Arab Israelis bury official as crime wave toll nears 160

Arab Israelis bury official as crime wave toll nears 160
Mourners march in the funeral procession for Abed Al-Rahman Kashua, the Director-general of the Municipality in Tira, Israel, on Aug. 23, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 23 August 2023
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Arab Israelis bury official as crime wave toll nears 160

Arab Israelis bury official as crime wave toll nears 160
  • Abdelrahman Kashua, who held the post of director-general in Tira city, just north of Tel Aviv, was gunned down at a gas station on Monday
  • Mourners carrying black flags gathered outside a police station in protest as part of the funeral procession

TIRA, Israel: A high-ranking civil servant buried Wednesday in Israel is the latest victim of a crime wave that has killed almost 160 members of Israel’s Arab minority this year.
Abdelrahman Kashua, who held the post of director-general in Tira city, just north of Tel Aviv, was gunned down at a gas station on Monday, police said.
Mourners carrying black flags gathered outside a police station in protest as part of the funeral procession.
Kashua is among 156 Arab-Israelis killed so far this year, according to the Abraham Initiatives which promotes coexistence between Arabs and Jews.
Arab Israelis have long complained of discrimination and police inaction against crime that disproportionately affects their communities.
Experts say Arab gangs have amassed large quantities of illegal weapons over the past two decades and are involved in drug and other crimes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday condemned Kashua’s killing as a “red line” and vowed to use all means “in order to defeat this crime” wave.
But just hours after his remarks, four more Arab men were murdered in the northern town of Abu Snan.
One of the victims, Ghazi Saab, had written on Facebook about his plans to stand in municipal elections later this year, and said “we can no longer remain silent.”
“Crime and acts of violence in our villages have crossed all limits,” he wrote in July.
“I appeal to all to not deal in violence. There is no reason to kill.”
A leading Arab politician, Mansour Abbas, on Wednesday called for greater support for his community.
“Our demand is only one, that the state of Israel carries out its duty to protect the lives of Arab citizens,” he said at Kashua’s funeral.
Abbas made history in 2021 when his Raam movement became the first Arab party to join a governing coalition, pressing while in power for funds to tackle crime.
Arab Israelis, descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land after Israel’s creation in 1948, make up about 21 percent of the population and many identify as Palestinian.
Earlier this month Netanyahu blamed “out-of-control criminal organizations” for the violence, which has led to other protests by Arab Israelis this year.
In early June, the prime minister said he was “determined to stop this chain of murders” and would see that happen by not only reinforcing police but also “with the help of the Shin Bet,” the internal security agency.


G7 leaders worried by situation on Lebanon border -draft communique

G7 leaders worried by situation on Lebanon border -draft communique
Updated 58 min 39 sec ago
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G7 leaders worried by situation on Lebanon border -draft communique

G7 leaders worried by situation on Lebanon border -draft communique
  • The Western leaders reiterated their unwavering commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy: Group of Seven leaders are very concerned by the situation on the Israel-Lebanon border and endorse US efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, according to a draft communique due to be released following this week’s G7 summit.
The statement added that the Western leaders reiterated their unwavering commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, side-by-side.
In addition, they called on Israel to refrain from a full-scale offensive in Rafah, “in line with their obligations under international law.”


Erdogan calls on US, UN Security Council to pressure Israel on Gaza truce

Erdogan calls on US, UN Security Council to pressure Israel on Gaza truce
Updated 13 June 2024
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Erdogan calls on US, UN Security Council to pressure Israel on Gaza truce

Erdogan calls on US, UN Security Council to pressure Israel on Gaza truce
  • Erdogan said Ankara welcomed any ceasefire proposals that would end the Gaza war

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday called on members of the United Nations Security Council, particularly the United States, to pressure Israel into a ceasefire in Gaza after the Council backed a US proposal earlier this week.
Speaking in Madrid alongside Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Erdogan said Ankara welcomed any ceasefire proposals that would end the Gaza war, adding Washington’s stance on Israel’s operations there were “truly upsetting” Turkiye.


Hezbollah fires new barrage at Israel, which vows to hit back

Hezbollah fires new barrage at Israel, which vows to hit back
Updated 40 min 36 sec ago
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Hezbollah fires new barrage at Israel, which vows to hit back

Hezbollah fires new barrage at Israel, which vows to hit back
  • One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations“
  • “Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired a new wave of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders.
It was Hezbollah’s largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since its ally Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered the Gaza war.
Hezbollah fighters launched “an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites” while simultaneously flying “squadrons of explosive-laden drones” at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.
One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations.”
Hezbollah said the attacks were “part of the response to the assassination” of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.
The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.
“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.
“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.
In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that “eliminated” Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
A Lebanese military source said he was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.


More than half of cropland in hungry Gaza is damaged, UN says

More than half of cropland in hungry Gaza is damaged, UN says
Updated 13 June 2024
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More than half of cropland in hungry Gaza is damaged, UN says

More than half of cropland in hungry Gaza is damaged, UN says
  • The data reveals a rise in the destruction of orchards, field crops and vegetables in the Palestinian enclave
  • 57 percent of Gaza’s permanent crop fields and arable lands essential for food security had shown a significant decline in density and health

GENEVA: More than half of Gaza’s agricultural land, crucial for feeding the war-ravaged territory’s hungry population, has been degraded by conflict, satellite images analyzed by the United Nations show.
The data reveals a rise in the destruction of orchards, field crops and vegetables in the Palestinian enclave, where hunger is widespread after eight months of Israeli bombardment.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that many people in Gaza were facing “catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions.”
Using satellite imagery taken between May 2017 and 2024, United Nations Satellite Center (UNOSAT) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that 57 percent of Gaza’s permanent crop fields and arable lands essential for food security had shown a significant decline in density and health.
“In May 2024, crop health and density across the Gaza Strip showed a marked decline compared to the average of the previous seven seasons,” UNOSAT said on Thursday.
“This deterioration is attributed to conflict-related activities, including razing, heavy vehicle movement, bombing, and shelling.”
The decline, UNOSAT said, marked a 30 percent increase in damaged agricultural land since it published its last analysis in April.
Israel’s ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
The offensive has killed more than 37,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave, and has caused mass destruction and cut off routes for aid.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday there were more than 8,000 children under five years old in Gaza who had been treated for acute malnutrition.
As well as damage to crop fields and orchards, greenhouses across the Gaza Strip had also sustained significant damage, UNOSAT said.
The Gaza Strip has an estimated 151 square kilometers of agricultural land, which makes up about 41 percent of the coastal enclave’s territory, according to data from UNOSAT.


Iraq warns of ‘danger’ in Lebanon conflict expanding

Iraq warns of ‘danger’ in Lebanon conflict expanding
Updated 13 June 2024
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Iraq warns of ‘danger’ in Lebanon conflict expanding

Iraq warns of ‘danger’ in Lebanon conflict expanding
  • The exchanges between Israel and Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group, an ally of Hamas, have intensified in recent weeks, sparking fears of wider war
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s foreign minister on Thursday, receiving his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, warned of the dangers of conflict expanding in southern Lebanon and its repercussions across the Middle East.
Near-daily cross-border fire between Lebanese-based militants and Israeli forces have occurred since Palestinian group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering the ongoing aggression in the Gaza Strip.
The exchanges between Israel and Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group, an ally of Hamas, have intensified in recent weeks, sparking fears of wider war.
“If southern Lebanon is attacked, it will affect the entire region,” Iraq’s top diplomat Fuad Hussein said at a press conference with Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, who also voiced opposition to a regional escalation.
“The expansion of the war is a danger, not only for Lebanon but for the entire region,” Hussein said, repeating his call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
The Iranian minister similarly called for “putting an end as quickly as possible, and without preconditions,” to “war crimes” and “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.
He said Israel, in response to their “failure” in Gaza, “may seek to commit further wrongs and broaden the scope of their aggression,” but Iran would not allow anyone “to harm stability and regional security, even if only a little.”
Experts have said they believe risk of a wider war is limited.
Hezbollah, a major ally of Tehran’s, launched a barrage of rockets at northern Israel on Wednesday and promised to intensify its attacks after the killing of a top military commander the day before in an Israeli strike.
The Israeli military said more than 150 projectiles were fired from Lebanon into Israel in successive barrages, without any reported casualties, adding that they responded with strikes against several targets in southern Lebanon.