Red Sea ships declare lack of ties to Israel online to avert Houthi attacks

Red Sea ships declare lack of ties to Israel online to avert Houthi attacks
The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released on Nov. 20, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 January 2024
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Red Sea ships declare lack of ties to Israel online to avert Houthi attacks

Red Sea ships declare lack of ties to Israel online to avert Houthi attacks
  • Fighting erupts between government forces and the militia in Yemen
  • The Houthis claim that their attacks are in support of Palestine and that they are only targeting Israeli ships or ships traveling to Israel

AM-MUKALLA: Shipping operators are reportedly posting statements on marine monitoring websites declaring that they have no connection to Israel before entering the Red Sea to avoid their vessels being targeted by the Houthi militia in Yemen.
The Houthis have said that they will not target ships passing through the Red Sea, Ban Al-Bandab, or the Gulf of Aden so long as they provide early notice of their destinations or indicate on maritime traffic monitoring sites that they have no relation with Israel.
Arab News has seen at least two ships docked in Djibouti that have posted on marinetraffic.com that they have “no relation to Israel” before heading to the Suez Canal through the Red Sea.
Since November, the Houthis have seized a commercial ship and conducted more than two dozen drone and missile attacks against commercial and naval ships traveling through the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab, and the Gulf of Aden.
The Houthis claim that their attacks are in support of Palestine and that they are only targeting Israeli ships or ships traveling to Israel in an attempt to force Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza.
The US has responded to the Houthis’ attacks and their attempts to blockade the Red Sea by forming a coalition of marine task forces. America and the UK have subsequently conducted dozens of strikes on military targets in the Houthi-controlled part of Yemen. The US has also reclassified the Houthis as a terrorist group, three years after removing them from its list due to pressure from various international organizations.
US Central Command claims to have destroyed three anti-ship missiles targeted at the Red Sea on Friday evening before they could be launched. Media reports said that the Friday raids targeted a Houthi military base in the western province of Hodeidah.
On Friday, the Houthis declared that they had fired missiles against the US-owned Chem Ranger ship in the Gulf of Aden.
Meanwhile, fighting has erupted between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis in the provinces of Taiz, Joud, Marib, and Dhale in recent days. The Yemeni army said on Saturday that the Houthis had renewed attacks on its forces west of Taiz, a day after launching a major offensive on government troops in the same region.
Despite a considerable decline in hostilities in Yemen since April 2022, when the UN-brokered ceasefire went into force, the Houthis continue to fire missiles and drones and assault government-controlled towns in Taiz, Marib, Dhale, Hodeidah, and Marib.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army official in Taiz, told Arab News that the Houthis had launched “the biggest attack” on government troops in several months on Friday morning, leaving two Yemeni soldiers and three Houthis dead.
“The Houthis used drones and other weaponry to bombard the national army positions before attacking our forces on the ground. We managed to force them back while also destroying their military equipment,” Al-Baher said, adding that the army had also received intelligence that the Houthis are mustering their troops, installing heavy equipment, constructing trenches, and erecting sand barriers in apparent preparation for further assaults on government forces defending the besieged city.
The army released a statement on Friday saying that it had shot down two Houthi drones northwest of Hajjah.


Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
Updated 58 min 1 sec ago
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Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
  • Campaigners urge UN and international community to do more to help free detained Yemeni civilians and halt militia’s campaign of torture and terror
  • Houthi abuses will continue unless punished, says rights activist as he calls on UN and donors to ‘face this escalation with strength’ and ‘take a stand’

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis reportedly attacked another commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Monday, as the Yemeni militia appears to be stepping up attacks on vessels along key maritime routes.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations, an agency that tracks attacks on shipping, said it received an alert from a ship’s master about an explosion in “close proximity” to the ship. It happened in an area 246 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, a coastal town in the government-controlled Yemeni province of Mahra, close to Yemen’s remote Socotra island.

“The crew are reported safe, and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the agency said.

It was the second incident in the area reported by the UKMTO in the space of 24 hours. The captain and crew of a vessel abandoned ship on Sunday after it was damaged and took on water about 96 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, the agency said.

On Sunday, the Houthis claimed credit for two other strikes on commercial shipping. A vessel called the Transworld Navigator was attacked with an explosive-laden drone in the Red Sea, and another called the Stolt Sequoia was targeted with ballistic missiles in the Indian Ocean, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a televised statement. He accused the owners of the ships of violating the militia’s ban on shipping to Israeli ports.

According to the Marine Traffic ship-tracking app, the Stolt Sequoia is a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker traveling from Bahrain to France.

The US Central Command reported on Sunday night that the Houthis were thought to have used a drone to strike the Transworld Navigator, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned and operated bulk cargo ship traveling from Malaysia to Egypt.

“Today, at 4 a.m. (Sanaa time), the crew reported minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship, but the vessel has continued underway,” the US military said.

Since their attacks on shipping began in November, the Houthis have sunk two ships, seized one and fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and remote-controlled, explosive-laden boats at commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in what they say is a campaign to put pressure on Israel to end its war in Gaza.

Yemenis have disputed the Houthi claims of support for the Palestinian people, accusing leaders of the militia of using the public outrage in Yemen over the killing of civilians in Gaza in an attempt to divert attention from their own internal problems, including growing public resentment over their failure to pay public-sector employees, and to recruit and rally the Yemeni public against opponents in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Yemenis from all sections of society and human rights organizations have launched an online campaign to draw global attention to the plight of dozens of Yemeni employees of the UN and other international organizations who are being held by the Houthis.

The militia abducted about 50 people in Sanaa this month, drawing widespread criticism from the UN as well as local and international rights groups.

In the online campaign, Yemenis call on the UN and the wider international community to take more action against the Houthis to secure the release of the detained workers, and to name and shame the militia for torturing and terrorizing the Yemeni people.

“This silence on their misdeeds serves as an indirect justification for them. The UN must take a stronger stand and compel them to end their crimes against humanity and free all abductees promptly and unconditionally.”

Yemeni human rights activist Riyadh Aldubai urged the UN and international donors to condemn the Houthi crackdown on Yemeni workers and relocate their agencies’ offices to government-controlled Aden, warning that the Houthis will continue their rights abuses if not punished.

“UN and donors must face this escalation with strength. Condemn the abductions, enforce strict measures, and relocate operations to reduce Houthi control. It’s time to take a stand,” he said in a message on X.


UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack

UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack
Updated 51 min 45 sec ago
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UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack

UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack
  • The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for what they allege was UNRWA’s “aiding and abetting Hamas’ genocide

NEW YORK: The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency was sued on Monday by dozens of Israelis who accused it of aiding and abetting the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
In a complaint filed with the US District Court in Manhattan, the plaintiffs said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) spent more than a decade helping Hamas build what they called the “terror infrastructure” and personnel needed for the attack.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for what they allege was UNRWA’s “aiding and abetting Hamas’ genocide, crimes against humanity, and torture,” which they said violated international law and the federal Torture Victim Protection Act.
UNRWA declined to comment, saying it had yet to be served with the lawsuit.
The agency has said it takes accusations of staff misconduct seriously, and terminated 10 staff members accused by Israel of involvement in the attack. Two others died, it has said.
UNRWA’s commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, and several current and former agency officials are also defendants.
The plaintiffs include 101 people who survived the attack or had relatives who were killed.
While many of their accusations have been made by Israel’s government, the plaintiffs want UNRWA held liable for allegedly funneling more than $1 billion from a Manhattan bank account to benefit Hamas, including for weapons, explosives and ammunition.
The plaintiffs accuse UNRWA of providing “safe harbor” to Hamas in its facilities, and letting its schools use Hamas-approved textbooks to indoctrinate Palestinian children to support violence toward and hatred of Jews and Israel.
They also said the attack was “foreseeable” to the defendants, regardless of whether they knew the specifics.
“We are talking about people who have been killed, lost family members and lost homes,” Avery Samet, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview. “We expect damages will be substantial.”
WARNING FROM UNRWA CHIEF
The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, while about 250 other people were abducted, according to Israeli tallies.
More than 37,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave have said.
Several countries including the United States halted funding to UNRWA after Israel alleged that staff members were involved in Hamas’ attack.
In April, Norway called on international donors to resume funding UNRWA, after a UN-authorized independent review found that Israel had not provided evidence supporting its accusations that hundreds of UNRWA staff were members of terrorist groups.
On Monday, Lazzarini urged resistance to Israeli efforts to disband UNRWA.
“If we do not push back, other UN entities and international organizations will be next, further undermining our multilateral system,” Lazzarini said at a meeting of the agency’s advisory commission in Geneva.
Established in 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA provides schooling, health care and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It is funded almost entirely by UN member states.
The case is Estate of Kedem et al v United Nations Relief and Works Agency et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 24-04765.


Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
Updated 24 June 2024
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Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
  • The aid includes surgery equipment and supplies to treat burns and fractures as well as medicine for children
  • Moroccan authorities say they are using their ties to Israel to promote peace and defend the rights of Palestinians

RABAT: Morocco has begun sending 40 tons of medical aid to Palestinians in war-torn Gaza, the Moroccan foreign ministry said on Monday.
The aid includes surgery equipment and supplies to treat burns and fractures as well as medicine for children, it said.
The aid was transported by air and will be loaded into Palestinian red crescent trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which was first used by Morocco to deliver aid in March, a senior diplomatic source told Reuters.
Moroccan authorities say they are using their ties to Israel to promote peace and defend the rights of Palestinians, but there have been many protests in Moroccan cities criticizing these ties since the onset of the war in Gaza.
Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza was triggered after Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed more than 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left much of Gaza in ruins.


Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
Updated 24 June 2024
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Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
  • Rainfall was UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago
  • UAE government announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding in April

LONDON: Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on Monday announced an $8 billion plan for a stormwater runoff system, two months after an unprecedented deluge and widespread flooding.
The drainage network announced by Sheikh Mohammed on social media platform X will be completed by 2033 with construction set to start immediately.

“It will cover all areas of Dubai and will absorb more than 20 million cubic meters of water per day,” Sheikh Mohammed said of the plan.
It “will increase the capacity of rainwater drainage in the emirate by 700 percent and enhance the emirate’s readiness to face future climate challenges,” he said, calling it the region’s largest such network.
Record rains lashed the UAE on April 16, flooding homes and turning streets into rivers. The downpour, worsened by a lack of storm drains, caused delays at Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.
The rainfall was the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago. Without drainage for excess water, authorities relied on trucks to pump up the water with giant hoses and drive it away.
The World Weather Attribution group said global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions “most likely” exacerbated the intense rains that also hit the neighboring sultanate of Oman, where 21 people died.
The UAE government subsequently announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding.
“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Sheikh Mohammed after a cabinet meeting in April, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”
* With AFP

 


Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
Updated 24 June 2024
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Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
  • On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport
  • “The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit
BEIRUT: Senior Lebanese officials on Monday defended procedures at Beirut airport during a tour for journalists and diplomats, a day after a British daily alleged Hezbollah was storing weapons at the facility.
The accusations came during escalating exchanges of fire and bellicose rhetoric between Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and Israeli forces, which have engaged in near-daily fire since war in Gaza began.
Hezbollah has been acting in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas since the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the Gaza war.
On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport, where “whistleblowers” had reported the arrival of “unusually big boxes” from Iran.
Hezbollah has not made any official comment.
“The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit together with Lebanon’s ministers for foreign affairs, tourism and information.
Representatives from foreign missions including Egypt, Germany and the European Union delegation joined the tour of the airport’s warehouse facilities.
Hamieh on Sunday held a press conference to reject The Telegraph report as false and “to say that there are no weapons entering or leaving Beirut.” He invited ambassadors and reporters for the tour.
At the airport, Hamieh described The Telegraph report as part of “psychological war” on Lebanon and said it was a “distortion of the reputation” of Lebanon’s only international airport.
The tour “included an import and export center... that accounts for 20 percent of the import traffic and is concerned with services for Iranian planes which were the subject of The Telegraph report,” Hamieh said.
Another warehouse accounted for the remaining 80 percent of imports and exports, he told a press conference.
Israel has for years accused Hezbollah of keeping weapons in installations throughout Lebanon, including near Beirut airport, an accusation Hezbollah has denied.
Israel bombed Beirut airport when it last went to war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Beirut airport manager Fadi El-Hassan said all aircraft arriving at the facility, including Iranian planes, “are subject to the same customs procedures.”
Egyptian ambassador Alaa Moussa said that while diplomats were not responsible for inspecting the airport for prohibited items, “our presence (at the tour) is a message of support” to Lebanon and “a message to all parties that what is needed... is calm.”
More than eight months of exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have left at least 481 people dead in Lebanon, mostly fighters, but also including 94 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.