US rebukes Israel for demolishing activist home in Jerusalem

US rebukes Israel for demolishing activist home in Jerusalem
Palestinian activist Fakhri Abu Diab stands in the rubble of his home that was demolished by Jerusalem municipality workers in the mostly Arab east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan on February 14, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 15 February 2024
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US rebukes Israel for demolishing activist home in Jerusalem

US rebukes Israel for demolishing activist home in Jerusalem
  • Abu Diab responded to the US condemnation: “I thank them, but they should have put pressure beforehand on the Israelis to prevent the demolition of my house”

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday rebuked Israel for demolishing the home of a Palestinian activist in east Jerusalem, saying its ally was damaging its own standing.
The unusually forceful US condemnation of Israeli actions came hours after Fakhri Abu Diab, a campaigner against demolitions, said that dozens of Israeli personnel tore down his home of 38 years near the Old City.
“Ten of us were living here — my wife, my three children and five members of the extended family. Now we’re literally on the street, asking neighbors and passers-by to help us,” Abu Diab told AFP in Jerusalem.
“We have become homeless,” he said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the United States condemned the demolition and would encourage Israel not to target other homes.
“He has been an outspoken community leader including against demolition and now his family has been displaced,” Miller said of Abu Diab.
“These acts obstruct efforts to advance a durable and lasting peace and security that would benefit not just Palestinians, but Israelis,” he told reporters.
“They damage Israel’s standing in the world, and they make it ultimately more difficult for us to accomplish all of the things we are trying to accomplish that would ultimately be in the interests of the Israeli people,” he said.
He noted that part of the building dates before 1967, when Israel captured east Jerusalem — home of sites holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — in the Six-Day War. Israel later annexed east Jerusalem, a move not recognized by most of the international community.
Abu Diab responded to the US condemnation: “I thank them, but they should have put pressure beforehand on the Israelis to prevent the demolition of my house.”
“It was an act of revenge, part of the campaign by the Israelis against the Palestinians of Jerusalem that has only grown since October 7,” he said.
On October 7, Hamas militants infiltrated Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip and killed around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, and took an estimated 250 people hostage, in the deadliest-ever attack in the country.
Around 130 of the hostages are believed to remain in Gaza.
Israel has responded with a relentless military campaign in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 28,500 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.
The United States, while backing Israel’s right to respond, has voiced alarm over civilian casualties in Gaza Strip and criticized Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Campaigners charge that Israel turns to demolishing homes as collective punishment or to enforce legal rulings favoring Israelis.


Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

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Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’
1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday
The vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island

NICOSIA: Four ships from the United States and France are transporting aid from Larnaca port to the Gaza Strip amid the spiralling humanitarian crisis there, the Cyprus presidency said on Tuesday.
Victor Papadopoulos from the presidential press office told state radio 1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday.
He said the vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island, a distance of about 360 kilometers (225 miles).
Large quantities of aid from Britain, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and other countries have accumulated at Larnaca port.
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters on Tuesday the maritime aid effort was “on track.”
“We have substantial assistance from third countries that want to contribute to this effort,” he said.
The aid shipped from Cyprus is entering Gaza via a temporary US-built floating pier, where the shipments are offloaded for distribution.
The United Nations has warned of famine as Gaza’s 2.4 million people face shortages of food, safe water, medicines and fuel amid the Israel-Hamas war that has devastated the coastal territory.
Aid deliveries by truck have slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in early May.
The war in Gaza broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Two days after the war broke out, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures provided by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor
Updated 21 May 2024
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Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor
  • The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed“
  • The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common

BEIRUT: Daesh group militants killed three Syrian soldiers in an attack Tuesday on an army position in the Badia desert, a war monitor said.
The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a lieutenant colonel and two soldiers died.
The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common, ahead of an expected wider sweep, said the Britain-based Observatory which has a network of sources inside the country.
In an attack on May 3, Daesh fighters killed at least 15 Syrian pro-government fighters when they targeted three military positions in the desert, the Observatory had reported.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a so-called caliphate and launching a reign of terror.
It was defeated territorially in Syria in 2019, but its remnants still carry out deadly attacks, particularly against pro-government forces and Kurdish-led fighters in Badia desert.
Syria’s war has claimed more than half a million lives and displaced millions more since it erupted in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.


At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River
Updated 21 May 2024
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At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River
  • The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, also injured nine other passengers

CAIRO: At least nine Egyptian women and children died Tuesday when a small bus carrying about two dozen people slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile River just outside Cairo, health authorities said.
The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, injured nine other passengers, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Giza is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Six of the injured were treated at the site while three others were transferred to hospitals. The ministry didn’t elaborate on their injuries.
A list of the nine dead obtained by The Associated Press showed four were minors.
Giza provincial Gov. Ahmed Rashed said the bus was retrieved from the river and rescue efforts were still underway as of midday Tuesday.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
According to the state-owned Akhbar daily, about two dozen passengers, mostly women, were in the vehicle heading to work when the accident occurred. It said security forces detained the vehicle driver.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt, mainly because of poor maintenance and lack of regulations. In February, a ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile in Giza, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board.


Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
Updated 21 May 2024
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Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
  • Statement stated that Asma would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate

DUBAI: Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad, has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Syrian presidency said on Tuesday, almost five years after she announced she had fully recovered from breast cancer.
The statement said Asma, 48, would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.
In August 2019, Asma said she had fully recovered from breast cancer that she said had been discovered early.
Since Syria plunged into war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of killed soldiers, but has also become hated by the opposition.
She runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organization for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.
Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Assad ,on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. She met Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as a public signal of her growing role in public affairs.


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 21 May 2024
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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
  • The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Yahya Saree said the drone was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile and that videos to support the claim would be released.

The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb.

The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.