Israeli forces kill nine Palestinians in raid on Jenin refugee camp

Unarmed Palestinians take shelter from Israeli gunfire and tear-gas canisters during Thursday’s attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. (AP)
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Updated 27 January 2023

Israeli forces kill nine Palestinians in raid on Jenin refugee camp

  • An elderly woman was reportedly among the dead and 20 people were wounded, 4 seriously, as Israeli forces searched for 3 militants
  • Meanwhile a 22-year-old man was shot and killed by soldiers in Al-Ram on what was the West Bank’s deadliest day for more than a year

RAMALLAH: Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, and wounded 20, four of them seriously, during a raid in Jenin refugee camp on Thursday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Meanwhile, Youssef Muheisen, 22, died after being shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Al-Ram, in Jerusalem governorate, raising the day’s death toll to 10.

The bloodshed, which marked the West Bank’s deadliest day in more than a year, brought to 30 the total number of Palestinians killed this year by Israeli operations.

Security forces said they entered the camp to apprehend three Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad organization who, according to intelligence information, intended to carry out a significant attack against an Israeli target.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli officials initially prevented medics from entering the camp, making it difficult to reach the injured, four of whom were in critical condition. It said Israeli forces had fired tear gas canisters at the Jenin Government Hospital, resulting in inhalation injuries among children.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the UN and international human rights organizations to “intervene urgently to provide protection … and stop the bloodshed of children, youth and women.” He added that the occupying forces continue to commit killings and executions with impunity.

Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said: “I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the occupied West Bank. Today’s deaths of nine Palestinians, including militants and one woman, during an Israeli arrest operation in Jenin is another stark example.”

He urged the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.

A general strike was called in the West Bank to mourn the dead. Large crowds attended the funerals of the nine victims, amid calls for revenge. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced three days of mourning, during which flags will fly at half-mast.

Separately, nine people were injured during clashes that broke out between dozens of Palestinians and Israeli forces near Bethlehem and Ramallah, during which live bullets and tear gas canisters were used to disperse crowds throwing stones.

An EU official in Jerusalem described the situation in the West Bank as complex and heading toward a dangerous curve. The official added that the EU has consistently called for immediate investigations into military operations that result in civilian casualties and for the results of such probes to be publicly announced.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “If the international community and the US administration do not move now, when these brutal crimes are committed by the occupying forces, then when will they move?”

Maj. Gen. Akram Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, described the Israeli operation at the camp there as “the bloodiest and most violent in more than a year.”

He said great sadness, pain and anger prevails in the city and the camp, and the repeated Israeli incursions are weakening the roles of the Palestinian security services and the Palestinian Authority.

A Palestinian security officer at the Jenin camp, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News that a dairy truck with Palestinian number plates had arrived at about 7 a.m. on Thursday. Inside, there were about 30 members of the Israeli Special Forces. When young residents of the camp spotted the hidden force they attacked it with a barrage of stones, he said. Then reinforcements arrived, including more than 80 Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers, and a drone to monitor the camp.

He said the operation continued for more than four hours, during which the forces surrounded houses and targeted them with heavy gunfire and rockets.

“The camp was like a battlefield and reminded us of what happened in 2002,” the source said.

Following the operation in Jenin, Israeli troops in the West Bank and along the borders with Gaza were put on high alert amid fears of Palestinian retaliation, Israeli defense forces said.

Nabil Aburudeineh, spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, described the killings as a “massacre” and condemned the silence of the international community over such incidents, “which encourages the Israeli government to commit more massacres against the Palestinian people and continue the escalation policy.”

Abdullatif Al-Qanou, who belongs to Hamas, the organization that rules Gaza, said: “The behavior of the extremist occupation government, the escalation of its crimes, and its transgression against our people will inevitably lead us to the battle of Jerusalem to defend our land, our families and our sanctities.”

Daoud Shehab, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad, said: “The Jenin camp is the most prominent address of challenge and steadfastness throughout Palestine, and Jenin affirms that the resistance continues despite the arrogance and crimes of the occupation.”

Islamic Jihad is a powerful presence in the Jenin camp, where it operates a “Jenin Brigade” of about 300 well-trained fighters that coordinate with all other Palestinian militants in the camps.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit Egypt, Israel and the West Bank this weekend amid the escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence and American concerns about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new, far-right government.

Downing of drones in Red Sea ‘legitimate defense’: France

Updated 9 sec ago

Downing of drones in Red Sea ‘legitimate defense’: France

  • In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they will prevent the passage of ships heading to Israel if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Gaza

PARIS: A French frigate that shot down two drones in the Red Sea was acting in self-defense after coming under attack from the unmanned aerial vehicles, the Foreign Ministry in Paris said on Monday.
The French general staff reported on Sunday that the Languedoc frigate, operating in the Red Sea, had opened fire on two drones heading straight toward it from the Yemen coast, destroying both.
The incident came after Houthis threatened on Saturday to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine were allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Foreign Ministry said the drones were engaged in an “attack” on its vessel and had been downed in “legitimate defense.”
The incident occurred amid “attacks and acts of piracy committed by Houthis in the Red Sea,” which represented a “worrying increase of assaults on the freedom of navigation in that zone,” it added.
The ministry urged the Houthis to “immediately stop attacks on civilians” and the freedom of movement.


The Foreign Ministry urged the Houthis to ‘immediately stop attacks on civilians’ and the freedom of movement.

France was closely following developments in the Red Sea and called “on all actors to avoid any regional flare-up.”
The general staff said on Sunday the drone interceptions happened at 2030 GMT and 2230 GMT on Saturday, 110 km from the Yemeni coast and the port of Hodeidah, which is under Houthi control.
The drones “were flying directly toward the vessel,” the general staff said. The frigate used surface-to-air missiles of the Aster 15 type, designed for defense against short- to medium-range threats, a military source said.
The French navy had not used surface-to-air missiles in self-defense before.
The incident came amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters, following a series of maritime attacks by Houthis since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.
In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they will prevent the passage of ships heading to Israel if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Gaza.
The Houthis have recently attacked ships they allege have direct links to Israel but the latest threat widens the scope of their targets.
Hamas welcomed the Houthi stance as “bold and courageous.”
A US destroyer shot down three drones earlier this month while providing assistance to commercial ships in the Red Sea that were targeted by attacks from Yemen, according to Washington.
It condemned what it said was “a direct threat” to maritime security.
Saturday’s incident was the first time that Houthis had targeted a French military vessel since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.


Jordanian companies receive over $40m in government grants

Updated 34 min 38 sec ago

Jordanian companies receive over $40m in government grants

  • Fifty-four of these companies are led by women, and seven are getting ready to export for the first time

LONDON: One hundred and thirty-five Jordanian companies have been granted a total of JD29.6 million ($41.8 million) in non-refundable agreements from the Industrial Support and Development Fund, it was announced on Monday.

The funding accounts for 57.2 percent of the estimated JD51.763 million required for various industrial facility development projects, Petra news agency reported.

During a ceremony at the Amman Chamber of Industry, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply Yousef Shamali said the program aims to increase total sales by JD76.1 million, reflecting a growth of 14.3 percent.

It also aims to increase exports by JD30.84 million and create more than 1,700 job opportunities for Jordanians, including 622 for women.

The initiative is part of the Jordanian government’s broader commitment to revitalizing local industry, with the goal of improving its competitiveness, reducing unemployment, and stimulating the country’s business environment, Petra added.

Shamali emphasized the diverse nature of the recipients, which included five large, 77 medium, and 53 small businesses. Fifty-four of these companies are led by women, and seven are getting ready to export for the first time, the report said.

The program establishes a financial incentive cap of JD150,000 for small businesses, JD300,000 for medium businesses, and JD500,000 for large businesses.

The draft budget for the coming fiscal year will include JD40 million to support this initiative.

Iran president targeted with ‘crimes against humanity’ complaint in Switzerland

Updated 51 min 51 sec ago

Iran president targeted with ‘crimes against humanity’ complaint in Switzerland

  • Legal complaint filed by three alleged victims from Iran’s crackdown on dissidents in 1980s

GENEVA: A legal complaint called Monday for Swiss authorities to arrest Iran’s president during an expected visit and charge him with crimes against humanity connected to a 1988 purge of dissidents.
The complaint asks Swiss federal public prosecutor Andreas Muller to ensure the arrest and prosecution of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi “over his participation in acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial executions and other crimes against humanity.”
Raisi was expected to participate in the United Nations Global Refugee Forum, which begins in Geneva on Wednesday, but the UN said Monday evening that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian would lead the Iranian delegation, an indication that Raisi might not show.
The legal complaint against him, seen by AFP, was dated Monday. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately confirm that it had been received.
It was filed by three alleged victims from Iran’s crackdown on dissidents in the 1980s.
Rights groups have long campaigned for justice over alleged extrajudicial executions of thousands of mainly young people across Iranian prisons within a few months in the summer of 1988, just as the war with Iraq was ending.
Those killed were mainly supporters of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, known by the abbreviations MEK or PMOI, a group considered a terrorist organization by Iran that backed Baghdad during the conflict.
The petitioners behind Monday’s complaint said they could personally identify Raisi as figuring on a commission that sent thousands of jailed opponents to their deaths during the crackdown.
He was serving as deputy prosecutor general of Tehran at the time, and was among the most eager on his commission to sentence prisoners to death, the complaint said.
The main petitioner, Reza Shemiriani, was arrested in 1981 and was one of fewer than 150 of the 5,000 prisoners detained in his cell bloc who survived the 1988 purge, according to the complaint.
Raisi had asked him what group he belonged to, and when he said MEK, “his death sentence was assured,” the complaint said, adding that Shemiriani still did not know why his life was spared.
Instead he remained in prison until 1991, facing daily torture, the complaint said.
The two other petitioners had also been in Iranian prisons in 1988, and said they recognized Raisi “as a member of the death commission,” according to the complaint.
In parallel to the legal complaint, an international campaign is also underway expressing outrage at Raisi’s participation in the UN refugee forum, and urging his prosecution for “involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law.”
“Raisi was a key perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. His presence at the UN forum contradicts the fundamental values the UN stands for,” said the petition.
So far it has gathered more than 200 signatures from dignitaries including Nobel laureates, judges, former ministers, parliamentarians, academics and UN rights experts.
“We firmly believe that the United Nations, as a bastion of human rights and justice, should not compromise its reputation by extending an invitation to an individual accused of grave human rights violations,” it said, urging the UN to “promptly rescind its invitation to Raisi.”
When asked about the petition, forum host UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told AFP that “Iran is a member state of the United Nations and therefore invited to the Global Refugee Forum.”
“Iran has also been one of the largest refugee hosting countries for over 40 years,” a spokesman said in an email, adding that “the Iranian delegation will be led by the foreign minister.”

Lebanon public offices, banks, schools, universities close in nationwide strike in support of Gaza

Updated 11 December 2023

Lebanon public offices, banks, schools, universities close in nationwide strike in support of Gaza

  • Dutch defense minister warns against escalation, discusses UNIFIL role in call to Lebanese counterpart
  • Israeli shell kills mayor of Lebanese village

BEIRUT: The mayor of a Lebanese village died instantly when he was struck by an Israeli shell on Monday as Israel and Hezbollah kept up hostilities ignited by the war in Gaza.

Hussein Mansour was killed outside his home in the village of Taybeh, a few kilometers from the border with Israel, a relative, Mohamed Mansour, said in media reports.

The shell that struck him did not explode, the National News Agency said.

Lebanon on Monday staged a nationwide strike in support of Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire and a halt to the two-month Israeli assault on the enclave.

In a statement, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the closure of all public administration offices, public institutions, and municipalities.

He said the action was in response to global support for Gaza, and in solidarity with the Palestinian people and residents of Lebanese border villages.

Beirut’s streets were noticeably quieter as schools, universities, banks, and public and private administrations closed.

Pharmacies stopped working for one hour.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs closed its departments in Lebanon and Lebanese missions abroad.

The ministry called on the world to “take a stand against the systematic genocide being committed against the resilient Palestinian people under the Israeli siege and occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

It highlighted “daily attacks by the Israeli army in the southern Lebanese border areas, which have resulted in the loss of lives and injuries, including soldiers, journalists, paramedics, women, and children.”

The Ministry of Culture closed all historical sites.

Minister Wissam Mortada said: “We wanted the strike to be a thorn that pricks the conscience of the world complicit with the machinery of destruction and killing.”

Education Minister Abbas Halabi asked teachers to allocate one class on Tuesday to explain the reasons for the closure on Monday, and emphasize the “necessity of stopping the attacks on the occupied Palestinian territories and southern Lebanon, protecting civilians, especially women and children.”

He called on people to “raise their voices against the massacres committed against the innocent, demolishing their homes, hospitals, schools, and places of worship over their heads, and displacing them in the open, all under the eyes of the whole world.”

Violence escalated at Lebanon’s border with Israel on Sunday, with Hezbollah launching explosive drones and missiles at Israeli positions, and Israeli airstrikes rocking several towns and villages in south Lebanon.

On Monday afternoon, an Israeli drone attack on the border town of Al-Taybeh killed a man in his 80s sitting on the balcony of his home.

Also on Monday, Defense Minister Maurice Sleem received a call from his Dutch counterpart Kajsa Ollongren.

According to Sleem’s office, the Dutch minister emphasized “the need to reduce escalation in the region and the international community’s future aspiration to achieve a two-state solution.” 

The role of UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon was reviewed during the call.

Sleem praised the cooperation and coordination between the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL, and its close relationship with the local community.

“Peace and stability cannot be achieved without a just and comprehensive peace and adherence to the provisions of the relevant international resolutions,” he said.

On Monday, an Israeli warplane attacked the outskirts of Jabal Al-Rayhan in the Jezzine region with a missile.

Five interceptor missiles launched by the Israelis exploded above Hula, Mays Al-Jabal, and Aitaroun.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel said that an Israeli tank fired several shells toward Lebanese territorial waters opposite Ras Naqoura.

An Israeli drone also targeted the outskirts of the town of Yaron with three missiles.

Israeli shelling struck the center of the town of Kafr Hamam and damaged a house.

The outskirts of Rashaya Al-Fakhoura and Al-Fardis were also hit by at least 12 Israeli artillery rounds.

The Israeli army bombed sites in southern Lebanon after the launch of rockets, and also targeted the outskirts of Naqoura, Alma Shaab, and Jabal Al-Labouneh in the western sector.

The army targeted the Marjayoun Plain with two shells, Al-Awaida Hill with artillery shells, and bombed the outskirts of the towns of Kafr Kila and Deir Mimas.

Hezbollah said that it struck an Israeli soldiers’ gathering near Summaka in the Shebaa Farms with six rockets launched from Al-Khribet.

It also also targeted the Israeli Brannit barracks with artillery.

On Monday, Hezbollah mourned two of its members, but did not specify where they were killed. Media reports said that both were killed in Syria.

Gazans say hunger is causing social breakdown, fueling fears of exodus into Egypt

Updated 43 min 29 sec ago

Gazans say hunger is causing social breakdown, fueling fears of exodus into Egypt

  • Narrow coastal strip has been under a full Israeli blockade since the start of the conflict more than two months ago
  • Over 2.3 million people driven from their homes and residents say it is impossible to find refuge and increasingly food

GAZA: Hamas said it was striking back against Israeli forces across Gaza on Monday and Palestinians and international relief agencies said public order was disintegrating as hunger spread, fueling fears of a mass exodus to Egypt.
The narrow coastal strip has been under a full Israeli blockade since the start of the conflict more than two months ago and the border with Egypt is the only other way out.
Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes and residents say it is impossible to find refuge, or increasingly food, in the densely populated enclave, with around 18,000 people already killed and conflict intensifying.
Gazans said people forced to flee repeatedly were dying of hunger and cold as well as bombardment, describing desperate attacks on aid trucks and sky high prices.
“Had any of us expected that our people may die of hunger, had it crossed anyone’s mind before?” said Rola Ghanim, among many expressing bewilderment on social media.
Aid trucks risked being stopped by desperate residents if they even slowed down at an intersection, Carl Skau, said deputy executive director of the UN World Food Programme.
“Half of the population are starving, nine out of 10 are not eating every day,” he told Reuters on Saturday.
One Palestinian told Reuters he had not eaten for three days and had to beg for bread for his children.
“I pretend to be strong but I am afraid I will collapse in front of them at any moment,” he said by telephone, declining to be named for fear of reprisals.
After the collapse of a week-long cease-fire on Dec. 1, Israel began a ground offensive in the south last week and has since pushed from the east into the heart of the city of Khan Younis, with warplanes attacking an area to the west.
On Monday, militants and some residents said fighters were preventing Israeli tanks moving further west through the city and clashing with Israeli forces in northern Gaza, where Israel had said its tasks were largely complete.
Israel said dozens of Hamas fighters had surrendered and urged others to join them. The armed wing of Hamas said it had fired rockets toward Tel Aviv, where Israelis fled to shelters.
UN officials say 1.9 million people — 85 percent of Gaza’s population — are displaced and describe the conditions in the southern areas where they have concentrated as hellish.
“I expect public order to completely break down soon and an even worse situation could unfold including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday.

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of UNRWA, the UN body responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, wrote on Saturday that pushing Gazans closer and closer to the border pointed to “attempts to move Palestinians into Egypt.”
The border with Egypt is heavily fortified, but Hamas militants blew holes in the wall in 2008 to break a tight blockade. Gazans crossed to buy food and other goods but quickly returned, with none permanently displaced.
Egypt has long warned it would not allow Gazans into its territory this time, fearing they would not be able to return.
Jordan, which absorbed the bulk of Palestinians after the creation of Israel in 1948, accused Israel on Sunday of seeking “to empty Gaza of its people.”
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy called the accusation “outrageous and false,” saying his country was defending itself “from the monsters who perpetrated the Oct. 7 massacre” and bringing them to justice.
Hamas gunmen on Oct. 7 killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostage, according to Israeli tallies. About 100 hostages were freed during the truce, some with relatives left behind.
“I am petrified I will get bad news that he is no longer alive,” Sharon Alony-Cunio, released with her two little girls, told Reuters of her husband, who is still being held.
Israel has vowed to annihilate the militant Islamist group, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Since Oct 7. at least 18,205 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and 49,645 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry. The toll no longer includes northern Gaza and many people there and elsewhere remain trapped under rubble.
Israel says the instructions to move are among measures to protect the population. It accuses militants from Hamas, which controls Gaza, of using civilians as human shields and stealing humanitarian aid, which Hamas denies.
The Israeli military accused Hamas of hiding weapons in UNRWA facilities in Jabalia and distributed video purporting to show Hamas gunmen beating people and taking aid in the Gaza City district of Shejaia.
Israel has prevented most aid from moving into Gaza, saying it fears it will just fuel Hamas attacks.
Government spokesman Eylon Levy said Israel was working to open the Kerem Shalom crossing which processed most aid before the war and blamed international agencies for holdups at the crossing from Egypt, which is designed for pedestrians.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank and neighboring Jordan, most shops and businesses closed in response to Palestinian calls for a strike but the impact on Israel was unclear.
The Gaza health ministry said 32 Palestinians were killed in Khan Younis overnight. The armed wing of Hamas said it had hit two Israeli tanks with rockets and fired mortars at Israeli forces.
Militants and residents said fighting was also fierce in Shejaia, east of the center of Gaza City, the northwestern Sheikh Radwan district and Jabalia further north.
In central Gaza, where Israel told people to move on Monday toward “known shelters in the Deir Al-Balah area” health officials said the Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital had received 40 dead.
Medics also said an Israeli air strike had killed four in a house in Rafah, one of two places near Egypt where Israel says Palestinians should take refuge.