‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds

Update ‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
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Palestinians celebrate on a street in Gaza City early Monday after a ceasefire between Israeli and Islamic Jihad forces was announced. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Update ‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
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A fireball rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night shortly before a ceasefire took effect. (AFP)
Update ‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
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Palestinians celebrate on a street in Gaza City early Monday after a ceasefire between Israeli and Islamic Jihad forces was announced. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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Updated 08 August 2022

‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds

‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
  • The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took effect at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT; 4:30 p.m. EDT)
  • Israeli aircraft have pummeled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response

GAZA CITY:  A “fragile” Egypt-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza appeared to be holding early Monday, raising hopes that the recent intense conflict that has left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children, has ended.
The truce, which officially started at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) Sunday night, aims to stem the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year devastated the Palestinian coastal territory.
Though a flurry of strikes and rocket attacks took place in the run-up to the truce, with sirens sounding in southern Israel moments before and after the deadline, neither side had reported any major violations of the agreement after four hours.
In a statement sent three minutes after the cease-fire began, Israel’s army said that “in response to rockets fired toward Israeli territory, the (military) is currently striking a wide range of targets” belonging to Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
In a subsequent statement, the army clarified that its “last” strikes took place at 11:25 pm.




A fireball rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night shortly before a ceasefire took effect. (AFP)

While both sides had agreed to the truce, each had warned the other that it would respond with force to any violence.
US President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire, thanking Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his country’s role in brokering it. Biden also called for investigations into civilian casualties, which he called a “tragedy.”
In a statement, UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said: “The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the cease-fire.”

US President Joe Biden said he welcomed the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza-based militants.
“Over these last 72-hours, the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict,” he said in a statement.
The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday on the violence. China, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the session in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.
“We underscore our commitment to do all we can toward ending the ongoing escalation, ensuring the safety and security of the civilian population, and following-up on the Palestinian prisoners file,” said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office late Sunday thanked “Egypt for its efforts” as it agreed to the truce, but said it that “if the cease-fire is violated,” Israel “maintains the right to respond strongly.”
Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Al-Hindi had already confirmed the militants had accepted the truce, but the group added in a statement that it too “reserves the right to respond” to any aggression.

Israeli aircraft have pummeled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response. The risk of the cross-border fighting turning into a full-fledged war remained as long as no truce was reached. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.

In addition to the 44 people killed, 15 of them children, the Gaza health ministry said 360 people had been wounded in the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas.
Israel insists several children in the territory have been killed by stray militant rockets.




Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system fires to intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Ashkelon, Israel just before a cease-fire took effect Sunday night. (AP)

Three people in Israel have been wounded by shrapnel, while 31 others have been lightly hurt, emergency services said.

Islamic Jihad’s Hindi said the cease-fire deal “contains Egypt’s commitment to work toward the release of two prisoners.”

The pair were named as Bassem Al-Saadi, a senior figure in the group’s political wing who was recently arrested in the occupied West Bank, and Khalil Awawdeh, a militant also in Israeli detention.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas group remained on the sidelines, possibly because it fears Israeli reprisals and undoing economic understandings with Israel, including Israeli work permits for thousands of Gaza residents, that bolster its control.
Israel launched its operation with a strike Friday on a leader of the Islamic Jihad, and followed up on Saturday with another targeted strike on a second prominent leader.

The second Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was killed in an airstrike on an apartment building in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza late Saturday, which also killed two other militants and five civilians.
Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander for southern Gaza, was in the apartment of a member of the group when the missile struck, flattening the three-story building and badly damaging nearby houses.
“Suddenly, without warning, the house next to us was bombed and everything became black and dusty with smoke in the blink of an eye,” said Wissam Jouda, who lives next to the targeted building.
Ahmed Al-Qaissi, another neighbor, said his wife and son were among the wounded, suffering shrapnel injuries. To make way for rescue workers, Al-Qaissi agreed to have part of his house demolished.

As a funeral for Mansour began in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Israeli military said it was striking suspected “Islamic Jihad rocket launch posts.” Smoke could be seen from the strikes as thumps from their explosions rattled Gaza. Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire followed for hours as sirens wailed in central Israel. As the sunset call to prayer sounded in Gaza, sirens wailed as far north as Tel Aviv.
Israel says some of the deaths during this round were caused by errant rocket fire, including one incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six Palestinians were killed Saturday. On Sunday, a projectile hit a home in the same area of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it was investigating whether the area was struck by an errant rocket.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said mortars fired from Gaza hit the Erez border crossing into Israel, used by thousands of Gazans daily. The mortars damaged the roof and shrapnel hit the hall’s entrance, the ministry said. The crossing has been closed amid the fighting.
The Rafah strike was the deadliest so far in the current round of fighting, which was initiated by Israel on Friday with the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad’s commander for northern Gaza.

Israel said it took action against the militant group because of concrete threats of an imminent attack, but has not provided details. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is an experienced diplomat but untested in overseeing a war, unleashed the offensive less than three months before a general election in which he is campaigning to keep the job.

In a statement Sunday, Lapid said the military would continue to strike targets in Gaza “in a pinpoint and responsible way in order to reduce to a minimum the harm to noncombatants.” Lapid said the strike that killed Mansour was “an extraordinary achievement.”
“The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid said.
Israel estimates its airstrikes killed about 15 militants.
Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.

The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets toward Israel. The army said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down being fired toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.
Air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time Sunday since last year’s Israel-Hamas war.
Jerusalem is typically a flashpoint during periods of cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The visit, under heavy police protection, ended without incident, police said.
Such demonstrative visits by Israeli hard-liners seeking to underscore Israeli claims of sovereignty over contested Jerusalem have sparked violence in the past. The holy site sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is central to rival narratives of Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
In Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, Israeli security forces said they detained 19 people on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic Jihad during overnight raids.
By Sunday, Hamas still appeared to stay out of the battle. The group has a strong incentive to avoid another war. Last year’s Israel-Hamas war, one of four major conflicts and several smaller battles over the last 15 years, exacted a staggering toll on the impoverished territory’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12,000 work permits to Gaza laborers, and has held out the prospect of granting another 2,000 permits.
The lone power plant in Gaza ground to a halt at noon Saturday due to lack of fuel. Israel has kept its crossing points into Gaza closed since Tuesday. With the new disruption, Gazans can use only four hours of electricity a day, increasing their reliance on private generators and deepening the territory’s chronic power crisis amid peak summer heat.


More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
Updated 29 November 2022

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
  • The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered

TEHRAN: More than 300 people have been killed in Iran since protests erupted over the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini on September 16, a Revolutionary Guards general said Tuesday.
“Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady. I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we have had perhaps more than 300 martyrs and people killed in this country, including children, since this incident,” Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajjizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, said in a video published by the Mehr news agency.
The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered.
The latest official toll is much closer to the figure of at least 416 “killed in the suppression of protests in Iran” published by Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
The group says its toll includes those killed in violence related to the Amini protests and in distinct unrest in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.


UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
Updated 29 November 2022

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’

UAE, Europol bust cocaine ‘super-cartel’
  • Dubai police arrest 6 ‘high-value’ suspects linked to Netherlands, Spain, France
  • Emirates committed to joint global security pacts, says deputy PM

DUBAI: The UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan lauded on Monday the arrest of 49 drug kingpins, including six chief suspects in Dubai, involved in a “super-cartel” that controlled a third of Europe’s cocaine trade network.

The arrests were the result of coordinated efforts between the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, the Dubai Police General Command, the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation Europol, and several overseas law enforcement agencies.

 

 

With the support of Europol, parallel investigations launched in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE targeted the activities of the prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.

Over 30 tons of drugs were seized by law enforcement officers during the massive international operation, Europol said.

Dubai had arrested two “high-value” suspects with ties to the Netherlands, two with ties to Spain, and two with ties to France.

“One of the Dutch suspects is an extremely big fish,” a Europol source told AFP.

 

 

Another 13 people were arrested in Spain, six in France and 10 in Belgium, while 14 people were nabbed in 2021 in the Netherlands as part of the same operation, Europol said.

Sheikh Saif attributed the success of Operation Desert Light to the cooperation between nations and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Joint agreements remained a key part of the UAE’s commitment to global safety and security, he said.

In September, Europol and the UAE Ministry of Interior signed a Liaison Officer Agreement, as part of this commitment to tackle transnational crime, Europol said. The agreement ensures the deployment of UAE law enforcement liaison officers to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

A UAE official has already joined the network of over 250 liaison officers from more than 50 countries and organizations with permanent representation at Europol.


Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
Updated 29 November 2022

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli fire kills 3 Palestinians in West Bank
  • Rioters hurled bombs and fired shots at soldiers who responded with live fire

JERUSALEM: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest deaths in a sharp uptick in violence in the occupied territory.
Two brothers were killed by Israeli fire in Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, while a third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the ministry said.
Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on “rioters” who “hurled rocks and improvised explosive devices at the soldiers” after two vehicles got stuck during an “operation patrol” in the area.
The Palestinian ministry said a man it did not identify had died “after being shot in the head.”
It named the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.
Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an “execution in cold blood.”
Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza, said the Israeli “escalation” would be “confronted by escalating resistance” from Palestinians.
Violence has flared this year in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids across the territory.
This week the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.
The United Nations says more than 125 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this year. Israel has occupied the territory since the Six-Day War of 1967.


Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
Updated 29 November 2022

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians
  • Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in Jenin
  • The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault

JERUSALEM: Three Israeli soldiers were detained on Monday, the military said, after allegedly hurling an improvised bomb at Palestinians near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as revenge for the seizing of the body of a teenager last week.
On Wednesday, in the occupied West Bank, which has seen an intensification of violence since March, Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in the town of Jenin where he had been taken after a car accident, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault to recover the teenager’s body. But it was quietly returned after some 30 hours following negotiations that, according to a diplomat, had involved the United Nations.
The gunmen did not announce their motivation, but Palestinians demonstrated in Jenin the same day, demanding the release of remains of their relatives which they said Israel was holding. The Druze are an Arab community in Israel whose members serve in its armed forces.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the attack on Palestinians near Bethlehem on Monday by Israeli Druze soldiers but could not provide further details.
Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz said if it came to light that the incident was an act of revenge, the military is dealing with a “severe incident which requires accountability.”
“Israeli soldiers don’t take the law into their hands and exact revenge,” Gantz tweeted.


197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine
Updated 29 November 2022

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine

197 organizations write to International Criminal Court demanding action over situation in Palestine
  • The letters cite examples of previous deterrent, preventive ICC statements that proved effective in preventing Israeli crimes against Palestinians
  • They also said recent raids on Palestinian civil society organizations could amount to “offenses against the administration of justice” under the ICC’s Rome Statute

RAMALLAH: Almost 200 organizations have sent letters to the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor and the president of the court’s Assembly of States Parties calling on them to take action over the situation in Palestine, the Palestine News and Information Agency reported on Monday.

It comes ahead of the 21st annual session of the ASP, the ICC’s governing body, which will meet from Dec. 5 to 10 at The Hague in the Netherlands to discuss hey issues relating to the court’s future operations.

The letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan urges him to act to halt crimes committed by Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine, reminding him that his mandate grants him the authority not only to investigate international crimes but also to monitor situations under investigation by his office and to provide an “early warning” function.

The letter — sent by 197 Palestinian, regional and international civil society organizations — refers to a policy paper from the Office of the Prosecutor that provides a framework for deterrent, preventive statements that allow the office to respond to outbreaks of violence and other crimes by quickly engaging with states and non-governmental organizations to “verify information on alleged crimes, to encourage genuine national proceedings and to prevent reoccurrence of crimes.”

It also gives examples of preventive statements that previously proved effective in Palestine. In 2018, for example, the Office of the Prosecutor issued a preventive statement regarding the planned forced eviction of Bedouin residents from the village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank. The Israeli foreign minister subsequently confirmed that Israeli authorities did not carry out the evictions “out of concerns of an ICC investigation.”

The letter stated that there have been “important missed opportunities for preventive statements in the past year.”

The letter sent to the ASP President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi highlighted the assembly’s proposal for the implementation of a recommendation by the Independent Expert Review, in which the organization reaffirmed its commitment to “uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats or measures against the court, its officials and those cooperating with it, and renews its resolve to stand united against impunity.”

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted in July 1998 and came into force on July 1, 2002.

The ASP proposal reiterates that its president bears the primary responsibility for coordinating an appropriate response to any threat that could undermine the integrity, effectiveness or impartiality of the ICC.

Both letters note that on Oct. 22, 2021, Israel outlawed six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, and that their offices, along with those of a seventh group, were raided on Aug. 18 this year by Israeli forces who confiscated computers and other equipment and sealed the entrances under military orders.

The letters stressed that such Israeli actions of effectively “tampering with or interfering with the collection of evidence” during an investigation or trial stage might amount to “offenses against the administration of justice” under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.

They also refer to a 2016 report by the Office of the Prosecutor on preliminary examination activities, which acknowledged that employees of Palestinian organizations, including human rights organization Al-Haq (one of the outlawed organizations) and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, who had helped to gather information relevant to the office’s preliminary examination, had been subjected to threats and other forms of intimidation and interference.

The letters called on the ICC prosecutor and the ASP president “to respond to Israel’s latest attacks on Palestinian (civil society organizations) and defend human rights defenders who cooperate with the court.”

They added that such Palestinian organizations will continue to be active participants in the Rome Statute framework and cooperate with the court in its investigations into the situation in Palestine.