Reactions to the death of Iran’s president in a helicopter crash

Update Reactions to the death of Iran’s president in a helicopter crash
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, above, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday. (AP)
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Updated 20 May 2024

Reactions to the death of Iran’s president in a helicopter crash

Reactions to the death of Iran’s president in a helicopter crash
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offer their condolences
  • Pakistan to observe a day of mourning and Pakistani flags to fly at half mast as a mark of respect

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to Iran after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash which also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday. 

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on X said: “I extend my deepest condolences to the Iranian government and people over the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and those accompanying them following a tragic accident. We pray that God grants them eternal rest and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families. The UAE stands in solidarity with Iran at this difficult time.”

UAE Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid also posted on X: “Our condolences and sincere sympathies to the brotherly Iranian people and their leadership on the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Foreign Minister in a painful accident. Our hearts are with you in this difficult time. Our prayers are that God will cover them with His vast mercy and dwell them in His spacious Paradise.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed on Monday his condolences, state media said.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, in a statement said: “Raisi and Abdollahian were known as “true, reliable friends of our country”.

“Their role in strengthening mutually beneficial Russian-Iranian cooperation and trusting partnership is invaluable.

“We sincerely extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims, as well as to the entire friendly people of Iran. Our thoughts and hearts are with you in this sad hour.”

Russia’s embassy in Tehran also offered condolences over Raisi’s death, state news agency TASS reported.

China’s President Xi Jinping has expressed condolences over Raisi’s death, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday expressed his condolences for the death of Raisi and Amirabdollahian, saying Raisi was a “valuable colleague and brother”.

“As a colleague who personally witnessed his efforts for the peace of the Iranian people and our region during his time in power, I remember Mr. Raisi with respect and gratitude,” Erdogan said on social media platform X, adding Turkey stood by Iran in this difficult time.

Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan also extended condolences to the Iranian people on the death of Raisi and Amirabdollahian.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad on X said: “Sincere condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian, and the accompanying officials in the painful helicopter accident, asking God Almighty for mercy and forgiveness for them and for their families with patience and solace. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.”

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Monday extended his condolences for the deaths of Raisi and Amirabdollahian in a helicopter crash.

“Egypt mourns, with great sadness and grief” the Iranian president and Tehran’s top diplomat, “who passed away on Sunday following a painful accident,” the presidency said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani said in a statement: “With great sadness and sorrow, we have received the news of the death of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, along with their companions, in the unfortunate plane crash in northern Iran.”

He added, “We extend our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Mr. Ali Khamenei, and to the government and people of Iran. We express our solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people and the responsible officials in the Islamic Republic during this painful tragedy.

“We ask God to have mercy on the departed, and may He grant patience and solace to their families and loved ones.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad in a statement also offered condolences to Iran’s Supreme Leader over death of the president and the foreign minister.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday he was “deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise” of Raisi after Iranian media reported he had died in a helicopter crash.

“My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran,” Modi posted on X, formerly Twitter. “India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow.”

Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif posted on X: “I along with the government and people of Pakistan extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss. May the martyred souls rest in heavenly peace. The great Iranian nation will overcome this tragedy with customary courage.

“Pakistan had the pleasure of hosting President Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on a historic visit, less than a month ago. They were good friends of Pakistan. Pakistan will observe a day of mourning and the flag will fly at half mast as a mark of respect for President Raisi and his companions and in solidarity with Brotherly Iran.”

European Council president Charles Michel posted on X: “The EU expresses its sincere condolences for the death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Abdollahian, as well as other members of their delegation and crew in a helicopter accident. Our thoughts go to the families.”

A Hamas statement conveyed Hamas’ “deepest condolences and solidarity” to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Iranian government, and the Iranian people for “this immense loss.”

It praised the deceased Iranian leaders for supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel and expressed confidence that Iran’s “deep-rooted institutions” will enable it to overcome “the repercussions of this great loss.”

Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, posted on X: “Our deepest condolences to the Iranian people, the Iranian leadership, and the families of President Raisi and the accompanying delegation on their reported martyrdom. We ask God to grant their families patience and solace. Verily we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. The Iranian people will remain adhering to the loyal leaders of their people, by God’s will.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah expressed condolences to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the death of President Raisi, a statement said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash, noting their shared commitment to bolstering ties.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several other officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said in a statement on social media.

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’
Updated 18 sec ago

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’
  • “The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel’s pro-Netanyahu Channel 14

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Israeli military’s heavy fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over.
Netanyahu, in his first interview with an Israeli network since the war with Hamas broke out on October 7, said troops would soon be deployed to the northern border with Lebanon but for “defensive purposes.”
“The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel’s pro-Netanyahu Channel 14.
“It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah,” he said.
“After the end of the intense phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north, and we will do that. Primarily for defensive purposes but also to bring the (displaced) residents back home,” Netanyahu said.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have been displaced from northern Israel which has seen near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants since the war in Gaza began.
Netanyahu said he would not agree to any deal that stipulates an end to the war in Gaza, indicating that he was open to a “partial” deal that would facilitate the return of some hostages still held there, if not all.
“The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza,” he said.
United States officials have raised doubts over Israel’s goal of completely destroying Hamas, and on Wednesday Israel’s top army spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Hamas cannot be eliminated.
“To say that we are going to make Hamas disappear is to throw sand in people’s eyes,” Hagari said.
He said Hamas is an ideology and “we cannot eliminate an ideology.”
When asked about the post-war situation in Gaza, Netanyahu said Israel will have a role to play in the near term.
“It’s clear military control in the foreseeable future will be ours,” he said, before giving his most-detailed comments yet on the post-war situation.
Earlier this month two war cabinet members Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot left the government after Netanyahu failed to deliver a post-war plan for Gaza as demanded by Gantz.
The United States has also pointed to the need for a post-war plan that would help ensure Israel’s long-term security.
“We also want to create a civilian administration, if possible with local Palestinians, and maybe with external backing from countries in the region, to manage humanitarian supply and later on civilian affairs in the Strip,” the prime minister said.
“At the end of it, there’s two things that need to happen: we need ongoing demilitarization by the IDF (army) and the establishment of a civilian administration.”
The Gaza Strip has been gripped by more than eight months of war since Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Militants took 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.
Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has since killed at least 37,598 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have consistently rallied against Netanyahu and his government, demanding early elections and a deal to return hostages.
But Netanyahu said that if his government falls, “a left-wing government will be established here, which will do something immediately: establish a Palestinian state that is a Palestinian terrorist state that will endanger our existence.”

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause
Updated 37 min 35 sec ago

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause
  • Safadi expressed his gratitude for Germany’s support in managing the Syrian refugee crisis

AMMAN: Jordan’s lower house speaker met the vice president of the German parliament on Sunday to discuss ties, Jordan News Agency reported.

In his meeting with Aydan Ozoguz, Speaker Ahmed Safadi highlighted the “strong and multifaceted” ties between Jordan and Germany, and called for increased cooperation.

He expressed his gratitude for Germany’s support in managing the Syrian refugee crisis, highlighting the significant burden Jordan bears due to regional instability and the influx of refugees.

During the meeting, Safadi warned that the failure to achieve the Palestinian right to an independent state remains a major source of regional instability.

Ozoguz agreed on the importance of German-Jordanian relations and said that her visit aimed to build mutual trust. She highlighted Germany’s commitment to collaborating with Jordan to develop viable solutions to regional challenges, with the ultimate goal of achieving a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Khaldoun Haynam, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, also addressed the meeting, highlighting the importance of adequate international support for Jordan.

He praised Jordan’s efforts in assisting refugees and urged the international community to support the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees so that it can continue to help Palestinian refugees.

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive
Updated 43 min 23 sec ago

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive
  • Desperate mothers fight for their survival with no end to the conflict in sight

JABALIA: Surrounded by a sea of rubble, the Palestinian Al-Balawi family in northern Gaza hang blankets above the ruins of their home to create a makeshift tent that provides shade from the searing summer heat.

The family are struggling to feed themselves in the Jabalia refugee camp after the nearly nine months of war that have followed Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.

Gazans are suffering from severe shortages of supplies, including food and water, alongside Israel’s bombardment of the territory, forcing desperate mothers like Umm Siraj Al-Balawi to fight for their survival with no end to the conflict in sight.

“There are no vegetables or fruits. No vitamin intake. When you get sick, you stay in bed for two or three weeks to recover,” said the 33-year-old.

“This war must stop because it is a war of displacement. It is a war of annihilation.”

Jabalia has been hit particularly hard in recent weeks, with Israeli forces carrying out a massive bombardment campaign, part of a fierce ground offensive in northern Gaza — an area the military had previously said was out of the control of Hamas militants.

Israeli forces retrieved the bodies of some hostages from Jabalia and, in May, reported “perhaps the fiercest” fighting there since the start of the war.

Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as the fighting has raged, with warnings from humanitarian agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.

Vital food supplies have piled up and are undistributed on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, a key conduit for aid to enter Gaza.

Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up distribution, while aid organizations, including the UN, say they have been unable to pick up supplies because of a breakdown in civil order in Gaza.

The war broke out after the Oct. 7 attack.

The misery of Gazans has only been exacerbated by Israel’s bombing raids, which it says are to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas.

On Saturday, at least 24 people died after huge strikes in two Gaza City neighborhoods.

The strikes left several residential complexes in rubble, while the Israeli military said it had targeted two Hamas military infrastructure sites.

“People are getting displaced from house to house, tent to tent, school to school,” said Umm.

“They (Israelis) instructed people to head to Rafah before instructing them to evacuate Rafah. They are doing the same in Khan Younis. Until when?”

The Al-Balawi family’s dire situation leaves them scrabbling in a wasteland of debris for items like pillows and food.

“The situation was very, very difficult (before the war). And it worsened after the war,” said Umm’s husband Abu, 34.

He pulls a pink cushion from the wreckage of buildings, passing it to his wife, who beats it to clear it of dust.

Elsewhere, he uses a spade to claw back mounds of rubble before finding a red teddy bear for his young son.

He then leads his children through a destroyed street to get hold of much-sought-after water before heading back to their tent, where his children share some bread and beans from a bowl.

“There is a scarcity of food and water. We can barely find food for our children. Diseases have spread in all the areas where the displaced are gathered.”

The horrors of war are apparent for their nine-year-old boy Siraj, despite his age.

“We can’t find clothes. We have no clothes,” he complains.

“There are no toys,” he adds, holding up a damaged doll. “We have no house.”

Lebanese party on despite threat of war

Lebanese party on despite threat of war
Updated 56 min 32 sec ago

Lebanese party on despite threat of war

Lebanese party on despite threat of war
  • Tensions have risen on the Israel-Lebanon frontier for almost two weeks
  • “This is Lebanon and this is our story. Nothing changes. We survived the July war”

BEIRUT: In the buzz of a trendy Beirut neighborhood, the din of bars and laughter blend together, far from the border violence with Israel further south and fears of all-out war.
“I’m 40 years old, and each year they tell us that war will break out this summer,” Elie, a financial consultant who did not give his last name, said in a bar in the Lebanese capital with other locals chatting beside him.
“What we see in the street is different from what we hear in the media,” he said. “What the foreign press is reporting makes people think that Lebanon is at war.”
Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Palestinian Islamist movement’s ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, has been exchanging nearly-daily fire with Israel over the border.
Tensions have risen on the Israel-Lebanon frontier for almost two weeks, after Israel’s killing of one of Hezbollah’s most important commanders.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of a catastrophe “beyond imagination,” and France and the United States have been working for de-escalation.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Hezbollah would be destroyed in “total war” and the country’s army approved “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon.”
The following day, the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, warned that “no place” in Israel would be spared by the group’s weapons in the event of full-blown war.
While the risk of the border conflict overflowing into the rest of the country comes up in conversations, it does not seem to bother the partiers in the Christian neighborhood of Mar Mikhael.
In the Beirut neighborhood well-known for its bars, lit-up with multi-colored lights, glasses clink and customers dance to the rhythm of remixed Arab and Western pop songs played at full blast by a DJ.
“This is Lebanon and this is our story. Nothing changes. We survived the July war,” Elie said, referring to a war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
“In all the past crises, people continued to stay out late, whether during the Covid-19 pandemic or the explosion at Beirut port” in the summer of 2020.
The blast killed more than 200 people, destroyed swathes of the capital including Mar Mikhael, and accelerated the economy’s collapse.
Elsewhere in the city, locals brought their children to a street festival organized in the center of Beirut, carrying on late into the night.
“Despite all the threats, we are a people who love life,” Abir Atallah told AFP, amid the laughter of children in front of the stage.
While according to the United Nations more than 95,000 Lebanese have been displaced by the conflict around the Israel border, the spectre of war does not stop people in other parts of the country from living normally.
“We live day by day. Of course, people are afraid, but we rely on God,” said Mira Makhlouf, who sells toys for children.
“Lebanese love to party,” she said, adding that she has no intention of leaving the country if a full-scale war breaks out.
While the biggest events held every summer in Lebanon were canceled this year because of the conflict in the south, some organizations chose to continue with thir plans.
Arab singers are flocking to Lebanon to perform. More than 20,000 people in mid-June attended a concert in Beirut by Egyptian pop star Amr Diab.
Foreigners continue to travel to the country for the summer festival season, despite warnings from several countries that their citizens should not visit Lebanon.
“I do not think that a war will break out, and we are not afraid. Otherwise, we would not see this crowd,” Nayla Haddad said at the festival.
“Every two weeks, we organize a festival in a new place,” she said, smiling.

$230m US humanitarian pier in Gaza operational for only 12 days

$230m US humanitarian pier in Gaza operational for only 12 days
Updated 23 June 2024

$230m US humanitarian pier in Gaza operational for only 12 days

$230m US humanitarian pier in Gaza operational for only 12 days
  • Pier has allowed for the delivery of roughly 250 truckloads of aid, less than half of the pre-war daily deliveries to Gaza

LONDON: The $230 million floating pier built by the US military for seaborne humanitarian deliveries to Gaza has been operational for only 12 days since its inauguration on May 17, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

On March 7, US President Joe Biden announced that the temporary pier “would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day.”

The construction of the two necessary structures — a floating dock anchored offshore and a pier connected to the Gazan coast — took more than two months and involved about 1,000 soldiers, sailors and several ships, including the Royal Navy’s landing ship, Cardigan Bay, which served as accommodation.

Since its launch, the pier has allowed for the delivery of approximately 250 truckloads of aid, equating to 4,100 tonnes of supplies, which is less than half of the pre-war daily deliveries to Gaza. The aid arriving by sea has often remained on the beach due to a lack of trucks for distribution, a result of security concerns.

Rough seas in the eastern Mediterranean have posed unexpected challenges, rendering the joint logistics over-the-shore system less effective than anticipated. The structure was designed to operate in sea conditions up to “sea state 3,” with waves between 0.5 and 1.25 metres. However, it sustained damage during a storm on May 25 and has faced unseasonably choppy waters since then.

After repairs in Ashdod, Israel, the pier resumed operations on June 8 but faced further interruptions. It was dismantled again on June 14 as a precaution against impending storms. Despite being reinstalled, there are reports suggesting that the pier’s vulnerability to weather might lead to it being dismantled early, possibly as soon as next month.

“They just miscalculated,” Stephen Morrison, a senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Guardian. “They didn’t fully understand what was going to happen with the weather … so the DoD [Department of Defence] walks away, humiliated in a fashion.”

While acknowledging the difficulties, the Pentagon has not confirmed plans for an early termination of the mission.

“We have not established an end date for this mission as of now, contrary to some press reporting on the matter,” chief spokesperson Maj Gen Patrick Ryder told The Guardian on Thursday.

The floating pier was intended to provide an alternative means of delivering aid to Gaza, bypassing Israeli land restrictions. However, aid workers expressed concerns that the significant resources invested in the effort detracted from political pressure on Israel to open land crossings, which remain the most effective way to deliver aid.

Ziad Issa, head of policy and research at Action Aid, noted a decline in aid deliveries to Gaza, with an average of fewer than 100 trucks arriving daily in early June.

The severe security conditions have hindered the distribution of aid in Gaza. The Rafah crossing from Egypt has been closed since May 7, following an Israeli military offensive, and the alternative Keren Shalom crossing in southern Israel has proved dangerous due to the volatile situation.

“It’s unsafe for aid workers and trucks to move because of the ongoing bombardments on Gaza,” Issa told The Guardian. The Israelis announced a “tactical pause” last week to allow an aid corridor through southern Gaza, but Issa said: “We haven’t seen any difference since these tactical pauses have come in place.”