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)
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Updated 07 August 2022

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.

 


Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt

Updated 6 sec ago

Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt

Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt
  • Viral videos show girls waving headscarves, chanting slogans against authorities
  • Protests began shortly after supreme leader blamed riots on US and Israel 

LONDON: Iranian schoolgirls have joined demonstrations against the death of Mahsa Amini, sparking Iran’s largest civil uprising in three years. 

A series of videos, verified by the BBC, show teenage students across Iran waving their headscarves in the air and chanting anti-government slogans. 

In a viral video, groups of hijab-less girls in Karaj were filmed chasing an alleged government official out of their school on Monday. 

The girls appeared to be throwing empty water bottles at the man while yelling “shame on you” until he retreated through a gate. 

In another clip from Karaj, a city west of Tehran, young students can be heard shouting “If we don’t unite, they will kill us one by one.”

On the same day, dozens of schoolgirls in Shiraz blocked traffic on a main road by waving their headscarves in protest against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Death to the dictator,” they chanted. 

Similar protests were reported on Tuesday in Tehran and the northwestern cities of Saqez and Sanandaj. 

Meanwhile, a group of girls in their classrooms were photographed hijab-less and making obscene gestures at images of Khamenei and the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The protests by the schoolgirls began swiftly after Khamenei broke his silence on the nationwide unrest by accusing arch-foes the US and Israel of instigating riots in the country.

The supreme leader also backed the security forces, who have reacted to the dissent with violent crackdowns. 

Demonstrations have entered into their third week in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Amini, who fell into a coma while in the custody of morality police in Tehran after allegedly breaking the hijab law. She died three days later in hospital.
 


EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France
Updated 17 min 17 sec ago

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France
  • Colonna suggested the new measures could target repressive regime figures who send their children to live in Western countries
  • Diplomats say the measures are expected to be rubber-stamped at an EU foreign ministers meeting on Oct. 17

PARIS: France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that the European Union was looking to impose asset freezes and travel bans on a number of Iranian officials involved in the crackdown on protesters.
“France’s action at heart of EU ... (is) to target those responsible for the crackdown by holding them responsible for their acts,” Catherine Colonna told lawmakers in parliament, adding that the EU was looking at asset freezes and travel bans.
The bloc last agreed human rights sanctions on Tehran in 2021. No Iranians had been added to that list since 2013, however, as the bloc has shied away such measures in the hope of reviving a nuclear accord with Iran after the United States withdrew in 2018. Those talks have now stalled.
It currently has an array of sanctions on about 90 Iranian individuals which have been renewed annually every April.
Colonna suggested the new measures could target repressive regime figures who send their children to live in Western countries. Diplomats say the measures are expected to be rubber-stamped at an EU foreign ministers meeting on Oct. 17.
The United States and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police over allegations of abuse of Iranian women, saying they held the unit responsible for the death of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Amini, a Kurdish woman, was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire” and fell into a coma while in detention. The authorities have said they would investigate the cause of her death.
Iran’s supreme leader on Monday gave his full backing to security forces confronting protests ignited by the death of Amini, comments that could herald a harsher crackdown to quell unrest more than two weeks since she died.
Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, has said more than 100 people have been killed. Iranian authorities have not given a death toll, while saying many members of the security forces have been killed by “rioters and thugs backed by foreign foes.”


Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation
Updated 15 min 31 sec ago

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation
  • Algeria has held separate dialogues with officials from Fatah and Hamas to discuss the outlines of a paper prepared by an Algerian team for Palestinian reconciliation
  • Last January, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune launched an initiative to unite the Palestinians and end the split between Fatah and Hamas

GAZA CITY: Fourteen Palestinian factions, led by Fatah and Hamas, have received an invitation from Algeria to start a dialogue next week for Palestinian reconciliation, but doubts have overshadowed the gathering as few expect a significant breakthrough.

Various Palestinian forces announced that they had received Algerian invitations to participate in the two-day dialogue on Oct. 11-12.

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday that “the government will be ready for any step that supports reconciliation efforts and ends the division.”

Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, said that the group has a principle that it does not miss any opportunity to achieve reconciliation and end the division, indicating that it informed Algeria of its readiness and seriousness to participate in the meetings.

Algeria has held separate dialogues with officials from Fatah and Hamas over the past few days to discuss the outlines of a paper prepared by an Algerian team for Palestinian reconciliation.

Last January, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune launched an initiative to unite the Palestinians and end the split between Fatah and Hamas, commissioned by the Arab League, provided that a final solution is reached before the Arab summit in November. 

The Algerian team, which briefed the leaders of the two movements on the reconciliation paper, which will be presented during the next expanded meeting, asked them to avoid escalation during the current period, and to stay away from bickering, especially in the media, as this could thwart efforts to heal the rift.

The Palestinian factions have engaged in various dialogues to reach reconciliation during the many years since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007.

The two movements concluded more than one agreement, the most prominent of which was in Makkah under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Cairo Agreement brokered by Egypt.

Algeria is considered one of the Palestinian government’s most financially supportive Arab countries.Despite the positive public statements from the Palestinian factions toward the Algeria dialogue, ordinary Palestinians have cast doubt on its relevance.

Mahmoud Al-Rabi, 45, said: “Hamas and Fatah do not look at the Palestinian people or their need for reconciliation. They only want to achieve their own interests. What is different about this dialogue from previous ones? Nothing.”

Al-Rubai, who works as a history teacher in Gaza, added: “Will Algeria have the ability to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, as it is far from the Palestinian issue, in light of the two sides’ unwillingness to achieve reconciliation?”

Taghreed Toman, 29, said there was nothing new about the Algerian dialogue.

“This dialogue will be recorded in the files within the long list of dialogues that the Palestinians have engaged in to achieve reconciliation, and it will not have any impact on the ground, whether in Gaza or the West Bank,” Toman said.

Hamas and Fatah had agreed to hold the general elections for the Legislative Council, the presidency, and the National Council of PLO in succession, starting in May 2021, before the Palestinian President announced that they were canceled because Israel did not allow them to be held in the city of Jerusalem.

Palestine’s Ambassador to Algeria Fayez Abu Aita said that President Tebboune asked the two factions to develop a clear and practical vision for implementing and handing over reconciliation and working to find a solution to implement it.

Hamas proposed making fundamental amendments to the Palestinian political system, based on the principle of participation, adopting a unified political program for all Palestinians that recognizes all types of resistance, building Palestinian institutions on national foundations away from partisanship, and timetables for ending the division and the elections.

The Fatah proposal summarizes the formation of a national consensus government that accepts the Palestine Liberation Organization’s political program and meets international acceptance.  

Hani Al-Masri, a Palestinian political analyst based in Ramallah, does not expect Algeria to succeed in achieving Palestinian reconciliation.

Asked if the Algeria dialogue has a chance of success, he said: “No, for a very simple reason, which is that the obstacles that prevented the success of previous dialogues and agreements still exist and have even become more rooted.”


Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security
Updated 57 min 51 sec ago

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security
  • Jordan Atomic Energy Commission hosts workshop in collaboration Arab network of Nuclear Regulators and IAEA
  • Event aims to give participants a deeper understanding of nuclear safety and security through exchanging expertise

Amman: Jordan has signed and ratified relevant international instruments that govern nuclear safety and security, according to the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
Speaking on the sidelines of a regional workshop on nuclear safety and security organized in Amman, Khaled Toukan said the move was essential for the successful and sustainable use of nuclear power.
In collaboration with the Arab network of Nuclear Regulators and the International Atomic Energy Agency, JAEC organizes the regional workshop from Oct. 3-6, reported Jordan News Agency, Petra, on Tuesday.
The workshop aims to give participants a deeper understanding of nuclear safety and security through exchanging expertise and practices that meet the IAEA’s standards, said a statement published in Petra.
Toukan gave a briefing on the achievements of the Jordanian nuclear program, which include an infrastructure of a 5 megawatts research atomic reactor, a 2.5 GeV third generation synchrotron light source, and the Jordanian uranium mining project working at full capacity.
Meanwhile Zia Hussain Shah, the IAEA’s representative, praised Jordan’s nuclear program and expertise in nuclear practices, saying: “IAEA intends to organize many regional workshops and events in Jordan.”
ANNuR coordinator Daw Mosbah said the network was established to boost regulators’ infrastructures to protect against radiation and be efficient and internationally recognized as a forum for Arab regulators in light of the increasing use of nuclear power in Arab countries, particularly in medicine, industry, agriculture, electricity generation, water desalination, radioactive material transport, and disposal of radioactive waste.
The four-day workshop brings together 17 of the Arab state members at the IAEA.
 


Iranian teenage protester’s body ‘stolen by security forces’

Iranian teenage protester’s body ‘stolen by security forces’
Updated 04 October 2022

Iranian teenage protester’s body ‘stolen by security forces’

Iranian teenage protester’s body ‘stolen by security forces’
  • Nika Shakarami’s family planned to bury her on Monday, but her body was stolen and buried in a village about 40 km away

LONDON: Security forces in Iran snatched the body of a 16-year-old protester and buried her secretly in a village, BBC Persian reported on Tuesday.

Nika Shakarami’s family planned to bury her on Monday, but her body was stolen and buried in a village about 40 km away.

The teenager went missing for 10 days after protesting in the Iranian capital Tehran on Sept. 20 over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. 

Shakarami’s disappearance and death unleashed an outpouring of anger on Iranian social media.

Her aunt told BBC Persian that she had sent a final message to a friend saying she was being chased by security forces.

Shakarami’s body was eventually found by her family in a morgue at a detention center in Tehran.

“When we went to identify her, they didn’t allow us to see her body, only her face for a few seconds,” Nika’s aunt, Atash Shakarami, said.

Shakarami’s family transferred her body to Khorramabad, her father’s hometown in the west of the country, on Sunday — on what would have been her 17th birthday.

After her family was forced to abandon its funeral plans, Shakarami’s body was stolen by security forces from Khorramabad and buried in the village of Veysian.

In response, hundreds of protesters gathered in Khorramabad cemetery and chanted slogans against the regime, including “death to the dictator,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Shakarami’s aunt was arrested on Sunday after posting about her niece on social media. 

She was also threatened with death by security forces in an effort to stop family members taking part in the protests. 

Iranian authorities have used protesters’ bodies as “bargaining chips” to silence the families of victims in the past.