Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of blocking aid to Palestinians in violation of a UN court order

Palestinians evacuate the body of a boy from the rubble of a house destroyed in an overnight Israeli air strike in east Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on February 26, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinians evacuate the body of a boy from the rubble of a house destroyed in an overnight Israeli air strike in east Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on February 26, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 27 February 2024
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Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of blocking aid to Palestinians in violation of a UN court order

Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of blocking aid to Palestinians in violation of a UN court order
  • Israel killed 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh submitted his government’s resignation, and President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to appoint technocrats in line with US demands for internal reform

RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Israel has failed to comply with an order by the United Nations’ top court to provide urgently needed aid to desperate people in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said Monday, a month after a landmark ruling in The Hague ordered Israel to moderate its war.
In a preliminary response to a South African petition accusing Israel of genocide, the UN’s top court ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in the tiny Palestinian enclave. It stopped short of ordering an end to the military offensive that has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.
Israel denies the charges against it, saying it is fighting in self-defense.




A donkey-pulled car passes in front of the Al-Faruq mosque, levelled by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on a foggy day on February 25, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)

Nearly five months into the war, preparations are underway for Israel to expand its ground operation into Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town along the border with Egypt, where 1.4 million Palestinians have sought safety.
Early Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the army had presented to the War Cabinet its operational plan for Rafah as well as plans to evacuate civilians from the battle zones. It gave no further details.
The situation in Rafah has sparked global concern. Israel’s allies have warned that it must protect civilians in its battle against the Hamas militant group.




Palestinians visit a cemetery, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, February 26, 2024. (REUTERS)

Also Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh submitted his government’s resignation, and President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to appoint technocrats in line with US demands for internal reform. The US has called for a revitalized Palestinian Authority to govern postwar Gaza ahead of eventual statehood — a scenario rejected by Israel.
In its Jan. 26 ruling, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to follow six provisional measures, including taking “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance” to Gaza.
Israel also must submit a report on what it is doing to adhere to the measures within a month. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said late Monday that it has filed such a report. It declined to share it or discuss its contents.




People walk in front of the Al-Faruk mosque, levelled by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 25, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)

Israel said 245 trucks of aid entered Gaza on Sunday. That’s less than half the amount that entered daily before the war.
Human Rights Watch, citing UN figures, noted a 30 percent drop in the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza in the weeks following the court’s ruling. It said that between Jan. 27 and Feb. 21, the daily average of trucks entering was 93, compared to 147 trucks a day in the three weeks before the ruling. The daily average dropped to 57, between Feb. 9 and 21, the figures showed.
The rights group said Israel was not adequately facilitating fuel deliveries to hard-hit northern Gaza and blamed Israel for blocking aid from reaching the north, where the World Food Program said last week it was forced to suspend aid deliveries.
“The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
The Association of International Development Agencies, a coalition of over 70 humanitarian organizations working in Gaza and the West Bank, said almost no aid had reached areas in Gaza north of Rafah since the court’s ruling.
Israel denies it is restricting the entry of aid and has instead blamed humanitarian organizations operating in Gaza, saying large aid shipments sit idle on the Palestinian side of the main crossing. The UN says it can’t always reach the crossing because it is at times too dangerous.
In some cases, crowds of desperate Palestinians have surrounded delivery trucks and stripped them of supplies. The UN has called on Israel to open more crossings, including in the north, and to improve the process.
Netanyahu’s office said that the War Cabinet had approved a plan to deliver humanitarian aid safely into Gaza in a way that would “prevent the cases of looting.” It did not disclose further details.
The war, launched after Hamas-led militants rampaged across southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking roughly 250 people hostage, has caused vast devastation in Gaza.
Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry which does not distinguish in its count between fighters and noncombatants. Israel says it has killed 10,000 militants, without providing evidence.
Fighting has flattened large swaths of Gaza’s urban landscape, displacing about 80 percent of the territory’s 2.3 million people, who have crammed into increasingly smaller spaces looking for elusive safety.
The crisis has pushed a quarter of the population toward starvation and raised fears of imminent famine, especially in the northern part of Gaza, the first focus of Israel’s ground invasion. Starving residents have been forced to eat animal fodder and search for food in demolished buildings.
“I wish death for the children because I cannot get them bread. I cannot feed them. I cannot feed my own children!” Naim Abouseido yelled as he waited for aid in Gaza City. “What did we do to deserve this?”
Bushra Khalidi with UK aid organization Oxfam told The Associated Press that it had verified reports that children have died of starvation in the north in recent weeks, which she said indicated aid was not being scaled up despite the court ruling.
Aid groups say deliveries also continue to be hobbled by security issues. The French aid groups Médecins du Monde and Doctors Without Borders each said that their facilities were struck by Israeli forces in the weeks following the court order.
 

 


How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians

How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians
Updated 23 sec ago
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How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians

How Ramadan, Eid celebrations helped Filipinos nurture closer ties with Palestinians
  • Iftar and Eid initiatives with Palestinian evacuees from Gaza attracted hundreds of Filipino Muslims and non-Muslims
  • 170 Filipino Palestinians and their closest family members were evacuated from Gaza by the Philippine government

MANILA: For Carmelita Jalova, this year’s Ramadan was the first in decades observed away from Palestine.

After marrying a Palestinian man, Jalova moved from the Philippines to her new family’s home in Gaza and had been living there ever since — until Israel’s deadly invasion forced her to leave.

Jalova was among 170 Filipino Palestinians evacuated from Gaza by the Philippine government in November.

For most of them, Eid celebrations this week were the first time they had spent the main Muslim holiday away from extended families and friends.

“Our first Ramadan here in the Philippines after almost 30 years is so different than what it was in Palestine,” Jalova said, as she remembered the scent of authentic traditional pastry that filled her neighborhood as everyone prepared for Eid, the busy streets of Gaza as people would gather for evening prayers, and “the smiles and happy faces, full of hope that their prayers and fasting will be answered by Allah.”

Following some initial help from the Philippine government, most of the evacuees after their arrival were left to their own devices until civil society groups stepped in.

One such group was the Moro-Palestinian Cooperation Team, which has been helping them with accommodation and finding means of subsistence in the Philippines. Among the initiatives were a pop-up kitchen that introduced Filipinos to traditional Palestinian cuisine during Ramadan, and participation in a halal food bazaar in the Quezon City Memorial Circle on Eid.

For Jalova and her children, it was their first time selling home-cooked food.

“They were so amazed during the bazaar, maybe because we ran out of food in such a very short time,” she said. “It gives them the confidence to go on ... acceptance of what we are dealing (with) right now.”

The culinary initiatives drew hundreds of Filipinos curious to taste iconic dishes from Palestine and meet the refugees in person. Their presence and the support of volunteers was what made this year’s holy month unforgettable for Jalova and her family.

“So thankful that all of them became a part of our Ramadan,” she said. “(It’s) so meaningful and unforgettable.”

While many in Gaza have lost all their relatives as Israeli ground and air attacks have in the past six months killed at least 33,600 people, the evacuated Filipinos and their closest Palestinian family members were grateful they were together and alive.

Mariam Lacson, whose family lives in Little Gaza, sees this Ramadan as a blessing as those in the community can still spend time with their loved ones.

“Maybe Allah has a better plan for us, that’s why we are here in the Philippines,” said Lacson, whose closest Palestinian family found refuge in her native country.

“(We have a) place to stay, food on our table. We feel safe, especially since we have brothers and sisters around us, who are tirelessly there for us.”

One of the people she had in mind was Kamilah Dimaporo Manala-o, the co-founder of the Moro-Palestinian Cooperation Team.

Since the arrival of Gaza evacuees, Manala-o’s family has been involved in building and supporting their community, with interactions especially frequent and close during the holy fasting month.

“We spent our Ramadan with the Filipino Palestinian refugees that came from Gaza. It has been very eventful because of them and also very rewarding,” Manala-o told Arab News.

“During the last night of Ramadan, the Palestinian fathers gave us a heartwarming speech about how thankful they are, that we have become family to them and have made it easier for them. This Ramadan has been the most meaningful one for us. And their words made everything worth it.”

Like Manala-o and her team, other Filipinos, too, have stepped up to help the refugees settle in the Philippines and ensure they enjoy meaningful Eid celebrations.

Filipino Muslim doctor Naheeda Mustofa and her husband Mustofa Mardjuki, who serves as the imam of the Indonesian embassy in Manila, hosted 37 refugees at her clinical facility’s compound at the Islamic Studies, Call and Guidance of the Philippines in Cavite.

While most of the refugees have since moved on to other places, Mustofa remains in touch with them and has employed some at her clinic.

Her family would usually travel to Indonesia to observe Eid Al-Fitr, but this time they decided to stay and host special celebrations that were accompanied by rituals for three new babies that were born to the refugees.

“We were really happy to celebrate the three babies ... we used to go home to south Sumatra to celebrate Eid with my husband’s relatives, but we put this on hold,” she said.

“We are not rich at all, but Allah is making us feel rich with the tasks we are able to take up.”


British Muslim children raise more than $132,000 during Ramadan campaign for displaced families in Gaza, Yemen

British Muslim children raise more than $132,000 during Ramadan campaign for displaced families in Gaza, Yemen
Updated 28 min 14 sec ago
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British Muslim children raise more than $132,000 during Ramadan campaign for displaced families in Gaza, Yemen

British Muslim children raise more than $132,000 during Ramadan campaign for displaced families in Gaza, Yemen

LONDON: British Muslim children on a cooking campaign during Ramadan have raised more than £106,000 ($132,000) to help displaced families and children in Palestine and Yemen.

The humanitarian campaign, Ramadan Kids, was first launched four years ago by then 10-year-old Zaavier Khan from East London.

This year, the campaign involved 23 children touring restaurants across the UK capital and learning how to cook an array of dishes.

“It was just a grassroots initiative that started in my kitchen because my son was supposed to embark on his journey of Ramadan, and as a British Muslim, I thought I wanted to really mark this occasion for him,” his mother, Tahreem Noor, told Arab News.

Khan began the campaign on his own during Ramadan 2021 to collect £5,000 for UK food parcels. The following year he raised £10,000 with the help of a handful of children, and last year he began touring restaurants and homes, and cooked with a 15-member squad, raising more than £42,000.

“Every year since then, we’ve done the Ramadan Kids campaign (and) every year the team has grown by a few children,” she added.

This year, the children, aged between four and 13, visited four restaurants. They also filmed their personal cooking at home and uploaded the footage to social media, calling on donors to help fund them via an online donation link.

“They were cooking in their own kitchens and sending us videos for us to upload to promote the concept of Ramadan Kids, but at the same time, fundraising for their own sub links as well,” Noor said.

“This year, we decided to give all the kids that took part in the campaign a Ramadan Kids pack that had lots of Islamic resources,” she added.

The children also received a 30-day journal to learn about the Muslim religion throughout the month.

The pack included religious educational material, Eid decorations and balloons, and customized pens and hoodies, which the children wore at the Ramadan Kids-related events that were held across the month.

As part of the fundraising campaign, the children visited Indian restaurant Saffron Street — the campaign’s regular annual sponsor for the last four years. They “cooked up a storm with chef Nitesh,” Noor said.

Pakistani theme-based cafe Naanstaap, Moroccan steakhouse HS & Co. and US fast food chain The Halal Guys also hosted the group.

Among the dishes the children learned to make this year were marinated chicken, grilled chicken burgers, and naans with cheese and chicken filling.

“It was a really fun hands-on experience for the children, because, obviously, naan is not something that they will usually make at home because it requires a specialist oven,” Noor said.

“At The Halal Guys, they were taught how the gyro is cooked and were shown how to plate up a gyro with hummus and the special Halal Guys rice and sauces,” she added.

The campaign also held its third date decorating workshop, with about 100 children registering to stuff, cover and sprinkle dates with various ingredients and chocolates, according to their taste and liking.

Noor said that she has noticed an increase in children’s fundraising initiatives over the past four years, largely due to media exposure, which has “really heightened the concept of charity among the youth now, which is amazing.”

Khan said that he enjoyed getting to learn about the history of the four restaurants and being taught how to cook in the kitchens.

This year, the Ramadan Kids team was “much bigger” as he became a Ramadan teen, celebrating his 13th birthday.

“I felt like a big brother to 20 children,” he said.

“As Ramadan Kids progresses, I feel like we should involve more kids from all over England, cooking food in their own houses and (holding) much bigger events to influence children to make a change during the holy month of Ramadan,” Khan added.

For the third consecutive year, the campaign partnered with local mental health and bereavement charity Supporting Humanity, which sponsored the costs of fundraising kits and goodie bags “to encourage (religious-based) activity,” said Sumaiya Khoda, a trustee at the charity.

Supporting Humanity also also provided the children with marketing services and a platform to raise money via its Givebrite page, Khoda added.

The charity teamed up with delivery partners on the ground via UK-based charities Save One Life, which supports the most vulnerable people in Gaza, and Help Yateem, to support orphans in Yemen, she said.

As part of its Ramadan fundraising initiatives, Supporting Humanity also held its second annual full-day Ramadan street festival, featuring a number of stall holders and vendors from the Muslim community.

Prominent East London and Essex-based restaurants as well as bakers sponsored a “huge food sale” at the event, Khoda said.

An auction was held on the sidelines of the festival selling off art and items signed by major Premier League football teams, such as Manchester United, Liverpool and West Ham United, as well as England and international cricket players, she added.


Death toll rises to six in Sydney shopping center attack: police

Death toll rises to six in Sydney shopping center attack: police
Updated 13 April 2024
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Death toll rises to six in Sydney shopping center attack: police

Death toll rises to six in Sydney shopping center attack: police
  • Multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was shot dead by a policewoman at the scene

SYDNEY: The number of people killed by a knife-wielding assailant in a Sydney shopping center Saturday has climbed to six, police said.

“One last person died at hospital,” a New South Wales police spokesman said. The attacker was shot dead at the scene by a senior policewoman.

Multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was shot dead by a policewoman at the scene.

The incident occurred at the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction mall complex, which was packed with Saturday afternoon shoppers.

“I’m advised that there are five victims who are now deceased as a result of the actions of this offender,” said New South Wales police assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke.

The motive was not immediately clear, but Cooke said “terrorism” could not be ruled out at this stage.

“I do not know at this stage who he is. You would understand this is quite raw. Inquiries are very new and we are continuing to make attempts to identify the offender in this matter,” said Cooke.

A New South Wales Ambulance spokesperson said that eight patients were taken to various hospitals across Sydney, including a young child who was taken to the city’s Children’s Hospital.

“They all have traumatic injuries,” the official said.

Security camera footage broadcast by local media showed a man wearing an Australian rugby league jersey running around the shopping center with a large knife and injured people lying lifeless on the floor.

Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic, with shoppers scrambling to safety and police trying to secure the area.

Several people took shelter in shops as they tried to protect themselves and their families.

Pranjul Bokaria had just finished up work and was doing some shopping when the stabbing occurred.

She ended up running to a nearby shop and taking shelter in a break room.

“It was scary, there are some people who were emotionally vulnerable and crying,” she said.

She escaped using an emergency exit with other shoppers and staff, which took them to a back street.

She described a scene of “chaos,” with people running, and police swarming the area.

“I am alive and grateful,” she said.

Reece Colmenares was on her way to the gym when she saw “people running and screaming” past her.

She said the people were saying someone had been stabbed so she ran into a nearby hardware shop with 10 to 12 other people

“They took us down [to a room] and closed the shop,” she said.

“It’s scary, there are little children and elderly and people in wheelchairs everywhere.”

As night fell, dozens of police and ambulances were still outside the shopping complex, with stretchers ready to take people to nearby hospitals.

The sound of police sirens and helicopters filled the air.

The mall has been locked down and police have urged people to avoid the area.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese echoed Australians’ sadness and shock at the attack.

“Tragically, multiple casualties have been reported and the first thoughts of all Australians are with those affected and their loved ones,” he wrote on social media platform X.

Such attacks are virtually unheard of in Australia, which has relatively low rates of violent crime.


Unidentified gunmen kill nine passengers in Pakistan’s restive southwest

Unidentified gunmen kill nine passengers in Pakistan’s restive southwest
Updated 13 April 2024
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Unidentified gunmen kill nine passengers in Pakistan’s restive southwest

Unidentified gunmen kill nine passengers in Pakistan’s restive southwest

QUETTA: A group of unidentified gunmen stopped a passenger bus traveling from Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, to Taftan, a town bordering Iran, and killed nine passengers from Punjab province after checking the ID cards of people onboard in southwestern Pakistan, confirmed a senior police official on Saturday.

The incident happened on Friday night near the mountainous Nushki district of Balochistan province which has long been the scene of an insurgency by separatists fighting for independence.

While no group has claimed responsibility of the attack, Baloch nationalists have long complained of political marginalization and economic exploitation, accusing the Pakistani government and Punjab province of monopolizing profits from Balochistan’s rich natural resources.

Pakistani administrations have denied such allegations in the past, pointing out they have launched several development initiatives in the province to improve the lives of the residents of Balochistan.

Speaking to Arab News, a senior police official in Nushki said the armed men intercepted a passenger bus at the Quetta-Taftan Highway.

“They off-boarded nine passengers after checking their ID card near Sultan Charahi, and took them away to the nearby mountains before shooting them from point-blank range,” Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Allah Bukhsh said. “Police and law enforcement agencies pursued the terrorists who fired RPG [rocket-propelled grenades] on security forces and escaped. But hunt for these terrorists is underway.”

Baloch separatists have also targeted Punjabi laborers working in the province in the past. At least 10 of them had been killed in Balochistan’s Turbat district during two separate attacks last year in October.

A key armed separatist faction, Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has intensified attacks in the region over the past two months following the February 8 general elections in Pakistan. The group launched coordinated attacks on the country’s key strategic installations in Gwadar and Kech districts during this period.

“Earlier on Friday, the terrorists also attacked a vehicle driven by the brother of an elected member of the provincial assembly from Nushki, Ghulam Dastagir Badini, and busted his vehicle’s tire,” the police officer added. “The vehicle fell down into a ditch killing one man and injuring four others.”

Chief Minister Balochistan Sarfaraz Bugti condemned the killings of passengers and asked law enforcement agencies to pursue people involved in the incident.

“We will not forgive these terrorists who are enemies of Pakistan and seek to sabotage peace in Balochistan,” he said in an official statement released by his office.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Pakistan


Biden expecting Iranian attack on Israel ‘sooner than later,’ tells Tehran ‘don’t’

Biden expecting Iranian attack on Israel ‘sooner than later,’ tells Tehran ‘don’t’
Updated 13 April 2024
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Biden expecting Iranian attack on Israel ‘sooner than later,’ tells Tehran ‘don’t’

Biden expecting Iranian attack on Israel ‘sooner than later,’ tells Tehran ‘don’t’
  • White House said it warned Iran to not use attack as pretext to escalate further in region
  • US President underscored Washington’s commitment to defend Israel

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Friday said he expected Iran to attack Israel “sooner, rather than later,” and warned Tehran not to proceed.
Asked by reporters about his message to Iran, Biden said simply, “Don’t,” and he underscored Washington’s commitment to defend Israel.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” he said.
Biden said he would not divulge secure information, but said his expectation was that an attack could come “sooner, rather than later.”
Earlier, White House spokesperson John Kirby said the reportedly imminent attack by Iran on Israel was a real and viable threat, but gave no details about any possible timing.
Kirby said the United States was looking at its own force posture in the region in light or Tehran’s threat and was watching the situation very closely.

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