Explosive situation in Gaza following Friday’s bloodbath

Explosive situation in Gaza following Friday’s bloodbath
Hesham, one of four disabled Palestinian siblings from Shamalakh family, sits at the rubble of their home after it was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 August 2022

Explosive situation in Gaza following Friday’s bloodbath

Explosive situation in Gaza following Friday’s bloodbath

GAZA CITY: Israel struck Gaza and Palestinians fired rockets at Israeli cities on Saturday after an Israeli operation against Islamic Jihad ended more than a year of relative calm along the border.

Israel on Friday killed one of the group’s senior commanders in a surprise daytime airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City that drew rocket salvoes in response.

On Saturday, Israel said it struck Islamic Jihad posts and militants preparing to launch rockets.

Additional bombings targeted five houses, witnesses said, sending huge clouds of smoke and debris into the air as explosions rocked Gaza City.

Palestinian militants fired at least 160 rockets across the border, setting off air-raid sirens and sending people running to bomb shelters as far as the central Israeli city of Modiin, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Islamic Jihad said it had targeted Israel’s main international gateway, Ben Gurion Airport. But the rocket fell short near Modiin, around 20 km away, and the Civil Aviation Authority said the airport was operating as usual with flight routes adjusted.

Most of the missiles were intercepted and there were no reports of serious casualties, according to the Israeli ambulance service.

Friday’s strikes killed more than a dozen Palestinians including 5-year-old Alaa, who lived in the Shejaiya neighborhood in eastern Gaza.

Her grandfather Riyad Qaddoum said: “What was the fault of this child? She was a kindergarten pupil who only needed a paper, a pencil and a school uniform.” She was killed while playing in the street. 

Israel launched the military operation, called Breaking Dawn, against Islamic Jihad on Friday afternoon with the assassination of Taysir Al-Jabari, a senior commander, in an apartment in Palestine Tower.

Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, began firing missiles from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli cities and towns at 9 p.m. on Friday.

“The enemy bears full responsibility ... We will not be lenient in responding to this aggression, which represents a declaration of war against our people,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement.

“We call on all the resistance forces and their military wings to stand in one front and one trench to respond to this aggression and confront this terrorism.”

Hamas, which governs Gaza, has not officially announced its participation in firing rockets at Israel, but it has condemned the Israeli strikes. 

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement that this round of fighting “is part of our great ongoing battle with the occupation, which will not stop unless the goals of our people are achieved with liberation and return.” 

Around 2.3 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, with Israel and Egypt tightly restricting movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a naval blockade, citing security concerns.

Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza shortly before it struck on Friday, crippling the territory’s lone power plant, reducing electricity to around eight hours per day, and drawing warnings from health officials that hospitals would be severely impacted within days.

“The power plant in Gaza has stopped (working) due to the fuel shortage,” said Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the electricity company.

The power station has gone without fuel deliveries through Israel since the country shut its goods and people crossings with Gaza on Tuesday. The electricity supply is expected to plummet to just four hours per day, Thabet said.

Dozens of Gazans queued up in front of bakeries and grocery stores, fearing that the escalation could continue for a long time.

“We couldn’t sleep all last night. The shelling was heavy and the explosions were very loud, and we don’t know how long this escalation will last and how many days we’ll suffer. I hope it ends soon,” said Rami Khudair, queueing in a bakery.

Israel closed the Erez crossing for individuals and the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing last week, following the arrest of Islamic Jihad leader Bassam Al-Saadi in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health warned that its health services would be suspended within 72 hours due to the acute shortage of medicines and medical supplies, in addition to the lack of fuel to operate electricity generators in Palestinian hospitals. “The coming hours are critical and difficult,” the ministry said in a statement.

Egyptian, UN and Qatari efforts to end the fighting are underway. Further escalation would largely depend on whether Hamas opts to join the fighting.

On Friday night, the Israeli military said it had apprehended 19 Islamic Jihad militants in raids in the Israeli-occupied West Bank while targeting the group’s rocket-manufacturing sites and launchers in Gaza.

Gaza streets were largely deserted on Saturday afternoon. At the site where Al-Jabari was killed, rubble, glass and furniture were strewn along the street.

A neighbor, Mariam Abu Ghanima, 56, said the Israeli military did not issue a warning before the attack, as it had done in previous rounds of violence.

A spokesperson for the military said it had made efforts to avoid civilian casualties in the surprise attack, which had used precision means to target a specific floor of the building, Reuters reported.

Israel has imposed special security measures in its southern territories near Gaza, and is preparing to call up some 25,000 military personnel, according to Army Radio.


Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days
Updated 21 sec ago

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

Lebanon expects US mediator offer for maritime border with Israel within days

DUBAI: Lebanon expects a written offer from US mediator Amos Hochstein concerning the demarcation of a maritime border with Israel by the end of the week, Lebanon’s presidency tweeted on Monday.
Lebanon’s deputy speaker of parliament Elias Bou Saab met with Hochstein last week during a visit to New York and briefed President Michel Aoun on the outcome, the presidency added.
Hochstein has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel — enemy states with a history of conflict — in a bid to forge a compromise over the maritime boundary that would allow both to explore for offshore energy reserves.
A deal would defuse one potential source of conflict between Israel and the heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has warned against any Israeli exploration and extraction in the disputed waters.


Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure
Updated 3 min 20 sec ago

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure

Lebanese banks reopen partially after weeklong closure
BEIRUT: Banks in crisis-hit Lebanon partially reopened Monday following a weeklong closure amid a wave of heists in which assailants stormed at least seven bank branches earlier this month, demanding to withdraw their trapped savings.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon said last Monday it was going on strike amid bank holdups by depositors and activists — a sign of growing chaos in the tiny Mideast nation.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped banks had last closed for a prolonged period back in October 2019, for two weeks, during mass anti-government protests triggered by the crisis. That year, the banks imposed strict limits on cash withdrawals, tying up the savings of millions of people.
The country’s economy has since spiraled, with about three-quarters of the population plunged into poverty. The Lebanese pound has lost over 90 percent of its value against the dollar.
The frustrations boiled over this month, with angry and desperate depositors — including one armed with a hunting rifle — started holding up the banks. One of them, Sali Hafez, broke into a Beirut bank branch with a fake pistol and retrieved some $13,000 in her savings to cover her sister’s cancer treatment.
However, only a handful of bank branches opened Monday — accepting only customers with prior appointments for corporate transactions. The partial reopening was to continue indefinitely, until banks can secure the safety of their employees.
Crowds of anxious Lebanese gathered around ATM machines.
“I’ve been here for three hours, and they won’t let me in or schedule an appoint,” Fadi Al-Osta told The Associated Press outside a bank branch in Beirut. “The security guards can let us in one at a time and check for weapons. Isn’t that their job?”
George Al-Hajj, president of Lebanon’s Federation of Bank Employees Syndicates, said branches have downsized, to have a larger number of security guards per branch.
“Our goal isn’t to harm anyone, but we want to go to work feeling safe and secure,” Al-Hajj said. “We’re also human beings.”
Tensions were simmering in the southern city of Sidon, where State Security forces armed with assault rifles stood outside some bank branches. Some police officers and army soldiers, whose salaries have lost over 90 percent of their value, unsuccessfully tried to break into a bank branch to collect small cash bonus recently granted by the government.
Lebanon’s talks with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout have progressed sluggishly, with authorities failing to implement critical reforms, including restructuring the banking sector and lifting banking secrecy laws. Last week, a visiting IMF delegation criticized the government’s slowness to implement desperately-needed financial reforms.

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response
Updated 13 min 37 sec ago

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response

Iran says US trying to violate sovereignty over unrest, warns of response
  • Iran has said the United States was supporting rioters and seeking to destablize the Islamic Republic

DUBAI: US attempts to violate Iran’s sovereignty over the issue of protests triggered by the death of a woman in police custody will not go unanswered, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, after she was detained by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict restrictions on women’s dress.
The case has drawn international condemnation. Iran has said the United States was supporting rioters and seeking to destablize the Islamic Republic.
“Washington is always trying to weaken Iran’s stability and security although it has been unsuccessful,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told Nour news, which is affiliated with a top security body, in a statement.


Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry
Updated 47 min 13 sec ago

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry

Syria cholera death toll rises to 29 — health ministry
  • The highly contagious disease has also spread to the country’s Kurdish-held and opposition areas in north and northwestern Syria

AMMAN: A cholera outbreak in several regions of Syria has killed 29 people, the Syrian health ministry said on Monday in what the UN has called the worst outbreak in the war-torn country for years.
Rapid assessment testing confirmed 338 cases since the outbreak was first recorded last month, with the bulk of deaths and cases in the northern Aleppo province, the ministry said in a statement.
It said 230 cases were in Aleppo province where 25 people were confirmed dead. The rest were spread across the country.
The United Nations this month said the outbreak was believed be linked to irrigation of crops using contaminated water and people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates river which bisects Syria from the north to the east.
The highly contagious disease has also spread to the country’s Kurdish-held and opposition areas in north and northwestern Syria where millions have been displaced by the decade-old conflict, medical officials said.
Suspected cholera cases have risen to 2,092 in the northeast of Syria since the outbreak was announced this month, said the US-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) which operates in the northern region.
It said there were fears about significant under-reporting of cases.
The widespread destruction of national water infrastructure after more than a decade of war means much of the Syrian population is reliant on unsafe water sources.
Prior to the recent cholera outbreak, the water crisis had caused an increase in diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and skin conditions in the region, according to the World Health Organization.


Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  
Updated 26 September 2022

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  

Egypt to release new batch of 39 pretrial detainees: Presidential Pardon Committee  
  • MP Tarek El-Khouly said the move was in cooperation with state authorities and the country’s Public Prosecution

DUBAI: Egypt has ordered the release of 39 pretrial detainees on Monday. 
MP Tarek El-Khouly, a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee, said the move was in cooperation with state authorities and the country’s Public Prosecution. 
Egypt’s Public Prosecution has ordered the release of hundreds of pretrial detainees in groups since May. 
This comes as the government and various political forces prepare for extensive national political dialogue that will focus on political, economic, and social issues. 
Since its inception in 2016, the committee has received the names of prisoners eligible for presidential pardon consideration from different parties and political forces, including the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), the parliament’s Human Rights Committee, as well as directly through its own official website.