Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in

Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
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A Palestinian man wearing a United Nations blue vest walks past the debris following the Israeli bombardment of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 14, 2023. (AFP)
Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
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The war between Israel and Hamas has displaced almost 1.6 million Palestinians, according UNRWA, leaving hundreds of thousands living in cramped shelters with little food and insufficient water. (AFP)
Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
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Lightening illuminates the sky during a storm over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 14, 2023. (AFP)
Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
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An internally displaced Palestinian woman living in a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), walks in slippers along a wet courtyard following overnight rainstorms in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 15, 2023. (AFP)
Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
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A Palestinian man covered with a blanket, stand in the debris of a home following the Israeli bombardment of the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 15, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 17 November 2023
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Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in

Displaced Gazans search for warm clothes as cold draws in
  • The exodus came after Israel’s military began a relentless bombardment of Gaza
  • Even before the war, life in the Gaza Strip was difficult

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: When Khulud Jarboueh and her children fled their home in the northern Gaza Strip under Israeli bombardment in early October, the young ones were wearing just shorts and T-shirts.
The heat of late summer still lingered then. But now she rummages through piles of clothing looking for something to keep them warm in the rain and bitter cold.
“We left Gaza City with 20 members of the family more than a month ago,” the 29-year-old told AFP at a second-hand clothes stall outside a school in Rafah run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
They had left the north of the Palestinian territory after Israel warned people to flee south, saying it was safer there.
The exodus came after Israel’s military began a relentless bombardment of Gaza after Hamas militants stormed across the border on October 7 and killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
They also seized around 240 hostages in attacks that sparked massive retaliation from Israel. The Hamas government in Gaza says Israeli attacks have killed around 11,500 people, including thousands of children.
Now Jarboueh and her family sleep on the floor of the UNRWA school.
“We didn’t take any clothes with us. But now it’s cold and I have to buy winter stuff,” she said at the stall where items of clothing go for a shekel each (around $0.25).
Even before the war, life in the Gaza Strip was difficult.
The United Nations estimates that in 2022, the blockade Israel had enforced against the territory since 2007 had “hollowed out Gaza’s economy.”
“The restrictions on movement also impede access to health and other essential services, as 80 percent of Gazans depend on international aid,” said UNCTAD, the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
Unemployment in the densely populated strip of land squeezed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea was 45 percent.
Today, the UN says, all 2.4 million people in Gaza are going hungry, and 1.65 million have been displaced by the war. With almost half the houses in Gaza destroyed or damaged, poverty will only get worse.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve had to buy second-hand clothes,” said Jarboueh. “We’re not rich, but I can usually afford to pay 10 shekels for an item of clothing for the children.
“Now they’re coughing because it’s so cold. I have no other choice.”
She said she was sure the old clothes were “full of germs.”
“But they’re going to have to put them straight on. I don’t have the water to shower my children, let alone do the laundry.”
On a road lined with stalls, hundreds of Palestinians held up items to check sizes or compare fabrics. The temperature has now dropped and downpours are common.
Farmer Walid Sbeh said he has been uprooted from his land, and does not have a shekel to his name. He camps at the UNRWA school each night with his wife and 13 children.
“I can’t stand it, seeing my children still in their summer clothes go hungry, and I know I can’t buy them anything,” he told AFP.
“This is no life. They force us from our homes and kill us in cold blood. If we don’t die in the bombing we die of hunger or thirst, sickness and cold,” he said.
Sbeh said that when they left after their house was bombed they brought blankets with them.
“But on the road, the Israeli soldiers told us to drop everything and keep our hands up.”
He said some people gave them warmer clothing their own children had outgrown.
Adel Harzallah, who runs a clothes shop, said his stock of winter pyjamas sold out in two days.
“The war began when we were waiting for winter wear to arrive. It was due to come across the border” but that shut after the October 7 attacks in Israel.
Now his goods were stuck in containers, like food, drinking water and fuel, all only to be released for a high price.
One potential customer left Harzallah’s store disappointed.
“Seventy shekels for a jacket? I can’t pay that — I’ve got five kids,” she said.
Abdelnasser Abu Dia, 27, told AFP he “doesn’t have enough to buy bread, let alone clothes.”
For a month he had only the clothes in which he fled.
But as the temperature dropped, “someone gave me and my kids sportswear jackets. We’ve been wearing them non-stop for a week.”


Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer

Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer
Updated 20 July 2024
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Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer

Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer
  • UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule called on Algeria to “address the climate of fear caused by a string of criminal charges”

ALGIERS: Eight Algerian activists from pro-democracy protests that toppled the country’s last president have been placed in pre-trial detention while six others were released under judicial supervision, one of their lawyers said Friday.
The activists were arrested between July 8 and 15 in Bejaia, some 220 kilometers (136 miles) east of the capital Algiers.
Mira Mokhnache, a university professor and human rights defender, along with seven other activists were placed in pre-trial detention on Thursday by an investigating judge at the Sidi M’Hamed court in downtown Algiers, according to lawyer Fetta Sadat.
The protest movement, known as Hirak, broke out in February 2019 and forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down two months later.
The movement continued to press for deep reforms, but it waned during the Covid pandemic.
The National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) said that among the eight convicted was a man who was released from prison last month after three years of imprisonment over ties to the pro-democracy protests.
A 16-year-old whistleblower who documented Algerian political prisons on his Facebook page was among those released under judicial supervision, according to Sadat.
Local media said the group was being prosecuted under a 2021 law amendment relating to “terrorism.”
Last year, a United Nations expert called for the repeal of the article that “broadened the definition of terrorism,” and urged Algerian authorities to pardon people convicted or detained over their involvement in the pro-democracy protests.
UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule called on Algeria to “address the climate of fear caused by a string of criminal charges.”
Dozens of people are still detained in Algeria over links to Hirak or human rights activism, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees.
In February, rights watchdog Amnesty International said that five years after the protests erupted, Algerian authorities had “escalated their repression of peaceful dissent.”
“It is a tragedy that five years after brave Algerians took to the streets in their masses to demand political change and reforms, the authorities have continued to wage a chilling campaign of repression,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, Heba Morayef.
The North African country is readying for presidential elections set to take place on September 7 as the incumbent President Abdelmadjid Tebboune remains its frontrunner.
 

 


Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials

Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials
Updated 20 July 2024
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Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials

Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials
  • A security source confirmed the blast, adding that it “occurred in a warehouse storing equipment that belongs to Hashed Al-Shaabi”

BAGHDAD: An explosion ripped through “logistics” warehouses belonging to former pro-Iran paramilitaries south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday, officials said.
“At 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT)... an explosion occurred in logistics warehouses belonging to the 42 Brigade... in the Yusufiyah area, south of Baghdad,” said the Hashed Al-Shaabi — an alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary groups now integrated into the regular army.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known, and the Hashed said it assigned a committee to investigate.
Firefighters were battling the blaze, it added in a statement.
A security source confirmed the blast, adding that it “occurred in a warehouse storing equipment that belongs to Hashed Al-Shaabi.”
A Hashed official said he did not rule out the possibility of an “air strike.”
In April, one person was killed and eight wounded in a blast at a military base housing Hashed groups in Babylon province, south of Baghdad.
An investigation found the blast was caused by munitions stored on-site, not by an air strike.
The Hashed Al-Shaabi is an integral part of the Iraqi security apparatus under the authority of the prime minister.
It includes some pro-Iran groups which have carried out dozens of attacks against US forces in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
The latest blast comes after two drones were launched on Tuesday against an Iraqi base used by US-led troops without causing any damage.
 

 


Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike

Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike
Updated 20 July 2024
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Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike

Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike
  • Israel has killed at least 38,848 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory, where fighting raged on Friday

TEL AVIV: Israel threatened reprisals Friday after a drone claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels penetrated its vaunted air defenses and killed a civilian in a Tel Aviv apartment building near a US embassy annexe.
The attack drew condemnation from UN chief Antonio Guterres and an appeal for “maximum restraint” to avoid “further escalation in the region.”
The pre-dawn strike came hours before Israel suffered another blow, a ruling by the UN’s top court that its occupation of the Palestinian territories was “illegal” and needed to end as soon as possible.
The advisory opinion of The Hague-based International Court of Justice is not binding, but it comes amid mounting international condemnation of Israel’s handling of its war on Hamas in Gaza.
The office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed the court’s decision as “a victory for justice.” Hamas said it puts “the international system before the imperative of immediate action to end the occupation.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has overseen a major expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, insisted: “The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land.”
The Houthis are one of a number of Iran-backed armed groups around the Middle East that have claimed drone and missile attacks on Israel in retaliation for the Gaza war.
The group, which controls swathes of Yemen, including much of its Red Sea coast, has previously claimed attacks on Israeli cities including Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat, but Friday’s strike appears to be the first to breach Israel’s sophisticated air defenses.
The Houthis fired at Tel Aviv a “new drone called ‘Yafa’, which is capable of bypassing the enemy’s interception systems,” their spokesman Yahya Saree said.
An Israeli military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a “very big drone that can travel long distances” was used in the 3:12 am (0012 GMT) attack.
He said the drone was detected but due to “human error” the alarm was not raised in time, and it slammed into an apartment building.
Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel believed the drone used was Iranian-made and upgraded so it could reach Tel Aviv from Yemen — at least 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) away.
Medical services said one civilian was killed and four people suffered “relatively minor” injuries.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed revenge.
“The security system will settle the score with all who try to harm the state of Israel, or sends terrorism against it, in a decisive and surprising manner,” he said in comments posted on social media platform X.

In grainy security camera footage, the buzz of what appeared to be the drone was followed by an explosion that shook the building and set off car alarms.
The blast occurred about 100 meters (yards) from a US embassy annexe, said an AFP journalist who saw broken windows along the street lined with apartment blocks.
“It woke me up because the vibration of the sound was like a 747 (jet) coming in,” said Kenneth Davis, an Israeli who was staying in a hotel opposite the building which was hit.
“And then the explosion... everything blew out in the room,” he told AFPTV.
Since November, the Houthis have also carried out dozens of drone and missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden that they claim is Israeli-linked.
The United States and Britain launched a campaign of air strikes in January to deter the attacks on shipping.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on 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’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 38,848 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory, where fighting raged on Friday.

Residents said clashes were heard between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army, with explosions and shelling in the Tal Al-Hawa district of Gaza City.
The war has destroyed much of Gaza’s housing and other infrastructure, leaving virtually the entire population displaced and short of food and drinking water.
Many are living in unsanitary conditions. Health authorities in Gaza and Israel said on Thursday that poliovirus had been detected in Gaza sewage samples.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that no cases of the highly infectious disease had been discovered in Gaza so far.
 

 


Houthis damage cargo ship in Gulf of Aden as it steps up attacks

Houthis damage cargo ship in Gulf of Aden as it steps up attacks
Updated 20 July 2024
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Houthis damage cargo ship in Gulf of Aden as it steps up attacks

Houthis damage cargo ship in Gulf of Aden as it steps up attacks
  • Houthis in recent weeks have become more adept at inflicting damage on their targets

CAIRO: Yemen’s Houthi militants hit and damaged a Singapore-flagged container ship with two missiles on Friday as they escalate attacks on global shipping over Israel’s war in Gaza.
The overnight assault on the Lobivia cargo ship came as the Iran-aligned Houthis also claimed responsibility for a fiery, long-range aerial drone strike in the center of Tel Aviv that killed one man and wounded four others.
The Houthis in recent weeks have become more adept at inflictingdamage on their targets. In June, the militants struck the Greek-owned Tutor coal carrier with missiles and an explosive-laden remote-controlled boat, causing it to sink.
Tutor was the second ship sunk in the Houthi campaign against commercial shipping, which since November has killed at least three sailors and upended global trade by forcing ship owners to avoid the Suez Canal trade shortcut.
“Their capacity, their access to more sophisticated weapons, has only increased over the course of this conflict,” said Gerald Feierstein, director of the Arabian Peninsula Affairs Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree in a television speech on Friday said the group launched the Lobivia strikes, adding that the assault also included drones. The manager of Lobivia did not immediately comment.
Lobivia was in the Gulf of Aden when the missiles struck two areas on its port side, the Joint Maritime Information Center (JMIC) said in an incident report.
The ship was located 83 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s port city of Aden during the attack. All crew are reported safe and the ship was returning to its last port of call, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said.
“The ship was transiting northeast along the Gulf of Aden when a merchant vessel in the vicinity observed ‘light and blast’ where the ship was located,” British security firm Ambrey said.
The ship appeared to perform evasive maneuvers immediately and switch off her automatic identification system approximately an hour later, Ambrey said.
On Tuesday, the Houthis hit the Liberia-flagged oil tanker Chios Lion with a drone boat, causing damage to the port side that left an oily trail that experts said appeared to be fuel.
Britain and the US have conducted retaliatory strikes since February, shooting down drones and bombing attack sites in Yemen.
That has come at a significant cost, said Feierstein, who was the US Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen from 2010 to 2013 under President Barack Obama.
“We’re basically spending a million dollars every time we shoot down a Radio Shack drone. That’s wearing on the Navy and wearing on our supplies,” he said.


Killing of Gaza girl, 5, may be Israeli war crime: UN experts

Killing of Gaza girl, 5, may be Israeli war crime: UN experts
Updated 46 min 34 sec ago
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Killing of Gaza girl, 5, may be Israeli war crime: UN experts

Killing of Gaza girl, 5, may be Israeli war crime: UN experts
  • The UN experts said “the absence of proper investigation and accountability” five months after the facts “is deeply troubling and may in itself amount to a violation of the right to life”

GENEVA: The death of Hind Rajab, a Palestinian girl whose final appeals for help moved public opinion worldwide, may constitute a war crime, UN experts said on Friday.
“The killing of five-year old Hind Rajab, her family and two paramedics may amount to a war crime,” the experts said in a press statement.
Israeli claims its troops were not in the area at the time were “unacceptable,” they added.
In a statement, the Israeli Embassy in Geneva said that its own army was investigating.

This undated handout photograph obtained courtesy of the family shows six-year-old Palestinian girl Hind Rajab posing for a picture. (AP)

The UN experts said “the absence of proper investigation and accountability” five months after the facts “is deeply troubling and may in itself amount to a violation of the right to life.”
They also referred to “compelling evidence” on where the family’s car was in relation to an Israeli tank “and how it was shot at from very close range using a type of weapon that can only be attributed to the Israeli forces.”
“Audio recordings of calls between Hind and emergency services suggest that she was the only survivor in the car before she was also killed,” the experts added.
The UN experts, while mandated by the Human Rights Council, do not speak in its name.
The Gaza war was triggered by the Oct. 7 attack by militants on southern Israel.
Israel’s military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,848 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry in Gaza.