Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says

Al-Jazeera's veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during one of her reports from Jerusalem. (AFP/File)
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Updated 04 July 2022

Al Jazeera reporter likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, US says

  • Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank
  • Family “incredulous” after US reported it wasn't possible to determine whose gun fired bullet which killed her

WASHINGTON: Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, but independent investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion about the origin of the bullet that struck her, the US State Department said on Monday.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

The US Security Coordinator (USSC), after summarizing investigations by both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority, concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, the State Department said.

“The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the State Department said in a statement.

In forensic analysis by third-party examiners overseen by the USSC, however, ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged which prevented a clear conclusion as to its origin, the State Department said.

Abu Akleh's family said Monday they were “incredulous” after the US reported it was not possible to determine whose gun fired the bullet which killed her.

“With respect to today’s announcement by the State Department — on July 4, no less — that a test of the spent round that killed Shireen Abu Akleh, an American citizen, was inconclusive as to the origin of the gun that fired it, we are incredulous,” the family said in a statement.

Palestinians have said the Israeli military deliberately killed Abu Akleh. Israel has denied this, saying she may have been hit by errant army fire or by a bullet from one of the Palestinian gunmen who were clashing with its forces at the scene.

The death of Abu Akleh, and feuding between the sides over the circumstances, have overshadowed a visit by US President Joe Biden due this month.


Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

Updated 11 sec ago

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

DUBAI: Iran has released Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah on furlough for five days, her lawyer told the Emtedad website on Tuesday, a day after Tehran and Washington wound up indirect talks in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear pact.
“We hope it (the furlough) will be extended,” Emtedad quoted Hojjat Kermani as saying.
Adelkhah, who is a resident of France and was arrested in 2019 while on a visit to Iran, was sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison on national security charges. She was moved to house arrest later, but in January was returned to jail.
Adelkab has denied the charges. France has called them “politically motivated” and repeatedly called for the release of Adelkhah, a researcher affiliated with Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po University.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality, saying the case is an Iranian domestic legal matter.
In March 2020, Iran released Adelkhah’s partner, French academic Roland Marchal, who was detained along with her, after France freed Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, detained over alleged violations of US sanctions against Tehran.

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 36 min 20 sec ago

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

  • Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory

BEIRUT: A Turkish drone strike Tuesday killed at least four people in a northeast Syrian city held by Kurdish forces, the latest in a flurry of attacks, a war monitor said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack struck near a hospital in Qamishli, the defacto capital of a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration that runs large parts of the country’s northeast.
The four victims, all affiliated with the administration, were killed while they dug trenches near Turkey’s border in anticipation of a new offensive that Ankara has threatened to launch since May, the monitor said.
Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. Most have targeted Kurdish militants that Ankara links to a group waging a decades-long insurgency against it.
Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory.
A Turkish drone strike on Qamishli at the weekend killed four people, including two siblings, said the Observatory.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have counted at least 13 of their members killed in several Turkish attacks since July 19.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011 has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population.


Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

Updated 09 August 2022

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

  • Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: ‘Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered’
  • Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad

The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed movement Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned on Tuesday against any Israeli attempts to expand their targeting of Palestinian militants to Lebanon.
“Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking Ashura, a melancholic commemoration for Shiite Muslims of the killing the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The comments came after a flare-up in violence between Israel and the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza strip, prompted by Israel’s arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader earlier this month.
On Saturday, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad, who he said could be seen in “restaurants and hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon.”
“They too will have to pay the price,” Gantz said.
On Monday, a day after a truce brokered by Egypt ended the Gaza violence, he said Israel could carry out “pre-emptive strikes” abroad.
“In the future too, if necessary, we will deliver a pre-emptive strike in order to defend Israel’s citizens, sovereignty and infrastructure and this is true for all fronts, from Teheran to Khan Younis,” he said.
Iran-backed Hezbollah is vehemently opposed to Israel and tensions between the two have been escalating in recent months over a disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.


Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

Updated 09 August 2022

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

  • The public rituals of Ashoura often fuels sectarian tensions in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where Islam’s two main sects both reside

BAGHDAD: Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon chanted, paraded and beat their chests on Tuesday as they marked Ashoura, one of the most important dates on the religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The symbols of Shiite piety and penitence blanketed major cities in Iraq, where Hussein was believed killed at the battle of Karbala, south of Baghdad, in 680 A.D.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people converge on Karbala, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, to observe the solemn holy day.
Shiites see Hussein and his descendants as the rightful heirs to the prophet. His killing at the hands of a rival Muslim faction embodies the rift between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam and continues to shape the identity of the minority branch of Islam today.
The public rituals of Ashoura often fuels sectarian tensions in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where Islam’s two main sects both reside.
Security forces were on high alert for any violence, as extremist groups that consider the Shiites heretics have seized on the occasion to mount attacks in years past.
In Iraq, the powerful cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has used the emotional religious occasion to stir up support for his movement, deepening the country’s inter-Shiite divisions. Unable to form a government, Iraq descended further into political chaos last week when thousands of Al-Sadr’s supporters stormed and occupied the parliament building. Their sit-in continues outside the assembly, making it impossible for lawmakers to convene and raising the specter of civil strife.
In the Shiite-dominated Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, Al-Sadr’s portrait hangs from nearly every door. Processions of men and boys expressed extreme fervor in the Ashoura rituals of self-flagellation on Tuesday. They beat their heads and chests in unison and whipped themselves with chains to the point of bleeding.
“We inherited this from our fathers and grandfathers,” said participant Hamza Abdul-Jalil. “God willing, we will continue on this path.”
In Lebanon, processions shut down Shiite areas across the country and Beirut’s biggest suburb.

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Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

Updated 09 August 2022

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

  • Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin

JERUSALEM: Israeli troops killed three Palestinians and injured dozens more in a shootout Tuesday during an arrest operation in the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The shootout came a day after a cease-fire ended three days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli police said forces encircled the home of Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who they say was wanted for a string of shootings in the West Bank earlier this year. It confirmed that Al-Nabulsi and another Palestinian militant were killed in a shootout at the scene, and that troops found arms and explosives in his home.
The Israeli military said that troops came under attack from Palestinians throwing rocks and explosives, and that soldiers responded with live fire. It confirmed Palestinians were shot, but did not elaborate on their condition.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that three people were killed — Al-Nabulsi, Islam Sabouh and Hussein Jamal Taha — and at least 40 others were wounded.
Israel has conducted near nightly arrest raids in the West Bank in recent months as part of a crackdown on Palestinian militant groups in the aftermath of a string of deadly attacks targeting Israelis earlier this year that left 19 people dead. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops during these arrest raids.
Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin, during one of the nightly operations. The group said it was going “on alert,” and on Friday Israel said it had launched a series of strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip in response to an “imminent threat” by the militant group.
During the three days of Gaza fighting, at least 46 Palestinians were killed, including 16 children and four women, and 311 were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Twelve of those killed were militants, one was from a smaller armed group, and two were Hamas-affiliated policemen who were not taking part in the fighting, according to the armed factions.
Israel estimated that a total of 47 Palestinians were killed, including 14 killed by misfired rockets. It said 20 militants and seven civilians died in Israeli airstrikes and that it was still investigating six deaths.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek it as the heartland of their future state. Israel views the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people, and has constructed dozens of settlements, now home to over 400,000 Israelis.
The Palestinians and much of the international community consider Israel’s West Bank settlements a violation of international law and an obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict.