US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

Police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)
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Updated 27 February 2024
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US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

  • The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media
  • In the video, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid

WASHINGTON: An active member of the US Air Force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington over the weekend in protest of the war in Gaza, the Pentagon said Monday.
Emergency responders on Sunday had rushed to the scene just before 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) in response to a “call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy,” according to a message on X, formerly Twitter, by the capital city’s fire department.
They arrived to find that officers from the Secret Service — the US law enforcement agency tasked with protecting embassies in Washington — had already extinguished the fire.
The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media.
He was initially transported to hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries,” the fire department said.
An Air Force spokeswoman told AFP Monday morning that the unnamed “individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night.”
“We will provide additional details 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications are complete.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured in the incident, and that the man was “unknown” to them.
In the video shared on social media, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid.
He then lights himself on fire while yelling “Free Palestine!” until he falls on the ground.
The video was reportedly first shared in a livestream on the social platform Twitch.
The shocking act came as protests are increasing across the United States against Israel’s actions in Gaza, where it is waging a retaliatory war for an attack on October 7 by Hamas militants.
With the death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there, international pressure has been increasing on the United States to rein in its ally Israel and call for a ceasefire.


Tunisia recovers the bodies of 19 migrants who attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe

Updated 10 sec ago
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Tunisia recovers the bodies of 19 migrants who attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe

  • More than 49,000 people have come to Europe by sea this year
  • Human trafficking charges typically carry lengthy sentences of up to 20 years
TUNIS: The bodies of 19 people were recovered Tuesday off the coast of Tunisia, one of the primary points of departure for those seeking to traverse the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
The Tunisian coast guard said in a statement that it had recovered the bodies near the port cities of Mahdia and Sfax, the country’s second largest city where migrants have in recent weeks clashed with law enforcement.
Despite risks, migrants continue to attempt the treacherous voyage from North Africa to Europe, traveling in boats from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya to Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain’s Canary Islands.
More than 49,000 people have come to Europe by sea this year, including more than 7,000 from Tunisia to Italy. Many more have attempted the journey, including thousands who have been intercepted by North African authorities and an estimated 473 believed to be dead or missing, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.
Politicians on both sides of the Mediterranean have largely focused their migration policies on combating human trafficking and dismantling smuggling networks.
Tunisian authorities said on Tuesday that they had arrested five smugglers. Human trafficking charges typically carry lengthy sentences of up to 20 years.

Jordan King issues decree to hold parliamentary elections - state TV

Updated 14 min 49 sec ago
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Jordan King issues decree to hold parliamentary elections - state TV

DUBAI: Jordan King issues decree to hold parliamentary elections - State TV 


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman admitted to hospital for routine checkup

Updated 3 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman admitted to hospital for routine checkup

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah for routine check up for a few hours, state news agency (SPA) reported.


Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh

Updated 26 min 21 sec ago
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Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh

  • IATA asks Pakistan in a statement to simplify the ‘onerous’ repatriation process causing ‘unnecessary delays’
  • The international organization says airlines are unable to repatriate $399 million from the Pakistani market alone

KARACHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday asked Pakistan and Bangladesh to release airline revenues amounting to $720 million, saying the two countries were holding it in contravention of international agreements.

IATA, an international organization representing the global airline industry, asked Pakistan to simplify the “onerous” repatriation process involving audit and tax exemption certificates in a statement, pointing out such procedures caused “unnecessary delays.”

Bangladesh, it said, had a more standardized system, though aviation needed to be a higher central bank priority to facilitate access to foreign exchange.

“The situation has become severe with airlines unable to repatriate over $720 million ($399 million in Pakistan and $323 million in Bangladesh) of revenues earned in these markets,” the statement informed.

IATA’s regional vice president for Asia-Pacific Philip Goh emphasized that the timely repatriation of revenues to different countries was critical for payment of dollar denominated expenses such as lease agreements, spare parts, overflight fees and fuel.

“Delaying repatriation contravenes international obligations written into bilateral agreements and increases exchange rate risks for airlines,” he said. “Pakistan and Bangladesh must release the more than $720 million that they are blocking with immediate effect so that airlines can continue to efficiently provide the air connectivity on which both these economies rely.”

Goh maintained that his organization recognized the two governments were facing difficult challenges, making it necessary for them to determine how to utilize foreign currencies strategically.

“Airlines operate on razor-thin margins,” he continued. “They need to prioritize the markets they serve based on the confidence they have in being able to pay their expenses with revenues that are remitted in a timely and efficient fashion.”

He pointed out reduced air connectivity limited the potential for economic growth, foreign investment and exports, adding such large sums of money involved in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi markets necessitated urgent solutions.


Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 

Updated 27 min 56 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is gearing up to expand its hospitality sector by developing 320,000 new hotel rooms by 2030, according to an analysis by global property giant Knight Frank.

The consultancy’s study disclosed that as much as 67 percent of the planned hotel room supply in the Kingdom would fall in the “upscale” or “luxury” categories, referring to 4-star and 5-star accommodations, respectively. 

This move aims to cater to the projected surge in tourism, with 150 million domestic and international tourists expected by 2030.

“With a target of welcoming 150 million visitors by 2030—a 50 percent increase from its previous goal—the government is actively exploring various strategies to attract to international travelers,” Partner and Head of Hospitality at Tourism and Leisure Advisory in Middle East and Africa Turab Saleem said.

Saleem noted that this includes the development of cultural and entertainment offerings nationwide, which complement existing attractions like the Jeddah F1 Grand Prix and numerous entertainment seasons.

“Noteworthy additions include theme parks such as Boulevard World in Riyadh, alongside the licensing of 24 additional theme parks by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority over the past year,” he added.