Hezbollah says it shot down Israeli drone in southern Lebanon

A Hezbollah fighter stands next to an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon on Monday, June 26, 2023. (AP)
A Hezbollah fighter stands next to an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon on Monday, June 26, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 26 June 2023
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Hezbollah says it shot down Israeli drone in southern Lebanon

A Hezbollah fighter stands next to an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon on Monday, June 26, 2023. (AP)
  • Israel military sources confirm a drone crashed but say there is no risk of any information leaking as a result

BEIRUT: Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said its operatives shot down an Israeli drone on Monday that was flying over southern Lebanon. It said the unmanned aerial vehicle violated Lebanese airspace in the Wadi Al-Azziya area near the town of Zebqine, southeast of the city of Tyre.

In a message posted on Twitter, Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee confirmed a drone had crashed in Lebanon while forces were carrying out routine activities. He added, in Arabic, that there were no concerns about the possibility of any information being leaked as a result.

The incident happened days after Israel warned Lebanon, through the UN, that it would use military force to clear two sites it claimed Hezbollah established inside Israeli territory. The sites are in the Shebaa Farms and the Kfarshouba Hills area, which is on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, a demarcation boundary between the two countries established by the UN in 2000, and which Lebanon considers “occupied Lebanese territory.”

There was a confrontation this month between residents of Kfarshouba and Israeli forces as a result of excavation work by the Israeli army on land owned by people in the Lebanese border town. Two tents were pitched on the other side of the Blue Line. Available information suggests they were placed there by Hezbollah, which considers the area to be “Lebanese territory and the residents have the right to access it.”

The Israeli army occupied the Kfarshouba Heights and surrounding agricultural land in 1978. When it withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the withdrawal did not extend to Kfarshouba and Shebaa Farms. The area is therefore on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, or withdrawal line.

The position taken by the UN was that the ultimate fate of the territories would be subject to a future resolution of the Israeli-Syrian conflict, because the area is considered to be Syrian territory, according to declared documents, and Syrian authorities failed to provide any documents proving it is actually Lebanese territory, although they did provide verbal acknowledgment.

Israeli military radio reports quoted sources in the army as saying that the new Hezbollah sites do not pose a security threat and that resolving this issue should be done through political and diplomatic channels.

Lebanon maintains enclaves in 13 places along the Blue Line, which extends from the western part of Shebaa Farms to Naqoura.

The latest incident took place in the run-up to the annual renewal of the mandate for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which is due in September. It could revive the controversy surrounding an amendment to the mandate introduced during last year’s renewal, at the bidding of the US, France and the UK despite Lebanese opposition, according to political observers.

The amendment stipulates that UNIFIL no longer requires prior permission or authorization to carry out assigned tasks and can conduct operations independently, including declared and undeclared patrols.

Lebanese authorities want the amendment removed and the mandate restored to its previous form, which states that UN forces must coordinate all activities with the Lebanese army.


EU-Israel relations take a nosedive as Spain, Ireland set to formally recognize a Palestinian state

EU-Israel relations take a nosedive as Spain, Ireland set to formally recognize a Palestinian state
Updated 56 min 56 sec ago
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EU-Israel relations take a nosedive as Spain, Ireland set to formally recognize a Palestinian state

EU-Israel relations take a nosedive as Spain, Ireland set to formally recognize a Palestinian state
  • EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threw his full weight to support the International Criminal Court

BRUSSELS: Relations between the European Union and Israel took a nosedive on the eve of the diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state by EU members Ireland and Spain, with Madrid suggesting sanctions should be considered against Israel for its continued attacks in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
Israeli Foreign Minister Katz told Spain that its consulate in Jerusalem will not be allowed to help Palestinians.
At the same time, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, a Spaniard, threw his full weight to support the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including the leaders of Hamas.
“The prosecutor of the court has been strongly intimidated and accused of antisemitism,” Borrell said. “The word antisemitic, it’s too heavy. It’s too important.”
Angry words abounded Monday, with Katz accusing Spain of “rewarding terror” by recognizing a Palestinian state, and saying that “the days of the Inquisition are over.” He referred to the infamous Spanish institution started in the 15th century to maintain Roman Catholic orthodoxy that forced Jews and Muslims to flee, convert to Catholicism or, in some instances, face death.
“No one will force us to convert our religion or threaten our existence — those who harm us, we will harm in return,” said Katz.
Even though the EU and its member nations have been steadfast in condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in which militants stormed across the Gaza border into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage, the bloc has been equally critical of Israel’s ensuing offensive that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
The latest attacks have centered on Rafah, where Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 people Sunday, hit tents for displaced people and left “numerous” others trapped in flaming debris.
The UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice, on Friday demanded that Israel immediately halt its offensive on Rafah, even if it stopped short of ordering a ceasefire for the Gaza enclave.
“Israel has to stop its offensive in Rafah,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said.
Spain, Ireland and non-EU member Norway plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state on Tuesday. Their joint announcement last week triggered an angry response from Israeli authorities, which summoned the countries’ ambassadors in Tel Aviv to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Albares criticized the treatment of the ambassadors. “We reject something that is not within diplomatic courtesy and the customs of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” he said.
“But at the same time we have also agreed that we are not going to fall into any provocation that distances us from our goal,” he added. “Our aim is to recognize the state of Palestine tomorrow, make all possible efforts to achieve a permanent ceasefire as soon as possible and also, in the end, to achieve that definitive peace.”


A bus crashes into vehicles in southern Turkiye, leaving 10 dead and 39 injured

A bus crashes into vehicles in southern Turkiye, leaving 10 dead and 39 injured
Updated 27 May 2024
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A bus crashes into vehicles in southern Turkiye, leaving 10 dead and 39 injured

A bus crashes into vehicles in southern Turkiye, leaving 10 dead and 39 injured
  • The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals and at least eight of them were in serious condition
  • There were 28 passengers on board the intercity bus, which was traveling from the southeastern city of Diyarbakir to Adana

ANKARA: A passenger bus crashed into vehicles on a highway in southern Turkiye, killing at least 10 people and leaving 39 others injured, officials said Monday.
The accident occurred in the province of Mersin late on Sunday, when the bus veered into the opposite lane in heavy rain and crashed into two cars. A truck later slammed into all three vehicles, Gov. Ali Hamza Pehlivan told reporters.
The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals and at least eight of them were in serious condition, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
There were 28 passengers on board the intercity bus, which was traveling from the southeastern city of Diyarbakir to Adana, in the south of the country, Anadolu reported.


Iran’s acting president addresses new parliament

Iran’s acting president addresses new parliament
Updated 27 May 2024
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Iran’s acting president addresses new parliament

Iran’s acting president addresses new parliament
  • Mohammad Mokhber’s first public speech since last week’s helicopter crash that killed his predecessor and seven others
  • Asserts the country’s economy remains stable when Iran took military actions in Iraq, Israel and Pakistan

TEHRAN: Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber addressed the country’s new parliament Monday in his first public speech since last week’s helicopter crash that killed his predecessor and seven others.
His speech comes as Iran prepares for a presidential election to replace the late Ebrahim Raisi in just a month, a vote that could see the previously behind-the-scenes bureaucrat potentially run alongside others. Meanwhile, Iran’s new hard-line parliament is expected to select its new speaker Tuesday.
In his remarks, Mokhber praised Raisi’s time in office, noting that Iran’s crude oil production— a key source of hard currency for the country — climbed to more than 3.6 million barrels a day. That comes after Oil Minister Javad Owji said Sunday that Iran was now exporting around 2 million barrels a day, despite Western sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.
Mokhber also asserted that the country’s economy remained stable under Raisi when Iran took military actions in Iraq, Israel and Pakistan in recent months.
“Three countries were hit. We hit Israel, people find that figures and indexes are the same in the morning when they wake up, price of hard currency is the same, inflation is the same, liquidity is the same and the market is full of people’s needs,” Mokhber claimed. “This strength, this settlement and this power is not a usual thing, they all were because of guidance by the supreme leader and the sincere efforts of Ayatollah Raisi.”
The Iranian rial has tumbled from a rate of 32,000 rials to $1 at the time of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Today, it stands around 580,000 to $1 in the wake of the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the accord and a series of attacks on shipping in the Mideast, first attributed to Iran and later involving Yemen’s Houthi rebels as Israel’s war against Hamas on the Gaza Strip began over seven months ago.
On May 20, rescuers recovered the bodies of Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and others in a mountainous region in northwestern Iran following a fatal helicopter crash.
Iran will hold presidential elections on June 28 to replace Raisi. On Thursday, a five-day registration period for candidates will open. Analysts have suggested that Mokhber could be one of those to register.
Meanwhile, Monday marked the first day for Iran’s newly elected parliament, following a March election that saw the country’s lowest turnout since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Of those elected to the 290-seat body, hard-liners hold over 230 seats, according to an Associated Press survey.
Iran’s parliament plays a secondary role in governing the country, though it can intensify pressure on a presidential administration when deciding on the annual budget and other important bills. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 85, has the final say in all important state matters.


Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians from June 1

Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians from June 1
Updated 27 May 2024
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Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians from June 1

Israel orders Spain to stop consular services for Palestinians from June 1
  • Israel statement: Spain’s consulate in Jerusalem is ‘authorized to provide consular services to residents of the consular district of Jerusalem only’

JERUSALEM: Israel’s foreign ministry said Monday it had told the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem to stop offering consular services to Palestinians from June 1 over Madrid’s recognition of a Palestinian state.
The ministry said in a statement that Spain’s consulate in Jerusalem is “authorized to provide consular services to residents of the consular district of Jerusalem only, and is not authorized to provide services or perform consular activity vis-a-vis residents of the Palestinian Authority.”


Israel army kills Palestinian teen after West Bank ‘attempted attack’

Israel army kills Palestinian teen after West Bank ‘attempted attack’
Updated 27 May 2024
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Israel army kills Palestinian teen after West Bank ‘attempted attack’

Israel army kills Palestinian teen after West Bank ‘attempted attack’
  • The deadly incident took place near Hebron in the southern West Bank, the army and the Palestinian ministry said

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military said its troops killed a Palestinian assailant in the occupied West Bank, with the Palestinian health ministry identifying him as a teenager.
Israeli forces “identified a terrorist who came in their direction and attempted to carry out a stabbing attack,” a military statement said.
“The soldiers fired at him and killed him,” it said.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the fatality as Majd Shahir Aramin, 14, and said he had been killed by Israeli forces.
The deadly incident took place near Hebron in the southern West Bank, the army and the Palestinian ministry said.
The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence for more than a year, but especially since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7.
According to Palestinian officials, at least 519 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops or settlers since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip.
Attacks by Palestinians have killed at least 12 Israelis in the West Bank over the same period, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.