Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned

Special Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned
A Yemeni boy holds a rifle at a tribal meeting near Sanaa, Yemen. (AP/File)
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Updated 12 May 2022

Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned

Houthis using summer camps to train child soldiers, parents warned
  • Continuing recruitment of youngsters shows that militia readying for new military operations, say analysts

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government officials, human rights activists, religious figures and journalists have warned families living in Houthi-held areas against sending their children to the militia’s summer camps, and have accused the Iran-backed group of wanting to recruit these young people for their army.

This comes in the wake of the movement’s leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, ordering his supporters to open these camps in areas under their control, where he pledged to “immunize them” against misconceptions about his organization and Islam.

Houthi officials have reportedly said that 57 camps were launched in Sanaa alone, which are expected to attract hundreds of students during the upcoming summer vacations.

Yemeni officials and activists say that the Houthis are using these gatherings to radicalize and indoctrinate minors, so that they can prepare them to become soldiers.

“Your child that you will send to the Houthi summer and military course is a time bomb that will kill you tomorrow,” said Ghamdan Al-Yosifi, a Yemeni journalist, labeling them “factories for manufacturing explosives.”

A similar warning to parents had been issued last year when the Houthis launched these centers. The Houthis have claimed that thousands of children graduated with religious education from these camps.

However, critics have said that the children were brainwashed, taken to graveyards and trained to use weapons.

This year’s camps are being set up as the Yemeni government and the Houthis have halted hostilities under a truce brokered by the UN.

Abdul Kareem Al-Medi, a Yemeni journalist, said that the recruitment of children threatens the country’s fragile peace.

“To our honorable people and to all those who trust us, avoid the evil of the summer terror centers. Let him go with them if you want your son to turn into a mobile death machine,” Al-Medi said.

But the Houthis argue that their summer camps are meant to teach the correct recitation of the Qur’an, counter misconceptions about Islam, and prepare the new generation to fight their enemies, including Israelis.

“The summer courses are a step and an initiative that prevents youth from wasting time during the summer holidays, immunizes them from false cultures and enables them to master the Holy Qur’an and to recite it correctly,” Jalal Al-Ruwishan, a Houthi military official, was quoted as saying while visiting a summer camp in Sanaa on Wednesday.

However, Yemen’s information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani accused the Houthis of trying to turn young people into ideologically driven soldiers, and shared images of dead child soldiers and children inside the group’s camps.

“We call on parents, sheikhs and tribesmen in Houthi-controlled areas to boycott child recruitment camps, preserve their children … refrain from sending them to fuel their absurd war and to implement (an) Iranian agenda,” he said on Twitter on Thursday.

But given the Houthis’ harsh treatment of those who disobey their orders, many Yemenis believe that parents might still allow their children to sign up for these camps.

In January, a report prepared by the UN Panel of Experts found that some women who refused to participate in these Houthi activities were abducted and raped.

“While some adults join these cultural courses because they agree with the ideology, others participate in order not to lose employment benefits or humanitarian assistance, or out of fear of reprisals for non-participation,” the experts stated.

They added that almost 2,000 Yemeni children, some as young as 10, recruited by the Houthis, were killed in fighting between early 2020 and May 2021, and children received military training or were taken to military sites during summer courses.

Mohammed Jumeh, Yemen’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, said that those children who were killed on the battlefields were initially indoctrinated and recruited inside the Houthi camps, and blamed parents for not heeding warnings.

“Protecting children from extremist ideology and priesthood is the responsibility of parents in the first place,” Jumeh said.

Yemeni military analysts argue that the continuing recruitment of children by the Houthis show that they are getting ready for a new round of military operations, despite their announced commitment to the UN-brokered truce.

“Summer centers and cultural courses are epicenters of sectarian incitement (and) mobilization in preparation for new rounds of conflict and endless battles,” Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Kumaim, a Yemeni military analyst, said.


Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirms Gaza truce with Israel: Statement

Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirms Gaza truce with Israel: Statement
Updated 24 sec ago

Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirms Gaza truce with Israel: Statement

Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirms Gaza truce with Israel: Statement

GAZA: Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza said Sunday they had agreed to a Cairo-brokered cease-fire to end three days of intense conflict with Israel that has left at least 41 Palestinians dead.
“A short while ago the wording of the Egyptian truce agreement was reached, which contains Egypt’s commitment to work toward the release of two prisoners, (Bassem) Al-Saadi and (Khalil) Awawdeh,” senior Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Al-Hindi said in a statement.
Saadi, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad’s political wing, was recently arrested in the occupied West Bank, while militant Awawdeh is also in Israeli detention.


Continued Israeli targeting of Al-Aqsa and holy sites sparks condemnation

Smoke billows from a building struck during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
Smoke billows from a building struck during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
Updated 26 min 28 sec ago

Continued Israeli targeting of Al-Aqsa and holy sites sparks condemnation

Smoke billows from a building struck during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
  • Settlers prostrate themselves in mosque's courtyards

RAMALLAH: Tensions rose in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday after more than 2,000 settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque amid tight Israeli police protection throughout the Old City and at the gates leading to the mosque.

Hundreds of settlers will participate in the incursion to revive the so-called “destruction of the temple.”

They had gathered since Saturday evening in the Old City and its surroundings before reaching the Western Wall/Al-Buraq, ahead of their overnight preparation for the incursions, with the participation of far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir.

At dawn on Sunday, Israeli police stopped people under 50 from entering Al-Aqsa to prevent them from confronting the settlers. An arrest campaign was launched on Saturday night, with at least six young men targeted.

The settlers began storming the courtyards of Al-Aqsa in successive groups, with the first group of 50 provided by extremist Yehuda Glick.

Israeli police deployed members of its special units in the courtyards to provide guards for the intruders, keep Palestinians away from the path of the incursions, and prevent their movement during the tours.

Settlers raised the Israeli flag while storming the courtyards.

They organized dancing and singing sessions near the Al-Silsila Gate from the outside. There were also tours and prayers at all the gates of Al-Aqsa from the outside.

Several settlers prostrated themselves in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa, as Muslim worshippers confronted the intruders and their provocations.

A statement from the Islamic Awqaf, which is affiliated with Jordan and in charge of Al-Aqsa, was signed by other Islamic commissions in Jerusalem and obtained by Arab News.

It said: “In an attempt to change the religious, legal, and historical status of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the occupation authorities and their police and intelligence forces turned this morning, Sunday, the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque into a military barracks to secure the storming of groups of Jewish extremists to the premises of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, after their calls to mobilize large numbers to storm the mosque in remembrance of the so-called ‘Destruction of the Temple.’”

According to the Islamic Awqaf, about 2,176 Jewish extremists stormed the courtyards under the protection of the Israeli police and intelligence forces who secured their tours, dances, singing, and laying down as part of their rituals in an apparent provocation to the feelings of Muslims, in return for emptying the mosque of worshippers, pursuing several young men and women, forcibly expelling them outside the mosque, arresting a number of them, and preventing the entry of a large number of worshippers.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it held the Israeli government fully and directly responsible for its ongoing aggression against Christian and Islamic holy sites, the foremost of which was Al-Aqsa, and for its repercussions and dangers on the conflict and the entire region.

 


Thousands of war-displaced people in Yemen’s Marib hit by heavy flooding 

Thousands of war-displaced people in Yemen’s Marib hit by heavy flooding 
Updated 13 min 49 sec ago

Thousands of war-displaced people in Yemen’s Marib hit by heavy flooding 

Thousands of war-displaced people in Yemen’s Marib hit by heavy flooding 
  • Last week, rainstorms, floods and landslides killed at least 16 people and displaced many others across the country

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government on Sunday appealed for emergency humanitarian assistance for thousands of internally displaced people who were affected by torrential rains and flash floods that hit the central city of Marib.

Flash floods triggered by heavy rains coupled with strong winds battered dozens of camps, mud houses and huts that host thousands of people in different areas, killing one person and displacing thousands.

The Yemeni government’s Executive Unit for IDP Camps said in a statement seen by Arab News that the rains, floods and winds have completely destroyed the shelters and houses of 5,287 families and partially ruined the property of 11,448 others, urging local and international relief organizations and donors to urgently send aid in the form of shelter, food and medication to the affected people.

“We call on all humanitarian partners to provide urgent aid to the affected families, especially shelter and food,” the government body said, calling for permanent and disaster-resilient buildings to replace tents and mud houses.

The city of Marib had become a safe haven for more than 2 million Yemenis who fled fighting and political, religious and social oppression by the Iran-backed Houthis since the beginning of the war.

Local aid workers said that the affected people were transferred to schools and other public facilities and hotels, while many others went to live with relatives in the city of Marib.

Mohammed Al-Soaidi, an aid worker with the Executive Unit for IDP Camps, told Arab News that the rains and winds “uprooted” the camps and huts of the displaced people, and one person died while trying to rescue trapped children and women.

“People are in need of shelter and food. Tents that cannot protect people from harsh weather or rains must be replaced,” Al-Soaidi said.

Last week, rainstorms, floods and landslides killed at least 16 people and displaced many others across the country, mainly in the northern province of Hajjah.

Local social media accounts said on Sunday that hundreds of people are still trapped in mountainous villages in Hajjah and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance after floods and rockslides blocked or washed away many roads. 

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicted in its Agrometeorological Early Warning Bulletin on Sunday that heavy rains and flooding would continue hitting many areas in Yemen and are expected to affect nearly 20,000 people in Mahwit, Taiz, Saada, Hodeidah, Raymah, Lahj, Hadramout and Shabwah.

“Forecasts for the period 01 – 20 August indicate sustained heavy rainfall threatening the already battered parts of Yemen, causing further displacement and loss of livelihoods,” the FAO said. 


Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis
Updated 07 August 2022

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis

Gaza hospital services at risk amid power plant crisis
  • Airstrike kills second senior Islamic Jihad commander; 31 Palestinians, including 6 children and 4 women, dead

GAZA CITY: The Palestinian Ministry of Health has warned that its hospital services would stop within 48 hours if operations at the power plant in Gaza were not restored.

The power station has stopped working since noon on Saturday, as fuel supplies ceased with the closure of Kerem Shalom last week.

During its continuous raids since Friday, Israeli forces have killed at least 31 Palestinians, including six children and four women, and wounded more than 270 others.

Medhat Abbas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said that services would be suspended if around-the-clock electricity was not restored within two days.

“The Ministry of Health needs half a million liters of fuel per month to be able to operate the private generators,” Abbas said. 

He fears a real disaster soon, as fuel is currently unavailable.

Gaza City Mayor Yahya Al-Sarraj said that municipal services were also being negatively impacted due to the lack of electricity.

“As a result of the power plant shutdown, municipal services will be minimal or even stopped. It will minimize the supply of domestic water, the consumption of which increases especially during July and August,” Al-Sarraj said.

“Raw sewage will drain into the sea because the plants are not functioning at full capacity,” he added. 

The power supply has been reduced to four hours a day, and the resulting situation will affect water distribution as well as sewage treatment plants, Abbas said.

Efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with Egyptian and UN mediation.

Local and Arab media quoted Egyptian sources as saying that they were making efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement and to restore calm to the Gaza Strip.

But Israeli warplanes continued to bomb various targets in the Gaza Strip for the third day in a row.

The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, fired dozens of missiles toward Israeli cities.

Missiles were also directed toward Jerusalem for the first time since the start of the latest fighting round. Israel’s assassination of Khaled Mansour, the Al-Quds Brigade commander in Rafah, was a new blow to the Islamic Jihad in Gaza in the wake of the killing of Taysir Al-Jabari, another Islamic Jihad commander.

The Military Council of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza consists of 10 members under the leadership of Akram Al-Ajouri, whom Israel tried to assassinate in Beirut previously.

Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, said in a press statement: “What has emerged from our missile capabilities, which today are draining our foolish enemy, is a small part of what we have prepared.”

He asked the Palestinian people in the West Bank to get involved in the resistance. 

“We call on all the resistance fighters and free people in the West Bank and occupied lands to engage in this epic, and let it be a massive intifada that establishes the demise of our enemy.”

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement: “Around the clock, we are making all required efforts to protect our people and stop the aggression.”


UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
Updated 07 August 2022

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
  • Mansour emphasized Security Council’s responsibility to condemn and halt Israeli aggression and provide international protection for the Palestinian people.

NEW YORK: Palestine’s UN ambassador has said that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the Israeli brutal aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour emphasized that the Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as well as responding to the imperatives of condemning and halting Israeli aggression and providing international protection for the Palestinian people.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings issued a statement on Saturday expressing her deep concern about the situation, which has killed at least 31 Palestinians and injured more than 253.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation” she said.

“The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk,” she cautioned.

An electricity company spokesman said that Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday after running out of fuel five days after Israel closed its goods crossing with the Palestinian enclave, AFP reported.

Hastings added that the movement and access of humanitarian personnel, critical medical cases and essential goods, such as food and fuel, into Gaza must not be hampered in order to meet humanitarian needs.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also scheduled to deliver an important speech before the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, WAFA reported.

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