Children among dead as Israeli forces widen attacks on Hezbollah

Update Lebanese army soldiers and onlookers gather around the carcasses of a car after it was hit by an Israeli strike, reportedly killing a local Hamas official, in Majd al-Jabal in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on May 17, 2024. (AFP)
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Lebanese army soldiers and onlookers gather around the carcasses of a car after it was hit by an Israeli strike, reportedly killing a local Hamas official, in Majd al-Jabal in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on May 17, 2024. (AFP)
Update Children among dead as Israeli forces widen attacks on Hezbollah
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Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over the Lebanese village of Al-Najjariyeh in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel. (AFP)
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Updated 17 May 2024
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Children among dead as Israeli forces widen attacks on Hezbollah

Children among dead as Israeli forces widen attacks on Hezbollah
  • Southern Lebanon faces ‘escalating violence,’ army veteran tells Arab News
  • US Embassy joins calls for a new Lebanese president to ‘unite the nation’

BEIRUT: Two children from a Syrian refugee family and a Hezbollah fighter were killed when Israeli airstrikes on Friday hit an area of southern Lebanon more than 30 km inside the border.

Israeli strikes targeted Najjariyeh and Addousiyeh, adjacent villages south of the coastal city of Sidon, killing the children and a Hezbollah fighter driving a pickup truck.

Hezbollah responded to the raids by firing dozens of rockets toward the upper Galilee, western Galilee, the Galilee panhandle, and the Golan.

Israeli media claimed that 140 rockets were fired toward the north of the country.

BACKGROUND

Hezbollah has traded cross-border fire with Israeli forces almost daily since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that sparked the war in Gaza, now in its eighth month.

Israeli forces and Hezbollah have expanded their hostilities, with both launching drone attacks deep into Lebanese territory and northern Israel.

Retired Brig. Gen. Khaled Hamadeh of the Lebanese Army said that the situation in southern Lebanon is “escalating toward more violent attacks.”

Hezbollah insists on linking a ceasefire in southern Lebanon to an end to hostilities in Gaza.

Hamadeh said that no efforts were being made to stop the clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, unlike the situation in Gaza.

In a statement, Hezbollah said it targeted Israel’s Tsnobar logistics base in the Golan with 50 Katyusha rockets in response to the strike on Najjarieh.

According to Israeli media, rocket salvos were aimed at military bases in Katzrin and areas north of Lake Tiberias.

Two people were injured in rocket blasts in Karam bin Zamra in the upper Galilee, media added.

CCTV cameras installed outside homes in Najjarieh showed an Israeli drone following the pickup truck as the driver, named as Hussein Khodor Mehdi, attempted to flee.

The first missile launched by the drone missed its target, but a second that struck the truck, setting it on fire and killing the driver. Three onlookers were also injured.

Hezbollah said that Mehdi, 62, was “martyred on the road to Jerusalem.”

Israeli Army Radio said the victim was a senior commander in the Hezbollah air force.

It claimed that the army planes shelled Hezbollah’s infrastructure in Najjarieh.

The second airstrike targeted a congregation hall and a cement factory, wounding several members of a Syrian refugee family. Two children, Osama and Hani Al-Khaled, later died from their injuries.

Hezbollah said it targeted the Al-Raheb military site with artillery and Israeli positions in Al-Zaoura with a salvo of Katyusha rockets.

According to a security source, Hezbollah’s latest targets included surveillance balloons near Tiberias and Adamit in the Galilee.

Early on Friday, Hezbollah attacked the newly established headquarters of the 411th Artillery Battalion in Kibbutz Jaatoun, east of Nahariyya, with drones in response to the Israeli killing of two Hezbollah fighters, Ali Fawzi Ayoub, 26, and Mohammed Hassan Ali Fares, 34, the previous day.

In his Friday sermon, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, head of Hezbollah’s Shariah Council, said the group was “waging its fierce war on the north of Palestine, pursuing the enemy, blinding its espionage, and breaking what were once red lines, as well pursuing its soldiers in their hideouts until the war on Gaza stops.”

The US Embassy in Lebanon issued a warning over the conflict on the southern border and the presidential vacuum in the country.

Electing a president was crucial to ensuring Lebanon’s participation in regional discussions and future diplomatic agreements concerning its southern border, the embassy said.

Lebanon “needs and deserves a president who unites the nation, prioritizes the well-being of its citizens, and forms a broad and inclusive coalition to restore political stability and implement necessary economic reforms,” the statement added.

The ambassadors of Egypt, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the US to Lebanon issued a statement this week warning of “the critical situation facing the Lebanese people and the difficult-to-manage repercussions on Lebanon’s economy and social stability due to the delay of necessary reforms.”

 


Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
Updated 10 min 38 sec ago
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Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island

Houthi attack targets another ship off Yemen’s remote Socotra island
  • Campaigners urge UN and international community to do more to help free detained Yemeni civilians and halt militia’s campaign of torture and terror
  • Houthi abuses will continue unless punished, says rights activist as he calls on UN and donors to ‘face this escalation with strength’ and ‘take a stand’

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis reportedly attacked another commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Monday, as the Yemeni militia appears to be stepping up attacks on vessels along key maritime routes.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations, an agency that tracks attacks on shipping, said it received an alert from a ship’s master about an explosion in “close proximity” to the ship. It happened in an area 246 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, a coastal town in the government-controlled Yemeni province of Mahra, close to Yemen’s remote Socotra island.

“The crew are reported safe, and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the agency said.

It was the second incident in the area reported by the UKMTO in the space of 24 hours. The captain and crew of a vessel abandoned ship on Sunday after it was damaged and took on water about 96 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, the agency said.

On Sunday, the Houthis claimed credit for two other strikes on commercial shipping. A vessel called the Transworld Navigator was attacked with an explosive-laden drone in the Red Sea, and another called the Stolt Sequoia was targeted with ballistic missiles in the Indian Ocean, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a televised statement. He accused the owners of the ships of violating the militia’s ban on shipping to Israeli ports.

According to the Marine Traffic ship-tracking app, the Stolt Sequoia is a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker traveling from Bahrain to France.

The US Central Command reported on Sunday night that the Houthis were thought to have used a drone to strike the Transworld Navigator, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned and operated bulk cargo ship traveling from Malaysia to Egypt.

“Today, at 4 a.m. (Sanaa time), the crew reported minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship, but the vessel has continued underway,” the US military said.

Since their attacks on shipping began in November, the Houthis have sunk two ships, seized one and fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and remote-controlled, explosive-laden boats at commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in what they say is a campaign to put pressure on Israel to end its war in Gaza.

Yemenis have disputed the Houthi claims of support for the Palestinian people, accusing leaders of the militia of using the public outrage in Yemen over the killing of civilians in Gaza in an attempt to divert attention from their own internal problems, including growing public resentment over their failure to pay public-sector employees, and to recruit and rally the Yemeni public against opponents in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Yemenis from all sections of society and human rights organizations have launched an online campaign to draw global attention to the plight of dozens of Yemeni employees of the UN and other international organizations who are being held by the Houthis.

The militia abducted about 50 people in Sanaa this month, drawing widespread criticism from the UN as well as local and international rights groups.

In the online campaign, Yemenis call on the UN and the wider international community to take more action against the Houthis to secure the release of the detained workers, and to name and shame the militia for torturing and terrorizing the Yemeni people.

“This silence on their misdeeds serves as an indirect justification for them. The UN must take a stronger stand and compel them to end their crimes against humanity and free all abductees promptly and unconditionally.”

Yemeni human rights activist Riyadh Aldubai urged the UN and international donors to condemn the Houthi crackdown on Yemeni workers and relocate their agencies’ offices to government-controlled Aden, warning that the Houthis will continue their rights abuses if not punished.

“UN and donors must face this escalation with strength. Condemn the abductions, enforce strict measures, and relocate operations to reduce Houthi control. It’s time to take a stand,” he said in a message on X.


UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack

UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack
Updated 9 sec ago
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UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack

UNRWA is sued by Israeli victims of Oct. 7 Hamas attack
NEW YORK: The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency was sued on Monday by dozens of Israelis who accused it of aiding and abetting the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
In a complaint filed with the US District Court in Manhattan, the plaintiffs said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) spent more than a decade helping Hamas build what they called the “terror infrastructure” and personnel needed for the attack.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for what they allege was UNRWA’s “aiding and abetting Hamas’ genocide, crimes against humanity, and torture,” which they said violated international law and the federal Torture Victim Protection Act.
UNRWA declined to comment, saying it had yet to be served with the lawsuit.
The agency has said it takes accusations of staff misconduct seriously, and terminated 10 staff members accused by Israel of involvement in the attack. Two others died, it has said.
UNRWA’s commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, and several current and former agency officials are also defendants.
The plaintiffs include 101 people who survived the attack or had relatives who were killed.
While many of their accusations have been made by Israel’s government, the plaintiffs want UNRWA held liable for allegedly funneling more than $1 billion from a Manhattan bank account to benefit Hamas, including for weapons, explosives and ammunition.
The plaintiffs accuse UNRWA of providing “safe harbor” to Hamas in its facilities, and letting its schools use Hamas-approved textbooks to indoctrinate Palestinian children to support violence toward and hatred of Jews and Israel.
They also said the attack was “foreseeable” to the defendants, regardless of whether they knew the specifics.
“We are talking about people who have been killed, lost family members and lost homes,” Avery Samet, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview. “We expect damages will be substantial.”
WARNING FROM UNRWA CHIEF
The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, while about 250 other people were abducted, according to Israeli tallies.
More than 37,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave have said.
Several countries including the United States halted funding to UNRWA after Israel alleged that staff members were involved in Hamas’ attack.
In April, Norway called on international donors to resume funding UNRWA, after a UN-authorized independent review found that Israel had not provided evidence supporting its accusations that hundreds of UNRWA staff were members of terrorist groups.
On Monday, Lazzarini urged resistance to Israeli efforts to disband UNRWA.
“If we do not push back, other UN entities and international organizations will be next, further undermining our multilateral system,” Lazzarini said at a meeting of the agency’s advisory commission in Geneva.
Established in 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA provides schooling, health care and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It is funded almost entirely by UN member states.
The case is Estate of Kedem et al v United Nations Relief and Works Agency et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 24-04765.

Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
Updated 14 min 58 sec ago
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Morocco sends 40 tons of medical aid to Gaza

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
  • The aid includes surgery equipment and supplies to treat burns and fractures as well as medicine for children
  • Moroccan authorities say they are using their ties to Israel to promote peace and defend the rights of Palestinians

RABAT: Morocco has begun sending 40 tons of medical aid to Palestinians in war-torn Gaza, the Moroccan foreign ministry said on Monday.
The aid includes surgery equipment and supplies to treat burns and fractures as well as medicine for children, it said.
The aid was transported by air and will be loaded into Palestinian red crescent trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which was first used by Morocco to deliver aid in March, a senior diplomatic source told Reuters.
Moroccan authorities say they are using their ties to Israel to promote peace and defend the rights of Palestinians, but there have been many protests in Moroccan cities criticizing these ties since the onset of the war in Gaza.
Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza was triggered after 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 Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed more than 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left much of Gaza in ruins.


Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
Updated 58 min 31 sec ago
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Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April

Dubai ruler announces $8bn stormwater runoff system after record floods in April
  • Rainfall was UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago
  • UAE government announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding in April

LONDON: Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on Monday announced an $8 billion plan for a stormwater runoff system, two months after an unprecedented deluge and widespread flooding.
The drainage network announced by Sheikh Mohammed on social media platform X will be completed by 2033 with construction set to start immediately.

“It will cover all areas of Dubai and will absorb more than 20 million cubic meters of water per day,” Sheikh Mohammed said of the plan.
It “will increase the capacity of rainwater drainage in the emirate by 700 percent and enhance the emirate’s readiness to face future climate challenges,” he said, calling it the region’s largest such network.
Record rains lashed the UAE on April 16, flooding homes and turning streets into rivers. The downpour, worsened by a lack of storm drains, caused delays at Dubai airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers.
The rainfall was the UAE’s heaviest since records began 75 years ago. Without drainage for excess water, authorities relied on trucks to pump up the water with giant hoses and drive it away.
The World Weather Attribution group said global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions “most likely” exacerbated the intense rains that also hit the neighboring sultanate of Oman, where 21 people died.
The UAE government subsequently announced $544 million to repair homes of Emirati families impacted by the flooding.
“We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains,” said Sheikh Mohammed after a cabinet meeting in April, adding that ministers approved “two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens.”
* With AFP

 


Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
Updated 24 June 2024
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Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims

Foreign diplomats tour Beirut airport after weapons claims
  • On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport
  • “The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit
BEIRUT: Senior Lebanese officials on Monday defended procedures at Beirut airport during a tour for journalists and diplomats, a day after a British daily alleged Hezbollah was storing weapons at the facility.
The accusations came during escalating exchanges of fire and bellicose rhetoric between Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and Israeli forces, which have engaged in near-daily fire since war in Gaza began.
Hezbollah has been acting in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas since the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the Gaza war.
On Sunday, British daily The Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was storing missiles and rockets at Beirut airport, where “whistleblowers” had reported the arrival of “unusually big boxes” from Iran.
Hezbollah has not made any official comment.
“The airport adheres to international standards,” said Transport Minister Ali Hamieh, who led the visit together with Lebanon’s ministers for foreign affairs, tourism and information.
Representatives from foreign missions including Egypt, Germany and the European Union delegation joined the tour of the airport’s warehouse facilities.
Hamieh on Sunday held a press conference to reject The Telegraph report as false and “to say that there are no weapons entering or leaving Beirut.” He invited ambassadors and reporters for the tour.
At the airport, Hamieh described The Telegraph report as part of “psychological war” on Lebanon and said it was a “distortion of the reputation” of Lebanon’s only international airport.
The tour “included an import and export center... that accounts for 20 percent of the import traffic and is concerned with services for Iranian planes which were the subject of The Telegraph report,” Hamieh said.
Another warehouse accounted for the remaining 80 percent of imports and exports, he told a press conference.
Israel has for years accused Hezbollah of keeping weapons in installations throughout Lebanon, including near Beirut airport, an accusation Hezbollah has denied.
Israel bombed Beirut airport when it last went to war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Beirut airport manager Fadi El-Hassan said all aircraft arriving at the facility, including Iranian planes, “are subject to the same customs procedures.”
Egyptian ambassador Alaa Moussa said that while diplomats were not responsible for inspecting the airport for prohibited items, “our presence (at the tour) is a message of support” to Lebanon and “a message to all parties that what is needed... is calm.”
More than eight months of exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have left at least 481 people dead in Lebanon, mostly fighters, but also including 94 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.