Lebanon fails for 10th time to elect president

Update Lebanon fails for 10th time to elect president
Lebanon's parliament met to elect a new president, with no consensus on a successor to outgoing head of state Michel Aoun despite an unprecedented financial crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 15 December 2022
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Lebanon fails for 10th time to elect president

Lebanon fails for 10th time to elect president

BEIRUT: Lebanese parliament has failed for the 10th time to elect a president on Thursday, prolonging an institutional void amid a deep economic crisis.

This week’s vote was reflected the previous session to elect a president, with many MPs spoiling their ballots, including one who cast a vote for “Nelson Mandela.”

Last week, Hezbollah opponent Michel Moawad won the support of 39 MPs, but fell well short of the required majority.


Israel orders mass evacuations as it widens offensive; Palestinians are running out of places to go

Israel orders mass evacuations as it widens offensive; Palestinians are running out of places to go
Updated 04 December 2023
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Israel orders mass evacuations as it widens offensive; Palestinians are running out of places to go

Israel orders mass evacuations as it widens offensive; Palestinians are running out of places to go
  • The ground offensive has transformed much of the north, including large parts of Gaza City, into a rubble-filled wasteland

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: The Israeli military on Monday renewed its calls for mass evacuations from the southern town of Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in recent weeks, as it widened its ground offensive and bombarded targets across the Gaza Strip.
The expanded offensive, following the collapse of a weeklong cease-fire, is aimed at eliminating Gaza's Hamas rulers, whose Oct. 7 attack into Israel triggered the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades. The war has already killed thousands of Palestinians and displaced over three-fourths of the territory's population of 2.3 million Palestinians, who are running out of safe places to go.
Already under mounting pressure from its top ally, the United States, Israel appears to be racing to strike a death blow against Hamas — if that’s even possible, given the group’s deep roots in Palestinian society — before another cease-fire. But the mounting toll of the fighting, which Palestinian health officials say has killed several hundred civilians since the truce ended on Friday, further increases pressure to return to the negotiating table.
It could also render even larger parts of the isolated territory uninhabitable.
The ground offensive has transformed much of the north, including large parts of Gaza City, into a rubble-filled wasteland. Hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in the south, which could meet the same fate, and both Israel and neighboring Egypt have refused to accept any refugees.
Residents said they heard airstrikes and explosions in and around Khan Younis overnight and into Monday after the military dropped leaflets warning people to relocate further south toward the border with Egypt. In an Arabic language post on social media early Monday, the military again ordered the evacuation of nearly two dozen neighborhoods in and around Khan Younis.
Halima Abdel-Rahman, a widow and mother of four, said she's stopped heeding such orders. She fled her home in October to an area outside Khan Younis, where she stays with relatives.
“The (Israeli) occupation tells you to go to this area, then they bomb it,” she said by phone on Sunday. “The reality is that no place is safe in Gaza. They kill people in the north. They kill people in the south.”
RISING TOLL
The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll in the territory since Oct. 7 has surpassed 15,500, with more than 41,000 wounded. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70% of the dead were women and children.
A Health Ministry spokesman asserted that hundreds had been killed or wounded since the cease-fire ended early Friday. “The majority of victims are still under the rubble,” Ashraf al-Qidra said.
The Palestinian Civil Defense department said an Israeli strike early Monday killed three of its rescuers in Gaza City. The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said one of its volunteers was killed and an employee was wounded in a strike on a home in the urban Jabalia refugee camp, also in the north.
An Associated Press reporter in the central town of Deir al-Balah heard shooting and the sound of tanks south of the line across which Palestinians from the north were told for weeks to evacuate, but there was no immediate visual confirmation. The military rarely comments on troop deployments.
Hopes for another temporary truce faded after Israel called its negotiators home over the weekend. Hamas said talks on releasing more of the scores of hostages seized by Palestinian militants on Oct. 7 must be tied to a permanent cease-fire.
The earlier truce facilitated the release of 105 of the roughly 240 Israeli and foreign hostages taken to Gaza during the Oct. 7 attack, and the release of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Most of those released by both sides were women and children.
The United States, along with Qatar and Egypt, which mediated the earlier cease-fire, say they are working on a longer truce.
In the meantime, the U.S. is pressing Israel to avoid more mass displacement and the killing of civilians, a message underscored by Vice President Kamala Harris during a visit to the region. She also said the U.S. would not allow the forced relocation of Palestinians out of Gaza or the occupied West Bank, or the redrawing of Gaza's borders.
But it’s unclear how far the Biden administration is willing or able to go in pressing Israel to rein in the offensive, even as the White House faces growing pressure from its allies in Congress.
The U.S. has pledged unwavering support to Israel since the Oct. 7 attack, which killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, including rushing munitions and other aid to Israel.
Israel has rejected U.S. suggestions that control over postwar Gaza be handed over to the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority ahead of renewed efforts to resolve the conflict by establishing a Palestinian state.
GAZA'S MISERY DEEPENS
Palestinians who used last week's respite to stock up on food and other basics, and to try and bury their dead, are once again struggling to escape Israel's aerial bombardment.
Outside a Gaza City hospital on Sunday, a dust-covered boy named Saaed Shehta dropped to his knees and kissed the bloodied body of his little brother Mohammad, one of several bodies laid out after people said their street was hit by airstrikes.
“You bury me with him!” the boy cried. A health worker at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital said more than 15 children were killed.
Israel's military said its fighter jets and helicopters struck targets in Gaza, including “tunnel shafts, command centers and weapons storage facilities." It acknowledged "extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area."
The bodies of 31 people killed in the bombardment of central Gaza were taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Hospital in Deir al-Balah on Sunday, said Omar al-Darawi, a hospital administrative employee. Later, hospital workers reported 11 more dead after another airstrike.
Israel says it does not target civilians and has taken measures to protect them, including its evacuation orders. In addition to leaflets, the military has used phone calls and radio and TV broadcasts to urge people to move from specific areas.
Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says at least 81 of its soldiers have been killed.


Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shakes northwest Turkey

Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shakes northwest Turkey
Updated 04 December 2023
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Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shakes northwest Turkey

Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shakes northwest Turkey
  • No immediate injuries or damages were reported so far

ANKARA: A moderately strong earthquake struck northwest Turkey on Monday, sending people out into the streets in fear. There was no immediate report of injuries or damage.
The magnitude 5.1 earthquake was centered in the Sea of Marmara, off the town of Gemlik in Bursa province, according to the disaster management agency, AFAD. It struck at 10:42 a.m. local time (07:42 GMT), at a depth of some 9 kilometers (5.6 miles)
HaberTurk television said it was felt in Istanbul and other nearby regions where people left homes and offices in fear.
In February, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated 11 southern and southeastern Turkish provinces as well as part of northern Syria. More than 50,000 people were killed in Turkey.


Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV

Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV
Updated 04 December 2023
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Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV

Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV
  • More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry

JERUSALEM: Israel will hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.
It was unclear when Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar made the remarks or to whom.
The agency itself declined to comment on the report.
“The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkiye, in Qatar. It will take a few years but we will be there to do it.”
By Munich, Bar was referring to Israel’s response to the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli Olympic team members when gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group launched an attack on the Munich games.
Israel responded by carrying out a targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organizers over several years and in several countries.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after its gunmen on Oct. 7 burst through the border with Gaza, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostage.
More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Other than in Gaza, Hamas leaders reside in or frequently visit Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar. Qatar helped to mediate a week-long truce that broke down on Friday.
Over the years, various countries have offered some protection for Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States.
In 1997, Israeli Mossad agents botched the poisoning of then-Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan. Israel had to give Jordan an antidote to save Meshaal’s life. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister at the time.

 


US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack

US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack
Updated 04 December 2023
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US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack

US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack
  • Iraqi armed groups have claimed more than 70 such attacks against US forces since Oct. 17 over Washington’s backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza
  • The United States has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq on a mission it says aims to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Daesh, which in 2014 seized large swaths of both countries before being defeated

BAGHDAD: A US air strike killed five Iraqi militants near the northern city of Kirkuk as they prepared to launch explosive projectiles at US forces in the country, three Iraqi security sources said, identifying them as members of an Iran-backed militia.
A US military official confirmed a “self-defense strike on an imminent threat” that targeted a drone staging site near Kirkuk on Sunday afternoon.
A statement by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group representing several Iraqi armed factions with close ties to Tehran, said five of its members had been killed, and vowed retaliation against US forces.
The group had claimed several attacks against US forces throughout Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, the US military official said US and international forces were attacked with multiple rockets at the Rumalyn Landing Zone in northeastern Syria, but there were no casualties or damage to infrastructure.
Iraqi armed groups have claimed more than 70 such attacks against US forces since Oct. 17 over Washington’s backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza.
The attacks paused during the recent Israel-Hamas cease-fire but have since resumed.
The US in November launched two series of strikes in Iraq against what it said were Iran-aligned armed groups who had engaged in attacks against their forces.
Those strikes killed at least 10 militants who were identified both as members of shadowy militia Kataeb Hezbollah and of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, an official security institution composed mainly of Shiite Muslim armed groups.
Iraq’s government condemned those strikes as escalatory and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The United States has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq on a mission it says aims to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Daesh, which in 2014 seized large swaths of both countries before being defeated.

 

 


Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids

Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids
Updated 04 December 2023
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Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids

Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids
  • Six-story building in Jabalia refugee camp hit
  • UN rights chief: Civilian suffering ‘too much to bear’

JEDDAH: Pope Francis said Sunday that he was saddened the truce in the Gaza Strip had been broken and urged those involved in the conflict to reach a new ceasefire deal as soon as possible.

The pope’s appeal came as international concern deepened over the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza after a truce ended.
Israeli forces bombed wide areas of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, as civilians in the besieged territory sought shelter in an ever-shrinking area of the south.
“There is so much suffering in Gaza,” the pontiff said in comments from his private residence, which were read by an aide and broadcast on giant screens in Saint Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis said the end of the ceasefire meant “death, destruction, misery,” stressing that the besieged Palestinian territory lacked even essential supplies.
He said the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was “serious.”
“Many hostages have been freed but so many others are still in Gaza,” he said.
More than 15,500 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory in more than eight weeks of combat and heavy bombardment, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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Israeli air and artillery strikes hit Gaza’s northern frontier with Israel, throwing thick clouds of smoke and dust into the sky.
The Israeli army reported 17 rocket salvos from Gaza into Israel on Sunday, adding that most were intercepted.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said at least 160 Palestinian deaths were reported in two incidents in northern Gaza Saturday: the bombing of a six-story building in Jabalia refugee camp, and of an entire block in Gaza City.
OCHA said around 1.8 million people in Gaza, roughly 75 percent of the population, had been displaced, many to overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.
Juliette Toma, director of communications at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said nearly 958,000 displaced people were in 99 UN facilities in the southern Gaza Strip.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk urged an end to the war, saying civilian suffering was “too much to bear.”
Hopes for another temporary truce in Gaza were fading as the US intensified calls for the protection of civilians.
“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at UN climate talks in Dubai.
She and Jordan’s King Abdullah discussed the Gaza crisis on the sidelines of COP28. The king stressed the need for the US to play a leading role in pushing for a political horizon for the Palestinian issue to reach peace on the basis of the two-state solution.
Israel ordered more evacuations in and around Khan Younis as the military’s offensive shifted to the southern half of the territory.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they were running out of places to go in the sealed-off territory.

Gaza residents said they feared an Israeli ground offensive on the southern areas was imminent.
 Tanks had cut off the road between Khan Younis and Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, effectively dividing the Gaza Strip into three areas, they said.
Fighting also flared on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
The Israeli army said it had launched artillery strikes in response to cross-border fire.