Palestinians on edge as Israeli radicals threaten to storm Al-Aqsa

Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem before dawn on Friday as thousands gathered for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. (AP)
Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem before dawn on Friday as thousands gathered for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. (AP)
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Updated 17 April 2022

Palestinians on edge as Israeli radicals threaten to storm Al-Aqsa

Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem before dawn on Friday as thousands gathered for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. (AP)
  • More incursions feared after Friday’s Israeli Al-Aqsa aggression
  • Organization of Islamic Cooperation says escalation an affront to Muslims

RAMALLAH: Palestinians returned to the Al-Aqsa compound on Saturday following Friday's violent clashes between worshippers and Israeli forces, but tension and anxiety remain as extremist Jewish groups threaten to storm the mosque on Sunday.

Nabil Faydi, a political analyst from East Jerusalem, said Jerusalemites feared the temporal division of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews as happened at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

But he added that it would be impossible for such a policy to succeed at Al-Aqsa.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are a red line for the Palestinians,” he told Arab News. “Israel is trying to separate the 350,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from the Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel. But recent events have proven that the Palestinians are united. It is a matter of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

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He described Friday's attack as an Israeli “test balloon” to measure the Palestinian reaction. “But what happened in Al-Aqsa confirms that the Palestinians are ready to redeem the mosque with their lives. They will not allow the practice of Jewish rituals inside Islam's third holiest site.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the Israelis' incursion into the sacred mosque and their assault on worshippers inside Al-Qibli Mosque and in Al-Aqsa plaza, which left over 150 worshippers injured and saw hundreds of others arrested.

“This dangerous escalation is an affront to the feelings of the entire Muslim Ummah and a blatant violation of international resolutions and instruments,” the OIC said.

It held the Israeli occupation fully responsible “for the fallout of such daily crimes and offenses against the Palestinian people, their territories and sanctuaries.”

It called on the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to act against these constant violations.

Despite political differences among Palestinian groups — whether they are secular, Islamist, or Marxist — about the best method to adopt in their struggle against the Israeli occupation to liberate their land, the only thing that unites them is Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they consider a red line, not to be touched.

Ibrahim Al-Anbawi, a resident of East Jerusalem, described the situation as worsening and said there was intense anger among the Jerusalemites because of what had happened on Friday, which caused a great deal of embarrassment for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Both were accused of failing to protect Islamic holy sites, and they were urged to take strong positions on the Israeli threats.




An Israeli soldier beats AFP photographer Ahmad Gharabli with a baton as he covers the violence against Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. (AFP)

Meanwhile, massive incursions will mark the week-long Jewish Passover into Al-Aqsa, which would keep the pot boiling, said Palestinian sources.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “The battle is not over and the resistance will not stop. There is no truce agreement with the criminal Israeli occupation, and it must stop its violations.”

Dozens of students from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, southeast of Jerusalem, suffered after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops in and around their campus on Saturday. The students had gathered to condemn Israeli atrocities in Jerusalem and Jenin.

Roni Shakid, a senior researcher at the Truman Institute for Peace Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Arab News: “As the Palestinians' dream of having an independent Palestinian state fades, the only thing they can fight for is protecting national symbols, and here Al-Aqsa Mosque stands out as the most important of those sacred symbols they believe they should protect and preserve.”

Imad Mona, a bookstore owner in East Jerusalem, told Arab News that the merchants in the Old City and East Jerusalem were expecting more sales in Ramadan as the number of Al-Aqsa visitors from the Palestinians living in Israel, the West Bank, and even from East Jerusalem, was increasing.

But the prevailing tension and Israeli permit restrictions on West Bank residents during the Jewish holidays have limited the number of worshippers visiting the mosque.

Any security deterioration in Al-Aqsa Mosque will quickly cast a shadow over the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Last May, Hamas targeted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with missiles following the Israeli authorities’ attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

At the end of 2000, the Palestinians fought the Al-Aqsa second Intifada, which lasted nearly four years, during which about 4,464 Palestinians were killed, 47,440 were wounded, and 9,800 were arrested.

The violence began with a provocative visit to Al-Aqsa by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


Tunisia praises Italian envoy for pandemic help 

Tunisia praises Italian envoy for pandemic help 
Updated 26 sec ago

Tunisia praises Italian envoy for pandemic help 

Tunisia praises Italian envoy for pandemic help 
  • Najla Bouden thanked Lorenzo Fanara for his country’s help during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Fanara said Italy is willing “to give more support to Tunisia in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund”

ROME: Tunisia’s prime minister has praised the Italian ambassador for strengthening relations and helping her country through the pandemic as the envoy prepared to end his stay in Tunis.

Najla Bouden thanked Lorenzo Fanara for his country’s help during the COVID-19 crisis, when Italy sent several ships filled with medical supplies, ventilators and vaccines.

Bouden’s office said she also welcomed Fanara’s efforts to “strengthen relations in several areas of common interest” during his four years in the job.

Bouden highlighted the “solidity of the historical relations” between Tunisia and Italy, which she said “constitute a link between the two shores of the Mediterranean and between the African and European continents.”

Fanara said Italy is willing “to give more support to Tunisia in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund,” as it seeks a loan of between $2 billion and $4 billion.

Migration and Italian investments in the energy and technology sectors were also discussed at the meeting in Tunis. Bouden also discussed upcoming elections, including legislative polls on Dec. 17.

Fanara has been appointed Italy’s ambassador to the UAE, and will take office in the next few days.


Kurdish officials: Death toll climbs in Iranian drone attack

Kurdish officials: Death toll climbs in Iranian drone attack
Updated 32 min 57 sec ago

Kurdish officials: Death toll climbs in Iranian drone attack

Kurdish officials: Death toll climbs in Iranian drone attack
  • Kurdish regional government ‘strongly condemns’ repetitive violations of its sovereignty
  • Iranian artillery fire has hit border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan on several occasions in recent days

KOYA, Iraq: An Iranian drone bombing campaign targeting the bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq Wednesday has killed at least nine people and wounded 32 others, the Kurdish Regional Government’s Health Ministry said.

The strikes took place as demonstrations continued to engulf the Islamic Republic after the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was detained by the Iranian morality police.

Iran’s attacks targeted Koya, some 65 kilometers east of Irbil, said Soran Nuri, a member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The group, known by the acronym KDPI, is a leftist armed opposition force banned in Iran.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government have condemned the strikes.

“Attacks on opposition groups through the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missiles, under any pretext, is an incorrect stance which promotes a misleading interpretation of the course of events,” the Kurdistan Regional Government said.

“We strongly condemn these continuous attacks which result in the death of civilians and we call for an end to these violations.”

Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its statement condemned “in the strongest terms the artillery and missile targeting by the Iranian side, which affected four areas in the Kurdistan Region.”

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency and broadcaster said the country’s Revolutionary Guard targeted bases of a separatist group in the north of Iraq with “precision missiles” and “suicide drones.”

The Iranian drone strikes targeted a military camp, homes, offices and other areas around Koya, Nuri said. Nuri described the attack as ongoing.

Following the first series of strikes, Iran then shelled seven positions in Koya’s stronghold in Qala, a KDPI official told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity in order to speak publicly. The Qala area includes the party’s politburo.

An Associated Press journalist saw ambulances racing through Koya after the strikes. Smoke rose from the site of one apparent strike as security forces closed off the area.

On Saturday and Monday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard unleashed a wave of drone and artillery strikes targeting Kurdish positions.

The attacks appear to be a response to the ongoing protests roiling Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was detained by the nation’s morality police.

The United Nations Secretary-General called on Iran early Wednesday to refrain from using “unnecessary or disproportionate force” against protesters as unrest over a young woman’s death in police custody spread across the country.

Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that authorities should swiftly conduct an impartial investigation of the death of Mahsa Amini, which has sparked unrest across Iran’s provinces and the capital of Tehran.


Lebanon to apply weaker official exchange rate, finance minister says

Lebanon to apply weaker official exchange rate, finance minister says
Updated 30 min 32 sec ago

Lebanon to apply weaker official exchange rate, finance minister says

Lebanon to apply weaker official exchange rate, finance minister says
  • The step will come into effect from the end of the October, Khalil said

BEIRUT: Lebanon's central bank will use an official exchange rate of 15,000 pounds to the dollar instead of 1,507, Finance Minister Youssef Khalil told Reuters on Wednesday, calling it a step towards unifying the country's numerous exchange rates.
The step will come into effect from the end of the October, Khalil said.
Lebanese authorities introduced the 1,507 rate in 1997.
But the pound has slumped by more than 95% from the official rate since Lebanon fell into financial crisis three years ago, currently changing hands at around 38,000 on a parallel market.
Unifying the numerous exchange rates is one of several conditions set by the IMF for Lebanon to secure a badly needed aid package. Last week, the IMF said Lebanon's progress in implementing reforms remained very slow.


Japan exempts UAE nationals from visa requirements upon entry

Japan exempts UAE nationals from visa requirements upon entry
Updated 45 min 18 sec ago

Japan exempts UAE nationals from visa requirements upon entry

Japan exempts UAE nationals from visa requirements upon entry

DUBAI: Japan announced the exemption of UAE nationals from visa requirements for holders of ordinary passports on Wednesday.

The date of the new entry rules will be announced within the next few days, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM.)

In a meeting with Japan Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa, UAE Special Envoy to Japan Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber stressed that Japan’s announcement is a result of the UAE’s diplomacy efforts under the supervision of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

He added that the step contributes to facilitating cooperation and mobility, and will encourage tourism, cultural and academic exchanges, in addition to finding new cooperation opportunities for the establishment of business, trade and investment.

Al Jaber also stressed that the UAE and Japan have strong strategic relations, which aims to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries to serve common interests by encouraging more diplomatic, economic and political participation, trade and investment.

The Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology also met the Japanese Minister of Digital Transformation KONO Taro in Tokyo on Sept. 28.

Kono also expressed his appreciation to Al Jaber for attending the former prime minister’s state funeral; both ministers exchanged gratitude for this year’s 50 year anniversary that ties both countries together representing a milestone for exploring new opportunities.

 

*This article was originally published on Arab News Japan


Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland
Updated 28 September 2022

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland
  • Swiss customs found artifact in 2018 during routine inspection
  • From Late Period, it depicts goddess Isis carrying her son Horus

CAIRO: Egypt has recovered from Switzerland an ancient bronze statue taken out of the country illegally. It dates to the Late Period of around 664 to 332 B.C. and depicts the goddess Isis carrying her son Horus.

Wael Gad, Egypt’s ambassador to Switzerland, received the statue, which was kept at the embassy in preparation for its return to the country.

In November 2018, Swiss customs officials discovered the statue during a routine inspection.

An Egyptian committee of experts confirmed that the seized statue was surreptitiously excavated and smuggled out of the country.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said the efforts were indicative of “the utmost importance that Egypt attaches to … recovering smuggled antiquities and returning them to the homeland.”

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recovered 16 artifacts from the US. This was in coordination with Egypt’s foreign ministry and New York’s public prosecutor.

“During the past year, Egypt recovered more than 5,300 antiquities from America, France, Spain and Canada,” said Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, general supervisor of the administration of recovered antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.