Communications cut to flood-hit Libya city after demonstrations

Dr. Fadwa El-Fartass in Benghazi, Libya, attends to Ibrar Goma, a 15-year-old survivor of the Derna flooding. (AFP)
Dr. Fadwa El-Fartass in Benghazi, Libya, attends to Ibrar Goma, a 15-year-old survivor of the Derna flooding. (AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2023
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Communications cut to flood-hit Libya city after demonstrations

Dr. Fadwa El-Fartass in Benghazi, Libya, attends to Ibrar Goma, a 15-year-old survivor of the Derna flooding. (AFP)
  • Protesters massed on Monday at the city’s grand mosque, venting their anger at local and regional authorities they blamed for failing to maintain the dams or to provide early warning of the disaster

DERNA: Telephone and internet links were severed on Tuesday to Libya’s flood-hit city of Derna, a day after hundreds protested there against local authorities they blamed for the thousands of deaths.
A tsunami-sized flash flood broke through two aging river dams upstream from the city on the night of Sept. 10 and razed entire neighborhoods, sweeping thousands into the Mediterranean Sea.
Protesters massed on Monday at the city’s grand mosque, venting their anger at local and regional authorities they blamed for failing to maintain the dams or to provide early warning of the disaster.

HIGHLIGHT

A tsunami-sized flash flood broke through two aging river dams upstream from the city on the night of Sept. 10 and razed entire neighborhoods, sweeping thousands into the Mediterranean Sea.

“Thieves and traitors must hang,” they shouted, before some protesters torched the house of the town’s unpopular mayor.
On Tuesday, phone and online links to Derna were severed, an outage the national telecom company LPTIC blamed on “a rupture in the optical fiber” link to Derna, in a statement on its Facebook page.
The telecom company said the outage, which also affected other areas in eastern Libya, “could be the result of a deliberate act of sabotage” and pledged that “our teams are working to repair it as quickly as possible.”
Rescue workers have kept digging for bodies, with the official death toll at around 3,300 but many thousands more missing since the flood sparked by torrential rains from Mediterranean Storm Daniel.
The huge wall of water that smashed into Derna completely destroyed 891 buildings and damaged over 600 more, according to a Libyan government report based on satellite images.
Libya was torn by more than a decade of war and chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Myriad militias, mercenary forces and jihadists battled for power, while basic services and the upkeep of infrastructure were badly neglected.
Libya remains split between a UN-backed and nominally interim government in Tripoli in the west, and another in the disaster-hit east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar’s forces seized Derna in 2018, then a stronghold of radicals, and with the reputation as a protest stronghold since Qaddafi’s days.
On Monday, demonstrators in Derna chanted angry slogans against the parliament in eastern Libya and its leader Aguilah Saleh.
“The people want parliament to fall,” they chanted.
Others shouted “Aguila is the enemy of God,” and a protest statement called for “legal action against those responsible for the disaster.”
Al-Masar television reported that the head of the eastern-based government, Oussama Hamad, responded by dissolving the Derna municipal council.
Libya watchers on Tuesday considered the telecom outage of Derna a deliberate act, intended to shut down the protesters’ voices.
Emadeddin Badi, Libya specialist at the Atlantic Council, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, of a “media blockade on #Derna in place now, communications cut since dawn.
“Have no doubt, this is not about health or safety, but about punishing the protesters in Derna.”

 


‘Deeply concerned’ UN chief calls for restraint after Israel’s attack on Yemen

‘Deeply concerned’ UN chief calls for restraint after Israel’s attack on Yemen
Updated 9 sec ago
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‘Deeply concerned’ UN chief calls for restraint after Israel’s attack on Yemen

‘Deeply concerned’ UN chief calls for restraint after Israel’s attack on Yemen

DUBAI: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern over Israel’s airstrikes on Saturday in and around the port of Hodeidah in Yemen.

Guterres called on all parties to “avoid attacks that could harm civilians and damage civilian infrastructure.”

In a statement, the secretary-general said that he “remains deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation in the region and continues to urge all to exercise utmost restraint.”

Israel’s stike on Hodeidah, apparently in retaliation for the Houthi drone strike on Tel Aviv earlier this week, left several dead and more than 80 people injured.

Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported that Israeli planes struck a power plant and a fuel storage facility.


Jordan’s army shoots down drone carrying drugs from Syria

Jordan’s army shoots down drone carrying drugs from Syria
Updated 52 min 2 sec ago
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Jordan’s army shoots down drone carrying drugs from Syria

Jordan’s army shoots down drone carrying drugs from Syria

AMMAN: Jordanian military authorities foiled an attempt to use a drone to smuggle narcotics into the kingdom from Syria, state news agency Petra reported.

A military official on Saturday said that forces shot down the drone inside Jordanian territory.

“Border guard forces in the eastern military region, in coordination with the security services and the Anti-Narcotics Department, detected an attempt by a drone to cross the border illegally from Syrian territory to Jordanian territory,” the statement read.

The seized items were confiscated and transferred to the relevant authorities.

 


EU backs ICJ ruling on ‘illegal’ Israeli occupation

EU backs ICJ ruling on ‘illegal’ Israeli occupation
Updated 21 July 2024
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EU backs ICJ ruling on ‘illegal’ Israeli occupation

EU backs ICJ ruling on ‘illegal’ Israeli occupation
  • Sweeping opinion by Hague-based International Court of Justice called on Israel to end its occupation immediately
  • ICJ ruling not binding but comes amid mounting concern over death toll and destruction in Israel’s war against Hamas

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The top UN court’s ruling that Israel’s 57-year occupation of Palestinian land was “illegal” is “largely consistent with EU positions,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief said Saturday.
The sweeping opinion on Friday by The Hague-based International Court of Justice — which called for the occupation to end as soon as possible — was immediately slammed as a “decision of lies” by Israel.
But the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs said that the bloc had taken “good note” of the court’s ruling and urged further backing for the court’s opinion.
“In a world of constant and increasing violations of international law, it is our moral duty to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all ICJ decisions in a consistent manner, irrespective of the subject in question,” Josep Borrell said.
He added in a statement that the opinion “will need to be analyzed more thoroughly, including in view of its implications for EU policy.”
The ICJ’s ruling is not binding, but it comes amid mounting concern over the death toll and destruction in Israel’s war against Hamas sparked by the group’s brutal October 7 attacks, as well as increased tensions in the West Bank.
Its intervention is likely to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza, as will the EU’s backing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the ruling.
“The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land — not in our eternal capital Jerusalem, nor in our ancestral heritage of Judea and Samaria” (the occupied West Bank), he said in a statement.
In June 1967, Israel seized the then-Jordan-annexed West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in a crushing six-day war against its Arab neighbors.
It then began to settle the 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) of seized Arab territory.
The UN later declared the occupation of Palestinian territory illegal, and Cairo regained the Sinai under its 1979 peace deal with Israel.


Defiant Netanyahu to face US Congress amid Gaza tensions

Defiant Netanyahu to face US Congress amid Gaza tensions
Updated 21 July 2024
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Defiant Netanyahu to face US Congress amid Gaza tensions

Defiant Netanyahu to face US Congress amid Gaza tensions
  • Israel’s longest-serving premier will become the first foreign leader to address a joint meeting of the two chambers four times
  • Hamas has accused Netanyahu of seeking to block a deal being hammered out by Qatar, Egyptian and US mediators to end the Gaza war

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to deliver a landmark speech to the US Congress on Wednesday as he fights off intense pressure to quickly cut a Gaza war ceasefire deal with Hamas.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, will become the first foreign leader to address a joint meeting of the two chambers four times — pulling ahead of Britain’s Winston Churchill on three.
But analysts say the Gaza war since the October 7 Hamas attacks has created worrying tensions between Israel and the United States, its main military and diplomatic backer.
Washington fears a backlash from the mounting civilian toll in the Gaza Strip, while protests in Israel by families of hostages taken by Hamas are also causing headaches for Netanyahu.
Biden and some Israeli ministers say a deal negotiated through Qatar, Egyptian and US mediators is possible. A plan outlined in May proposed a six-week ceasefire when some Israeli hostages would be swapped for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that negotiators were “inside the 10 yard line and driving toward the goal line.”
Hamas has accused Netanyahu of seeking to block a deal however and Blinken said he wants to “bring the agreement over the finish line” when Netanyahu is in Washington.
An expected meeting between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden is still not confirmed.

Israel has intensified its air strikes on Gaza in recent weeks and Netanyahu has insisted that only piling on military pressure can free the hostages and beat Hamas.
“This double pressure is not delaying the deal — it is advancing it,” Netanyahu told troops in Gaza on Thursday.
The October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures. Hamas militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 38,919 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.
Publicly, Biden has voiced strong support for Israel. But he expressed concern over an offensive on the southern city of Rafah in May and for a while suspended deliveries of heavy bombs to Israel. Supplies of 2,000-pound bombs remain embargoed.
“Never before has the atmosphere been so fraught,” said Council on Foreign Relations Middle East specialist Steven Cook.
“There is clearly tension in the relationship, especially between the White House and the Israeli prime minister,” Cook said in a commentary.

While US Republicans pressed to invite Netanyahu to address Congress, he has lost support among Democrats.
One Jewish senator, Democrat Brian Schatz of Hawaii, announced he would boycott Wednesday’s speech, saying he would not listen to “political rhetoric that will do nothing to bring peace in the region.”
Netanyahu said after being invited to Congress again that he would “present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us.”
Cook said that Netanyahu has two aims for his Washington trip.
First, to show that he has not “undermined” Israel’s relations with the United States.
Netanyahu also “will endeavour to shift the conversation away from the conflict in Gaza toward the threat that Iran and its proxies pose” to Israel and the United States, Cook added.
Much attention will be focused on whether Netanyahu meets with Donald Trump or a figure close to the Republican presidential candidate.
Despite the tensions, the United States has defended Israeli interests while taking a key role in mediation efforts, and the military relationship remains strong, according to officials.
Washington’s support could prove crucial as Israel faces increasing international criticism over the growing humanitarian toll from nearly 300 days of war.
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor in May asked judges to issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Warrants for three Hamas leaders have also been requested.
The Republican majority in the House of Representatives has called for sanctions against the ICC.
The International Court of Justice found Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories illegal on July 19 and in February called for the country to prevent any acts of genocide in its Gaza offensive.
 


Saudi Arabia says no involvement with strikes targeting Hodeidah

Saudi Arabia says no involvement with strikes targeting Hodeidah
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia says no involvement with strikes targeting Hodeidah

Saudi Arabia says no involvement with strikes targeting Hodeidah
  • Ministry of Defense spokesman says the Kingdom will not allow any entity to use its airspace for offensive action
  • Israeli warplanes struck targets in Houthi-controlled Hodeidah following a Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it had nothing to do with the Israeli air strikes on Yemen’s city of Hodeidah and that it will not allow anyone to use the Kingdom’s airspace for offensive purposes.

“The Kingdom has no relation or involvement in the targeting of Hodeidah, and the Kingdom will not allow any entity to violate its airspace,” Brigadier General Turki Al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Defense, said in a statement on the X social media app.

Israeli warplanes struck the Houthi-held western Yemeni city on Saturday in an apparent reprisal for the Houthi drone strike on a Tel Aviv apartment building before dawn Friday, killing one civilian.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the airstrike was meant to send a message to the Houthis that their attacks would not be left unanswered.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia, which controls a large part of Yemen, had been attacking commercial vessels passing through the Red Sea and the Bab-Al-Mandab straight in a sympathy action for the Palestinians in Gaza amid Israeli attacks.

The Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported that the Israeli strikes hit a power plant and a gasoline storage facility, killing three and wounding 87 people.

Unfazed by the swift Israeli response, Houthi officials threatened to continue attacking ships doing commerce with Israel and on Israel itself.

“We emphasize that this brutal aggression will only strengthen the determination and steadfastness of the Yemeni people and their valiant armed forces in their support for Gaza,” Mohammed Abdul Sallam, the Houthi chief negotiator based in Muscat, posted on X.

Houthi Shura Council member Abdul Sallam Jahaf said: “We will respond more violently and harshly to this Zionist-American orgy.”