Israeli forces shoot dead 2 ‘militants’ in West Bank, teenager in Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot dead 2 ‘militants’ in West Bank, teenager in Jerusalem
Relatives surround the body of Mahmud Abu Alheja, one of the two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Jenin, occupied West Bank, before their funeral on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2024
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Israeli forces shoot dead 2 ‘militants’ in West Bank, teenager in Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot dead 2 ‘militants’ in West Bank, teenager in Jerusalem
  • Bodies draped in Hamas flags buried

JENIN: Two Palestinians believed to be Hamas militants were shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank on Wednesday, local sources said, as the army confirmed soldiers had fired at “armed suspects” in the occupied territory.

The incident was the latest in a spate of killings in the West Bank, which has seen a surge in violence since the Israel-Hamas war began in the Gaza Strip in October.

The killings took place before dawn on the compound of the government hospital in Jenin city, in the north of the West Bank, said the hospital’s director, Wissam Bakr.

“It is true that shots were fired at a group of young men” near the entrance to the emergency department, “and there were no confrontations or anything,” he said.

“Snipers started shooting at them after which the two men entered the emergency department where they were martyred.”

Bakr added that four other people were injured in the incident.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa identified the two men as Mahmud Abu Alheja and Rabi Alnawrasi.

Asked about the reported deaths, the Israeli military said soldiers “fired toward armed suspects identified in the area” and that “hits were identified,” but did not confirm fatalities or the exact location of the incident.

It described the operation as “counterterrorism activity.”

“Soldiers apprehended a wanted suspect, in addition to uncovering and dismantling explosive devices that were planted underneath roads in order to attack the forces,” it said.

Later on Wednesday dozens of mourners gathered for the funeral of the two men in the adjacent Jenin refugee camp.

Media footage showed that the bodies, draped in green flags of Palestinian militant group Hamas and with headbands of its armed wing, were taken to a mosque where mourners offered prayers.

The bodies were later buried at a cemetery.

Their deaths followed the killing of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy from a refugee camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem who was shot dead by Israeli forces on Tuesday.

The Israeli police did not confirm the death but said violent riots broke out in the camp for the second consecutive night and that during the unrest, a single shot was fired by an officer toward a suspect “who endangered the forces while firing aerial fireworks in their direction.”

“The suspect was apprehended, arrested, and transferred for medical treatment,” the statement said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it treated five wounded by Israeli fire.

Jenin has been the focus of repeated Israeli military raids in recent years, which have often led to clashes with Palestinian militants.

In January, Israeli security agents disguised as medics raided the city’s Ibn Sina Hospital and shot dead three Palestinian militants, who the army said belonged to a “Hamas terrorist cell.”

Walid Jalama, a relative who attended the funeral, said: “The enemy has no red lines. It has surpassed all limits. Previously it raided the Ibn Sina Hospital and assassinated three martyrs there ... Today, it pursued these young men and killed them at the government hospital.”

The Jenin refugee camp adjacent to the city is also one of the most crowded and impoverished in the West Bank and has become a hub of militant activity in recent years.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 430 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops and settlers since the unprecedented attack by Gaza-based Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Thousands of others have been arrested.

Meanwhile, a second vessel being loaded with aid for Gaza is currently docked at Larnaca Port and is preparing to depart, Cyprus’ foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The ship will begin its journey to Gaza once the ship operated by the Spanish charity Open Arms, which is now at sea, reaches the territory in the next few days, offloads and distributes its 200 tonnes of food, the minister said.

Minister Constantinos Kombos said the larger vessel will carry more aid than the Open Arms ship, but he wouldn’t say when it would depart exactly. He said that depends on whether all goes smoothly with the delivery of the Open Arms shipment and on weather conditions.

The vessel will tow a barge loaded with aid as well as carrying some in its internal bays. It will offload at the same jetty being built by the US charity World Central Kitchen and where the Open Arms ship will offload.

* With Reuters, AFP and AP


Ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in fatal assault sinks in Red Sea in second-such sinking

Ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in fatal assault sinks in Red Sea in second-such sinking
Updated 19 June 2024
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Ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in fatal assault sinks in Red Sea in second-such sinking

Ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in fatal assault sinks in Red Sea in second-such sinking
  • The Tutor came under attack about a week ago by a bomb-carrying Houthi drone boat in the Red Sea

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels believed to have killed one mariner on board, authorities said early Wednesday, the second-such ship to be sunk in the rebel campaign.
The sinking of the Tutor in the Red Sea marks what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign targeting shipping through the vital maritime corridor over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
The attack comes despite a monthslong US-led campaign in the region that has seen the Navy face its most-intense maritime fighting since World War II, with near-daily attacks targeting commercial vessels and warship.
The Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned-and-operated Tutor sank in the Red Sea, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said in a warning to sailors in the region.
“Military authorities report maritime debris and oil sighted in the last reported location,” the UKMTO said. “The vessel is believed to have sunk.”
The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the sinking. The US military as well did not immediately acknowledge the sinking and did not respond to requests for comment.
The Tutor came under attack about a week ago by a bomb-carrying Houthi drone boat in the Red Sea. John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said Monday that the attack killed “a crew member who hailed from the Philippines.” The Philippines has yet to acknowledge the death, but the man who had been aboard the Tutor has been missing for over a week in the Red Sea, which faces intense summertime heat.
The use of a boat loaded with explosives raised the specter of 2000’s USS Cole attack, a suicide assault by Al-Qaeda on the warship when it was at port in Aden, killing 17 on board. The Cole is now part of a US Navy operation led by the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea to try and halt the Houthi attacks, though the rebels continue their assaults.
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killing four sailors. They’ve seized one vessel and sunk two since November, according to the US Maritime Administration. A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.
In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carried a load of fertilizer sank in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.
The Houthis have maintained their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the US or the UK However, many of the ships they’ve attacked have little or no connection to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The war in Gaza has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
A recent report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency acknowledged container shipping through Red Sea has declined by 90 percent since December over the attacks. As much as 15 percent of the world’s maritime traffic flows through that corridor.

 


UN says lawlessness in Gaza impedes aid via Kerem Shalom despite Israel’s military pause

UN says lawlessness in Gaza impedes aid via Kerem Shalom despite Israel’s military pause
Updated 19 June 2024
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UN says lawlessness in Gaza impedes aid via Kerem Shalom despite Israel’s military pause

UN says lawlessness in Gaza impedes aid via Kerem Shalom despite Israel’s military pause
  • The UN welcomed the move, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Tuesday

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations said on Tuesday it has been unable to distribute aid in the Gaza Strip from the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing because of lawlessness and panic among hungry people in the area, despite Israel’s daytime pause in military activity.
Israel’s military said on Sunday there would be a daily pause in its attacks from 0500 GMT until 1600 GMT until further notice along the road that leads from Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah Al-Din Road and northwards in Gaza.
The UN welcomed the move, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Tuesday, but added that “this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need.” He said the area between Kerem Shalom and the Salah Al-Din road was very dangerous.
“Fighting is not the only reason for being unable to pick up aid ... The lack of any police or rule of law in the area makes it very dangerous to move goods there,” he said.
“But we are ready to engage with all parties to ensure that aid reaches people in Gaza, and we’ll continue to work with the authorities and with security forces, trying to see what can be done to have security conditions,” Haq said.
“When aid gets to a place, people are starving, and they’re worried that this may be the last food that they see,” he said. “They have to be assured that there’s going to be a regular flow of goods so that there’s not a panic when we get to the area.”
The United Nations and aid groups have long complained of the dangers and obstacles to getting aid in and distributing it throughout Gaza, where the UN had warned a famine is looming.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began more than eight months ago, aid for 2.3 million Palestinians has primarily entered through two crossings into southern Gaza — the Rafah crossing from Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel.
But deliveries were disrupted when Israel stepped up its military operations in Rafah last month with the stated aim of routing remaining units of Hamas fighters. Egypt closed the Rafah crossing due to the threat posed to humanitarian work and has routed a backlog of aid and fuel via Kerem Shalom.
Haq said on Tuesday that the Rafah crossing remained closed and there was limited access via Kerem Shalom. In Gaza’s north, he said the Erez crossing was not accessible due to an escalation of fighting, while the West Erez and Zikim crossings were operational.


Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew

Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew
Updated 18 June 2024
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Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew

Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew
  • Galaxy Leader management: ‘There is nothing to be gained by the Houthis in keeping the 25 crew members’
  • Houthis hold captive the Bulgarian ship master and chief officer, along with 17 Filipinos and other sailors from Ukraine, Mexico and Romania

Managers of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship on Tuesday renewed calls for the release of the vessel’s 25 crew being held by Yemen’s Houthi militants for seven months.
The militants used helicopters to attack the Bahamas-flagged ship on Nov. 19. They captured the Bulgarian ship master and chief officer, along with 17 Filipinos and other sailors from Ukraine, Mexico and Romania, the ship managers said.
“There is nothing to be gained by the Houthis in keeping the 25 crew members,” said the ship managers, who requested that they be released to their families without further delay.
The Houthis have used drones and missiles to assault ships in the Red Sea, the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war. Since then, they have sunk one ship, seized another vessel and killed three seafarers in separate attacks.
The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents ship owners, has called the Houthi attacks “unacceptable acts of aggression which threaten the lives of innocent seafarers and the safety of merchant shipping.”
Last week, Houthis notched up direct strikes on two ships — the Liberan-flagged Tutor coal carrier and Palau-flagged Verbena, which was loaded with wood construction material.
Those assaults prompted security experts to note a significant increase in the effectiveness of the Iran-aligned militants’ drone and missile attacks.
Rescuers evacuated crews from the damaged ships due to safety risks. One sailor from the Tutor remains missing. Both ships are now adrift and vulnerable to further attack or sinking.
US and British forces on Monday conducted airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Hodeidah International Airport and Kamaran Island near the port of Salif off the Red Sea.


Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’

Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’
Updated 18 June 2024
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Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’

Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’
  • “As part of the situational assessment, operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated," the military said
  • "Decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field"

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Tuesday operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were "approved and validated", as Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement engaged in cross-border exchanges of fire.
Senior Israeli military officials "held a joint situational assessment in the Northern Command. As part of the situational assessment, operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated," the military said in a statement.
"Decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field."
Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, and Israel have been trading near-daily fire since the Gaza war was trigged by the Palestinian militant group's October 7 attack on southern Israel.
The sign-off came as Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz earlier warned Hezbollah that it would be destroyed in the event of a "total war" between the two.
"We are very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard," Katz said, according to a statement from his office.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month that the military was ready for an intense operation in Lebanon if necessary, pledging to restore security to the country's northern border.
US special envoy Amos Hochstein was in Lebanon on Tuesday a day after meeting Israeli leaders, seeking "urgent" de-escalation on the Israel-Lebanon border.


Iran slaps one-year prison term on Nobel winner Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Updated 18 June 2024
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Iran slaps one-year prison term on Nobel winner Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
  • Mohammadi refused to attend a trial session in Tehran earlier this month, and in March shared an audio message from prison in which she decried a ‘full-scale war against women’ in Iran

TEHRAN: An Iranian court has sentenced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi to a year in prison for “propaganda against the state,” the jailed activist’s lawyer said on Tuesday.
Mohammadi, 52, has been jailed since November 2021 over several past convictions relating to her advocacy against the obligatory hijab for women and capital punishment in Iran.
Lawyer Mostafa Nili said on X that “Mohammadi was sentenced to one year in prison for propaganda against the system.”
Nili said “the reasons for issuing this sentence” include calls to boycott parliamentary elections, letters to Swedish and Norwegian lawmakers and “comments about Mrs.Dina Ghalibaf.”
Rights groups have said that Ghalibaf, a journalist and student, had been taken into custody after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station. Ghalibaf has since been released.
The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online website said on April 22 that Ghalibaf “had not been raped” and that she was being prosecuted for making a “false statement.”
Iranian police  have intensified enforcement of the country’s dress code for women.