Four environmental concerns for Gazans after the end of combat

Four environmental concerns for Gazans after the end of combat

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP)
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Local, regional, and international leaders are spending a lot of time trying to plan the political and security issues that need to be addressed on the day after a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. But a huge problem looming ahead has to do with the environmental challenges that Palestinians of Gaza will face as they try to reconstruct their lives.

At least four top risks must be tackled early on and given priority over all other issues.

Defuse unexploded ordnance.

When war ends, lots of unexploded ordnance is usually left behind after failing to explode. No real progress can occur on any level without defusing all ordnance, otherwise, children can be injured or killed and the rebuilding process can be threatened by hasty and unsafe development.

Dealing with water, sewage and electricity.

The Israeli bombardment reached water purifying and desalination sites. Israeli bulldozers trying to open roads for tanks or attempting to discover tunnels ruined sewage and water pipes. Electricity producing and distributing networks were also bombed. Before any other development can be addressed, water and sewage lines must be fixed so that the population will receive clean water, otherwise disease might quickly spread. Energy sources must be fixed because the water purifying network, for example, cannot work without electricity.

Recycling solid waste.

A huge amount of solid waste littered the Gaza Strip as the population ran for their lives. Services, including local maintenance and garbage collection, had abruptly stopped. If left unaddressed, this waste is another potential source of disease. The most appropriate way to resolve the problem is to initiate recycling sites to deal with the huge amount of solid waste.

Recycling construction debris.

Satellite photos of the Gaza Strip reveal huge destruction to homes, mosques, churches, universities and other private and public buildings. This rubble needs to be dealt with in an environmentally healthy way. The best way to do that and at the same time help the rebuilding process is to recycle the rubble and debris and make it available for all future construction.

A failure to deal with the environmentally disastrous results of the war in Gaza by the Israeli military cannot be belittled

Daoud Kuttab

The carnage in Gaza is hard to imagine but a failure to deal with the environmentally disastrous results of the war in Gaza by the Israeli military cannot be belittled.

A well organized and committed effort will need to be ready for execution the morning after a permanent ceasefire is ratified and takes effect.

There is great danger in leaving things as is and failing to tend to unexploded ordnance, the destroyed water and sewage networks, and the exceedingly large amount of solid waste.

Instead of removing such debris and solid waste from one location to another, the most efficient and proper way to dispose of the solid waste and construction debris is to recycle it on-site.

Therefore, it can be properly channeled into the reconstruction effort, which will most likely begin immediately once the guns fall silent.

Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist and a director of Community Media Network. X: @daoudkuttab

 

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Russia arrests two more top defense officials

Russia arrests two more top defense officials
Updated 9 min 45 sec ago
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Russia arrests two more top defense officials

Russia arrests two more top defense officials

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday arrested a general and a high-ranking defense official on corruption and “abuse of power” charges — the latest senior military figures to be put behind bars this month.

The Kremlin denied it was carrying out a purge of top army officials, but some of Russia’s influential military bloggers welcomed the arrest of a general they hold responsible for battlefield failures in the two-year offensive in Ukraine.

Moscow’s powerful Investigative Committee said Vadim Shamarin, deputy head of Russia’s General Staff, had been placed in detention on suspicion of “large-scale bribe taking.”

The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

The committee alleged that Shamarin had been taking bribes for years from a factory in the Urals city of Perm, saying he had received 36 million rubles (364,000 euros) in kickbacks in return for boosting government contracts.

It said he had been placed in pre-trial detention.

Later on Thursday, the committee announced the arrest of Vladimir Verteletsky — an official from the defense ministry’s department for ensuring state orders.

It said Verteletsky had “been charged with the abuse of his official powers” and has also been placed in detention.

Investigators accuse Verteletsky of taking a bribe in relation to a government contract in 2022, the first year of Moscow’s offensive.

It said the alleged offense had cost the state “over 70 million rubles” (706,000 euros).

Critics and opposition figures have for years said Russia’s military is riddled with corruption, although its leaders have rarely faced any serious probe or retribution.

The issue burst to the forefront amid failures in the Ukraine offensive, with Wagner paramilitary head Yevgeny Prigozhin accusing Russia’s military bosses — then-defense minister Sergei Shoigu and chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov — of corruption on an almost daily basis, saying it hobbled Russia’s combat capacity.

Prigozhin died last year in a plane crash just two months after launching a bloody mutiny in a bid to remove the pair.

The arrest of Shamarin, who was head of the General Staff’s communications directorate, is the latest in an apparent crackdown on some of Russia’s top military officials.

But the Kremlin denied it was mounting a purge.

“The fight against corruption is an ongoing effort. It is not a campaign. It is an integral part of the activities of law enforcement agencies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

Putin removed Shoigu earlier this month in a surprise reshuffle, replacing him with economist Andrei Belousov.

A deputy defense minister, Timur Ivanov, and head of the ministry’s personnel, Yuri Kuznetsov, also have been arrested in the last few weeks for bribe-taking.

And Ivan Popov, an ex-commander who was sacked after he criticized Russia’s military leaders for a high casualty rate in Ukraine, was arrested earlier this week.

Some Russian military bloggers welcomed the arrest of Shamarin, saying it was communications breakdowns — caused by a lack of equipment due to corruption — that were behind Russia’s military failures in Ukraine.

“Bribery in the military and security services is state treason,” military blogger Anastasia Kashevarova said in a post on Telegram.

Amid the reshuffle and arrests in Moscow, Russian forces in Ukraine have made their most significant advances on the battlefield in 18 months, with a new major assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region.


Saudi squad announced for the upcoming World Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers

Saudi squad announced for the upcoming World Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers
Updated 12 min 49 sec ago
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Saudi squad announced for the upcoming World Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers

Saudi squad announced for the upcoming World Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers

RIYADH: The Saudi squad for upcoming World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers has been announced by coach Roberto Mancini.

— More to follow.

 


Four dead, 21 injured in Spain restaurant roof collapse

Four dead, 21 injured in Spain restaurant roof collapse
Updated 17 min 24 sec ago
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Four dead, 21 injured in Spain restaurant roof collapse

Four dead, 21 injured in Spain restaurant roof collapse

PALMA, Spain: The roof of a restaurant in Spain’s popular tourist island of Mallorca collapsed Thursday, killing four people and injuring more than 20 others, local rescuers said.

“There are four dead and around 21 injured,” the rescuers said, adding that some of the injuries were serious.

Local media said the two-story building was in the Playa de Palma area to the south of the Mediterranean island’s capital Palma de Mallorca.

Firefighters, police officers and ambulances rushed to the scene, according to images published in local media.

Mallorca is one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, whose pristine waters and beaches attract more tourists than all Spanish regions after Catalonia.

More than 14 million tourists visited the islands last year, according to official figures.


Trump says he will quickly free US journalist but Russia denies contacts

Trump says he will quickly free US journalist but Russia denies contacts
Updated 32 min 14 sec ago
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Trump says he will quickly free US journalist but Russia denies contacts

Trump says he will quickly free US journalist but Russia denies contacts

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump boasted Thursday he would quickly free jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich from Russia if he wins the presidential election, but Moscow denied discussing the case with the Republican candidate.

Trump, who has frequently voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and has voiced skepticism over US support for Ukraine, said the Moscow strongman “will do that for me, but not for anyone else.”

“Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

“He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY.”

Trump said that the United States “WILL BE PAYING NOTHING” — a likely jab at President Joe Biden’s deal last year to free Americans from Iran that included the transfer of Iranian oil revenue that had been frozen by South Korea.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about the remarks, said, “There aren’t any contacts with Donald Trump.”

“Regarding (US-Russian) contacts on the matter of incarcerated and convicted individuals, we can say that these contacts must be carried out in total secrecy. This is the only way they can be effective,” he said.

Gershkovich, 32, has been held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison for more than a year after he was arrested while on a reporting trip to Russia.

He is the first Western journalist since the Soviet era to be arrested by Moscow on spying charges — accusations that he, his employer and the US government reject.

The US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, visited Gershkovich in prison on Thursday.

He “maintains a positive attitude, awaiting the start of the court process for a case about a crime that he did not commit,” the US embassy said in a statement on platform Telegram.

“We once more urge the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich.”

The Biden administration said in late 2023 that it made a “significant proposal” to Russia to free Gershkovich, likely as part of a prisoner swap, but that Moscow rejected it.

US intelligence concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump in his upset defeat of Hillary Clinton, including through social media postings.

Trump angrily denied his victory was the work of Russia and, at a famous news conference with Putin, appeared to accept the Russian leader’s denial of interference.

Putin in the latest election cycle has said he prefers Biden, comments met with skepticism by many Russia watchers who believe Putin’s intention may be to use his notoriety to boost Trump.


G7 officials play down expectations on details of loan for Ukraine

G7 officials play down expectations on details of loan for Ukraine
Updated 33 min 49 sec ago
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G7 officials play down expectations on details of loan for Ukraine

G7 officials play down expectations on details of loan for Ukraine
  • Using Russian assets for Ukraine not simple, G7 chair says
  • Agreement on Ukraine loan seen ‘in principle’
STRESA, Italy: G7 finance chiefs are not expected to agree on details of a loan for Ukraine at their meeting in Italy starting on Friday, several officials said, leaving much work ahead in coming weeks or months to secure more financing for the war-torn country.
The United States has been pushing its allies to agree to a loan backed by the future income from some $300 billion of Russian assets frozen shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the loan could amount to some $50 billion, but that no amounts have been agreed. Other G7 officials involved in the negotiations voiced caution, citing thorny legal and technical aspects to be hammered out.
“With great difficulty we have found a compromise for the use of the interest (already accrued),” Italian Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told reporters, referring to a deal already struck by the European Union.
“The problem is how the legal basis for this can be used for future profits.”
Giorgetti, who will chair the meeting as Italy holds the G7 presidency this year, said finding a solution “will not be simple,” and added that several central banks had expressed reservations over the US proposal.
Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of Seven industrial democracies — the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada — are meeting in the northern Italian lakeside town of Stresa on Friday and Saturday.
One European official said the communique at the end of the meeting would probably include an agreement on a loan in principle, but no details.
“I don’t think there will be any numbers,” the official said when asked about the $50 billion figure.
“There will be no decisions on the matter taken at Stresa,” another European official said.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner also said many questions remained open and he did not expect the G7 to reach any concrete decision at the Stresa gathering.
In that case, officials will continue to negotiate in the hope of making progress by the time G7 heads of government meet in the southern Italian region of Puglia on June 13-15.
Yellen, at a news conference on Thursday, said she expected a “general agreement on the concept” of using the earnings from Russian assets to provide Ukraine with significant financial support beyond 2025.
A key condition for European Union countries, where most of the assets are held, is to not confiscate the asset principal and harness only the earnings.
Giorgetti said a loan backed by future income from the frozen assets would meet with Russian retaliation, and stressed any deal must have a “solid legal basis,” echoing comments made this week by Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki.
Under the proposal being discussed, the loan would be disbursed to Kyiv in one lump sum, Giorgetti said, and could possibly be issued by the G7 countries directly rather than through a global financial institution such as the World Bank.