Israel approves more than 2,300 settler homes: NGO

Israeli settlement in the West Bank considered illegal according to UN resolutions. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 31 October 2019

Israel approves more than 2,300 settler homes: NGO

  • Plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year

JERUSALEM: Israel has approved the construction of 2,342 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Thursday.
It said the decision was taken on October 10 and that 59 percent of the new homes will be erected in “settlements that Israel likely may evacuate under a peace agreement” with the Palestinians.
According to Peace Now, which closely monitors Israeli settlement building, plans for 8,337 housing units in the settlements have been approved since the beginning of the year.
It said this represented an increase of close to 50 percent compared with 2018 when plans for 5,618 housing units were approved.
“This brings the average number of housing units approved in the three years since President Trump was elected, to 6,899 housing units, almost twice the average in the three years preceding them,” said the NGO.
All settlements are considered illegal under international law and are built on land that the Palestinians see as part of their future state, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
Peace Now said that settlement construction has increased under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after failing to form a coalition government following September elections.
“Netanyahu continues to sabotage the possibility of a political agreement with the Palestinians by promoting more settlement construction in the West Bank, including in places where Israel may have to evacuate as part of a future agreement,” Peace Now said.
Included in the 2,342 new housing units are 182 that are due to be built in Mevoot Yericho, a former outpost near Jericho which the Netanyahu government legalized before the September polls, Peace Now said.
Ramping up the construction of settlement homes “is yet another dangerous step for both Israel and the Palestinians, led by a transitional prime minister whom the public did not trust in his policies.
“The next government must put a freeze on the development of settlements and to strive for immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions and to end the bloody conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples,” Peace Now added.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has tasked ex-military chief Benny Gantz to form a government after Netanyahu failed to set up a coalition for the second time this year.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.


Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

Updated 05 June 2020

Flash floods in southern Yemen kill five, displace hundreds

  • Five shepherds in the Henan valley were swept away as floods hit farms

AL-MUKALLA: Heavy rains and flash floods hit provinces in southern Yemen on Wednesday and Thursday, killing five people, displacing hundreds of families and isolating villages, local government officials told Arab News.

The heavy rain that began on Wednesday in Yemen's southern province of Hadramout triggered flash floods that killed five shepherds in the Henan valley and damaged farms.

“The five young men went to the valley to bring back their camels and sheep before floods washed them away,” Hesham Al-Souaidi, a local government official, told Arab News by telephone on Thursday.

Local authorities and residents found three bodies and are still searching for the other two.

Al-Souaidi said that flood waters destroyed farms and killed a large number of livestock in the agricultural Wadi Hadramout.

Southern Yemeni provinces have been bracing for the tropical depression since Saturday, when it hit Oman’s southern city of Salalah, as the country’s National Meteorological Center issued alerts, urging Yemenis to avoid traveling during the the storm and to avoid flood courses.

In coastal parts of Hadramout, hundreds of families living near flood channels were forced to flee to after flooding reached unprecedented levels.

Amen Barezaeg, a local government official assigned by the Hadramout governor to lead a relief committee, told Arab News that his team has documented the displacement of 450 families from Mayfa Hajer district alone, adding that the floods damaged roads, farms and isolated many remote areas in the province.

“We are now working on reopening roads to reach the isolated villages. The damage is huge,” he said.

Flash floods displaced dozens of families, washed away hundreds of palm trees and damaged dozens of houses in Hajr town, west of the city of Al-Mukalla, Hadramout province capital.

In some areas of Hadramout, residents said the floods were more destructive than those caused by cyclones over the last five years.

“We have never seen floods like this. Only the floods in 1996 were as strong as these,” Mohammed Bahamel, a journalist from Boroum Mayfa village, west of Al-Mukalla, told Arab News.

Heavy rains triggered flash flooding that wreaked similar havoc in Shabwa, Abyan and Aden, but with no reported casualties, according to local officials.

A government official in Shabwa province told Arab News that the floods washed away farms, isolated villages and damaged several houses.

In Aden, bulldozers were seen clearing mud from the streets as government officials inspected damage caused by the rain.

In April, the internationally recognized government declared Aden, the interim capital of Yemen, a “disaster” area after torrential rains and heavy flooding killed more than 10 people and damaged infrastructure.

Local health officials and residents say that the latest rainfall may set the stage for the spread of the coronavirus and other diseases that killed more than 1,000 people in May.

Wednesday’s floods destroyed the main road that links Hadramout province with Aden, disrupting movement of medical teams and vital medical supplies, including testing kits, officials said.

Meteorologists predicted that the rains would disappear on the weekend.

“Remnants of the tropical depression continue to produce rain across southwest Yemen. Rain will wane over the area on Friday,” Jason Nicholls, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, said on Twitter on Thursday.