El-Sisi at Beijing forum calls for Gaza ceasefire

China’s President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Beijing on May 30, 2024. (AFP)
China’s President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Beijing on May 30, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2024
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El-Sisi at Beijing forum calls for Gaza ceasefire

China’s President Xi Jinping (L) shakes hands with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Beijing on May 30, 2024. (AFP)
  • Egyptian leader hails ‘remarkable progress’ in ties with China

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday urged the international community to support a ceasefire in Gaza and prevent the displacement of Palestinians.

He was speaking at the opening session of the 10th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a number of Arab leaders.

At the meeting, El-Sisi delivered a speech focusing on forging closer cooperation between China and Arab states in light of international developments.

He also highlighted the regional situation, primarily the war in Gaza, calling for an immediate and urgent ceasefire, and the delivery of humanitarian aid and relief to the enclave.

El-Sisi lauded Egyptian-Chinese relations during his speech.

He said that the strong partnership had led to “remarkable progress” in ties, aligning Egypt’s Vision 2023 for Comprehensive Development with the priorities of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Arab-Chinese political relations “are rooted in a solid foundation of shared values, primarily a mutual commitment to safeguarding the security, stability and interests of their peoples, and firmly rejecting aggression that undermines sovereignty,” he added.

Close relations between Arab states and China is crucial in promoting international stability and justice, the Egyptian leader said.

The Arab world “appreciates China’s approach and policies on the Palestinian issue, as well as its consistent support for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the Palestinians’ legitimate right to establish an independent state,” he added.

El-Sisi called on members of international community to assume their moral and legal responsibilities to stop the Israeli war in Gaza.

The unrestricted delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip must be ensured, he said, calling for an end to the Israeli blockade and any attempt to displace Palestinians.

Regional and international peace required addressing the root causes of the Palestinian issue, he added.

“The periodic and regular convening of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum demonstrably manifests a reciprocal commitment to invigorating the institutional relations between the Arab States and China,” El-Sisi said.

“These are among a broad range of challenges and threats that underscore the critical need for friends in the international community to leverage their collective capacities for closer collaboration.”

Meanwhile, El-Sisi met Premier Li Qiang in Beijing. They discussed advancing the strategic partnership between Egypt and China.

The Egyptian leader praised China’s contribution to supporting development projects in Egypt.

Li praised Egypt’s experience in development and its achievements across a range of industries.


Biden adviser will be in Israel on Monday to avoid escalation between Israel, Lebanon

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)
US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)
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Biden adviser will be in Israel on Monday to avoid escalation between Israel, Lebanon

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)

WASHINGTON: A senior Biden adviser will travel to Israel on Monday for meetings to avoid further escalation between Israel and Lebanon, a White House official said.
Amos Hochstein will advance efforts to avoid further escalation along the “Blue Line” between Israel and Lebanon, said the official, who did not wish to be identified.
Attacks between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have led to worries of a deeper war across the Middle East.


Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center

Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center
Updated 17 June 2024
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Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center

Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center
  • “The criminals were eliminated,” Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement, which said a “special operation” had taken place to free the hostages

MOSCOW: Russian special forces freed two prison guards and shot dead six inmates linked to the Daesh militant group who had taken them hostage at a detention center in the southern city of Rostov on Sunday, Russian media said.
State media said that some of the men had been convicted of terrorism offenses and were accused of affiliation with the Daesh militant group, which claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall in March.
The six hostage takers, one of whom wore a headband with the flag used by the Daesh that bears an Arabic inscription, knocked out window bars and climbed down several floors by rope before taking the guards hostage with a knife and fire axe.
In video published by the 112 Telegram channel, one was shown brandishing a knife beside one of the bound guards in Rostov-on-Don. In negotiations with the authorities, they demanded free passage out of the prison.
But Russian special forces decided to storm the prison. Intense automatic gunfire could be heard in footage published on Russian Telegram channels. Video published by the 112 Telegram channel showed the six dead men in pools of blood.
“The criminals were eliminated,” Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement, which said a “special operation” had taken place to free the hostages.
“The employees who were being held hostage were released. They are uninjured,” the prison service said.
Ambulances were seen entering the complex.
Daesh, a Sunni Muslim militant group, was defeated in Iraq and Syria by a combination of US-led forces, Kurdish fighters, and Russian, Iranian, Syrian soldiers. It splintered into different regional groups that have claimed a number of deadly attacks across the world.
Daesh, named after an old term for the region that included parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the March attack on the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow in which 145 people died.
According to Russian media, the hostage takers were from Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia and three of them had been detained in 2022 for planning an attack on a court in another Russian republic, Karachay-Cherkessia.  

 


Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah

Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah
Updated 17 June 2024
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Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah

Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah
  • Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza

JERUSALEM: Intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation, the Israeli military said on Sunday.
“Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement in English.
Iran-backed Hezbollah last week launched the largest volleys of rockets and drones yet in the eight months it has been exchanging fire with the Israeli military, in parallel with the Gaza war.
After the relatively heavy exchanges over the past week, Sunday saw a marked drop in Hezbollah fire, while the Israeli military said that it had carried out several air strikes against the group in southern Lebanon.
The US and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border. Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza.
“Israel will take the necessary measures to protect its civilians — until security along our border with Lebanon is restored,” Hagari said.


‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow of war

‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow  of war
Updated 17 June 2024
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‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow of war

‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow  of war
  • Many Palestinians forced to spend holiday without their loved ones
  • I hope the world will put pressure to end the war on us because we are truly dying, and our children are broken

GAZA STRIP: In tents in the stifling heat and bombed-out mosques, Gazans on Sunday marked the start of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, devoid of the usual cheer as the Israel-Hamas war raged on.

“There is no joy. We have been robbed of it,” said Malakiya Salman, a 57-year-old displaced woman now living in a tent in Khan Younis City in the southern Gaza Strip.
Gazans, like Muslims the world over, would usually slaughter sheep for the holiday — whose Arabic name means “feast of the sacrifice” — and share the meat with the needy.
Parents would also give their children new clothes and money for the celebration.
But this year, after more than eight months of a devastating Israeli campaign that has flattened much of Gaza, displaced most of the besieged territory’s 2.4 million people, and sparked repeated warnings of famine, the Eid is a day of misery for many.
“I hope the world will put pressure to end the war on us because we are truly dying, and our children are broken,” said Salman.
Her family was displaced from the far-southern city of Rafah, a recent focus of the fighting which began after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.
The military on Sunday morning announced a “tactical pause of military activity” around a Rafah-area route to facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gazans.
AFP correspondents said there were no reports of strikes or shelling since dawn, though the Israeli military stressed there was “no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip.”
The brief respite in fighting allowed worshippers a rare moment of calm on holiday.
Many gathered for the Eid Al-Adha morning prayer in the courtyard of Gaza City’s historic Omari Mosque, which was heavily damaged in Israeli bombardment, placing down their frayed prayer mats next to mounds of rubble.
The sound of prayers traveled down some of the city’s destroyed and abandoned streets.
“Since this morning, we’ve felt a sudden calm with no gunfire or bombings ... It’s strange,” said 30-year-old Haitham Al-Ghura from Gaza City.
He hoped the pause meant a permanent ceasefire was near, though truce mediation efforts have stalled for months.
In several areas of the war-battered territory, especially in Gaza City, young boys were seen manning roadside shops selling perfumes, lotions, and other items against the backdrop of piles of rubble from destroyed buildings and homes.
Many vendors used umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun as they sold household items on Gaza City’s main market street. But there were few buyers.
Food and other goods can reach four or five times their usual price, but those who cling to the holiday traditions can still afford them.
In Khan Younis, displaced man Majdi Abdul Raouf spent 4,500 shekels ($1,200) — a small fortune for most Gazans — on a sheep to sacrifice.
“I was determined to buy it despite the high prices, to perform these rituals and bring some joy and happiness to the children in the displacement camp,” said the 60-year-old, who fled his home in Rafah.
“There is sadness, severe pain, and suffering, but I insisted on having a different kind of day.”
The deadliest-ever Gaza war began after Hamas’s unprecedented Oct. 7 attack.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,337 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Health Ministry in the territory.
For many, a halt in fighting can never bring back what has been lost.
“We’ve lost many people, there’s a lot of destruction,” said Umm Mohammed Al-Katri from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.
“This Eid is completely different,” she said, with many Gazans forced to spend the holiday without their loved ones killed or displaced during the war.
Grieving families on Sunday flocked to cemeteries and other makeshift burial sites, where wooden planks marked the graves.
“I feel comfort here,” said Khalil Diab Essbiah at the cemetery where his two children are buried.
Even with the constant buzzing of Israeli drones overhead, visitors at the cemetery “can feel relieved of the genocide we are in and the death and destruction,” he said.
Hanaa Abu Jazar, 11, also displaced from Rafah to the tent city in Khan Yunis, said: “We see the (Israeli) occupation killing children, women and the elderly.”
“How can we celebrate?” asked the girl.

 


Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza
Updated 17 June 2024
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Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza
  • Aid packages containing food, clothing, and sweets were delivered to various locations in the southern Gaza

AMMAN: Jordan’s armed forces conducted three airdrops to the southern part of Gaza on Sunday, in collaboration with Egypt, to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha, Jordan News Agency reported.
Aid packages containing food, clothing, and sweets were delivered to various locations in the southern Gaza Strip by two planes from the Royal Jordanian Air Force and an aircraft from Egypt.
Earlier on Saturday, a 45-truck humanitarian aid convoy arrived in Gaza, sent by the JAF and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO).
In cooperation with its regional and international allies, the Jordanian armed forces have carried out 261 airdrops and delivered 1,970 trucks of aid since the beginning of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “a significant proportion of Gaza’s population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions,” as Israel continues to impose severe restrictions on the supply of food, water, medicine, and fuel to the Strip.