Arab nations in strong show of support for quake-hit Morocco

Arab nations in strong show of support for quake-hit Morocco
Members of the Qatar Emiri Air Force load up Lekhwiya's International Search and Rescue Group equipments onto a military cargo aircraft headed to Morocco to provide support on the ground, following an earthquake that struck the country, at Al Udeid Air Base, in Doha, Qatar, Sept. 10, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 September 2023
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Arab nations in strong show of support for quake-hit Morocco

Arab nations in strong show of support for quake-hit Morocco
  • Search teams, Saudi Red Crescent Authority help with relief operations 
  • Death toll reaches more than 2,800

CASABLANCA: The official death toll in the Moroccan earthquake rose to more than 2,800 people, with more than 2,500 injured.

Latest figures released by the country’s Interior Ministry revealed that the province of Al-Haouz, south of Marrakesh, which was at the center of the quake, bore the brunt of casualties, with 1,604 dead. In Taroudant, the next worse-hit area, the tremors claimed nearly 500 lives.

Saudi Arabia has been among several Arab countries to offer support to Rabat.

Under directives issued by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi aid agency KSrelief quickly set up an air bridge to provide relief to Morocco.

And search and rescue teams, in collaboration with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, have been deployed to provide humanitarian assistance.

Joining other Emirati leaders in expressing condolences to the people of Morocco, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also ordered the establishment of a humanitarian air corridor to provide immediate material assistance to quake victims.

Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan are helping too with Algeria having offered to open its airspace for humanitarian and medical flights to Morocco.

In a statement, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha pledged the body’s full support for the North African nation in the wake of the natural disaster.

* This article first appeared on Arab News en français


Israeli defense minister to visit Pentagon: US

Israeli defense minister to visit Pentagon: US
Updated 16 June 2024
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Israeli defense minister to visit Pentagon: US

Israeli defense minister to visit Pentagon: US
  • In a formal response this week the Palestinian militant group Hamas stopped short of accepting the plan, making counter-proposals on several points

WASHINGTON: Israeli Defense Miniter Yoav Gallant will visit Washington soon for talks with his US counterpart, the Pentagon said Saturday as the war in Gaza rages on.
President Joe Biden’s administration is pressing for a ceasefire deal which it says is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but has drawn fury from some of the Israeli leader’s far-right allies.
In a formal response this week the Palestinian militant group Hamas stopped short of accepting the plan, making counter-proposals on several points.
In a call Tuesday with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Gallant accepted an invitation to visit the Pentagon, press secretary Major General Patrick Ryder said in a statement.
The date of the visit has yet to be determined and the aim of the meeting is to “further discuss ongoing security developments in the Middle East,” Ryder said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
 

 


Qatar and Egypt plan talks with Hamas on Gaza ceasefire: White House

Qatar and Egypt plan talks with Hamas on Gaza ceasefire: White House
Updated 16 June 2024
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Qatar and Egypt plan talks with Hamas on Gaza ceasefire: White House

Qatar and Egypt plan talks with Hamas on Gaza ceasefire: White House
  • Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference

BUERGENSTOCK, Switzerland: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.
Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.
Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference.
Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas’s response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.
Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas’s response.
“We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality,” he said.
He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and “go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with.”
“We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure,” he said.
 

 


Beirut airport busy with Eid visitors despite tense security situation

Beirut airport busy with Eid visitors despite tense security situation
Updated 15 June 2024
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Beirut airport busy with Eid visitors despite tense security situation

Beirut airport busy with Eid visitors despite tense security situation
  • Motorcyclist killed in Israeli drone strike as Hezbollah keeps up retaliatory attacks
  • Festival brings challenges for Lebanese forced to flee their homes

BEIRUT: Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport witnessed an influx of arrivals on Saturday as Lebanese expatriates and tourists ignored the hostilities in the south and traveled to celebrate the Eid Al-Adha holiday.

European embassies had earlier issued warnings against visiting Lebanon because of the tense security situation, but these failed to deter expatriates and visitors, mainly from Iraq and Egypt, arriving for Eid.

On the eve of the holiday, there was a noticeable discrepancy in the prices of sacrificial animals in the Lebanese market, along with an unjustified increase in meat prices.

Majed Eid, secretary of the Syndicate of Butchers, Importers, and Traders of Live Livestock, said that imports of sacrificial animals from abroad had fallen this year compared with previous years.

The security situation in the Tyre area has led to reduced shopping activities as Eid approaches, despite the substantial influx of expatriates who typically boost commercial and economic activity there.

Tyre Traders Association Secretary Ghazwan Halawani said that the preparations for Eid seemed ordinary, with no noticeable improvement in commercial activity, sales, or market visitors.

He attributed the decline to anxiety over military operations on the border and Israeli attacks on civilians.

On the eve of Eid Al-Adha, thousands of families from the southern region headed to their villages near the border despite the hostilities.

Issa, a butcher, planned to spend the holiday with his family, even though his area had been sporadically shelled in the past few months.

“Nothing will happen to us except what God has destined for us,” he said.

The Eid holiday will be challenging for the people of the south, especially those who fled their villages eight months ago.

Eid Al-Adha presents significant challenges for the displaced southerners, with almost 100,000 people forced to leave their villages.

Nabatieh Gov. Hwaida Turk told Arab News that 65 towns in Nabatieh Governorate had been subjected to “systematic shelling and fires due to Israeli attacks.”

Some towns were almost destroyed, she said.

Turk said that residents of the front-line towns, especially in the Marjayoun and Hasbaya areas, did not return for Eid.

However, villages and towns to the rear are crowded with displaced people alongside their original inhabitants.

She said the people in the southern region tried to celebrate Eid with hope despite the difficult economic conditions.

Hezbollah kept up retaliatory attacks on Israel on Saturday, days after an airstrike killed one of its commanders.

Aerial attacks on both sides escalated, with Hezbollah saying that it carried out an attack “with a fleet of suicide drones on the Khirbet Maer base, destroying part of it.”

The attack was in response to the killing of a senior Hezbollah commander, Sami Hassan Taleb, nicknamed Abu Taleb, along with three others, in an Israeli attack on their location in Jouaiyya several days ago.

Israeli Army Radio reported that a fire erupted in the Goren settlement in western Galilee after several Hezbollah drones struck the area.

As part of the escalation, Hezbollah targeted the headquarters of the air surveillance and operations management unit at the Meron base.

Israeli media outlets said that “two anti-armor missiles launched from the Meron base were targeted.”

Hezbollah said that it struck a group of Israeli soldiers at the Hadab Yaron site with a missile, killing or injuring several.

An Israeli military drone strike early on Saturday killed a motorcyclist at the Bint Jbeil–Maroun Ras intersection. Another person was injured in the resulting fire.

The outskirts of Deir Mimas and the Aaziyyeh Hill were subject to phosphorus shelling, causing fires to erupt in forests.

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee claimed that “an air force plane targeted a Hezbollah vandal in Aitaroun,” adding that “the Israeli army shelled the area with artillery.”

 

 


Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank raid

Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank raid
Updated 15 June 2024
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Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank raid

Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank raid
  • Israel has killed at least 37,296 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, as an army official confirmed troops opened fire during a raid.
Sultan Abdul Rahman Khatatbeh, 16, was killed by Israeli fire in the northern West Bank town of Beit Furik, the ministry said in a statement published on Facebook.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that two others were injured when Israeli forces stormed the town east of Nablus, “firing live bullets at local residents.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Sultan Abdul Rahman Khatatbeh, 16, was killed by Israeli fire in the northern West Bank town of Beit Furik.

• Two others were injured when Israeli forces stormed the town east of Nablus, ‘firing live bullets at local residents.’

An Israeli military official said that troops were operating in the Nablus area when “dozens of suspects hurled rocks at Israeli security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.”
“Hits were identified,” the official said.
The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence for more than a year, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza erupted on Oct. 7.
At least 546 Palestinians have been killed in the territory by Israeli troops or settlers since the Gaza war broke out, according to Palestinian officials.
At least 37,296 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military campaign, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Also on Saturday, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the only way to return Israeli hostages is through Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, ending its offensive and reaching a deal for exchanging Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
The spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian group, made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram.

 


‘Miscalculation’ could lead to wider Hezbollah-Israel conflict, say UN officials

‘Miscalculation’ could lead to wider Hezbollah-Israel conflict, say UN officials
Updated 15 June 2024
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‘Miscalculation’ could lead to wider Hezbollah-Israel conflict, say UN officials

‘Miscalculation’ could lead to wider Hezbollah-Israel conflict, say UN officials
  • “The danger of miscalculation leading to a sudden and wider conflict is very real,” the two officials said
  • The United States and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border

BEIRUT: There is a “very real” risk that a miscalculation along Lebanon’s southern border could trigger a wider conflict between Hezbollah and the Israeli military, two UN officials in Lebanon warned on Saturday.
The United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and the head of UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, Aroldo Lazaro, said they were “deeply concerned” about the recent escalation along Lebanon’s border.
Iran-backed Hezbollah last week launched the largest volleys of rockets and drones yet in the eight months it has been exchanging fire with the Israeli military, in parallel with the Gaza war.
“The danger of miscalculation leading to a sudden and wider conflict is very real,” the two officials said in a written statement on Saturday.
The United States and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border. Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel’s military offensive on Gaza stops.