ANKARA: A passenger bus veered off the road and crashed into a roadside ditch in central Turkiye on Monday, killing 12 people and injuring 19 others, officials said.
The driver of the bus lost control of the vehicle, which crossed into the oncoming lane and then plunged into the ditch near the central Turkish city of Yozgat, Gov. Mehmet Ali Ozkan said.
The bus was traveling from Sivas — some 240 kilometers (150 miles) east of Yozgat — to Istanbul.
Ozkan said 11 of the passengers died at the scene of the crash while one died later in the hospital.
The injured passengers were being treated in nearby hospitals and one of them was in serious condition, he said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, Ozkan said, adding that it appeared to be the result of “carelessness” by the driver.
‘Nothing like we have seen before’: medics describe Gaza injuries on UAE evacuation flight
Medics reported severe burns, injuries, fractures and deformities on children’s bodies
Working under intense environments, UAE medics were prepared for all scenarios on evacuation flight
Updated 12 sec ago
ABU DHABI: Nothing could have prepared Palestinian pediatric nurse Etimad Hassouna for what she saw as she aided injured Palestinian children evacuated from Gaza on a UAE mission.
Hailing from Gaza, Hassouna was among a volunteering team of about 30 medical professionals from the UAE’s Burjeel Hospital, NMC Royal Hospital and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. The team has worked tirelessly to assist war-stricken patients in unpredictable and challenging evacuation missions that last up to 24 hours.
On an Etihad Airways flight that evacuated 120 injured Palestinians and their families on Friday following intense violence after the truce ended, Hassouna told Arab News that the injuries inflicted on Gazans are “nothing like I have never seen before” during her 22-year professional experience.
“I saw cases of children with severe burns, injuries and fractures in an intensity I have never witnessed throughout my career in emergency departments, surgery and pediatric wards. Most of the patients coming from under the rubble are disabled for life.”
Hassouna works alongside colleagues with a diverse range of expertise to ensure injured evacuees remain in a stable condition on the “flying hospital” from Egypt’s Al-Arish until they land in Abu Dhabi for further treatment.
While the unpredictability of the situation prompts the team to be logistically prepared for all cases and act on the spot, Hassouna said that the extent of the suffering was still difficult to witness.
“It’s a mix of feelings between sadness, to see innocent children suffering on this magnitude, and happiness, to have the opportunity to help rescue them. This small contribution makes me feel I’m giving back, given that we have been feeling rather helpless,” said Hassouna, who left Gaza 30 years ago.
Asked how she copes with treating severe cases coming from her homeland, she said that “faith and hope” have kept her going. “The reason you go on a mission like this is the same reason you cope, especially when you are helping children.”
Hassouna, whose relatives are displaced in Gaza and living in dire conditions, said: “It hasn’t been easy, but I have to be strong for the women, children and patients.”
Some of Hassouna’s colleagues serving the UAE’s goal to evacuate 2,000 injured Palestinian children and cancer patients have experience working in war zones.
Yet, Sabreen Tawalbeh, a Jordanian nursing manager at Burjeel Medical Center in Abu Dhabi, said the team is witnessing injuries more severe than in any past Gaza conflict.
Although Tawalbeh served as part of a medical team inside Gaza during the 2014 war, she said the burns and injuries on children’s bodies resulting from Israel’s bombardment since Oct. 7 were more acute and violent.
“I received a two-year-old baby whose entire lower body was burned. The children I have dealt with had serious deformities,” said Tawalbeh, who was on her third UAE mission.
More than medical care, patients arriving with extreme shock and trauma require a hope-driven approach.
“It’s important during the evacuation to make them feel safe, given that they are moving to a new place away from the home they have never left, let alone under trauma effects.”
Tawalbeh added: “We need to give them hope that their situation is temporary; that they will return home someday stronger and fully recovered.”
The medical professional, who has tended to war victims in Libya, Afghanistan and Congo, said she will never forget an 11-year-old boy who arrived as a companion to his two cousins, a 7-year-old boy with a fractured skull and a two-year-old baby. The family of the two children had been killed.
“I saw a child become a hero. He was a man who probably never got to live his childhood,” said Tawalbeh. “After serving in this field for so long, I felt I was chosen for this mission, and I love being part of helping people.
Constantly improving missions
UAE doctors and nurses have no knowledge of the cases they will receive beforehand, prompting them to follow a flexible plan throughout the mission. They must be prepared with all types of equipment and a range of specializations.
To increase their future preparedness, the medical staff constantly learn from the challenges of each mission and aim to improve for the next.
During the first evacuation mission, for example, the team faced difficulties moving a patient with a spinal cord injury into the plane due to a lack of equipment to prevent his neck from moving. Another mission received a far higher number of patients than expected.
“Every mission we learn something new,” said Tawalbeh.
Kenneth Charles Dittrich, a consultant emergency physician from SKMC, said that his team comprised anesthetists, respiratory technologists, administrative assistants to help with identifying people, and four nursing staff to prepare for contingencies across all ages groups.
“The evacuated patients go through multiple checks at different borders. During that time, stable people’s condition can change, and to deal with such dynamic medical conditions, we need to constantly be on our feet and serve different roles.”
The staff coordinate with the on-ground medical personnel deployed in Rafah and Al-Arish, as well as Egyptian paramedics, who provide an initial assessment of the patients and give a list of the cases coming on board.
Upon receiving patients, the UAE medics perform reassessments and develop a treatment plan to follow on the flight.
The medics also work in coordination with UAE authorities to distribute the patients to different specialist hospitals across the country.
The Emirati mission includes a range of nationalities, demonstrating their unity in supporting the humanitarian cause.
Not a stranger to operating in challenging war zones throughout his 42-year career, Dittrich said that he had learned to make boundaries on the job but would allow himself to process the emotions of stress later.
He added that a key aspect of his work is to “remain human,” adding: “It’s overwhelming to think of people escaping deaths and recognizing what they have left behind.
“The first thing we would do is provide them with nutrition and hydration after long journeys with emotions and stress, and trauma.
“We are in a position to help, and that’s always a positive aspect.”
Iran says an Israeli strike in Syria killed 2 Revolutionary Guard members while on advisory mission
The report on the Guard’s news portal identified the two members as Mohammad Ali Ataei Shourcheh and Panah Taghizadeh
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition war monitor, said the strikes hit the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab
Updated 02 December 2023
TEHRAN: Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard stated through its website that two of its forces stationed in Syria were killed in an Israeli airstrike Saturday.
The report on the Guard’s news portal identified the two members as Mohammad Ali Ataei Shourcheh and Panah Taghizadeh, and said they were carrying out an advisory mission in Syria. It did not elaborate on their rank, or the area where they were killed.
Syrian state media, quoting an unnamed military official, said Israeli airstrikes hit several areas on the outskirts of the capital Damascus early Saturday. The strikes resulted in only “material losses,” the report added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition war monitor, said the strikes hit the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, where “there are military forces working with the Lebanese (militant group) Hezbollah.” It said the strike killed two Syrian citizens and two foreigners and wounded five others.
This latest development is likely to increase tensions between Israel and Iran, which has been a staunch supporter of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. Iranian officials have warned repeatedly that the Israel-Hamas war, which erupted on Oct.7, could spread to other parts of the region.
Iran’s military presence in Syria has been a major concern for Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment along its northern border. Syria has accused Israel of carrying out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts in recent years — but Israel has rarely acknowledged such strikes.
Iran has been a main supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad during the country’s 12-year civil war. Thousands of Iran-backed fighters have been deployed in Syria where they helped tip the balance of power in Assad’s favor over the past years.
Scores of Iranian Revolutionary Guard members have been killed during the war in Syria though Tehran has long said it has only a military advisory role in Syria.
Since the Israel-Hamas began, Israel has carried out several strikes targeting Syria, putting the international airports of Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo out of commission for more than a month.
ABU DHABI: At least 120 injured Palestinian children and cancer patients along with their families have been evacuated from Gaza to the UAE for treatment in the first Emirati mission carried out after the week-long truce between Hamas and Israel ended.
However, UAE medical staff, who arrived on a chartered plane at Egypt’s Al-Arish International Airport at 4 p.m. to airlift patients to Abu Dhabi on Friday, said that more Palestinians could have been saved if the truce was extended.
Dr. Maha Barakat, the UAE assistant minister of foreign affairs for health, told Arab News that the renewed bombardment has complicated the evacuation of Palestinians through the Rafah border crossing.
“We would have had more seats on the plane filled with patients if the ceasefire had continued, but it’s just unfortunate,” said Barakat from the tarmac of Abu Dhabi International Airport, where Palestinian patients arrived to safety early Saturday at 5 a.m. following a complex 14-hour evacuation mission.
The Etihad Airways’ Boeing-777 plane, which has transformed into a flying hospital, carried the fourth group of Palestinian patients since the UAE’s evacuation mission started on Nov. 18 with an aim to take in 1,000 injured children and 1,000 cancer patients of all ages for treatment in UAE hospitals.
Arab News was on board the humanitarian mission that took off from Abu Dhabi to Al-Arish airport where patients arrived in Egyptian ambulances from Rafah.
Elderly cancer patients were taken on stretchers and wheelchairs, and delicately transported into the aircraft via hydraulic lifts.
While the first three evacuation flights carried many children with trauma and some with cancer to the UAE, Friday’s flight mainly transported adult and children cancer patients, with only a few cases suffering from trauma injuries.
Weary, sleep-deprived and in pain, many of the patients received painkillers for the first time since the Oct. 7 conflict began, after Israeli bombardment caused a complete collapse of the health system in Gaza and pushed the enclave into a serious humanitarian crisis.
Intense bombing was reported across in Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, killing hundreds shortly after the humanitarian truce collapsed.
Barakat detailed the long journeys that Gazans take to reach the Rafah crossing with Egypt amid the intense bombardment in the war zone. “Patients arriving today would have left Gaza to the Rafah border at 8:30 a.m. without proper food or drink. Some of them waited for security clearance to get through the border to Egypt until 5:30 p.m.
“By the time they arrived in Al-Arish airport, they were exhausted, and many of them were in pain.”
At Al-Arish airport, 50 km away from Rafah, Mohammed Abdel-Fattah, a paramedic from the Egyptian Ambulance Authority receiving Gaza patients for evacuation through the border, told Arab News about the intense bombardment at the Rafah crossing on Friday.
“Buildings on the Egyptian side of Rafah were heavily shaking from the bombardment,” he said.
Challenging evacuation process
A team of about 30 doctors, nurses and medics aided patients on board, liaising with another specialist UAE team on the ground in Egypt’s Al-Arish and Rafah. The ground team carries out preliminary assessments on patients arriving through the border.
The UAE has been working with partners like the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescents to identify and assess patients who can cross the Rafah border in what Barakat called a “complex and challenging process that takes a long time.”
She added: “Getting information on who can cross Rafah border and when is the most challenging part.”
Asked how people are selected for evacuation, Barakat said that UAE authorities receive a list of patients from the few hospitals still operating inside Gaza. Patients are then asked to head to the Rafah border, where only those who obtain a security clearance from Israeli and Egyptian authorities are allowed to leave Gaza.
“I didn’t think we’d survive”
Abdelrahman Hussam Zyada, 31, said he narrowly escaped death twice on his way to Rafah as a companion for his mother, a cancer patient with severe back and knee issues.
“We bid farewell to our relatives on Friday morning before we left for Rafah. By then, the truce had ended, and I asked them to pray for us whether we survive or die. And I don’t know if I will ever see them again,” said Zyada, who has lost more than 50 members of his family since Oct. 7.
Zyada’s planned journey to Rafah was supposed to take 20 to 30 minutes, but intense bombardment blocked several roads, forcing him and his mother to take alternative routes.
“I could not believe we would ever reach the border where we are welcomed by the paramedics and the Egyptian authorities, let alone arrive safely in the UAE,” he said.
His mother was receiving treatment at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, Gaza’s only cancer facility, which was damaged by Israeli strikes. She was referred to a hospital in Ramallah, but lacked the means to travel there due to the intensity of the war in Gaza.
The absence of medical care has seen her condition deteriorate, especially after the family was forced to move when their homes were flattened by airstrikes.
Zyada said his mother would not have stood a chance at survival if she was not evacuated for further treatment. “There are no hospitals or medicines. Nowhere is safe in Gaza.”
Amna Hashem Saeed, a pancreatic cancer patient who was also evacuated, had to bid farewell to her only daughter, who could not get through Rafah as her companion.
“My daughter remained at the border because she couldn’t immediately return home due to the intense bombing. Before I departed, she told me she was left with nothing, that she was only left to die,” Saeed recalled as she sobbed.
Saeed herself had previously failed to cross Rafah for treatment in Turkiye seven times due to the security situation. “Every time I headed to the border, I got sent back,” she said.
Her condition deteriorated when she could not receive chemotherapy, which is supposed to be repeated four times in two months. “I had no appetite to eat or sleep. I lost so much weight,” she added.
Saeed’s departure was filled with conflicted feelings. She felt relief over receiving treatment, but sadness for her husband, children and 23 grandchildren left behind in Gaza. “My husband had a stroke and he insisted I go for treatment and find happiness again. But there’s no happiness without them. I can’t imagine how my life would be without them,” she said.
Israeli shells hit southern Lebanon in second day of violence after Israel-Hamas truce ends
Hezbollah said two of the dead were its fighters
Israel's military said two mortar bombs launched from Lebanon fell in open areas in Shomera
Updated 02 December 2023
BEIRUT: Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants exchanged fire across the Israel-Lebanon border on Saturday in a second day of hostilities after the collapse of a truce in Gaza between Palestinian group Hamas and Israel.
Iran-backed Hezbollah said in a statement that one of its fighters was killed but did not specify when. Three people in south Lebanon were killed by Israeli shelling on Friday in south Lebanon, according to Lebanon’s state news agency. Hezbollah said two of the dead were its fighters.
Hezbollah also said it fired rockets at an Israeli position. Israel’s military said two mortar bombs launched from Lebanon fell in open areas in Shomera, across the border from the south Lebanon village of Marwahin. The military said it responded by attacking the launch site and elsewhere in south Lebanon.
Earlier on Saturday, shelling from Israel hit close to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) headquarters near the coastal town of Naqoura and around the border village of Rmaych, a UNIFIL spokesperson said.
The Israeli military said it carried out shelling near Naqoura after spotting “unusual activity” in the area.
UNIFIL also detected fire around 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) from the area of Tayr Harfa, about a mile from the Israeli frontier, toward Israel, the spokesperson said.
Following the eruption of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7, Hezbollah mounted near-daily rocket attacks on Israeli positions at the frontier while Israel waged air and artillery strikes in south Lebanon. But the border was largely calm during the week-long truce in the Gaza war.
It has been the worst fighting since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally.
Just over 100 people in Lebanon have been killed during the hostilities, 83 of them Hezbollah fighters. Tens of thousands of people have fled both sides of the border.
Israel intensifies its assault on southern Gaza, causing renewed concern about civilian deaths
First aid trucks enter Rafah crossing to Gaza since truce collapses
Hamas said Saturday that 240 people had been killed in the Palestinian territory since a pause in the fighting expired on Friday
Updated 8 min 58 sec ago
KHAN YOUNIS: Israel pounded targets in the crowded southern half of the Gaza Strip on Saturday and ordered more neighborhoods designated for attack to evacuate, driving up the death toll even as the United States and others urged it to do more to protect Gaza civilians a day after a truce collapsed.
At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting resumed Friday morning following the weeklong truce with the territory’s ruling militant group Hamas, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. Several homes were hit across Gaza on Saturday, with multiple casualties reported in a strike that flattened a multi-story building on the outskirts of Gaza City.
Separately, the ministry announced that the overall death toll in Gaza since the Oct. 7 start of the Israel-Hamas war had surpassed 15,200, a sharp jump from the previous count of more than 13,300 on Nov. 20. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but it said 70 percent of the dead were women and children. It said more than 40,000 people had been wounded since the war began.
The appeal from the United States, Israel’s closest ally, to do more to protect civilians came after an air and ground offensive in the first weeks of the war devastated large areas of northern Gaza. Some 2 million Palestinians, almost Gaza’s entire population, are now crammed into the territory’s southern half.
Israel’s military said Saturday that it had hit more than 400 Hamas targets across Gaza over the past day, including more than 50 strikes in the city of Khan Younis and surrounding areas in southern Gaza.
At least nine people, including three children, were killed in a strike on a house in Deir Al-Balah city in the south, according to the hospital where the bodies were taken. The hospital also received seven bodies of others killed in overnight airstrikes, including two children.
In northern Gaza, an airstrike flattened a residential building hosting displaced families in the urban refugee camp of Jabaliya on the outskirts of Gaza City. The strike left dozens dead or wounded, said residents Hamza Obeid and Amal Radwan.
“There was a loud bang, then the building turned into a pile of rubble,” Obeid said. AP video showed smoke rising from a fire as men, some in sandals, picked their way over the debris. The Israeli military confirmed it was operating in Jabaliya and said it had found and destroyed Hamas tunnels in the surrounding area.
And a powerful strike hit a cluster of multi-story buildings in Hamad City, a Qatari-funded housing development on the outskirts of Khan Younis. Huge clouds of smoke engulfed the complex. There was no immediate word on casualties,
Meanwhile, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza said they fired a barrage of rockets on southern Israel. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesperson, said Hamas had launched more than 250 rockets at Israel since the cease-fire ended.
The prospect of further cease-fires in Gaza appeared bleak, as Israel recalled its negotiators and Hamas’ deputy leader said any further exchange of prisoners would happen after the war ends. Saleh Arouri asserted to broadcaster Al-Jazeera that any remaining hostages are men, “all of whom served in the (Israeli) army.” Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters that Hamas violated the agreement by refusing to return two children and 15 women it is holding.
With the resumption of fighting, the Israeli military published an online map carving up the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered parcels and asked residents to familiarize themselves with the number of their location ahead of evacuation warnings.
On Saturday, the military listed more than two dozen parcel numbers in areas around Gaza City in the north and east of Khan Younis. Separately, it dropped leaflets with evacuation orders over towns east of Khan Younis.
One Khan Younis resident said a neighbor received a call from the Israeli army warning that houses in the area would be hit and everyone should leave. “We told them, ‘We have nothing here, why do you want to strike it?’” said the resident, Hikmat Al-Qidra. Al-Qidra said the house was destroyed.
The maps and leaflets generated panic and confusion, especially in the crowded south. Unable to go to northern Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only escape is to move around within the 220-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) area.
“There is no place to go,” said Emad Hajjar, who fled with his wife and three children from the north a month ago to Khan Younis. “They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”
Amal Radwan, who sheltered in the Jabaliya refugee camp, said she wasn’t aware of such a map, adding that she and many others were not able to leave because of the bombardment.
Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said Israel was making “maximum effort” to protect civilians and the military has used leafleting, phone calls, and radio and TV broadcasts to urge Gazans to move from specific areas.
Regev added that Israel is considering a future security buffer zone that would not allow Gazans direct access to the border fence on foot, adding that Israel doesn’t plan to annex any territory from Gaza.
Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive in northern Gaza.
Also Saturday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said it had received the first convoy of aid trucks through the Rafah crossing since fighting resumed. Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said a convoy of 100 trucks entered Gaza, including three carrying 150,000 liters (nearly 40,000 gallons) of fuel.
“Current conditions do not allow for a meaningful humanitarian response, and I fear will spell disaster for the civilian population,” said Pascal Hundt, who is in charge of operations in Gaza for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris, in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 climate conference, said in a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that “under no circumstances” would the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza or redrawing of its borders, according to a US summary.
Harris was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning the next steps for Gaza after the conflict, according to the White House. President Joe Biden’s administration has emphasized the need for an eventual two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting.
The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel. Around 240 people were taken captive.
The renewed hostilities have heightened concerns for 136 hostages who, according to the Israeli military, are still held by Hamas and other militants after 105 were freed during the truce. A 70-year-old woman held by Hamas was declared dead on Saturday, according to her kibbutz, bringing the total number of known dead hostages to eight.
During the truce, Israel freed 240 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of those released by both sides were women and children.
The truce’s end also saw new activity along Israel’s northern border. Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said its fighters attacked at least five Israeli posts along the border, and Israeli forces struck several areas on the Lebanese side. There were no reports of casualties.