‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed
This picture taken on January 25, 2023 from the Shuafat camp for Palestinian refugees shows a view of the settlement of Pisgat Zeev and the Palestinian village of Hizma in the northern part of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, and the Palestinian area of Al-Ram in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Updated 25 January 2023

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed
  • Poll shows continued decline in support for two-state solution among Palestinians and Israelis
  • Under Israel’s One Million Settlers plan, approval will be given to thousands of settlements put on hold during the past two-and-a-half years

RAMALLAH: The Israeli government is planning unprecedented settlement activities in the West Bank, including the building of 18,000 housing units in the coming months, an Israeli newspaper revealed on Wednesday.
The move, which is seen as a serious threat to the Palestinians, was described by the Israeli newspaper Israel Today as a “revolution in Israeli politics in the West Bank” and a “mini-annexation.”
Under Israel’s One Million Settlers plan, approval will be given to thousands of settlements put on hold during the past two-and-a-half years.
The project also envisages the construction of 18,000 units in the coming months, along with the transfer of hundreds of thousands of settlers to the West Bank, and the registration of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in official Israeli government data.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the new Israeli government is engaged in a frantic race against time to impose new realities on the ground, which will leave talk of a two-state solution “unrealistic and irrational.”
It also undermines any opportunity for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and permanently closes the door on any international and regional efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully, the ministry added.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, met settler leaders and told them of a campaign for the demolition of Palestinian homes and facilities in all areas classified as C under plans announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The newspaper said that the new government will work to legitimize settlement outposts, including Avitar and Homesh, near Nablus, by amending the “separation/withdrawal” law and linking the sites to basic infrastructure.
The Israeli Civil Administration’s powers will be transferred from the Ministry of Defense to another ministry, facilitating settlement construction plans and paving new settlement roads.
The newspaper compared the plan to “a coming storm,” adding that it comes as responsibilities are organized between Gallant and Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich.
Meanwhile, Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal condemned the Israeli Knesset’s extension of emergency regulations that impose Israeli laws on settlements in the occupied West Bank, known as the “apartheid” law, for an additional five years.
Nazzal said the unilateral step directly threatened Palestinian rights. “The Israeli government’s approach of expanding the base of racist anti-democratic legislation threatens the rights of the Palestinian people in the territories occupied by Israel.
“Israel seeks to exploit the apartheid law to imprison Palestinians from the occupied territories inside Israel. This constitutes a violation of international law, which prohibits the occupying state from imprisoning residents.”
Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that the current Israeli government poses a greater threat to Palestinians than previous leaderships, especially in Area C and East Jerusalem.
“The issue of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem will negatively affect Israel’s relations with the Arab countries. Expanding settlements in Area C will negatively affect Israel’s ties with both the EU and the US, which wants to keep the possibility of a two-state solution alive, while Israeli settlement activities endanger it,” Al-Khatib said.
In another development, a joint Palestinian-Israeli survey showed a continued decline in support for the two-state solution among both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Palestinian-Israeli Pulse opinion poll was carried out in December 2022 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah and the International Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University.
It shows that support for the two-state solution dropped significantly from 43 percent in September 2020 to 33 percent among Palestinians and 34 percent among Jewish Israelis.
Two-thirds of Palestinians and 53 percent of Israeli Jews oppose this solution. Support remains unchanged among Arab Israelis, standing at 60 percent with 21 percent opposed, although this percentage is much lower than it was before 2020.
Support for the two-state solution now stands among all Israelis, Arabs, and Jews at 39 percent. These approval ratings among Palestinians, Israeli Jews and all Israelis are the lowest since the launch of the survey in June 2016 and the lowest since the start of the Oslo peace process in the early 1990s.
The respondents examined the idea of a confederation between two states, Israel and Palestine. They laid out its main details in five components, including freedom of movement, nationality and residence for refugees and settlers, Jerusalem, and the formation of joint authorities for civil affairs.
The results indicate an almost identical level of support among Palestinians and Israeli Jews for this idea, 21 percent and 22 percent respectively. The percentage for this among Arab Israelis is 59. Gazans were found more supportive of this than Palestinians in the West Bank.
The survey indicated that the one-state solution with equal rights receives the support of 20 percent of Israeli Jews, 44 percent of Arab Israelis, and 23 percent of Palestinians.
The one-state solution in which Israel controls and the Palestinians do not enjoy equal rights has the support of 37 percent of Israeli Jews.
On the other hand, a solution in which Palestine controls but the Jewish side does not enjoy equal rights would have the support of 30 percent of Palestinians and 20 percent of Arab Israelis.
The vast majority of Israeli Jews (84 percent) and 61 percent of Palestinians believe they do not have a partner for peace on the other side. Consequently, the two sides believe there is no chance of a peace agreement. Also, the results indicate that only 17 percent of the Palestinians believe that most Israelis want peace.
The poll shows that only 12 percent of Israeli Jews believe that most Palestinians want peace, compared with 33 percent in mid-2017, 35 percent in mid-2018, and 19 percent in 2020.
The largest percentage of both sides — 52 percent among Israeli Jews and 44 percent among Palestinians — believe the other side wants to wage a decisive war or resort to armed struggle.
Likewise, the largest percentage of Jewish Israelis (82 percent) and Palestinians (75 percent) believe that the other side will never accept its existence as an independent state.
The vast majority of Palestinian and Israeli Jews, 86 percent and 85 percent, respectively, believe that the other side cannot be trusted, while among Israeli Arabs, 50 percent think so.
“It is natural that support for the two-state solution declines and trust decreases between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, with the existence of such an Israeli policy that adopts settlements and denies the rights of the Palestinians,” Al-Khatib said.
Meanwhile, following a meeting between Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Jan. 24 in which the Israeli leader pledged to preserve the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israeli national security minister, said: “I will continue my storming of Al-Aqsa in the future, and no one has sovereignty over it except Israel.”
Jordan has asked Israel to allow the construction of a fifth minaret on the eastern wall of the mosque to strengthen its guardianship of Al-Aqsa and its courtyards.
The request poses a challenge to Netanyahu, Israeli experts said.


Turkiye's embassy in Saudi Arabia urges public to avoid spreading misinformation following massive quake

Turkiye's embassy in Saudi Arabia urges public to avoid spreading misinformation following massive quake
Updated 06 February 2023

Turkiye's embassy in Saudi Arabia urges public to avoid spreading misinformation following massive quake

Turkiye's embassy in Saudi Arabia urges public to avoid spreading misinformation following massive quake
  • Rescue operations are underway in both countries as emergency workers look for survivors under the rubble

DUBAI: Turkiye’s embassy in Saudi Arabia has urged the public to avoid spreading misleading information about today’s massive 7.4 magnitude earthquake which devastated parts of the country and neighboring northern Syria, claiming hundreds of lives. 

“It is very important for accurate information to be circulated and disinformation to be fought against,” The Turkish embassy said in a statement to Arab News. 

The embassy also wrote that all rescue work was being coordinated with the country’s national disaster and emergency management agency, AFAD. 

The earthquake, which struck various parts of south-east Turkiye and northern Syria, led to aftershocks felt as far away as Cairo, according to reports. 

The overall death toll from the powerful earthquake rose to at least 360 after health officials in Syria reported 237 deaths in the capital Damascus. 

Rescue operations are underway in both countries as emergency workers look for survivors under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

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Israeli forces kill several armed militants in raid - army statement

Israeli forces kill several armed militants in raid - army statement
Updated 22 min 19 sec ago

Israeli forces kill several armed militants in raid - army statement

Israeli forces kill several armed militants in raid - army statement
  • The Palestinian health ministry said three people had been wounded
  • Israeli forces have carried out months of raids in the West Bank in the wake of a spate of deadly attacks in Israel last year

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces killed a number of armed fighters on Monday during a raid on a refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Jericho aimed at capturing suspected Hamas militants, the Israeli military said in a statement.
Five people were killed, governor of Jericho Jihad Abu Al-Assal said, in the raid in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp in southern Jericho and eight were arrested, according to a statement published by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The Palestinian health ministry said three people had been wounded, one critically, but gave no details on any dead.
Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, appeared to confirm some fatalities in a statement praising the gunmen as “martyred heroes.”
The raid came during a period of heightened tensions that have drawn fears of a further escalation in violence and prompted calls for calm on both sides from the United States and international bodies including the United Nations.
Israeli forces have carried out months of raids in the West Bank following a spate of deadly attacks in Israel last year and forces have been put on high alert after a Palestinian gunman shot seven people dead near a synagogue on Jan. 27.
The military said Monday’s raid was aimed at capturing a group of militants belonging to Hamas, who it said were barricaded in a house in the camp and were planning further operations following an attempted shooting attack last month on Israelis nearby.
On Jan. 28, it said two armed individuals appeared in a restaurant in the Vered Yeriho settlement, where around 30 people were present, but fled before carrying out an attack after a weapon malfunctioned.
Over the past week, it said security forces had conducted a number of operations to try to find and arrest the suspects.
Ahead of discussions in Cairo with Egyptian officials hoping to prevent further escalation, Haniyeh indicated the raid could impact the talks.


Massive quake leaves hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria

Massive quake leaves hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria
Updated 2 min 7 sec ago

Massive quake leaves hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria

Massive quake leaves hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria
  • The total death toll reached 360 on both sides
  • Buildings collapsed in a swath from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers to the northeast

RIYADH/ANKARA: Hundreds have been killed and many others are missing or injured following a powerful earthquake that struck southeast Turkiye and northern Syria early on Monday morning. 

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time on Monday, 23 kilometerseast of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers, according to data from the United States Geological Survey.

It is not clear precisely how many people have died, but news outlets have said the death toll is at least 641, and growing, across Turkiye and Syria with hundreds more believed to be still missing or injured.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the official death toll stood at 284, with a further 2323 people reported as injured.

Oktay also said that 1712 buildings have collapsed.

News agency AFP reported at least 386 deaths in Syria, citing Syrian state media and a medical sources.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time on Monday, 23 kilometerseast of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers, according to data from the United States Geological Survey.

The earthquake caused devastation across both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border claiming hundreds of lives.

The quake was so strong that tremors were felt in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

A hospital in the southeastern Sanliurfa province was completely destroyed by the earthquake, with many patients remaining trapped beneath the rubble.

Rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in various cities on both sides of the border. In one quake-struck Turkish city, people frantically pulled away chunks of concrete and twisted metal. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.

In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident said three buildings near his home collapsed. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble, as rescue workers tried to reach him, said Muhammet Fatih Yavus a resident. Further east in Diyarbakir, cranes and rescue teams rushed people on stretchers out of a mountain of pancaked concrete floors that was once an apartment building.

 

 

(The above video was made by Misel Uyar, Iskenderun/Hatay)

At least 20 aftershocks followed, some hours later, the strongest measuring 6.6, Turkish authorities said. 

Buildings toppled to the ground in Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkiye’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers to the northeast.

Also in Syria, the quake smashed opposition-held regions that are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of Syria by the country’s long civil war. Many of them were already living in destitute conditions with little health care, with Russian-backed Syrian forces surrounding the area and sometimes carrying out airstrikes. Rescue workers said hospitals in the area were packed.
“We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds,” Muheeb Qaddour, a doctor, said by phone from the town of Atmeh, referring to the entire rebel-held area. Raed Salah, the head of the White Helmets, the emergency organization in opposition areas, said whole neighborhoods were collapsed in some areas.
 

The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered north of the city of Gaziantep in an area about 90 kilometers from the Syrian border.
On the Turkish side, the area has several large cities and is home to millions of Syrian refugees.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.


Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks. “Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.
At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Turkiye’s Malatya province, neighboring the epicenter, Gov. Hulusi Sahin said. In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, at least 15 buildings collapsed. Rescue teams called for silence as they listed for survivors in a toppled 11-story building.
In northwest Syria, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous” adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble. The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings to gather in open areas. Emergency rooms were full of injured, said Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society.

US President Biden directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess response options to the most affected areas in the Turkiye and Syria earthquake, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday.
The United States is profoundly concerned by the reports of the destructive earthquake, he said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was centered 18 kilometers deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.
In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.

The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.
Turkiye sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkiye in 1999.

The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.

 

This unverified video was posted on Twitter

Cetizens from as far as Jerusalem and Beirut talked of being awakened by the strong shaking. "I live in Gaziantep, Türkiye.  Was sleeping when it started. Absolutely terrifying," Nasip (@iam_nasib) commented on a video posted on Twitter.

"Felt it in Jerusalem," said Amy di Nardò (@amybellabella).

Sagittarius (@JRsagittarius) said he was in Beirut and the experienced "was terrifying."

Karolingston (@karolingston) of Cyprus said he was awakened because "My bed was shaking."

"Felt it in Lebanon. It was a hell of a feeling!" chimed in CharbelRahmé (@charbelrahm_e)

Turkiye is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Duzce was one of the regions hit by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkiye in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

A magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.

And in October that year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit the Aegean Sea, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.

(With agencies)


Turkiye’s President Erdogan says Western missions will ‘pay’ for closures

A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Turkiye’s President Erdogan says Western missions will ‘pay’ for closures

A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
  • Turkiye suspended negotiations for Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession last month following a protest in Stockholm during which a copy of the Qur'an was burned

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Western missions would “pay” for issuing security warnings and temporarily closing consulates in Turkiye last week, while police said there was no serious threat to foreigners after detaining 15 Daesh suspects on Sunday.
Ankara summoned the ambassadors of nine countries on Thursday to criticize their decisions to temporarily shut diplomatic missions and issue security alerts. Turkish officials said the following day that Western nations, including the United States and Germany, had not shared information to back up their claims of a security threat.
“The other day our foreign ministry summoned all of them and gave the necessary ultimatum, told them ‘You will pay for this heavily if you keep this up,’” Erdogan said during a meeting with youth that was pre-recorded and broadcast on Sunday.
Alongside the closures, several Western states warned citizens of a heightened risk of attacks to diplomatic missions and non-Muslim places of worship in Turkiye, following a series of far-right protests in Europe in recent weeks that included several incidents of burning copies of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an.
Turkiye suspended negotiations for Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession last month following a protest in Stockholm during which a copy of the Qur'an was burned.
Erdogan said that the Western states were “playing for (more) time” and that the “necessary decisions” would be taken during Monday’s cabinet meeting, without elaborating.
’NO CONCRETE THREATS’
Earlier on Sunday, police said they had not found evidence of any concrete threat to foreigners in the detentions of 15 Daesh suspects accused of targeting consulates and non-Muslim houses of worship, state media reported.
Anadolu Agency cited an Istanbul police statement saying the suspects had “received instructions for acts targeting consulates of Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Christian and Jewish places of worship.”
While the suspects’ ties to the jihadist group were confirmed, no concrete threats toward foreigners were found, the statement said.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated on Saturday Turkiye’s frustration with what it says is Sweden’s inaction toward entities that Ankara accuses of terrorist activity. All 30 NATO members must ratify newcomers.
Turkiye, Sweden and Finland signed an agreement in June aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO bids, with the Nordic states pledging to take a harder line primarily against local members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
 

 


Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide
Updated 05 February 2023

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide
  • Calls grow for deeper investigation into motivations and protection of youngsters amid shock and despair

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Security services of the southern Yemeni city of Taiz said that two children committed suicide in two separate events on Saturday, leaving the beleaguered population in shock and despair.

Police in Taiz said in a statement that they were notified of two suicide victims in the city on Saturday evening, citing the deaths as “dangerous precedents.”

Police named the first child as 12-year-old Kareem Abdul Kareem from the Al-Jamhuria neighborhood, who hanged himself inside his room on Saturday afternoon by tying a scarf around his neck.

Ammar Khaled, a 16-year-old who committed suicide on Saturday evening by wrapping a rope around his neck and tying it to a door outside his family’s home, is the second victim. 

After forensic investigators gathered photographs and evidence, his family requested his burial on the same day. 

Police in Taiz pledged to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the victims and have asked the community and professionals for assistance in determining the reasons behind the suicides.

In a statement, police urged both authorities and members of the public “to collaborate…in order to provide the appropriate answers.”

Mohammed Alawi, an investigator with police in Taiz, told Arab News that a team, including social and psychiatric professionals, was looking into the cases and would release their findings this week.

Initially, Alawi ruled out the possibility of cyberbullying or even sexual harassment and attributed the deaths of the two children to the mobile game PUBG. 

“These are risky games, and we advise parents to monitor their children’s mobile devices to see what they are seeing or playing,” Alawi said.

He also touched on other instances of suicide, which he blamed on psychological suffering caused by the war.

“Women and children in Yemen, particularly in besieged Taiz, have suffered emotionally because of the war. We had never seen such crimes before the war,” he said.  

On social media, the police statement and photographs of the two deceased children have elicited condolences for the families and calls for an investigation into the motivations behind the suicides and for the protection of children.

“You should investigate with the family about the electronic games they played, such as PUBG, and whether they have Facebook or WhatsApp accounts,” said Adnan Taha on Facebook.

“All communications should be reviewed, since (the children) may be vulnerable to harassment and extortion,” Taha said.

Another social media user, Muneir Al-Qaisi, urged local security agencies not to bury the victims before autopsies are conducted to determine whether they consumed anything poisonous.

“We hope you will not hurry to bury them and (will) examine their bodies,” Al-Qaisi said. 

“It is conceivable that the parents are unaware of beverages or meals being shared among the children,” said Al-Qaisi.

Investigator Alawi responded to accusations of a hasty burial by stating that one of the boys was buried at the request of his family and only after investigators examined both the corpse and the scene.

“He was buried after forensic teams examined the scene, photographed it, and performed investigations. Additionally, his relatives requested burial from the prosecution,” Alawi said.