Alarm over fate of major Gaza hospital after Israeli raid

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A man blocks an entrance at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, in this screen grab obtained from social media video released Feb. 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Palestinian arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis due to the Israeli ground operation on Feb. 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Children rest outside, as Palestinian arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis on Feb. 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 February 2024
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Alarm over fate of major Gaza hospital after Israeli raid

  • The power was cut off and the generators stopped after the raid at the Nasser hospital leading to the deaths of five patients
  • The Israeli army said its forces at the hospital had taken into custody more than “20 terrorists”

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: There was growing concern Friday over a key Gaza hospital a day after a raid by the Israeli army, with the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry saying several patients had died there due to a lack of oxygen.
The ministry said the power was cut off and the generators stopped after the raid at the Nasser hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis, leading to the deaths of five patients.
In recent days, intense fighting has raged in the vicinity of the hospital — one of the Palestinian territory’s last remaining major medical facilities that are still operational.
The Israeli army said its forces at the hospital had taken into custody more than “20 terrorists” suspected of involvement in Hamas’s October 7 attack that sparked the war.
It had said the day before that troops entered the hospital acting on “credible intelligence” that hostages seized in the attack had been held at the facility and that bodies of some may still be inside, but it later said it had not yet found such evidence.
A witness who declined to be named for their safety told AFP the Israeli forces had shot “at anyone who moved inside the hospital.”
Gaza’s health ministry also raised fears for four other patients in the intensive care unit and three children, saying it held Israel “responsible for the lives of patients and staff considering that the complex is now under its full control.”
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders described a “chaotic situation” at the Nasser hospital, saying medics had been forced to flee and leave patients behind, with one employee unaccounted for and another detained by Israeli forces.
Roughly 130 hostages are still believed to be in Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
Dozens of the estimated 250 hostages seized during the attack were freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long truce in November. Israel says 30 of those still in Gaza are presumed dead.
At least 28,775 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.
Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas militants of using hospitals for military purposes, something Hamas denies.
The UN Human Rights Office said Israel’s raid on the Nasser hospital appeared to be “part of a pattern of attacks by Israeli forces striking essential life-saving civilian infrastructure in Gaza, especially hospitals.”
At a press briefing Friday, World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the UN agency was trying to get access to the hospital to bring fuel and assess the situation on the ground.
Israel’s army on Friday reported the death of another soldier in Gaza, raising the number killed in the ground operation to 234.
It said it had carried out “targeted raids” overnight and killed “12 terrorists” in Khan Yunis.
The Gaza health ministry said Friday that another 112 people had been killed in strikes across the territory.
Nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are trapped in Rafah — more than half of Gaza’s population — seeking shelter in a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egyptian border with declining supplies.
“They are killing us slowly,” said displaced Palestinian Mohammad Yaghi.
“We are dying slowly due to the scarcity of resources and the lack of medications and treatments in the city of Rafah.”
“Everyone is sick, children and the elderly, and there is no medicine,” said Jihan Al-Quqa, who was displaced from Khan Yunis to Rafah.
At the Abu Yussef Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, AFP saw several corpses lined up in body bags while relatives grieved nearby.
US President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Thursday not to carry out an offensive on Rafah without a plan to keep civilians safe, the White House said.
France, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have also urged Israel not to launch a ground offensive in the city.
But Netanyahu has insisted he would push ahead with a “powerful” operation in Rafah to achieve “complete victory” over Hamas.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Egypt was building a walled camp to receive displaced Palestinians, citing Egyptian officials and security analysts.
In southern Israel, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Gaza, a gunman killed two people at a crowded bus stop on Friday.
Four others were wounded in the shooting near the town of Kiryat Malakhi, according to police.
An AFP photographer at the scene said the gunman had been killed and his body was still at the site of the attack. Police said he had been “neutralized” by a civilian at the scene.
Meanwhile, mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt gathered in Cairo this week to try and broker a deal to halt the fighting and see the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, held talks with CIA director Bill Burns and Egyptian and Qatari representatives in Cairo on Tuesday, before a Hamas delegation visited Wednesday.
But there has been limited signs of progress.
Netanyahu’s office said it had not received “any new proposal” from Hamas about releasing hostages, and Israeli media reported the country’s delegation would not return to negotiations until Hamas softened its stance.


Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: Police 

Updated 8 sec ago
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Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: Police 

RIYADH: Four people were killed and several wounded by gunfire in the vicinity of a mosque in Oman’s Wadi Al-Kabir, the Omani Police said on X early Tuesday.

“All security measures have been taken to deal with the situation. Evidence-gathering and investigation procedures will continue,” the police said.

The omani force expressed condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. 


US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

Updated 12 min 30 sec ago
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US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

WASHINGTON: Houthis launched multiple attacks in the Red Sea against MT Bentley I, which was carrying vegetable oil from Russia to China, and also attacked the Chios Lion tanker ship, the U.S. military said on X on Monday.
 

 


Israeli drone strike along Lebanon-Syria border kills Syrian businessman close to the government

Vehicles drive along a road, on the day of the parliamentary elections, in Damascus, Syria July 15, 2024. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 July 2024
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Israeli drone strike along Lebanon-Syria border kills Syrian businessman close to the government

  • Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor, has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges them

BEIRUT: An Israeli drone strike on a car Monday near the Lebanon-Syria border killed a prominent Syrian businessman who was sanctioned by the United States and had close ties to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to pro-government media and an official from an Iran-backed group.
Mohammed Baraa Katerji was killed when a drone strike hit his car near the area of Saboura, a few kilometers or miles inside Syria after apparently crossing from Lebanon. Israel’s air force has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in recent years, mainly targeting members of Iran-backed groups and Syria’s military. But it has been rare to hit personalities from within the government.
The strike also came as Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have been exchanging fire on an almost daily basis since early October, after the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
An official from an Iran-backed group said that Katerji was killed instantly while in his SUV on the highway linking Lebanon with Syria. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
The pro-government Al-Watan daily quoted unnamed “sources” as saying that Katerji, 48, was killed in a “Zionist drone strike on his car.” It gave no further details.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that Katerji was killed while in a car with Lebanese license plates, adding that he was apparently targeted because he used to fund the “Syrian resistance” against Israel in the Golan Heights, as well as his links to Iran-backed groups in Syria.
Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor, has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges them.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, sanctioned Katerji in 2018 as Assad’s middleman to trade oil with the Daesh group and for facilitating weapons shipments from Iraq to Syria.
The US Treasury declined Associated Press requests for comment. The sanctions imposed on Katerji were authorized under an Obama-era executive order issued in 2011 that prohibits certain transactions with Syria. A search of the OFAC database indicates that the sanctions were still in effect against Katerji and his firm at the time of his death.
OFAC said in 2018 that Katerji was responsible for import and export activities in Syria and assisted with transporting weapons and ammunition under the pretext of importing and exporting food items. These shipments were overseen by the US­ designated Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, according to OFAC.
It added that the Syria-based Katerji Company is a trucking company that has also shipped weapons from Iraq to Syria. Additionally, in a 2016 trade deal between the government of Syria and IS, the Katerji Company was identified as the exclusive agent for providing supplies to IS-controlled areas, including oil and other commodities.
Katerji and his brother, Hussam — widely referred to in Syria as the “Katerji brothers” — got involved in oil business a few years after the country’s conflict began in March 2011. Hussam Katerji is a former member of Syria’s parliament.
 

 


Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister

Updated 16 July 2024
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Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister

  • Accounts of alleged mistreatment including torture, rape and other sexual abuses in Israeli jails have all been denied by Israeli authorities

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority’s prisoners affairs minister on Monday accused Israel of waging an abusive “war of revenge” against Palestinian detainees since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Accounts of alleged mistreatment including torture, rape and other sexual abuses in Israeli jails have all been denied by Israeli authorities.
“Israel has been waging a war of revenge against prisoners within the walls of prisons and detention centers since the first day of the decision to go to war against Gaza,” said the PA’s Prisoners’ Affairs Authority head Qadura Fares.
Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, he added that Palestinian prisoners were treated as “hostages” and the mistreatment was part of the “pressure.”
The authority’s lawyer Khaled MaHajjna denounced abuses which he said he had been told of when he visited detained Gaza journalists Mohammed Arab and Tariq Abed at the Ofer detention center near Ramallah.
MaHajjna said he was told how guards forced one prisoner to “lay on his stomach naked and then a fire extinguisher tube was inserted into his buttocks and the fire extinguisher was turned on.”
He said he was told how other inmates had “electric prods” used on their bodies.
In parallel to increasing complaints by Palestinians, some Israeli rights groups are fighting for a court order to close Sde Teiman, a desert detention camp just for detainees during Israel’s war with militant group Hamas.
The Israeli military said it “rejects outright allegations concerning systematic abuse of detainees in the ‘Sde Teiman’ detention facility, including allegations of sexually abusing detainees.” It also said that it acts within international law.
The lawyer said prisoners were handcuffed when they ate and that meals consisted of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of bread or tomatoes with some milk.
MaHajjna quoted Arab as saying that he saw one handcuffed prisoner die after being beaten for demanding medical treatment. He said about 100 detainees had diseases and wounds in desperate need of treatment.
He alleged that some prisoners had their hands bound before dogs were then set upon them.
Five Israeli rights groups have gone to court over conditions at Sde Teiman.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of the five, said that the high court on Monday ordered the government to respond within three days to the original petition filed in May.
ACRI, Physicians for Human Rights, HaMoked, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Gisha have demanded the closure of Sde Teiman, saying that “severe violations of detainees’ rights” make imprisonment at the facility “unconstitutional and untenable.”
The government has not commented on the case.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, around 9,600 Palestinians are in Israeli jails, including hundreds under administrative detention which allows the military to keep detainees for long periods without being charged or produced in court.
The war started with Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel’s military retaliation has killed at least 38,664 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.


US voices concern to Israeli officials after Gaza strikes

Updated 16 July 2024
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US voices concern to Israeli officials after Gaza strikes

  • The visit comes several few days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the US Congress on July 24
  • Israel has killed at least 38,584 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with two senior Israeli officials Monday and voiced worry over recent deadly strikes by Israel in the Gaza Strip, his spokesman said.
The Israeli army has launched several deadly attacks in recent days including on a refugee camp and a UN-run school that was being used as a shelter. In response, Hamas said it was pulling out of ceasefire negotiations, causing prospects for a truce and hostage release deal to dwindle.
Blinken received Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi “to express our serious concern about the recent civilian casualties in Gaza,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
On Saturday, Israeli strikes killed more than 90 people in the Al-Mawasi camp near Khan Yunis, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said. In May, the camp was declared a safe humanitarian zone by the Israeli military, which told civilians to evacuate to it.
Israel said it had been targeting Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif, one of Israel’s most wanted men for decades, and Rafa Salama, the Islamist movement’s commander in Khan Yunis, believed by Israel to be one of the masterminds of the October 7 attack that triggered the current war.
A Hamas official said Sunday that Deif was “well and directly overseeing” operations, though doubts remained. The two Israeli officials told Blinken that “they do not have certainty yet” about Deif’s fate, according to Miller.
The discussions also focused on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, humanitarian aid for Gaza and post-war plans, he said.
The visit comes several few days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the US Congress on July 24.
“We continue to hear from Israel directly that they want to reach a ceasefire and that they’re committed to the proposal that they put forward,” Miller said.
The United States has strongly defended Israel’s right to defend itself after the October 7 attacks by Hamas, in which 1,195 people, mostly civilians, were killed, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
During the attack, Hamas militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the military says are dead.
But Biden has been under mounting political pressure over the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s military offensive has killed at least 38,584 people, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry.