Egypt urges US to resume aid to UN agency for Palestinians

Special Egypt urges US to resume aid to UN agency for Palestinians
Sameh Shoukry meets with members of the US House Committee on Homeland Security. (X/@MfaEgypt)
Short Url
Updated 27 March 2024

Egypt urges US to resume aid to UN agency for Palestinians

Egypt urges US to resume aid to UN agency for Palestinians
  • Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meets visiting delegates
  • UNWRA vital to supporting refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, he says

CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister on Wednesday urged a visiting US delegation to resume its financial support for UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinians.

Sameh Shoukry told the group of members of the US House Committee on Homeland Security, led by August Pfluger, that the decision to halt funding would have an impact on Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

A total of 16 countries suspended their financial support for UNRWA after Israel accused 12 of the agency’s 13,000 employees in the Gaza Strip of taking part in the Hamas-led assault on Israel on Oct. 7.

Shoukry also stressed the importance of an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in a sustainable manner and in sufficient quantities to meet the growing need. He also called for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2720, which gives the UN a mandate to facilitate the entry of aid into Gaza.

The minister reiterated Egypt’s rejection of any Israeli military operation against the Palestinian city of Rafah, which he said would represent a humanitarian catastrophe for more than 1.4 million displaced people.

He also highlighted his country’s efforts to bring security and stability to the region amid the ongoing threat of armed conflicts, terrorism and various economic and development challenges.

Egypt’s vision and strategy for fighting terrorism took into account economic, social, cultural, educational and development issues and sought to eradicate the problem at its roots, he said.

The visiting delegation stressed the importance of good Egypt-US relations and expressed their appreciation for the role played by Cairo in supporting regional peace, security and stability.

They also offered their full support for Egypt’s efforts aimed at reaching a permanent ceasefire agreement in Gaza.

Yemen’s Houthis vow major retaliation for Israeli port strike

Yemen’s Houthis vow major retaliation for Israeli port strike
Updated 6 sec ago

Yemen’s Houthis vow major retaliation for Israeli port strike

Yemen’s Houthis vow major retaliation for Israeli port strike
  • Six people were killed and 83 wounded in port strike

HOBEIDA: Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Sunday promised a “huge” retaliation against Israel for a deadly strike on the port of Hodeida, as regional fallout widens from months of war in Gaza.
The Israeli strike, the first claimed by Israel in Yemen, set oil tanks ablaze at the vital port and came a day after the first fatal attack by the Houthis in Israel.
On Sunday, Israel said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen and struck targets in southern Lebanon. Residents of southern Gaza reported combat in the Rafah area.
The fighting across the region came ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip this week to Washington, which has been trying to secure a ceasefire in the more than nine-month war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in Gaza.
On Sunday, Netanyahu’s office said he was sending a negotiating team — it was unclear where — for new talks on a deal under which hostages held by Hamas would be freed.
But Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry warned Israel’s attack on Hodeida “aggravates the current tension in the region and halts the ongoing efforts to end the war in Gaza.”
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across Gaza, the civil defense agency in the Hamas-run territory said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in a district west of Rafah, where they reported heavy artillery and clashes.
On Sunday, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, chief of the Iran-backed group, said the Hodeida strikes would lead to “further escalation and more attacks targeting Israel.” He said the deadly Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv had opened “a new phase” in operations.
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said the rebels’ “response to the Israeli aggression against our country is inevitably coming and will be huge.”
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the fire left raging by the strikes on rebel-held Hodeida port “is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear.”
Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis “dare to attack us” after the rebel strike hit Tel Aviv, at least 1,800 kilometers (1,119 miles) from Yemen.
It appeared to be the first to pierce Israel’s intricate air defenses but an analyst said Houthi drones do not pose a “strategic threat” to Israel.

In Hodeida, six people were killed and 83 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
AFPTV images showed heavy flames and black smoke spiralling into the sky from burning oil tanks. Debris covered the dock where equipment was damaged.
Hodeida port is a vital entry point for fuel imports and international aid for rebel-held areas of Yemen, a country where the United Nations says more than half the population needs humanitarian assistance.
Analysts say the strike on Hodeida will likely only embolden the Houthis. They have already withstood since January repeated United States and British strikes aimed at deterring recurrent Houthi attacks on shipping.
The rebels also endured thousands of air raids during nearly a decade of war against forces backing Yemen’s internationally-recognized government.
On Sunday, the Israeli military said it had intercepted a missile fired from Yemen toward the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. The rebel spokesman said ballistic missiles were fired toward the port.
In Lebanon, Iran-backed and Hamas-allied Hezbollah said it fired Katyusha rockets and drones at northern Israel after Israeli strikes hit a weapons depot and wounded six civilians.
Hezbollah, which reported three more of its fighters killed, said Israel’s strikes on its Yemeni allies marked “a new, dangerous phase.”

The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has killed at least 38,983 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the Gaza health ministry.
The war has left most of Gaza’s population displaced, much of the housing and other infrastructure destroyed, and essential goods in short supply as the UN says diseases are spreading.
Israel has started vaccinating its troops in Gaza against polio and supplying vaccines for the Palestinian population after health agencies said the virus was found there, the military said.
The war has brought Israelis to the streets, sometimes in their tens of thousands, demanding a deal to free remaining hostages.
On Sunday they protested at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv ahead of Netanyahu’s meetings in the United States where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.

Sudan, Iran trade ambassadors after eight-year rupture

Sudan, Iran trade ambassadors after eight-year rupture
Updated 6 min 4 sec ago

Sudan, Iran trade ambassadors after eight-year rupture

Sudan, Iran trade ambassadors after eight-year rupture
  • Sudan and Iran agreed last October to resume diplomatic relations
PORT SUDAN: Sudan’s de facto leader, army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, received on Sunday an Iranian ambassador and sent his own to Tehran, the government said, cementing a rapprochement after an eight-year rupture.
Sudan and Iran agreed last October to resume diplomatic relations, as the army-aligned government scrambled for allies during its war with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The Sudanese government, loyal to the army in its 15-month fight against the RSF, announced in a statement that Burhan had received Tehran’s new ambassador Hassan Shah Hosseini in Port Sudan.
The Red Sea city has become Sudan’s de facto seat of government since Khartoum became wracked by fighting.
This is “the beginning of a new phase in the course of bilateral relations between the two countries,” foreign ministry undersecretary Hussein Al-Amin said as Burhan sent off Sudan’s new ambassador to Iran, Abdelaziz Hassan Saleh.
Sudan broke off relations with Iran in 2016 in a show of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, after the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran was attacked following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
Several Saudi allies in the region also cut ties with Iran at the time.
In March 2023, however, Riyadh and Tehran announced the restoration of their relations following an agreement brokered by China.
Iran has since moved to cement or restore relations with neighboring Arab countries.
Since Sudan’s war began in April 2023 a number of foreign powers have supported rival forces.
In December Sudan expelled diplomats from the United Arab Emirates on allegations that the Gulf state was funnelling weapons to the RSF.
The UAE has denied taking sides in the conflict.
Egypt and Turkiye have backed the army.
The United States in February voiced concern at reported arms shipments by Washington’s foe Iran to Sudan’s military.
Around that time, the army recovered some territory after months of defeats at the hands of the RSF.
Sudan has also recently drawn closer to Russia, which experts say has reconsidered its previous relationship with the RSF, with which it had links through the mercenary Wagner group.
Sudan under former strongman Omar Al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019, developed close relations with Iran’s clerical state.
The war in Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people, with some estimates placing the death toll as high as 150,000, according to the US envoy to Sudan, Tom Perriello.
It has also created the world’s worst displacement crisis — with more than 11 million uprooted, according to the United Nations — and brought the country to the brink of famine.

Israeli army vaccinating Gaza troops against polio

Israeli army vaccinating Gaza troops against polio
Updated 6 min 41 sec ago

Israeli army vaccinating Gaza troops against polio

Israeli army vaccinating Gaza troops against polio

JERUSALEM: Israel has started vaccinating its troops in Gaza against polio and supplying vaccines for the Palestinian population after health agencies said the virus has been found in the territory, the military said on Sunday.

Army authorities have begun “a broad vaccination operation for all ground troops, both regular and reserves,” said a military statement.

The army did not give a figure for the number of soldiers involved, but thousands of regular and reservist troops are reported to be fighting in the war, which has raged since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

The statement said the order was given after the army carried out sample tests in Gaza, where most of the population is displaced. The war has decimated health and sanitary infrastructure.

UN agencies said this week that the Global Polio Laboratory Network found type-2 poliovirus in six environmental samples collected on June 23.

Israel’s Health Ministry said it had made similar findings. No human cases have been reported.

The Israeli army said it was also working with other organizations to take vaccines for the Gaza population into the territory. It said that 300,000 vaccines have so far been supplied.

The highly contagious virus is caught by drinking contaminated water or oral contact. It can cause paralysis and, in extreme cases, death.

Wastewater runs between tents in many camps for the displaced, and freshwater is increasingly scarce.

With fuel limited, aid agencies rarely send out trucks with water, and pumps at wells cannot be used.

Many people walk long distances to get safe water from points set up by volunteers.

Northern Gaza is suffering particularly badly from food and water shortages after major Israeli offensives.

Ahmed Al-Shanbari, a father living in a camp in Jabalia, said the water his family has “is not suitable for drinking or cooking.”

“My children suffer from kidney disease, jaundice, itching and coughing. There is no treatment in northern Gaza,” he said.

Shanbari said the family spends four hours each day searching for a source of water.

The military said it had decided with the Health Ministry “that troops operating in the area should undergo vaccination against the virus to maintain the health of both the soldiers and Israeli citizens.”

It said vaccinations would be carried out as troops are “refreshed” in and out of Gaza.

There are about 170,000 full- time soldiers and another 300,000 reservists in the Israeli army.

Fighting rages in Rafah as Israeli strikes hit central areas

Fighting rages in Rafah as Israeli strikes hit central areas
Updated 11 min 57 sec ago

Fighting rages in Rafah as Israeli strikes hit central areas

Fighting rages in Rafah as Israeli strikes hit central areas
  • Tensions are high in the region, with concerns remaining over possible spread of violence

CAIRO: Israeli forces battled Palestinian fighters in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Sunday, and struck areas in the center of the coastal enclave where thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes have been seeking shelter.

Residents in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said fierce battles raged between Hamas-led fighters and Israeli forces, especially in the center and in western areas where tanks advanced in the previous two days.

The armed wings of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas militant groups said fighters confronted Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs.

The Israeli military said its soldiers had killed a group of fighters who were moving toward them and destroyed ammunition, tunnel shafts, and infrastructure in Tel Al-Sultan, in the eastern part of the city.

A ceasefire effort led by Qatar and Egypt and backed by the US has so far failed because of disagreements between the combatants, who blame each other for the impasse.

Israeli strikes in the previous  24 hours killed at least 64 and wounded more than 100 others, the local Health Ministry said.

At least 22 were killed by strikes on Sunday, according to the Hamas-run Gaza government media office.

Israeli strikes in areas of central Gaza in the past week have been focused on the Al-Nuseirat camp, where dozens of people have been killed.

“We hear the sounds of explosions in Nuseirat, and we see the smoke rising from here in Deir Al-Balah, the last refuge you can say, and the feeling tanks are terrorizing us may roll here,” said Tamer Aburakan, a resident of Gaza City, now displaced in the central area of Deir Al-Balah.

“Where should we go next? The entire Gaza Strip is under fire, and we are being hunted like deer in a forest. When is enough? When the war will ever end?” he said via a chat app.

Tensions are high in the region, with concerns remaining over a possible spread of violence.

Israel said on Tuesday it had eliminated half the leadership of Hamas’ military wing and killed or captured about 14,000 fighters since the start of the war. Israel says 326 of its soldiers have been killed in Gaza.

Hamas does not release casualty figures and said Israel exaggerates its reports to give the impression of a “fake victory.”

Three Hezbollah members killed in Israeli attacks

Three Hezbollah members killed in Israeli attacks
Updated 20 min 26 sec ago

Three Hezbollah members killed in Israeli attacks

Three Hezbollah members killed in Israeli attacks
  • Hezbollah fires rockets after deadly Israeli airstrike targets weapons depot 
  • Traffic rerouted after shrapnel reaches nearby villages, injuring civilians

BEIRUT: Hezbollah on Sunday said it fired Katyusha rockets at northern Israel in response to Israeli strikes that hit a weapons depot and other sites.

Two Hezbollah members were killed when an Israeli military drone targeted a house in the southern border village of Houla with a guided missile, 12 hours after a Hezbollah weapons and ammunition depot was targeted for the first time since the outset of hostilities nine months ago.

The strike on the depot, located in Adloun — a town between Saida and Tyre, 30 km from the Israeli border — killed another Hezbollah member and injured several other people, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Israeli military confirmed on Sunday morning that it targeted two Hezbollah sites.

Hezbollah initially refused to comment on the attack on the Adloun depot in the immediate aftermath of the Israeli strike.

However, it later targeted the Israeli Dafna settlement with Katyusha missiles in response to the raid.

Hezbollah also targeted Al-Ramtha and Al-Semmaqah in the occupied Kfarshouba hills with missiles.

Israeli media outlets stated that the missiles landed in Dalton in Galilee. According to Israeli Army Radio, 45 missiles were launched from Lebanon towards northern Israel over the course of an hour, and a factory was directly hit in the settlement of Amir.

Hezbollah confirmed the deaths of Mustafa Hassan Fawaz, aged 49, from the Lebanese southern village of Debaal; Ahamd Ali Moussa, born in 1985, from Houla; and the youngest Hezbollah victim to date since the outbreak of hostilities, Yassin Hussein Hussein, born in 2006, from Houla.

Following the raid on Adloun, massive explosions were heard at the site as far as 20 km away in all directions.

Shrapnel from the explosions reached the nearby towns of Kharayeb and Ansarieh as well as damaging Adloun itself, shattering windows and injuring several people, including four women who were transferred to hospital.

The Kharayeb Municipality called on residents “to stay home because of the flying shrapnel resulting from the shelling targeting Adloun.”

Emergency medical and fire response units could not access the area, and there were repeated calls for the public to “avoid the area as much as possible due to its hazardous nature.”

Lebanese security forces closed off the Sidon-Tyre highway entirely, rerouting traffic away from the the explosions.

A report published last month by the Israeli Alma Research Center revealed that Hezbollah “possesses thousands of missiles and precision shells, out of a total of 75,000 missiles and shells, including hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles, coastal missiles, cruise weapons, and underwater precision weapons.”

Meanwhile Israeli artillery shelling reached the outskirts of the border village of Aitaroun on Sunday, causing a fire in the area. Artillery shelling also targeted Maroun Al-Ras.

Israeli drone strikes on Saturday hit the region between Taybeh and Deir Siriane in Marjayoun, destroying a car parked near tents for Syrian refugees in the vicinity of Qalaia. The attack resulted in injuries to several children.

Hezbollah’s retaliatory strikes on Israeli military installations, meanwhile, resulted in injuries to several of its members due to drone explosions in Katzrin, south of the Golan Heights.

Al-Qassam Brigades also announced in a statement on Saturday afternoon that “the headquarters of the 300th Brigade — Shumira in the western sector of Upper Galilee was targeted by a missile attack” from southern Lebanon.