Heavy destruction, forced marches in ongoing Israeli raid around Gaza hospital

Heavy destruction, forced marches in ongoing Israeli raid around Gaza hospital
A young Palestinian girl stands amid the rubble of a building hit by overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 24, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 24 March 2024
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Heavy destruction, forced marches in ongoing Israeli raid around Gaza hospital

Heavy destruction, forced marches in ongoing Israeli raid around Gaza hospital
  • Gaza City, where Shifa is located, suffered widespread devastation in the early days of Israel's offensive

RAFAH: Palestinians who fled during an ongoing Israeli raid in and around the Gaza Strip's main hospital described days of heavy fighting, mass arrests, forced marches past dead bodies and flattened buildings in interviews Sunday.
The Israeli military says it has killed over 170 militants and detained some 480 suspects in the raid on Shifa Hospital that began last Monday, portraying it as a heavy blow to Hamas and other armed groups that it says had regrouped in the medical compound.
But the heavy fighting has also highlighted the resilience of Palestinian armed groups in an isolated and heavily destroyed part of Gaza where troops have been forced to return after launching a similar raid back in November.
Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived with his parents and two brothers in a five-story building about 100 meters (yards) from the hospital, said they huddled in the kitchen for days while gunfire and explosions echoed outside, sometimes causing the whole building to shake.
Early Saturday, Israeli troops stormed the building and forced them and dozens of other residents to leave. He says the men were forced to strip to their underwear and four were detained. The rest were blindfolded and ordered to follow a tank south, as more blasts thundered around them.
“From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he told The Associated Press in an interview from another hospital in central Gaza, where he has sought shelter. “It was to terrorize us.”
The head of Israel's southern command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, said the Shifa raid had been a “daring, tricky and most impressive operation so far," with ”hundreds" of militants apprehend and the acquisition of valuable intelligence.
“We will finish this operation only when the last terrorist is in our hands — alive or dead,” he added in a statement released by the military on Saturday.
Shifa Hospital had largely stopped functioning following the raid in November. After claiming that Hamas maintained an elaborate command center inside and beneath the hospital, Israeli forces exposed a single tunnel leading to a few underground rooms. They also said they found weapons in parts of the hospital.
Gaza City, where Shifa is located, suffered widespread devastation in the early days of Israel's offensive, launched after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the war. Israeli forces have isolated the city and the rest of northern Gaza since November, and hardly any aid has been delivered in recent weeks. Experts said last week that famine is imminent in northern Gaza, where over 210,000 people are suffering from catastrophic hunger.
Jameel al-Ayoubi, who was among thousands of people sheltering at Shifa when the raid commenced last Monday, said in a phone interview that tanks and armored bulldozers had plowed into the courtyard of the sprawling medical compound, crushing ambulances and civilian vehicles. He said he saw tanks driving over at least four bodies of people killed early in the raid.
The Health Ministry said five wounded Palestinians trapped at Shifa had died without food, water or medical services. The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the conditions there as “utterly inhumane.”
The military said Saturday that it had evacuated patients and medical staff from Shifa’s emergency department because militants had “entrenched” themselves in the building. The army said it had set up an alternative site where seriously wounded patients were receiving care.
Abed Radwan, who lived some 200 meters (yards) from the hospital, said Israeli forces stormed all the buildings in the area, detaining several people and forcing the rest to march south. As he walked south with others, he saw dead bodies in the streets and several flattened homes.
“They left nothing intact,” he said in an interview from a relative’s house in central Gaza.
Now in its sixth month, the war between Israel and Hamas has killed at least 32,226 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its toll but says women and children make up around two-thirds of the dead.
Israel says it has killed over 13,000 militants, without providing evidence. It blames civilian casualties on Hamas, accusing it of using schools, hospitals and residential areas to shield its fighters.
More than 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, with most seeking refuge in the southernmost city of Rafah, which Israel says will be the next target of its ground offensive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuffed calls from the United States and others to avoid launching a major ground operation there, saying it is essential for defeating Hamas.
The war began when Hamas-led militants stormed over the border on Oct. 7 and rampaged across southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking scores of people hostage. Hamas is still holding an estimated 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others, after most of the rest were freed in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners in November.
The United States, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to broker another cease-fire and hostage release, but weeks of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas have failed to yield an agreement.


No future US government can prevent Iran oil exports, minister says

No future US government can prevent Iran oil exports, minister says
Updated 6 sec ago
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No future US government can prevent Iran oil exports, minister says

No future US government can prevent Iran oil exports, minister says
  • In 2018, then-President Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and re-imposed sanctions which hurt Iran’s oil sector
  • US President Joe Biden took office in 2021 and since then Iran has managed to raise output to 3.5 million bpd while tripling exports
DUBAI: Iranian oil exports will continue regardless of who is elected as the next US president, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Wednesday, amid concerns that a Donald Trump presidency could curb Iranian crude sales.
“Whatever government comes to power in the United States will not be able to prevent Iranian oil exports,” Owji said in comments quoted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.
In 2018, then-President Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and re-imposed sanctions which hurt Iran’s oil sector, with production dropping to 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd).
US President Joe Biden took office in 2021 and since then Iran has managed to raise output to 3.5 million bpd while tripling exports, according to Owji.
Iran has expanded oil trade with China.
Iran will elect a new president on June 28 following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in May.
The US presidential election is scheduled for November 5.

Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza campaign, UN rights office says

Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza campaign, UN rights office says
Updated 16 min 27 sec ago
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Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza campaign, UN rights office says

Israel may have violated laws of war in Gaza campaign, UN rights office says
  • Israel’s air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory

GENEVA: Israeli forces may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters in their Gaza Strip military campaign, the United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday.
In a report assessing six Israeli attacks that caused a high number of casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, the UN human rights office said Israeli forces “may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack.”
“The requirement to select means and methods of warfare that avoid or at the very least minimize to every extent civilian harm appears to have been consistently violated in Israel’s bombing campaign,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.
Israel’s air and ground offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory, according to health authorities there.
Israel launched its assault after Hamas fighters stormed across the border into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
Last week the UN human rights office said the killing of civilians during an Israeli operation to free four hostages could amount to war crimes, but so might Palestinian militants’ holding of captives in densely populated areas.


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.