Egypt resumes commercial flights to Sudan for the first time since the war
Egypt resumes commercial flights to Sudan for the first time since the war/node/2367676/middle-east
Egypt resumes commercial flights to Sudan for the first time since the war
Passengers disembark off an EgyptAir Boeing 737 aircraft upon landing for the first time at Port Sudan International Airport on September 5, 2023 upon the inauguration of a new international flight route between Cairo and Port Sudan. (AFP)
CAIRO: Egypt on Tuesday resumed direct commercial flights to Sudan for the first time since a devastating war broke out between Sudan’s rival general earlier this year.
A flight operated by Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir was received in the Sudanese coastal city of Port Sudan by Sameh Farouq, Egypt’s consul general. He said EgyptAir would operate a weekly round trip to Port Sudan, according the state-run MENA news agency.
Flight MS865 departed from Cairo and landed in Port Sudan at 6.30 a.m., according to tracking service Flightradar24. A return flight landed in Cairo on Tuesday afternoon.
They were the first commercial flights to and from Sudan since the African nation descended into war in mid-April. The conflict pits Sudan’s military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, against the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.
The resumption of flights came a week after Burhan met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in the Egyptian city of el-Alamein on the Mediterranean. It was the first trip for the Sudanese leader abroad since the fighting.
Sudan reopened the airspace in the east of the country in mid-August, according to the country’s civil aviation authority. Port Sudan, which is controlled by the military, has largely been spared the fighting and became Sudan’s main entry point for humanitarian flights and aid shipments.
The conflict has turned Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlegrounds. More than 4.8 million people fled their homes either to safer areas inside Sudan or crossed into neighboring countries. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.
70,000 migrants intercepted by Tunisia in 2023: official
Tunisia, alongside Libya, is the principal departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe
Updated 15 sec ago
TUNIS: Close to 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy this year, more than double the 2022 figure, the Tunisian National Guard told AFP on Saturday.
Tunisia, alongside Libya, is the principal departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe.
The number intercepted by Tunisian authorities was 69,963 for the first 11 months of 2023, compared to 31,297 in the same period last year, according to data from the National Guard.
Foreigners made up 78 percent, while the rest were Tunisians.
That was a significant shift from 2022, when 59 percent were foreign migrants.
The exodus accelerated in February after Tunisia’s President Kais Saied denounced the arrival of “hordes of illegal migrants” from sub-Saharan Africa whom he claimed were part of a “criminal plan” aimed at “changing the demographic composition” of the country.
The speech triggered a violent anti-migrant campaign, prompting several African countries, notably the Ivory Coast and Guinea, to repatriate thousands of their citizens, while many migrants attempted to flee by boat, leading to a number of sinkings.
Tunisia has been accused by the United Nations and humanitarian NGOs of “expelling” migrants to Libya and Algeria, which Tunisian authorities deny.
International humanitarian sources told AFP that at least 5,500 migrants have been expelled to the border with Libya and 3,000 to that with Algeria since June, including a large number caught trying to leave for Europe.
More than 100 migrants have died in the Libyan-Tunisian desert this summer, they said, adding that “collective expulsions to Libya and Algeria continue.”
Most of the intercepted migrants were caught on Tunisia’s eastern coastline close to Sfax, which is only around 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa.
This summer, a wave of departures was triggered by a brawl in Sfax in which a Tunisian was killed, leading police to send hundreds into the desert.
The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets
Updated 12 min 48 sec ago
SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels threatened on Saturday to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine were allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The latest warning comes amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters following a series of maritime attacks by Houthi rebels since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they “will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity” if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets.
Regardless of which flag ships sail under or the nationality of their owners or operators, Israel-bound vessels “will become a legitimate target for our armed forces,” the statement said.
Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said his country would not accept the “naval siege,” noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked US President Joe Biden and European leaders to take measures to address the situation.
“If the world will not take care of it,” Hanegbi warned on Israel’s Channel 12 television, “we will take action to remove the naval siege.”
Last week, the Houthis attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, including a Bahamas-flagged vessel, claiming they were Israeli-owned.
And last month, the rebel forces seized the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-linked cargo vessel.
“We warn all ships and companies against dealing with Israeli ports,” the latest Houthi statement said.
It added that all “ships linked to Israel or that will transport goods to Israeli ports” are not welcome in the Red Sea, a vital channel for global trade linked to the Suez Canal.
Beyond maritime attacks, the Houthis have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since the deadly attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas triggered all-out war.
The militants poured over the border into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240 others, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, and launched a military offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 17,700 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
The spike in maritime incidents prompted G7 foreign ministers at a meeting earlier this month to urge the rebels to cease threats to international shipping and to release the Galaxy Leader.
Supreme Islamic Council condemns Israeli targeting of villages, farms
French delegation leads talks in Tel Aviv, Beirut in bid to restore calm
Updated 4 min 43 sec ago
BEIRUT: Confrontations between Hezbollah militants and the Israeli army intensified on Saturday as talks continued in an effort to end the conflict on Lebanon’s southern border.
The Supreme Islamic Council, which includes Sunni figures in Lebanon, expressed concern about Israeli targeting of villages, towns, and farms in southern areas of the country.
The council met in Dar Al-Fatwa, chaired by the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian.
In a statement, the council said that Israeli officials should be considered “perpetrators of war crimes and mass crimes against humanity, and subjected to international justice, to prevent the occurrence of these crimes elsewhere in the world.”
The statement came as a French delegation met with Lebanese leaders and security officials for a second day in a bid to settle the conflict.
The delegation visited Tel Aviv ahead of the talks, which seek to restore calm along the Blue Line as part of a commitment to implement UN Resolution 1701.
Speaking after the meeting, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he notified the visiting French delegation of acts of Israeli aggression stretching back to 2006 and involving more than 30,000 violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
He called for the demarcation of the land border and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Lebanese regions.
Bou Habib reiterated that Lebanese airspace should not be used to attack Syria, and highlighted the importance of supporting the Lebanese army in implementing the UN resolution.
The delegation from France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs is led by Frederic Mondoloni, director-general for political and security affairs, and includes Alice Rufo, director-general of external relations and strategy at the French Ministry of Armed Forces.
Israel stepped up its shelling of southern border villages on Saturday.
Homeowners and facility owners captured footage of the widespread destruction of property, with some houses in Odaisseh and Aita Al-Shaab leveled.
Some of the villages are believed to have been targeted preemptively by Israel in order to thwart possible attacks by Hezbollah.
After a night of Israeli shelling, Hezbollah resumed its strikes on Israeli military sites.
Hezbollah said it targeted Israeli soldiers near Metula “with appropriate weapons, causing direct hits.”
The militant group also renewed its shelling of areas in Ramyah, and said it struck an Israeli bunker, killing and wounding those inside.
It also targeted an Israeli army site in Ras Naqoura.
The killing of several fighters in the past 48 hours has lifted Hezbollah’s death toll to 95 since the beginning of its involvement in hostilities on Oct. 8.
Media reports said that three militants died when their car was targeted by an Israeli drone in Quneitra, Syria.
The Israeli army escalated its attacks on Lebanon, shelling Mount Labouneh with heavy artillery, according to a security source.
For the second time in recent days the Israeli army also targeted Lebanese army facilities.
Israeli shelling targeted an army hospital in Ain Ebel, according to the Lebanese Army Command, while an army site in Jidar, near Rmeish, was hit by two phosphorus shells, injuring two soldiers.
Three soldiers were injured when Israeli rockets struck the Intelligence and Naval Forces Center in Ras Al-Naqoura.
Israeli artillery also targeted the outskirts of the Kfarchouba village and the Zebdine outpost, with rockets being fired every 15 minutes.
Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said that fighter jets hit a series of Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon, including the party’s operational headquarters.
Syria strikes kill 6 civilians in rebel bastion: monitor
“Regime forces directly targeted residential areas of the city of Idlib,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Government forces fired “more than 35 missiles” during the bombardment
Updated 45 min 5 sec ago
BEIRUT: Six civilians were killed and 25 others wounded on Saturday in Syrian army bombardment of the country’s last major rebel bastion, a war monitor said.
“Regime forces directly targeted residential areas of the city of Idlib,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that industrial areas were also hit, as well as “residential areas in the town of Sarmin” nearby.
Six civilians, “including two children and a woman,” were killed in Idlib and Sarmin, while 25 others were wounded in the strikes in various areas of Idlib province, added the Britain-based Observatory.
Government forces fired “more than 35 missiles” during the bombardment, it added.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria branch, controls swathes of Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
HTS is considered a terrorist group by Damascus, as well as by the United States and the European Union.
Parts of the rebel bastion have seen fierce fighting in recent days, according to the Observatory.
On Friday, it said 11 pro-government forces and five HTS fighters had been killed after the jihadists launched an attack in neighboring Aleppo province a day earlier.
Late last month, Syrian government bombardment killed nine civilians including six children as they harvested olives in Idlib province, reported the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.
Civil war erupted in Syria after President Bashar Assad crushed peaceful anti-government protests in 2011.
The conflict has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions after spiralling into a devastating war involving foreign armies, militias and jihadists.
A cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkiye was declared in Idlib after a government offensive in March 2020, but it has been repeatedly violated.
Israel-Hamas war in Gaza takes heavy toll on Palestinian cultural heritage
Libraries, archives, parks and museums damaged or destroyed by weeks of Israeli bombardment of occupied enclave
Gaza Municipal Library and Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Center among many landmarks wrecked by two-month-old conflict
Updated 19 min 8 sec ago
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, Israel’s war with the militant Palestinian group has wreaked unprecedented havoc on the Gaza Strip, demolishing entire neighborhoods and displacing more than a million people.
While the tragic loss of life is understandably being deplored in the strongest terms, people are not the only casualties. Cultural treasures — including libraries, art galleries and historical artifacts — are also being destroyed, meaning institutions that have offered Gaza’s civilian population respite from the trauma of occupation are being lost to the world.
And while many regional conflicts, from Mosul to Raqqa, have been followed by creative spaces and cultural institutions being rebuilt, while the conflict in Gaza continues, most cultural practitioners there are simply trying to survive.
The war has already claimed the lives of Palestinian intellectuals: Refaat Alareer, a 44-year-old Palestinian poet and University of Gaza professor, for example, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Dec. 7.
“I am still alive, but without life,” one Gaza-based artist told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
“The situation is very, very difficult and terrifying. There was no simple food or drinking water available. We die slowly.” Several other artists and cultural practitioners Arab News tried to reach were unable to respond either due to poor network connection or for fear of their safety.
Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. A number of hostages were later released during a humanitarian pause. Health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say Israel has killed more than 17,177 people in its retaliatory campaign, including about 7,000 children.
As of Saturday, Israeli troops and Hamas militants remained locked in deadly combat for control of Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-biggest city, with Palestinian civilians reportedly facing increasing difficulty in finding shelter and access to humanitarian aid.
Both the Gaza Municipal Library and the Rashad Al-Shawa Cultural Center — the latter was the site of a meeting between then-US President Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat 25 years ago — have been wrecked by shelling and firefights after nearly two months of war.
Israeli aircraft “targeted and turned the public library building into rubble and destroyed thousands of books, titles and documents recording the city’s history and development, as well as the destruction of the library’s language courses hall and other library facilities,” a Nov. 27 statement from Gaza Municipality read, also noting the destruction of the cultural center and the municipal printing press.
Fida Touma, director-general of the Ramallah-based A.M. Qattan Foundation, which supports the preservation of arts in Palestine and the Arab world, told Arab News that “there are no official listings of monuments/culture centers, as shelling has not stopped, and communications are cut.”
The International Council on Monuments and Sites stated on Facebook: “It is not possible to accurately determine or describe all damage. Homes, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, universities, museums, farm lands and other facilities have been destroyed. In addition to these acts of genocide, Israeli Minister of Heritage Amihai Ben-Eliyahu has publicly called for a nuclear bombing against Gaza.
“ICOMOS Palestine published a statement on Nov. 7 denouncing this statement. The Israelis used most of the weapons and war methods prohibited by the Geneva Convention and all relevant conventions. Their aim is to eradicate life in Gaza, as well as its heritage, history, memories and archives. Israel is ethnic cleansing the Palestinian people physically and erasing its history and memory.”
* Expansion of war in southern Gaza follows initial Israeli bombardment of areas in the north, including Gaza City.
* With Mediterranean Sea to the west, closed borders with Egypt and Israel to the south and east, space for people to go to is shrinking.
More than 100 cultural institutions in Gaza have been damaged as a result of the Israeli military offensive, according to a recent survey by the group Heritage for Peace. They include the Church of Saint Porphyrius, thought to be the third-oldest church in the world.
The Palestine Ministry of Culture had listed a number of sites in Arabic that it says are known to be destroyed or damaged. These include multiple educational and cultural centers, at least three public libraries and archives, Al-Zawiya market, the centuries-old Great Mosque of Gaza, and two museums.
Al-Qarara Cultural Museum founder and director Mohammed Abu Leila, who fled with his family to Rafah near the Egyptian border, described via WhatsApp how “we left the museum and migrated.”
He said: “There was heavy shelling and terrifying bombing after (midnight) until dawn. We saw death coming, with fear, horror, and pain. In the morning, we left the village and fled to the city of Khan Younis with my family, sister and wife. Then we fled to the city of Rafah.”
Abu Leila said the museum’s collection of 5,000 pieces, spread across the outer yard, the ground floor and the first floor, includes stones, pottery, coins, documents, dresses, agricultural tools, and women’s ornaments.
“The museum was destroyed by the explosions nearby,” he told Arab News. “Glass and Roman bottles, the facade of the building, as well as its doors and windows, were destroyed, and the ceilings were cracked. I am concerned about the museum and the collections. I can feel it is in great danger.”
Some members of the Palestinian diaspora in North America are nevertheless trying to find ways to preserve Gaza’s culture and support artists from afar.
On Nov. 21, the Palestine Museum in the US announced loan opportunities for original works by eight Gaza-based artists, saying in a statement: “This unique initiative aims to showcase the talent and creativity of Palestinian artists, while fostering cultural exchange and dialogue.”
The program also includes around 200 drawings created by children from Gaza, which explore “identity, resilience, resistance and hope” and “offer a unique glimpse into the world of Gaza’s children and their artistic expressions.”
Faisal Saleh, the museum’s founder and director, said that funds generated can help alleviate the desperate circumstances faced by many of Gaza’s artists, enabling them to sustain their creative practices.
“In the face of the devastating Israeli bombing campaign and the impact it has had on Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and population, it is vital that we stand in solidarity with Gaza artists and provide them with platforms to showcase their incredible talent,” Saleh told Arab News.
“Art has a unique power to transcend borders and ignite empathy and understanding, and we believe that by amplifying the voices of Gaza artists, we can contribute to a broader dialogue and raise awareness about the situation on the ground in Gaza.
“We call upon museums and art institutions worldwide to join us in supporting Gaza artists by participating in our art loan program and providing opportunities for their work to be showcased and appreciated,” he continued. “Together, we can use the transformative power of art to create meaningful change and rebuild a brighter future for Gaza’s artistic community.”
While outside efforts offer some hope of keeping Palestinian art — whether ancient, modern or contemporary — alive, the war is taking a tragic toll.
As another artist in Gaza told Arab News on condition of anonymity, “We are simply trying to survive. We have no food, no water, no art right now.”