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.


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.