South Africa seeks halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive at World Court

South Africa seeks halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive at World Court
South Africa will ask the top UN court on Thursday to order a halt to the Rafah offensive as part of its case in The Hague accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 16 May 2024
Follow

South Africa seeks halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive at World Court

South Africa seeks halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive at World Court
  • The hearings on May 16 and 17 will only focus on issuing emergency measures, to keep the dispute from escalating

THE HAGUE: South Africa will ask the top UN court on Thursday to order a halt to the Rafah offensive as part of its case in The Hague accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip.
The hearings at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, come after South Africa last week asked for additional emergency measures to protect Rafah, a southern Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have been sheltering.
It also asked the court to order Israel to allow unimpeded access to Gaza for UN officials, organizations providing humanitarian aid, and journalists and investigators. It added that Israel has so far ignored and violated earlier court orders.
On Thursday, South Africa will present its latest intervention seeking emergency measures starting at 3 p.m.(1300 GMT).
Israel, which has denounced South Africa’s claim that it is violating the 1949 Genocide Convention as baseless, will respond on Friday. In previous filings it stressed it had stepped up efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza as the ICJ had ordered.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations told Army Radio on Wednesday the short notice the court gave for the hearings did not allow sufficient legal preparation, adding that was “a telling sign.”
The Israel-Hamas war has killed nearly 35,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there. About 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 taken hostage on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched the attack that started the war, according Israeli tallies.
South Africa accuses Israel of acts of genocide against Palestinians. In January, the court ordered Israel to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza, allow in more humanitarian aid and preserve any evidence of violations.
The hearings on May 16 and 17 will only focus on issuing emergency measures, to keep the dispute from escalating. It will likely take years before the court can rule on the merits of the case.
The ICJ’s rulings and orders are binding and without appeal. While the court has no way to enforce them, an order against a country could hurt its international reputation and set legal precedent.


Indonesian pilgrim’s journey to Makkah: 60 years of unforgettable memories

Indonesian pilgrim’s journey to Makkah: 60 years of unforgettable memories
Updated 14 sec ago
Follow

Indonesian pilgrim’s journey to Makkah: 60 years of unforgettable memories

Indonesian pilgrim’s journey to Makkah: 60 years of unforgettable memories

Riyadh: In 1964, six-year-old Indonesian Maryam Mohammad Munir traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time to perform Hajj with her family. Since then, she has traveled 22 more times to the Kingdom to perform Umrah and Hajj.

In the Makkah Route Initiative hall at Surabaya airport, Munir reminisced about the memories and experiences of her 22 trips.

According to the Saudi Press Agency report, she said that 60 years ago, her family’s first trip to perform Hajj was costly and made on a primitive ship that took five to eight months to arrive in the Kingdom.

These ships would first sail from the port of Jakarta, pass through India, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, and then finally arrive at the port of Jeddah.

The journey, she said, was fraught with dangers, challenges and fear. However, her family’s commitment to fulfilling their religious obligations gave them the strength to persevere through the hardships they encountered along the way.

Munir also talked about Indonesians’ traditions surrounding Hajj in the past. The pilgrims would all gather in Jakarta and bid farewell to their family members before setting off. After completing Hajj and returning home, the pilgrims’ families would warmly welcome them with various gifts, celebrating their safe return and the fulfillment of their religious journey.

She said that with development, travel to Makkah has become much easier, which has led to an increasing number of pilgrims traveling to the holy city.

Munir expressed sincere thanks and appreciation to the Saudi leadership, which, she said, continues to exert great efforts to serve pilgrims from all over the world and help them perform Umrah and Hajj with ease.

 

Indian pilgrims arrive in Makkah

Mutawifs of Arabs Hajj Company (Ashraqat) subsidiary Rahlat wa Manafi Company has welcomed the first group of pilgrims from India who arrived in Makkah for this year’s Hajj season.

The first group consisted of some 2,500 pilgrims distributed in three centers, the SPA reported.

Rahlat wa Manafi Company CEO Ahmad Tamar said that the company strives to provide the utmost comfort to pilgrims, helping them perform their rituals with ease, according to instructions from King Salman regarding visitors, Umrah performers and pilgrims.

The Indian pilgrims expressed gratitude for the efforts exerted by the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide the best services for pilgrims. They also voiced appreciation for the warm hospitality and reception.


Gaza refugee stories bring Filipinos closer to Palestinians

Gaza refugee stories bring Filipinos closer to Palestinians
Updated 5 min 36 sec ago
Follow

Gaza refugee stories bring Filipinos closer to Palestinians

Gaza refugee stories bring Filipinos closer to Palestinians
  • Nearly 150 Filipino-Palestinians were evacuated from Gaza by the Philippine government
  • Their stories give Filipinos a new perspective as the narrative used to be dominated by Israel

MANILA: In 2023, Jehan Alabadla, 22, was in her senior year at the Islamic University of Gaza, where she was set to graduate from the school’s biotechnology program.

She was forced to flee her home in November — weeks after Israel started its deadly onslaught on the Gaza Strip — to seek shelter in the Philippines, her mother’s native country, leaving behind her Palestinian father and half-siblings, who now liv, displaced, in tents. Alabadla speaks with them whenever she can, but it is not easy as communication lines have been destroyed.

“It is really hard, this is not the life I was used to in Gaza,” she told Arab News.

“With the war, it’s like my life has stopped. Right now, my priority is to save a bit, help my dad in Gaza, as well as my siblings because they’re still so little. It makes me cry because they’ve gotten so thin.”

Alabadla is one of nearly 150 Filipino-Palestinians evacuated from Gaza by the Philippine government — many leaving their homes, livelihoods, and often also loved ones.

She shared the story of her hometown and family in Gaza with over 1,000 people who gathered at the University of the Philippines on Sunday, for an event meant to support the evacuee families and bring them closer to the community.

Among them was also Zenith Abudalal, who returned to the Philippines with her Palestinian husband, children, and grandchildren.

She recalled their harrowing experiences in Gaza amid the Israeli attacks which since October have killed more than 36,000 people, wounded more than 80,000, and destroyed most of the enclave’s infrastructure.

As Philippine authorities were trying to bring her family to safety, they had to walk 8 km to the border with Egypt. Holding white flags, they were instructed to focus on their path, not to stop, not to look to their sides, not to react when Israeli soldiers called them.

“We walked. Our streets were filled with the dead. Severed limbs, heads, bodies,” she said. “We just prayed hard so we can reach our destination ... It was so difficult.”

The stories have given the Filipino audience a new perspective, where until now, their knowledge has been dominated by pro-Israeli narratives that utilize the Holocaust and World War II and have for decades marginalized Palestinian voices.

“We often hear about the plight of the Jews, but the Jews or Israelis are not the only victims ... The Palestinians have been driven off their land for a long time,” said Alexa Villano, a resident of Quezon City.

Manila-based writer Michiko Manalang, who brought her parents to the meeting, said that the refugees’ stories made them see things differently.

“I think the event gave them a different emotional truth, especially after knowing that some young women there were without parents or other loved ones, either because they’re still stuck in Rafah, or they were killed in the invasion,” she said.

“I feel that the world is waking up to the reality that community is where it’s at, and I think that can really change how we live. I feel we cannot go back to the way we lived before.”

Consolidating the refugees and the variety of their experiences is what the event sought to highlight.

“We are hoping with this kind of awareness comes the acceptance from a wider Filipino community,” Darwin Absari, professor at the UP’s Institute of Islamic Studies and a co-founder of the Moro-Palestinians Cooperation Team, told Arab News.

“In terms of raising awareness, I think we have somehow reached it. One thousand is still a small number for us, but those people who went there kept on sharing. So that multiplies. Janine Gutierrez went there with her mom Lot Lot. Aubrey Miles also promoted our event,” he said, referring to celebrity Filipino actresses.

There was an increasing awareness among Filipino politicians too, despite their strong links with the US and its ally, Israel.

Samira Gutoc, a former legislator in Mindanao, said that some were now — unlike before — convinced that the attacks on Gaza should stop, as they have been seeing more and more content giving a human face to the stories told about Palestine.

“And this is not an antisemitic campaign,” she said. “The content is really about human lives and people who care for lives. We have to stand up for human life.”


Russian guided bombs hit residential area in Kharkiv, nine injured

Russian guided bombs hit residential area in Kharkiv, nine injured
Updated 9 min 4 sec ago
Follow

Russian guided bombs hit residential area in Kharkiv, nine injured

Russian guided bombs hit residential area in Kharkiv, nine injured
  • One of the guided aerial bombs, according to preliminary data, hit a cafe
  • A petrol station caught fire as a result of the attack as well

KHARKIV: A Russian air attack on Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv on Wednesday injured at least nine people, at least one severely, and set fire to a residential building, local officials said.
“One of the guided aerial bombs, according to preliminary data, hit a cafe. It is very close to a multi-story residential building,” Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the regional police, told national TV.
Regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said a petrol station caught fire as a result of the attack as well.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and the surrounding region have been targeted by Russian attacks since the start of the war in 2022. Strikes have become far more intense in recent months, hitting civilian and energy infrastructure, and Russian forces have opened a new front north of the regional capital in recent weeks.
Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians but thousands have been killed and injured in its 27-months-old invasion of Ukraine.


UK ‘bionic MP’ returns to parliament after quadruple amputation

UK ‘bionic MP’ returns to parliament after quadruple amputation
Updated 18 min 9 sec ago
Follow

UK ‘bionic MP’ returns to parliament after quadruple amputation

UK ‘bionic MP’ returns to parliament after quadruple amputation
  • MPs cheered as Craig Mackinlay — who has called himself “the bionic MP” — took his seat in the House of Commons
  • The UK Sepsis Trust says 245,000 people in Britain are affected every year

LONDON: A British lawmaker received a standing ovation in parliament on Wednesday, as he made his first appearance since having his hands and feet amputated due to sepsis.
MPs cheered as Craig Mackinlay — who has called himself “the bionic MP” — took his seat in the House of Commons shortly before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s weekly question and answer session.
The 57-year-old Conservative MP was rushed to hospital in September last year and spent 16 days in an induced coma before undergoing a quadruple amputation in December.
He has since been fitted with prosthetic hands and legs.
Sunak paid tribute to Mackinlay’s “incredible resilience” while main opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said he had shown “courage and determination.”
Mackinlay acknowledged the cheers and applause, before thanking his wife, daughter and family for their support, as well as medical staff who all watched his return from the public gallery.
He described his return as an “emotional day” but apologized for breaking parliamentary rules by wearing trainers, as his shoes would not fit, and not sporting a jacket because it would not go over his “bionic arm.”
Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that occurs when the immune system overreacts and damages the body’s tissues and organs.
The UK Sepsis Trust says 245,000 people in Britain are affected every year, and at least 48,000 die — more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.
Mackinlay recounted in an interview broadcast on Tuesday that his whole body “went a very strange blue” within half an hour of arriving at hospital, having gone into septic shock.
His wife Kati was told that her husband’s chances of emerging from the coma alive were just five percent.
On waking, Mackinlay discovered that his limbs had turned completely back and described them as being “like plastic.”
“They were desiccating, clenched and just looked dead,” he told the BBC.
Mackinlay recalled that he was not surprised when doctors told him they would have to be amputated and he was “surprisingly stoic.”
“They managed to save above the elbows and above the knees,” he told the broadcaster. “So, you might say I’m lucky.”
Mackinlay, a Tory MP since 2015, has said he intends to seek re-election in his constituency in Kent, southeast England, at a general election due this year.


Russia returns six children to Ukraine: state media

Russia returns six children to Ukraine: state media
Updated 22 May 2024
Follow

Russia returns six children to Ukraine: state media

Russia returns six children to Ukraine: state media
  • The children were reunited with their families at an event in the Qatari embassy in Moscow

Moscow: Russia has returned six children displaced by the conflict in Ukraine to their families in a deal brokered by Qatar, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported on Wednesday.
Ukraine believes Russia has illegally taken more than 19,000 of its children since the start of its 2022 offensive, of which fewer than 400 have been returned.
The children — a group of boys aged six to 17 that included two brothers — were reunited with their families at an event in the Qatari embassy in Moscow, the agency reported.
The event was attended by the Qatari ambassador as well as officials representing Russia’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, TASS said.
Lvova-Belova is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia, a charge the Kremlin denies.
Ukraine did not immediately comment.
Since July 2023, Qatar has helped bring back dozens of children taken to Russia and occupied territories during the two-year conflict, an issue that is highly sensitive in Ukraine.
Some of the children’s parents were killed, while others were separated from their carers by the fast-moving front lines at the start of Russia’s offensive.
Some were living in Ukrainian orphanages in areas Russia then occupied.