US ‘responsible for bloodshed’ of Gaza children after UN veto: Abbas

US ‘responsible for bloodshed’ of Gaza children after UN veto: Abbas
A Palestinian man sits beside shrouded corpses lined up at the al-Najjar hospital, following Israeli bombing on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 9, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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US ‘responsible for bloodshed’ of Gaza children after UN veto: Abbas

US ‘responsible for bloodshed’ of Gaza children after UN veto: Abbas
  • Abbas said the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in general had reached an alarming stage that requires an international conference and guarantees by world powers

Ramallah/Palestinian Territories: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Saturday that the United States was “responsible for the bloodshed” of children in the Gaza Strip after it vetoed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Palestinian territory at a special meeting of the UN Security Council.
“The president has described the American position as aggressive and immoral, a flagrant violation of all humanitarian principles and values, and holds the United States responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people in the Gaza Strip,” said a statement from Abbas’s office.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and an international peace conference to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In an interview with Reuters at his office in Ramallah, Abbas, 87, said the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in general had reached an alarming stage that requires an international conference and guarantees by world powers.
Besides Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, he said Israeli forces have intensified their attacks everywhere in the occupied West Bank over the past year with settlers escalating violence against Palestinian towns.
He reiterated his longstanding position in favor of negotiation rather than armed resistance to end the longstanding occupation.
“I am with peaceful resistance. I am for negotiations based on an international peace conference and under international auspices that would lead to a solution that will be protected by world powers to establish a sovereign Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” he said.
Abbas was speaking as Israel increased its strikes on Gaza. In two months of warfare, it has killed more than 17,000 people, wounded 46,000 and forced the displacement of around 1.9 million people, over half of them now sheltering in areas in central Gaza or close to the Egyptian border.
A senior US official said the idea of an international conference had been discussed among different partners but the proposal was still at a very preliminary stage.
“It’s one of many options on the table that we and others would consider with an open mind, but no decision has been made about that,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Israel launched its campaign to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules Gaza after Hamas fighters went on a rampage through Israeli towns on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
Abbas said that based on a binding international agreement, he would revive the weakened Palestinian Authority, implement long-awaited reforms and hold presidential and parliamentary elections, which were suspended after Hamas won in 2006 and later pushed the PA out of Gaza.
He said the PA had abided by all the peace deals signed with Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accord and the understandings that followed over the years but that Israel had reneged on its pledges to end the occupation.

DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS
Asked whether he would risk holding elections given the possibility that Hamas could win as it did in 2006, he said: “Whoever wins wins, these will be democratic elections.”
Abbas said he had planned to hold elections in April 2021 but the European Union envoy told him before the due date that Israel was objecting to voting in East Jerusalem so he was forced to call it off.
He insisted that there would not be elections without East Jerusalem, saying the PA held three rounds of elections in the past that included East Jerusalem before Israel imposed the ban.
Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed it, declaring the whole of the city as its capital, a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Abbas did not give a concrete vision of a post-war plan discussed with US officials under which the PA would take over control of the strip, home for 2.3 million people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel would not accept rule over Gaza by the Palestinian Authority as it stands.
“The United States tells us that it supports a two-state solution, that Israel is not allowed to occupy Gaza, to keep security control of Gaza or to expropriate land from Gaza,” he said in reference to a plan floated by Israel to establish a security zone in Gaza after the war.
“America doesn’t force Israel to implement what it says.”
He said the PA was still present in Gaza as an institution and still pays monthly salaries and expenses estimated at $140 million for employees, pensioners and for needy families. The PA still has three ministers present in Gaza, he added.
“We need rehabilitation, we need big support to return to Gaza,” Abbas said.
“Gaza today is not the Gaza that you know. Gaza was destroyed, its hospitals, its schools, its infrastructure, its buildings, its roads and mosques were destroyed. There is nothing left. When we return we need resources, Gaza needs reconstruction.”
“The United States which fully supports Israel bears the responsibility of what is happening in the enclave,” Abbas said.
“It is the only power that is capable of ordering Israel to stop the war and fulfil its obligations, but unfortunately it doesn’t. America is an accomplice of Israel.”


Fertilizer-laden Red Sea ship ‘at risk of sinking,’ says Yemeni minister

Updated 5 sec ago
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Fertilizer-laden Red Sea ship ‘at risk of sinking,’ says Yemeni minister

Fertilizer-laden Red Sea ship ‘at risk of sinking,’ says Yemeni minister
  • The Houthis launched missiles at the M/V Rubymar badly damaging it and causing a large oil slick in the Red Sea
  • Yemen’s government has issued a frantic plea to nations and marine conservation bodies to assist in rescuing the ship

AL-MUKALLA: Tawfeeq Al-Sharjabi, Yemen’s water and environment minister, said they are in a race against time to save a sinking ship laden with thousands of tonnes of fertilizer in the Red Sea, urging international assistance to prevent an ecological disaster. 

On Feb. 18, Yemen’s Houthi militia launched missiles at the MV Rubymar, a Belize-flagged and Lebanese-operated ship, badly damaging it and causing a large oil slick in the Red Sea.

Yemen’s government organized an emergency committee on Saturday and issued a frantic plea to nations and marine conservation bodies to assist in rescuing the ship and preventing a possible environmental calamity in the Red Sea. “The situation is grave, and the ship is at risk of sinking,” Al-Sharjabi told Arab News by telephone. 

Yemeni officials said the Houthi missiles damaged the ship’s engine room, causing saltwater to fill it, and that they are now in touch with the ship’s owners and international organizations to send tugs to tow it after draining it of water. The danger, according to the Yemeni minister, stems from the ship’s cargo of 22,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphate-sulfate NPS fertilizer, which, although unaffected by the missiles, might explode or flow into the ocean if the ship sunk or struck the coast. “Efforts are now underway to bring a tugboat to remove water from the ship, balance it, return it to its usual position, and then tow it to the closest shore,” Al-Sharjabi said.

The Houthis vowed this week to trade the recovery of the British-owned ship for humanitarian supplies to Gaza, raising concerns that they may use the ship as leverage. Despite stating that they have not received formal threats from the Houthis, Al-Sharjabi urged the militia not to obstruct the ship’s rescue attempts, adding that Yemenis throughout the nation, including those living in Houthi-controlled regions, will suffer from an ecological calamity. “This is a worthless bargain and just balloons in the air,” he said.

Capt. Yeslem Mubarak, vice executive chairman of the Maritime Affairs Authority and a member of the government’s commission dealing with the sinking ship, told Arab News on Tuesday that the ship is 16 nautical miles from Yemen’s Red Sea town of Mocha and 20 nautical miles from the island of Hanish. He added that it has no connection to Israel and is owned by a Syrian businessman. “The ship is in an unstable condition and is going to sink,” Mubarak said.

Since November, the Houthis have seized a commercial ship and fired hundreds of drones and missiles at commercial and naval ships going through the Red Sea, enforcing a ban on Israel-linked or Israel-bound vessels transiting through the key maritime channel. The Houthis claim that their activities are intended to push Israel to remove its blockade of Gaza.

To halt the Houthi attacks on ships, the US and its allies have launched hundreds of airstrikes on Sanaa, Saada, and other Houthi-controlled regions in Yemen, hitting ammunition, drone and missile storage facilities, drone and missile launchers, and other targets.

On Tuesday morning, the US Central Command said it had foiled Houthi assaults on ships on Monday by destroying three drone boats, two anti-ship cruise missiles, and a drone in Yemen that were all intended to target commercial and navy ships in the Red Sea. 


Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah

Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah
Updated 57 min 10 sec ago
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Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah

Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah
  • Israel has said a truce with Hamas would delay, not prevent, a ground invasion of Rafah
  • “The world is witnessing the most heinous crimes and violations against the Palestinian people,” Shoukry said

GENEVA: Egypt warned on Tuesday that Israel’s planned ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza would have “catastrophic repercussions” for peace in the Middle East.
Foreign ministers from Arab League countries told the United Nations Human Rights Council that some nations were turning a blind eye to the suffering in Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the extreme polarization exposed by the Gaza war had laid bare the double standards of some members of the UN’s top rights body.
Israel has said a truce with Hamas would delay, not prevent, a ground invasion of Rafah on the Egyptian border, where an estimated 1.4 million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge from the war.
“The world is witnessing the most heinous crimes and violations against the Palestinian people,” Shoukry said.
He called for an immediate ceasefire and urged Israel not to attack Rafah.
“Any military action in the present circumstances would have catastrophic repercussions that undermine peace in the region,” he warned.
The war in Gaza began after the Hamas militant group that controls the Palestinian territory launched an attack on October 7 that killed about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.
Hamas militants also took hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza.
Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed at least 29,878 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Shoukry said some countries on the 47-member Human Rights Council in Geneva were shying away from the firm action they had taken over other conflicts.
“It seems that life in Gaza is not worthy enough of their attention, that the massacre of tens of thousands of children fails to shake their otherwise all-too-sensitive conscience,” he said.
“The lives of Gaza’s children are seemingly less valuable than others.
“This preludes the... collapse of the international system, including this council.”
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya said the “brutal crimes of the Israeli occupation forces against defenseless civilians” had led to “catastrophic crisis and destruction.”
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said the world “cannot keep turning a blind eye” to the “unprecedented human disaster” in Gaza.
Qatari International Cooperation Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said Gaza was witnessing a “genocidal war,” while the situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was also deteriorating.
“Sponsoring this Israeli exceptionalism above international law by some global powers should stop,” she told the council.
Meanwhile Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar, speaking via video-link, said human rights were being violated in Gaza “with the utmost barbarism” and said the international community had been “paralyzed because of a handful of countries.”


Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war

Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war
Updated 27 February 2024
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Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war

Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war
  • “We don’t want to go back to war because war after the first truce destroyed us and destroyed our houses,” said Rehab Redwan, a woman who had fled her house in Khan Younis
  • “Can you imagine — there’s no food, nothing to drink”

RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Homeless, hungry Palestinians fearing an Israeli assault on their last relatively safe haven in Gaza said they were desperate for a lasting ceasefire as the United States said a temporary truce could be agreed soon.
A proposed deal from the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in early March could stop the fighting for the first time since a brief truce in November and ease a human catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.
However, while negotiators discuss a reported proposal for a six-week truce, Israel’s enemy Hamas has said big differences remained and it was still demanding a permanent end to the fighting.
“We hope it will be a permanent ceasefire. We don’t want to go back to war because war after the first truce destroyed us and destroyed our houses,” said Rehab Redwan, a woman who had fled her house in Khan Younis to shelter in a roadside tent.
“Can you imagine — there’s no food, nothing to drink. There are no basics for life,” she added, saying she wanted to go back home even if it now rubble.
After nearly five months of Israel’s air and ground campaign, around 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes, most houses are damaged or destroyed, famine looms and disease is rife, say aid agencies.
The war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel’s air and ground campaign in Gaza has since killed around 30,000 Palestinians, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say.

PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY TRUCE
Walking with a small child through the crammed streets of Rafah, where most displaced Gaza residents have fled to and which Israel says it plans to assault next, Faraj Bakroon said reported conditions for the proposed truce made no sense to him.
As well as including only a weeks-long pause in fighting, there is no indication that Israel would allow people who fled south to go back to their homes in the north — particularly if they are men of military age.
“If the truce is like the previous one and they would start war again after it is over, we don’t want it. And if we can’t go to the north then a truce is not needed. Let’s keep the war until it is totally over,” he said.
“How will we go according to the age they specified? How do we take the children? We can’t leave our children behind and move. We need to bring them,” he added.
Still, for many people in Gaza any stop to fighting would be welcome, even if it falls short of a lasting ceasefire.
“We want a total truce in which we can live,” said Rashad Daher through his full white beard. But he added, “regarding this temporary truce, we ask God that it happens.”
Ahmed Al-Far, living in Rafah after fleeing his home in Gaza City in the north, where Israel’s offensive focused first, said he hoped for a truce “so people can catch their breath and heal their wounds.”
“There are 150 to 200 martyrs daily among the people. It’s a huge loss for our people,” he said.


Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis

Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis
Updated 27 February 2024
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Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis

Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis
  • Jordan is urging Western allies to lobby Israel to boost quantities of aid coming from the kingdom via Kerem Shalom on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that humanitarian aid to Gaza must be doubled to prevent a deterioration in a hunger crisis affecting over 2 million people.
The monarch was quoted by state media as telling visiting USAID chief Samantha Power that the international community had to put more pressure on Israel to ease restrictions on the flow of food into the territory.
Jordan is urging its Western allies to lobby Israel to boost the quantities of aid coming from the kingdom via Kerem Shalom on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, beyond the existing Rafah crossing, officials say.
Israel has said it is not blocking aid and blames problems on the UN and Palestinian sides for any delays.
Separately, the king arrived at a military air base to oversee the departure of seven C-130 military transport aircraft, three from Jordan and the rest from Egypt, Qatar, France and the UAE, that will air drop food parcels along the Gaza coast for a second day.
Jordan, which the UN and Western donors have turned into a regional hub for humanitarian supplies to Gaza, for the first time on Monday, along with the French army, air dropped food via four flights to thousands of displaced people sheltering on the beach.
Previous air drops that parachuted in medicines and humanitarian provisions were sent to hospitals that the Jordanian army runs in Gaza.


UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access

UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access
Updated 27 February 2024
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UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access

UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access
  • It has become nearly impossible to carry out medical evacuations and aid deliveries in northern Gaza and increasingly difficult in the south
  • All planned aid convoys into the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks

GENEVA: Israeli forces are “systematically” blocking access to people in need in Gaza, complicating the task of delivering aid in what has become a lawless war zone, the UN said Tuesday.
It has become nearly impossible to carry out medical evacuations and aid deliveries in northern Gaza and increasingly difficult in the south, said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA.
All planned aid convoys into the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks, with the last allowed in on January 23, according to the World Health Organization.
Making matters worse, even convoys cleared in advance with Israeli authorities have repeatedly been blocked or come under fire.
Laerke pointed to an incident last Sunday when a convoy, jointly organized by the WHO and the Palestinian Red Crescent (PCRS), to evacuate patients from the besieged Al Amal hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis, was blocked for hours and paramedics detained.
“Despite prior coordination for all staff members and vehicles with the Israeli side, the Israeli forces blocked the WHO-led convoy for many hours the moment it left the hospital,” Laerke told journalists in Geneva.
“The Israeli military forced patients and staff out of ambulances and stripped all paramedics of their clothes,” he said, adding that the convoy, which was carrying 24 patients, remained blocked for seven hours.
“Three PRCS paramedics were subsequently detained, although their personal details had been shared with the Israeli forces in advance,” Laerke said, adding that just one had been released so far.
“This is not an isolated incident,” he stressed.
“Aid convoys have come under fire and are systematically denied access to people in need.”
Such “inadequate facilitation for the delivery of aid throughout Gaza means that humanitarian workers are subject to unacceptable and preventable risk of being detained, injured or worse,” Laerke said.
The Hamas attack that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Militants also took about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.
Israel’s military campaign has killed at least 29,878 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.