Israel closes Erez Crossing to Gazans after rocket attacks

Special Israel closes Erez Crossing to Gazans after rocket attacks
A missile from Israel's Iron Dome air defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, lights the sky in the central Gaza Strip, April 21, 2022. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2022

Israel closes Erez Crossing to Gazans after rocket attacks

Israel closes Erez Crossing to Gazans after rocket attacks
  • Two rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Friday night, one hit the Jewish state and the other fell short and struck near a residential building in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY: Israel said it will close its only crossing from the Gaza Strip for workers on Sunday in response to rocket fire, stopping short of conducting retaliatory strikes in an apparent bid to ease tensions.

Two rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Friday night, one hit the Jewish state and the other fell short and struck near a residential building in northern Gaza.

A third rocket was fired at Israel on Saturday morning, the army said, with no air raid sirens activated for any of the launches.

They followed rocket attacks on Wednesday and Thursday and came as Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters at Al-Aqsa Mosque, leaving at least one man hospitalized in serious condition.

Ghassan Alyan, the Israeli coordinator for Palestinian affairs in the Israeli government, said: "Following the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, we inform you that on Sunday the Erez crossing will remain closed to workers and merchants only, with the continued entry of humanitarian and other cases. As for the decision to reopen the crossing to workers and traders, a decision will be taken based on an assessment of the situation.”

Following last year's war with Hamas, Israel gradually allowed 12,000 Palestinian workers and merchants to leave Gaza to work in Israel as part of a political understanding to maintain calm in Gaza.

Israeli army radio said the Palestinian losses would be about ILS5 million ($1.53 million) a day due to the workers not being allowed to leave Gaza.

The Erez crossing, which Palestinians call the Beit Hanoun crossing, separates Israel and the Gaza Strip, with Hamas forces controlling the travel procedures and the Palestinian Authority employees coordinating with Israel.

During the past week, tensions have soared in Gaza following Israeli incursions and violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque, but mediators prevented a large-scale escalation.

Employment in Israel is a lifeline for people in Gaza where, according to a recent World Bank report, nearly half of the 2.3 million population is unemployed, AFP reported.

There are currently 12,000 Gazans with work permits in Israel, with the government recently announcing its intention to add another 8,000.

More than 200 people, mostly Palestinians, have been hurt in clashes in and around Al-Aqsa in the past week.

Palestinians have been outraged by massive Israeli police deployment and repeated visits by Jews to the holy site.

Saturday morning prayers passed without incident, with Israeli officials estimating that 16,000 Muslims participated.

Al-Aqsa is Islam's third-holiest site and the most sacred site in Judaism, where it is known as Temple Mount.

Israel is braced for more violence, however.

The unrest in Jerusalem has stirred emotions among Israel's Arab population, with hundreds marching in the Arab-Israeli city of Umm Al-Fahm in support of Al-Aqsa mosque.

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Russian strikes in Syria decreased since Ukraine war: monitor

Russian strikes in Syria decreased since Ukraine war: monitor
Updated 57 min 37 sec ago

Russian strikes in Syria decreased since Ukraine war: monitor

Russian strikes in Syria decreased since Ukraine war: monitor
  • A total of 241 people have been killed by Russian strikes in Syria during the past year
  • Moscow has been among the top political, economic and military backers of the government in Damascus since 2011

BEIRUT: Russian strikes in Syria have decreased since it invaded Ukraine, resulting in fewer deaths, a war monitor said Friday, seven years into Moscow’s intervention in the Middle Eastern country.
A total of 241 people have been killed by Russian strikes in Syria during the past year, mostly fighters from the Daesh group but also including 28 civilians, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
That marked the lowest annual death toll since Russia launched its strikes in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar Assad on September 30, 2015.
“Russia’s role has generally declined in Syria since the start of the war on Ukraine” in late February, said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria.
This led to a “significant decline in its strikes on the Syrian desert” where Russia has been targeting IS jihadists, the Observatory said.
Moscow has been among the top political, economic and military backers of the government in Damascus since the start of the conflict in Syria in March 2011.
Its military intervention was crucial in turning the tide for Assad and lending him the upper hand in the conflict after his forces had lost large swathes of territory to rebel and jihadist groups.
The Observatory has put the death toll from the Russian strikes throughout seven years at more than 21,000 — including 8,697 civilians, a quarter of whom were children.
Almost half a million people have been killed, with millions more displaced and large swathes of the country devastated during the conflict.


Bahrain and Japan Foreign Ministers set sights on closer economic and business ties

Bahrain and Japan Foreign Ministers set sights on closer economic and business ties
Updated 30 September 2022

Bahrain and Japan Foreign Ministers set sights on closer economic and business ties

Bahrain and Japan Foreign Ministers set sights on closer economic and business ties

TOKYO: Japan Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held a meeting with his Bahraini counterpart, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, on Thursday and stated that he hopes that the relationship between the two countries will become closer in areas such as economy and business, based on the Japan-Bahrain Investment Agreement and other agreements.

Minister Zayani concurred with his statement and said he was pleased to see the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bahrain.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry reported that the two ministers noted the upcoming resumption of visa-free travel from Bahrain to Japan, which had been suspended during the pandemic, and confirmed the early introduction of visa waiver measures for Bahraini diplomatic and official passport holders.

The ministers exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and confirmed that it is essential for the international community to cooperate to ensure that Russia ends its aggression in Ukraine as soon as possible. They also agreed on the need for United Nations reform, including that of the United Nations Security Council.

Hayashi expressed his appreciation for the visit by Minister Zayani to Japan to attend the State Funeral for Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Minister Zayani, expressed his heartfelt condolences on the demise of the former Prime Minister, stating that he was a great leader and left a significant diplomatic legacy, according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo.

• This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan.


Tehran regime faces international isolation as protests spread abroad

Tehran regime faces international isolation as protests spread abroad
Updated 30 September 2022

Tehran regime faces international isolation as protests spread abroad

Tehran regime faces international isolation as protests spread abroad
  • At least 76 people have been killed in Iran’s violent crackdown on the protests
  • Taliban disperse demo in Kabul, clashes at embassy in Oslo, threat of new EU sanctions

JEDDAH: The Tehran regime faced growing international isolation on Thursday as a wave of unrest inside Iran spread across borders. 

In Afghanistan, Taliban forces fired shots into the air to disperse a women’s rally in front of the Iranian embassy in Kabul in support of the protests in Iran. 

Afghan women rally in front of the Iranian embassy in Kabul on September 29, 2022 in a sympathy protest for Mahsa Amini. (AFP)

Demonstrators carried banners that read: “Iran has risen, now it’s our turn” and “From Kabul to Iran, say no to dictatorship,” and chanted the “Women, life, freedom” mantra used in Iran. Taliban forces snatched the banners and tore them in front of the protesters. 

One of the protest organizers said it was staged “to show our support and solidarity with the people of Iran and the women victims of the Taliban in Afghanistan.” 

In Norway, two people were injured and 90 were arrested in clashes at a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Oslo. Several dozen protesters, some draped in the Kurdish flag, tried to break into the embassy compound. 

Norwegian police restrain activists protesting outside Iran's embassy in Oslo on Sept. 29, 2022. (AFP)

The demonstration came a day after Iran launched missile and drone strikes that killed 13 people in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tehran accuses Kurdish dissidents there of fueling two weeks of protests in Iran, which began when 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died in morality police custody. 

Amini had been on a visit to Tehran with her family when she was arrested and accused of wearing her hijab with “insufficient modesty.” 

At least 76 people have been killed in Iran’s violent crackdown on the protests, with security forces using tear gas, batons, birdshot and live ammunition. 

Germany’s foreign minister on Thursday urged the EU to impose further sanctions on Iran because of its treatment of protesters.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately end their brutal treatment of demonstrators,” Annalena Baerbock told the German parliament.

Activists protest in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, on September 28, 2022, against the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran. (Reuters)

She said she would do everything within the EU framework to impose sanctions against those responsible for oppressing women in Iran.

France’s Foreign Ministry has said it would back sanctions as a response to “new massive abuses on women’s rights and human rights in Iran.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc would “consider all the options at its disposal ... to address the killing of Mahsa Amini and the way Iranian security forces have responded to the ensuing demonstrations.”

Inside Iran, the regime warned prominent sports and entertainment figures against any further support of the protests. “We will take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riots,” Tehran provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri said.

Former TV host Mahmoud Shahriari has already been arrested for “encouraging riots and solidarity with the enemy,” and Oscar-winning film director Asghar Farhadi urged people to “stand in solidarity” with the protesters.

“They are looking for simple yet fundamental rights that the state has denied them,” he said.
 

 

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Abu Dhabi prepares to host ‘first-of-its-kind’ Parenthood: The Unconference

Abu Dhabi prepares to host ‘first-of-its-kind’ Parenthood: The Unconference
Updated 30 September 2022

Abu Dhabi prepares to host ‘first-of-its-kind’ Parenthood: The Unconference

Abu Dhabi prepares to host ‘first-of-its-kind’ Parenthood: The Unconference
  • The event will cover all stages of parenting with the aim of redefining and elevating the critical role parents and the extended family play in raising healthy, thriving children
  • ‘Parental support influences children’s levels of confidence and motivation and plays a huge role in their interest in school,’ said Sara Awad Issa Musallam, Emirati minister for early education

ABU DHABI: Parenthood: The Unconference, an event organized by Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and said to be the first of its kind in the world, will take place at Etihad Arena on Yas Island from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

ADEK said it forms part of its larger mission to prioritize and enhance parental engagement and involvement with the aim of improving children’s success. As such, the event aims to redefine and elevate the critical role that parents, and the wider family unit, play in raising healthy and thriving children.

The goal of Parenthood: The Unconference, organizers said, is to encourage global dialogue to help better equip parents to face new and critical challenges in a world where traditional guideposts have vanished and the old rules no longer apply.

It will provide visitors with new learning opportunities to help them improve as individuals, spouses and caregivers through a comprehensive program that covers all stages of parenting, from early childhood to adolescence. The event will focus on five themes in particular: identity, new perspectives, development, well-being, and early childhood.

“The launch of Parenthood: The Unconference in Abu Dhabi underscores the commitment of our leadership to improving the state of education, with a focus on future generations,” said Sara Awad Issa Musallam, minister of state for early education.

“To achieve this, we cannot overlook the essential role of parents and their extended support circles — the aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who become part of the family — because it really does take a village to raise a child.

“Parental support influences children’s levels of confidence and motivation and plays a huge role in their interest in school and their pursuit of goals. That is why we champion parental engagement to ensure it is an integral part of education-improvement efforts for all learners.”

Musallam said that the event aims to encourage an “important global conversation that seeks to enhance the positive relationship between schools, parents and students.” To achieve this it will gather some of the world’s foremost experts to share and discuss the latest views on child development and parenting.

“It’s an opportunity to connect, exchange and learn from each other,” said Musallam. “By impacting current and future parenting practices, we hope to generate opportunities for a future in which children everywhere thrive and interact positively with the world around them.”

According to UNICEF, which is supporting and participating in the event as an official knowledge partner, positive parenting and family support are critical factors in giving children the best possible start in life, as they lay the groundwork for healthy development, lifelong learning and social cohesion.

Organizers said that over the course of three highly interactive days, Parenthood: The Unconference will offer an unprecedented opportunity to learn from more than 60 leading experts through a series of engaging information sessions, keynote talks, panel discussions, immersive experiences, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities.

Among the featured speakers is Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a prominent clinical psychologist and Oprah-endorsed parenting expert. She is also a three-time New York Times bestselling author, whose integration of Western psychology with Eastern philosophy is said to offer a ground-breaking approach to mindful living and parenting.
 


Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis
Updated 30 September 2022

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

CAIRO: Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, will participate from Nov. 3-4 alongside Pope Francis in the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.

Sheikh Ahmed, the seniormost cleric at Al-Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, will travel to Bahrain on Nov. 3 following an invitation from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Over 200 religious figures from around the world representing all religions and sects will attend the forum.

Sheikh Ahmed and the pope last met in Kazakhstan earlier this month where they attended the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

In April 2016, Sheikh Ahmed received King Hamad at Al-Azhar, where the king thanked Egypt’s highest seat of learning for supporting Bahrain’s unity and stability.

During his meeting with King Hamad, Sheikh Ahmed said that Bahrain was and will remain a melting pot of cultures and ideas.

At the invitation of King Hamad, Pope Francis will travel to Bahrain in November, which is home to the largest Catholic church on the Arabian Peninsula.

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis, 85, will be the first pope to visit the predominantly Muslim nation in the Arabian Gulf.