UN says Gaza war ‘staining humanity’ on eve of 100th day

UN says Gaza war ‘staining humanity’ on eve of 100th day
Palestinians sift through the rubble from their homes destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Rafah, outhern Gaza Strip, on January 13, 2024. (AFP photos)
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Updated 14 January 2024
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UN says Gaza war ‘staining humanity’ on eve of 100th day

UN says Gaza war ‘staining humanity’ on eve of 100th day
  • Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, warned that an entire generation of children in Gaza were being “traumatized”
  • Relentless Israeli bombardment has killed at least 23,843 people, mostly women and children, says Gaza's health ministry

GAZA STRIP: The United Nations said on Saturday the Gaza war was “staining humanity” on the eve of its 100th day as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on vows to defeat Hamas.

The devastating conflict has unleashed a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and fears of a regional escalation intensified after US and British forces struck pro-Hamas Houthi rebels in Yemen on Friday following attacks on Red Sea shipping.
The war was triggered on October 7 when Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack from the Gaza Strip that resulted in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Hamas, considered a “terrorist” group by the United States and the European Union, also seized about 250 hostages, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.
Israel vowed to destroy Gaza’s Islamist rulers and launched a relentless bombardment that has killed at least 23,843 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll from the territory’s health ministry.
An Israeli siege has sparked acute shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel in Gaza, where the health system is collapsing.
Visiting the Gaza Strip, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, said “the massive death, destruction, displacement, hunger, loss and grief of the last 100 days are staining our shared humanity.”
An entire generation of children in Gaza were being “traumatized,” diseases were spreading and the clock is “ticking fast toward famine,” he warned.

The Hague-based International Court of Justice this week heard arguments in a case launched by South Africa — and welcomed by Gazans — accusing Israel of breaching the UN Genocide Convention.
The case seeks a halt to the military campaign, which Israel stressed to the court was in self-defense and not aimed at Palestinian residents.
But Netanyahu insisted no court or military foe could stop Israel from achieving its aim of destroying Hamas.
“No one will stop us — not The Hague, not the Axis of Evil and no one else,” he told a televised press conference, referring to the Iran-aligned “axis of resistance” groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“It is possible and necessary to continue until victory and we will do it,” he added, saying most Hamas battalions in Gaza had been “eliminated.”
Israel’s army chief Herzi Halevi said the war in Gaza was a struggle “for our right to live here in safety,” adding that the October 7 attacks would never be forgotten.

Health officials in Gaza said that Israeli strikes killed at least 60 people in the besieged territory.
Nimma Al-Akhras, 80, described the strike that destroyed her home.
“It was very powerful,” she said. “We started to scream and I couldn’t move but someone pulled me out and put me on a cart.”
The Israeli army said it struck dozens of rocket launchers that were “ready to be used” in central Gaza and eliminated four “terrorists” in air strikes on Khan Yunis, Gaza’s main southern city.
The military also reported that its engineers had destroyed a Hamas “command center” and weapons found there, after a raid in central Gaza.
At Rafah’s Al-Najjar hospital, mourners gathered and prayed around the bodies of slain relatives.
One man, Bassem Araf, held up a photo of a child.
“She died hungry with bread in her hand. We tried to remove the bread from her hand but it was held tight,” Araf said.
“This is the resistance they are targeting in Gaza, just children.”

An AFP reporter in Rafah said telecommunications had been partially restored, a day after Gaza’s main operator Paltel reported the latest outage.
Paltel did not immediately confirm the service restoration but said an Israeli strike killed two of its employees in Khan Yunis while they were repairing the network.
Winter rains have exacerbated the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the UN estimates 1.9 million — nearly 85 percent of the population — have been displaced.
Many have sought shelter in Rafah and other southern areas where the health ministry says there isn’t the infrastructure to support them.
Gaza’s health ministry spokesman accused Israel of “deliberately targeting hospitals... to put them out of service,” warning of “devastating repercussions.”
Hospitals, protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly been hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza since the war erupted.
The Israeli military accuses Hamas of operating command centers in tunnels under hospitals, a charge the Islamist group denies.
Fewer than half of Gaza’s hospitals are functioning and those only partly, the World Health Organization says.
In Israel, concern grew for hostages held in Gaza as they approach their 100th day in captivity, with Netanyahu under domestic pressure to get them home.
Thousands rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday calling for their release, after relatives unveiled a replica of the Gaza tunnels where the captives are believed to be held.
“We will continue to come here week after week until everybody is released,” Edan Begerano, 47, told AFP.
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.” Minor scuffles broke out between them and government supporters.
 


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
Updated 3 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ-9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts
Updated 37 min 17 sec ago
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Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts
  • Mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz

TEHRAN: Thousands of Iranians walked sombrely through the streets on Tuesday for the funeral procession of President Ebrahim Raisi and seven members of his entourage who were killed in a helicopter crash.
Waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president, the mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where Raisi was headed when his helicopter crashed on Sunday.


Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
Updated 36 min 36 sec ago
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Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
  • Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said

JENIN: Israeli forces raided Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an operation that the Palestinian health ministry said killed seven Palestinians, including a doctor, and left nine others wounded.
The army said it was an operation against militants and that a number of Palestinian gunmen were shot. There was no immediate word of any Israeli casualties.
The health ministry account of the casualties was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said. He was killed in the vicinity of the hospital, the director said.
The West Bank is among territories Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want it to be the core of an independent Palestinian state. US-sponsored talks on a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict broke down in 2014.


Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
Updated 21 May 2024
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Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
  • Dubai airport welcomed around 23 million passengers in January-March period, operator says 
  • India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were top three countries by passenger volumes in first quarter

DUBAI: Dubai’s main airport expects to handle a record passenger traffic this year after an 8.4% rise in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.

Dubai International Airport (DXB), a major global travel hub, welcomed around 23 million passengers in the January-March period, the operator said in a statement, noting that the uptick was partly driven by increased destination offers by flagship carrier Emirates and its sister low-cost airline Flydubai.

“With a strong start to Q2 and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year, we have revised our forecast for the year to 91 million guests, surpassing our previous annual traffic record of 89.1 million in 2018,” CEO Paul Griffiths said in the statement.

Dubai is the biggest tourism and trade hub in the Middle East, attracting a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors last year.

Its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum last month approved a new passenger terminal in Al Maktoum International airport worth 128 billion dirhams ($34.85 billion).

The Al Maktoum International Airport will be the largest in the world with a capacity of up to 260 million passengers, and five times the size of DXB, he said, adding all operations at Dubai airport would be transferred to Al Maktoum in the coming years.

DXB is connected to 256 destinations across 102 countries. In the first quarter, India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were the top three countries by passenger numbers, Dubai Airports added. ($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham) 


Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes

Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes
Updated 21 May 2024
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Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes

Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes
  • Israel slams as a ‘historical disgrace’ the demand to arrest their leaders for war crimes
  • US President Joe Biden denounces the ICC bid as ‘outrageous’

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Israel and Hamas, engaged in heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip, both angrily rejected on Monday moves to arrest their leaders for war crimes made before an international court.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan said he had applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders over the conflict.

Israel slammed as a “historical disgrace” the demand targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, while the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it “strongly condemns” the move.

Israel’s top ally the United States joined the condemnation, while France said it supported the court’s independence and its “fight against impunity.”

Netanyahu said he rejected “with disgust The Hague prosecutor’s comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas.”

Khan said in a statement that he was seeking warrants against the Israeli leaders for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder,” and “starvation.”

He said Israel had committed “crimes against humanity” during the war, started by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack, as part “of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population.”

Khan also said the leaders of Hamas, including Qatar-based Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, “bear criminal responsibility” for actions committed during the October 7 attack.

These included “taking hostages,” “rape and other acts of sexual violence,” and “torture,” he said.

“International law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,” Khan said. “No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader — no one — can act with impunity.”

The warrants, if granted by the ICC judges, would mean that any of the 124 ICC member states would technically be obliged to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they traveled there, a point noted by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

However, the court has no mechanism to enforce its warrants.

US President Joe Biden denounced the ICC bid as “outrageous” and said “there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Germany agreed, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying the warrants gave “a false impression of equivalence.”

Biden also rejected accusations in a separate tribunal, the UN International Court of Justice, where South Africa has alleged that Israel’s war in Gaza is genocidal.

“What’s happening is not genocide,” Biden told a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday.

South Africa welcomed the move at the ICC.

The war ground on unabated, with Israeli forces battling Hamas in Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah, as well as in other flashpoints in central and northern areas.

Israel defied international opposition almost two weeks ago when it sent troops into Rafah, which is crowded with civilians and which the military has described as the last Hamas stronghold.

Netanyahu has vowed to keep fighting Hamas in Gaza until the Iran-backed Islamist group is defeated and all remaining hostages are released.

The United Nations said more than 812,000 Palestinians had fled Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

“The question that haunts us is: where will we go?” said Sarhan Abu Al-Saeed, 46, a desperate Palestinian resident. “Certain death is chasing us from all directions.”

Witnesses said that Israeli naval forces had also struck Rafah, and medics reported an air strike on a residential building in the city’s west.

The military said Israeli troops were “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure” in eastern Rafah, where they had found “dozens of tunnel shafts” and “eliminated over 130 terrorists.”

The war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Hamas also took about 250 hostages during the attack, of whom 124 remain in Gaza including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,562 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The Israeli military said on Monday the bodies of four hostages retrieved from Gaza last week had been found in tunnels under Jabalia in the north.

Israeli forces have been fighting in northern and central areas previously declared largely cleared of militants, with the military saying its troops had killed 200 militants in Jabalia.

Israel has imposed a siege on the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, depriving its 2.4 million people of normal access to clean water, food, medicines and fuel.

The suffering has been eased only by sporadic aid shipments by land, air and sea, but truck arrivals have slowed to a trickle amid the Rafah operation.

The European Union warned that 31 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning and that the rest are “on the verge of collapse, with more than 9,000 severely injured people at risk of dying.”

Air strikes continued across Gaza, including on Gaza City in the north, the military said.

Gaza’s civil defense said the bodies of eight dead, along with several wounded, were retrieved after an air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met Netanyahu on Sunday and told him Israel must link the military operation against Hamas with a “political strategy” for Gaza’s future.

Washington has pushed for a post-war plan for Gaza involving Palestinians and supported by regional powers, as well as for a broader diplomatic deal under which Israel and Saudi Arabia would normalize relations.