Houthis told to release citizens detained for celebrating revolution

Houthis told to release citizens detained for celebrating revolution
Yemeni officials and international human rights organizations have demanded Houthis release hundreds of detained citizens who took to the streets last week to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the Sept. 26 revolution. (Image from samrl.org)
Short Url
Updated 30 September 2023
Follow

Houthis told to release citizens detained for celebrating revolution

Houthis told to release citizens detained for celebrating revolution
  • Yemenis marched through the streets of Sanaa with flags and chanted slogans in praise of the republic
  • The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties condemned Houthi attacks on peaceful gatherings in the cities it controls

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni officials and international human rights organizations have demanded the Iran-backed Houthis release hundreds of detained citizens who took to the streets of Sanaa and other Yemeni cities last week to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the Sept. 26 revolution.
Yemenis marched through the streets of Sanaa with flags and chanted slogans in praise of the republic.
Social media videos show armed Houthi militia in military uniform and civilian clothing violently suppressing gatherings in the capital and the city of Ibb, dragging dozens of people from the streets and forcing them into military vehicles.
The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties condemned Houthi attacks on peaceful gatherings in the cities it controls. The body demanded that the militia cease harassing those who lawfully express their opinions.
The organization said: “We call on the Houthi group to halt its brutal attacks, release all detainees, and instruct its members to respect the rights of individuals to express their opinions, and peaceful assembly.
“In addition, the Houthi group is required to prosecute all individuals involved in the attacks and arrests for their grave violations.”
Sanaa residents said the Houthis had deployed security forces throughout the capital, primarily around Al-Sabeen Square, in response to calls for demonstrations against the mass arrests following Friday prayer.
Amnesty International has demanded that the Houthis “immediately and unconditionally” release the detained individuals, adding that the Yemenis were arrested and assaulted for commemorating a national day.
It said: “In a draconian show of force, Houthi de facto authorities have carried out a wave of sweeping arrests, demonstrating their flagrant disregard for the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
Grazia Careccia, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement: “The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained solely for exercising their rights.”
The Houthis have not officially commented on the arrests, but activists in Sanaa, including legal activist Abdul Wahab Qatran — who has contacted Houthi security agencies — say those seized are being questioned about “possible affiliations” with external groups.
Analysts say the gatherings in Sanaa have been occurring at a time when public pressure has been mounting on the Houthis to compensate thousands of state employees who have not been paid for years.
They add that the Houthis do not acknowledge the 1962 uprising against the imams.
Faisal Al-Shabibi, a Yemeni journalist, told Arab News: “They (the Houthis) view the events of Sept. 26 as a rebellion, not a revolution as the Yemenis do. They intend to transform the republic into a monarchy gradually.”
The Houthis, who took military control of Yemen in late 2014, have detained thousands of Yemeni politicians, activists, journalists, and members of the general public, as well as forcing tens of thousands to abandon their homes.


Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults

Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults
Updated 10 sec ago
Follow

Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults

Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults
  • Hezbollah missiles target Israeli soldiers and spy equipment as explosions rock the Galilee Panhandle and Kiryat Shmona
  • Hezbollah and Amal are allied against Israel on the southern border but continue to compete for dominance elsewhere, sparking sporadic violence

BEIRUT: As hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army along Lebanon’s southern border have de-escalated over the past few days, some displaced residents have taken the opportunity during the relative calm to return and check the condition of their homes.

“The material and moral damage is significant, and the village lost the largest number of young martyrs,” said a woman from the Bazzi family, who fled the village of Bint Jbeil for the safety of Mount Lebanon. “I don’t know how Bint Jbeil could be rebuilt.”

Meanwhile, Hezbollah forces on Monday targeted Israeli soldiers near the Branit barracks and spy equipment at Al-Raheb outpost with missile attacks. Explosions could be heard in the Galilee Panhandle and Kiryat Shmona. The situation in southern Lebanon is closely linked to developments in negotiations with Hamas over the war in Gaza.

Elsewhere, the fierce rivalry between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement continues to grow in areas controlled by the former, as both parties compete to extend their power in each other’s strongholds, particularly the southern suburbs of Beirut and surrounding villages.

A Lebanese security source said there have been repeated clashes in areas where the parties have been vying for support in the run-up to Ashura, an Islamic day of commemoration that falls this year on July 16. Religious tents have been set up for the celebration outside mosques and in other public spaces in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Clashes between Hezbollah and Amal supporters so far have been largely contained before they could escalate, as both groups seek to assert their influence in neighborhoods. Their rivalry peaked on Saturday night when members of the Amal Movement set up a checkpoint and prevented a resident of the suburb of Hay Madi from reaching his building by car, citing security concerns as a pretext.

The incident escalated into an exchange of insults and then a fistfight before shots were fired by an Amal supporter. Other armed individuals intervened, demanding the checkpoint be removed, and the residential area became a war zone as heavy gunfire forced women, children and elderly residents to flee in terror.

Hezbollah security official Samir Kabbani was shot in the head and killed during the fighting. A number of civilians were reportedly injured. The security source said the clash was “not the first but the bloodiest.”

Ali Al-Amin, the editor-in-chief of the Janoubia news website, said a previously declared alliance between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement to confront Israel along the southern border is a forced arrangement and does not reflect any sense of harmony between the parties.

Ashura has “turned from a religious commemoration into an occasion for displaying power,” he added. “Each party now tries to show its capabilities and dominance by encroaching on the territory of others.

“The Hay Madi neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Beirut serves as an extension of the security zone for Hezbollah in the suburbs. Consequently, the clash may have been intended to reinforce the demarcation of influence boundaries.”

The conflict might also have stemmed from a “prevailing atmosphere of demagoguery,” as politicians attempt to appeal to people’s desires and prejudices, Al-Amin added.

Amid the long-running, severe economic crisis in Lebanon, Hezbollah has allocated $3 million to set up religious reception sites, a resident of the southern suburbs said. Each site received $10,000 to fund the distribution of food, drinks and sweets to residents, they added.

Al-Amin said the extravagance of organizing such events indicated “a desire to control the population.”

He added: “These manifestations were not seen last year but are now accompanied by a war led by Hezbollah in the south, resulting in prolonged displacement and unease among residents who had heavily invested in the south under the assumption of its stability.

“Despite the populace’s agitation and their feeling of oppression, disgust and dissatisfaction, they are under the sway of Hezbollah as it is the sole entity that has asserted its capability to compensate the people. Additionally, it wields significant security influence, which may have played a part in the clashes with the Amal movement.

“People might protest and express their dissent but where can they turn to? They will ultimately return to those who offer them protection, and this authority currently lies not with the government but with Hezbollah, who proclaim this both in words and actions.”


Hamas and Palestinian rivals Fatah to meet in Beijing

Hamas and Palestinian rivals Fatah to meet in Beijing
Updated 29 min 51 sec ago
Follow

Hamas and Palestinian rivals Fatah to meet in Beijing

Hamas and Palestinian rivals Fatah to meet in Beijing
  • Hamas delegation is to be headed by its Qatar-based political chief Ismail Haniyeh, while the Fatah representation will be led by deputy head Mahmud Alul
  • Two groups have been bitter rivals since Hamas fighters ejected Fatah from Gaza after deadly clashes that followed Hamas’s resounding victory in a 2006 election

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Senior officials from the rival Palestinian groups Hamas, which is at war with Israel, and Fatah have agreed to meet in Beijing this month in a renewed bid for reconciliation, officials said Monday.
The Hamas delegation is to be headed by its Qatar-based political chief Ismail Haniyeh, while the Fatah representation will be led by deputy head Mahmud Alul, Fatah sources said.
The two groups have been bitter rivals since Hamas fighters ejected Fatah from the Gaza Strip after deadly clashes that followed Hamas’s resounding victory in a 2006 election.
After seizing control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas has ruled the territory ever since.
The secularist Fatah movement controls the Palestinian Authority which has partial administrative control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Several reconciliation bids have failed, but calls have grown since the Hamas October 7 attacks on Israel set off the Gaza war, with violence also soaring in the West Bank where Fatah is based.
China hosted Fatah and Hamas in April but a meeting scheduled for June was postponed.
The representatives are to meet with Chinese officials in Beijing on July 20 and July 21, according to Fatah’s central committee deputy secretary general Sabri Saidam.
Before that, a meeting of the two groups could take place, he added.
The goal, said Saidam, “is to end the state of division with a commitment to past agreements and agreeing on a relationship between the Palestinian groups in the next stage.”
Another Fatah executive member also said a joint Fatah-Hamas meeting could be held in Beijing before the official agenda starts.
China has positioned itself as a more neutral actor on the Israel-Palestinian conflict than its rival the United States, advocating for a two-state solution while also maintaining good ties with Israel.


Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness

Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness
Updated 15 July 2024
Follow

Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness

Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness
  • The UN has long complained of obstacles to getting aid into Gaza

NEW YORK: The United Nations said on Monday that it will start bringing in more armored vehicles and personal protection equipment for its humanitarian aid operations in the Gaza Strip after receiving approval from Israeli authorities.
The approval was in response to a UN letter sent to Israel last month on safety and security in Gaza, said Scott Anderson, deputy humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as the war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas enters its tenth month and law and order has broken down.
The UN has long complained of obstacles to getting aid into Gaza — Israel inspects and approves all trucks — and says it is also struggling to distribute aid amid “total lawlessness” within the enclave of 2.3 million people, where a global hunger monitor last month said there is a high risk of famine.
Anderson said the UN was due to start bringing more armored vehicles and protection equipment into Gaza on Tuesday.
“Some communications equipment has also been approved,” he told reporters, like hand-held radios, but added that discussions are still continuing on a UN request for stable Internet access.
The UN has said it wants communications that did not rely on cell phone towers because they were not reliable. However, Israeli authorities have security concerns about what Hamas could do if it accessed satellite Internet service.
‘CRIME FAMILIES’
Anderson said the UN needed to bring in aid in the right quantity and quality, but several factors “continue to stand in our way.” He listed problems including restrictions on movement, aid worker safety, unpredictable working hours, communications challenges and a lack of fuel.
“And we’ve seen a complete breakdown of law and order and we’ve seen essentially what are crime families preventing the free movement of aid into Gaza to assist people,” he said.
“The truck drivers that we use have been regularly threatened or assaulted ... they’ve become less and less willing, understandably, to move assistance from the border crossings to our warehouses and then onto people that are in need,” Anderson said.
He said the UN was getting between 25 and 70 aid trucks a day into northern Gaza, but there was no commercial access.
Anderson said in southern Gaza “we’ve been barely able to hit 100 trucks on a good day over the last week because of law and order problems,” but that commercial deliveries were doing a little better “but they pay essentially protection money to the families in the south and they also have armed guards.”
Aid officials say about 600 trucks of humanitarian and commercial supplies are
needed in Gaza daily
to meet the needs of the population.
He said the UN was “in talks with everybody about trying to get some sort of police force established” and in the meantime was working with the families that are hindering aid deliveries to try and address the problem.
“It’s a few families that are trying to take advantage of this opportunity and that’s why I’m confident if we get police back at work that they can address the issue,” Anderson said.


Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis

Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis
Updated 15 July 2024
Follow

Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis

Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis
  • Indonesian government has announced a grant of $2 million in response to the UNRWA flash appeal

LONDON: Indonesia announced on Monday that it will increase its funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees to $1.2 million.

The announcement was made by Indonesian Ambassador to the UN Arrmanatha Nasir during a UN pledging conference in New York on Friday.

Starting this year, Indonesia will raise its annual contribution to UNRWA to $1.2 million. In addition, the government has announced a grant of $2 million in response to the UNRWA flash appeal for the occupied Palestinian territories, covering the period from April to December 2024.

Its 2022 donation amounted to $200,000 and excluding flash appeals in 2023, its contribution totaled $600,000.

Nasir highlighted Indonesia’s commitment to seeking innovative funding solutions for UNRWA, including engaging Indonesian society through partnerships with zakat management institutions.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

The agency, which provides aid and services to Palestinian refugees in Gaza and throughout the region, was thrown into crisis when the Israeli allegations emerged. In response, the US, the biggest single funder of UNRWA, and several other major donors put their funding for the organization on hold. In all, 16 UN member states suspended or paused donations, while others imposed conditions, placing the future of the agency in doubt.

Israeli authorities have yet to provide any evidence to back up their allegations, an independent review headed by the former French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna concluded in April.
 


Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza
Updated 15 July 2024
Follow

Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza
  • One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering

AMMAN: The Jordanian Armed Forces, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, conducted three airdrops of humanitarian aid in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.

The airdrops involved two Royal Jordanian Air Force aircraft and one from Egypt, according to a statement carried by Jordan News Agency.

One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, in the city of Khan Younis, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In a CNN interview earlier this month, Queen Rania explained the reason for the airdrops in an area where the UN has reported a widespread food crisis.

“We found that after trying so hard in vain to persuade Israel to open the land access points, that we had to do something. We couldn’t just sit idle and watch people starving,” she said.

She added the airdrops were desperate measures to address a desperate situation, describing them as “drops in an ocean of unmet needs.”

Queen Rania echoed King Abdullah’s comments that the airdrops were far from sufficient and could not replace the large-scale humanitarian access needed to deal with the issue.

Since October, Jordan has conducted 117 airdrops independently and participated in 266 others with international partners.

The Jordanian army reiterated its commitment to continuing support efforts, including an airbridge from Marka Airport in Amman to El Arish International Airport in North Sinai, which facilitates both airdrops over Gaza and the organization of ground aid convoys.