Qatar expresses hope for sustainable Gaza peace amid intensified diplomatic efforts at UN

Qatar expresses hope for sustainable Gaza peace amid intensified diplomatic efforts at UN
Qatar's Permanent Representative to the UN Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani speaks during the United Nations address in New York on December 13, 2023. (Photo courtesy: X/@AmbAlyaAlThani)
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Updated 16 December 2023
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Qatar expresses hope for sustainable Gaza peace amid intensified diplomatic efforts at UN

Qatar expresses hope for sustainable Gaza peace amid intensified diplomatic efforts at UN
  • The gulf state condemns the Security Council’s ‘repeated failure’ to adopt the Arab resolution to end Gaza violence
  • Qatar’s UN envoy says it is time to apply international humanitarian law without discrimination or double standards

NEW YORK: Qatar's Permanent Representative to the UN Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani has said her country is continuing diplomatic efforts to achieve a sustainable agreement to end the Gaza war.
Addressing the 10th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, Al-Thani highlighted Qatar’s diplomatic efforts to renew the humanitarian pause and expressed hope for building upon the progress made to end the violence, Qatar News Agency reported on Saturday.
The Qatari statement was delivered during UNGA’s emergency special session under agenda item five on Israeli illegal actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Gulf nation’s representative said Qatar is aiming for a comprehensive, permanent and just peace in accordance with international resolutions.
Held at the UN’s New York City-based headquarters, the meeting focused on the draft resolution submitted by the Arab Group on protecting civilians.
Al-Thani said that the resumption of the emergency special session came as a result of the Security Council’s repeated failure to adopt the Arab draft resolution in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
This followed the unprecedented move by the UN secretary-general on Dec. 6 to activate Article 99 of the UN Charter, urging the council to declare an urgent humanitarian ceasefire.
Al-Thani reiterated her country’s condemnation of Israel’s killing of more than 18,000 civilians, mostly women and children, along with the forced displacement of 2 million people.
She further condemned Israel’s targeting of civilian objects and journalists, as well as international facilities and the headquarters of the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, in blatant violation of international law.
Al-Thani said: “It was time to apply international humanitarian law without discrimination or double standards.”
She said Qatar welcomes the General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution submitted by the Arab Group, which was supported by 153 countries, reflecting the international community's desire to end the violence in Gaza.
Al-Thani highlighted the importance of the resolution, as it calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, urges all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, especially the protection of civilians, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, as well as ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.


Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine

Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine
Updated 9 sec ago
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Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine

Iran says nuclear weapons have no place in its nuclear doctrine
  • Tehran’s nuclear program banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa
DUBAI: Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s nuclear doctrine, the country’s foreign ministry said on Monday, days after a Revolutionary Guards commander warned that Tehran might change its nuclear policy if pressured by Israeli threats.
“Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program only serves peaceful purposes. Nuclear weapons have no place in our nuclear doctrine,” ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said during a press conference in Tehran.
Following a spike in tensions with Israel, the Guards commander in charge of nuclear security Ahmad Haghtalab said last week that Israeli threats could push Tehran to “review its nuclear doctrine and deviate from its previous considerations.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on Tehran’s nuclear program, banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa, or religious decree, in the early 2000s.

Two injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack: police

Two injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack: police
Updated 22 April 2024
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Two injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack: police

Two injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack: police
  • incident occurred on Techelet Mordechai street in Jerusalem on a day when Israeli Jews marked the start of the Passover holidays

Jerusalem: Two civilians were injured in a car ramming attack in Jerusalem on Monday morning, the Israeli police said, adding that they were searching for suspected assailants who fled on foot.
The incident occurred on Techelet Mordechai street in Jerusalem on a day when Israeli Jews marked the start of the Passover holidays.
“A short time ago, a report was received that two civilians had been run over on Techelet Mordechai Street in Jerusalem, resulting in minor injuries,” the police said in a statement.
“Two terrorists fled the scene on foot and an improvised weapon... was found on their escape route,” it said, adding security forces were searching for the suspects.
Medics from the Magen David Adom emergency service said the two injured were aged 18 and 22.
Footage from security cameras posted on several Israeli news websites showed a white car ramming into a group of people at a street corner.
The car later hits another parked vehicle after which two men step out, with one of the assailants seen attempting to fire a gun.
Seconds later, the two are seen walking away from the site.
Several car ramming attacks have been reported since last year in a number of Israeli cities and in settlements in the occupied West Bank.


Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack
Updated 41 min 55 sec ago
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Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack
  • Aharon Haliva becomes the first senior Israeli figure to step down over Hamas’ attack

TEL AVIV: The head of Israel’s military intelligence directorate resigned on Monday over the failures surrounding Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack, the military said, becoming the first senior figure to step down over his role in the deadliest assault in Israel’s history.
Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s resignation sets the stage for what’s expected to be more fallout from Israel’s top security brass over Hamas’ attack, when militants blasted through Israel’s border defenses, rampaged through Israeli communities unchallenged for hours and killed 1,200 people, most civilians, while taking roughly 250 hostages into Gaza. That attack set off the war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its seventh month.
The military said in a statement that Haliva had asked to end his service “following his leadership responsibility.” Shortly after the war, Haliva had publicly said that he shouldered blame for not preventing the assault at the head of the military department responsible for providing the government and the military with intelligence warnings and daily alerts.
The military said in the statement that the military chief of staff accepted Haliva’s request to resign and thanked him for his service.
Haliva, as well as other military and security leaders, were widely expected to resign in response to the glaring failures that led up to Oct. 7 and those that made it such a devastating attack.
But the timing of the resignations is unclear, because Israel is still fighting Hamas in Gaza and battling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the north. Tensions with Iran are also at a high following attacks between the two enemies.
While Haliva and others have accepted blame for failing to stop the attack, others have stopped short, most notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he will answer tough questions about his role but has not outright acknowledged any responsibility for allowing the attack to unfold.


Israel strikes on Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package

Israel strikes on Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package
Updated 22 April 2024
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Israel strikes on Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package

Israel strikes on Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package
  • Latest bombardments came as US House of Representatives approved $13 billion in new Israeli military aid
  • Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have sought refuge

RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday, as violence flared in the occupied West Bank.

The latest bombardments came as the US House of Representatives approved $13 billion in new Israeli military aid even as global criticism mounts over the death toll and dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

However, fears of wider war breaking out in the Middle East have eased somewhat after Iran downplayed Israel’s reported retaliation over its unprecedented missile and drone attack on the country a week ago.

Attention has turned back toward the war in Gaza, which Israel hit with several strikes overnight, according to the Palestinian territory’s Civil Defense agency.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. It has also vowed to expand its ground offensive against the Hamas militant group to the city on the border with Egypt despite calls for restraint, including from the US.

“In the coming days, we will increase the political and military pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to bring back our hostages and achieve victory. We will land more and painful blows on Hamas — soon,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. He didn’t give details.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (REUTERS(

The first Israeli strike in Rafah killed a man, his wife and their 3-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti Hospital, which received the bodies. The woman was pregnant and the doctors saved the baby, the hospital said. The second strike killed 17 children and two women from an extended family.

Resident Umm Hassan Kloub, 35, said her children screamed when they “woke up to a nightmare of an explosion.”

“Every second we live in terror, even the sound of Israeli aircraft doesn’t stop,” she said.

“We don’t know whether we will live or die. This is not life.”

“These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?” asked one relative, Umm Kareem. Mohammed Al-Beheiri said that his daughter, Rasha, and her six children, the youngest 18 months old, were among those killed. A woman and three children were still under the rubble.

The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, at least two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction. Around 80 percent of the territory’s population have fled to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.

The $26 billion aid package approved by the US House of Representatives on Saturday includes around $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, which experts say is on the brink of famine. The US Senate could pass the package as soon as Tuesday, and President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

The conflict, now in its seventh month, has sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the US against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran traded fire directly this month, raising fears of all-out war.

Tensions have also spiked in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli troops killed two Palestinians who the military says attacked a checkpoint with a knife and a gun near the southern West Bank town of Hebron early Sunday. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that the two killed were 18 and 19, from the same family. No Israeli forces were wounded, the army said.

Later, the military said its forces shot dead a 43-year-old Palestinian woman after she tried to stab a soldier in the northern West Bank near Beka’ot settlement.

The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said that it had recovered 14 bodies from an Israeli raid in the Nur Shams urban refugee camp in the West Bank that began late Thursday. Those killed include three militants from the Islamic Jihad group and a 15-year-old boy.

The military said it killed 14 militants and arrested eight suspects. Ten Israeli soldiers and one border police officer were wounded.

In a separate incident in the West Bank, an Israeli man was wounded in an explosion on Sunday, the Magen David Adom rescue service said. A video circulating online shows a man approaching a Palestinian flag planted in a field. When he kicks it, it appears to trigger an explosive device.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the militants fight in dense, residential neighborhoods. The military rarely comments on individual strikes, which often kill women and children. The military says it has killed more than 13,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence.

US military aid

Much of the new military assistance approved by the US House of Representatives on Saturday was expected to be used to reinforce Israel’s air defenses.

Israel welcomed the aid, while Hamas condemned it as a “green light” for continued Israeli “aggression.”

The US bill said that more than $9 billion will also be earmarked to address “the dire need for humanitarian assistance for Gaza as well as other vulnerable populations around the world.”

The boost for Israel’s defenses comes after almost all of the more than 300 missiles and drones that Iran launched toward the country a week ago were intercepted, according to the Israeli military.

Israel had vowed to respond to Iran’s first-ever attack on its territory, which was itself retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike on Iran’s embassy consular annex in Damascus.

Iran blamed Israel for that attack.

Israel’s response appeared to come on Friday when explosions were reported in the central Iranian province of Isfahan.

Israeli officials have made no public comment, and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian downplayed the incident.

He told NBC News that Tehran would not respond “as long as there is no new adventure on behalf of the Israeli regime against Iran’s interests.”

On Sunday, Israel said it will hold a “protest talk” with ambassadors from several United Nations Security Council members which voted for the “State of Palestine” to become a full UN member.

France, Japan and others backed the bid which the United States vetoed.

Israel has faced growing global opposition to the war, which has turned vast areas of Gaza into rubble while a siege has left residents without enough water, food, medicines and other vital supplies.

The population “faces famine, malnutrition, and infectious disease outbreaks,” the International Rescue Committee charity warned this week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also come under pressure within Israel, including to reach a deal for the release of hostages still held by Hamas. Israel estimates 129 captives remain in Gaza, including 34 who the military says are dead.

Families of the hostages were among thousands attending an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Ofir Angrest, whose brother Matan was kidnapped on October 7, called for Jewish Israelis to leave an empty chair at their traditional Seder meals marking the beginning of the holiday Passover on Monday.

“Enough! After more than six months, you’re simply disrespecting me and the families of the hostages,” Angrest said, adding that he was addressing the Israeli cabinet.

(With Agencies)


Turkiye’s Erdogan in rare Iraq visit to discuss water, oil, security

Turkiye’s Erdogan in rare Iraq visit to discuss water, oil, security
Updated 22 April 2024
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Turkiye’s Erdogan in rare Iraq visit to discuss water, oil, security

Turkiye’s Erdogan in rare Iraq visit to discuss water, oil, security
  • Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani and President Abdel Latif Rashid in Baghdad
  • Trip comes as regional tensions spiral, fueled by the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip and attacks between Israel and Iran

Baghdad: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due Monday in neighboring Iraq for his first state visit there in years, with water, oil and regional security issues expected to top the agenda.
Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani and President Abdel Latif Rashid in Baghdad before visiting officials in Irbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region.
“Iraq and Turkiye share a history and have similarities, interests and opportunities, but also problems,” Sudani said during an event at the Atlantic Council on the sidelines of a recent visit to Washington.
“Water and security will be at the top of the agenda,” he said of the upcoming meeting with Erdogan, who last visited Iraq in 2011.
The trip comes as regional tensions spiral, fueled by the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip and attacks between Israel and Iran.
Farhad Alaaldin, foreign affairs adviser to Sudani, told AFP that the main topics Erdogan will discuss with Iraqi officials include “investments, trade... security aspects of the cooperation between the two countries, water management and water resources.”
Alaaldin expects the signing of several memoranda of understanding during the visit.
The sharing of water resources is a major point of contention, with Baghdad highly critical of upstream dams set up by Turkiye on their shared Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which have worsened water scarcity in Iraq.
Erdogan said the issue of water would be “one of the most important points” of his visit following “requests” made by the Iraqi side.
“We will make an effort to resolve them, that is also their wish,” he said.
Iraqi oil exports are another point of tension, with a major pipeline shut down for over a year over legal disputes and technical issues.
The exports were previously independently sold by the autonomous Kurdistan region, without the approval or oversight of the central administration in Baghdad, through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
The halted oil sales represent more than $14 billion in lost revenue for Iraq, according to an estimate by the Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan which represents international oil companies active in the region.
Majid Al-Lajmawi, Iraq’s ambassador to Turkiye, hopes for “progress on the water and energy issues, and in the process of resuming Iraqi oil exports via Turkiye,” according to a statement published by the Iraqi foreign ministry.
The ambassador also expects the signing of a “strategic framework agreement” on security, economy and development.
Also on the agenda is a $17 billion road and rail project known as the “Route of Development” which is expected to consolidate economic ties between the two neighbors.
Stretching 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) across Iraq, it aims to connect by 2030 the northern border with Turkiye to the Gulf in the south.
In the first quarter of 2024, Iraq was Turkiye’s fifth-largest importer of products, buying food, chemicals, metals and other products.
Regional security is another topic expected to be thrashed out during Erdogan’s meetings in Iraq.
For decades, Turkiye has operated from several dozen military bases in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a “terrorist” group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Both Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government have been accused of tolerating Turkiye’s military activities to preserve their close economic ties.
But the operations, which sometimes take place deep into Iraqi territory, have regularly strained bilateral ties while Ankara has sought out increased cooperation from Baghdad in its fight against the PKK.
However, in a televised interview in March, Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet Al-Abbasi ruled out “joint military operations” between Baghdad and Ankara.
He said they would establish a “coordination intelligence center at the appropriate time and place.”
Alaaldin, the Iraqi prime minister’s adviser, said security issues will be “highly featured in this trip.”
“There will be some sort of agreement... and perhaps arrangements to safeguard the borders between Iraq and Turkiye where no attacks and no armed groups infiltrate the border from both sides,” he said.
“It is something that will be discussed but the exact details have to be worked out.”