Lebanon official media: Israeli strike kills civilian in south

Update Lebanon official media: Israeli strike kills civilian in south
A Hamas ally, the Iran-backed militant group has traded near-daily fire with Israeli forces since the Palestinian group’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in Gaza. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 11 June 2024
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Lebanon official media: Israeli strike kills civilian in south

Lebanon official media: Israeli strike kills civilian in south
  • The death came after Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group said it targeted an Israeli military position following overnight strikes in eastern Lebanon that killed three of its fighters
  • NNA said “an enemy drone carried out a strike” in Naqura later reporting that a “civilian who was seriously wounded” in the raid had died

BEIRUT: Lebanese official media said a civilian was killed on Tuesday in an Israeli strike in the country’s south, with the local water company saying he was an employee, as cross-border violence escalates.
The death came after Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group said it targeted an Israeli military position following overnight strikes in eastern Lebanon that killed three of its fighters, hours after the Iran-backed movement downed an Israeli drone.
The official National News Agency said that “an enemy drone carried out a strike” in Naqura, a coastal town on the Israeli border, later reporting that a “civilian who was seriously wounded” in the raid had died.
The agency published a statement from the South Lebanon Water Establishment announcing that one of its employees was killed “while he was carrying out his duty to ensure the continuity of the water supply” in Naqura.
The statement urged official and international bodies to condemn the strike and pressure Israel “to stop its attacks on vital and relief sector employees and workers immediately.”
Hezbollah meanwhile announced the death of three of its fighters, while a source close to the group, requesting anonymity, said they were killed overnight in east Lebanon’s Hermel area.
An AFP correspondent said a building in the Hermel region was completely destroyed.
The Shiite Muslim movement claimed several attacks on Israeli troops and positions on Tuesday, including two that came “in response” to Israeli attacks in eastern and southern Lebanon.
A Hamas ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah has traded near-daily fire with Israeli forces since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in Gaza, with violence intensifying in recent weeks.
On Monday, Hezbollah said it had downed an Israeli Hermes drone over Lebanon.
The Israeli military said that overnight its “fighter jets struck a military complex of... the logistical reinforcement unit of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”
“The unit is used to smuggle weapons to and from Lebanon,” it said in a statement, adding that it had hit two targets in eastern Lebanon’s Baalbek area, a Hezbollah stronghold located in the Bekaa valley.
The Israeli army said it also struck in southern Lebanon overnight, adding that the strikes came after one of its drones was shot down on Monday.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said an “Israeli strike” targeted “a convoy of tankers entering Lebanon on the border with Syria.”
He said at least three Syrians working with Hezbollah were killed, adding that the Lebanese militant group controls both sides of the frontier in the area where the strike hit.
Hezbollah for years has fought on the side of President Bashar Assad in Syria’s civil war, which erupted in 2011.
More than eight months of cross-border violence has killed at least 463 people in Lebanon, mostly fighters but also including almost 90 civilians, according to an AFP count.
On the Israeli side of the border, at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed, according to the army.


G7 warns Iran over continuing nuclear program escalation

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G7 warns Iran over continuing nuclear program escalation

G7 warns Iran over continuing nuclear program escalation
  • Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others according to UN reports
BARI: The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.
“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement seen by Reuters said.
Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.
Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.
“Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June,” the G7 said.
Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.
“We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” they said.

The US pier in Gaza is facing its latest challenge — whether the UN will keep delivering the aid

The US pier in Gaza is facing its latest challenge — whether the UN will keep delivering the aid
Updated 14 June 2024
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The US pier in Gaza is facing its latest challenge — whether the UN will keep delivering the aid

The US pier in Gaza is facing its latest challenge — whether the UN will keep delivering the aid
  • US and Israel say no part of the pier was used in the raid but an Israeli helicopter used a spot near the pier.
  • UN has paused its work with the pier since June 8

WASHINGTON: The US-built pier to bring food to Gaza is facing one of its most serious challenges yet — its humanitarian partner is deciding if it’s safe to keep delivering supplies arriving by sea to starving Palestinians.
The United Nations, the player with the widest reach delivering aid within Gaza, has paused its work with the pier after a June 8 operation by Israeli security forces that rescued four Israeli hostages and killed more than 270 Palestinians.
Rushing out a mortally wounded Israeli commando after the raid, Israeli rescuers opted against returning the way they came, across a land border, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters. Instead, they sped toward the beach and the site of the US aid hub on Gaza’s coast, he said. An Israeli helicopter touched down near the US-built pier and helped whisk away hostages, according to the US and Israeli militaries.
For the UN and independent humanitarian groups, the event made real one of their main doubts about the US sea route: Whether aid workers could cooperate with the US military-backed, Israeli military-secured project without violating core humanitarian principles of neutrality and independence and without risking aid workers becoming seen as US and Israeli allies — and in turn, targets in their own right.
Israel and the US deny that any aspect of the month-old US pier was used in the Israeli raid.
The UN World Food Program, which works with the US to transfer aid from the $230 million pier to warehouses and local aid teams for distribution within Gaza, suspended cooperation as it conducts a security review. Aid has been piling up on the beach since.
“You can be damn sure we are going to be very careful about what we assess and what we conclude,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said.
Griffiths told reporters at an aid conference in Jordan this week that determining whether the Israeli raid improperly used either the beach or roads around the pier “would put at risk any future humanitarian engagement in that operation.”
The UN has to look at the facts as well as what the Palestinian public and militants believe about any US, pier or aid worker involvement in the raid, spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.
“Humanitarian aid must not be used and must not be perceived as taking any side in a conflict,” Haq said. “The safety of our humanitarian workers depends on all sides and the communities on the ground trusting their impartiality.”
Rumors have swirled on social media, deepening the danger to aid workers, humanitarian groups say.
“Whether or not we’ve seen the pier used for military purposes is almost irrelevant. Because the perception of people in Gaza, civilians and armed groups, is that humanitarian aid has been instrumentalized” by parties in the conflict, said Suze van Meegen, head of operations in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Oxfam International and some other aid organizations said they are waiting for answers from the US government because it’s responsible for the agreements with the UN and other humanitarian groups on how the pier and aid deliveries would function.
Questions include whether the Israeli helicopters and security forces used what the US had promised aid groups would be a no-go area for the Israeli military around the pier, said Scott Paul, an associate director at Oxfam.
The suspension of deliveries is only one of the problems that have hindered the pier, which President Joe Biden announced in March as an additional way to get aid to Palestinians. The US has said the project was never a solution and have urged Israel to lift restrictions on aid shipments through land crossings as famine looms.
The first aid from the sea route rolled onto shore May 17, and work has been up and down since:
— May 18: Crowds overwhelmed aid trucks coming from the pier, stripping some of the trucks of their cargo. The WFP suspended deliveries from the pier for at least two days while it worked out alternate routes with the US and Israel.
— May 24: A bit more than 1,000 metric tons of aid had been delivered to Gaza from the pier, and the US Agency for International Development later said all of it was distributed within Gaza.
— May 25: High winds and heavy seas damaged the pier and four US Army vessels ran aground, injuring three service members, one critically. Crews towed away part of the floating dock in what became a two-week pause in operations.
— June 8: The US military announced that deliveries resumed off the repaired and reinstalled project. The Israeli military operation unfolded the same day.
— Sunday: World Food Program chief Cindy McCain announced a “pause” in cooperation with the US pier, citing the previous day’s “incident” and the rocketing of two WFP warehouses that injured a staffer.
“The WFP, of course, is taking the security measures that they need to do, and the reviews that they need to do, in order to feel safe and secure and to operate within Gaza,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said this week.
The pier has brought to Gaza more than 2,500 metric tons (about 5.6 million pounds) of aid, Singh said. About 1,000 metric tons of that was brought by ship Tuesday and Wednesday — after the WFP pause — and is being stored on the beach awaiting distribution.
Now, the question is whether the UN will rejoin the effort.
For aid workers who generally work without weapons or armed guards, and for those they serve, “the best guarantee of our security is the acceptance of communities” that aid workers are neutral, said Paul, the Oxfam official.
Palestinians already harbored deep doubts about the pier given the lead role of the US, which sends weapons and other support to its ally Israel, said Yousef Munayyer, a senior fellow at Washington’s Arab Center, an independent organization researching Israeli-Arab issues.
Distrustful Palestinians suffering in the Israel-Hamas war are being asked to take America at its word, and that’s a hard sell, said Munayyer, an American of Palestinian heritage.
“So you know, perception matters a lot,” he said. “And for the people who are literally putting their lives on the line to get humanitarian aid moving around a war zone, perception gets you in danger.”


US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog
Updated 14 June 2024
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US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington and its allies were prepared to continue to increase pressure on Iran if Tehran does not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said earlier in the day. The State Department said the report showed that Iran aimed to continue expanding its nuclear program “in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose.”


Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military
Updated 14 June 2024
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Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military
  • Although attacks have caused major disruption to international shipping, casualties have been rare.

DUBAI: Two cruise missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck a bulk cargo carrier in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, severely injuring a sailor who was evacuated by American forces, the US military said.

The Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Although this has caused major disruption to international shipping, casualties have been rare.

The M/V Verbena — a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated ship — “reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire. One civilian mariner was severely injured during the attack,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

“Aircraft from USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) medically evacuated the injured mariner to a partner force ship nearby for medical attention,” CENTCOM said.

“This continued reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

The Houthis on Thursday said they had carried out attacks on three ships within the past 24 hours, including on the Verbena, “in retaliation to the crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, and in response to the American-British aggression against our country.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) meanwhile reported an explosion close to a merchant vessel in the Red Sea about 80 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s Hodeida port, with no damage or casualties.

The Houthis have launched scores of drone and missile attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November.

The first reported fatalities from the attacks on ships occurred in the Gulf of Aden in March.

On Wednesday, the Houthis struck the Tutor, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, southwest of Hodeida. They claimed to have used seaborne and aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

CENTCOM later said the Tutor had been struck by a Houthi “unmanned surface vessel” that “caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room.”


UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
Updated 13 June 2024
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UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
  • Council adopted British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir — a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Dafur region — by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area.
The 15-member council adopted a British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir, the last big city in the vast, western Darfur region not under RSF control.
War erupted in Sudan in April last year between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. Top UN officials have warned that the worsening violence around Al-Fashir threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”