Truce breakdown brings ‘nightmare’ back to Gaza Strip, says ICRC chief

Robert Mardini, the director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
Robert Mardini, the director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
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Updated 02 December 2023
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Truce breakdown brings ‘nightmare’ back to Gaza Strip, says ICRC chief

Truce breakdown brings ‘nightmare’ back to Gaza Strip, says ICRC chief
  • Combat resumed shortly after Israel’s army said it had intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza, the first from the territory since a missile launched minutes into the start of the truce on Nov. 24

DUBAI: Renewed fighting in Gaza after a week-long truce has brought back a “nightmarish situation” for the Palestinian territory, the head of the Red Cross said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the UN’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai, Robert Mardini said “people are at a breaking point, hospitals are at a breaking point, the whole Gaza Strip is in a very precarious state.”
Resumption of fighting brings the people of Gaza “back to the nightmarish situation they were in before the truce took place,” said Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
He noted their “suffering, destruction, fear, anxiety, and precarious living conditions.”
Israel’s military said fighter jets were striking Hamas targets in Gaza on Friday, as journalists reported air attacks in the north and south of the territory.
Combat resumed shortly after Israel’s army said it had intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza, the first from the territory since a missile launched minutes into the start of the truce on Nov. 24.
“There is nowhere safe to go for civilians,” Mardini said, stressing the challenges hospitals and humanitarian organizations face.
“We have seen in the hospitals where our teams have been working that over the past days, hundreds of severely injured people have arrived,” he said.
“The influx of severely wounded outpaced the real capacity of hospitals to absorb and treat the wounded, so there is a massive challenge.”
During the seven-day truce, 80 Israeli hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners were released after negotiations mediated by Qatar with support from Egypt and the US.
ICRC vehicles brought out both hostages and prisoners.
“We have seen so far that releases only happened when there was a truce because you need certain conditions to be met to do this,” Mardini said.
“We stand ready as the ICRC to facilitate those releases.”
Renewed fighting also threatens the entry of aid to Gaza, where about 80 percent of the population is displaced and grappling with shortages of food, water, and other essentials.
“With the resumption of hostilities, the likelihood will be that less aid will get in,” Mardini said.
“More importantly, humanitarian organizations, like the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, and others such as the ICRC and UN agencies, will have reduced capacities to deliver aid to the people,” he added.
“Even people will have reduced capacities to get to places where they could receive aid.”

 


Egypt sets up a second camp for displaced Palestinians in Gaza’s Khan Younis

Smoke rises during Israeli ground operation in Khan Younis, as seen from a tent camp sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah.
Smoke rises during Israeli ground operation in Khan Younis, as seen from a tent camp sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah.
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Egypt sets up a second camp for displaced Palestinians in Gaza’s Khan Younis

Smoke rises during Israeli ground operation in Khan Younis, as seen from a tent camp sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah.
  • Source added that second camp will be followed by a field hospital in Rafah and another camp north of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza Strip

CAIRO: Egypt has begun setting up a second camp for the displaced in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, with a capacity of 400 tents, accommodating about 4,000 people, and equipped with electricity and toilets, a source told Al-Qahera News TV channel on Saturday.

The source added that the second camp will be followed by a field hospital in the Palestinian city of Rafah and another camp north of Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Egypt will also set up two aid distribution centers in Rafah, which is now home to a large number of displaced Palestinians.

A source indicated that the second camp will be completed at the end of this week, adding that the it comes within the framework of Egypt’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Red Crescent, in cooperation with the Palestinian Red Crescent, continues with its work to set up a second camp for displaced in Khan Yunis.

The Palestine Red Crescent wrote on X on Sunday: “The Palestine Red Crescent teams, in partnership with the Egyptian Red Crescent, have completed the second phase of the Egyptian Camp for housing displaced people in the Mawasi area of Khan Yunis.

“A total of 139 tents were set up, accommodating 139 families,” the Palestine Red Crescent added.


Algeria’s president inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque

Algeria’s president inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque
Updated 25 February 2024
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Algeria’s president inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque

Algeria’s president inaugurates Africa’s largest mosque
  • The vast mosque, which can hold 120,000 worshippers, first opened for prayers in October 2020
  • Known locally as the Djamaa El-Djazair, the modernist structure extends across 27.75 hectares

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune officially inaugurated the Grand Mosque of Algiers, the third largest in the world and the biggest in Africa, on Sunday.
The vast mosque, which can hold 120,000 worshippers, first opened for prayers in October 2020, but Tebboune was suffering from Covid-19 and did not attend.
Known locally as the Djamaa El-Djazair, the modernist structure extends across 27.75 hectares (almost 70 acres), and is smaller only than the two mosques in Makkah and Madinah, Islam’s holiest sites, in Saudi Arabia.
It also boasts the world’s tallest minaret — 267 meters (875 feet) — fitted with elevators and a viewing platform that looks out over the capital and the Bay of Algiers.
The mosque’s interior, in Andalusian style, is decorated in wood, marble and alabaster.
To its critics, the mosque is a vanity project of former autocrat Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced out in April 2019 after mass street protests against his two-decade-long rule.
The mega-project cost more than $800 million dollars and took seven years to build.
Tebboune’s mandate officially expires at the end of this year but the president, elected in December 2019, has not yet made known whether he intends to run for a second term.


Daesh land mine kills 13 truffle hunters in Syria desert: monitor

Daesh land mine kills 13 truffle hunters in Syria desert: monitor
Updated 25 February 2024
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Daesh land mine kills 13 truffle hunters in Syria desert: monitor

Daesh land mine kills 13 truffle hunters in Syria desert: monitor
  • Syrian desert is renowned for producing some of the best quality truffles in the world

BEIRUT: A blast from a land mine left by the Daesh group killed at least 13 civilians foraging for truffles in the Syrian desert, a war monitor said.
“Thirteen civilians, including women... were killed when a land mine left by the Daesh group exploded while they were searching for truffles” in the desert in Raqqa province, said the Syria Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian desert is renowned for producing some of the best quality truffles in the world, which fetch high prices in a country battered by 13 years of war and a crushing economic crisis.
Authorities frequently warn against the high-risk practice.
But every year between February and April, foragers risk their lives to collect the delicacies in the vast Syrian desert, or Badia — a known hideout for jihadists that is also littered with land mines.
In March 2019, Daesh lost its last scraps of territory in Syria following a military campaign backed by a US-led coalition, but jihadist remnants continue to hide in the desert and launch deadly attacks.
They have used such hideouts to ambush civilians, Kurdish-led forces, Syrian government troops and pro-Iran fighters, while also mounting attacks in neighboring Iraq.
Syria’s war has claimed the lives of more than half a million people and displaced millions since it erupted in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Two Hezbollah members killed in Israeli strike on Syria

Two Hezbollah members killed in Israeli strike on Syria
Updated 25 February 2024
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Two Hezbollah members killed in Israeli strike on Syria

Two Hezbollah members killed in Israeli strike on Syria

DAMASCUS: An Israeli strike on a truck in Syria near the Lebanese border killed two Hezbollah members at dawn on Sunday, a war monitor said.
“Israel struck a civilian truck with a missile near the Syrian-Lebanese border,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report.
The strike led to “the death of at least two Hezbollah members,” said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria.
Hezbollah later announced in separate statements that two of its fighters were “martyred on the road to Jerusalem,” the phrase it uses to refer to members killed by Israeli fire.
A source close to Hezbollah confirmed that both were killed this morning in Syria.
Syrian state media did not report the strike.

Syrian armed forces shot down seven drones aimed at military positions and villages in the countryside of Hama and Idlib, Syrian state media said on Sunday, citing the defense ministry.
The ministry said the drones had been launched by “terrorists,” state media reported.
Since Syria’s civil war began in 2011 following an uprising against the government of President Bashar Assad, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes in Syria, primarily against pro-Iran forces, among them Hezbollah and the Syrian army.
The strikes have multiplied amidst the ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
An Israeli strike on a Damascus residential neighborhood on Wednesday killed three Iran-backed fighters, a Syrian and two foreigners, according to the Observatory.
On February 10, the Observatory reported an Israeli strike on a building west of Damascus that killed three people from pro-Iran militias.
Since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7, Hezbollah has announced the death of 16 members killed by Israeli strikes in Syria.
The Israeli military announced on February 3 that it had “attacked, from the ground and air, more than 50 such targets of Hezbollah spread throughout Syria.”
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria.

 


Lebanese doctor saves Japanese boy’s life

Lebanese doctor saves Japanese boy’s life
Updated 25 February 2024
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Lebanese doctor saves Japanese boy’s life

Lebanese doctor saves Japanese boy’s life
  • The boy was quadriplegic, or paralyzed below the neck, when he visited the Okayama University Hospital

DUBAI: Lebanese doctor Abd El Kader Al-Askar, a consultant in orthopedic and spine surgery, successfully treated a 15-year-old Japanese boy who suffered from a rare condition known as basilar invagination.

The boy was quadriplegic, or paralyzed below the neck, when he visited the Okayama University Hospital.

Doctors concluded that he had dislocated the second cervical vertebra, known as C2, which plays an important role in rotating the head. The C2 was displaced toward the opening of the spinal cord and the bottom area of the brain in a condition known as basilar invagination.

Basilar invagination can be present at birth or develop as a result of injury. If not treated, it can lead to death or serious complications, such as hydrocephalus.

In collaboration with the integrated medical team, Al-Askar performed an emergency surgery that lasted over four hours and involved an innovative technique that repositioned the bottom of the skull and the spinal cord.

The boy fully recovered and regained the use of all four of his limbs following the surgery.

Al-Askar is currently in Japan for a medical mission in advanced spine surgery and the treatment of back pain.