Suspect arrested after Jerusalem bus shooting: police

Israeli security inspect a bus after an attack outside Jerusalem's Old City, August 14, 2022. (AFP)
Israeli security inspect a bus after an attack outside Jerusalem's Old City, August 14, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2022

Suspect arrested after Jerusalem bus shooting: police

Israeli security inspect a bus after an attack outside Jerusalem's Old City, August 14, 2022. (AFP)
  • Eight people were injured, two of them critically, after the attack
  • Israeli officials called the shooting “terror attack”

JERUSALEM: Israeli police said Sunday they had arrested a suspect in a pre-dawn gun attack on a bus in central Jerusalem that wounded eight people, according to an updated casualty toll.
"The terrorist is in our hands," police spokesman Kan Eli Levy told public radio.

Eight people were injured, two of them critically, after a shooting attack on a bus in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police and medics said .
“The police were informed of a shooting of a bus ... Police have cordoned off the scene and are searching for a suspect who fled,” the police said.
Israel’s emergency medical services, the Magen David Adom (MDA), called the incident a “terror attack in the Old City.”
“We were on scene very quickly. On Ma’ale Hashalom St. we saw a passenger bus standing in the middle of the road, bystanders called us to treat two males around 30 years old who were on the bus with gunshot wounds,” MDA paramedics said in a statement.
Bus driver Daniel Kanievsky said the attack occurred near King David’s Tomb.
“I was coming from the Western Wall. The bus was full of passengers. I stopped at the station of the Tomb of David. At this moment starts the shootings. Two people outside I see falling, two inside were bleeding. Everybody panicked,” he told reporters at the scene.
Since March, 19 people — mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed in attacks mostly by Palestinians. Three Israeli Arab attackers were also killed.
In the aftermath, Israeli authorities increased operations in the occupied West Bank.
More than 50 Palestinians have been killed, including fighters and civilians, in operations and incidents in the West Bank since then.
Last week saw three days of intense conflict between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in the densely populated Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
At least 49 Palestinians, including Islamic Jihad fighters but also children, died in the latest violence, which ended last Sunday after Egypt negotiated a truce.
 


US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye
Updated 10 sec ago

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

BEIRUT: The head of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Tuesday he still feared a Turkish ground invasion despite US assurances and has demanded a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border.

Turkish officials said the army needed just days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria, which they have been attacking with long-range weapons and warplanes for days.

The bombardments come after months of threats by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan of a new ground invasion against Kurdish forces, which he considers to be terrorists.

“There are reinforcements on the border and within Syria in areas controlled by factions allied to Turkiye. We noticed this and, yes, this is new,” SDF chief Mazloum Abdi said by phone from Syria.

Syrian Kurdish forces have received backing from Washington for years, but have also coordinated with Syria’s government and its ally Russia, both seen as foes by the US.

Abdi said he had received “clear” assurances from Washington and Moscow that they opposed a Turkish ground invasion but wanted something more tangible.

“We are still nervous. We need stronger, more solid statements to stop Turkiye,” he said. “Turkiye has announced its intent and is now feeling things out. The beginning of an invasion will depend on how it analyzes the positions of other countries.”

The SDF and Ankara have traded accusations over who is violating a 2019 deal, brokered by the US and Russia to clear Kurdish militants out of border areas in exchange for Turkiye refraining from invading.

Abdi said his force had not been asked to withdraw from any further zones and would refuse if asked, adding that the main brokers of that deal were too preoccupied with Moscow’s war in Ukraine to enforce it properly.

“Everyone is busy. The Russia-Ukraine war has had a negative effect impact on these countries’ commitments in this region,” he said.

The SDF would not rely on Syrian air defenses, Abdi added, after previously telling reporters he hoped they would help defend his forces from Ankara’s air strikes.


Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
Updated 29 November 2022

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
  • Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees
  • Clashes initially broke out when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family

BEIRUT: Rival drug-dealing families using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades brought mayhem to the streets of a southern Beirut neighborhood during a series of violent clashes on Tuesday.

Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees after members of the two families became embroiled in a dispute over drug trafficking.

Clashes initially broke out late on Monday when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family living in the same area, known as the Baalbekien neighborhood.

Samir Abu Afash, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah movement in Beirut, told Arab News that Jaafar started “shooting randomly in the direction of the camp” due to a dispute with other gunmen.

“We feared that something was planned against the camp,” he said.

Abu Afash said that the PLO has pledged not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, or involve refugee camps in any disputes between the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

“So we contacted the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to stop the clashes. But the fights continued throughout the night and intermittently until the army intervened in the morning and entered the haven Jaafar had formed years ago for his gang and arrested two people. Jaafar remains at large.”

He added: “Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have repeatedly stressed that they do not provide cover for Jaafar, and when they do intervene, he usually lays low for a while. Jaafar was able to make a name for himself in the area and managed to bring in prohibited materials into the camp, including building materials for example, along with drugs.”

The army is believed to have seized stolen items, including motorcycles, during the raid.

Burj Al-Barajneh camp is home to over 35,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as some Syrians and Palestinians who fled from Syria.

Lebanese security forces are combating drug dealers in neighborhoods adjacent to the camp. According to a security source, dealers and distributors encourage people from the site to sell their drugs.

Havens for drug dealers and fugitives are common in various Lebanese regions, especially in Hezbollah areas in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in northern Bekaa, although the party claims to have nothing to do with them.

The problem appears to have worsened in recent months, with drug dealers even threatening the security services.

Lt. Col. Ibrahim Rashid, head of the regional anti-narcotics office in Tripoli, said that statistics showed an increase in the numbers of drug addicts and dealers since 2016.

The problem is placing greater strain on Lebanon’s security and judicial systems, he said.

“Drug users pose a threat to the lives of others, as well as to the security of society in their pursuit of theft, fraud, criminality and aggression,” he added.

Lebanon North investigative judge Samaranda Nassar told a recent seminar on Lebanon’s drug problem that rising rates of addiction are leading to an increase in thefts and murders around the country.

“We are confronting new types of drugs intended for young ages and adolescents, as well as digital drugs that are no less dangerous than traditional drugs in their effect on confusing the human brain,” she said.

“Stricter penalties need to be imposed on drug dealers. I am determined to take appropriate decisions and punish criminals.”


Woman, 90, stages sit-in at Beirut bank to obtain her deposit

Woman, 90, stages sit-in at Beirut bank to obtain her deposit
Updated 29 November 2022

Woman, 90, stages sit-in at Beirut bank to obtain her deposit

Woman, 90, stages sit-in at Beirut bank to obtain her deposit
  • Edro Khider, a disabled woman, was carried by her son to the Bank Audi branch
  • The elderly woman’s son, told Arab News: “My elderly mother and father need the equivalent of $1,000 per month for medicines and medical examinations”

BEIRUT: How ordinary Lebanese are suffering during the country’s financial crisis came under the spotlight on Tuesday when a 90-year-old woman staged a sit-in at a Beirut bank, demanding her deposit that is frozen for three years.
Edro Khider, a disabled woman, was carried by her son to the Bank Audi branch in the Salim Salam neighborhood in Beirut. When the bank’s management refused to release the $20,000 deposit, the woman decided to stage a sit-in inside the bank.
Bank holdups by depositors decreased during the current month, after they intensified during October, and included retired security men, a parliament MP, and businessmen.
Hussein Khider, the elderly woman’s son, told Arab News: “We are in the bank and will not leave until we get the deposit. My elderly mother and father need the equivalent of $1,000 per month for medicines and medical examinations, and we can no longer afford them. We, the four children, can no longer afford this exorbitant amount.”
Khider said his mother has been sick for five years, and during this period “we did not demand the deposit, and we did not sign any agreement with the bank to obtain it according to the decisions that authorize it to be paid in installments, but now we are no longer able to cover the cost of medical treatment.
“My mother saved the amount over the years from the money we gave her. She saved $100-200 each time and put them in the bank for the rainy day. The day has come, and they are not allowing her to get the deposit.”
He said his father, also in his 90s, needed open-heart surgery, and he has a financial deposit in the bank, but the bank refused to release, and now he lives on medicines that prolong his life to a minimum.”
Khider said: “The security forces surround the bank, but they are not interested in what happens inside the bank. The bank’s management informed me that it is ready to release the deposit according to Resolution 158, which means that it will give us $4,000. The bank manager said that he will give us an additional gift of $2,000. We refused; we want the full amount. Is he giving it to me from his pocket? It’s my mother’s money.”
He described the negotiations with the bank’s management as “procrastination, and no one is interested in a solution. There is an incomprehensible indifference.”
Musa Ghazi, the media official of the Depositors Outcry Association, which is following up on the case of Khider and his mother, told Arab News that “more tragic cases will be witnessed by banks in the coming days.”
Bank holdups by depositors came as a result of the failure of the political authority to resolve the issue.
Lebanese banks accuse the political authority of having withdrawn from banks, through the central bank, $62.670 trillion of deposits and wasting money on subsidies, fixing the exchange rate, high interests, electricity, the state’s import needs, and others.
The Association of Banks says that “the public sector has squandered the funds of the private sector. The state and its institutions have squandered the funds of depositors and the capital of bank shareholders.
“The most dangerous thing that the public sector has done is that it has placed the responsibility of solving its problems on the private sector and reached into its savings. Today, the state distances itself and establishes itself as arbiter between depositors and banks.”
Depositors accuse the banks of smuggling their money and the money of politicians abroad, and that the banks and the state are both accused of looting people’s deposits.


Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation
Updated 29 November 2022

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation
  • Nancy Namrouqa lauds EU’s contribution and support to development projects in Jordan

AMMAN: Jordan’s state minister for legal affairs, Nancy Namrouqa, has reaffirmed the significance of continuing and advancing cooperation with the EU in various fields.
After receiving the EU Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou on Tuesday, Namrouqa spoke about the government’s endeavors to conduct the three political, economic, and administrative modernization paths, described by King Abdullah as “state projects.”
The minister lauded the EU’s contribution to and support for development projects in Jordan, reported Jordan’s News Agency.
Hadjitheodosiou expressed her appreciation for the EU-Jordan partnership and praised Amman’s efforts to achieve its three modernization tracks and enhance the investment environment.


Brothers among 5 Palestinians killed in West Bank

Brothers among 5 Palestinians killed in West Bank
Updated 37 min 58 sec ago

Brothers among 5 Palestinians killed in West Bank

Brothers among 5 Palestinians killed in West Bank
  • Jawad Abd Al-Rahman Rimawi, 22,  was shot dead in Kufr Ein, near Ramallah; his brother, Thafer, 21, was shot and critically injured, and later died
  • Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian prime minister, said that the deaths of the two brothers was a “heinous crime”

RAMALLAH: Five Palestinians, including two brothers, were killed and 21 injured in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Mufid Mahmoud Ekhlil, 44, was shot dead in the town of Beit Ummar, northern Hebron.

Nine Palestinians were injured by bullets during the confrontations and taken to nearby hospitals, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The Israel Defense Forces said that “rioters” attacked soldiers with rocks and explosive devices after two IDF vehicles got stuck during an operational patrol near Beit Ummar.

It added: “The rioters also shot at the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.”

Jawad Abd Al-Rahman Rimawi, 22,  was shot dead in Kufr Ein, near Ramallah. His brother, Thafer, 21, was shot and critically injured, and later died.

Rami Abu Ali, 45, from Betunia, west of Ramallah, was killed following a car accident involving a 20-year-old Israeli soldier, who was wounded.

Raed Na’asan, another Palestinian, was killed by Israeli fire when the troops stormed his Al-Mughair village in north-eastern Ramallah.

The latest bloodshed took place amid a mounting surge of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the wake of a Jerusalem bombing last week that killed two Israelis.

A general strike in Ramallah and some surrounding towns was called to mourn the deaths of the two brothers.

Ghassan Al-Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst and vice president of Birzeit University, told Arab News that there is a clear indication of an Israeli policy of escalation.

He added that he believes the soldiers’ incursions into Palestinian cities and villages will increase in the light of the ultra right-wing Israeli government being formed under Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and including Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

He said: “We are facing a revolt and an escalation of violence because a popular Palestinian reaction will meet every attack of the Israeli army.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian presidential spokesperson, said the Israeli government “bears full responsibility for these crimes and must be held accountable for them,” noting that successive right-wing governments have declared daily war on the Palestinian people.

He added: “The American administration also bears a great responsibility for the occupation and authorities’ continuous crimes against our people, as it is the only sponsor of the occupying state in the world, in arms and financing and at international forums.

Abu Rudeineh said the US administration needed to take action to deter Israel from carrying out crimes that destabilized the region.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian prime minister, said that the deaths of the two brothers was a “heinous crime.”

He added: “With the continued declaration of war on our people, and the new Israeli government, we call on the world’s countries to intervene urgently to stop the Israeli killing machine and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Hundreds of Palestinians attended the funerals of the victims in Ramallah and Hebron, and chanted slogans condemning the crimes of the Israeli occupation, and calling for their cessation.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, from the Palestine Liberation Organization, tweeted that the deaths of the brothers was an “awful crime committed by the occupation forces.” He added that execution in cold blood is “fascist behavior.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said: “The Israeli occupation is trying desperately to stop the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, through killings and assassinations, but this blood will be fuel for our people’s revolution and continuous uprising.”

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, outgoing Israeli defense minister, said he had approved the construction of 10,000 units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that settlements, especially in the Jordan Valley, must be strengthened.

In addition, Yair Lapid, the outgoing Israeli prime minister, has sent more than 50 world leaders a letter calling on them to exert their influence on the Palestinian Authority to prevent the General Assembly vote on an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This resolution is the outcome of a concerted effort to single out Israel, to discredit our legitimate security concerns, and to delegitimize our very existence,” Lapid said in the letter.