Five Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during dawn raid in Jericho

Update Five Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during dawn raid in Jericho
Isreali soldiers inspect a car at a checkpoint at the entrance of Jericho city in the occupied West Bank, on February 4, 2023, following an Israeli morning raid at the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 06 February 2023

Five Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during dawn raid in Jericho

Five Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during dawn raid in Jericho
  • The deaths, during a military operation at the Aqbat Jaber camp, sparked anger and condemnation across the West Bank
  • Palestinian PM Mohammed Shtayyeh said ‘occupation soldiers continue to commit massacres against our defenseless people’

RAMALLAH: Israeli forces assassinated five Palestinians during a raid on a refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Jericho on Monday, according to Palestinian officials.

The office of President Mahmoud Abbas described the killings as a crime, and urged the US to put pressure on Israeli authorities to restrict incursions by their forces.

“The new Israeli government is continuing its series of crimes against our Palestinian people,” it said.

Israeli forces also injured three people, one of them seriously, and arrested eight in the early-morning raid, the Palestinian sources said.

Jihad Abu Al-Assal, the governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, said the military had so far refused to release the bodies of the dead.

The violence on Monday came days after an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp during which 10 Palestinians were killed. Most were militants but a 61-year-old woman was also among the dead.

In Monday’s raid, a large number of troops stormed the Aqbat Jaber camp at dawn. The five people killed in the confrontations that followed were named as: Raafat Wael Awadat, 21; Malik Awni Lafi, 22; Adham Majdi Awadat, 22; Ibrahim Wael Awaidat, 27 and Thaer Awadat, 28.

The Israeli army alleged that all of the dead were affiliated with Hamas. It released photos of rifles seized during the raid, which had the name of the military wing of Hamas written on them.

Israeli forces continued their siege of the city of Jericho and the Aqabat Jaber camp for a 10th day in a row on Monday. Main and secondary entrances to the city remained blocked by military checkpoints, restricting the movement of vehicles.

The killing of the five Palestinians sparked anger across the West Bank. Strikes took place in Jericho, Ramallah, and some other cities to mourn the dead. A protest march took place in the center of Ramallah, accompanied by chants condemning the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the UN to protect “our people and not to allow the perpetrators to escape punishment.”

He added: “With a sense of the ability to escape punishment, and motivated by the desire to practice killing according to a doctrine that shapes the thought and behavior of the perpetrators, the occupation soldiers continue to commit massacres against our defenseless people, in a scene that brings to mind the heinous crimes committed by the Zionist gangs against our people in cities and villages.”

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the killings, the siege on Jericho, injuries inflicted on Palestinian citizens, premeditated killings, the continuing Israeli settlements policy, the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, and the displacement of its residents.

The organization called on the international community to urgently intervene to help put an end to the attacks and daily crimes against Palestinians. It stressed the need to hold the perpetrators accountable and for the world to provide protection for the Palestinian people.

The Israel Defense Forces were put on alert following the killings in Jericho amid fears that Hamas would respond by firing rockets from Gaza at Israeli targets.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir warned Hamas not to launch any rockets from the Gaza Strip in retaliation. He said the response to any such aggression should be integrated and that for every missile fired from Gaza “we must respond with 50 missiles.”

He added: “This is my vision and I hope the government will implement it. I am optimistic and believe that this will happen.”

Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that he would expect any response by Hamas or its supporters to the killings in Jericho to originate in the West Bank and not the Gaza Strip.

“There is a great exaggeration and harshness in the Israeli oppression against the Palestinians, more than ever before, which will bring violent reactions against the Israeli occupation,” he added.

He said that the killing and abuse of Palestinians by Israeli authorities weakens the status and prestige of the Palestinian Authority.

In a joint statement, the Israeli military and the internal security service Shin Bet said that they had conducted counterterrorism activity in the Aqabat Jabr Camp to apprehend a Hamas terrorist squad responsible for shooting at a restaurant in the community of Vered Yeriho on Jan. 28. It added that several armed assailants had been killed after they fired at IDF soldiers.

The Fatah movement said that what it described as the bloody massacre committed by the Israeli army during its aggression against the Aqabat Jaber camp reflected the fascist ideology of successive occupation governments.

“The neo-fascist government, which is trying, through this systematic terrorism, to export its internal crises and to practice the most brutal methods of bloody terror against the Palestinians through the policies of killing, execution, abuse, arrest and incursions into the Palestinian lands,” it added.

Fatah said attempts by the occupation to erase the Palestinian existence were doomed to failure. It also condemned the international silence about the Israeli actions and what it described as the US bias in favor of the occupation and its terrorist regime, which its said provides the occupation and its army with a guarantee that it can commit massacres and other crimes without being held accountable.

Hamas vowed to respond to the killing of five of its members. It said it would not tolerate the spilling of Palestinian blood by Israeli army bullets, and that it was ready to respond to the occupation with full force.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of Hamas, said its battalions will continue their operations “until the occupation is defeated.”


Violence in Tunisia prompts increase in migrants heading for Europe

Violence in Tunisia prompts increase in migrants heading for Europe
Updated 20 March 2023

Violence in Tunisia prompts increase in migrants heading for Europe

Violence in Tunisia prompts increase in migrants heading for Europe
  • Sub-Saharan migrants cross Mediterranean after President Saied blames them for crime, demographic change
  • Italian PM Meloni warns Europe faces ‘invasion’ if more not done to halt flow of people

LONDON: Migrants from the Ivory Coast and other sub-Saharan countries are attempting to flee to Europe after an uptick in violence against them in Tunisia.

North Africa has long been used as a staging post for people desperate to leave the continent and travel northward, but numbers have increased after Tunisian President Kais Saied blamed migrants for an increase in crime in his country, and claimed their presence was part of a plot to “change the demographic makeup” of Tunisia.

That has led to a number of migrants facing violence or eviction from their accommodation. Some have even been shot at.

One Ivorian migrant, 30-year-old Noela, told The Times: “My husband was arrested, I have been robbed at knifepoint and I am scared to leave home. People here were nice, but now things have changed.”

Many are now buying boats in order to strike out for Italy, despite efforts by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to curb the number of migrants traveling to the peninsula.

An activist in the Tunisian port town of Sfax, which is seeing the bulk of the traffic, said: “Sailings are linked to that speech (by President Saied) and Ivorians are the biggest group among those leaving.”

Meloni claims charity organizations running boats in the region are helping migrants to make dangerous crossings, and has warned Europe faces “an invasion” if more is not done to stop the flow. So far this year 20,000 people have successfully made the journey to Italy, with 12,000 of those coming from Tunisia.

At least 80 people died in the Mediterranean last month on the way to Italy from Turkey, while 30 more drowned off the coast of Libya last week.

Between March 6 and 12, Ivorians, whose country has seen a number of civil wars since the turn of the century, made up the largest single group among the 3,300 people who made the trip to Italy, most via the island of Lampedusa. Another 1,500 people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were turned back by the Tunisian coast guard.

A Tunisian people smuggler told The Times that many were making the trip now as it was “the last chance for them” amid Tunisia’s increasing hostility and Italy tightening its rules.

Another smuggler added that Tunisians were increasingly refusing to travel with sub-Saharans across the sea so as not to give away their identity on account of their skin color, leading to migrants buying vessels to pilot themselves.

“They have no jobs, no food, nothing. This has convinced them to go as soon as possible,” he told The Times. “They are good — they don’t steal boats, but they buy them.”

Ivorian DJ Dobe Aboubacar, based in Tunis, said most of his countrymen in Tunisia planned to leave for Germany or France.

“Because of the poor economy in Tunisia — and then because of the president’s speech — even more now want to leave,” Aboubacar, who runs a Facebook page for migrants in Tunisia, added.


Palestinian PM blasts ‘racism’ of Israeli minister

Palestinian PM blasts ‘racism’ of Israeli minister
Updated 28 min 36 sec ago

Palestinian PM blasts ‘racism’ of Israeli minister

Palestinian PM blasts ‘racism’ of Israeli minister
  • Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich: ‘There are no Palestinians, because there are no Palestinian people’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday blasted as “inflammatory” remarks made by far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that Palestinians do not exist.
“There are no Palestinians, because there are no Palestinian people,” Smotrich said Sunday, quoting French-Israeli Zionist activist Jacques Kupfer, speaking at an event in Paris according to a video circulating on social media.
“After 2,000 years of exile, the prophecies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah are beginning to come true and God is gathering his people, the people of Israel are returning home,” Smotrich said.
“There are Arabs around who don’t like it, so what do they do? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the land of Israel, only to fight the Zionist movement,” he added.
Smotrich last year became a minister in the cabinet of Israel’s veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu, which analysts have called the most right-wing government in the country’s history.
“It is the historical truth, it is the biblical truth... the Arabs in Israel must hear it, as well as certain Jews who are confused in Israel, this truth must be heard here at the Elysee Palace (in Paris), and at the White House in Washington, and everyone must hear this truth,” Smotrich continued.
Shtayyeh, speaking before a cabinet meeting of the Palestinian Authority on Monday, said the “inflammatory statements are consistent with the first Zionist sayings of ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’.”
He said the comments were “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist Zionist ideology... of the current Israeli government.”
Smotrich and his Religious Zionism group have a history of making incendiary remarks about Palestinians.
In February, Smotrich called for the Palestinian town of Hawara in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out” after two Israelis were shot dead by an alleged Hamas militant.
Hundreds of rampaging Israeli settlers later torched Palestinian homes and cars in the West Bank town.

Anatomy of a disaster
Two decades later, Iraqis are still paying the price for Bush's ill-judged war
Enter
keywords

Iraq to hold provincial elections on November 6

Iraq to hold provincial elections on November 6
Updated 20 March 2023

Iraq to hold provincial elections on November 6

Iraq to hold provincial elections on November 6
  • Elections for the councils, the first in a decade, will take place in 15 of 18 Iraqi provinces

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament has set November 6 as the date for elections for provincial councils, powerful bodies that were dissolved amid anti-government protests in 2019.
“Provincial elections will take place on November 6, 2023,” a statement from parliament said Monday, after lawmakers agreed on the date overnight.
The elections for the councils, the first in a decade, will take place in 15 of 18 Iraqi provinces, excluding the three provinces in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
The provincial councils, created by the 2005 constitution following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, carry relatively significant power in federal Iraq, including allocating the budgets for health, transport and education.
The last provincial elections took place in 2013, when loyalists of then prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki came out on top.
The next provincial elections should have taken place in 2018, but were postponed.
A year later, amid vast anti-government rallies, protesters demanded and obtained the dissolution of the provincial councils, in part because critics accused them of being rife with corruption.
Alaa Al-Rikabi, an independent MP who emerged in the aftermath of the October 2019 protest movement, condemned the return of the councils.
“We refuse to allow them to be reinstated,” he said, adding that they “open the door wide to corruption.”


Iraq PM to hold Turkiye talks on water, Kurdish rebels

Iraq PM to hold Turkiye talks on water, Kurdish rebels
Updated 20 March 2023

Iraq PM to hold Turkiye talks on water, Kurdish rebels

Iraq PM to hold Turkiye talks on water, Kurdish rebels
  • Shia Al-Sudani to meet Turkiye’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his first visit to Iraq’s northern neighbor since he came to power in October
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani will visit Turkiye on Tuesday for talks including on scarce water resources and the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a government source said.
Sudani is set to meet Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his first visit to Iraq’s northern neighbor since he came to power in October, an adviser to the head of the Iraqi government said, speaking anonymously.
“The two main issues are water and the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq,” he added, referring to the rebel group that has been fighting the Turkish army for decades.
War-scarred Iraq is now digging ever deeper for water as a frenzy of dam-building, mainly in Turkiye, sucks water out of the region’s two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.
The Tigris and the Euphrates both have their sources in Turkiye, and Baghdad has long accused Ankara of withholding water in dams that choke the rivers, dramatically reducing flows into Iraq.
According to official Iraqi statistics from last year, the level of the Tigris entering Iraq has dropped to just 35 percent of its average over the past century.
Declining river flows have been made worse by a dire lack of rainfall in recent years, coupled with poor irrigation practices in Iraq that see excessive exploitation of water from the rivers.
Amid criticism, Turkiye’s ambassador to Iraq, Ali Riza Guney, ruffled feathers last July when he said, “water is largely wasted in Iraq” and called on people to “use the available water more efficiently.”
Sudani will also discuss with Erdogan the presence of rear bases of Kurdish fighters from the Turkish PKK rebels in northern Iraq, which Ankara has repeatedly sought to root out in air and ground operations.
The rebels have kept up a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkiye since 1984.
Turkiye has dozens of military facilities in northern Iraq for use in its war against the PKK, which Ankara and its Western allies blacklist as a “terrorist” group.
In July 2022, Iraq blamed Turkiye for artillery strikes on a park in Iraqi Kurdistan that killed nine civilians, including women and children.
Turkiye denied its troops were responsible and accused the PKK.

Kuwait Oil Company declares ‘state of emergency’ after oil spill on land

Kuwait Oil Company declares ‘state of emergency’ after oil spill on land
Updated 20 March 2023

Kuwait Oil Company declares ‘state of emergency’ after oil spill on land

Kuwait Oil Company declares ‘state of emergency’ after oil spill on land
  • No injuries or disruption to production had been reported

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Oil Company declared a “state of emergency” on Monday after an oil spill on land in the west of the country, according to a statement posted on the company’s Twitter account.

However, no injuries or disruption to production had been reported, said Qusai Al-Amer, head of admin support at the company.

“No toxic fumes have been detected on site,” he added.

Teams have been dispatched to determine the source of the leak and contain the incident, Al-Amer said.

The Kuwait Oil Company has previously reported oil leaks in its fields in 2020 and 2016.

In 2017, Kuwaiti authorities reported two slicks off the Gulf’s state’s shores over the span of a few days.

With AFP