Israel says investigating Hamas report of baby hostage death

Israeli protesters call for the release of the Bibas family, whose members are being held hostage in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv on Nov. 28, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 29 November 2023
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Israel says investigating Hamas report of baby hostage death

  • The military was “assessing the accuracy of the information”
  • Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim said later Wednesday at a press conference in Cape Town that the three family members were dead

JERUSALEM: Israel’s army said Wednesday it was investigating a report by Hamas’s armed wing that a 10-month-old baby hostage, his four-year-old brother and their mother had all been killed in Gaza.
The military was “assessing the accuracy of the information,” it said in a statement.
“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip,” it added. “Hamas’s actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children.”
The Bibas family are among the highest-profile hostages seized in the Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7, due to the age of baby Kfir.
The statement from the Israeli military came after the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced that Kfir, his brother Ariel and their mother Shiri had been killed in an Israeli bombing in Gaza before the current pause in fighting went into effect.
It made no mention of the boys’ father Yarden.
Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim said later Wednesday at a press conference in Cape Town that the three family members were dead.
“We have confirmed two to three weeks ago that 60 Israelis have been killed under Israeli bombardment and are still under the rubble,” Naim said.
“The woman and her two children are among them, I can confirm that.”
So far, there has been no verification of Hamas’s tally of Israeli hostages killed.
A statement released on behalf of relatives by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said they could only wait for further information.
“Our family has learned of Hamas’s latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials,” they said.
Images of the baby’s kidnapping from Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel have become one of the symbols of the deadly assault.
The images showed the mother, her face contorted with anguish, holding her two little red-headed boys wrapped in a blanket against her.
Their father was also seen in photographs with his head covered in blood being taken by armed Hamas militants toward the Gaza Strip.
The family were being held by a Palestinian faction other than Hamas, army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a briefing a few days ago.
Yarden’s sister Ofri Bibas Levy told AFP at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Tuesday the family’s fate was “directly in the hands of Hamas.”
“Hamas took them and Hamas is required to bring them back now,” she said.
Dana Siton, Shiri’s sister, added that their lives were in “immediate danger... each passing day endangers them.”
Nutritionists interviewed in Israeli media have highlighted the risks of captivity for a baby of 10 months, an age when children are in the process of adapting to solid food.
In one previous case, Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group allied with Hamas, has announced the death of a hostage who was later released alive.


Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Updated 5 sec ago
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Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

  • Injuries as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border

JERUSALEM: Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.
Earlier, the military said four soldiers were injured overnight, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.


US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

Updated 13 min 29 sec ago
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US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

  • Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile with no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships

DUBAI: The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday its forces destroyed four uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on April 14, acting in self-defense.
CENTCOM added in a Red Sea update that Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile toward the Gulf of Aden from a Houthi controlled area in Yemen on Saturday and that there were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships.


Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Updated 24 min 52 sec ago
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Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

  • MSC leases ship from Gortal Shipping, affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer

DUBAI: A Portuguese-flagged container ship, the MSC Aries, was seized by Iran on April 13 for “violating maritime laws,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.
“The vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.
Iran launched a barrage of missiles and explosive drones on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a strike that Tehran said was self-defense after the bombing of the consulate.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded the MSC Aries and taken it into Iranian waters.
MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.
MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.
Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In response to reports of the seizure, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the leading seafarers’ union, said that “innocent seafarers must be protected from escalating conflicts they have no role in instigating, nor power to resolve.”
The International Chamber of Shipping called the seizure a “flagrant breach of international law and an assault on freedom of navigation.”
Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have also affected the global maritime transport chain, as well as trade and port activities in and around the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, said the seizure of the MSC Aries “has the potential to further disrupt cargo transits in and out of the region, which will impact all of our member ports, one way or another.”


Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Updated 53 min 43 sec ago
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Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

  • Palestinian detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom border crossing into Rafah in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA: Israeli authorities released on Monday morning 150 Palestinian detainees who had been arrested in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

The detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom, a crossing on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, into Rafah in southern Gaza, according to an Arab News reporter in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Among the released detainees is Sufian Abu Salah, who told local reporters he was arrested “perfectly healthy” and “walking on both legs” but has had his left leg amputated in detention due to torture and neglect.

A video circulated on social media showed Abu Salah skipping on one leg with the support of a wooden stick he used as a crutch.

He told local journalists that while in detention, his foot became infected but Israeli soldiers refused to send him to a hospital. Within seven days, the infection had spread, and he had his leg amputated.

Abu Salah lost his leg due to torture followed by medical neglect in detention. (Supplied)

An internal UN report compiled last month by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees described widespread abuses of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Methods of abuse include “physical beatings, forced stress positions for extended periods of time, threats of harm to detainees and their families, attacks by dogs, insults to personal dignity and humiliation such as being made to act like animals or getting urinated on, use of loud music and noises, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to practice their religion (to pray) and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries,” according to the UNRWA report.  

“The beatings included blunt force trauma to the head, shoulders, kidneys, neck, back and legs with metal bars and the butts of guns and boots, in some cases resulting in broken ribs, separated shoulders and lasting injuries.”

The prisoners released on Monday also include a child and a doctor. 

According to UN figures, Israeli authorities have arrested at least 4,000 Palestinians, including women and children, since the onset of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza on October 7, which was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel.


Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Updated 15 April 2024
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Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

  • Kuwaiti Emir also tasks the new prime minister to form a government

DUBAI: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has appointed Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister, state news agency KUNA reported on Monday.

The Kuwaiti ruler also tasked the new prime minister to form a government.

The Kuwaiti ruler last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, after elections were held to choose new members of the National Assembly.

He also instructed the cabinet to act as caretakers until the formation of a new government.