Palestinian security officer due to wed killed by Israeli forces in West Bank

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Jenin in recent months, including minors and militants. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2023

Palestinian security officer due to wed killed by Israeli forces in West Bank

  • Eight people were also injured in the latest of now almost daily Israeli offensives in Jenin and its camp

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian security officer, who was soon due to be married, has been killed during clashes on Monday with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank flashpoint city of Jenin.

The death of 37-year-old Ashraf Ibrahim, reported by Palestinian health officials, took the number of people estimated to have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers since the beginning of the year to 158, including 36 from the Gaza Strip in May, and 26 children.

Eight people were also injured in the latest of now almost daily Israeli offensives in Jenin and its camp.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Ibrahim, a colonel in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service who had spent 11 years in Israeli prisons before joining the Palestinian Authority agency.

In a statement, the Hamas movement said: “Our steadfast and heroic people will make the occupation’s crimes a nightmare for its soldiers and settlers.”

More than 10 Palestinian security officers have been killed, dozens arrested, and several remain in detention, since the start of Israel’s military operation in the West Bank in early March last year.

Retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Al-Damiri, a former spokesman for the Palestinian security services, told Arab News that the Israeli army regularly targeted Palestinian security officers.

He said: “What is the fault of the Palestinian security officer who lives next to someone the Israeli army wants to be killed? The message to them is that they will be killed irrespective of whether they fight or do not fight the Israeli army.”

Some Palestinian leaders believe the security clampdown in the West Bank is a ploy by Israel to force Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to arrange temporary solutions instead of tackling key issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, and borders.

A Palestinian security officer with the rank of colonel, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News: “If we cannot protect ourselves and the lives of our colleagues, how can we provide security for our security tasks and our people?”

He said that the actions of the Israelis had damaged the Palestinian security services’ credibility with the public and its ability to cooperate with Israel on almost any matter.

“How can a Palestinian security officer work in such an environment? We are suffering from a psychological, operational, professional, and financial crisis,” he added.

The number of Palestinians arrested by the Israeli army and being held in administrative detention without trial had reportedly reached 1,200.

Also, on Monday, Jewish settlers in the West Bank said they had set up a religious school in a dismantled outpost after the Israeli government lifted a ban on settlements in several evacuated areas in the northern part of the territory.

The US State Department said re-establishing the school contradicted commitments made by the Netanyahu government.

The school was built in Homesh, one of four West Bank outposts abandoned as part of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Homesh has been at the center of settler efforts to strengthen Israel’s hold on the northern West Bank. Homesh settlers also burned palm trees in the town of Burqa, northwest of Nablus.

The Israeli Knesset recently approved the cancellation of a disengagement bill from the areas of the northern West Bank, effectively making the outpost legal and officially free to be transformed into a settlement.

Settler attacks have also increased against Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem since the beginning of the year. Churches, monasteries, and cemeteries have been stormed, and in the latest incident on Sunday, verbal insults were directed at Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Tombstones and crosses of more than 30 graves in the Protestant cemetery have also been destroyed.

Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan

Updated 15 sec ago

Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan

PORT SUDAN: Outbreaks of dengue fever and acute watery diarrhea have “killed hundreds” in war-torn Sudan, medics reported Monday, warning of “catastrophic spreads” that could overwhelm the country’s decimated health system.

In a statement, the Sudanese doctors’ union warned that the health situation in the southeastern state of Gedaref, on the border with Ethiopia, “is deteriorating at a horrific rate,” with thousands infected with dengue fever.

Though Gedaref has been spared the direct effects of the brutal war between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, it has nonetheless been impacted by mass displacement and other humanitarian crises.

Over five months into the war, 80 percent of the country’s hospitals are out of service, according to the UN. Even before the war, Sudan’s fragile healthcare system struggled to contain the annual disease outbreaks that accompany the country’s rainy season starting in June, including malaria — endemic in Sudan — and dengue fever.

This year, with Gedaref hosting over 250,000 internally displaced people according to the UN, the situation is much worse.

“The hospital’s beds are all full but the cases keep coming in, particularly children,” a medical source said from Gedaref Hospital.

US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia

Updated 6 min 11 sec ago

US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish-led forces imposed a curfew after clashes erupted again on Monday in eastern Syria, where their fighters had battled for weeks with rival militiamen, Syrian media and activists reported.

The fighting in a region where hundreds of American troops are deployed has pointed to dangerous seams in a coalition that has kept on a lid on the defeated Daesh for years.

The reports say the Syrian Democratic Forces imposed the open-ended measure in several towns in Deir Ezzor province, including the town of Ziban, close to the Iraqi border where the Americans are based. 

Hundreds of US troops have been there since 2015 to help in the fight against Daesh. 

The province is home to Syria’s largest oil fields.

Al Mayadeen, a pan-Arab TV station, said several fighters from the Kurdish-led forces were killed after gunmen took over several parts of Ziban on Monday. 

Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some of the fighters had crossed from regime-held areas.

Local media in the province reported that some Kurdish fighters had fled the area as the clashes intensified. There were no further details.

The Kurdish-led forces have accused the Syrian regime of inciting the violence by allowing the rival militiamen to cross the Euphrates River. 

The clashes first erupted in late August when two weeks of fighting killed 25 Kurdish fighters, 29 members of tribal groups and gunmen, as well as nine civilians, according to the Syrian Democratic Forces .

Joint Palestinian security force deployed to hot spots at refugee camp in Lebanon

Updated 25 September 2023

Joint Palestinian security force deployed to hot spots at refugee camp in Lebanon

  • It marks implementation of ceasefire agreement following weeks of violence; so far it has gone smoothly and cooperation has been excellent, the force’s commander said
  • The next phases involve the withdrawal of armed factions occupying a UN schools complex, and the handover of suspects accused of killing a senior Fatah leader in July

BEIRUT: A Palestinian joint security force was deployed on Monday to two hot spots in Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp. It marked the beginning of the implementation of the terms of a ceasefire agreement reached 12 days ago in an effort to end bloody clashes between Fatah and extremist groups in the camp.

The force includes military representatives of all Palestinian groups involved in the camp, including Hamas, Osbat Al-Ansar, and Al-Haraka Al-Islamiyya Al-Mujahida.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Ajouri, commander of the joint force, told Arab News that 45 soldiers and officers took part in the deployment. It went smoothly and without obstacles, he added, and there was excellent cooperation between all of those involved.

They were posted at Al-Buraq point, which separates Al-Safsaf neighborhood, which is controlled by extremist groups, from the Baraksat area, controlled by Fatah, and at the border between Al-Tiri and extremist-controlled Al-Ras Al-Ahmar.

Al-Ajouri said there is “an atmosphere of relief among people in the camp” following the deployment. He added that “things are positive” and the next step will be the withdrawal of armed militants barricaded inside a schools complex run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The Palestinian Joint Action Committee will hold a meeting this week with both sides involved in the conflict to arrange the simultaneous withdrawal of their forces from the schools, he said.

The playground of the educational compound was turned into a battleground between members of extremists groups occupying four schools and Fatah gunmen holed up in four other schools.

Regarding the damage caused to the camp as a result of clashes in recent weeks, Al-Ajouri said: “There is varying destruction. It is not possible to calculate the damage before evacuating the places affected by the militants.

“When the second phase of the terms of the ceasefire agreement is realized, the implementation of the clause of handing over those wanted for the assassination of the Fatah leader Mohammed Al-Armushi to the Lebanese security authorities will become less complicated. This clause is the most important in the agreement and this file will not be closed until the wanted persons are handed over.”

Fatah accuses eight members of extremist groups of killing Al-Armushi in an attack at the camp in late July. The suspects are believed to be hiding in parts of the camp controlled by extremists, including Al-Taamir neighborhood, which is an extension of the camp on Lebanese land.

The assassination of Al-Armushi led to the outbreak of bloody fighting in the camp, during which dozens of Palestinians and Lebanese were killed or injured, including Lebanese soldiers, and thousands of refugees were displaced. Four previous ceasefire attempts failed to calm the situation.

Ghassan Ayoub, a Palestinian official responsible for the issue of wanted persons in the camp, told Arab News: “There are six points that are considered contact lines in the camp and the security force is supposed to deploy there to serve as separation forces.”

Efforts are now focused on restoring stability in the camp, he added, and this will be accomplished by apprehending wanted individuals under the terms of the truce.

“The essence of the understanding that occurred is a ceasefire and the handover of wanted persons hiding in Al-Taamir neighborhood, which is a Lebanese neighborhood open to the camp,” said Ayoub. “Palestinian forces do not enter Al-Taamir and it is the responsibility of the Lebanese state.”

The UNRWA said it is monitoring the security situation on the ground before deciding on its next step. A source close to the agency told Arab News: “Restoring work in the UNRWA schools complex is a complex issue.

“Upon completion of evacuating the complex of militants, these schools must be cleared of the remnants of the battles that took place, especially from possible bombs and, perhaps, mines.

“When clearance is announced, we will form engineering teams to find out the extent of the damage. Security assurances are required so that we can begin restoration.”

The source added that reports received so far suggest “the damage to the complex is significant and it is too early to investigate the possibility of allowing these schools to start the new academic year.”

The number of registered Palestinian students in UNRWA schools in the camp is 5,900. Transferring those students to nearby UN-run schools is not currently possible because those schools are already at maximum capacity catering to children whose families fled the camp during the recent fighting. Reports suggest about 1,000 young people displaced from the camp have been studying in other UNRWA schools, although the number fell to 700 after the ceasefire was announced, as some displaced families whose houses were not damaged have returned home.

According to the UNRWA source, the agency is considering a “double shift” mechanism in schools outside the camp to cope with the increased number of students who have nowhere else to study.

US Central Command forces capture Daesh official in Syria after helicopter raid

The US Central Command has said its forces had captured a Daesh official after conducting a helicopter raid in northern Syria.
Updated 25 September 2023

US Central Command forces capture Daesh official in Syria after helicopter raid

  • No civilians were killed or injured during the operation, the statement said

DAMASCUS: The United States Central Command on Monday said its forces had captured a Daesh official after conducting a helicopter raid in northern Syria on Saturday.
“Abu Halil Al-Fad’ani, an Daesh Syria Operational and Facilitation official, was captured during the raid. Al-Fad’ani was assessed to have relationships throughout the Daesh network in the region,” the US Central Command said in a statement.
Troy Garlock, a spokesperson for the US Central Command, said: “The capture of Daesh officials like Al-Fad’ani increases our ability to locate, target, and remove terrorists from the battlefield.”
No civilians were killed or injured during the operation, the statement said.

Japan is committed to supporting COP28, Kishida tells UAE Special Envoy

Special Envoy of the UAE to Japan, Sultan Al-Jaber, meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday.
Updated 25 September 2023

Japan is committed to supporting COP28, Kishida tells UAE Special Envoy

  • Japanese PM asks Al-Jaber for UAE’s help in stabilizing the crude oil market and increasing production

TOKYO: Sultan Al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy of the United Arab Emirates to Japan, met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday and expressed his expectations for Japan’s contributions to the COP28 conference on the environment.

Al-Jaber is also the President-Designate of COP28, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates from November 30 to December 12.

The prime minister stated that Japan is fully committed to making efforts to contribute to the success of COP28. Both sides confirmed that they will work closely towards making COP28 a success, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

Kishida expressed his appreciation for the UAE’s stable supply of crude oil to Japan and working with Japanese companies in the same field. He asked Al-Jaber for UAE’s help in stabilizing the crude oil market and increasing production.

Both sides exchanged views on cooperation between Japan and the UAE towards overall stabilization of the international oil market. They also discussed the “Japan-UAE Innovation Partnership” and the “Global Green Energy Hub” concept covered during Kishida’s July visit to the UAE.

Kishida welcomed the convening of the First Ministerial Level Meeting of the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative (CSPI)” held between Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Al-Jaber and stated that Japan attaches great importance to the strategic partnership with the UAE.

Kishida said he looks forward to further cooperation with the UAE in various fields, and Al-Jaber expressed his renewed hopes for strengthening bilateral relations with Japan.