Thousands rally in Israel for end to hostages’ 100-day ordeal

People gather in Habima square in central Tel Aviv, to protest against the Israeli government, as the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement nears 100 days, on January 13, 2024. (AFP)
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People gather in Habima square in central Tel Aviv, to protest against the Israeli government, as the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement nears 100 days, on January 13, 2024. (AFP)
Thousands rally in Israel for end to hostages’ 100-day ordeal
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Anti-war and anti-government protesters hold Israeli flags during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, on January 13, 2024, after almost 100 days of war between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2024
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Thousands rally in Israel for end to hostages’ 100-day ordeal

Thousands rally in Israel for end to hostages’ 100-day ordeal
  • Separately about 100 people gathered to call for an end to the war, brandishing signs saying: “Revenge is not victory,” and: “No to the occupation”

TEL AVIV: Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv late Saturday calling for the release of hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas militants, on the eve of the 100th day of their captivity.
The protests came after families unveiled a replica of the tunnels in the besieged Palestinian territory where their loved ones are believed to have been held since their abduction on October 7.
The crowds carried a massive banner that read: “And the world remains silent,” and chanted that the hostages must be released “Now, now, now.”
“We will continue to come here week after week until everybody is released,” Edan Begerano, 47, told AFP.




A motorist argues with anti-war and anti-government demonstrators blocking a highway in Tel Aviv, on January 13, 2024, after almost 100 days of war between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza. (AFP)

“Everywhere I look, I feel impressed by Israeli people who came massively today to support and to be with us.”
French President Emmanuel Macron sent a video message to the demonstrators calling for negotiations for hostage releases to resume.
“France does not abandon its children,” he said, listing the names of some of the French dual nationals being held.
Around 100 hostages were released during a week-long truce in November, the Israelis among them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Separately about 100 people gathered to call for an end to the war, brandishing signs saying: “Revenge is not victory,” and: “No to the occupation.”
Saturday night protests have become a weekly event in Tel Aviv since the war began, but groups supporting the hostage families were out in greater numbers to mark the 100th day of the war.




Israeli anti-government and anti-war protesters block a highway during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, on January 13, 2024, after almost 100 days of war between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza. (AFP)

Palestinian militants took about 250 captives on October 7, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.
The attack by Hamas also resulted in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

The mock-up of a Hamas tunnel was installed outside Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with a dimly lit passage, dirt on the ground and the sounds of gunfire and shelling playing constantly.
Israeli artist Roni Levavi, who designed the installation, said he wanted to create “the most faithful reconstruction” of the Gaza tunnels and relied on images from the media.
This would “give an idea of what the hostages have been feeling for so many days,” Levavi told AFP.
Inbar Goldstein, who had several relatives released during the November truce and several others killed in the initial attack, said: “That’s the only tunnel in this story that has a light in the end of it.”
After walking through the mock tunnel, Eyal Moar said it was only a small part of the ordeal experienced by his uncle Abraham Munder, 79, and the other hostages.
“We know the conditions are really horrifying — no fresh air, very little food, no meds, no sun light, they sleep on the floor,” Moar told AFP in the central plaza renamed “Hostages Square” by campaigners.

On Friday, Israeli officials said they had reached a deal to get medicines to the remaining captives — which some of the families believed was scant progress.
“It’s not enough,” said Ella Ben Ami, whose father Ohad Ben Ami, 55, is among those still held.
“I want him home, in hospital, in good health care, not in Hamas health care.”
Israel has pounded Gaza since October 7, killing at least 23,843 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
The Israeli military often speaks of “terror tunnels” they say Hamas fighters use to move hostages around, as well as to store weapons and shelter from the bombing.
The relatives said the experience of being stuck, even in the mocked-up tunnel, was harrowing.
“I was there for five minutes and I just wanted to run away,” said Ben Ami. “I had a choice to run away but they don’t.”
 

 


Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
Updated 9 sec ago
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Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
  • Injuries as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border

JERUSALEM: Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.
Earlier, the military said four soldiers were injured overnight, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.


US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says
Updated 13 min 33 sec ago
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US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says
  • Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile with no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships

DUBAI: The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday its forces destroyed four uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on April 14, acting in self-defense.
CENTCOM added in a Red Sea update that Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile toward the Gulf of Aden from a Houthi controlled area in Yemen on Saturday and that there were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships.


Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’
Updated 24 min 56 sec ago
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Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’
  • MSC leases ship from Gortal Shipping, affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer

DUBAI: A Portuguese-flagged container ship, the MSC Aries, was seized by Iran on April 13 for “violating maritime laws,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.
“The vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.
Iran launched a barrage of missiles and explosive drones on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a strike that Tehran said was self-defense after the bombing of the consulate.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded the MSC Aries and taken it into Iranian waters.
MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.
MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.
Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In response to reports of the seizure, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the leading seafarers’ union, said that “innocent seafarers must be protected from escalating conflicts they have no role in instigating, nor power to resolve.”
The International Chamber of Shipping called the seizure a “flagrant breach of international law and an assault on freedom of navigation.”
Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have also affected the global maritime transport chain, as well as trade and port activities in and around the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, said the seizure of the MSC Aries “has the potential to further disrupt cargo transits in and out of the region, which will impact all of our member ports, one way or another.”


Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza
Updated 53 min 47 sec ago
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Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza
  • Palestinian detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom border crossing into Rafah in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA: Israeli authorities released on Monday morning 150 Palestinian detainees who had been arrested in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

The detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom, a crossing on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, into Rafah in southern Gaza, according to an Arab News reporter in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Among the released detainees is Sufian Abu Salah, who told local reporters he was arrested “perfectly healthy” and “walking on both legs” but has had his left leg amputated in detention due to torture and neglect.

A video circulated on social media showed Abu Salah skipping on one leg with the support of a wooden stick he used as a crutch.

He told local journalists that while in detention, his foot became infected but Israeli soldiers refused to send him to a hospital. Within seven days, the infection had spread, and he had his leg amputated.

Abu Salah lost his leg due to torture followed by medical neglect in detention. (Supplied)

An internal UN report compiled last month by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees described widespread abuses of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Methods of abuse include “physical beatings, forced stress positions for extended periods of time, threats of harm to detainees and their families, attacks by dogs, insults to personal dignity and humiliation such as being made to act like animals or getting urinated on, use of loud music and noises, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to practice their religion (to pray) and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries,” according to the UNRWA report.  

“The beatings included blunt force trauma to the head, shoulders, kidneys, neck, back and legs with metal bars and the butts of guns and boots, in some cases resulting in broken ribs, separated shoulders and lasting injuries.”

The prisoners released on Monday also include a child and a doctor. 

According to UN figures, Israeli authorities have arrested at least 4,000 Palestinians, including women and children, since the onset of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza on October 7, which was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel.


Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister
Updated 15 April 2024
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Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister
  • Kuwaiti Emir also tasks the new prime minister to form a government

DUBAI: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has appointed Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister, state news agency KUNA reported on Monday.

The Kuwaiti ruler also tasked the new prime minister to form a government.

The Kuwaiti ruler last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, after elections were held to choose new members of the National Assembly.

He also instructed the cabinet to act as caretakers until the formation of a new government.