UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by strikes on Lebanon rescue workers

UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by strikes on Lebanon rescue workers
People inspect destruction at the site of an overnight Israeli airstrike in Habariyeh near the Israeli border on Mar. 27, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2024
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UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by strikes on Lebanon rescue workers

UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by strikes on Lebanon rescue workers
  • “Up to 11 civilians were killed in a single day, including 10 paramedics,” said Imran Riza, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon
  • “Attacks on health care violate international humanitarian law and are unacceptable”

BEIRUT: The United Nations on Thursday said it was “deeply disturbed” by attacks on health care facilities, a day after several strikes blamed on Israel killed 10 emergency rescue workers in southern Lebanon.
“The tragic events of the past 36 hours have resulted in a significant loss of life and injuries in south Lebanon. Up to 11 civilians were killed in a single day, including 10 paramedics,” said Imran Riza, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon.
There has been near-daily cross-border fire between Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of Palestinian militant group Hamas, and Israel since Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in Gaza.
Lebanese groups say three separate Israeli strikes on Wednesday, including on a health center in the border village of Habariyeh, killed the 11 civilians.
“I am deeply disturbed by the repeated attacks on health facilities and health workers who risk their lives to provide urgent assistance to their local communities,” Riza added.
“Attacks on health care violate international humanitarian law and are unacceptable,” the UN official said in a statement.
Several militant groups in Lebanon operate health centers and emergency response operations.
Hezbollah said four of its fighters and two rescuers were killed in Wednesday’s strikes, while its ally the Amal movement said it had lost two members, including a rescuer.
An official from the Jamaa Islamiya militant group had earlier told AFP that “seven rescuers” were killed in Israeli strikes on the emergency center in Habariyeh.
The Israeli military said the target of one of the strikes was “a military compound” and those killed were Jamaa Islamiya militants.
It said a “significant terrorist operative” and other members of the group were planning attacks against Israel at the time of the strike.
Hezbollah responded to the deadly strikes by sending a barrage of rockets into northern Israel, killing one civilian in Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday.
The group on Thursday said they targeted the northern Israeli town of Shlomi and agricultural village of Goren in retaliation for the previous day’s attacks.
The uptick in violence has raised fears of a broader escalation in the conflict.
At least 346 people have been killed in Lebanon — mostly Hezbollah fighters, but also including at least 68 civilians — in clashes with Israel over the last six months, according to an AFP tally.
The fighting has also displaced tens of thousands of people in southern Lebanon and in northern Israel, where the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed.


Iran slaps one-year prison term on Nobel winner Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Updated 5 sec ago
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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.

 


Gaza conflict has caused major environmental damage: UN

Palestinian residents search the rubble of a family home destroyed in Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday. (AFP
Palestinian residents search the rubble of a family home destroyed in Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday. (AFP
Updated 2 min 39 sec ago
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Gaza conflict has caused major environmental damage: UN

Palestinian residents search the rubble of a family home destroyed in Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday. (AFP
  • Latest assessment adds to concerns about humanitarian crisis and environmental costs of war

GENEVA: The conflict in Gaza has created unprecedented soil, water, and air pollution in the region, destroying sanitation systems and leaving tonnes of debris from explosive devices, a UN report on the environmental impact of the war said on Tuesday.

The war between Israel and Hamas has swiftly reversed limited progress in improving the region’s water desalination and wastewater treatment facilities, restoring the Wadi Gaza coastal wetland, and investments in solar power installations, according to a preliminary assessment from the UN Environment Programme, or UNEP.
Explosive weapons have generated some 39 million tonnes of debris, the report said.

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UNEP is mandated to assist countries with pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism.

Each square meter of the Gaza Strip is now littered with more than 107 kg of debris. The report said that is more than five times the debris generated during the battle for Mosul, Iraq, in 2017.
“All of this is deeply harming people’s health, food security, and Gaza’s resilience,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
Gaza’s environment was already suffering from recurring conflicts, rapid urban growth, and high population density before the most recent conflict began on Oct. 7. The UN assessment adds to concerns about the unfolding humanitarian crisis and the environmental costs of war, with Ukraine also recording widespread ecological damage over the past two years.
“Understanding the environmental impacts of war is a grand challenge of our time,” said Eoghan Darbyshire, a senior researcher at the UK-based nonprofit Conflict and Environment Observatory.
“The impacts will not only be felt locally where the fighting is taking place but may be displaced or even felt at the global scale via greenhouse gas emissions.”
The UN assessment stems from a December 2023 request from the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority for UNEP to take stock of environmental damages. UNEP is mandated to assist countries with pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism.
Due to security concerns and access restrictions, the UN used remote sensing surveys, data from Palestinian technical entities, and damage assessments from the World Bank in their report.
Ground measurements, however, would be critical to understanding the extent of soil and water pollution, Darbyshire said.
The report found that the water, sanitation, and hygiene systems are almost entirely defunct, with Gaza’s five wastewater treatment plants shut down. Israel’s long-term occupation had already posed major environmental challenges in the Palestinian territories about water quality and availability, according to a 2020 report by the UN Development Program.
Over 92 percent of water in the Gaza Strip was then deemed unfit for human consumption.
The Gaza Strip had one of the highest densities of rooftop solar panels in the world, with the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies estimating 2023 some 12,400 rooftop solar systems.
But Israel has since destroyed a large proportion of Gaza’s burgeoning solar infrastructure, and broken panels can leak lead and heavy metal contaminants into the soil.
Since a week-long truce in November, repeated attempts to arrange a ceasefire have failed.
Looking at the scale of environmental destruction, “it is my opinion that large areas of Gaza will not be recovered to a safe state within a generation, even with limitless finance and will,” said Darbyshire.

 


Quake kills four, injures 120 in northeastern Iran: state media

Quake kills four, injures 120 in northeastern Iran: state media
Updated 18 June 2024
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Quake kills four, injures 120 in northeastern Iran: state media

Quake kills four, injures 120 in northeastern Iran: state media
  • The US Geological Survey said it hit at a depth of 10 kilometers

TEHRAN: At least four people were killed and 120 injured Tuesday in a 4.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Iran’s northeastern city of Kashmar, state media reported.
The quake struck at 1:24 p.m. (0954 GMT), state television and the local governor said, while the US Geological Survey said it hit at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles).


Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion, kill 17 in central camps

Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion, kill 17 in central camps
Updated 18 June 2024
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Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion, kill 17 in central camps

Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion, kill 17 in central camps
  • Residents reported heavy bombardments from tanks and planes in several areas of Rafah
  • Israeli tanks were operating inside Tel Al-Sultan, Al-Izba, and Zurub areas in Rafah’s west, as well as Shaboura at the heart of the city

CAIRO: Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday killed at least 17 Palestinians in two of the Gaza Strip’s historic refugee camps and Israeli tanks pushed deeper into the enclave’s southern city of Rafah, residents and medics said.
Residents reported heavy bombardments from tanks and planes in several areas of Rafah, where more than a million people had taken refuge before May. Most of the population has fled northwards since then as Israeli forces invaded the city.
“Rafah is being bombed without any intervention from the world, the occupation (Israel) is acting freely here,” a Rafah resident and father of six told Reuters via a chat app.
Israeli tanks were operating inside Tel Al-Sultan, Al-Izba, and Zurub areas in Rafah’s west, as well as Shaboura at the heart of the city. They also continued to occupy the eastern neighborhoods and outskirts as well as the border with Egypt and the vital Rafah border crossing.
“There are Israeli forces in most areas, there is heavy resistance too and they are making them pay dearly but the occupation is not ethical and they are destroying the city and the refugee camp,” the resident said.
Palestinian health officials said one man was killed in the morning by Israeli fire on the eastern side of Rafah. Medics said they believed many others had been killed in the past days and weeks but rescue teams could not reach them.

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The Israeli military said it was continuing “precise, intelligence-based activity” in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen over the past day in close-range combat and seized weapons. The air force struck dozens of targets across the Gaza Strip in the past day, it added.
In the central Gaza Strip, two separate Israeli air strikes on two houses killed 17 Palestinians in Al-Nuseirat and Al-Bureij, two designated refugee camps that are home to families and descendants of people who fled to Gaza in the 1948 war around the creation of Israel, medics said.
“Every more hour of delay, Israel kills more people, we want a ceasefire now,” said Khalil, 45, a teacher from Gaza, now displaced with his family in Deir Al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip.
“Enough of our blood, I say it to Israel, America, and our leaders too. The war must stop,” he told Reuters via a chat app.
The Israeli military statement did not comment directly on the 17 deaths but said forces continued to operate against militant factions in central Gaza areas.
The commander of an Islamic Jihad sniper cell was killed by an Israeli warplane, and troops also “eliminated” a militant cell, it said.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters confronted Israeli forces in combat zones with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs, and have in some areas detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.
Israel’s ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
The offensive has left Gaza in ruins, killing more than 37,400 people, according to its health authorities, and left much of the population homeless and destitute.
Since a week-long truce in November, repeated attempts to arrange a ceasefire have failed, with Hamas insisting on a permanent end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu refuses to end the war before Hamas is eradicated and the hostages are freed.


Gaza war death toll rises to 37,372 as Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion

Gaza war death toll rises to 37,372 as Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion
Updated 10 min 53 sec ago
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Gaza war death toll rises to 37,372 as Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion

Gaza war death toll rises to 37,372 as Israeli forces deepen Rafah invasion
  • Enough of our blood. I say it to Israel, America, and our leaders too. The war must stop

GAZA STRIP: The Health Ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday that at least 37,372 people had been killed in the territory during more than eight months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.
The toll includes at least 25 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that a total of 85,452 people had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
Residents and medics said Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday killed at least 17 Palestinians in two of the Gaza Strip’s historic refugee camps, and Israeli tanks pushed deeper into the enclave’s southern city of Rafah.
Residents reported heavy bombardments from tanks and planes in several areas of Rafah, where more than a million people had taken refuge before May. Most of the population has fled northward since then as Israeli forces invaded the city.
“Rafah is being bombed without any intervention from the world. The occupation (Israel) is acting freely here,” a Rafah resident and father of six said via a chat app.
Israeli tanks were operating inside Tel Al-Sultan, Al-Izba, and Zurub areas in Rafah’s west, as well as Shaboura at the heart of the city.
They also continued to occupy the eastern neighborhoods and outskirts, the border with Egypt, and the vital Rafah border crossing.
“There are Israeli forces in most areas, there is heavy resistance too and they are making them pay dearly but the occupation is not ethical, and they are destroying the city and the refugee camp,” the resident said.
Palestinian health officials said one man was killed in the morning by Israeli fire on the eastern side of Rafah.
Medics said they believed many others had been killed in the past days and weeks, but rescue teams could not reach them.
The Israeli military said it was continuing “precise, intelligence-based activity” in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen over the past day in close-range combat and seized weapons.
The air force struck dozens of targets across the Gaza Strip in the past day, it added.
In the central Gaza Strip, two separate Israeli air strikes on two houses killed 17 Palestinians in Al-Nuseirat and Al-Bureij.
These two designated refugee camps are home to families and descendants of people who fled to Gaza in the 1948 war around the creation of Israel, medics said.
“Every more hour of delay, Israel kills more people. We want a ceasefire now,” said Khalil, 45, a teacher from Gaza, now displaced with his family in Deir Al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip.
“Enough of our blood. I say it to Israel, America, and our leaders too. The war must stop,” he said via a chat app.
The Israeli military statement did not comment directly on the 17 deaths but said forces continued to operate against militant factions in central Gaza areas.