Victims of US-led raids in Mosul still waiting for compensation

Abdullah Khalil lost his leg when a building in Mosul’s Old City collapsed on top of him after being hit by a US-led coalition air strike in 2017. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 July 2021

Victims of US-led raids in Mosul still waiting for compensation

  • The coalition has now admitted more than 1,000 civilian lives were lost in the seven-year operation against the militia in Iraq and Syria

MOSUL: It was March 17, 2017. Troops from the US-led coalition fighting militants in Iraq were advancing on Mosul’s Old City, squeezing out the Daesh militia.

But just months before the recapture of the city, where Daesh had declared its caliphate in 2014, a new human toll was added to the growing tragedy when it was revealed more than 100 civilians had been killed in a single coalition air strike.

The coalition has now admitted more than 1,000 civilian lives were lost in the seven-year operation against the militia in Iraq and Syria.

And for the first time the coalition has revealed to AFP that it has compensated the families of 14 victims in Iraq.

Four years after the carnage from which he miraculously escaped alive with his son, Abdullah Khalil is still waiting for compensation. His leg was amputated at the knee and his back is covered in deep welts and burn scars.

But he’s still trying to find out where and how to claim any damages due to him.

In the war against Daesh in Iraq, which the coalition fought mainly from the air, there were no commanders on the ground handing out “blood money” to bereaved families, as has been the case in other Western operations elsewhere.

The compensation system is opaque even for those with expertise, says Sarah Holewinski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.

“They have sometimes paid, sometimes not. We need degrees to figure out laws and channels,” she told AFP.

“I can’t even imagine being an Iraqi woman who has lost her mother trying to figure out not just, do I have any kind of compensation, but how do I get some American to say ‘hey that was actually one of our bombs’.”

It was one of those American bombs that changed the life of former truck driver Khalil on Friday, March 17, 2017, “at 8:10 am exactly” in Mosul Al-Jadidah — New Mosul in Arabic.

“There was a bombing and I was buried under rubble” until “around 11:00 am, when I heard people coming to rescue us,” said the 51-year-old.

The explosion and collapse of the building where he had been sheltering with dozens of women, men and children caused the largest single civilian death toll in the fight against Daesh.

“At least 105 and at most 141 non-combatants” were killed, according to the non-governmental group Airwars, which monitors civilian deaths in bombings around the world.

For Iraqis, the shock was immense. But it was quickly overwhelmed by the general chaos. In the 72 hours before, during and after that one strike, hundreds more civilians died during fighting in Mosul.

It is often difficult to determine where the strikes originated: in this city of more than two million people the militants used hundreds of thousands of trapped civilians as human shields. Iraqi troops fired at will, militants responded in force and coalition planes shelled the city relentlessly.

On March 17, 2017, five months to the day after the launch of the last major battle to recapture Mosul, Iraqi troops were trying to advance through the Old City’s narrow alleyways.

Ahead of them, to the west, was the Mosul Al-Jadidah district with its railway station and fuel silos. From there, shots were being fired, apparently by two snipers squatting on a rooftop of a residential building.

The Iraqi army, caught up in the toughest urban guerrilla battle in its modern history, called in a strike by the 75-country coalition to help defeat the militants in their self-proclaimed “capital.”
American planes were deployed, dropping a guided missile.

But they were missing a crucial piece of information: in the basement of the building dozens of civilians were huddled together, praying that the nearby Rahma hospital and a busy street would prevent international aircraft from firing on the area.

Facing global outcry, for the first and only time in the long battle against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, the US dispatched investigators into the field.

As early as May 2017, they acknowledged that 105 civilians had died and 36 were missing, saying they hoped they had escaped.

But they concluded the building had collapsed due to Daesh explosives stocked on various floors, ruling out direct responsibility.

In Mosul, witnesses and survivors are adamant that no arms arsenal was stored in the building and the US army itself provides no proof, basing its conclusion solely on theoretical calculations of the load that would be required to bring down the building.

“There were two snipers on the roof and they dropped a 500-pound bomb. It was the wrong weapon to use,” Chris Woods, director of the London-based Airwars, told AFP.

“You cannot use high explosive, wide area effect munitions in urban settings without very considerable risks for civilians, and this is exactly what Mosul Al-Jadidah represents.”

Dr. Hasan Wathiq, head of Mosul’s forensic medicine department remembers the carnage.

“With firemen and ambulance drivers, we pulled 152 bodies out of the rubble” of the building where Khalil was and others around it.

“Over the next 10 or 15 days, we pulled out a hundred new bodies every day.”

At the time, then-US president Donald Trump, who had only been in office for two months, said he “would bomb the hell out of” Daesh.

For many, the new administration had decided to give its military carte blanche, amid coalition assurances the battle was “the most precise war in history.”

But the evidence couldn’t be denied in the Mosul Al-Jadidah tragedy. The Pentagon swiftly acknowledged that it was indirectly responsible — an American air strike had hit the building — while still insisting that the building collapsed due to the secondary explosion caused by the stockpiled weapons.

When his phone rang in the autumn of 2017, Khalil was over the moon.

“A translator told me I was on the line with the coalition’s military commander for northern Iraq,” he said.

“He apologized on behalf of the coalition and promised to come see me. But it never happened.”

Walid Khaled, another Mosul resident, lost his brother and sister-in-law in the Mosul Al-Jadidah strike.

The 31-year-old father of two was actually visited by coalition investigators.

“They came to take pictures and record our statements and nothing was done to pay us compensation,” badly-needed in a city still in ruins due to a lack of reconstruction funds.

Daniel Mahanty, director of the US program at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) explained: “Even if the US military acknowledges that harm occurred publicly by recognizing the locations... they would not create a system by which a family could come forward with a specific request for ex gratia per se.”

Ex gratia is a voluntary payment made without recognition of liability.

“There is no claims process for ex gratia, no form to fill, and the military today is adamantly opposed to developing such a process,” Mahanty added.

“One hypothesis could be that the US does not want to develop a policy that is going to open up the door to a huge host of claims that it can’t possibly manage.”

US Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy wants more to be done.

“We need to do more to help families present claims for ex gratia payments, and to act on those claims,” the chairman of the US Senate appropriations committee told AFP.

“If the US military can’t investigate them, then we need to find others who can. It is not acceptable that these cases are ignored or forgotten,” added the veteran senator, who has recently written again to Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin about reparations in Iraq and elsewhere.

So that his brother and sister-in-law are not forgotten, Khaled has knocked on every door to get reparations in their names: he has lodged complaints with the coalition, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission and the provincial commission for Mosul compensation.

But even before launching their campaign against Daesh — which at its peak controlled a third of Iraq, swathes of Syria and carried out attacks in the heart of Europe — the 75 coalition nations had made a choice.

Unlike the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or the war in Afghanistan, when the coalition to fight Daesh was formed, there was a “specific decision” not to create a coalition-wide compensation policy, “because they did not want to spend money on that,” said Belkis Wille, former senior Iraq researcher for HRW.

“If you want compensation, you need to figure out which country was behind that specific attack and then figure out how to ask them for money,” she added.

From 2014 to February 15, 2017, the coalition would provide daily accounts of which country had carried out strikes.

But after that date, as the civilian death toll rose inexorably, those details disappeared.

And to complicate things for victims already trying to establish which plane unleashed which bomb, strikes were often carried out jointly by multiple countries.

In Mosul Al-Jadidah, the Americans swiftly admitted they had acted alone, even if they did not accept responsibility for the building’s collapse.

But according to coalition spokesman US Col. Wayne Marotto: “US domestic law and the law of war do not require the United States to assume liability and compensate individuals for injuries to their person or personal property caused by its lawful combat operations.” This applies in any country where there is a US operation.

He told AFP that since March 2015 the coalition has processed “five payments for civil loss” while a sixth is on the way “as well as eight condolence payments” in Iraq.

Washington has refused to go into any detail about where each incident happened or exactly what occurred. But each of the payments is for either human injury, death or material damage.

Those payouts still remain small compared with Afghanistan. In 2019 alone Washington paid out just $24,000 to victims in Iraq, while there were 605 payments in Afghanistan amounting to an overall figure of $1,520,116, according to Pentagon figures.

And that is despite the fact that the US Congress has agreed to $3 million in funding for compensation per year until 2022 as part of a budget for “operation and maintenance — army.”

In nine months of fierce fighting in Mosul, “so many families were devastated... that I wonder whether the Pentagon feared setting a precedent,” in awarding ex gratia payments for Mosul Al-Jadidah, which “it did not want to follow through on,” Airwars’ Woods said.

Airwars says that since 2014 between 8,311 and 13,188 civilians, including 2,000 children, were killed in Iraq and Syria.

But the coalition figures are 10 times lower.

“The US has admitted more than 1,300 deaths from their actions, the Dutch about 75 deaths, the British one, the Australians about 15 deaths and that’s it publicly,” Woods said.

“The British and French were very heavily involved in Mosul and neither country has admitted to a single civilian death” in the 2017 incident, he added.

The Dutch have compensated a Mosul man who lost his wife, daughter, son and nephew in a separate 2015 airstrike. According to Dutch media reports, he received one million euros ($1.2 million), but he has never talked about the compensation.

The Netherlands has however recognized “their Mosul Al-Jadidah” in the town of Hawija, further south, rights groups say.

The Dutch bombed a Daesh explosives production line Hawija in June 2015. The fire and cascade of explosions killed more than 70 civilians and devastated large parts of the city.

The Dutch are not paying individual compensation “but they have begun helping with the long-term reconstruction in Hawija,” Woods said, adding the Dutch government has set up a five-million-euro fund for the city.

In Mosul, where the cost of reconstruction is estimated at billions of dollars, a similar initiative would be welcome.

But the Iraqi authorities themselves were slow to address the issue of the casualties and the ruins — from which bodies are still removed to this day.

In March 2019, former prime minister Haider Al-Abadi said only “eight women and children” were killed in Mosul.

The head of the provincial human rights commission, Yasser Dhiaa, said Baghdad had taken the case of Mosul Al-Jadidah to the US State Department — in vain so far.

In other countries, the US military has been more active in compensation cases.

In Somalia, where Airwars has counted some 100 civilians killed in 14 years, the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) has set up an online form and a postal address for registering civilian victims on its homepage.

CENTCOM, the US command for the Middle East, has no form, no address, email or telephone number on its website.

But a press statement dating from March 17, 2017, can be found on the site which mentions “four strikes” in Mosul that destroyed a series of vehicles, weapons “and an Daesh-held building.”

On that day, AFP reported that Iraqi forces had recaptured a mosque and a market in Mosul’s Old City.

Four months later, the Old City was liberated and Daesh routed in Iraq.

Abdullah Khalil at the time was just learning how to adjust his prosthetic leg, something he still struggles with to this day.

Netanyahu says he will pave way to end exemption for ultra-Orthodox from military service

Updated 01 March 2024

Netanyahu says he will pave way to end exemption for ultra-Orthodox from military service

  • Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up 13 percent of Israel’s population, claim the right to study in seminaries instead of serving in uniform for the standard three years
  • Israel’s Supreme Court in 2018 voided a law waiving the draft for ultra-Orthodox men, citing a need for the burden of military service to be shared across Israeli society

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday his government would find a way to end exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israeli military service in the face of political pressures that threaten his narrow coalition’s future.
“We will determine goals for conscripting ultra-Orthodox people to the IDF and national civil service,” Netanyahu said at a press conference, referring to the Israel Defense Forces. “We will also determine the ways to implement those goals.”
Israel’s Supreme Court in 2018 voided a law waiving the draft for ultra-Orthodox men, citing a need for the burden of military service to be shared across Israeli society.
Parliament failed to come up with a new arrangement, and a government-issued stay on mandatory conscription of ultra-Orthodox expires in March.
Ultra-Orthodox parties have helped Netanyahu hold a narrow parliamentary majority alongside far-right nationalist parties but in past governments have made draft exemption a condition for remaining in the coalition.
Netanyahu appeared to be responding to a pledge made by his defense minister to veto a law that would allow the continuation of exemptions unless the government reached an agreement paving a path for ultra-Orthodox enlistment.
“We recognize and support those who dedicate their life to studying Jewish holy scripture but, with that, without physical existence there is no spiritual existence,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday.
The exemptions granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews have been a longstanding source of friction with more secular citizens now stoked by the country’s costly mobilization for the Gaza war.
The ultra-Orthodox claim the right to study in seminaries instead of serving in uniform for the standard three years. Some say their pious lifestyles would clash with military mores, while others voice ideological opposition to the liberal state.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up 13 percent of Israel’s population, a figure expected to reach 19 percent by 2035 due to their high birth rates. Economists argue that the draft exemption keeps some of them unnecessarily in seminaries and out of the workforce.

‘Mercy tables’ in Egypt suffer from economic crisis as Ramadan nears

Updated 29 February 2024

‘Mercy tables’ in Egypt suffer from economic crisis as Ramadan nears

CAIRO: Rising food prices and shortages may lead to fewer donations and less food for “tables of mercy” in Egypt during Ramadan.

Such tables are usually seen on Egypt’s streets to provide lower-income people with free iftar.

“There are many philanthropists in Egypt, but the high prices of food items constrain them,” said Kamal Khairy, a cook who worked at the tables in previous years.

A kilogram of meat is now priced at 450 Egyptian pounds ($14.56) in some areas, while a kilogram of rice costs 40 pounds. The price of vegetables has risen to unreasonable levels, Khairy told Arab News.

The meal cost has increased significantly, causing some philanthropists to withdraw from setting up tables this year.

“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, I used to cook at different tables upon request by philanthropists,” he said.

“In one year, I cooked for three tables — one in the morning, another in the afternoon, and the third before sunset. However, no one has asked me this year.”

A 50-year-old Egyptian, who declined to be named, told Arab News: “In previous years, I used to set up a free iftar table near my factory in Al-Azhar. However, I cannot afford the extra expense due to financial constraints this year.”

He said the factory was struggling financially, so he had been cutting expenses.

A car park attendant on Hoda Shaarawi Street in Cairo who gave his name as Uncle Ahmed told Arab News: “Due to the nature of my job, I cannot go home during Ramadan. Therefore, I rely on the ‘mercy table’ set up on the street, where I am a regular guest.”

The man, nearing 60, added: “I used to sit at a table alongside people from diverse social backgrounds, such as delivery workers, nurses, conscripts, and passersby.

“The table used to accommodate more than 500 people but now fits only 50.”

He said that in the past, a meal would typically consist of a meat dish (such as chicken or kofta), a vegetable dish, a salad and rice or pasta.

“There is only one dish that contains rice and vegetables this year, and the size of the chicken and meat has been reduced. Additionally, the salad portion has been reduced."

Ahmed added: “The crisis affects everyone, and we don’t expect more from the philanthropists. I excuse them.

“I pray that our crises in Egypt will be resolved.”

Farid Jamal, a worker at a charity hosting a table, said: “In previous years, people would arrive an hour before the Maghrib prayer, but now they come three hours earlier.

“The social composition has also changed. I see young men and men from good social levels wearing relatively elegant clothes and women who appear to be in a good situation, all reserving their places at the table to get an iftar meal.”

Volunteers brave Israeli air raids to feed Lebanon’s stranded pets

Updated 29 February 2024

Volunteers brave Israeli air raids to feed Lebanon’s stranded pets

  • Tyre resident recounts heartbreaking scenes in abandoned towns

BEIRUT: Volunteers in southern Lebanon are defying Israeli bombing to feed and care for dogs, cats, birds and other animals that have become victims of the conflict.

Linda Luku — a native of Bint Jbeil now residing in Tyre — is among a growing number of volunteers who have mobilized via social media to support animals amid the military escalation between Hezbollah and Israel.

Their efforts provide a lifeline to the forgotten victims of war as clashes continue to claim the lives of Hezbollah operatives and Lebanese civilians, including innocent children and women.

Amid the clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli army, thousands of residents of the border region in southern Lebanon have abandoned their homes and villages in recent months.

In heartbreaking decisions, many families opted to leave their cherished pets behind, hoping that their displacement would be short-lived.

With military operations escalating and airstrikes pounding the region, villages have been transformed into desolate ghost towns, leaving animals abandoned and vulnerable to starvation and bombing.

Luku recounted the heartbreaking scenes she encountered during a visit to her hometown of Bint Jbeil.

Stray cats and dogs — emaciated and desperate — roamed the streets, their suffering palpable as their ribs protruded from hunger.

The sight was particularly harrowing for Luku, who, moved by compassion, set out with her brother on a mission to provide relief.

They managed to secure leftover chicken from a local slaughterhouse in Maaroub owned by a friend, and then journeyed to their hometown to distribute food to the starving animals.

“These animals are not strays. They belong to beautiful breeds commonly kept as household pets. They are now left to fend for themselves, searching for sustenance in towns abandoned by humans,” Luku said.

She added: “It is a poignant scene. As I navigate through these towns, I am confronted with the sight of starving animals, and the distressing images linger with me through the night.

“Amid the conflict, there is a heartbreaking lack of awareness. Residents remaining in villages under bombardment often withhold food from these animals.”

“Many times, I traverse villages devoid of human presence, with only Israeli warplanes hovering above, surveilling the area.”

Qassem Haidar, 28, from Shaqra in southern Lebanon, still lives in the area with his family despite facing constant bombardment.

“I have my own business, yet I sympathize with animals,” he said, adding: “I started feeding animals in my village after I was shocked to see a dog eating a cat in Beit Leif. It was so horrible. I could not stand it.

“I resorted to social media, asking anyone who had food leftovers to keep them, taking it upon myself to collect and distribute them to abandoned animals.

“I took photos of the hungry animals and posted them online. Many showed sympathy, and I started receiving donations, from dry food bags to gasoline costs, to move around between the villages.

“I also reached out to animal welfare organizations. I dedicate three hours of my time every day to going around the villages and posting stories on Instagram.

“I visited every village in the border area, from Ayta Al-Shaab to Kfarkela, spending a few minutes in some due to the bombardment and more than an hour in others.

Haidar said: “I used to leave food on the sides of the roads. Sometimes, if I come across a civilian still in his house, I leave bags of food at his place so that he can feed the animals.

“I also cooperate with the medics in the region to distribute food to animals. I have a town visit schedule, and I know when I should return and visit them to leave food for the animals.

“I don’t want to be late, so they do not starve to death or eat each other. I have seen cats and dogs that died of cardiac arrest due to the sound of exploding shells. Their heartbeats were so fast. They experienced absolute terror.

“They know when a shell is about to drop, and they disperse before it does. I followed their instincts and survived bombings more than once. Israelis bombed the sites I was at in many towns five minutes after I left them.

“I often used to be the only person on the road in towns in the line of fire. My mother is always worried about me. However, I am convinced these lives cannot be abandoned,” he added.

Haidar’s mission goes beyond feeding dogs, cats, and birds. He also takes sick or wounded animals to local vets.

Firas Faraj, a founder of the Strays Welfare Association in Tyre, said that many of the pets left behind are waiting for their owners to return.

He added: “We do not have an accurate number of abandoned animals, yet we are dealing with the problem case by case.

“The issue has gained some sympathy, but the need is still greater than what is provided. UNIFIL forces previously sympathized with us since the unit commanders love animals and provided us access to a field hospital.

“However, with the opening of the southern battlefront, all aid was suspended, and we rely on individual initiatives.”

El-Sisi, Al-Burhan discuss developments in Sudan

Updated 29 February 2024

El-Sisi, Al-Burhan discuss developments in Sudan

  • Al-Burhan said that Egypt’s role in hosting Sudanese citizens and mitigating the crisis provided evidence of its continued friendship
  • El-Sisi and Al-Burhan agreed on the necessity of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday received Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, president of the Transitional Sovereignty Council of Sudan, at Cairo International Airport.

An official reception ceremony took place at Al-Ittihadiya Palace, at which the national anthems were played and guards of honor inspected.

The meeting focused on recent developments in Sudan and efforts to resolve its crisis.

The main goal is to restore stability while ensuring sovereignty, unity, and cohesion of the Sudanese state and its institutions.

The meeting was an attempt to meet the Sudanese people’s desire for safety and stability.

Ahmed Fahmy, the presidential spokesman, said that El-Sisi focused on the solid historic relations between the two countries, emphasizing Egypt’s support in enhancing cooperation.

The president stressed Egypt’s commitment to Sudan’s security and offered full support to achieve political, security, and economic stability.

He affirmed Egypt’s commitment to supporting Sudan’s unity and resolving ongoing conflicts.

He added that the two countries shared a close relationship, which made it necessary to ensure national security.

The president spoke of Egypt’s ongoing role in helping to alleviate the humanitarian impact of the current crisis within Sudan.

Al-Burhan expressed his country’s appreciation for Egypt’s support. He highlighted the long-standing ties between the two countries, while saying that Egypt’s role in hosting Sudanese citizens and mitigating the crisis provided evidence of its continued friendship.

The parties also discussed the situation in Gaza and regional issues of mutual concern.

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan agreed on the necessity of an immediate ceasefire and the urgent need to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

They also agreed to continue consultations and coordination to help benefit the populations of Egypt and Sudan.

The Sudanese leader made an official visit to Egypt in August last year, his first following the start of his country’s conflict in April. Al-Burhan and El-Sisi met in the city of Alamein in northern Egypt.

Palestinian president issues ‘categorical rejection’ of Israeli PM’s post-war plan

Updated 29 February 2024

Palestinian president issues ‘categorical rejection’ of Israeli PM’s post-war plan

  • Netanyahu wants Israel to retain security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarization
  • Abbas charged that the plan confirmed the Israeli government’s intentions to recolonize the Gaza Strip

CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stressed “categorical Palestinian rejection” of the principles announced in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s so-called post-war plan for Gaza.

Netanyahu wants Israel to retain security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarization.

His plan, which brings together a range of well-established Israeli positions, underlines Netanyahu’s resistance to the creation of a Palestinian state which he sees as a security threat.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has received a written message from Abbas which calls for a global conference to adopt a comprehensive peace plan with international guarantees and a timeline for implementation of the ending of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Abbas has called on the league to support Palestine in obtaining full membership of the UN.

The message urged countries that have not yet recognized Palestine to do so.

Aboul Gheit received Ambassador Muhannad Al-Aklouk, representative of Palestine to the bloc, at the headquarters of the general secretariat, and Al-Aklouk had brought a message from Abbas.

Jamal Rushdi, a spokesperson for the Arab League chief, said that the president’s message included a categorical Palestinian rejection of the principles announced by the Israeli prime minister for the so-called “day after of the war.”

The message included a warning of the danger of those principles — especially the denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, and insisting on imposing Israeli sovereignty on the land extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Abbas charged that the plan confirmed the Israeli government’s intentions to recolonize the Gaza Strip and perpetuate the occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem through plans to build thousands of settlement units.

Rushdi said that the message warned that the goal of the Israeli government was not only to undermine the chances of peace based on the two-state solution, but also to intensify ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

The president’s message included the affirmation that the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Authority is ready to assume the responsibilities of governance in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and is prepared to work toward establishing security and peace, as well as stability, in the region within the framework of a comprehensive peace plan.

The message called on the Arab League’s chief to continue working for a ceasefire; the provision of humanitarian aid; the return of displaced people to their homes in the north; the prevention of their displacement; and a halt to Israel’s expansionist plans and practices in the Gaza Strip.

Aboul Gheit confirmed to Al-Aklouk that he would continue to work to achieve all the goals highlighted in the president’s message — most notably an immediate ceasefire, working to bring aid in urgently and sustainably, and standing with full force against the displacement plan.

Aboul Gheit stressed that stopping the war remained a fundamental priority for the Arab League and its member states.

He reiterated that the Palestinians, Arabs, and the world always rejected the displacement plan.

Aboul Gheit pointed out that addressing the humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israeli aggression could not be achieved in isolation from a settlement aiming at the emergence of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

He emphasized that the Palestinians were capable of governing themselves.

Aboul Gheit added that the continuation of the occupation was no longer possible and that the two-state solution remained the only formula capable of achieving security, peace, and stability between Palestinians and Israelis in the region and the world.