Rains wreak havoc on Gaza Strip

Special Rains wreak havoc on Gaza Strip
Heavy rainfall has led to severe flooding in Gaza. (Social Media)
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Updated 08 November 2022

Rains wreak havoc on Gaza Strip

Rains wreak havoc on Gaza Strip
  • Numerous videos and photos shared on social media showed flooding in Al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City
  • The Gaza Strip has suffered from worn-out infrastructure for years, with authorities blaming the situation on successive Israeli sieges and bombardments

GAZA CITY: As the first winter showers lash the Gaza Strip, many streets have flooded, bringing vehicular traffic and the movement of people to a complete halt.

Numerous videos and photos shared on social media showed flooding in Al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, and cars almost completely submerged in water.

Citizens expressed anger over the inability of local authorities to deal with the rainfall.

“This is our situation with the first rain falling on Gaza,” a teacher at a school affiliated with UNRWA said in a video circulated on social media, showing the flooded schoolyard that left students unable to leave their classrooms.

The students appeared in the video as they looked through the windows of their classrooms.

The Gaza Strip has suffered from worn-out infrastructure for years. Authorities blame the situation on successive Israeli sieges and bombardments during various rounds of escalation, in addition to a lack of funding.

Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007, Israel has imposed a severe economic blockade, which has affected various aspects of life in the area. The enclave has since suffered four wars and multiple rounds of escalation.

Yahya Al-Sarraj, mayor of Gaza City, said: “The infrastructure in Gaza is old and dilapidated. The siege and wars on Gaza are exacerbating the consequences and effects of storms. We are working hard to fix what can be fixed with our limited capabilities.”




Heavy rainfall has led to severe flooding in Gaza. (Social Media)

Marwan Al-Ghoul, a member of the Gaza City Municipal Council, announced on Facebook his resignation in response to events during the rainfall.

Palestinians complained about the handling of infrastructure by the municipality and expressed their frustration over the disproportionate impact of the small storm.

Bakr Abu Ryala, 44, who had to remove rainwater from his home in Al-Shati refugee camp, told Arab News: “Every year we face the same problem, and every year the municipality promises us that it will work to change this reality, but no one cares.”

He added: “It rained for about an hour, and while we were in our house, the water came in. How will it be with the coming days of winter?”

Ahmed Al-Naqah, a spokesman for Gaza civil defense, said: “Our crews are working to pump the water out of some houses and buildings in various areas, and the work is concentrated in Al-Shati refugee camp.”

Hiba Mahmoud, 35, told Arab News: “I used to love the winter season when my family would gather indoors and share food and have fun, but all of this is gone. We are busy now covering the house in plastic and cursing the winter and the rain.”




Heavy rainfall has led to severe flooding in Gaza. (Social Media)

While the municipality attributes the problem to a lack of resources, Gaza residents are sceptical of the reasoning behind their suffering.

Mazen Al-Najjar, mayor of Jabalia city, told Al-Aqsa radio: “The municipality’s crews are working to address the problems that have arisen with the rainfall to prevent their recurrence in the coming days.”

The Gaza Strip also suffers from a lack of reliable electricity. People receive just 40 percent of required power during the day as a result of the city power plant’s inability to operate at full capacity due to a lack of fuel.

“With the advent of each winter, infrastructure problems begin to appear, including rainwater flooding and massive power cuts. We are currently getting six hours of electricity daily,” Jameel Daban, 29, told Arab News while standing outside his grocery shop in Gaza City.


Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister
Updated 9 sec ago

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister

Iran escalated arms smuggling to Houthis since truce end, Yemeni minister
  • Minister pointed to recent international operation that intercepted Iranian shipment of weapons heading to Houthi militia

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.

 


Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi
Updated 04 February 2023

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi

Iranian protests are ‘beginning of the end for regime in Tehran’, says Nobel laureate Ebadi
  • Exiled Nobel-winning former judge speaks out
  • Revolution is a ‘train that will not stop,’ she says

JEDDAH: Protests in Iran over the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman are the start of an irreversible “revolutionary process” that will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime, one of Tehran’s most eloquent critics said on Friday.

Shirin Ebadi, the distinguished Iranian lawyer and former judge who lives in exile in London, said the protests were the boldest challenge yet to the legitimacy of Iran’s clerical establishment.

“This revolutionary process is like a train that will not stop until it reaches its final destination,” said Ebadi, 75, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work defending human rights.

“The protests have taken a different shape, but they have not ended,” she told Reuters in a phone interview from London.

Iran’s clerical rulers have faced widespread unrest since Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police on Sept. 16 last year after she was arrested for wearing “inappropriate attire.”

This image grab from a UGC video posted on Feb. 3, 2023, reportedly shows protesters demanding the release of political prisoners during a march in Iran's southeastern city of Zahedan. (AFP)

Iran has blamed Amini's death on existing medical problems and has accused its enemies of fomenting the unrest to destabilise the regime.

For months, Iranians from all walks of life have called for the fall of the clerical establishment, chanting slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Amini’s death has unbottled years of anger among many Iranians over issues ranging from economic misery and discrimination against ethnic minorities to tightening social and political restrictions.

As they have done in the past in the face of protests in the past four decades, Iran’s hard-line rulers have cracked down hard. Authorities have handed down dozens of death sentences to people involved in protests and have carried out at least four hangings, in what rights activists say is a crackdown aimed at intimidating people and keep them off the streets.

BACKGROUND

The crackdown has stoked diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are at a standstill.

The rights group HRANA said 527 protesters had been killed during unrest, of whom 71 were children, and nearly 20,000 protesters had been arrested.

However, protests have slowed considerably since the hangings began. Videos posted on social mediashowed people chanting “Death to Khamenei” from rooftops in some cities, but nothing on the scale of past months.

Ebadi said the state’s use of deadly violence would deepen anger felt by ordinary Iranians about the clerical establishment because the their grievances remain unaddressed. “The protests have taken a different shape, but they have not ended,” she said.

The crackdown has stoked diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are at a standstill.

To force the regime from power, Ebadi said the West should take “practical steps” such as recalling their ambassadors from Tehran, and should avoid reaching any agreement with Iran, including the nuclear deal. 

With deepening economic misery, chiefly because of US sanctions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear work, many Iranians are feeling the pain of galloping inflation and rising joblessness.

Inflation has soared to over 50 percent, the highest level in decades. Youth unemployment remains high with over 50 percent of Iranians being pushed below the poverty line, according to reports by Iran’s Statistics Center.

(With Reuters)


Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone
Updated 04 February 2023

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone

Satellite photos: Damage at Iran military site hit by drone
  • Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed shooting down two other drones before they reached the site

TEHRAN: Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press on Friday showed damage done to what Iran describes as a military workshop targeted by Israeli drones, the latest such assault amid a shadow war between the two countries.
While Iran has offered no explanation yet of what the workshop manufactured, the drone attack threatened to again raise tensions in the region. Already, worries have grown over Tehran enriching uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, with a top UN nuclear official warning the regime had enough fuel to build “several” atomic bombs if it chooses.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose earlier tenure as premier saw escalating attacks targeting Iran, has returned to office and reiterated that he views Tehran as his country’s top security threat. With State Department spokesperson Ned Price now declaring Iran has “killed” the opportunity to return to its nuclear deal with world powers, it remains unclear what diplomacy immediately could ease tensions between Tehran and the West.
Cloudy weather had prevented satellite pictures of the site of the workshop since it came under attack by what Iran described as bomb-carrying quadcopters on the night of Jan. 28. Quadcopters, which get their name from having four rotors, typically operate from short ranges by remote control.
Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed shooting down two other drones before they reached the site.
Images taken on Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed the workshop in Isfahan, a central Iranian city some 350 km south of Tehran.
An AP analysis of the image, compared to earlier images of the workshop, showed damage to the structure’s roof. That damage corresponded to footage aired by Iranian state television immediately after the attack that showed at least two holes in the building’s roof.
The Iranian state TV footage, as well as satellite photos, suggest the building’s roof also may have been built with so-called “slat armor.”
The structure resembles a cage built around roofs or armored vehicles to stop direct detonation from rockets, missiles or bomb-carrying drones against a target.
Installation of such protection at the workshop suggests Iran believed it could be a drone target.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in July claimed to have broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan.
A segment aired on Iranian state TV in October included purported confessions by alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and now lives in Iraq, that they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
It remains unclear whether the military workshop targeted in the drone attack was that aerospace facility.
Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the satellite images and other questions about the workshop.
The attack comes Iran’s theocratic government faces challenges both at home and abroad.
Nationwide protests have shaken the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman detained by the country’s morality police.
Its rial currency has plummeted to new lows against the US dollar.
Israel is suspected of launching a series of attacks on Iran, including an April 2021 assault on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges.
In 2020, Iran blamed Israel for a sophisticated attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist.
Israel has not commented on this drone attack.
However, Israeli officials rarely acknowledge operations carried out by the country’s secret military units or the Mossad.
A letter published Thursday by Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, said that “early investigations suggest that the Israeli regime was responsible for this attempted act of aggression.”
The letter, however, did not elaborate on what evidence supported Iran’s suspicion.