Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down

Special Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down
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This picture taken from an Israeli position along the border with southern Lebanon shows smoke billowing above the Lebanese village of Odaisseh during Israeli bombardment, Apr. 22, 2024. (AFP)
Special Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down
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An Israeli soldier releases a drone near the border with Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Jan. 24, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down

Israeli fighter jets target site from which Hermes 450 drone was shot down
  • Hezbollah’s tactics now involve shooting down Israeli drones, in addition to targeting military outposts opposite the southern border
  • Spokesperson says Israel’s air force will continue to operate in Lebanese airspace to achieve aims

BEIRUT: Israeli warplanes targeted the outskirts of Aaichiyeh village in Lebanon’s southern region on Monday after Hezbollah said it had downed an Israeli drone on a combat mission.

Hezbollah announced it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone on Sunday night from the same location.

It is the second drone that Hezbollah has downed in Lebanese airspace in the last two weeks. The Iran-backed group’s tactics now involve shooting down Israeli drones, in addition to targeting military outposts opposite the southern border.

Hezbollah said that the drone was attacking “our noble and steadfast people.”

Explosions were heard on Monday afternoon after sirens sounded in the Israeli Kiryat Shmona settlement and its surroundings in the Upper Galilee.

Israeli Channel 12 reported that “a suspicious aerial target was intercepted over the Galilee panhandle near the Lebanese border.”

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee said that “a surface-to-air missile was launched toward an Israeli army drone that was operating in Lebanese airspace on Saturday night.”

The drone was hit and fell in Lebanese territory, he said, adding that the incident was under investigation.

Adraee claimed that Israeli warplanes struck the site from which the missile was launched, and added that the air force would continue to operate in Lebanese airspace to achieve the military’s aims.

Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, a member of Hezbollah’s Central Council, said the group’s drones “successfully bypass Israeli air defense systems every day.”

He said the distance between “us and Israeli settlements and sites is extremely close, and the distance between Kafr Kila and Metulla is zero, as well as Miskvam and Al-Manara.”

Qaouk said Hezbollah’s drones can hit their targets in Israeli settlements within a minute from launch.

He said: “You saw in Arab Al-Aramsha how the drone attacked the Israeli force, and we thus demonstrated our ability to evade all Israeli air defense systems.”

Qaouk added that “the increase in killings and attacks on homes in border towns will not alter the situation. It will not affect Hezbollah’s commitment to backing Hamas and will not result in the settlers going back to their homes (in northern Israel).”

Qaouk’s remarks came as confrontations on the Lebanese southern front continued on Monday as the Israeli army bombed Maroun Al-Ras village in Bint Jbeil.

The Israeli military also targeted a site near Maydoun village in western Bekaa, while shells reached the outskirts of Tayr Harfa, Dhahira, and Yaroun.

Meanwhile, sirens sounded at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s headquarters in Naqoura following Israeli bombing that had targeted the western sector of the country.

Hezbollah then launched missiles from Lebanon toward an Israeli military base in Western Galilee.

The group attacked an Israeli military position near Hanita with artillery shells and “successfully hit spy equipment across from the village of Al-Wazzani with suitable weapons.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has received Harvey Smyth, British deputy chief of the defense staff.

A statement said the talks had focused on the need “to reduce tension and achieve a ceasefire in southern Lebanon.”

Smyth also met Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for talks which focused on the situation “in Lebanon and the region in light of Israel’s continued aggression against Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.”

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi also led a delegation to meet the parliament speaker, and Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun.

Berri’s office said the parties discussed the “overall situation in Lebanon and the region.”

Lebanon is asking for help in boosting the number of Lebanese soldiers in the area south of the Litani River, in line with Resolution 1701, and is urging the global community to support the move.


Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew

Ship manager calls on Houthis to free Galaxy Leader crew
Updated 40 min 13 sec ago
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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.


Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’

Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’
Updated 18 June 2024
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Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’

Israel army says operational plans for Lebanon offensive ‘approved’
  • “As part of the situational assessment, operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated," the military said
  • "Decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field"

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Tuesday operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were "approved and validated", as Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement engaged in cross-border exchanges of fire.
Senior Israeli military officials "held a joint situational assessment in the Northern Command. As part of the situational assessment, operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated," the military said in a statement.
"Decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field."
Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, and Israel have been trading near-daily fire since the Gaza war was trigged by the Palestinian militant group's October 7 attack on southern Israel.
The sign-off came as Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz earlier warned Hezbollah that it would be destroyed in the event of a "total war" between the two.
"We are very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard," Katz said, according to a statement from his office.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month that the military was ready for an intense operation in Lebanon if necessary, pledging to restore security to the country's northern border.
US special envoy Amos Hochstein was in Lebanon on Tuesday a day after meeting Israeli leaders, seeking "urgent" de-escalation on the Israel-Lebanon border.


Iran slaps one-year prison term on Nobel winner Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Narges Mohammadi. (Supplied)
Updated 18 June 2024
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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 18 June 2024
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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.

FASTFACT

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).