Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz

A demonstrator holds a sign reading in English
A demonstrator holds a sign reading in English "end Taiz [Taez] siege" demanding the end of a years-long blockade of the area imposed by Yemen's Huthi rebels on the Yemeni third city on May 25, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 15 July 2023
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Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz

Yemenis demand end to Houthis’ 3,000-day siege of Taiz
  • Rights activist criticizes international community for not exerting sufficient effort to end militia’s blockade

AL-MUKALLA: People in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz staged a protest near a Houthi-manned checkpoint on Saturday to condemn the militia’s ongoing siege of the city. Yemenis have also organized an online campaign to mark 3,000 days since the Houthis’ siege began in the spring of 2015.

Dozens of Yemenis stood in a line near the Houthi-controlled eastern entrance to Taiz to protest the siege, which has lasted more than eight years, and to urge the world to intervene.

People carried signs criticizing the international community, primarily the UN, for allowing the Houthis to continue the siege. They also displayed images of people traveling on treacherous steep roads to avoid the checkpoints that choke the city.

“Taiz’s siege is the crime of the century,” one of the posters read.

“Save humanity in Taiz,” read another English-language post.

FASTFACT

On social media, Yemeni leaders, politicians, activists, and many Taiz residents have participated in a campaign to mark 3,000 days of the siege and to raise awareness of the plight of those trapped inside.

The Houthis laid siege to Yemen’s third largest city in the middle of 2015, months after engaging in fierce combat with Yemeni army troops and allied resistance fighters who successfully defended the city with the assistance of the Arab coalition.

To force the city’s surrender, the Houthis surrounded the city’s main entrances, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the city and halting the delivery of goods and humanitarian aid.

On social media, Yemeni leaders, politicians, activists, and many Taiz residents have participated in a campaign to mark 3,000 days of the siege and to raise awareness of the plight of those trapped inside.

Eshraq Al-Maqtari, a human rights activist based in Taiz, said the Houthi siege has had a significant impact on the city’s residents, with many being killed in car accidents while attempting to leave or access the city on perilous roads.

She criticized the international community for not exerting sufficient efforts to end the siege.

“During 3,000 days of blockade, the people of Taiz have endured various forms of torment. They have traversed it on foot via treacherous mountainous roads, carrying only essential supplies — medication, food, and oxygen for the patients on their backs. The world is silently observing our tribulations,” she wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to Arab News from the city, Aqeel Al-Samei, who also took part in the campaign, compared the Houthi checkpoints outside the city to the Berlin Wall, saying that the Houthi-controlled Al-Hawban road “separates families, depriving children of fathers, sons of mothers, and patients of hospitals.”

Yemeni leaders have pledged to end the siege through diplomacy or force. Rashad Al-Alimi, chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, praised Yemenis’ efforts to end the siege.

“We affirm our unwavering commitment to making the end of the fascist militia’s siege of the city a top priority,” Al-Alimi said.

Under a UN-brokered truce that came into effect in April last year, the Houthis were supposed to lift the siege in exchange for the Yemeni government facilitating the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa airport as well as the entrance of fuel ships to Hodeidah port.

However, to date, the Houthis have opened only a small unpaved road heading into and out of Taiz.

Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, presidential council member, said that the siege of Taiz will be lifted only when the Houthis are beaten by military force.

“The siege of Taiz will be broken by the guns of men, and the era of Houthi tyranny will come to an end and vanish in the same manner as other bloodthirsty militias and terrorist bands,” Saleh said.

 


‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
Updated 8 sec ago
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‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
  • Image depicts tents in a camp arranged to spell out “All Eyes on Rafah”
  • By Wednesday morning, post surpassed 40 million shares on Instagram

LONDON: The image “All Eyes on Rafah” has garnered millions of shares in the latest social media solidarity campaign, drawing widespread attention to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The post renewed advocacy efforts following a deadly Israeli airstrike on the city in southern Gaza.

According to Forbes, the slogan appears to have originated from a comment by Rik Peeperkorn, director of the World Health Organization’s Office of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In February, Peeperkorn used the phrase to shift attention toward Rafah after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an evacuation plan for the city ahead of planned attacks targeting what Netanyahu claims are the last remaining strongholds of the militant group Hamas.

By Wednesday morning, the post had surpassed 40 million shares on Instagram, with the hashtag #AllEyesonRafah trending across social media platforms.

The image, believed to be one of the first examples of AI-generated viral activist artwork, depicts tents in a camp arranged to spell out “All Eyes on Rafah.”

The phrase is intended to highlight the plight of Rafah, where local authorities reported the loss of at least 45 civilian lives following an Israeli airstrike on Sunday, which Netanyahu described on Monday as a “tragic mistake.”

Israel has faced international scrutiny for the attack, which is part of a broader offensive by the Israeli army in and around Rafah.

The decision has been widely condemned by world leaders who have urged Israel to halt its invasion in an area where about 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip had sought shelter.

Last Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered an immediate halt to the offensive, a position rejected by Israel.

In an opinion piece in The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, journalist Josh Kaplan described the post as “another vapid, lazy way to say ‘I care,’” arguing that the slogan “is one in the long canon of feel good posts that achieve very little but make the sharer feel, even just for a second, like they’re doing something to help.”

Kaplan wrote: “I understand that there is outrage at the way Israel is conducting its war. The images coming out of Gaza often feel indefensible. But what does sharing an AI image that looks nothing like Gaza actually do?”

He added: “To learn about the conflict and to formulate an opinion that maintains dignity for all sides is something that cannot be accomplished by sharing an Instagram post. All it does is make Israelis, who will have to be involved in any future peace process, feel, yet again, that the world doesn’t care about their suffering.”


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US MQ-9 drone in Yemen’s Maareb

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US MQ-9 drone in Yemen’s Maareb
Updated 17 min 37 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US MQ-9 drone in Yemen’s Maareb

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US MQ-9 drone in Yemen’s Maareb
  • Houthis’s spokesman Yahya Sarea said that this drone “is the sixth UAV that has been shot down so far“

CAIRO: Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis said they downed a US MQ-9 drone in Yemen’s southeastern province of Maareb, the group’s military spokesman said in a televised speech on Wednesday.
Houthis’s spokesman Yahya Sarea said that this drone “is the sixth UAV that has been shot down so far.”
On May 21, Houthis shot down another drone over Al-Bayda province in Southern Yemen.
The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.


Israel has tactical control of Gaza-Egypt border corridor, military official says

Israel has tactical control of Gaza-Egypt border corridor, military official says
Updated 30 min 2 sec ago
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Israel has tactical control of Gaza-Egypt border corridor, military official says

Israel has tactical control of Gaza-Egypt border corridor, military official says
  • The Israeli military’s operation in the Rafah area has in 10 days discovered 20 tunnels that cross into Egypt

JERUSALEM: An Israeli military official said on Wednesday Israeli forces had achieved tactical control over the Philadelphi Corridor that runs along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
“It doesn’t mean that we have boots on the ground across all of the corridor but it means we can control, and we have the ability to cut off the oxygen line that Hamas has used for replenishing and movement in and around that area,” the official said, referring to the Palestinian Islamist militant group.
The official said that the Israeli military’s operation in the Rafah area has in 10 days discovered 20 tunnels that cross into Egypt and that this information was passed on to Egypt.


Lebanese army under attack from Israeli machine guns

Lebanese army under attack from Israeli machine guns
Updated 29 May 2024
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Lebanese army under attack from Israeli machine guns

Lebanese army under attack from Israeli machine guns
  • UNIFIL commander: ‘Death and destruction are heartbreaking’
  • Hezbollah said they had attacked “the newly installed espionage equipment at the Al-Raheb site, hitting it directly and destroying it”

BEIRUT: A Lebanese army site on the outskirts of the border town of Alma Al-Shaab came under machine gun fire from the Israeli army on Wednesday. Nobody was injured in the incident.
Israeli artillery also targeted the outskirts of Mays Al-Jabal, Wazzani, Jebbayn, Chihine and Kfarkela.
A statement from Hezbollah said it in turn had attacked “the newly installed espionage equipment at the Al-Raheb site, hitting it directly and destroying it.”
Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said air defenses had intercepted a “suspicious aerial object” in the Ras Naqoura area without activating any sirens.
“Warplanes attacked a military building containing Hezbollah members in the Naqoura area. The planes also attacked Hezbollah buildings in Ramyah and Al-Tiri in southern Lebanon,” he said. A raid on the town of Naqoura caused minor injuries to several citizens.
The head of the United Nations Interim Force in southern Lebanon, Gen. Aroldo Lazaro, urged all parties to cease their fire, recommit to Resolution 1701, and begin the work toward a political and diplomatic solution, which he said was the only way to resolve the situation.
The security situation in the area meant UNIFIL did not hold any celebrations to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Wednesday.
In a statement, Gen. Lazaro said: “The death and destruction we have seen on both sides of the Blue Line is heartbreaking. Too many lives have been lost and disrupted. Thousands of people remain displaced and have lost their homes and their livelihoods. As peacekeepers, we recommit each day to our work to restore stability.”
Peacekeepers from 49 nations are currently in the south and report regularly to the Security Council.
Yesterday, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French president’s special envoy to Lebanon, met with the head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, at its office in Beirut.
He arrived on Tuesday evening on his sixth mission to discuss developments in the country with Lebanese officials.
Le Drian met with several officials, including caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, along with other heads of opposition Christian parties and the National Moderation bloc made up of mostly Sunni deputies.
According to the leaked information, the French official insisted on the need for consultation among Lebanese powers to name a president.
Le Drian warned: “Lebanon’s political feature will be gone if the crisis remains and if the presidential vacuum persists. Lebanon will save nothing but its geographical feature.”
Berri assured Le Drian that he would “be adhering to calling for unconditional consultations focused on the presidential election and moving to the parliament to conduct successive voting rounds with a list of candidates until a new president of the republic is elected.”


World Central Kitchen stops work in Rafah after ‘attacks’

World Central Kitchen stops work in Rafah after ‘attacks’
Updated 29 May 2024
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World Central Kitchen stops work in Rafah after ‘attacks’

World Central Kitchen stops work in Rafah after ‘attacks’
  • “In the face of Israeli operations in Rafah, countless families are being forced to flee once again,” the charity said on X
  • The charity had recently resumed its work in Gaza after suspending operations in April

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: The World Central Kitchen nonprofit, which provides meals in war-torn Gaza, said it had stopped its operations in the Palestinian territory’s southern city of Rafah due to “ongoing attacks” in the area.
The US-based charity was founded by celebrity Spanish-American chef Jose Andres to provide food to communities facing humanitarian crises and disasters.
“In the face of Israeli operations in Rafah, countless families are being forced to flee once again,” the charity said on social media platform X late on Tuesday.
“Ongoing attacks have forced us to pause work at our main kitchen in Rafah and relocate many of our community kitchens further north.”
The charity had recently resumed its work in Gaza after suspending operations in April following the killing of seven of its workers in three air strikes by an Israeli drone.
The deaths — of an Australian, three Britons, a North American, a Palestinian and a Pole — had triggered a global outrage over Israel’s military operations.
An internal Israeli military inquiry found that the drone team had made an “operational misjudgment” after spotting a suspected Hamas gunman shooting from the top of an aid truck.
In recent weeks, fighting in Rafah has intensified after the Israeli military began its ground assault there on May 7 after seizing control of the crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Gaza officials said an Israeli strike on Sunday set ablaze a crowded camp for displaced people in Rafah, killing 45 and wounding dozens.
Israel’s military said it has launched an investigation into the strike but insisted its munitions alone “could not” have caused the deadly blaze.
Since the start of the Rafah assault, delivering aid into Gaza has become more difficult, aid agencies say.
Even when medical and other aid makes it into Gaza, it remains “very challenging” to transport and deliver the goods both in the south and to the north, Rik Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization’s representative in the Palestinian territories, told AFP on Tuesday.