Al-Arouri to be laid to rest on Thursday as Hezbollah-Israel clashes resume on southern border

Al-Arouri to be laid to rest on Thursday as Hezbollah-Israel clashes resume on southern border
Hamas' deputy chief Saleh Al-Arouri speaking on a phone at an office in Beirut. Arouri was killed on January 2 along with his bodyguards in a strike by Israel, which has vowed to destroy Hamas after the movement's shock October 7 attacks. (AFP)
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Updated 03 January 2024
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Al-Arouri to be laid to rest on Thursday as Hezbollah-Israel clashes resume on southern border

Al-Arouri to be laid to rest on Thursday as Hezbollah-Israel clashes resume on southern border
  • The group’s resumption of operations against the Israeli army followed the assassination of senior Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s “direct hits” on two Israeli military sites — the Zar’it barracks and the Jal Al-Alam site — on Wednesday have broken the uneasy calm on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.

The group’s resumption of operations against the Israeli army followed the assassination of senior Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh on Tuesday night.

An Israeli drone had breached Hezbollah’s security square just hours before a scheduled speech by party chief Hassan Nasrallah, causing an explosion that killed Al-Arouri and six others.

The border area witnessed Israeli artillery shelling in the afternoon, targeting the Labouneh area in the town of Naqoura, in addition to an airstrike on the border town of Markaba.

The day after Al-Arouri’s assassination, the Israeli army announced the “strengthening of the Iron Dome system along the borders with Lebanon and the Galilee and raising alert levels along the borders.”

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli army fired on the outskirts of the towns of Boustane and Aita Al-Shaab with heavy machine guns from positions adjacent to Aita Al-Shaab.

The Israeli shelling of Markaba targeted a house on the eastern outskirts of the town, causing three casualties, according to preliminary information.

Hezbollah mourned two fighters — Mohammed Hadi Malek Obeid from Baalbek and Abbas Hassan Jammoul from Deir Al-Zahrani — without specifying where they were killed.

Israel’s drone strike on the Hamas building in Beirut left surrounding Dahiyeh resembling a war zone. Homes, cars, and shops around the building suffered significant damage.

The area was cleared of debris, and roads were opened to ease travel.

Residents were still in shock on Wednesday. Zainab, who lives nearby, told Arab News: “We heard two or three explosions that shook our homes, and we thought they were Israeli airstrikes on the neighborhood. We didn’t know how to react.

“My children were outside the house, on their way back from work. The attack happened during a busy time in the neighborhood, when people were either on the road or getting ready to close their shops, so there was heavy traffic as usual.”

A security source said: “Israel’s intelligence and technological capabilities were revealed through the assassination of Al-Arouri. This incident has presented significant security challenges for Hezbollah, Hamas leaders and Islamic Jihad, as it demonstrates Israel’s ability to target any location in Lebanon.”

Several people living in Dahiyeh told Arab News: “Before the raid on Hamas offices, there was disruption in the television cables in the area. The interference ceased once the raid was over, but they were unaware of the cause behind it.”

MP Jamil Al-Sayyed, a former director general of Lebanese Public Security, used social media to highlight threats leveled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Al-Arouri in August last year.

Al-Sayyed said: “The assassination was carried out using intelligence information about the person, location,and timing. This information could have been obtained through advanced technology or from agents on the ground.”

He advised Palestinian leaders in Lebanon who could also be targeted “to avoid exposing themselves through transportation, communication or media interviews conducted from their offices.”

Besides Al-Arouri, six others affiliated with Hamas were killed in the drone strike: Azzam Al-Aqra’, Samir Fandi, Ahmad Mahmoud (a Palestinian refugee residing in the northern Burj camp in Tyre), Mahmoud Zaki Shaheen (a Lebanese national from the Bekaa region), Mohammed Bashasha (a Lebanese resident of Sidon) and Mohammed Al-Rayes (a Lebanese national from the Bekaa Valley).

Mahmoud’s burial took place on Wednesday at Burj Al-Shamali camp, while Mahmoud Shaheen’s funeral was held in Taalabaya-Bekaa.

Hamas said that the funeral of Al-Arouri, Al-Aqra’ and Al-Rayes will take place on Thursday from Imam Ali Mosque on the New Road to the Martyrs’ Cemetery in Beirut’s Shatila Camp.

On Friday, Fandi’s funeral is scheduled in the Rashidieh camp after Friday prayers, and Bashasha’s funeral is scheduled at the Martyrs’ Mosque in the city of Sidon after Friday prayers.

Candice Ardell, deputy director of the UNIFIL Media Office, said in a statement that the UNIFIL leadership felt “deeply concerned about any possibility of escalation that could have devastating consequences for the people on both sides of the Blue Line.

“We continue to call on all parties to cease fire, and we also appeal to any influential interlocutors to urge restraint.”

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair, secretary-general of the High Relief Commission, inspected the site of the Israeli attack and announced “the start of the assessment process of the damage to provide compensation for affected individuals, following the guidelines set by the cabinet.”

He added: “Further investigations are needed by several parties, and the damage is limited.”

In response to the Israeli escalation, Lebanon’s Maronite bishops warned in their monthly meeting on Wednesday “of the repercussions of the field escalation in southern Lebanon.”

They added that Israeli strikes had “left casualties among the people and great destruction in many villages and towns, in addition to the burning of forests and orchards with phosphorus bombs, and this escalation reached the southern suburbs of Beirut.”

The bishops requested that “people involved in the local community and supporters of Lebanon from all over the world actively participate in the enforcement of Resolution 1701.

“This resolution will prevent Israel from launching attacks and ensure a strong and efficient foundation for peace in the southern region.”


UNICEF says Israel denied entry to aid convoy for Gaza 

UNICEF says Israel denied entry to aid convoy for Gaza 
Updated 5 sec ago
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UNICEF says Israel denied entry to aid convoy for Gaza 

UNICEF says Israel denied entry to aid convoy for Gaza 
  • UNICEF spokesman James Elder said such denials are “consistent and relentless,” with hundreds of similar incidents documented

LONDON: UNICEF has reported that one of its aid convoys was denied entry to northern Gaza this week, despite possessing all the necessary documents, in what the organization’s spokesman described as a common occurrence.

In an interview with the BBC’s “Today” program, UNICEF spokesman James Elder, who was in one of the aid lorries attempting to travel from southern to northern Gaza on Wednesday, said that despite having all the required paperwork it took the convoy 13 hours to travel approximately 40 kilometers (30 miles). After spending eight hours at checkpoints, they were ultimately denied entry to northern Gaza, he said, “so 10,000 children who were going to benefit from nutritional supplies, medical supplies, did not.”

Elder said the reasons behind the decision were unclear, but noted that such denials are “consistent and relentless,” with hundreds of similar incidents documented.

The Israeli army responded by claiming that the documentation for the UNICEF vehicle in the convoy was incorrectly filled out and accused Elder of presenting a “partial picture.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by James Elder (@james_unicef)

While waiting at one of the checkpoints, Elder said he witnessed a group of around eight men attempting to catch fish with a single net. “Suddenly we heard a tank coming down, we heard... automatic fire,” he said. “We saw two fishermen fleeing, one was shot in the back, one in the neck.”

The UN spokesman added that the WHO, which had paramedics in the convoy, requested permission from the Israeli Defense Forces to provide medical support to the injured men, but this request was denied. He later saw the fishermen’s wounds when their colleagues were allowed to retrieve their bodies.

Elder, who had last been in Gaza six weeks previously, said the situation is far worse now. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a real level of despondency,” he said. “They’re so despairing, they’re so broken, they’ve lost so many family members. They have nothing left.

“It’s very unsettling to see a child when their parent can’t protect them, it’s heartbreaking when a parent can’t protect their child,” he continued. “Increasingly I’m hearing people say, ‘I just want this over, I’m happy if there’s an airstrike on me tonight.’”
 


UNRWA slams Israeli allegations in Google Ads dispute

UNRWA slams Israeli allegations in Google Ads dispute
Updated 14 min 52 sec ago
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UNRWA slams Israeli allegations in Google Ads dispute

UNRWA slams Israeli allegations in Google Ads dispute
  • Israeli government’s claims appear as “sponsored links” at the top of Google search results for UNRWA

LONDON: The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees has rejected claims made against it in Israeli advertisements on Google as “unrealistic.”

The Israeli government’s claims appear as “sponsored links” at the top of Google search results for UNRWA, Anadolu Agency reported.

These advertisements from the Tel Aviv administration’s website contain unsubstantiated allegations, including accusations of UNRWA employees’ involvement in the Oct. 7 attacks and that the agency has been infiltrated by Hamas and other groups.

UNRWA spokesman, Jonathan Fowler, said that the allegations of infiltration were baseless. Fowler noted that the agency had conducted repeated investigations and taken corrective actions when allegations of neutrality violations had arisen, both during and before the war in Gaza.

He stressed that there was no evidence linking any of the agency’s employees to the Oct. 7 operation on settlements adjacent to Gaza.

Earlier in April, an independent review headed by the French former foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, found that Israeli authorities had yet to provide any evidence to back up their allegations that a dozen people worked for UNRWA.

The wide-ranging 48-page report, seen by Arab News, also found that Israel had not previously expressed concerns about any individuals named on the agency staffing lists that it had been receiving since 2011.
 


UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa

UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa
Updated 39 min ago
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UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa

UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa
  • “The spillover effect of the conflict in the Sudan has significantly affected the situation in the Central African Republic,” said the expert committee
  • This “continues to constitute a security threat to civilians and an impediment to humanitarian activities in the area“

UNITED NATIONS: Sudanese paramilitary forces are using the Central African Republic as a “supply chain,” including for recruitment of fighters, according to a report published Friday by UN experts, who are concerned about a “spillover effect.”
Sudan descended into war in April 2023 when the generals in charge of the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took up arms against each other in a fight for control, rejecting a plan to integrate.
“The spillover effect of the conflict in the Sudan has significantly affected the situation in the Central African Republic,” said the expert committee, formed by the UN Security Council to monitor sanctions on Central Africa.
They highlighted in particular the humanitarian situation, as the country sees an influx of millions of Sudanese refugees, as well as incursions by the two warring Sudanese parties — plus air raids by the Sudanese army in and around the Umm Dafog border post, where the RSF is present.
This “continues to constitute a security threat to civilians and an impediment to humanitarian activities in the area,” the experts said.
They insist the paramilitaries are also using the Am Dafok area in the Central African Republic on the border “as a key logistical hub.”
Because the RSF can “move between the two countries easily through a long-standing network” they have been able to recruit “from among armed groups in the Central African Republic.”
“Opposition armed groups from the Central African Republic have been reported to have actively recruited for, and sent members of their own groups to fight in, the Sudan under RSF,” the experts said.
They noted in particular fighters in Sudan since as early as August 2023 from the Central African rebel group Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC).
The experts said they are aware that this armed group and others “are still able to cross between the Sudan and the Central African Republic at will and use Sudanese territory to launch attacks.”
The experts thus called on Central African authorities to “counteract the surge in arms trafficking from neighboring countries, particularly given the current conflict situation in the Sudan.”
They also asked the leaders to combat “the infiltration of foreign fighters into the Central African Republic, which poses a significant long-term threat to the region.”


UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
Updated 15 June 2024
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UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
  • Sheikh Mohamed, Sunak discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with UK Prime Minister Sunak on Friday on the sidelines of the G7 Summit session on artificial intelligence and energy in Apulia, Emirates News Agency reported.

During the meeting, the two leaders talked about how to strengthen and expand bilateral relations in a variety of areas, including economics and development.

The two leaders also discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, emphasizing the importance of laying the groundwork for peace, stability, and security in the Middle East.


Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
Updated 15 June 2024
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Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
  • Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base
  • The Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel“

BEIRUT: Hezbollah on Saturday kept up retaliatory attacks on military positions in northern Israel, and one person was killed in Lebanon, days after an Israeli strike hit a senior commander from the Iran-backed group.
Senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah was killed in an Israeli strike in the village of Jouaiyya on Tuesday, alongside three comrades, a source close to the group had told AFP.
Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base “as part of the response to the attack and assassination carried out by the enemy in Jouaiyya.”
Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel which triggered war in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army had confirmed it carried out the strike targeting Abdallah, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
On Saturday, the Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel,” reporting “no injuries or damage to the unit’s capabilities.”
It also said “several aerial targets were identified crossing from Lebanon into Israeli territory” and falling in the Goren area, adding there were no reported injuries but that “a fire broke out.”
“Aircraft struck a Hezbollah terrorist” in south Lebanon’s Aitarun area, the military said, adding that “artillery fired to remove a threat,” also in the Aitarun area.
A source close to Hezbollah and rescuers affiliated with the group said a non-Lebanese man was killed in Aitarun, without providing further details.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency had reported unspecified casualties in an “Israeli drone” strike on a motorbike on the road between Aitarun and Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
A Lebanese military source said Abdallah was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 471 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 91 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.