Israel to seal off Palestinian territories for Jewish holidays

Palestinian, Israeli and international activists take part in a demonstration against settlements, near the village of al-Tweine, south of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank on September 17, 2022. (AFP)
Palestinian, Israeli and international activists take part in a demonstration against settlements, near the village of al-Tweine, south of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank on September 17, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2022

Israel to seal off Palestinian territories for Jewish holidays

Israel to seal off Palestinian territories for Jewish holidays
  • Dozens of Palestinians, including members of armed groups, have been killed

JERUSALEM: Israel will seal off the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of three Jewish holidays marking nearly a month of religious commemorations, the military said on Tuesday.
Palestinians will not be allowed to leave the West Bank or Gaza Strip to enter Israel during the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, later this month, as well as the Yom Kippur and Sukkot holidays in October.
“During the closure, passage will be allowed only in humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” said the army, which regularly imposes these measures during the holidays.
The closures come against a backdrop of soaring tensions after a series of deadly attacks on Israelis since March.
Since then, the Israeli army has stepped up raids in the West Bank, notably in the regions of Nablus and Jenin where Palestinian armed groups are active.
The operations, which according to the army are aimed at arresting people suspected of “terrorism,” are frequently punctuated by clashes with fighters or residents.
Dozens of Palestinians, including members of armed groups, have been killed.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian was killed in clashes in the city of Nablus in a rare operation by Palestinian Authority security forces to arrest members of the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s secular Fatah has been at loggerheads with Hamas since 2007, when the Islamist movement took control of Gaza after a near civil war.
Since then, reconciliation efforts have failed.
In a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke of “the need for calming the situation on the ground and halting terrorism ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays,” Lapid’s office said.
During their meeting, Lapid said “Israel will not stand idly by and will fight terrorism directed against it in all its forms, and will not allow harm to the security of its citizens,” the statement added.

 


British military forces in Kuwait for Desert Warrior 7 drills

British military forces in Kuwait for Desert Warrior 7 drills
Updated 11 sec ago

British military forces in Kuwait for Desert Warrior 7 drills

British military forces in Kuwait for Desert Warrior 7 drills
  • Joint exercise serves to ‘increase bilateral cooperation’ Kuwait Defense Ministry says

KUWAIT: British military forces have arrived in Kuwait to participate in Desert Warrior 7 — a military exercise that will be carried out in partnership with the Kuwait Land Force between Feb. 5 and Feb. 23.
The Kuwait News Agency reported on Saturday that a statement from Kuwait’s Ministry of Defense said that the joint drill “serves to increase bilateral cooperation and unify military concepts and joint training.”


Israeli army besieges homes of fugitives in West Bank raid

Israeli army besieges homes of fugitives in West Bank raid
Updated 04 February 2023

Israeli army besieges homes of fugitives in West Bank raid

Israeli army besieges homes of fugitives in West Bank raid
  • The army said it entered the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp southwest of Jericho in the occupied West Bank to search for suspects involved in a shooting attack last week
  • Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it the deadliest in those areas since 2004

AQABAT JABR REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank: The Israeli army raided a refugee camp near the Palestinian city of Jericho on Saturday, besieging houses it said were being used as hideouts for Palestinian attackers and shooting at residents who opened fire. The fighting wounded six Palestinians, two seriously, said the Palestinian Health Ministry, and jolted a generally quiet oasis town that has seen less violence than other West Bank cities.
The army said it entered the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp southwest of Jericho in the occupied West Bank to search for suspects involved in a shooting attack last week at a nearby Israeli settlement.
Last Saturday, with the West Bank on edge after the deadliest Israeli military raid in two decades and two subsequent Palestinian attacks in east Jerusalem that killed seven people, the army said a Palestinian gunman had opened fire in a restaurant at a settlement near Jericho. After firing one bullet, the gunman fled the scene, the army said. No one was wounded.
The army said several Palestinians had holed up in their homes after the shooting with the help of family and were planning future attacks.
To force the fugitives to surrender, a military bulldozer clawed at the walls of one of the homes as an Israeli commander shouted threats over a loudspeaker. Camp residents reported receiving text messages urging families to keep their children inside and avoid clashing with Israeli troops.
The suspects and family members trickled out of one of the homes and turned themselves in, the military said. Security forces had leveled much of the house, leaving a pile of rubble and twisted metal. Palestinian protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at military jeeps as they rumbled down the camp streets, while some gunmen opened fire. The Israeli military fired back, wounding six, none critically, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The incursion comes as violence rises in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank under Israel’s new far-right government, which has taken a combative stance against the Palestinians. Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.
The Israeli army has ramped up near-nightly raids in the occupied West Bank since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks within Israel last spring. Over the last year and a half of escalating raids, Jericho has remained a sort of sleepy desert town, spared much of the violence.
Since last week’s shooting at the nearby settlement, the Israeli military has blocked access to several roads into Jericho — a closure that has placed the city under a semi-blockade, disrupting business and creating hourslong bottlenecks at checkpoints that affected even Palestinian security forces, footage showed.
The Palestinian Authority, in retaliation for last week’s raid into the Jenin refugee camp that killed 10 Palestinians, declared a halt to security coordination with Israel.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it the deadliest in those areas since 2004, according to figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Some 30 people were killed in Israel by Palestinians in 2022.
The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.


Yemeni minister condemns Iran’s escalated arms smuggling to Houthis

Yemeni minister condemns Iran’s escalated arms smuggling to Houthis
Updated 04 February 2023

Yemeni minister condemns Iran’s escalated arms smuggling to Houthis

Yemeni minister condemns Iran’s escalated arms smuggling to Houthis
  • Minister pointed to recent international crackdown on Iranian shipments of weapons heading to Yemen

DUBAI: Iran has escalated its arms smuggling operations to the Houthi militia since the United Nations-backed truce ended last October, said Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture, and tourism.

The minister pointed to a recent operation, jointly carried out by US and French forces, that intercepted an Iranian shipment of weapons heading to Yemen through the Gulf of Oman.  

Reports earlier said the vessel carried 3,000 assault rifles, 20 anti-tank missiles, and around 500,000 rounds of ammunition en route to the Houthi militia.

In a statement, the US said the operation was one of four major interdictions over the last two months that prevented over 5,000 weapons and 1.6 million rounds of ammunition from reaching Yemen.

Al-Eryani said the Yemeni security forces’ seizure of 100 drone engines, headed to the Houthis via Shahn land port in the 5th such violation in two months, has demonstrated Iran’s role in undermining the international community’s efforts to end the war and bring peace to Yemen.

He added that it confirms Iran’s full empowerment of a militia that “doesn’t have power to decide on war and peace.”

Al-Eryani accused Iran’s regime of committing such violations to “export its internal crises” and “cover up atrocities against the Iranian people.”

The regime, he said, wanted to “mobilize its sectarian militias to create chaos, terrorism, destabilize security and stability, and threaten energy security and international shipping lanes.”

The minister called on the international community and UN members to confront Iran’s illegal practices that undermine regional and international stability.


UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official
Updated 04 February 2023

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official

UN ‘unable’ to resolve conflicts, Jordanian official
  • Global organization needs to play a more “effective” role in ending regional disputes, said senate speaker Faisal Fayez

AMMAN: Jordan’s Senate Speaker Faisal Fayez has said that the UN is still “unable” to play its role in ending conflicts and crises, especially ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

On Friday, Jordan’s News Agency reported that Fayez’s statement came during a student workshop on the role of the UN and the goals on which it was founded.

He said the UN has been unable to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and had not been able to take any decision regarding the crimes and massacres committed by the Israeli authorities daily against Palestinians.

“The UN is unable to end the conflicts and political crises in Syria, Yemen and Libya,” Fayez added.

The organization needed to play a more “effective” role in ending regional conflicts and enabling its people to live freely and safely, he said.


Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage
Updated 04 February 2023

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage

Images of emaciated Iranian prisoner on hunger strike prompt outrage
  • Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody, one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution

TEHRAN: Social media images purported to be of an emaciated jailed Iranian dissident on hunger strike have caused outrage online as supporters warned on Friday he risks death for protesting the compulsory wearing of the hijab.
Farhad Meysami, 53, who has been in jail since 2018 for supporting women activists protesting against Iran’s headscarf policy, began his hunger strike on Oct. 7 to protest recent government killings of demonstrators, the dissident’s lawyer said.
The images of Meysami went viral on social media on the same day Iran released award-winning director Jafar Panahi on bail after seven months in jail. Panahi said the images of Meysami reminded him of survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Iran’s judiciary denied the hunger strike claim and said the photos were from four years ago when Meysami, a physician, did go on hunger strike.
As evidence, the semi-official YJC news agency posted what it said was Meysami’s latest photo, in which he does not look emaciated and is sitting on the floor of his prison cell with a bag of what looks like chips next to him.
Reuters was unable to confirm when the pictures were taken.
Iranian authorities released Panahi on bail after he started a hunger strike this week to demand to be freed pending a retrial, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, citing the Directors Guild of Iran.
There was no official word from Iran’s judiciary on the release, but videos on social media purportedly showed Panahi speaking to well-wishers outside Evin prison.
“The images of Farhad Meysami... remind one of the people in Auschwitz or of (Mahatma) Gandhi, since Meysami has written about non violence,” Panahi said. “Many are left behind bars... so how can I say I feel happy?“
Iranian authorities detained Panahi in July to serve a six-year sentence which a court originally ordered in 2010 for “propaganda against the system.” In October, the ruling was quashed by Iran’s supreme court which ordered a retrial.
Iran has been rocked by nationwide unrest following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 in police custody, one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Morality police arrested Amini for flouting the hijab policy, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarves. Women have played a prominent role in the protests, with many waving or burning their headscarves.
Rights groups say more than 500 protesters have been killed and nearly 20,000 arrested. At least four people have been hanged, according to the Iranian judiciary.
“My client Farhad Meysami’s life is in danger,” tweeted lawyer Mohammad Moghimi. “He went on hunger strike to protest the recent government killings in the streets.” He said Meysami had lost 52 kg (115 lb).
Images show Meysami curled up on what looks like a hospital bed, and another standing, his ribs protruding.
“Shocking images of Dr. Farhad Meysami, a brave advocate for women’s rights who has been on hunger strike in prison,” tweeted Robert Malley, Washington’s special envoy for Iran.
“Iran’s regime has unjustly denied him and thousands of other political prisoners their rights and their freedom. Now it unjustly threatens his life,” he said.
Amnesty International said: “These images (of Meysami) are a shocking reminder of the Iranian authorities’ contempt for human rights.”
In a letter published by BBC’s Persian Service on Thursday, Meysami made three demands: an end to executions, the release of political-civil prisoners and an end to “forced-hijab harassment”.
“I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it may become possible later on with a collective effort,” he wrote.