Israeli forces arrest 5 in connection with deadly shooting

Israeli forces arrest 5 in connection with deadly shooting
Mourners gather around the body of Yaakov Shalom, 36, at a cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Wednesday. Shalom was one of five killed by a gunman in a crowded city in central Israel late Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 30 March 2022

Israeli forces arrest 5 in connection with deadly shooting

Israeli forces arrest 5 in connection with deadly shooting
  • Police identified the shooter as Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, from the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Yabad
  • In a statement, the military said the suspects were being questioned

TEL AVIV: Israeli forces operating in the West Bank on Wednesday arrested five Palestinians allegedly involved in a deadly shooting attack in central Israel the previous night where a Palestinian gunman used an assault rifle to kill five people.
Police identified the shooter as Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, from the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Yabad. Police shot and killed him late Tuesday, putting an end to the shooting rampage.
In a statement, the military said the suspects were being questioned. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a group that represents current and former Palestinian prisoners, said those arrested were Hamarsheh’s relatives.
The incident Tuesday was the third attack of its kind ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The previous two attacks, carried out by Arab citizens of Israel who were inspired by the Daesh extremist group, have raised concerns of a new round of violence ahead of a sensitive period where three major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays converge.
Israel ramped up its security presence both in Israeli cities as well as around the West Bank in a bid to snuff out any further violence. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was set to hold a meeting of his Security Cabinet later Wednesday, after convening his top security officials shortly after Tuesday’s attack.
“We are dealing with a new wave of terror,” Bennett said in a statement. “As in other waves, we will prevail.”
Israel in recent weeks has been taking steps aimed at calming tensions and avoiding a repeat of last year, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas. It planned to ease a series of restrictions against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and held talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II, who also made a rare visit to the West Bank this week, to try to ensure calm during what was expected to be a tense period.
But the new wave of violence is greatly complicating those efforts.
Israeli authorities have not yet determined whether the attacks were organized by militant groups or whether the attackers acted individually.
Tuesday’s shootings occurred at two locations in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city just east of Tel Aviv. Police said a preliminary investigation found the gunman was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on passersby before he was shot by officers at the scene.
Authorities said five people were killed. Police said one of the victims was a police officer who arrived at the scene and engaged the shooter. Two other victims were foreign citizens from Ukraine, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Ukrainians had arrived before or after the war with Russia began.
In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying the killing of Israeli or Palestinian civilians “only leads to further deterioration of the situation and instability, which we all strive to achieve, especially as we are approaching the holy month of Ramadan and Christian and Jewish holidays.”
He said the violence “confirms that permanent, comprehensive and just peace is the shortest way to provide security and stability for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.”
No Palestinian groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Militant group Hamas praised the “heroic operation,” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
On Sunday, a pair of gunmen killed two young police officers during a shooting in the central city of Hadera, and last week, a lone assailant killed four people in a car ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli security services raided the homes of at least 12 Arab citizens and arrested two suspected of having ties to the Daesh group in a crackdown sparked by recent deadly attacks.
Law enforcement officials said 31 homes and sites were searched overnight in northern Israel, an area that was home to the gunmen who carried out the Hadera attack.
The Daesh group has claimed responsibility for the two previous attacks.
All of the attacks have come just ahead of Ramadan, which begins later this week and as Israel hosted a high-profile meeting this week between the foreign ministers of four Arab nations and the United States.
All four Arab nations — Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — along with the United States, condemned the killings.


Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
Updated 28 min 43 sec ago

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
  • The ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects

AMMAN: The Jordanian Ministry of Transport has announced a five-year public transportation strategy for the years 2022 to 2027, Jordan News Agency (Petra) reported on Wednesday.

The ministry's goal is to increase the sector's employment by 18 percent and increase its current GDP contribution from 2.6 percent to 7 percent in that time.

The ministry also said in a statement that it will collaborate with its partners at the World Bank and the European Union to align its new five-year strategy with the recently released Economic Modernization Vision recommendations.

As the strategy sources additional funding, the ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects.

The strategy also aims to cut down on the use of cars, increase the percentage of people who use public transportation from 12 to 17 percent, and reduce household spending on transportation to 5 percent.

It also aims to reduce the cost of losses caused by traffic accidents by 35 percent, the energy used by the transportation industry by 7 percent, and the emissions produced by the industry by 125 percent.


Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN
Updated 46 min 13 sec ago

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN
  • Investigators described how migrants in detention face “acts of murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts”
  • A flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank off Libya's coast, leaving at least 30 people missing and feared dead

GENEVA/CAIRO: Migrants detained in Libya face horrific abuse, with women especially facing sexual violence, and often forced to submit to rape in exchange for food, UN investigators said Wednesday.
In a fresh report, the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya reiterated that the worst crimes under international law were likely being committed in the war-ravaged country, with migrant women suffering some of the worst abuse.
“The mission has reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, imprisonment, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts have been committed in several places of detention in Libya since 2016,” it said.
Migrants are routinely detained by authorities, human traffickers and others in Libya — a key departure point for tens of thousands of people mainly from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Europe.
Human traffickers have profited from the chaos that has raged since the 2011 toppling and killing of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Talks between rival Libyan governments are being held in Geneva this week over the rules for long-awaited elections, with an aim to end the chaos.
The fact-finding mission report, to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next week, said it had gathered broad evidence of “the systematic use of prolonged arbitrary detention” of migrants in Libya.
The investigators, who made several trips to Libya, described how migrants in detention face “acts of murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts.”
The report highlighted “sexual violence at the hands of traffickers and smugglers, often with the aim of extorting families.”
“The mission has also documented cases of rape in places of detention or captivity whereby migrant women are forced to have sex in order to survive, in exchange for food or other essential items,” it said.
In fact, the known risk of sexual violence is considered too great, the report said, that “some migrant women and girls get fitted with a contraceptive implant before traveling there to avoid unwanted pregnancy due to such violence.”
The investigators relayed some heartbreaking stories heard from migrants in Libya.
One woman, who was held in the northern town of Ajdabiya, “described how her captors demanded sex in exchange for access to water she direly needed to wash her six-month-old sick child’s soiled clothes,” the report said.
“I let them rape me. I had no choice. It was for my daughter. I could not leave her like that,” she said, according to the report.
The fact-finding mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020, will see its mandate expire in a few days.
But a group of African countries has presented a draft resolution to the council that would allow it to continue its work for another nine months.
Meanwhile, a flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast, leaving at least 30 people including women and children missing and feared dead, an international charity said Wednesday.
The vessel sank in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea route, said Doctors Without Borders, also known by its abbreviation MSF for the French name of the group.
A rescue ship operated by MSF reached the boat, and managed to rescue dozens of other migrants including some women. A pregnant woman died on board the rescue ship, Geo Barents, it said.
Among the rescued migrants from Monday’s boat sinking was a woman who lost her child in the sinking and another one who said she lost two children, the charity said.
The charity has called for Italian and Maltese authorities to determine a port of safety to allow the disembarkation of survivors.
* With AFP and AP


‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says
Updated 29 June 2022

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says
  • The UN Security Council mandate allowing trucks of aid to enter Syria via Turkey is due to expire on July 10

BEIRUT: People living in Syria’s battered northwest could die of malnutrition or lack of water if Russia vetoes UN authorization for cross-border aid, an aid official said on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council mandate allowing trucks of aid to enter Syria via Turkey is due to expire on July 10. But Syrian ally Russia has hinted it may veto, prompting fears of a cut-off as Syrians grapple with drought and growing food insecurity.
Mark Cutts, deputy UN regional humanitarian coordinator, told Reuters the “eyes of the world have turned away from Syria” precisely when it most needs outside help.
“If the resolution is not renewed, we know that many people are going to suffer, people are going to die,” he said.
Around 4.4 million Syrians live in the northwestern enclave controlled by Turkish-backed groups and hard-line Islamist militants and virtually all of them — 4.1 million — need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations says.
One in three children are under-nourished and many rely on therapeutic feeding made possible by cross-border aid, he said.
“Many are in hospitals that will no longer get the medical aid they need, vaccination programs will be affected,” he said, adding that water being trucked in to hundreds of thousands of people living in camps may not reach them.
Since the Security Council first authorized cross-border aid in 2014, Russia has repeatedly threatened to veto extensions or amend language to curtail operations, arguing they violate Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that more help should be delivered from within the country.
“The stakes are higher this year with the war in Ukraine and the tensions in the Security Council,” Cutts said.
Needs have meanwhile hit an all-time high, with more displaced families pouring into the zone, Syria’s economy deteriorating, the COVID-19 pandemic and the spike in food prices worldwide.
Cross-border military operations threatened by Turkey to oust Kurdish-led forces from some areas in the north would only add to the suffering, aid groups have warned.
Funding has also dried up, with donor countries spread thin by crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Yemen. The UN says it has only received a quarter of the $4.4 billion needed for aid operations to continue.
“The crisis is now worse than it’s ever been,” Cutts said.


Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account
Updated 29 June 2022

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account
  • At least 13 people were killed and 250 were taken ill when a chlorine tank exploded at the Red Sea port of Aqaba

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for those responsible for the deadly gas leak on Monday to be held accountable.

At least 13 people were killed and 250 were taken ill when a chlorine tank exploded at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, when a crane dropped it, releasing a large plume of toxic yellow smoke.

The king “stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law,” the palace said in a statement. He also offered condolences to victims’ families.

King Abdullah was chairing a meeting on Tuesday at the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management to check on the latest developments of Monday’s gas explosion.

At the meeting, attended remotely by Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II from Aqaba, King Abdullah extended condolences to the families of those who died in the line of duty, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

The king, who has been following up with the Crown Prince on the details of the incident and rescue and evacuation efforts from the very beginning, stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law.

He called for all necessary precautions to be taken to avoid a repeat of such incidents in the future.

 

 

And he commended the efforts of Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and security agencies’ personnel, especially the Civil Defense Department and civilian and military medical staff, for their swift response and high professionalism in dealing with the incident and evacuating the injured.

He said their efforts contributed to saving lives and limiting losses, and he wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Crown Prince spoke about his field inspection on Tuesday at the site of the incident, and his visit to the injured who have been hospitalised.

The Crown Prince reiterated the need to maintain cooperation and coordination among all the concerned entities, as all await the investigation’s findings.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh visited the site Tuesday and, citing civil defense and environmental authorities, said the gas concentration in the area had returned to normal. He said that most movement at the port had resumed, except for the exact site of the incident which was being cleaned and inspected.

Al-Khasawneh said many of those in hospitals were being discharged.

A government spokesman, Faisal Al-Shboul, told state media that eight of the dead were Jordanian and five were foreigners. Among the injured were Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, hospital officials said.

Video carried on state TV showed the moment the tank exploded, sending dockworkers scrambling to escape the toxic cloud. Some 200 people were hospitalized.

The Public Security Directorate, which initially described it as a gas leak, said authorities sealed off the area after evacuating the injured and sent specialists in to address the situation.

State-run Jordan TV said 13 people were killed. Al-Mamlaka TV, another official outlet, said 199 were still being treated in hospitals. The Public Security Directorate said a total of 251 people were injured.

Aqaba is on the northern tip of the Red Sea, next to the Israeli city of Eilat, which is just across the border. Both are popular beach and diving destinations.

Eilat’s emergency services said in a statement that there was no impact on the city but that they were following the situation closely.

(With AP)


Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar
Updated 29 June 2022

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar
  • Iranian officials said they were hoping for progress in Qatar talks
  • The indirect talks come two weeks before US President Joe Biden's official visit to the region

DUBAI: Indirect negotiations between Iran and the US over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers have ended without breaking a deadlock over the talks, a semiofficial Iranian news agency reported Wednesday.
The US State Department and the European Union, which is mediating the talks in Qatar, did not immediately acknowledge the end of the negotiations in Doha.
However, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard, described the negotiations as finished and having “no effect on breaking the deadlock in the talks.”
US Special Representative Rob Malley spoke to the Iranians through EU official Enrique Mora during the talks. Mora then took messages to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.
Tasnim claimed that the American position did not include “a guarantee for Iran benefiting economically from the deal,” quoting what it described as unnamed “informed sources.”
“Washington is seeking to revive the (deal) in order to limit Iran without economic achievement for our country,” the Tasnim report claimed.
Iran and world powers agreed in 2015 to the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.
Talks in Vienna about reviving the deal have been on a “pause” since March. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has been running advanced centrifuges and rapidly growing stockpiles of enriched uranium.

Iran earlier warned the US to abandon the “Trump method” after the two sides opened indirect talks to revive a nuclear deal that was torpedoed by the former American president.
“We hope that, God willing, we can reach a positive and acceptable agreement if the United States abandons the Trump method,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi said.
He described the “Trump method” as “non-compliance with international law and past agreements and disregard for the legal rights of the Iranian people.”
The indirect talks — with the rival delegations sending each other messages from different parts of the same hotel — came just two weeks before US President Joe Biden makes his first official visit to the region, with Iran high on his agenda.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was open to a deal in Doha, but wouldn’t cross its “red lines.”
“We are serious” in our desire to finalize an agreement, he said, stressing that his country would not retreat from the “red lines” it has drawn.
IRNA has previously described the “red lines” as lifting all sanctions as related to the nuclear agreement, creating a mechanism to verify they have been lifted, and making sure the US does not withdraw from the deal.