Israel-Hamas tensions increase with new attack

Special Israel-Hamas tensions increase with new attack
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 19, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 April 2022

Israel-Hamas tensions increase with new attack

Israel-Hamas tensions increase with new attack
  • Palestinian factions threaten to ‘confront’ Israel over Jerusalem and West Bank incursions
  • Egypt mediating between Tel Aviv and Hamas, Islamic Jihad to prevent escalation

GAZA CITY: Israel, early on Tuesday, bombed a site belonging to Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip, in response to the firing of a shell by one of the Palestinian factions toward an Israeli town, adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

There was no material damage or any injury, said Palestinian and Israeli sources, but they warned that an escalation might be imminent.

The missile was fired from Gaza after several months following threats by the Palestinian factions in light of the Israeli attacks in Jerusalem and the cities of the West Bank, especially Jenin.

The situation has escalated in the northern West Bank and Jerusalem since the start of Ramadan after Palestinian shooting attacks in Israeli cities that caused several deaths and injuries.

Hamas has warned Israel that its continued violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque may lead to an escalation on several fronts, while Ziad Al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad’s secretary-general, who resides in Beirut and is backed by Iran, has threatened to confront Israel if the attacks do not stop.

“The (Israeli) occupation’s threats to stop the facilities for Gaza cannot make us remain silent about what is happening in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” said Al-Nakhala.

Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said after the Israeli bombardment: “The confrontation, which is a natural reaction of our people and their resistance against the usurping occupation, continues on all axes of conflict in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank and the occupied territories. The Zionist bombing of some empty sites is a failed attempt to prevent our Palestinian people from defending the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Local news websites quoted Islamic Jihad sources as giving Israel a deadline until Wednesday evening to stop the attacks at Al-Aqsa before the militant group returns to a confrontation from Gaza.

Last year, clashes erupted at the end of Ramadan following a flag march by Israeli settlement associations in Jerusalem.

This year, the Israeli authorities have rejected a request for a similar rally on Wednesday fearing an escalation, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

The march is organized to celebrate Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its unified capital following its occupation and annexation in 1967.

Thousands of people participate in it and reach Jerusalem, passing along and within the walls of the old city, the main market, and the Islamic district.

Egypt has been mediating between Hamas and Islamic Jihad on one hand and Israel on the other, in order to prevent the possibility of escalation in the Gaza Strip following the events in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“The efforts of mediators are focused on searching for exits and preventing the outbreak of a new war in Gaza,” said Zaher Jabarin, a member of the Hamas political bureau.

“We have many means to pressure the occupation, and opening a new front in Gaza is one of the options, which has not been taken off the table,” he added.

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Mustafa Ibrahim, writer and political analyst, said: “So far, the Israeli reaction has not gone out of control. There are calculated and customary responses.

“Hamas has its own considerations regarding a wide escalation. It is focusing on the West Bank confrontation as Gaza has not yet been reconstructed since the last war and the Hamas military capabilities have not been restored despite all the statements made in this regard,” Ibrahim told Arab News.


Top UK Catholic urges PM Liz Truss to reconsider Tel Aviv-Jerusalem embassy move

Top UK Catholic urges PM Liz Truss to reconsider Tel Aviv-Jerusalem embassy move
Updated 17 sec ago

Top UK Catholic urges PM Liz Truss to reconsider Tel Aviv-Jerusalem embassy move

Top UK Catholic urges PM Liz Truss to reconsider Tel Aviv-Jerusalem embassy move
  • Nichols also said that moving the embassy would be “seriously damaging” to international reputation of UK

LONDON: The top Catholic cardinal in the UK has urged prime minister Liz Truss not to move the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols posted on Twitter on Thursday to say he had penned a letter to Truss about his concerns over the potential move.

“I have written to the Prime Minister to express profound concern over her call for a review of the location of the British Embassy to the State of Israel, with the suggestion that it might be moved away from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he tweeted.

Truss, who took up her position as prime minister last month, said recently she was reviewing whether or not to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, a move that would mirror a controversial decision made by former US president Donald Trump in 2018 to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Nichols also said that moving the embassy would be “seriously damaging” for “any possibility of lasting peace in the region” as well as to the “international reputation of the United Kingdom.”

The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has consistently called for maintaining the status quo on the issue of Jerusalem.

Israel currently claims the whole of the city as its capital, but the Palestinian Authority wants East Jerusalem to form the capital of any future state.

Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said Truss understood the “importance and sensitivity” of the location of the British embassy in Israel.


Iran summons Danish ambassador over Copenhagen embassy attack

Iran summons Danish ambassador over Copenhagen embassy attack
Updated 22 min 42 sec ago

Iran summons Danish ambassador over Copenhagen embassy attack

Iran summons Danish ambassador over Copenhagen embassy attack
  • Iran’s foreign ministry said the ambassador, Afsaneh Nadipour, had been threatened

COPENHAGEN: Iran summoned the Danish ambassador on Friday to protest an incident at its embassy in Copenhagen in which its ambassador was threatened, Iran’s foreign ministry said in state media.

Danish police said they had arrested a 32-year old man earlier on Friday after he had entered the grounds of the embassy carrying a knife.

The man, an Iranian citizen, was stopped by an employee before entering the embassy building, the police said in a statement.

Iran’s foreign ministry said the ambassador, Afsaneh Nadipour, had been threatened, a local employee injured, and embassy vehicles damaged.

The man will have a court hearing on Saturday and will be charged with two counts of vandalism, for violence, and for breaching a section of the penal code that deals with crimes against people with diplomatic status, the Danish police said.

No further details on the attacker or motive were provided. Iran’s government has faced more than two weeks of protests at home and overseas over the death of a young women while in detention by the country’s morality police.

Iran state media earlier quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying: “It is unfortunate that, in the heart of Europe, such an attack takes place on a woman and an ambassador who has diplomatic immunity, and the police do not arrive in time.”


Libyan group: At least 15 dead after migrant shipwreck

Libyan group: At least 15 dead after migrant shipwreck
Updated 07 October 2022

Libyan group: At least 15 dead after migrant shipwreck

Libyan group: At least 15 dead after migrant shipwreck
  • Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores
  • Local authorities had informed the aid group of bodies washing up onshore

BENGHAZI, Libya: A spokesman for Libya’s Red Crescent said Friday that at least 15 bodies have been recovered after a migrant shipwreck off the country’s western coast.
Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores.
Tawfik Al Shukri said that local authorities had informed the aid group of bodies washing up onshore. He said they were retrieved and transported to a hospital, where the remains would be examined to determine the cause of death.
In a video circulated online, the burnt hull of the wrecked boat is seen lodged on coastal rocks with bodies strewn on it and nearby. The cause of the deaths was not immediately clear, nor was it apparent when the fire was started that burnt the vessel.
The shipwreck took place off the western Libyan city of Sabratha, a major launching point for the mainly African migrants making the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean.
The International Organization for Migration said in June that at least 150 migrants departing from Libya were feared to have drowned in the first sixth months of 2022. Crossings typically increase in the summer and early fall months.
Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East amid internal strife. Torn by civil war since 2011, the oil-rich country is divided between rival governments, each backed by international patrons and multiple armed militias on the ground.
Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across desert country’s lengthy borders with six nations. The migrants are then typically packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and set off on risky sea voyages.
Many of those who have been intercepted and returned to Libya — including women and children — are held in government-run detention centers where they suffer from abuse, including torture, rape and extortion, according to rights groups.


Cholera, hepatitis hit Lebanon already grappling with financial meltdown

Cholera, hepatitis hit Lebanon already grappling with financial meltdown
Updated 07 October 2022

Cholera, hepatitis hit Lebanon already grappling with financial meltdown

Cholera, hepatitis hit Lebanon already grappling with financial meltdown
  • A Syrian in his 50s, who lives in a refugee camp, and a Lebanese woman caring for him were this week confirmed to have the disease in Akkar
  • The last cholera epidemic in Lebanon was recorded in 1993

BEIRUT: Lebanese health authorities fear that the country could be hit by its first cholera epidemic in nearly three decades after the confirmation of two cases close to the Syrian border.
A Syrian in his 50s, who lives in a refugee camp, and a Lebanese woman caring for him were this week confirmed to have the disease in Akkar. The Syrian, whose infection was recorded on Oct. 5, was said to be stable in hospital while the woman was with her family and stable.
Health Ministry officials said that they had also recorded multiple cases of diarrhea in Akkar, which has poor sanitation services and a population swelled by refugees, and tests are ongoing to check whether any of the sufferers have cholera.
Meanwhile, three to five daily cases of hepatitis are being recorded among villagers in the northern region of Danniyeh.
The last cholera epidemic in Lebanon was recorded in 1993 and led to several deaths. Its re-emergence comes amid an outbreak in Syria, with thousands of cases in the past month.
Firas Abiad, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said that he expected cases to rise due to the outbreak across the border.
However he noted that cases were “still limited,” and that medicine was available. He stressed that Lebanon was coordinating with the World Health Organization, while his ministry was examining sewage water and instructing hospitals to report any patient with symptoms.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Bizri, an MP and bacteriologist, told Arab News that Lebanon’s weakened state left it vulnerable to mass infection.
“Hepatitis and cholera will spread in Lebanon as a result of the collapse of state institutions, the lack of maintenance of sewage and sewers, and electricity and water cuts,” he said.
“The Syrian patient refrained from saying how he contracted the disease. We don’t know if he was in Syria illegally and returned to Lebanon. If this is the case, it is easy to contain the disease.
“But if the cause is contaminated water, many others could contract the disease, especially since state institutions and municipalities are not carrying out their duties in terms of ensuring water safety and isolating sewage.
“Hepatitis and cholera outbreaks are a symbol of the state’s failure and we are paying the price.”
The threat of disease adds to problems faced by a country already suffering financial collapse.
Lebanese banks on Friday closed after an unprecedented wave of holdups by savers trying to access their frozen accounts.
Branches had been open only a few days since the last closure two weeks ago, in response to armed intruders threatening employees to get their money.
Banks have now threatened to close their doors indefinitely and their services will be limited to ATMs. An appointment-only system failed to stop the holdups.
Lebanese are also worried about the security situation, as negotiations stall in a US-mediated maritime deal with Israel over the extraction of gas and oil from the disputed Karish field.
Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper, reported that authorities were preparing to begin tests “possibly early next week.”
Lebanon is opposed to drilling. During the Friday sermon, Hezbollah’s Shoura Council Sheikh, Mohammed Yazbek, said: “Our response is clear. Oil shall not be extracted from the Karish field before Lebanon’s demands are met. We don’t want war, but we will be ready for it should it happen.”
The US mediation has not ended despite the Israeli refusal to consider Lebanon’s proposed amendments to the deal.


Palestinian shot by British forces as boy to petition UK government for atrocities apology

Palestinian shot by British forces as boy to petition UK government for atrocities apology
Updated 07 October 2022

Palestinian shot by British forces as boy to petition UK government for atrocities apology

Palestinian shot by British forces as boy to petition UK government for atrocities apology
  • Munib Al-Masri will present his dossier to the British government later this year

LONDON: A petition for an apology from the UK government for atrocities committed in Palestine in the first half of the 20th century will be lodged by a Palestinian businessman and former politician, it was reported Friday.

A 300-page document outlining crimes and abuses committed by British forces in Palestine between 1917 and 1948 has been drafted by Munib Al-Masri, a close friend and ally of late Palestinian political leader Yasser Arafat, according to the BBC.

The 88-year-old told the broadcaster he was shot as a young boy in 1944, an incident that affected him in his adult life, saying: “(Britain’s role) affected me a lot because I saw how people were harassed…We had no protection whatsoever and nobody to defend us.”

Al-Masri will present his dossier to the British government later this year.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and British lawyer Ben Emmerson are reviewing the evidence.

Emmerson told the BBC that “shocking crimes committed by certain elements of the British mandatory forces” were carried out “systematically on the Palestinian population,” adding that even during the time the crimes were carried out, they would have been seen as breaches of international law.

According to the BBC, the British Defense Ministry said it was aware of “historical allegations” during the period outlined in the dossier and that any evidence would be “reviewed thoroughly.”