Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon kill 6 members of Hezbollah, ally

A banner hangs on the side of a building that was damaged by an Israeli air raid two days earlier in Lebanon's southern city of Nabatieyh on February 16, 2024. Israeli strikes on targets in south Lebanon killed five fighters from Hezbollah and the allied Amal movement, the groups said on February 16, adding to an uptick in violence causing international alarm. (AFP)
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A banner hangs on the side of a building that was damaged by an Israeli air raid two days earlier in Lebanon's southern city of Nabatieyh on February 16, 2024. Israeli strikes on targets in south Lebanon killed five fighters from Hezbollah and the allied Amal movement, the groups said on February 16, adding to an uptick in violence causing international alarm. (AFP)
Hezbollah militants and supporters attend the funeral of Ali al-Debs, one of the militant group's commanders killed by an Israeli air raid two days earlier, in Lebanon's southern city of Nabatieyh on February 16, 2024. (AFP)
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Hezbollah militants and supporters attend the funeral of Ali al-Debs, one of the militant group's commanders killed by an Israeli air raid two days earlier, in Lebanon's southern city of Nabatieyh on February 16, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2024
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Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon kill 6 members of Hezbollah, ally

Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon kill 6 members of Hezbollah, ally
  • PM Mikati says Israel’s killing of civilians is a ‘crime against humanity’
  • Nasrallah: Israel will pay price for shedding  blood of our women and children

BEIRUT: Six Hezbollah and Amal Movement members were killed in an Israeli shelling early Friday morning in southern Lebanon.

Israeli warplanes raided the towns of Qantara, Deir Seryan and the vicinity of Wadi Saluki.

The raid on a house in Qantara killed three Amal Movement members: Ali Hassan Issa from the town of Jibchit, Mohammed Hussein Said from the town of Qsaybeh and Qassem Nizar Berro from the town of Charqiyeh.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah mourned two of its members: Mustafa Khodr Qassir from the town of Deir Qanoun En Nahr and Mohammed Ali Darwiche from the town of Srebbine in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli army acknowledged through its spokesman that on Thursday night, “we attacked a military building and infrastructure belonging to the Hezbollah organization in the village of Qantara.”

Israeli media reported that “the internal front in the north has decided to close roads on the northern border to traffic following the Israeli army’s assessment of the situation, and in anticipation of a response by Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah targeted the Kiryat Shmona barracks at midnight on Thursday with Falaq-1 missiles in response to the massacre committed by the Israeli army in the cities of Nabatiyeh and Al-Sowanah two days ago.

The Civil Defense announced that after continuing search-and-rescue operations and comprehensive field surveys at the site of the building partially destroyed by the Israeli drone in Nabatiyeh on Wednesday evening, they retrieved a total of 11 civilian bodies, transported two wounded to Nabatiyeh Governmental Hospital, and extinguished a fire that broke out inside the targeted building.

While families held funeral processions in the southern villages, Israeli raids continued on Aita Al-Shaab, Beit Lif and Bint Jbeil.

Hostile operations continued for the second consecutive day within the rules of engagement adopted since Hezbollah opened the southern front “to support the Gaza Strip,” meaning south of the Litani River.

This comes after both parties violated these rules two days ago, with the Israeli side targeting Lebanese civilians in the area north of the Litani River, and Hezbollah targeting Safed with its operations.

Commenting on the Nabatiyeh attack, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said: “The enemy went too far in killing civilians. Its goal is to put pressure on the resistance to stop, because all pressure since Oct. 7 was aimed at stopping the southern front. The answer to the massacre must be to continue and escalate the action.”

He added: “Targeting the Kiryat Shmona settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets and a number of Al-Falaq missiles is an initial response.

“The Israeli enemy will pay the price for shedding the blood of our women and children in Nabatiyeh and Al-Sowanah.” 

In response to the Israeli defense minister’s threat to the capital, Beirut, Nasrallah said: “It seems that he has forgotten that the resistance possesses a tremendous and accurate missile capability that allows its hand to extend from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat.”

A Lebanese security source said: “The Israeli Army is focusing its hostile operations on cutting off Hezbollah’s supply routes with fire and blocking off the roads connecting the border villages to each other.”

The source noted: “Completely uninhabited areas are witnessing unprecedented destruction of homes and infrastructure. The Israeli army deals with anything moving in the area as a target.”

Israeli reconnaissance planes continue to fly over southern Lebanon, reaching the course of the Litani River.

In a speech delivered during the opening session of the 60th Munich Security Conference, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati affirmed that “Lebanon will continue to adhere to all UN resolutions.”

He said: “Israel should implement these resolutions, stop its hostilities in southern Lebanon and its violation of the Lebanese sovereignty, and withdraw from all occupied Lebanese territory.”

Mikati questioned “the steps taken by the international community to stop this ongoing hostility.”

He said: “Only two days ago, a family of seven, including children and women, was targeted in southern Lebanon. Killing and targeting innocent children, women and elderly people are crimes against humanity.”

Mikati emphasized that “periodic wars and conflicts in the Middle East, along with their global repercussions, will not end without a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State.”

Mikati called on “international actors to support peace-making efforts, help to prevent and resolve conflicts, and protect civilians from harm.”

Caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib instructed Lebanon’s permanent representative to the UN to file a complaint before the UN Security Council on Friday.

This came after “the Israeli raid that targeted a residential building in Nabatiyeh, killing 11, including women and children, and causing extensive damage to the building, in addition to a second raid targeting the house of Lebanese citizen Jalal Mohsen in the Souaneh village, killing his wife and his two children.”

The complaint emphasized that “Israel’s deliberate and direct targeting of civilians in their houses is a violation of the international humanitarian law and a war crime in which all those involved are directly and indirectly subject to international responsibility.”

The complaint added: “The attacks also violated Lebanon’s sovereignty and the security of its territory and citizens, and defied all UN resolutions compelling Israel to stop its violations of Lebanese sovereignty and put an end to its occupation of Lebanese territories, including the Resolution 1701.

“What is concerning is that this escalation comes at a time when international efforts and diplomatic moves intensify to diffuse the situation, and while Lebanon reiterates its rejection of the war and provides a road map for sustainable security in the south.

“This prompts us to urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to curb its ongoing escalating hostilities and stop the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and its people, in order to avoid the expansion of the conflict and a full-scale destructive regional war that will be difficult to contain.”


Libyan armed groups clash in capital Tripoli: media

Libyan armed groups clash in capital Tripoli: media
Updated 13 April 2024
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Libyan armed groups clash in capital Tripoli: media

Libyan armed groups clash in capital Tripoli: media
  • Authorities have not disclosed the reasons behind the fight, but local media said it began after the SSA detained Radaa members in retaliation for the detention of one of its members by the rival group

TRIPOLI: Clashes between powerful Libyan armed groups broke out in the capital Tripoli, sparking panic among locals celebrating the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, local media reported.
The clashes overnight Thursday into Friday lasted for about one hour but claimed no lives, the reports said.
Libya is still struggling to recover from years of war and chaos after the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Although relative calm has returned to the oil-rich country in the past four years, clashes periodically occur between its myriad armed groups.
Witnesses said they heard exchanges of fire, including from heavy weapons, in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighborhood, an area controlled by the Stability Support Authority (SSA).
Gunmen from SSA clashed with elements of the Special Deterrence Force (Radaa), the media reports said.
Authorities have not disclosed the reasons behind the fight, but local media said it began after the SSA detained Radaa members in retaliation for the detention of one of its members by the rival group.
Both groups released the detainees the same night.
Families who were observing the second day of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations had to flee nearby cafes and parks during the clash, the media reports said.
SSA and the Special Deterrence Force evolved from the militias that filled a security vacuum following Qaddafi’s overthrow.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Friday denounced “the recurring use of violence to settle disputes,” in a statement on X.
Condemning “chronic insecurity,” UNSMIL called for Libya to “prioritize elections to establish legitimate governing bodies.”
“Those responsible must be held accountable,” it said.
In Tripoli, the SSA and Radaa groups are not under the direct authority of the ministries of interior or defense, though they receive public funds.
They operate independently and received a special status from the prime minister and the presidential council in 2021.
The groups are most visible at roundabouts and main street intersections, where their often-masked members staff checkpoints, blocking traffic with weapon-mounted armored vehicles.
In August 2023, Tripoli’s worst armed clashes in a year left 55 people dead when Radaa and the 444 Brigade clashed.
In February this year, at least 10 people including SSA members were shot dead in Tripoli.
Interior Minister Imad Trabelsi then announced that armed groups in Tripoli agreed to leave and be replaced with regular forces.
He gave no time frame but suggested the measure would be implemented after Ramadan.
Libya is divided between the UN-recognized Tripoli-based government and a rival administration in the country’s east.
 

 


Tunisian man dead after self-immolating in protest against police

Tunisian man dead after self-immolating in protest against police
Updated 13 April 2024
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Tunisian man dead after self-immolating in protest against police

Tunisian man dead after self-immolating in protest against police
  • Tunisia has seen large numbers of people set themselves alight since the death of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation in late 2010 sparked the Arab Spring and led to the ousting of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

TUNIS: A young Tunisian man died after self-immolating in an act of protest against the police in the central region of Kairouan, his family said Friday.
Yassine Selmi, a 22-year-old construction worker, died Thursday in a hospital in Tunis, two days after setting himself on fire in front of a police station, his father Mansour Selmi told AFP.
He was attempting to “resolve a fight between two people and police officers near a police station” when the officers threatened to arrest him in Bou Hajjla, a small town in Kairouan, said his father.
The young man later came back to the police station with a gasoline container and “set himself on fire in protest” over the police’s threats, the father added.
He said he would seek justice for his son’s death.
Tunisia has seen large numbers of people set themselves alight since the death of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation in late 2010 sparked the Arab Spring and led to the ousting of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Many of the cases have been concentrated in non-coastal areas that are the hardest hit by Tunisia’s economic crisis.
The North African country’s debt currently hovers around 80 percent of its GDP, with a yearly inflation averaging up to 10 percent and an unemployment rate of 40 percent among its youth.
The latest incident came just days after another street vendor in the coastal city of Sfax set herself on fire after a dispute with the police.
Local media said the woman, who was originally from Kairouan, was taken to a hospital with severe burns.
Last year, Nizar Aissaoui, a professional football player in a local team also from Kairouan, self-immolated in protest against what he described as “the police state.”
The wider Kairouan region tops national rankings in unemployment, illiteracy and suicides.
It recorded 26 out of the nation’s 147 documented and attempted suicides in 2023, according to the non-government group FTDES.
 

 


Cable car accident in Turkiye sends 1 passenger to his death and injures 7, with scores stranded

Cable car accident in Turkiye sends 1 passenger to his death and injures 7, with scores stranded
Updated 13 April 2024
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Cable car accident in Turkiye sends 1 passenger to his death and injures 7, with scores stranded

Cable car accident in Turkiye sends 1 passenger to his death and injures 7, with scores stranded

ISTANBUL: One person was killed and seven injured Friday when a cable car pod in southern Turkiye hit a pole and burst open, sending the passengers plummeting to the mountainside below, officials and local media said. Scores of other people were left stranded late into the night after the entire cable car system came to a standstill.
Two children were among the injured in the accident at the Tunektepe cable car just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya at about 6 p.m. during the busy Eid Al-Fitr holiday, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.
Anadolu identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man, and said six Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national were injured.
Five of the injured were ferried off the mountain by helicopter and efforts continued to remove the other two injured people, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said three hours after the accident. The rescue operation involved more than 160 first responders including air crews from the Coast Guard and mountaineering teams from different parts of Turkiye, the minister posted on social media site X.
Some 184 other passengers were trapped in 25 other cable car pods dozens of feet (tens of meters) above the ground as engineers tried to restart the system, Antalya Mayor Muhittin Bocek said in a statement. Helicopters with night vision imaging were heading to the site, he said.
Search and rescue agency AFAD later said 49 people had been rescued from the suspended pods, leaving 135 still stranded close to midnight — about six hours after the accident.
Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.
Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkiye marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which sees families flock to coastal resorts.
The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-meter (2,010-feet) Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya Metropolitan Municipality.
Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts was assigned to determine the cause of the incident.


Blinken discusses ceasefire, entry of aid into Gaza with foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt

Blinken discusses ceasefire, entry of aid into Gaza with foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt
Updated 13 April 2024
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Blinken discusses ceasefire, entry of aid into Gaza with foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt

Blinken discusses ceasefire, entry of aid into Gaza with foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt
  • Parties stress need to remove all obstacles to ensure adequate supplies are sent
  • Blinken also spoke to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

LONDON: Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Friday received a phone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza, and attempts to transport sufficient aid into the area, especially through Jordan.

The parties stressed the need to remove all obstacles to ensure the adequate and immediate entry of aid into the besieged Palestinian territory, the Jordan News Agency reported.

The Jordanian minister stressed the importance of opening all crossings for the entry of aid, and the need for supplies to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the war.

He said that Jordan would be able to send hundreds of trucks to Gaza daily as soon as the northern crossings were opened, allowing the UN and its agencies to receive and distribute the aid.

Safadi also stressed the need to end the Israeli assault on Gaza, and warned of “the disastrous consequences of an Israeli ground offensive against Rafah” in the southern Gaza Strip, Petra added.

US State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, confirmed both officials focused on “diplomatic efforts to achieve an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza that provides lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

He provided details on their efforts to secure an immediate ceasefire, which they hoped would continue “over a period of at least six weeks” as part of a hostage release deal with Hamas.

“Blinken thanked Jordan for its leadership in facilitating the delivery of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, including through joint US-Jordan airdrops and deliveries by land,” Miller also said.

The two parties discussed regional developments and efforts to reduce escalation in the conflict by Iran, as well as a number of bilateral issues.

Blinken also spoke to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Friday, and the parties agreed to maintain “constant Egypt-US consultations to contain the crisis in Gaza, end the war, and sustain aid delivery,” said Ahmed Abu Zeid, the spokesperson for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He added that Shoukry emphasized the “risks of regional conflict expansion and the unfolding consequences on (the) security and safety of the people.”


Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid: OCHA official

Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid: OCHA official
Updated 12 April 2024
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Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid: OCHA official

Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid: OCHA official
  • Jamie McGoldrick says communication issues hampering aid delivery, putting aid workers at risk
  • Israel’s military campaign has severely damaged infrastructure, 70% of people at risk of famine

LONDON: Northern Gaza faces a catastrophe without more assistance, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator said on Friday, with communication between the Israeli military and foreign aid groups still poor and no meaningful improvements happening on the ground.

Jamie McGoldrick, who works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, warned that Gaza was sliding into an ever more precarious situation as Israel’s war against Hamas continues into a sixth month.

He said that according to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report 70 percent of people in the north of the Gaza Strip were “in real danger of slipping into famine.”

In a briefing on the situation, McGoldrick said the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers earlier this month were “not a one off” and that there had been “many incidents of that kind.”

“We work with, interact with, the Israeli Defense Forces and the way we notify and communicate is challenging. We don’t have communications equipment inside Gaza to operate properly, as you would have in … other situation(s),” he said.

“We are working in a very hostile area as humanitarians without the possibility of contacting each other. We don’t have radios, we don’t have mobile networks that work. And so, what we then do is we have to find ways of passing messages back to OCHA and other organizations in Rafah and then relaying out. And if we have a serious security incident, we don’t have a hotline, we don’t have any way of communicating (with) the IDF or facing problems at checkpoint or facing problems en route.

“I think that another thing, I would say, that there’s a real challenge of weapons discipline and the challenge of the behavior of (Israeli) soldiers at checkpoints. And we’ve tried, time and time again, to bring that (to their) attention.”

McGoldrick said that communication with the Israeli military was hampering the flow of aid into Gaza.

“Israel believes that their responsibility ends when they deliver trucks from Kerem Shalom and to the Palestinian side, and I would say that that’s certainly not the case,” he said.

“Their responsibility ends when the aid reaches the civilians in Gaza — we have to have them supportive of that. And that means allowing more facilitation, a lot more routes in and, obviously, to provide security for us as we move. At the moment, we don’t have security.”

He said the toll the war had taken on Gaza’s basic infrastructure was also playing a part in hampering aid deliveries.

“The roads themselves are in very poor condition. We are, as the UN, committed to using all possible routes to scale up humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, but right now we see that there have been a number of commitments made by Israel and a number of concessions,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s been any notable improvement in terms of our ability to move around, certainly not our approval to get convoys going to the north.”

Opening more crossings to supply northern areas of Gaza was an essential step if famine was to be avoided in the area, McGoldrick said.

“All we can do is keep reminding (Israel) and using the pressure from key (UN) member states to remind Israel of the commitments they’ve made and the commitments that we’ve been asking for such a long time.

“That would be an essential lifeline into the north, because that’s where the population, according to the IPC — the recent famine report — that is where the bulk of people who are the most in danger of slipping into famine.

“If we don’t have the chance to expand the delivery of aid into all parts of Gaza, but in particular to the north, then we’re going to face a catastrophe. And the people up there are living such a fragile and precarious existence.”

McGoldrick also noted the difficulty in accessing fresh water and the devastation caused to Gaza’s health sector by Israel’s military campaign.

“People have very much less water than they need. And as a result of that, waterborne diseases due to the lack of safe and clean water and the destruction of the sanitation systems, you know, they’re all bringing about problems for the population living (there),” he said.

“The hospital system there, Al-Shifa, and Nasser, the two big hospitals have been badly damaged or destroyed. And what we have now is three-quarters of the hospitals and most of the primary healthcare clinics are shutting down, leaving only 10 of 36 hospitals functioning.

“We hear of amputations being carried out with(out) anesthesia. You know, miscarriages have increased by a massive number. And I think of all those systems which are not in place, (and) at the soaring rates of infectious diseases — you know, hepatitis C, dehydration, infections and diarrhea. And obviously, given the fact that our supply chain is so weak, we haven’t been able to deliver enough assistance.”