UN chief condemns Israel’s excessive use of force during Jenin assault

A boy checks the damage inside a house in the occupied West Bank Jenin refugee camp on July 6, 2023, following a large-scale Israeli military operation. (AFP)
A boy checks the damage inside a house in the occupied West Bank Jenin refugee camp on July 6, 2023, following a large-scale Israeli military operation. (AFP)
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Updated 06 July 2023
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UN chief condemns Israel’s excessive use of force during Jenin assault

A boy checks the damage inside a house in the occupied West Bank Jenin refugee camp on July 6, 2023. (AFP)
  • Guterres calls on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law, and to respect and preserve human life
  • Palestine’s envoy to UN says international community cannot act like ‘it is business as usual’ after the raid and must take practical steps to address situation

NEW YORK CITY: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday condemned Israeli authorities for their excessive use of force during a two-day raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank this week.

At least 12 Palestinians were killed during the operation, including five children. In addition, more than 4,000 were forced to flee, and houses, apartment buildings and other infrastructure were damaged.

Guterres said he was disturbed by news reports from Jenin and added: “I strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror. Israel’s airstrikes and ground operations in a crowded refugee camp were the worst violence in the West Bank in many years.”

Asked to clarify whether his condemnation explicitly applied to Israel and its actions, he said “it applies to the use of excessive force, and obviously in this situation there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces.”

He added: “I once again call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law, including the duty to exercise restraint and use only proportional force, and the duty to minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.”

Guterres said “the use of airstrikes is inconsistent with the conduct of law-enforcement operations. I also remind Israel, as the occupying power, that it has a responsibility to ensure that the civilian population is protected against all acts of violence.”

While he said he understands “Israel’s legitimate concerns over its security,” he stressed that “escalation is not the answer (as) it simply bolsters radicalization and leads to a deepening cycle of violence and bloodshed.”

He continued: “Restoring the hope of the Palestinian people in a meaningful political process, leading to a two-state solution and the end of the occupation, is an essential contribution by Israel to its own security.”

On Wednesday, Palestine’s ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, urged the international community not to act like “it is business as usual” in the aftermath of the Jenin assault.

He told Arab News in New York that he expects “some practical steps, things that are different than the usual reiterating of positions and convening of meetings and issuing statements. We need to see some practical steps.”

Mansour’s calls for meaningful action came during a flurry of diplomatic activity he initiated at the UN, which included meetings with the secretary-general, the president of the Security Council, and a group of Arab ambassadors, including those from Yemen, Lebanon and the Arab League.

Guterres said it was “not realistic to think that we can have a military force sent to Israel. I don’t think the Israeli government would consent on that possibility. But I think we need to find mechanisms to allow for the protection of civilians in these dramatic circumstances.”

UN human rights experts on Wednesday said that Israel’s actions in Jenin represented “egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force, and may constitute a war crime.”

During the raid, which was described as the fiercest assault since the destruction of the Jenin camp in 2002, ambulance crews reportedly were denied access, thereby preventing injured people from receiving medical assistance.

All injured people must have access to medical care, said Guterres, as he called for humanitarian workers to be allowed to reach everyone in need of help.


Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza

Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza
Updated 22 February 2024
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Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza

Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza
  • Staff at the center, which will make and fit high-grade, made-to-measure prosthetics, provide rehab services
  • Convoy of 11 trucks carrying 240 tonnes of aid from UAE enters Gaza

DUBAI: A center for prosthetic limbs opened on Wednesday at a UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza. It aims to make and fit high-grade, made-to-measure prosthetics, and offer rehabilitation services to patients.

It is part of the UAE’s Operation Gallant Knight 3 which was launched based on directives from President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to provide help and support for the Palestinian people.

On its opening day, measurements were taken from 36 patients who require a prosthetic, the Emirates News Agency reported. It is expected that the total number of people helped by the center will exceed 100 in the next few days. Other departments in the field hospital have treated 5,423 other patients so far.

Meanwhile, a humanitarian convoy from the UAE entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, also as part of Operation Gallant Knight 3. It consisted of 11 trucks delivering more than 240 tonnes of aid supplies, including winter clothing, tents, household necessities, food and medical supplies.

As of Tuesday, Emirati officials said more than 15,809 tonnes of humanitarian aid have been delivered to Palestinians as part of Gallant Knight 3 using two cargo ships, 165 flights and 476 trucks.

The UAE has also set up six desalination plants, with a daily production capacity of 1.2 million gallons of water, to aid the people of Gaza. In addition, five automatic bakery machines will be delivered to Gaza from the Egyptian city of Arish.


US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon

US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon
Updated 22 February 2024
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US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon

US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon
  • Senators Chris Coons and Richard Blumenthal met Lebanese officials on a tour of the region
  • “The next few weeks are a real hinge point — for Gaza, for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Red Sea, for Iraq,” said Coons

BEIRUT: The Israeli military and Hezbollah have a window to de-escalate tensions along Lebanon’s southern border before a possible Israeli military offensive against the Lebanese armed group, two Democratic US senators told Reuters on Wednesday.
Senators Chris Coons and Richard Blumenthal met Lebanese officials on a tour of the region, which has been gripped by conflict following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which responded with a heavy air, land, and sea assault on Gaza.
In Lebanon, Israeli shelling has killed nearly 190 Hezbollah fighters and 50 civilians. A dozen Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians have been killed in northern Israel, and tens of thousands have been displaced on each side.
“The next few weeks are a real hinge point — for Gaza, for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Red Sea, for Iraq,” said Coons, adding that a ceasefire for Gaza could have “positive consequences” for Lebanon.
“It could create that window of 45 days, quite likely during Ramadan as well, when the next steps can be taken to begin to build the confidence that could lead to a full implementation of (United Nations Security Council resolution) 1701,” he said.
That 2006 resolution ended the last major conflict between Hezbollah and Israel and says no armed factions should be present in a swathe of south Lebanon except the Lebanese army.
France submitted a written proposal to Lebanon earlier this month on a possible diplomatic resolution. US envoy Amos Hochstein has also been working on a plan, which Coons said he hoped was “making steady progress” without sharing further details. He said there was an “urgency” for both sides to de-escalate.
The senators said they told Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who heads the Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement, that Israel “is not bluffing” about an offensive.
“It’s not just rhetoric. It will act. And we hope that that message was conveyed to Hezbollah,” Blumenthal said.


Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body

Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body
Updated 21 February 2024
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Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body

Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body
  • Yonatan Samerano escaped the militants’ bloody attack on the Nova music festival in the Negev desert, but was killed at nearby kibbutz Beeri
  • The Israeli government has said a man seen on a video dragging Samerano’s body into a white jeep was a social worker for the UNRWA

TEL AVIV: The mother of a 21-year-old man killed in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel on Wednesday accused a United Nations worker of taking his body to Gaza.
Yonatan Samerano escaped the militants’ bloody attack on the Nova music festival in the Negev desert, but was killed at nearby kibbutz Beeri.
The Israeli government has said a man seen on a video dragging Samerano’s body into a white jeep was a social worker for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Israel last month accused a number of UNRWA workers of taking part in the Hamas attack, prompting several countries to suspend funding to the agency and triggering two separate investigations.
At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Samerano’s mother Ayelet called for the return of her son’s body.
“How can social workers for an organization that claims to promote good in this world do something so cruel and inhuman?” she asked.
“How can the UN pay this man who dragged my son’s slim body on the ground and then picked him as if he was a prize to Gaza?“
Israel last week gave more details about the UNRWA staff members that it alleges were involved in the Hamas attack.
The man said to be in the video — identified as 45-year-old Faisal Ali Mussalem Al-Naami — was described as a social worker for UNRWA but was allegedly also a Hamas commando.
He “was involved in kidnapping a soldier from Beeri (and) coordinated the transfer of weapons and trucks,” the government said.
Others accused of involvement were said to be teachers or other staff members in UNRWA-run schools and health clinics.
Shelly Aviv Yeini, head of the legal team at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said the campaign group wanted “a comprehensive and transparent” probe into the claims.
“We seek assurances that the principle of neutrality, so vital to the UN’s mission, is not just upheld, but is actively protected,” she added.
UNRWA provides education and primary health care to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, employing some 30,000 people.
Israel’s initial allegations against UNRWA saw the agency sack all those accused of involvement in the attack, in a bid to protect its wider reputation.
Two separate investigations — one into the collaboration claims, the second about UNRWA’s wider political neutrality — are underway and due to report within weeks.
But since then, Israel has claimed Hamas tunnels were found directly under UNRWA’s Gaza City headquarters, which it was forced to abandon as bombardments intensified in the Palestinian territory.


Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo
Updated 21 February 2024
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Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

GAZA STRIP: Heavy fighting rocked besieged Gaza on Wednesday as aid agencies warned of looming famine and new talks were held in Cairo toward an Israel-Hamas ceasefire and hostage release deal.

The White House sent Middle East envoy Brett McGurk for renewed talks involving mediators and Hamas, a day after a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire was blocked by the US.

The UN World Food Programme said it was forced to halt aid deliveries in north Gaza because of “complete chaos and violence” after a truck convoy encountered gunfire and was ransacked by looters. Hamas called the move a “death sentence.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro accused Israel of “genocide” after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had compared the Gaza campaign to the Holocaust.

In Syria, state television said an Israeli missile strike killed at least two people in Damascus, a claim Israel refused to comment on.

Violence has also flared in the occupied West Bank where the Israeli army said its troops killed three Palestinian militants during an overnight raid in the northern city of Jenin.


UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza

UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza
Updated 21 February 2024
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UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza

UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza
  • The UK-funded aid was delivered by the Jordanian Air Force

LONDON: Britain and Jordan have air-dropped four tons of aid including medicines, fuel and food to Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in northern Gaza, Britain’s Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
The UK-funded aid was delivered by the Jordanian Air Force.
“Thousands of patients will benefit and the fuel will enable this vital hospital to continue its life-saving work,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.
“However, the situation in Gaza is desperate and significantly more aid is needed, and fast. We are calling for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow additional aid into Gaza as quickly as possible and bring hostages home.”