Israel has allowed AI to become judge, jury and executioner

Israel has allowed AI to become judge, jury and executioner

Israel has allowed AI to become judge, jury and executioner
The human-machine link in war is shifting toward being dominated by machine. (AFP)
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Hollywood has for a long time fantasized about a world where artificial intelligence rules, where wars are fought by computers and robots, where machines dominate man. Yet, as the world wakes up to both the potential positives and negatives of AI in our lives, the Israeli onslaught on Palestinians in Gaza is a chilling harbinger of the future of war.

Much of this is not new but it is more advanced. The use of drones has already changed the conduct of warfare, as we have seen in Ukraine. Israel has been using drones since the 1982 Lebanon War, while it developed its first attack drone in 1989. It remains at the cutting edge of drone technology.

Israeli forces use every type, from small drones that can search tunnels and buildings or place explosives to the larger types that can drop massive ordnance. Xtender, for example, is a small drone designed for indoor and underground operations, making it well suited to buildings and tunnels in places such as Gaza city. Nonstate actors can also use drones, including Hamas, as in the case of Gaza.

But new evidence of the use of advanced Israeli tech is far more chilling. The brilliant Israeli magazine +972 has unearthed, in a series of probing investigations, two major AI targeting programs, named “The Gospel” and “Lavender.”

Back in November, +972 unearthed The Gospel program, also known by its Hebrew name “Habsora.” This system has allowed Israeli forces to expand their potential target lists — i.e., the buildings that could be determined as legitimate for bombing. These include “public buildings, infrastructure, and high-rise blocks, which sources say the army defines as ‘power targets.’” Commanders know in advance from intelligence how many civilians may be killed in a bombing. Yet, as one Israeli source stated: “The numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths (permitted) as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage.”

Another source was equally chilling: “These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.” This tallies with the evidence so far procured on the ground, including human rights reports.

As for the Lavender system, it is more about identifying individuals as targets rather than buildings. +972 last week reported that it “is designed to mark all suspected operatives in the military wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including low-ranking ones, as potential bombing targets.” Essentially, it is a system to tag Palestinians. Lavender reportedly has information on 90 percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza (one wonders if this is the same for the West Bank). Each person is given a rating from one to 100 based on the likelihood of them being a militant and evidence indicated children were also marked.

The magazine’s investigation determined that, within the first few weeks after Oct. 7, Lavender had identified 37,000 Palestinian “targets” deemed to be suspected “militants.” This equates to what Israel has publicly stated to be its estimate of the number of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives in Gaza. One Hamas commander was given such a high rating that it was assessed that up to 300 Palestinian civilian fatalities would be acceptable as collateral damage.

What makes it worse is that Lavender tends to locate individuals in their homes. Many of the subsequent attacks have taken place at night, so the bombing would also kill members of the target’s family. “We were not interested in killing (Hamas) operatives only when they were in a military building or engaged in a military activity,” said one Israeli intelligence officer.

Local commanders were even encouraged to use Lavender’s “kill lists.” One Israeli military source noted that the humans were just there to rubber stamp the decisions — a process that took about “20 seconds.”

Advocates can argue that machines and AI may be more effective than humans. Yet the known margin of error is about 10 percent, so hardly foolproof.

The reality is that Israel has killed at least 33,000 Palestinians in six months, including 14,000 children, because it has such loose open-fire regulations, which are frequently facilitated by these dangerous AI systems. Israel has not even got close to adhering to the international law principle of proportionality.

The international reaction has been minimal, at least in public. One of the few to speak out has been UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. On Israel’s use of AI, he said on Friday: “No part of life and death decisions which impact entire families should be delegated to the cold calculation of algorithms.”

Even in the media, few mainstream outlets have run with the story. One has to ask why.

Israel’s loose open-fire regulations are frequently facilitated by these dangerous AI systems.

Chris Doyle

Will there be any chance of halting this march, of returning to a world where such life and death decisions are made by humans rather than machines? Will it not be so much easier for a machine to do the killing, devoid of any emotional or moral inhibitions that hopefully humans still have? Will it not be so much easier in the future to blame a computer rather than a person? You cannot take a computer to court. A computer does not pay compensation or have to apologize. There is no transparency in this process. Will any Palestinian parent know if their child was bombed because of The Gospel or Lavender, or because an actual human took a decision?

This matters way beyond the carnage of the Eastern Mediterranean. It shows how massive amounts of data on a population can be abused for the deadliest of purposes. Israel has such information due to its 57 years of intense military occupation. But where else will these systems be adopted? What will be the international legal repercussions?

Moreover, where is the high-level debate? Should such systems be banned? If not, what restrictions should be imposed? Are the companies that make this practice possible complicit in the killings?

The world needs to wake up. Machines have become judge, jury and executioner. The human-machine link in war is shifting toward being dominated by machine. Computers cannot determine if a person is a terrorist. The weakening or even bypassing of any moral agency is terrifying. This is what is being done to Palestinians in Gaza right now. Unless action is taken, this will be the future of war. Hollywood will need some new scripts.

  • Chris Doyle is director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding in London. X: @Doylech
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Hezbollah-Israel conflict holds crisis-weary Lebanese hostage in their own country

Hezbollah-Israel conflict holds crisis-weary Lebanese hostage in their own country
Updated 21 min 23 sec ago
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Hezbollah-Israel conflict holds crisis-weary Lebanese hostage in their own country

Hezbollah-Israel conflict holds crisis-weary Lebanese hostage in their own country
  • More than 435 people have been killed and 96,000 have been displaced in southern Lebanon since Oct. 8 last year
  • Lebanon is already in the throes of a crippling economic crisis, with some 44 percent living in poverty

DUBAI: As Hezbollah and Israel continue to engage in cross-border attacks, which began with the start of the war in Gaza last year, regular Lebanese citizens find themselves surviving in an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty.

Israel so far has stopped short of opening a second front in Lebanon while it seemingly implements a scorched-earth policy in Gaza in retaliation for the deadly attacks Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas carried out in southern Israel on Oct. 8 last year.

The tit-for-tat exchanges have grown in intensity, with two Israeli civilians killed by a Hezbollah rocket barrage in the Golan Heights on Tuesday. Just hours prior to this, an Israeli strike in Syria killed a former bodyguard of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The death toll in south Lebanon continues to mount with more than 435 people killed and over 96,000 internally displaced, according to data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

There has also been a steady rise in the number of senior Hezbollah officials being assassinated. The most recent of these was Mohammed Nimah Nasser, commander of the Aziz Unit responsible for the western sector of southern Lebanon.

A man stands next to a Hezbollah party flag jammed into the wreckage of a vehicle near buildings destroyed during previous Israeli military fire on the southern Lebanese village of Aita Al-Shaab, near the border with northern Israel on June 29, 2024. (AFP)

The country is already suffering from an ongoing economic collapse, soaring poverty rates, and political instability. With no diplomatic breakthrough to contain the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, many fear the start of all-out war, a scenario that would devastate the already fragile Lebanon.

Lebanon has been without a president for nearly two years, relying on Najib Mikati’s leadership as caretaker of the government. Unending quarrels and shifting alliances within Parliament make critical decision-making impossible, while rampant corruption remains the status quo.

According to the May 2024 Lebanon Situation Report from the World Food Programme, the country’s food security has deteriorated rapidly, with the report predicting that just under a quarter of the population will be food insecure by September 2024.

Lebanon’s poverty rates have more than tripled over the past decade, with another May report from the World Bank finding that 44 percent of the total population now lives in poverty.

People line up in front of a bakery to buy bread in Lebanon’s southern city of Sidon on June 22, 2022. (AFP)

Conditions have compelled households to undertake a variety of coping strategies that include cutting back on food consumption, non-food expenses, and health expenditures, which will likely lead to severe long-term consequences.

More than half the population also now depends on aid for survival while the rest continue to struggle to secure basic life necessities such as fuel and electricity.

On July 2, Walid Bukhari, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon, announced an aid package of $10 million through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The aid will help launch 28 projects across Lebanon, adding to the 129 relief, humanitarian, and development projects KSrelief has implemented in the country to date.

A World Bank report in May said that 44 percent of the total population in Lebanon now lives in poverty. (AFP)

Bukhari said the Saudi support was a continuation of the “commitment of the leadership in Saudi Arabia to help humanitarian efforts and promote stability and development in Lebanon with the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”

He also said the support is a “solidarity approach adopted by the Kingdom toward the Lebanese people, based on the duty of true Arab brotherhood and teachings of Islam.”

While gestures are often appreciated by the Lebanese public, many remain skeptical of their own government’s ability to distribute the aid evenly and fairly.

In July, Saudi Arabia announced an aid package of $10 million for Lebanon through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. (SPA/File)

Joseph, a 40-year-old Lebanese from Jounieh who did not want his full name to be used, said he was doubtful that the ones in need would see a cent from any aid packages.

“We have vultures, not politicians. We would not be in this predicament if we had decent leadership,” he told Arab News.

INNUMBERS

  • 435+ People, mostly combatants, killed in south Lebanon since Oct. 8, 2023.
  • 96,000+ People internally displaced in south Lebanon during the same period.
  • 200+ Drones and rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon in first four days of July.

Another Lebanese citizen, who also did not want to reveal his full name, also likened the situation in the country to a tale of two cities.

“The ones who are well off are always out and about in Beirut in areas like Gemayze and Mar Mikhael where most of the pubs are,” Samer told Arab News.

“They have no notion of war, nor do they fear one, because they know they can leave. The others who have fallen on hard times are at home trying to figure out ways to make do at the end of every month. Everyone is talking about the US elections and what outcome it will have on our country.”

Joseph said that a growing number of his friends and family members have begun taking sedatives just to continue functioning.

“The uncertainty has everyone in a chokehold. We had problems prior to the Gaza war and now we’re caught in the middle, not knowing what might become of us and our jobs. We have become hostages in our own country.”

A Lebanese protester holds a sign as fuel tankers block a road in Beirut during a general strike by public transport and workers unions over the country’s economic crisis, on January 13, 2022. (AFP)

Since Lebanon has no adequate social safety net, mental health services range from unaffordable private care to support from local and international nongovernmental organizers that offer free or low-cost consultations.

A study done last year by the mental health NGO Embrace showed that the suicide rates in Lebanon are among the highest in the last 10 years, having increased by 21 percent since 2022. Over 81 percent of suicide cases involved men, with young people aged 23 to 32 the most at risk.

Lebanon’s economic collapse, the 2020 Beirut port blast, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by war speculation and uncertainty, have taken a heavy toll on its citizens’ mental health.

More than half the population in Lebanon now depends on aid for survival while the rest continue to struggle to secure basic life necessities such as fuel and electricity. (AFP)

This week, a mental health strategy was launched in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Dr. Rabih Chammay, the head of the National Mental Health Programme in Lebanon, said that strengthening mental health during crises is a top priority.

The National Mental Health Strategy 2024-2030 will aim to reform and ensure mental health services to those in need for a minimal cost.

Beirut-based Majed, 34, who works both in and outside Lebanon, does not see any signs of impending war except for high-risk areas like the south and Bekaa Valley.

“I also think it depends on where you stay in Lebanon, but I would assume conversations in communities that live in and around Beirut might have a different case.

“But we are seeing precautionary measures in case an all-out war takes place. I think everyone hopes that things will de-escalate but know there’s a good chance a war might happen.

“Even if people don’t live in high-risk areas, this would impact them in so many ways: in terms of their ability to travel if the airport gets hit, availability of fresh produce for people to be able to eat, and we’ll definitely see an increase in crime, especially in the cities.”

A Hezbollah fighter is seen standing at attention in an orange field near the town of Naqura on the Lebanese-Israeli border on April 20, 2017. (AFP/File)

Citing his family’s preparation, Majed said: “My mother keeps talking about leaving Beirut and going to stay in the summer house in Chouf. She also is keeping it fully set up in case a war breaks out. She has bought an additional freezer and is now stocking it up.

“Dual citizens will rely on evacuations, especially if they come from America or European countries. I guess in such a situation, optionality is a privilege.”

To date, seven countries have called on their citizens to leave Lebanon and avoid traveling there, while five countries warned their citizens to be alert and avoid certain areas.

A house lies in ruins in the border area of Shebaa in southern Lebanon, following an Israeli strike on April 27, 2024. (AFP)

In retaliation to the killing of its senior commander Nasser in Tyre, Hezbollah has so far launched 200 rockets and drones into northern Israel.

As violent standoffs between the two powers continue to mount, civilians in southern Lebanon are war-weary but on guard. For Lebanese Ali Shdid, however, the current situation has become a reality of life that one ought to make peace with.

“No one wishes for war. No one. But we will not be threatened into submission, nor will we cower,” he told Arab News.

“If Israelis think we will cave due to their threats and bravado, they got it twisted. We will welcome war on all its fronts.”

 


NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees

NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees
Updated 27 min 2 sec ago
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NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees

NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees
  • Salman Al-Wahib warns that summer is an especially dangerous time because rising temperatures and humidity levels provide conditions for the pests to thrive and contribute to the spread of bacteria and plant mold

RIYADH: Citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia are no strangers to extreme heat conditions, and over the years they have learned to adapt. But as temperatures rise, so do the bugs. And sometimes the problem cannot simply be swatted away.

Tephriditae fruit flies, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly and the olive fruit fly, as well as insects such as the red palm weevil, are among the biggest antagonizing forces against the nation’s plant and fruit supply.

According to research by Topian, NEOM’s food company, the SR9.2 billion ($2.4 billion) date industry loses an average of SR1 billion annually in date palms and associated forgone revenues because of red palm weevil infestations.

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (AN photo)

At the launch of the Saudi Agrifood Tech Alliance in early July in Riyadh, Andrew Yip, head of innovation and ecosystem activation at Topian, revealed the development of new technology designed to target the red palm weevils threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees.

In partnership with AK-Sens, a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology start-up, Topian plans to commercialize and scale optical fiber sensing technology for early-stage detection of the insect in thousands of trees in under an hour, Yip said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In partnership with AK-Sens, a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology startup, Topian is developing a new technology designed to target the red palm weevils threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees.

• The project plans to commercialize and scale optical fiber sensing technology for early-stage detection of the insect in thousands of trees in under an hour.

• It has the potential to increase overall efficiency and sustainability in the agrifood sector and farms nationwide.

Following initial testing with only a handful of trees in Tabuk, the team’s latest trial at NEOM involved a thousand trees and achieved 96.3 percent accuracy with a two thirds reduction of set-up time from previous trials.

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (Supplied)

While the sensing technology has been so far exclusive to palm trees and red palm weevils, it has the potential to increase overall efficiency and sustainability in the agrifood sector and farms nationwide.

To better understand the health risks associated with consuming pest-infested fruits and vegetables, Arab News spoke to Dr. Basem Al-Bahrani, the emergency medicine consultant at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare and a member of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

He said: “Eating vegetables and fruits is an essential part of a healthy diet, but there are health risks associated with eating them if they are contaminated or not washed properly. These risks may include a variety of issues that may affect individuals in different ways.”

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (AN photo)

Food poisoning as a result of salmonella, Escherichia coli (or E. coli), or listeria bacteria is among the most common issues and its symptoms include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, and a fever, Al-Bahrani explained.

Other possible health risks are parasitic infections that at their best present the same as food poisoning and at their worst may cause weight loss and anemia. Finally, ingesting pesticide remnants could lead to hormonal imbalances, nervous system disorders, and increased risk of cancer.

NUMBER

$2.4bn

According to research by Topian, NEOM’s food company, the SR9.2 billion ($2.4 billion) date industry loses an average of SR1 billion annually in date palms and associated forgone revenues because of red palm weevil infestations.

Arab News also spoke to Salman Al-Wahib, a Saudi Advanced Business Co. Holding retiree turned farmer and owner of a plant tissue culture laboratory and nursery for outdoor and indoor plants, with 11 years of experience in the field.

He said that fruit pests are a problem that “requires great care from those responsible, farmers, and consumers.” Al-Wahib also warns that summer is an especially dangerous time because rising temperatures and humidity levels provide conditions for the pests to thrive and contribute to the spread of bacteria and plant mold.

He explained that the problem begins, expectedly, at the farming stage. While pests are most common in local fruits, it is more often than not the symptom of imported seeds and soil. If the seeds and soil are not properly treated before the initial shipment, these containers become welcoming habitats for pest procreation, ready to continue their infestation at their final destination.

Farmers and producers follow strict sanitation, inspection, and clearance procedures to avoid large-scale infestation. According to Al-Wahib, the fruit undergoes an interior and exterior inspection to check for any traces of pests. Then, fruit samples are taken to the lab and tested for pests and any pesticide remnants.

The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture monitors farming sites to ensure that no highly poisonous and environmentally harmful pesticides are used and the standard provisions of Pesticide Law — agreed upon by the agricultural department of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2005 — are followed. The law states that “it is essential to control and regulate the way they (pesticides) are formulated, used, marketed, stored and handled to stave off any potential risks.” Finally, a certification is granted deeming the selected crop pest and pesticide free and safe for human consumption.

As much as the development of organic pesticides has seen great strides in the last few decades, and farmers such as Al-Wahib agree that they are the superior option to chemical pesticides in efficacy and plant health, there is yet a long way to go to bring down that SR1 billion loss to a much more reasonable number and prevent widespread health issues.

According to Al-Wahib, in addition to thoroughly washing fruits at home, watching for signs of infestation, and using suitable storage techniques, the best way to avoid the dangers of fruit pests is to “buy from trusted local markets or farms that have an official certification deeming them free of harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers.”

That way our favorite summer fruits may be readily enjoyed worry-free to refresh from the sweltering summer heat.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill
Updated 59 min 18 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill
  • The simulation was deemed crucial for measuring the response time, coordination efficiency, and overall preparedness for such extreme weather events

AL-MITHNAB: The Qassim Municipality’s Al-Mithnab branch has successfully executed a simulation of heavy rainfall and flash floods. The drill, which involved all relevant departments and divisions, put the region’s disaster preparedness to the test in order to bolster its emergency response capabilities.

The exercise saw the activation of the emergency rainfall plan. Some 40 field personnel were mobilized alongside a fleet of 12 vehicles and machinery, all operating under the comprehensive Emergency and Disaster Management Plan.

A key focus of the drill was assessing the readiness of critical infrastructure. Teams inspected the rainwater drainage networks, pumps, and generators. They also meticulously mapped out potential rainwater accumulation sites across the governorate’s streets.

The simulation was deemed crucial for measuring the response time, coordination efficiency, and overall preparedness for such extreme weather events.

 

 


Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults

Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults
Updated 15 July 2024
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Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults

Displaced in southern Lebanon describe ‘significant’ damage to homes caused by Israeli assaults
  • Hezbollah missiles target Israeli soldiers and spy equipment as explosions rock the Galilee Panhandle and Kiryat Shmona
  • Hezbollah and Amal are allied against Israel on the southern border but continue to compete for dominance elsewhere, sparking sporadic violence

BEIRUT: As hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army along Lebanon’s southern border have de-escalated over the past few days, some displaced residents have taken the opportunity during the relative calm to return and check the condition of their homes.

“The material and moral damage is significant, and the village lost the largest number of young martyrs,” said a woman from the Bazzi family, who fled the village of Bint Jbeil for the safety of Mount Lebanon. “I don’t know how Bint Jbeil could be rebuilt.”

Meanwhile, Hezbollah forces on Monday targeted Israeli soldiers near the Branit barracks and spy equipment at Al-Raheb outpost with missile attacks. Explosions could be heard in the Galilee Panhandle and Kiryat Shmona. The situation in southern Lebanon is closely linked to developments in negotiations with Hamas over the war in Gaza.

Elsewhere, the fierce rivalry between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement continues to grow in areas controlled by the former, as both parties compete to extend their power in each other’s strongholds, particularly the southern suburbs of Beirut and surrounding villages.

A Lebanese security source said there have been repeated clashes in areas where the parties have been vying for support in the run-up to Ashura, an Islamic day of commemoration that falls this year on July 16. Religious tents have been set up for the celebration outside mosques and in other public spaces in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Clashes between Hezbollah and Amal supporters so far have been largely contained before they could escalate, as both groups seek to assert their influence in neighborhoods. Their rivalry peaked on Saturday night when members of the Amal Movement set up a checkpoint and prevented a resident of the suburb of Hay Madi from reaching his building by car, citing security concerns as a pretext.

The incident escalated into an exchange of insults and then a fistfight before shots were fired by an Amal supporter. Other armed individuals intervened, demanding the checkpoint be removed, and the residential area became a war zone as heavy gunfire forced women, children and elderly residents to flee in terror.

Hezbollah security official Samir Kabbani was shot in the head and killed during the fighting. A number of civilians were reportedly injured. The security source said the clash was “not the first but the bloodiest.”

Ali Al-Amin, the editor-in-chief of the Janoubia news website, said a previously declared alliance between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement to confront Israel along the southern border is a forced arrangement and does not reflect any sense of harmony between the parties.

Ashura has “turned from a religious commemoration into an occasion for displaying power,” he added. “Each party now tries to show its capabilities and dominance by encroaching on the territory of others.

“The Hay Madi neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Beirut serves as an extension of the security zone for Hezbollah in the suburbs. Consequently, the clash may have been intended to reinforce the demarcation of influence boundaries.”

The conflict might also have stemmed from a “prevailing atmosphere of demagoguery,” as politicians attempt to appeal to people’s desires and prejudices, Al-Amin added.

Amid the long-running, severe economic crisis in Lebanon, Hezbollah has allocated $3 million to set up religious reception sites, a resident of the southern suburbs said. Each site received $10,000 to fund the distribution of food, drinks and sweets to residents, they added.

Al-Amin said the extravagance of organizing such events indicated “a desire to control the population.”

He added: “These manifestations were not seen last year but are now accompanied by a war led by Hezbollah in the south, resulting in prolonged displacement and unease among residents who had heavily invested in the south under the assumption of its stability.

“Despite the populace’s agitation and their feeling of oppression, disgust and dissatisfaction, they are under the sway of Hezbollah as it is the sole entity that has asserted its capability to compensate the people. Additionally, it wields significant security influence, which may have played a part in the clashes with the Amal movement.

“People might protest and express their dissent but where can they turn to? They will ultimately return to those who offer them protection, and this authority currently lies not with the government but with Hezbollah, who proclaim this both in words and actions.”


Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate

Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate
Updated 50 min 20 sec ago
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Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate

Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate
  • J.D. Vance is a one-time harsh critic who became one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress
  • One of the least experienced VP picks in modern history, the one-term senator is further to the right than the ex-president on many issues

MILWAUKEE: Donald Trump on Monday named right-wing Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate in the US presidential election, rewarding a one-time harsh critic who became one of his most loyal supporters in Congress.
Trump, 78, announced his pick on the first day of the Republican Party convention in Milwaukee, an extravaganza turbocharged by the attempted assassination of the former president.
Seen as the standard-bearer for a new kind of populism that has come to the fore under Trump, 39-year-old Vance embraces the ex-president’s isolationist, anti-immigration America First movement.
One of the least experienced VP picks in modern history, the one-term senator is further to the right than the ex-president on many issues including abortion, where he embraces calls for federal legislation.
He made his name with the 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” a best-selling account of his Appalachian family and modest Rust Belt upbringing, which gave a voice to rural, working-class resentment in left-behind America.
Critics have pointed to numerous awkward remarks one-time “Never Trump guy” Vance has made in the past, including calling the billionaire an “idiot,” “noxious” and “reprehensible” and suggesting he was “America’s Hitler.”
Vance reinvented himself as a Trump supporter in recent years and ultimately won the ex-president’s key endorsement in the 2022 Ohio Senate race.
Trump could have dropped his big reveal at any point in the days before Milwaukee, but all his pre-convention plans were upended when a gunman made an attempt on his life at a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday.

With the country still reeling from images of the bloodied Trump being escorted off a rally stage, some 50,000 Republicans descended on the shores of Lake Michigan for the four-day gathering, four months before the election against Democratic President Joe Biden.
The attempted assassination — in which one bystander was killed, and two more wounded — was expected to dominate proceedings, with Trump dismissing calls to postpone and vowing to be “defiant in the face of wickedness.”
“I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead,” he told the New York Post in an interview aboard his plane to Milwaukee, during which he reportedly had a white bandage on his ear and a large bruise on his forearm from where Secret Service agents gripped him.
The Secret Service, which is battling criticism it failed to protect Trump from the shooter, said it was “fully prepared” to ensure security at the convention.
Leading in multiple polls, despite being convicted at his hush-money criminal case in New York, Trump is exuding confidence.
Biden, 81, meanwhile is facing calls from his own side to quit the race over concerns around his age.
Trump scored another victory Monday as a judge dismissed the criminal case against him over accusations he endangered national security by holding on to top secret documents after leaving the White House.

He immediately took to Truth Social to call for the dismissal of all legal cases against him, insisting again that he was being targeted for political reasons.
Trump told the Post he had “prepared an extremely tough speech” about Biden’s “horrible administration” to deliver when he becomes the official Republican nominee on Thursday.
As some Republicans — including Vance — sought to blame Democrats’ anti-Trump rhetoric for the attack, Trump also said he hopes to “unite our country.”
Still, that would see him have to rein in the instinct to settle scores — demonstrated by his cry for supporters to “fight” in the seconds after Saturday’s attack.
The Milwaukee gathering is largely designed in Trump’s image, with digital banners beaming out a message in the cavernous convention arena: “Make America Great Once Again.”
The branding reflects his takeover of the party.
A diminished figure after his 2020 election loss and a subsequent riot at the Capitol by his supporters, Trump has spent much of the last four years reshaping Republican politics.
Installing loyalists including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump atop the Republican National Committee, the billionaire has effectively crushed dissent.
The Milwaukee convention is also a family affair, with Lara and the former president’s two eldest sons, Don Jr and Eric, all due to address delegates.