Israel strikes Hezbollah ‘terrorist’ targets in Lebanon: Army

Israel strikes Hezbollah ‘terrorist’ targets in Lebanon: Army
Smoke rises from Israeli shelling in Dahaira, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 17 October 2023
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Israel strikes Hezbollah ‘terrorist’ targets in Lebanon: Army

Israel strikes Hezbollah ‘terrorist’ targets in Lebanon: Army
  • Israel began evacuating thousands of residents in 28 locations in the north of the country after these border clashes

JERUSALEM: Israel launched strikes overnight on Hezbollah “terrorist” targets in Lebanon, the Israeli army said in a statement early Tuesday.
“The Israeli army is striking military targets of the terrorist organization Hezbollah on Lebanese territory,” it said.
Since the start of the war triggered by the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border have left around 10 people dead on the Lebanese side, mostly combatants but also a Reuters journalist and two civilians.
On the Israeli side, at least two people have been killed.
The international community fears an escalation of the conflict between the pro-Iran Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, and the Israeli army.
Israel began evacuating thousands of residents in 28 locations in the north of the country after these border clashes.


2,000 aid trucks stuck at Rafah border: Norwegian Refugee Council

2,000 aid trucks stuck at Rafah border: Norwegian Refugee Council
Updated 6 sec ago
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2,000 aid trucks stuck at Rafah border: Norwegian Refugee Council

2,000 aid trucks stuck at Rafah border: Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Palestinians ‘actively deprived’ of essential items as Israel steps up operations in city
  • Some in Gaza have been displaced as many as 9 times since October

LONDON: The Norwegian Refugee Council has warned that 2,000 aid trucks are stuck in Egypt at the Rafah border crossing, with Palestinians in Gaza being “actively deprived” of essential goods.
Rafah is the last remaining area of Gaza yet to come under full assault by Israeli forces, with fears now mounting of an imminent operation to take the southern city.
The NRC’s head of operations in Gaza, Suze van Meegen, told the BBC: “The city of Rafah is now comprised of three entirely different worlds: the east is an archetypal war zone, the middle is a ghost town, and the west is a congested mass of people living in deplorable conditions.”
She said medical supplies, tents, water tanks and food are being held up at the border, and in some cases Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced as many as nine times since Israel launched its military operation last October.
“People have no choice but to put their faith in so-called ‘humanitarian safe zones’ designated by the forces that have killed their family members and destroyed their homes,” she added.
Israeli journalist Amos Harel told the BBC that he believes Israel is moving ahead with plans to occupy Rafah with tacit US support.
“It’s quite clear that the Americans are no longer trying to prevent Israel from occupying Rafah. So the Israelis may proceed carefully and not too quickly. But it’s less of a question of whether the Israelis are going to occupy Rafah. It’s quite clear that they are,” he said.
It comes despite earlier warnings by US President Joe Biden against Israel attacking “population centers,” and with the International Court of Justice set to rule on the legality of the Israeli campaign in Gaza after a case was submitted by South Africa in December accusing Israel of genocide.


Escaped Iranian director receives ovations at Cannes

Escaped Iranian director receives ovations at Cannes
Updated 24 May 2024
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Escaped Iranian director receives ovations at Cannes

Escaped Iranian director receives ovations at Cannes
  • He received raucous standing ovations before and after the gala screening of “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” which is competing for the top prize Palme d’Or
  • He attended the premiere on Friday alongside his daughter and Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani, who lives in exile in France

CANNES, France: It is one of the most dramatic storylines ever delivered at Cannes: Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof walked the red carpet Friday after fleeing a prison sentence in his home country just days before the film festival.
He received raucous standing ovations before and after the gala screening of “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” which is competing for the top prize Palme d’Or.
“I hope the entire apparatus of oppression and dictatorship will disappear from Iran,” he told the packed Cannes theater, where he brandished photos of the movie’s actors.
Made underground in Iran on a tiny budget, it tells the story of a court prosecutor whose family life is torn apart by the “Women, Life, Freedom” protests that convulsed the country in 2022-23.
Friday was the last day of the Cannes Film Festival screenings, with the winners from the 22 entries to be announced on Saturday by a jury led by “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig.
Rasoulof came under pressure in Iran to withdraw his latest from the festival, but he already knew during the production that he faced a new eight-year prison sentence for “collusion against national security” and hatched a plan to escape the country.
He attended the premiere on Friday alongside his daughter and Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani, who lives in exile in France.
Speaking after the premiere, Rasoulof said he was thinking of “everyone who allowed this film to be made — those who are here, and those who were prevented from coming.”
An outspoken critic of Iran’s rulers, Rasoulof had already served two prison terms over his uncompromising political films and had his passport revoked in 2017.
It took 28 days on the road, moving between border villages, to get out of the country, he told Deadline magazine.
“The good thing about going to prison in Iran is that you meet all kinds of youthful people who can help you in such conditions,” he told the magazine.
The final film to screen in the competition, later Friday, is “The Most Precious of Cargoes,” the first animated film to compete for the Palme d’Or since 2008’s “Waltz With Bashir.”
It is the tale of a twin thrown to safety from a death train transporting his Jewish parents to Auschwitz, from Michel Hazanavicius, director of the Oscar-winning “The Artist.”
The 77th edition of the world-famous festival has seen a lot of sex, gore and #MeToo-related issues.
A late frontrunner is “All We Imagine as Light,” which premiered Thursday.
The first Indian entry in 30 years, it is a poetic monsoon-set portrayal of two nurses who have migrated to Mumbai, described as a dreamlike five-star “triumph” by The Guardian.
“Emilia Perez,” an audacious musical about a Mexican narco boss having a sex change, has also been a favorite.
Demi Moore has emerged as a serious contender for the best actress award after rave reviews for her “fearless” performance in “The Substance,” an ultra-gory horror film about the pressures women face to maintain bodily perfection as they age.
There has been a lot of love for “Anora,” a raw and often-hilarious story about a New York erotic dancer who strikes gold with a wealthy client, only to face the wrath of his Russian oligarch parents.
Francis Ford Coppola’s ambitious fable “Megalopolis” has its admirers but proved sharply divisive, while Donald Trump biopic “The Apprentice” has drawn strong reviews as well as legal threats from the former US president.
Also on Friday, George Lucas arrived in town to accept an honorary Palme d’Or.
“It’s always great to be recognized,” said the “Star Wars” creator.
“Obviously we have a lot of fans and all that kind of stuff. But in terms of awards, I don’t make the kind of movies that win awards!“


Hezbollah barrages deal heavy damage in northern Israel

Hezbollah barrages deal heavy damage in northern Israel
Updated 24 May 2024
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Hezbollah barrages deal heavy damage in northern Israel

Hezbollah barrages deal heavy damage in northern Israel
  • The barrages have dealt a heavy blow to Israeli towns and villages near the border which have been evacuated for more than six months
  • The Israeli defense ministry body responsible for rebuilding northern communities said it had received 930 reports of damage

SHTULA: A momentary shriek presages a bone-juddering blast, followed by a plume of thick black smoke. Refrigerator-sized holes mark where Hezbollah anti-tank missiles like this one have hit along Israel’s northern border.
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been exchanging near-daily cross-border fire with the Israeli army since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack triggered war in Gaza.
The Iran-backed militants have launched thousands of rockets, mortar rounds, anti-tank missiles and attack drones at northern Israel.
The exchanges of fire have killed at least 11 civilians and 14 soldiers in Israel, according to the army.
At least 429 people have been killed in Lebanon, mostly militants but also including at least 82 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
The barrages have dealt a heavy blow to Israeli towns and villages near the border which have been evacuated for more than six months. They have also served as a warning of the far greater destruction that would be wrought by a full-blown war.
The Israeli defense ministry body responsible for rebuilding northern communities said it had received 930 reports of damage — around a third of them categorized as moderate to critical — the vast majority of it inflicted on residential buildings.
Hundreds more cases remain unassessed in towns like Arab Al-Aramsheh, Menara and Metula because it is considered too hazardous for inspectors to enter.
The report did not cite an estimated cost, but a senior defense official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said reconstruction in the hardest hit locations could take months to a year.
In Kibbutz Menara, around 30 percent of buildings have suffered substantial damage, the official said.
At least 26 percent of the reported damage was caused by Israeli troops who have entrenched themselves in evacuated towns and villages along the 120-kilometer (75-mile) border, according to the Northern Horizon Directorate report.
The Israeli military said it “regrets any damage to the residents’ property” and is working to minimize damage as much as possible.
The most vulnerable communities were evacuated immediately after the outbreak of hostilities, displacing some 60,000 civilians. Access to them is restricted by the Israeli military.
But AFP reporters managed to visit Shtula, a village of 300 people sitting on the border that has 44 recorded cases of moderate to critical damage.
Although her neighbor’s house suffered a direct hit, and missiles pounded several other nearby buildings facing Lebanon, Ora Hatan, 60, is one of the few residents who has stayed on.
“An anti-tank missile flew over the chicken coop and right into the house,” said Hatan, pointing at a neighbor’s property.
“A direct hit. Fortunately, no one was home.”
Even after more than seven months of intense bombardment, Hatan won’t leave.
“It’s my house. It’s my land. It’s my country. Where would I go? Why should I go?” she told AFP on her balcony overlooking the Lebanese village of Raymeh two kilometers (little more than a mile) away.
As the war grinds on, and Hezbollah attacks show no sign of relenting, northern residents have grown weary of what many see as talk and little action.
For months, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said Israel will restore security — diplomatically or militarily. The two sides fought a devastating war in 2006.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported that National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told lawmakers Wednesday that “the cabinet hasn’t defined any clear objective concerning the north — not dates, not targets, not strategic aims.”
A poll published Thursday by Israel’s public broadcaster showed that 46 percent of respondents backed military action in Lebanon, while 29 percent opposed.
On Thursday, a few hundred activists set up a protest camp to demand urgent action to restore security and allow displaced residents to return to their homes in the north.
One of the organizers, Nisan Zeevi, lives in kibbutz Kfar Giladi and serves on its emergency response team.
Across the valley from his home, a fortified tower seven storys high looms over the kibbutzim in the valley below that have been frequent targets of drone and missile strikes.
A house in the neighboring kibbutz bears a gaping hole where a missile strike killed a woman and her son in January.
Zeevi said the camp aimed “to express our protest to the Israeli government and to the world until they find a solution to the severe security situation.”


Head of UAE national media officer meets with Saudi, GCC ministers

Head of UAE national media officer meets with Saudi, GCC ministers
Updated 24 May 2024
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Head of UAE national media officer meets with Saudi, GCC ministers

Head of UAE national media officer meets with Saudi, GCC ministers
  • Discussed ways to strengthen media cooperation between GCC countries

DOHA: The head of the UAE’s national media office met with informational ministers from Gulf Cooperation Council countries in Doha on Friday, Emirates News Agency reported.

Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al-Hamed, who is also chairman of the UAE Media Council, met with Saudi Arabia’s media minister Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari and Abdulrahman Bdah Al-Mutairi, the Minister of Information and Culture of Kuwait. 

Sheikh Abdulla also held talks with Ramzan bin Abdullah Al-Noaimi of Bahrain and Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, chairman of Qatar Media Corporation.

They discussed ways to strengthen media cooperation between the GCC countries and developing joint initiatives to advance the media industry in the region.


Yemen’s Houthis say they launch attacks on 3 ships including one in Mediterranean

Yemen’s Houthis say they launch attacks on 3 ships including one in Mediterranean
Updated 24 May 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis say they launch attacks on 3 ships including one in Mediterranean

Yemen’s Houthis say they launch attacks on 3 ships including one in Mediterranean
  • Attacks are latest in months-long campaign of Houthi strikes against regional shipping

CAIRO: Yemen’s Houthis have launched attacks on three ships in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Sea, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Friday.
The attacks are the latest in a months-long campaign of Houthi strikes against regional shipping in what the group says is solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israel in the Gaza war.
Sarea said in a televised speech that Houthi forces had targeted the Yannis ship in the Red Sea, the Essex in the Mediterranean Sea and MSC Alexandra in the Arabian Sea.
Houthis “fired several missiles at the ship Essex in the Mediterranean Sea while it was violating the decision ban that prevents entry into occupied Palestinian ports,” Sarea added.
He did not clarify when the attacks took place.
Earlier this month, the leader of Yemen’s Houthis, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi had said that all ships heading to Israeli ports would be attacked by the Iran-backed group, not just those in the Red Sea region which it has sought to strike before.
The Iran-aligned Houthi militants have launched repeated drone and missile strikes on ships in the crucial shipping channels of the Red Sea, the Bab Al-Mandab strait and the Gulf of Aden since November to show their support for the Palestinians in the Gaza war.
This has forced shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa and has stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread and destabilize the Middle East.