: “It is necessary now more than ever to do everything possible to prevent a wider conflict, which would affect civilians on both sides and cause more casualties and greater suffering.”