Police restrict Israeli ultra-nationalists’ Jerusalem march

Police restrict Israeli ultra-nationalists’ Jerusalem march
Israeli protesters marching with flags toward Tzahal square, scuffle with Israeli police on April 20, 2022, during the “flags march.” (AFP)
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Updated 20 April 2022

Police restrict Israeli ultra-nationalists’ Jerusalem march

Police restrict Israeli ultra-nationalists’ Jerusalem march
  • Police set up large roadblocks outside the Old City walls, closing the main road leading down to Damascus Gate
  • Bottled up, the marchers waved Israeli flags, chanted and sang

JERUSALEM: Police appear to have prevented hundreds of ultra-nationalist Israelis from marching around predominantly Palestinian areas of Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday, an event that served as one of the triggers of last year’s Israel-Gaza war.
Police set up large roadblocks outside the Old City walls, closing the main road leading down to Damascus Gate, the epicenter of last year’s unrest. Bottled up, the marchers waved Israeli flags, chanted and sang.
Earlier in the day, a small group of Palestinian protesters threw rocks at police while hundreds of Jewish visitors entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The hilltop shrine in Jerusalem’s Old City is the third holiest in Islam, while for Jews it is their holiest site, where two temples stood in antiquity. It is the emotional ground zero for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a flashpoint for previous rounds of violence.
Amateur video from the scene appeared to show police using sponge-tipped plastic projectiles intended to be non-lethal as the protesters barricaded themselves inside the mosque. Police said a firebomb thrown by one of the protesters set a carpet outside the mosque on fire, but it was quickly extinguished. No injuries were reported.
Israeli police said a large number of officers were deployed around Jerusalem’s historic Old City, home to religious sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims, out of concern that confrontations could further ignite an already tense situation in the city during the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“At this stage the police are not approving the protest march under the requested layout,” the police said in a statement ahead of the march, without elaborating. They could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said Wednesday that Israel “bears full responsibility for the repercussions” if it allows the march “to approach our holy sites,” but didn’t specify what actions it would take or what its red lines would be.
Several nationalist Israeli politicians said they would be attending the march, including ultra-nationalist parliament member Itamar Ben Gvir, a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and a frequent provocateur in sensitive Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that he would bar Ben Gvir from going to Damascus Gate. “I don’t intend to allow petty politics to endanger human lives,” he said.
In a similar situation last May, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem as Israeli nationalists holding a flag march were making their way to the Old City. The events set off an 11-day war between Israel and the militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.
Israeli-Palestinian tensions have surged in recent weeks after a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, followed by military operations in the West Bank. On Monday, Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel for the first time in months, and Israel responded with airstrikes. These followed days of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at the flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem.
Noam Nisan, one of the organizers of the planned march, told Kan public radio that it would proceed as planned Wednesday. “A Jew with a flag in Jerusalem is not a provocation,” he said.
He said that the demonstration was a response to buses being stoned earlier this week while driving to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, located in Jerusalem’s Old City.


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.