RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian teenager was killed on Friday in clashes with the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Amjad Nashaat Abu Alia, 16, “died of critical wounds sustained by live bullets in the chest,” during clashes near the village of Al-Mughayer, close to Ramallah, the ministry said in a statement.
An AFP photographer at the scene reported 300 to 400 Palestinians had gathered for a protest march against Israeli settlement expansion in the area.
Clashes erupted when Israeli settlers and Palestinians began throwing rocks at each other.
The Israeli army said it had intervened after “hundreds of Palestinians instigated a violent riot.”
The army and border police responded with “riot dispersal means and live fire,” the military statement to AFP added.
It came after two Palestinians were killed during an overnight raid by the Israeli military in Nablus early on Sunday, in what the army described as a shootout with gunmen.
At least 53 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and also non-combatants, including Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American dual national, who was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin.
Over the same period, 19 people — the majority Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed, mainly in attacks by Palestinians. Three Israeli Arab attackers have also been killed.
Israeli troops fire tear gas to disperse protesters along Lebanon border
The tension on the edge of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Chouba began earlier this week over the Israeli military digging in the area that Lebanon claims
On Wednesday, a Lebanese villager tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from digging a trench along the border
Updated 57 min 43 sec ago
KFAR CHOUBA, Lebanon: Israeli soldiers fired tear gas to disperse scores of protesters who pelted the troops with stones along the border with Lebanon Friday, leaving some Lebanese demonstrators and troops suffering breathing problems.
The tension on the edge of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Chouba began earlier this week over the Israeli military digging in the area that Lebanon claims.
On Wednesday, a Lebanese villager tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from digging a trench along the border. Once the villager’s legs were covered with sand as the bulldozer moved ahead, UN peacekeepers jumped in and convinced the driver to move back. Videos of the elderly man with his legs stuck in the sand dune went viral on social media.
Israel ended an 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon when its troops withdrew from the area in May 2000.
Friday’s protest took place on the edge of Kfar Chouba hills, which Beirut says is Lebanese land occupied by Israel. Kfar Chouba hills and the nearby Chebaa Farms, are areas captured by Israel during the 1967 Mideast War and claimed by Lebanon.
On Friday, some of the protesters tried to break through a fence in the rugged area overlooked by an Israeli military post. Israeli forces fired tear gas to disperse them while Lebanese troops and UN peacekeepers later moved in and pushed the protesters back.
“DO NOT CROSS THE BLUE LINE,” read a banner carried by a UN peacekeeper in Arabic, English and French, referring to the border drawn after Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Israeli troops and several vehicles, including a heavily armored Merkava tank, were seen in the area.
Lebanese troops were on alert in the area and reinforcements were brought in.
In a statement, the Israeli military said protesters tried to damage a border barrier and threw stones at Israeli soldiers in the area. The military said forces responded with “riot dispersal means,” which typically means tear gas or stun grenades. The military said it “would not allow any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty.”
Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping for known as UNIFIL, said peacekeepers are on the ground working to decrease tension in the area.
“We have urged the parties to utilize our coordination mechanisms effectively to prevent misunderstandings, violations, and contribute to the preservation of stability in the area,” Tenenti said. He added that UNIFIL leadership is in contact with the parties, seeking a solution.
“We call upon both sides to exercise restraint and avoid actions along the blue line that may escalate tensions,” Tenenti told The Associated Press.
The protesters later held Friday prayers in the area and then tried to sneak in again, leading to more tear gas fire.
Friday’s tension came a day after the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lazaro, chaired a meeting with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers at the UN headquarters along the border. The general appealed for restraint along the border and work on reducing tensions.
The Lebanon-Israel border has been relatively calm since Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006. Despite that, there have been tensions.
In April, Israel launched rare airstrikes on southern Lebanon after militants fired nearly three dozen rockets from Lebanon at Israel, wounding two people and causing some property damage.
Warring parties in Sudan agree to 24-hour ceasefire – Saudi Arabia, US statement
Parties agreed to refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of aircraft or drones, among others
Statement warns Jeddah talks may be adjourned if truce is not observed
Updated 09 June 2023
RIYADH: The warring parties in Sudan have agreed to a 24-hour nationwide ceasefire beginning June 10, a statement from Saudi Arabia and US said on Friday.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America announce that representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to a 24-hour countrywide ceasefire beginning on June 10 at 6:00 a.m. Khartoum time,” Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on their social media account.
“The parties agreed that during the ceasefire they will refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of aircraft or drones, aerial bombardment, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and resupply of forces, and will refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire,” the joint statement said.
“They also agreed to allow unimpeded movement and delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout the country,” it added.
However, the statement issued a warning against the warring parties: “Should the parties fail to observe the 24-hour ceasefire, facilitators will be compelled to consider adjourning the Jeddah talks.”
#Statement | The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America announce that representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to a 24-hour countrywide ceasefire beginning on June 10 at 6:00 a.m. Khartoum time. pic.twitter.com/WChGntroxH
An earlier truce drawn up by Saudi Arabia and the US fell through after both sides of the Sudanese clashes accused each other of serious violations of the ceasefire.
The White House has warned that sanctions will be imposed against key defense companies and people who “perpetuate violence” in Sudan as the warring sides fail to abide by a cease-fire agreement.
“Once it becomes clear that the parties are actually serious about complying with the ceasefire, the facilitators are prepared to resume the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict,” Saudi Arabia and the US said in an earlier statement.
Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between forces loyal to the country’s military Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and his erstwhile deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Thousands of civilians in towns and villages across Sudan were forced to flee amid worsening conflict in the country, leading to fears of a new global refugee crisis.
Nearly 1.4 million people have been displaced, the UN reported on May 28, raising concerns among Sudan’s neighboring states they may not be able to cope with the influx of people seeking safety and refuge.
Mehdi Bayadsa was killed by ‘bullets from the occupation (Israel) near the Rantis military checkpoint, west of Ramallah’
Updated 09 June 2023
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces on Friday killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and the army said, with the latter adding that a soldier was lightly wounded.
Mehdi Bayadsa, 29, was killed by “bullets from the occupation (Israel) near the Rantis military checkpoint, west of Ramallah,” the ministry said in a statement.
The military in a statement said it had “neutralized” a Palestinian who had arrived near the crossing point between the West Bank and Israel in a stolen vehicle.
“While IDF (Israeli army) soldiers inspected his vehicle, the suspect attacked an IDF soldier and attempted to steal his weapon,” the army said, adding a “lightly injured” soldier was taken to hospital.
“Following the confrontation, another soldier in the area shot live fire toward the suspect and neutralized him,” the army said, adding that it was “investigating the incident.”
Nearly three million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967.
About 490,000 Israelis live in the occupied territory in settlements deemed illegal under international law.
Since the start of the year, at least 157 Palestinians, 21 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.
The figures include combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.
Syrians lose life-saving care as Turkiye halts medical visits
Seriously ill Syrians in the country’s last rebel bastion of Idlib used to be able to access life-saving care across the border
Updated 09 June 2023
HALZOUN, Syria: Huddled inside a tent in rebel-held northwestern Syria, Umm Khaled says she fears her baby will die unless she gets specialist treatment in neighboring Turkiye for a congenital heart defect.
Seriously ill Syrians in the country’s last rebel bastion of Idlib used to be able to access life-saving care across the border.
But the main crossing there for medical visits slammed shut after a deadly earthquake ravaged southern Turkiye on February 6, prompting Ankara to prioritize its domestic needs.
Born just a week before the disaster, baby Islam needs urgent cardiac surgery, unavailable in Syria’s war-scarred Idlib region where the health care system fell into further disarray after the quake.
“I watch my daughter suffer and I can’t do anything about it,” said Umm Khaled, showing only her eyes and hands beneath her black niqab.
The 27-year-old said her baby was losing weight and her condition worsening.
Islam often struggles to breathe, and a doctor has warned that repeated such episodes, which put further strain on her heart, could be deadly without an operation or treatment.
But only cancer patients have been allowed to cross into Turkiye after months of waiting — and only since Monday.
“When she cries, she turns blue and her heart beats very fast,” Umm Khaled said, as her three other young children sat on the ground in their tent in the village of Halzoun.
“I hope they’ll open the crossing soon,” she said, baby Islam squirming in her lap.
Doctors in Idlib refer most heart and cancer patients to Turkiye, where they can receive free treatment under an agreement between local authorities and Ankara.
Burns victims, premature babies and people requiring complicated surgery have also been allowed to cross.
But after the quake ravaged health facilities on the Turkish side of the border, Ankara halted medical visits through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing — the sole access point for patients from Idlib.
The border has remained open for United Nations humanitarian aid, goods and even Syrians visiting relatives in the area.
Firas Al-Ali, diagnosed with a benign tumor near his brain in 2017, has undergone surgery and tests in Turkiye, where he usually gets medication and treatment every three months.
He had been waiting for treatment on February 23, but then the earthquake struck.
“Due to the delay, I’m getting pain in my eyes and my head,” the 35-year-old blacksmith said.
“My treatment is unavailable here and if it is, it is expensive and I can’t afford it.”
Rebel-held Idlib is home to around three million people, many of them displaced from other parts of Syria and dependent on humanitarian aid.
Government-held areas of Syria are off limits to civilians from Idlib. The Syrian side of the Bab Al-Hawa crossing into Turkiye is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.
The Syrian American Medical Society runs the only center in Idlib for cancer patients.
Paediatric oncologist Abdel Razzaq Bakur said the clinic lacked diagnostic equipment and medications, and had been overwhelmed by “numerous patients who urgently need to be admitted in Turkiye.”
The children’s ward alone has admitted 30 patients left untreated by the border closure, he said.
Around 40 more “haven’t been getting chemotherapy and their condition is very bad — some risk dying.”
Some families had tried to get medicine from Turkiye or Lebanon, but prices were often prohibitive, he added.
“Most people can’t cover their basic daily needs, so how are they supposed to secure chemotherapy doses?” he asked.
Yusuf Hajj Yusuf, 60, was scheduled to have chemotherapy in Turkiye the day the quake struck and said a recent scan showed his lung cancer had worsened.
He had asked relatives to help pay for treatment in Idlib but “no longer had the strength” to raise funds.
“I was very happy about the reopening of the crossing,” he said.
“After the earthquake, we cancer patients have suffered a lot. We have all been waiting to return to the Turkish hospitals.”
To restore reefs dying in warming seas, UAE turns to coral nurseries
Updated 09 June 2023
ABU DHABI: On a boat off the coast of an island near Abu Dhabi, marine scientist Hamad Al-Jailani feels the corals, picked from the reef nursery and packed in a box of seawater, and studies them carefully, making sure they haven’t lost their color.
The corals were once bleached. Now they’re big, healthy and ready to be moved back to their original reefs in the hope they’ll thrive once more.
“We try to grow them from very small fragments up to — now some of them have reached — the size of my fist,” Al-Jailani said, who’s part of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi’s coral restoration program.
The nursery gives corals the ideal conditions to recover: clear waters with strong currents and the right amount of sunlight. Al-Jailani periodically checks the corals’ growth, removes any potentially harmful seaweed and seagrass, and even lets the fish feed off the corals to clean them, until they’re healthy enough to be relocated.
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, or EAD, has been rehabilitating and restoring corals since 2021, when reefs off the United Arab Emirates’ coast faced their second bleaching event in just five years. EAD’s project is one of many initiatives — both public and private — across the country to protect the reefs and the marine life that depend on them in a nation that has come under fire for its large-scale developments and polluting industries that cause harm to underwater ecosystems. There’s been some progress, but experts remain concerned for the future of the reefs in a warming world.
Coral bleaching occurs when sea temperatures rise and sun glares flush out algae that give the corals their color, turning them white. Corals can survive bleaching events, but can’t effectively support marine life, threatening the populations that depend on them.
The UAE lost up to 70 percent of their corals, especially around Abu Dhabi, in 2017 when water temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit), according to EAD. But Al-Jailani said 40-50 percent of corals survived the second bleaching event in 2021.
Although the bleaching events “did wipe out a good portion of our corals,” he said, “it did also prove that the corals that we have are actually resilient ... these corals can actually withstand these kind of conditions.”
Bleaching events are happening more frequently around the world as waters warm due to human-made climate change, caused by the burning of oil, coal and gas that emits heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Other coral reef systems around the world have suffered mass bleaching events, most notably Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
How to limit global warming and its effects will be discussed at length at the United Nations climate conference, which will be held in the UAE capital later this year.
The UAE is one of the world’s largest oil producers and has some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions globally. The country has pledged to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which means all carbon dioxide emissions are either slashed or canceled out somehow, but the goal has been met with skepticism from analysts.
But bleaching due to warming weather is not the only threat to coral reefs around the gulf. High oil tanker traffic, fossil-fuel related activities, offshore installations, and the exploitation of marine resources are all putting marine life under intense stress, according to the UN Environment Programme, causing them to degrade.
Environmentalists have also long criticized the UAE, and Dubai in particular, for its large-scale buildings and huge coastal developments.
The building of the Palm Jebel Ali, which began more than a decade ago and has been on hold since 2008, caused an outcry among conservationists after it reportedly destroyed about 8 square kilometers (5 square miles) of reef.
“More than 90 million cubic meters (23.8 billion gallons) of sediments were dredged and dropped, more or less on top of one of the remaining reefs near Dubai,” said John Henrik Stahl, the dean of the College of Marine Sciences at Khorfakkan University in Sharjah, UAE.
The project was meant to be similar to the Palm Jumeirah — a collection of small, artificial islands off the coast of Dubai in the shape of a palm tree.
Still, environmental projects persist across the coastline and throughout the emirates.
Development company URB has announced it wants to grow 1 billion artificial corals over a 200-square-kilometer area (124 square miles) and 100 million mangrove trees on an 80-kilometer (50-mile) strip of beaches in Dubai by 2040.
Still in the research and development phase, the project hopes to create 3D technology to print materials that can host algae, much like corals.
Members of Dubai’s diving community are also encouraging coral protection efforts.
Diving program director Amr Anwar is in the process of creating a certified coral restoration course that teaches divers how to collect and re-plant corals that have fallen after being knocked off by divers’ fins or a boat’s anchor.
“I don’t want people to see broken corals and just leave them like that,” said Anwar. “Through the training we give people, they would be able to take these broken corals that they find and plant them elsewhere, and then see them grow and watch their progress.”
But experts say that unless the threat of overheating seas caused by climate change is addressed, coral bleaching events will continue to occur, damaging reefs worldwide.
Countries have pledged to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, after which scientists say the effects of warming on the planet could be much worse, and some even potentially irreversible. But analysts say most nations — including the UAE — are still way off that target.
“You have to make sure that the cause for the degradation of the coral reefs in the first place is no longer a threat,” said Stahl, the Khorfakkan University scientist. “Otherwise the restoration effort may be for nothing.”