Oman minister makes rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem holy site

A picture taken on Feb. 15, 2018 shows Omani minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi (4th-R), visiting Al-Aqsa mosques compound in Arab east Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018

Oman minister makes rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem holy site

JERUSALEM: Oman’s foreign minister made a rare visit by an Arab official to a Jerusalem holy site on Thursday after holding talks with Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank.
Yusuf bin Alawi visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, an AFP journalist reported.
His visit comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, a move that angered the Muslim world.
Such a visit would usually require coordination with Israeli officials. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said he was unaware of the visit and could not immediately comment.
Oman and Israel do not have official diplomatic relations, as is the case with most of the Arab world.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third-holiest site for Muslims and the scene of regular tensions between Palestinians and Israeli authorities.
It is on the hill that Jews refer to as the Temple Mount, the most sacred place in Judaism as the site of the first and second Jewish temples in the biblical era.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken repeatedly of improving ties with Arab nations in recent months, but there was no sign of a link to the minister’s visit.
Bin Alawi visited the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque at the compound and said “it is a duty of Arabs to visit the mosque if they can.”
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital.
The Palestinians want Jerusalem’s eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Bin Alawi met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah earlier in the day.


Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

Updated 17 min 54 sec ago

Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

  • Internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out the attack

LONDON: Two international rights groups on Monday condemned an attack on a prison in Yemen’s besieged city of Taiz that left six women and a child dead.

The internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out Sunday’s attack.

The Houthis targeted the female section of the prison with mortar shells, according to the government’s Saba news agency.

“This is a criminal and bloodthirsty gang that has long targeted civilian gatherings and residential areas. In addition to the carnage in the prison, they gunned down today two children in eastern Taiz, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News, adding that the prison is almost 12km from the nearest battlefield.

“They targeted the prison with a Katyusha rocket followed by five mortal shells which show that they deliberately sought to kill civilians.”

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its hospital in Taiz received the casualties.

“MSF-supported Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz city received the bodies of six women and one child who were killed in an attack on the central prison in Taiz,” it said on Twitter.

The government said 28 other female prisoners were wounded.

“Taiz citizens continue to suffer from the ongoing violence in the sixth year of the protracted conflict in Yemen,” MSF said.

“These attacks on civilians, whether indiscriminate or targeted, are unjustifiable breaches of international humanitarian law.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said attacks on prisons were banned under international law.

“The ICRC deplores yesterday’s attack on Taiz central prison that left women and children dead and injured,” the ICRC said on Twitter.

“Prisons and their inmates are protected under international humanitarian law and can not be a targeted, it said.

Taiz, a city of 600,000 people in southwest Yemen, is under government control but has been under siege by Houthi militia for the past six years.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in more than five years of fighting.

Yemen’s health care system has so far recorded no case of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic. The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

(With AFP)

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