Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia seen as only the latest horror to befall the Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza

Special Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia seen as only the latest horror to befall the Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza
Palestinians examine the aftermath of an Israeli strike the previous night in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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Updated 19 December 2023
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Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia seen as only the latest horror to befall the Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza

Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia seen as only the latest horror to befall the Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza
  • At least 210 Palestinians were killed in recent IDF strikes on the refugee camp, drawing international condemnation
  • Since it was established by UNRWA in 1948, impoverished, overcrowded Jabalia has seen repeated raids and uprisings

LONDON: Israeli airstrikes on the largest and most densely populated of Gaza’s eight refugee camps, Jabalia, in recent days have killed at least 210 Palestinians, injured hundreds more, and left scores of people buried beneath the rubble of their homes.

Few of the families who live in the overcrowded camp, established by the UN northeast of Gaza City in 1948, have known anything but violence and privations of war. Now, under relentless Israeli bombardment, they have nowhere to run.

On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, heavy bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces leveled entire housing blocks in the Jabalia camp, killing at least 195 Palestinians and injuring more than 777.

Israel said it was targeting Ibrahim Biari, a key Hamas commander, as part of the IDF’s mission to destroy the Palestinian militant group responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 people and the abduction of 240 others.




Israel said it had attacked the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. (Reuters)

In a briefing after the bombing, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari claimed Biari had played a key role in planning the Oct. 7 attacks using a network of tunnels burrowed beneath the refugee camp, which Israeli officials have dubbed the “metro.”

The two Israeli attacks on Jabalia were followed by a third major bombardment on Saturday, which killed at least 15 people. According to the health ministry of Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, the death toll in the beleaguered enclave since Oct. 7 has now surpassed 10,000. The actual figure, including both civilians and combatants, is believed to be much higher.

The attacks on Jabalia have sparked widespread condemnation, with Bahrain and Jordan expelling Israeli ambassadors and recalling their own.

Saudi Arabia denounced “in the strongest terms possible” the “inhumane targeting” of the refugee camp, while the UAE said the persistence of the “senseless bombing” will have difficult-to-remedy repercussions for the region.

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said he was “appalled over the escalating violence in Gaza” and the “Israeli airstrikes in residential areas of the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp.”

US Senator Bernie Sanders described the situation as “one of the more horrific moments in modern history,” calling for the cessation of Israel’s “indiscriminate” killing of civilians in Gaza.

Othman Moqbel, head of the UK-based humanitarian aid agency Action for Humanity, told Arab News his NGO was “horrified and devastated by the news of the Jabalia massacre” in Gaza.




The attacks on Jabalia have sparked widespread condemnation. (AFP)

He said the death toll was expected to rise as rescue teams continued to search through the rubble for survivors and to retrieve bodies.

The 1.4 square-kilometer Jabalia refugee camp is home to 116,000 residents, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, most of whom are descendants of the Palestinian families who fled their homes in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Nadia Naser-Najjab, a senior lecturer in Palestine studies at the UK’s University of Exeter, told Arab News that amid the ongoing Gaza carnage, the residents of Jabalia were “in a state of helplessness, knowing that even if they attempt to flee to southern Gaza, they would be targeted and killed either on the way there or wherever they take shelter.”

Early in the conflict, Israel had urged Gazan civilians to leave their homes and seek sanctuary in the south of the Gaza Strip while the IDF conducted bombing raids and ground operations against Hamas in the north.

However, a recent analysis by BBC Verify found that Israel had bombed areas in Gaza where it had previously directed Palestinian civilians to evacuate for their safety.

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Of course, displacement is not a new experience for Gazans, particularly those in Jabalia and other camps.

“These refugees were expelled from other parts of southern Palestine, such as the cities known today as Ashkelon and Sderot, during the Nakba,” Naser-Najjab said, referring to the mass displacement that followed the 1948 war.

“UNRWA built them eight camps in Gaza to home them and look after them.”

Naser-Najjab pointed out that the refugee issue should have been resolved through a political solution long ago, but the Oslo Accords of 1993 never addressed the matter. “Israel never agreed to solve the refugee problem in a just way,” she added.




At least 210 Palestinians were killed in the attack on the camp. (AFP)

“Instead, Israel suggested relocating a number of refugees to the territories under the Palestinian Authority’s administration.”

The 17-year blockade of the Gaza Strip only compounded the misery of the Jabalia camp population. Issues identified by UNRWA include high rates of unemployment, prolonged power cuts, contaminated water, extreme overcrowding, and a lack of construction materials to expand living spaces or repair the damage caused by previous Israeli attacks.

Jabalia has suffered repeated blows over the 75 years since its establishment, earning it the moniker “the camp of resilience,” Mohammed Solieman, a former history professor at the University of Leeds, in England, told Arab News.

The first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel began in the Jabalia camp in December 1987. It concluded with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, which initiated direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships.

FASTFACTS

• The Jabalia refugee camp was established by UNRWA in 1948.

• 116,000 people are crammed into the 1.4 sq-km camp.

• Israeli attacks on Jabalia have sparked strong Arab condemnation.

The camp also bore the brunt of an Israeli military offensive in March 2003, when tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets, and helicopter gunships were deployed, according to media reports at the time. At least 11 Palestinians were reportedly killed and 140 wounded in that offensive.

Another large-scale IDF operation, which took place in September and October 2004, targeted the Jabalia camp as well as the town of Beit Hanoun. Fifteen homes were flattened, according to UNRWA, and international humanitarian staff were prevented from entering Gaza.

During the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli fighter jets bombed a school managed by UNRWA that had been sheltering displaced Palestinians, killing at least 20 and injuring more than 150, according to media reports citing Gaza health officials.




An overview of the Jabalia refugee camp and the destruction in the same camp after it was hit by an Israeli strike. (AFP/Maxar)

Jabalia had been “one of the most prominent educational areas in the Gaza Strip as it is home to UNRWA schools,” Solieman said. According to UNRWA’s figures, the camp has 26 schools, two health centers, and a public library.

Residents have again taken refuge in UNRWA schools, which have not been spared Israeli bombardment. On Saturday, the IDF struck the UNRWA-run Al-Fakhoura School, killing at least 15 people and injuring 54, according to local media.

Naser-Najjab said: “After every war on Gaza, the international community holds conferences and decides to rebuild the Strip.

“What is often offered is humanitarian aid, which is necessary and important, but no political solution.”

She urged the international community to “examine what is happening today within the historical context to find a right and just solution for Gaza’s population.”

Citing events in the early 1970s, when Israel demolished homes in Rafah under the pretext of widening roads, displacing 16,000 Palestinians, Naser-Najjab said she believed the Israelis intended to push the Palestinians of Gaza into Egypt’s Sinai.




Jabalia has suffered repeated blows over the 75 years since its establishment, earning it the moniker “the camp of resilience.” (AFP/Getty Images)

In 1971, many people from the Gaza Strip “were forced into Sinai, where Canada Camp was established,” she added.

After the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, known as the 1978 Camp David Accords, a number of families returned to Gaza from Sinai.

“This is the context of what is happening today. Israel is attempting to drive the people of Gaza into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, offering it as the sole solution to the humanitarian crisis.”

Israeli airstrikes since the launch of the IDF’s military campaign in Gaza have targeted several of the northern enclave’s eight refugee camps, including Al-Shati, Nuseirat, and Al-Maghazi, as well as Jabalia.

An overnight attack on Al-Maghazi camp on Saturday killed at least 47 people and injured more than 100, while many others remain trapped under rubble, according to local media.




Israel attacked the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza on Oct. 31, 2023. (Reuters)

Humanitarian aid agencies have repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to assist the civilian population, including those trapped in Jabalia.

Action for Humanity’s Moqbel said: “Nearly every day (for weeks now), we have called for a ceasefire, for increased humanitarian access, and for the recognition of international humanitarian law to protect the lives of innocents in this catastrophic conflict.

“We are advocating for the same actions now, and will continue to do so, until all lives are protected.”


Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9

Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9
Updated 7 sec ago
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Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9

Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9

CAIRO: Egypt on Monday condemned the terrorist bombing that targeted a cafe in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu late on Sunday. 

Egypt expressed its full solidarity and support for Somalia’s efforts to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emigration, and Egyptian Expatriates.

The death toll from the car bombing at the cafe that was packed with football fans watching the Euro 2024 final has risen to nine, security sources in Somalia said on Monday.

Egypt expressed its sincere condolences to the government and people of Somalia and the families of the victims, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

The popular Top Coffee restaurant, which is located near the presidential palace in the center of Mogadishu, was thronged with young men watching the final.


Syria’s Assad says will only meet Turkiye’s Erdogan if ‘core’ issues addressed

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on May 29, 2023, Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Damascus on July 16, 2023.
Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on May 29, 2023, Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Damascus on July 16, 2023.
Updated 9 min 38 sec ago
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Syria’s Assad says will only meet Turkiye’s Erdogan if ‘core’ issues addressed

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on May 29, 2023, Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Damascus on July 16, 2023.
  • Erdogan said earlier in July he would extend an invitation to Assad “any time” for possible talks to restore relations
  • “What is the basis for the meeting? Would it be ending the reasons for the problem, which are supporting terrorism and withdrawing from Syrian lands?”: Assad

DUBAI: Syria’s President Bashar Assad said on Monday he would only meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan if the two countries could focus on the core issues of Ankara’s support for “terrorism” and the pullout of Turkish forces from Syrian territory.
“The problem is not the meeting, but its content,” a video clip released by the presidency showed Assad telling reporters in Damascus.
Turkiye severed ties with Syria in 2011 after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, in which it supported rebels looking to oust Assad. The Syrian leader views the rebels as terrorists.
Ankara also established a “safe zone” in northern Syria where Turkish troops are now stationed, and it has carried out several cross-border military operations against militants it says threaten Turkiye’s national security.
Erdogan said earlier in July he would extend an invitation to Assad “any time” for possible talks to restore relations.
“What is the basis for the meeting? Would it be ending the reasons for the problem, which are supporting terrorism and withdrawing from Syrian lands?... This is the core of the problem.”
“If there were no discussion about the core of (the problem), what would such a meeting mean?“
Assad added that he would respond positively to any initiative aimed at improving bilateral ties but that the basis for such talks must be set first.


Azerbaijan reopens its embassy in Iran as the two countries try to ease tensions

An Iranian worker paints Azerbaijan’s sign on the entrance gate to the new Azeri embassy in Tehran, Iran, 15 July 2024. (EPA)
An Iranian worker paints Azerbaijan’s sign on the entrance gate to the new Azeri embassy in Tehran, Iran, 15 July 2024. (EPA)
Updated 15 July 2024
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Azerbaijan reopens its embassy in Iran as the two countries try to ease tensions

An Iranian worker paints Azerbaijan’s sign on the entrance gate to the new Azeri embassy in Tehran, Iran, 15 July 2024. (EPA)
  • Relations between Tehran and Baku, which have been tense for a long time, soured further after a gunman in January 2023 stormed Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran

TEHRAN: The embassy of Azerbaijan in Tehran resumed its work Monday after more than a year of negotiations between the two countries to ease tensions, Iran’s semi-official media outlets reported.
A source in the Azeri embassy in Tehran told The Associated Press that the embassy has resumed its operations in the Iranian capital, but said it won’t be officially announced until the Iranian foreign ministry confirms the development.
But an Azeri website news.az Monday quoted Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry as saying that its embassy in Iran has restarted work at a new address in Tehran. The report added that the embassy reopened following negotiations between Azerbaijan and Iran.
Relations between Tehran and Baku, which have been tense for a long time, soured further after a gunman in January 2023 stormed Azerbaijan’s embassy in Iran’s capital, killing its security chief and wounding two guards.
Iran said the attack was based on a personal cause, and said the gunman’s wife had disappeared after a visit to the embassy, but Azeri President Ilham Aliyev called the assault a “terrorist attack.” Baku accused Tehran of supporting hard-line extremists who tried to overthrow its government, a charge Tehran denied.
In April 2023, Azerbaijan expelled four Iranian diplomats from Baku. A month later, Iran expelled four Azeri diplomats, who had been working in Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northwestern city of Tabriz.
The attack spiked long-simmering tensions between the two neighboring countries.
Relations between the two also remain tense because Azerbaijan in March 2023 opened an embassy in Israel. Azerbaijan also maintains close ties to Israel, which Tehran views as its top regional enemy. Iran has repeatedly opposed improving relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Azerbaijan borders Iran’s northwest and belonged to the Persian Empire until the early 19th century. There are over 12 million Ethnic Azeris in Iran who represent the Islamic Republic’s largest minority group. That means maintaining good relations with Baku is even more important for Tehran.
There have been tensions between the two countries as Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Iran also wants to maintain its 44-kilometer (27-mile) border with landlocked Armenia — something that could be threatened if Azerbaijan seizes new territory through warfare.
Iran-Azerbaijan’s relations improved during the era of the late Ebrahim Raisi. In May, Iran and Azerbaijan inaugurated a dam of Qiz Qalasi, or Castel of Girl in Azeri, on a joint border river in northwest Iran. Aliyev attended the inauguration.
During the ceremony, Raisi said that the relationship between Tehran and Baku is beyond neighboring and is “unbreakable.”
Raisi died in a helicopter crash — that also killed the country’s foreign minister and others — just after the inauguration ceremony. His body was found a day after the crash.


Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

A Palestinian woman reacts next to a child after an Israeli air strike on a UN school sheltering displaced people.
A Palestinian woman reacts next to a child after an Israeli air strike on a UN school sheltering displaced people.
Updated 15 July 2024
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Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

A Palestinian woman reacts next to a child after an Israeli air strike on a UN school sheltering displaced people.
  • Eyewitnesses said the Israeli army had shelled the Al-Mughraqa area and the northern outskirts of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza
  • Hamas said on Sunday it was withdrawing from ceasefire talks

GAZA STRIP: Israel hammered the Gaza Strip from the air, sea and land Monday as the war in the Palestinian territory showed no sign of abating, with Hamas saying it was pulling out of truce talks.
Shells rained down on the neighborhoods of Tal Al-Hawa, Sheikh Ajlin and Al-Sabra in Gaza City, AFP correspondents reported, while eyewitnesses said the Israeli army had shelled the Al-Mughraqa area and the northern outskirts of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they had retrieved the bodies of five people, including three children, after Israeli air strikes in the Al-Maghazi camp, also in the central Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses reported Israeli gunship fire east of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, and shelling and Apache helicopter attacks in western areas of the southernmost city of Rafah.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it was continuing its activity throughout the coastal territory, and said it had conducted raids in Rafah and central Gaza that killed “a number of” militants, as well as air strikes throughout the strip over the past day.
It also said its naval forces had been firing at targets in Gaza.
The relentless bombardments came as prospects dwindled for a truce and hostage release deal being secured any time soon.
Hamas said on Sunday it was withdrawing from ceasefire talks.
The decision followed an Israeli strike targeting the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, which the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed 92 people.
Deif’s fate remains unknown, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying there was “no certainty” he was dead while a senior Hamas official told AFP that Deif was “well and directly overseeing” operations.
Speaking after the strike on Al-Mawasi, a second senior official from the militant group cited Israeli “massacres” and its attitude to negotiations as a reason for suspending negotiations.
But according to the official, Haniyeh told international mediators Hamas was “ready to resume negotiations” when Israel’s government “demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal.”
Last week, US President Joe Biden had suggested a deal might be close, saying at a NATO summit that both sides had agreed to a framework he had set out in late May.
Hamas on Monday lashed out at the US, accusing it of supporting “genocide” by supplying Israel with “internationally banned” weapons.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the... American disdain for the blood of the children and women of our Palestinian people... by providing all types of prohibited weapons to the ‘Israeli’ occupation,” a statement from the Hamas government media office said.
Talks between the warring parties have been mediated by Qatar and Egypt, with US support, but months of negotiations have failed to bring a breakthrough.
The war was sparked by Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry.
The war and accompanying siege have devastated the Palestinian territory, destroying much of its infrastructure, leaving the majority of its 2.4 million residents displaced and causing a dire shortage of food, medicines and other basic goods.
Among the devastated facilities have been multiple schools. On Sunday, Israeli forces struck a UN-run school in Nuseirat camp that was being used as a shelter for displaced people but which the military said “served as a hideout” for militants.
The civil defense agency in Gaza said 15 people were killed in the strike, the fifth attack in just over a week to hit a school used as shelter by displaced Palestinians.


Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco

Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco
In September of 2023, Morocco was stricken with a deadly earthquake that left thousands injured and homeless. (Supplied)
Updated 15 July 2024
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Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco

Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco

DUBAI: UAE’s latest humanitarian project will kick off in Morocco to provide medical relief for over 25,000 people a year in earthquake stricken areas across the Middle East and North Africa. 
Asterians United, a mobile medical service unit, was recently launched by Aster Healthcare in collaboration with UAE Red Crescent. The first group of aid vehicles left UAE on Friday and is en route to Taroudant, Morocco.
Each team vehicle will have one doctor, a minimum of one nursing staff and a driver. The mobile medical vans will provide consultations, first-aid treatment and other essential medical services directly to communities in need.
The project will run for 10 years and is subject to renewal, according to a memorandum of understanding between Moroccan authorities and UAE Red Crescent officials.
Other aid missions will eventually be launched in the region, after the initial outreach activities in Morocco.
Morocco was hit by a deadly earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, in September 2023 which left thousands injured and still battling the lack of stable shelter, clean water and essential sanitation facilities.