Hezbollah attacks Israeli troops with drones, artillery, missiles

Hezbollah attacks Israeli troops with drones, artillery, missiles
A photo taken on November 20, 2023, shows smoke coming out of an Israeli military base (C) near the border with Lebanon which was hit early today by a missile from Hezbollah. Lebanon's Hezbollah movement said it targeted troops in northern Israel with drones, artillery and missiles November 20, claiming a string of new attacks. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 November 2023
Follow

Hezbollah attacks Israeli troops with drones, artillery, missiles

Hezbollah attacks Israeli troops with drones, artillery, missiles
  • Russia describes escalation of hostilities in southern Lebanon as ‘very dangerous’

BEIRUT: Hostilities carried out by Hezbollah against Israeli military outposts significantly escalated on Monday, with the group resorting to more developed destructive weapons.

Amid the qualitative military escalation on the southern front, Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Rudakov told Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib that “what was happening in the south is very dangerous and must be stopped.”

The Russian diplomat said, "Both parties mainly discussed the unfolding events in the region, especially in Gaza."

The ambassador said Russia had been calling for peace and halting military operations in all international forums.

“We are in constant contact, following up on an array of topics and interests, whether bilateral or international,” he added.

The envoy’s reaction came as the Saydet El-Jabal group warned that the region is “heading toward a complicated and dangerous situation that requires the highest degrees of political vigilance and internal solidarity.”

The group, which includes politicians and public activists, also believes that Hezbollah is, once again, jeopardizing unity among the Lebanese people.

The comment follows a statement delivered by Sheikh Naim Kassem, Hezbollah deputy secretary-general, who said two days ago that it “will continue to be armed and trained despite all the Lebanese opposition voices.”

Saydet El-Jabal added: “How can Hezbollah say that it is protecting Lebanon’s national interest while it is placing itself above the constitution and the relevant international and Arab resolutions?”

The Israel-Lebanon border has seen daily exchanges of fire since the Israel-Hamas war began.

On Monday, Hezbollah announced hitting — for the first time — the Branit outpost with four Burkan missiles.

A video published by Israeli media showed the massive destruction caused by the missiles.

In two consecutive statements, Hezbollah confirmed that the purpose behind the shelling was “to support our resilient Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and endorse its resistance.”

Israeli media reported that “25 missiles and artillery shells, in addition to a kamikaze drone, were launched from Lebanon toward the Kiryat Shmona and Margaliot settlements, causing damage to the place.”

The Burkan missile is designed by Iran and produced in the workshops of the Syrian army’s fourth division.

It is a short-range ballistic missile carrying an explosive payload of 500 kg — half a ton of explosives — with a range of up to 10 km. It is launched from short-range tactical launchers.

Each battery carries three firing nozzles mounted on the body of a tank for any armored vehicle or truck.

Hezbollah used this missile for the first time at the beginning of November when it targeted the Israeli Jal Al-Alam outpost opposite the Lebanese border village of Al-Dahira.

Hezbollah’s confrontations with the Israeli military on the Lebanese southern front have been ongoing for 44 days.

Hezbollah announced targeting “an Israeli infantry force on Al-Karantina Hill near the Hadeb Yaroun outpost, an Israeli infantry gathering in the vicinity of the Dahira outpost, and an Israeli infantry gathering in the Al-Tayhat Triangle, causing direct hits.”

The group has also announced targeting “the Zibdeen outpost in the occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms with appropriate weapons, in addition to targeting a gathering for the Israeli occupation forces in the west of Kiryat Shmona with three drones.”

The Israeli army responded to Hezbollah’s operations through ground and aerial bombardment, targeting many locations in Lebanon.

The army said that “rocket-propelled grenades were launched from Lebanon toward Kiryat Shmona,” adding that “three drones were intercepted in the Upper Galilee.”

Artillery shelling has targeted the outskirts of the villages of Yarine, Al-Dahira, Tayr Harfa, Rab Al-Thalathin, Mhaibib, and Al-Jabin.

Israeli artillery has also targeted the outskirts of the villages of Houla, Wadi Saluki, Yaroun, and Naqoura, in addition to a forest between Deir Mimas and Kfarkila.

The fire caused by Israeli artillery has trapped a farmer in the valley located between Markaba and Houla.

The region between the Rmaych and Ayta Al-Shaab villages was subject to direct artillery bombardment. The shelling also reached the house of MP Kabalan Kabalan in Mays Al-Jabal.

Israeli helicopters also bombed the outskirts of the Maroun Al-Ras village.

According to Israeli media outlets, Hezbollah has launched “over 1,000 missiles from Lebanon toward Israeli targets since the beginning of the operations.”

The Al-Manar website affiliated with Hezbollah published “a table showing that the number of Israeli army casualties scattered across hospitals of settlements bordering Lebanon amounted to 1,523.”

Israeli bombing hit on Sunday afternoon a civilian car driving from the border village of Odaisseh to Kfarkila.

Lebanese citizen Sanaa Hussein Rislan was with her son when the artillery shell landed near them.

She was injured and transferred to a hospital for treatment.

Almost all the border region residents have evacuated the area and fled north of the Blue Line.

The Disaster Risk Management Unit in the Union of Tyre Municipalities announced that, as of Sunday, the number of displaced Lebanese reached 16,276, scattered across the villages of the district and four shelters.

The unit added that it was working in cooperation with associations and international organizations to secure the needs of displaced people within the available means.

As winter approaches, the number of displaced people is increasing daily, which adds a burden to securing heating in shelters.


Three Syrians missing after cargo ship sinks off Romania

Eight sailors were rescued by one of the nearby commercial vessels. (AFP file photo)
Eight sailors were rescued by one of the nearby commercial vessels. (AFP file photo)
Updated 11 sec ago
Follow

Three Syrians missing after cargo ship sinks off Romania

Eight sailors were rescued by one of the nearby commercial vessels. (AFP file photo)
  • Eight sailors were rescued by one of the nearby commercial vessels, while the search for the other three, “all of Syrian nationality,” was continuing, the statement said

BUCHAREST: Romanian rescue teams on Saturday were scouring the Black Sea for three Syrian sailors who went missing when their cargo ship sank off the coast, the naval authority said.
The Mohammed Z sank with 11 crew on board, 26 nautical miles off the Romanian town of Sfantu Gheorghe in the Danube delta in the Black Sea on Saturday morning, officials said in a statement.
The ship sailing under the Tanzanian flag was carrying nine Syrian and two Egyptian nationals, it said.
After receiving an alert at “around 4:00am,” naval authorities and border police were dispatched, with two nearby commercial vessels also joining the search and rescue operation.
Eight sailors were rescued by one of the nearby commercial vessels, while the search for the other three, “all of Syrian nationality,” was continuing, the statement said.
The cause of the accident was unclear.
According to the specialist website Marine Traffic, the ship departed from the Turkish port of Mersin and was heading to the Romanian port of Sulina.
Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, drifting sea mines have posed a constant threat for ships in the Black Sea, with countries bordering it doubling down on demining efforts.
Ensuring safe passage through the Black Sea has gained particular importance since Romania’s Danube ports became hubs for the transit of grain following the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports.
 

 


Iraq parliament fails to elect a speaker

A general view of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq. (REUTERS file photo)
A general view of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 14 min 4 sec ago
Follow

Iraq parliament fails to elect a speaker

A general view of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Iraq. (REUTERS file photo)
  • A coalition of three Sunni blocs backed Issawi, while Mashhadani, who served as Iraq’s first speaker following the adoption of the 2005 constitution, received the support of the former speaker Mohamed Al-Halbussi’s sizeable bloc

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s lawmakers failed to elect a speaker on Saturday as neither of the two main candidates secured a majority during a tense session of parliament.
It is the latest in a series of failed attempts to replace the former head of parliament who was dismissed in November, with political bickering and divisions between key Sunni parties derailing every attempt so far.
Saturday’s vote was the closest yet to selecting a new head of the 329-member parliament, with 311 lawmakers showing up for the session and the leading candidate falling just seven votes short.
The parliament’s media office announced that 137 lawmakers chose Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani, the oldest MP, while 158 picked Salem Al-Issawi.
However, candidates require at least 165 votes to win.
Many lawmakers did not return for a second attempt on Saturday, with local media sharing videos of a brief brawl between MPs and reporting that at least one of them was injured.
The parliament’s media office then announced that the session had been adjourned.
Iraq, a mosaic of different ethnic and religious groups, is governed by complex power-sharing arrangements.
The largely ceremonial role of president traditionally goes to a Kurd, that of prime minister to a Shiite, while the speaker of parliament is usually Sunni.
But parliament is dominated by a coalition of pro-Iran Shiite parties, reflecting the country’s largest religious group.
A coalition of three Sunni blocs backed Issawi, while Mashhadani, who served as Iraq’s first speaker following the adoption of the 2005 constitution, received the support of the former speaker Mohamed Al-Halbussi’s sizeable bloc.
The new speaker will replace Halbussi, the influential politician dismissed by Iraq’s top court in November last year after a lawmaker accused him of forging a resignation letter.
Halbussi had been the country’s highest-ranking Sunni official since he first became a speaker in 2018.
The new speaker’s stint will not last long with the general election due in 2025.
 

 


Libyan armed groups clash near capital Tripoli

Libyan armed groups clash near capital Tripoli
Updated 20 min 24 sec ago
Follow

Libyan armed groups clash near capital Tripoli

Libyan armed groups clash near capital Tripoli
  • Libya is divided between the UN-recognized Tripoli-based government and a rival administration in the country’s east

TRIPOLI: Clashes between Libyan armed groups broke out on Friday night in the city of Zawiya, some 40 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli, a security official told AFP.
An official at the city’s security directorate told AFP the clashes were ongoing but “intermittent” on Saturday.
“The southern areas of the city of Zawiya have been witnessing clashes between armed groups since last night,” the official said.
Libya is still struggling to recover from years of war and chaos after the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
On Saturday morning, schools in Zawiya were suspended as some roads leading to the city were shut down amid a “casual” exchange of fire between the groups, the official said.
Media reports said the fighting left casualties, but authorities in Tripoli have yet to confirm any.
The Tripoli-based health ministry said in a statement it was working to evacuate parts of the city and taking injured people to hospitals.
The Libyan Red Crescent said it had evacuated some families from areas affected by the fights.
Authorities have not disclosed the reasons behind the fight.
Videos shared since Friday night on social media, which AFP could not verify, showed armed men in SUVs firing heavily at other armed groups.
Other videos showed smoke rising from parts of the city.
Although relative calm has returned to the oil-rich country in the past few years, clashes periodically occur between its myriad armed groups.
Last month, clashes broke out in the capital Tripoli, sparking panic among locals who were celebrating the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
In August 2023, Tripoli’s worst armed clashes in a year left 55 people dead when two powerful groups fought.
Libya is divided between the UN-recognized Tripoli-based government and a rival administration in the country’s east.
 

 


How women and girls in war-torn Gaza are coping with water, sanitation and hygiene collapse

How women and girls in war-torn Gaza are coping with water, sanitation and hygiene collapse
Updated 37 min 36 sec ago
Follow

How women and girls in war-torn Gaza are coping with water, sanitation and hygiene collapse

How women and girls in war-torn Gaza are coping with water, sanitation and hygiene collapse
  • UN Women has described ongoing Israel offensive as a “war on women” with at least 10,000 female deaths since last October
  • Deprived of access to adequate services, more than 1 million women and girls face daily challenges and serious health risks

LONDON: Deprived of adequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services, Palestinian women and girls in Gaza are bearing the brunt of the prolonged and deepening humanitarian emergency caused Israel’s ongoing military offensive.

With no resolution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in sight, more than a million displaced women and girls in the embattled Palestinian enclave continue to endure daily challenges in increasingly dire conditions.

UN Women has described the Israeli military operation in Gaza, which began in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, as a “war on women,” with at least 10,000 killed since the start of the conflict — among them more than 6,000 mothers.

Those figures, published in April, are now likely far higher as Israel expands its operation and bombing raids into eastern Rafah — Gaza’s southernmost city, now home to some 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

According to UN figures, this latest operation has forced an estimated 150,000 Palestinians to flee central and northern Rafah.

While the biggest risk to women and girls in Gaza is injury or death under Israeli bombardment, “the unhygienic conditions and lack of water in Gaza are also having a very negative impact on women and girls’ health and dignity,” Fikr Shalltoot, the Gaza programs director at Medical Aid for Palestinians, told Arab News.

Israel denies deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, accusing Hamas of using residential areas for cover.

As summer approaches, soaring temperatures worsen the spread of communicable diseases caused by a lack of hygiene facilities, water, and access to proper food. The heat itself is also a significant danger to children and the elderly.

A Palestinian woman holding her children reacts outside a hospital where casualties are brought following Israeli bombardment in Bureij, central Gaza Strip, on April 8, 2024. (AFP)

“During a recent heatwave, a 5-year-old girl tragically died in her tent due to extreme heat,” Shalltoot said.

Analysis of satellite imagery by BBC Verify found that the Israeli operation in Gaza has damaged or destroyed more than half (53 percent) of the territory’s vital water and sanitation facilities.

The analysis, based on images acquired in March and April, also confirmed that four of the six wastewater treatment plants in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed. These facilities were critical to preventing sewage buildup.

Fidaa Al-Araj, Oxfam’s food security, cash, and protection coordinator in Gaza, said the water, sanitation, and hygiene situation facing women and girls in the enclave was “challenging,” leaving them unable to access clean toilets or private shower spaces.

A woman reacts upon seeing the body of a relative killed in Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024. (AFP)

“Having been displaced into camps or even in a host community, the numbers of people, of internally displaced persons, are very, very high,” Al-Araj told Arab News. “So, there is (overcrowding), there are many difficulties in having access to toilets, bathrooms, showers.”

She added: “Even if you have the facilities, and even if by any stretch they are enough for the IDPs residing in any given space, there is the issue of lack of running water to supply those facilities and to have them up and running all the time.

Displaced Palestinian women roll dough at their pizza making project at a makeshift shelter in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024. Lack of water has made the work much difficult.  (AFP)

“So, the hygiene conditions are very compromised, to say the least. When it comes to women and girls, there are issues of privacy, which is completely lacking.”

Where washrooms are present, people have “to wait in line with all sorts of people, even strangers, men and women, just to use the toilet. You have people banging on the door of the toilet while you’re in there, asking you to hurry up because the line is still very long.”

INNUMBERS

• 700,000 Women and girls now hosted in Rafah who have nowhere else to go. 

• 93% Women surveyed who feel unsafe in their own homes or in displacement.

• 6/10 Women who reported complications in pregnancy since Oct. 7.

Source: UN Women

This also makes management of menstruation especially challenging, as women and girls “endure longer hours without changing a pad, without washing,” Al-Araj added.

According to UN figures, there are more than 690,000 menstruating women and adolescent girls in the Gaza Strip. But aid agencies, which have had very limited access to the enclave due to the Israeli blockade, have been unable to meet the high demand for hygiene kits.

A girl ponders over what the future holds for her as she stands between barbed-wire patches at a camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 30, 2024. (AFP)

And since Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing on May 7 and closed the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing, the already limited flow of commercial goods and humanitarian aid has been further strangulated.

MAP’s Shalltoot confirmed that women’s sanitary products were “scarce in the local market,” highlighting that this has had “a psychological and physical health impact on women and girls.”

She said: “They resort to homemade, makeshift alternatives, which negatively impact their health by putting them at risk of reproductive and urinary tract infections and protection-related risks.

“This also negatively impacts their psychological well-being, anxiety and insecurity.”

Even the simple act of taking a shower has been almost impossible for women in Gaza for several months.

A woman gives a baby a bath inside a tent at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 18, 2024. (AfP)

“It’s very difficult to find a spot designated to take showers, and if it’s there, it’s very difficult to have water,” Oxfam’s Al-Araj said. “And if the water is there, it’s very difficult to find time to take an adequate shower.”

She added: “As a woman and as a mother of girls, I’ve been through all of this. To overcome these circumstances, you space out the shower times, so you take a shower when it’s absolutely needed.

“Sometimes you could spend a couple of weeks or even more without taking a shower.”

The aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres told the BBC that the destruction of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has led to “disastrous health consequences for the population,” notably a significant rise in gastric complaints in Rafah.

A Palestinian woman brushes a girl's hair outside a tent at a refugee camp in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on May 9, 2024. (AFP)

Contaminated water has also led to a spike in hepatitis A cases, with women and girls facing a heightened risk of exposure to the disease due to their traditional domestic responsibilities and caring for the sick, according to UN Women’s April gender alert report.

The report, titled “Scarcity and Fear,” highlighted that the lack of adequate and dignified facilities also exposes women and girls to reproductive and urinary tract infections.

“This situation could develop into dangerous or concerning health conditions for the women and girls, and I’m really sorry to say that it’s not given priority,” said Al-Araj.

“The heightening demand on the time, resources, and capacity of the medical facilities and staff makes prioritizing women’s issues or girls’ issues very difficult.”

Moreover, there are no quick fixes. Even if sufficient aid is permitted to enter Gaza, facilities need to be carefully planned in order to meet the necessary standards of privacy, cleanliness, and safety.

A Palestinian girl carries a toddler as people flee Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip to a safer location on May 11, 2024, Israeli strikes. (AFP)

“It’s not enough to build a shower or a toilet,” said Al-Araj. “It’s not enough to provide it with water and that’s it. You have to think of the site … Is it safe for women and girls, is it accessible at all times … is it targeted maybe by different threats?

“You also have to think about the supplies. You don’t give a hygiene kit or a dignity kit once, for example, and that’s it, your work is done. You need to regularly provide those kinds of kits.”

Al-Araj also emphasized the need for “complementary services,” including extending responses “to enhancing access to sexual and reproductive health care system.

“I can only wish that the aftereffects of all of this wouldn’t linger for long or have irreversible results.”


 


Israeli army continues drone warfare against Hezbollah

Israeli army continues drone warfare against Hezbollah
Updated 18 May 2024
Follow

Israeli army continues drone warfare against Hezbollah

Israeli army continues drone warfare against Hezbollah
  • Hezbollah said in a statement that it targeted the Ras Naqoura naval site with artillery in response to the drone strike

BEIRUT: Israel widened its drone attacks on Hezbollah and Hamas fighters in Lebanon on Saturday, with strikes near the Lebanese-Syrian border in parallel with attacks in the south of the country.

An Israeli combat drone struck a car carrying two people on the road between the Lebanese General Security and Syrian General Security checkpoints.

The Syrian Observatory confirmed the attack, saying that “the target in the car was a Hezbollah leader and his companion.”

Footage taken by passersby on the border road showed the vehicle on fire, with flames and smoke rising from surrounding areas, suggesting that more than one missile struck the target.

Sham FM radio, which is close to the Syrian regime, later confirmed that an Israeli attack destroyed a car and killed both occupants near a military checkpoint on the Damascus-Beirut highway.

Unconfirmed media reports said the military vehicle belonged to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah later launched dozens of attacks on Israeli military sites.

According to a statement, these included surveillance equipment at the Ramtha site, “technical systems and spy equipment at the Raheb site,” the headquarters of the Liman Battalion, surveillance equipment at the Hadab Yarin site, and the Al-Samaqa site in the Kfarshuba hills.

The latest attack came less than 18 hours after an Israeli drone struck a car on the Majdal Anjar road, killing a senior Hamas figure.

Izz El-Deen Al-Qassam Brigades identified the victim as Sharhabeel Ali Al-Sayyid, a mujahid leader.

Another person accompanying Ali Al-Sayyid was badly injured in the strike.

Early on Saturday, an Israeli drone struck a motorcycle on the road to Naqoura town on Lebanon’s southern border, injuring the rider, a fisherman returning home from work.

The injured man was taken to hospital in Tyre.

Hezbollah said in a statement that it targeted the Ras Naqoura naval site with artillery in response to the drone strike.

Repeated Israeli attacks have added to tension in the southern and Bekaa areas, with traffic on the main roads noticeably reduced.

Hezbollah also targeted a group of Israeli soldiers near the Pranit Barracks with missiles, causing “a direct hit,” according to the statement.

Israeli fighter planes raided the town of Khiam at dawn on Saturday, continuing their assaults on Aita Al-Shaab.