Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel
Banners with pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are seen as people take part in a protest against Netanyahu's government, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 05 March 2024
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Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel
  • Suspects had passed on information to Mossad for money, according to officials

ISTANBUL: Turkiye on Tuesday said it had detained seven people, including a special detective, suspected of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
The operation by Turkiye’s spy agency and Istanbul counter-terror police showed the suspects had passed on information to Mossad for money, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
The raids come after Turkish authorities rounded up 34 people in January suspected of planning abductions and spying for Mossad.
Istanbul prosecutors had then said 12 other suspects remained at large.
Relations between Turkiye and Israel imploded after the outbreak of the war in Gaza nearly five months ago.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned into one of the world’s harshest critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He has compared Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and asked Israel’s Western allies to drop their support for the “state terrorism” being conducted in Gaza.
After the January arrest, Erdogan said the Turkish operation “seriously disturbed” Israel.
“Wait a minute,” he said, referring to the Israeli authorities. “You will get to know Turkiye.”


Lebanon decries violations of its airspace after Iran attack on Israel

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati. (AFP file photo)
Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati. (AFP file photo)
Updated 15 April 2024
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Lebanon decries violations of its airspace after Iran attack on Israel

Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati. (AFP file photo)
  • Caretaker PM Mikati warns ‘we cannot remain silent in the face of Israeli aggressions’
  • Hezbollah claims responsibility for attack on Israeli troops who had crossed border

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, declared on Monday that his country rejected the violation of its airspace by Israel.

“We cannot remain silent in the face of Israeli aggressions,” Mikati said, adding that further violations could not be tolerated.

It was the first official Lebanese statement following the Iranian attacks against Israel on Saturday night, and came as Mikati was addressing a broad ministerial meeting on Monday.

“We call on the international community to carry responsibility for these attacks. We always submit complaints before the (UN) Security Council over this matter,” he said.

Mikati also warned that Israel “is dragging the region into war, and the international community must take note of this and put an end to this war.”

Several Iranian drones flew over Lebanon the night of the attacks against Israel.

Fireballs were seen falling from the sky as the drones were intercepted, and several explosions were heard over Tripoli, northern Bekaa on the Syrian border, the coastal city of Dbayeh, the southern city of Tyre and the capital Beirut.

The Ministry of Public Works announced on the night of the attack “the closure of the Lebanese airspace to all incoming, outgoing, and transit flights over Lebanon, temporarily and as a precaution, from 1 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday.”

Mikati pointed out that “through the contacts we are making, we realize that Lebanon has friends in the world who defend it and make every effort to pressure Israel to stop its aggression and prevent the escalation of confrontations.”

The ministerial meeting recommended to the Cabinet — which will convene in 10 days — “the creation of a committee that would develop a methodology for surveying damage and identifying needs in the southern border region that is subject to Israeli hostilities, in addition to presenting proposals for funding the reconstruction process.”

The meeting called on the relevant ministries to “verify the shortcomings of foodstuffs, supplies, and fuel, as well as the normal and proper availability of the supply chain.”

 Mohammed Abu Haidar, director general of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, said: “Regarding food security, supplies are highly available. Food products are available for (the next) three months. Flour is available for around a month, and a new shipment will arrive in 12 days.”

He added that gasoline and diesel “are available, and there are no issues at the market or supply levels.”

On Monday morning, the southern front witnessed a new development in the course of Hezbollah’s operations against the Israeli military.

Israeli media said four soldiers were injured in an explosion on the border — one of them severely and two moderately.

Hezbollah said that “when a force from the Israeli Golani Brigade crossed the border and reached a site of explosives, one detonated, resulting in deaths and injuries.”

The party said that “after closely monitoring the Israeli forces’ movements, Hezbollah members planted explosive devices in the Tal Ismail area adjacent to the border with Palestine and detonated them when the soldiers reached them.”

Correspondents in the border region said Tal Ismail — located between Dhayra and Alma Al-Shaab — “is a geographically exposed area controlled by the Israeli Army by fire, visibility, and other means of examination.”

Israeli military radio confirmed the explosion, saying it "targeted a force from the Golani unit and the Yahalom engineering unit while they were working on the fence in the western region on the border with Lebanon.”

It said that the explosion took place inside Lebanese territory.

An Israeli Army spokesperson said an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded during an operation in the border area in the north of the country.

Two Israeli soldiers suffered moderate injuries, and an explosion of unknown origin lightly wounded another. The spokesperson added that the incident is being investigated.

Israeli attacks on the border area escalated Monday morning, and warplanes carried out five raids on the outskirts of the towns of Dhayra, Naqoura, and Alma Al-Shaab.

The assault led to the road between Alma Al-Shaab and Dhayra being cut off as a result of a huge crater, which was later filled by the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL.

Israeli warplanes carried out mock raids over villages in the Tyre district and along the coast.

On Sunday night, an Israeli airstrike on a house in the town of Seddiqine destroyed it and caused serious material damage to dozens of surrounding buildings. Nine people were injured in the blast.

 

 


Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran

Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran
Updated 15 April 2024
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Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran

Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran
  • Former PM says ‘Jewish terrorist violence’ against Palestinians in West Bank was ‘out of control’ under Netanyahu
  • Israeli settlers torched Palestinian homes, cars over weekend in West Bank, where violence has soared since Oct. 7

JERUSALEM: Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of leading to a “total loss of Israeli deterrence” in the wake of an unprecedented Iranian attack.
In a scathing criticism posted on X, former premier Lapid also said that under Netanyahu, “Jewish terrorist violence” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was “out of control.”
Netanyahu, who returned to power in late 2022 at the helm of a coalition with far-right parties, has brought “heaps of destruction from Beeri to Kiryat Shmona,” Lapid said, calling for early elections.
Beeri, a kibbutz community near the Gaza border, came under attack when Hamas militants stormed the area on October 7, triggering the ongoing war, while the northern town of Kiryat Shmona has suffered during months of cross-border fire between Israeli forces and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Lapid’s remarks came two days after Iran — which backs both Hamas and Hezbollah — launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus.
Israel, the United States and other allies intercepted nearly all launches in the late Saturday aerial attack — the first direct Iranian military action against arch foe Israel.
Netanyahu’s cabinet has weighed Israel’s response to the Iranian attack, but the prime minister has not made any public comments.
In the West Bank, where violence has soared since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Israeli settlers torched Palestinian homes and cars over the weekend, killing at least two people, after an Israeli teen was “murdered in a suspected terrorist attack,” according to the Israeli military.
Pointing to surging “terrorist” settler attacks, Lapid said: “If we don’t move this government, it will bring destruction upon us.”
The government, which includes hard-line settlers, has prioritized Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Netanyahu has faced in recent months mass protests over the fate of hostages held in Gaza and pressure from a resurgent anti-government movement.
The prime minister’s Likud party responded to Lapid in a statement stressing Netanyahu’s part in “the global campaign” to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons — which Tehran denies it is seeking.


US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days

US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days
Updated 15 April 2024
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US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days

US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days
  • Iran’s ‘continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behavior endangers regional stability and safety of US and coalition forces,’ CENTCOM says
  • Houthi media said on Sunday that the US and UK had launched strikes on an area under their control in the southern province of Taiz

AL-MUKALLA: More than 90 ballistic missiles and drones fired by Iran and the Houthis in Yemen at Israel and international shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden were intercepted by US military and navy forces, supported by ships from European Command, on Saturday and Sunday, according to two US military statements on Monday.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said in a statement on Monday afternoon that its troops destroyed four drones fired by the Houthis from controlled areas in Yemen between 4:00 a.m. and 9:15 p.m. on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Houthis fired one anti-ship ballistic missile against US Navy and commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.

“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships,” CENTCOM said.

In a separate statement issued early on Monday, CENTCOM stated that its forces, backed by US European Command ships, destroyed more than 80 drones and at least six ballistic missiles launched by Iran and the Houthis in Yemen at Israel on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The intercepted volley of drones and missiles includes a ballistic missile destroyed on its launcher vehicles, as well as seven drones destroyed in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen before launch.

“Iran’s continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behavior endangers regional stability and the safety of US and coalition forces,” CENTCOM said.

“CENTCOM remains postured to support Israel’s defense against these dangerous actions by Iran. We will continue to work with all our regional partners to increase regional security,” the military said in the second statement.

Iran blasted hundreds of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones toward Israel on Saturday night in retaliation for a purported Israeli airstrike in Damascus that killed senior Revolutionary Guards leaders.

The Houthis have not formally confirmed their participation in Iran’s retaliatory strike, despite reports from the US Central Command that missiles and drones launched by the Yemeni militia at Israel were intercepted.

Ambrey, a UK marine security company, also said that the Houthis launched drones at Israel during the Iran strike.

Since November, the Houthis have shot hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones toward Israel and ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden, claiming that their acts are in support of the Palestinian people.

The Houthis claim that they want to put an end to Israel’s heavy shelling of the Palestinian Gaza Strip while also allowing humanitarian aid to reach the territory. 

The US and UK have launched strikes against Houthi sites in Yemen since mid-January, attempting to force the Yemeni group to cease their attacks on ships.

Houthi media said on Sunday that the US and UK had launched strikes on an area under their control in the southern province of Taiz.

Meanwhile, deputy foreign minister Hussein Al-Ezzi has threatened to strike a recently built airport in the Red Sea town of Mokha to prevent what he calls “hostile” countries, such as the US as well as Israel, from using the airport as a platform for operations against them.

“We will not allow any Americans, Israelis or hostile parties to use Mokha Airport,” Al-Ezzi said on X. 

Yemen’s Aviation and Metrology Authority in Aden announced earlier this month that the Mokha Airport in Taiz province was ready for flights into and out of Yemen. 

Sadiq Dwaid, a spokesman for the National Resistance Forces, a military unit commanded by Presidential Leadership Council member Tareq Saleh, refuted the Houthi charges that the airport was open to Americans and Israelis.

“Mokha Airport is a civilian airport built to serve civilians and is not utilized for military operations. Any attempts to target the airport will be met with severe retribution,” Dwaid said on X.


Iraqi leader calls for restraint in Middle East during Washington visit

US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15.
US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15.
Updated 26 min 38 sec ago
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Iraqi leader calls for restraint in Middle East during Washington visit

US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15.
  • “We encourage all the efforts of stopping the expansion of the area of conflict, especially the latest development,” Sudani said
  • The meetings come as US ally Israel weighs its response to Iran’s missile and drone attack

WASHINGTON: Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani called for restraint in the Middle East on Monday during talks in Washington as tensions soar between Iran and Israel after Tehran’s weekend strikes.
“We encourage all the efforts of stopping the expansion of the area of conflict, especially the latest development,” Sudani said at the White House at the start of a meeting with President Joe Biden.
The meetings come as US ally Israel weighs its response to Iran’s missile and drone attack, with the United States and Europe urging restraint.
Iraq is a rare ally of both Washington and Tehran. Iraqi airspace was a main route for Iran’s unprecedented drone and ballistic missile attack on Israel, and Iraqi officials say Iran informed them, as well as other countries in the region, ahead of the attack.
Sudani is leading a delegation that is meeting officials across Washington on Monday, including Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“In the spirit of partnership our views may be divergent about what’s happening in the region,” Sudani said through a translator as he sat next to Biden in the Oval Office.
“But we agree certainly about the international law, the international humanitarian law and the responsibility to protect and the law of war, and we reject any repression against the civilians, especially women and children, and we encourage the commitment about respecting international norms and diplomatic missions.”
Biden said Washington was committed to Israel’s security and to bringing an end to fighting in Gaza.
“We’re committed to a ceasefire that will bring the hostages home and preventing conflict from spreading beyond what it already has,” Biden said.
“The partnership between the United States and Iraq is critical,” he added, noting efforts against Daesh and the two nations’ critical strategic agreement.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim, who co-chaired a meeting of the US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Iraq was concerned about its region being “dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety.”
“And therefore we call on all parties for self restraint and respect the rules of diplomatic works and also international laws,” he said.
US and other Western officials have welcomed economic reform plans put forward by Sudani, but concerns remain over the influence of Iran-backed groups. Shiite Muslim armed groups have engaged in tit-for-tat attacks on US forces linked to Israel’s war in Gaza.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein and withdrew in 2011, only for troops to return in 2014 to help fight Daesh after the militant group overran large parts of the country.
Washington and Baghdad are in talks over ending the US-led military coalition in the country, although the Higher Coordinating Committee is tasked with discussing other aspects of the relationship, including economic ties.
Blinken, who reiterated that Washington does not want to see the regional conflict swell, said the meetings would focus on issues including energy security, democracy, the rule of law, climate and water, and noted US private sector interest, especially in Iraq’s energy sector.
“Through these efforts we look forward to helping advance the prime minister’s affirmative agenda, and seeing Iraq succeed,” Blinken said.


Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren

Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren
Updated 15 April 2024
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Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren

Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren
  • Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit
  • Heavy rains also were expected over Dubai in the neighboring UAE and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula

DUBAI: Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Oman on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, killing at least 17 people as rescuers searched for survivors, authorities said Monday. In one incident, a group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken, authorities said.
Heavy rains also were expected over Dubai in the neighboring United Arab Emirates and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula.
Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit. The Royal Oman Police and the Omani military deployed to the province to transport citizens out of flooded areas, Oman News Agency reported.
Heavy rainfall often causes flash flooding in the sultanate, drawing the curious from their homes to nearby dry riverbeds, known in Arabic as “wadi.” In flooding, they can quickly fill and wash away people and vehicles.
In Dubai, authorities expected heavy rains to begin Monday night and last into Tuesday morning. The Emirates’ National Center of Meteorology warned of thunder, lightning, rain and possibly hail, with winds reaching up to 70 kph (43 mph). Government schools announced they would hold classes remotely Tuesday and Wednesday.