Hezbollah’s attack on Israeli military command center injures 14

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Emergency services respond to an incident, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Arab Al-Aramshe, northern Israel, Apr. 17, 2024. (Reuters)
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A Lebanese man collects books from a house that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Mansouri village, south Lebanon, Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Updated 17 April 2024

Hezbollah’s attack on Israeli military command center injures 14

  • Iran-backed group takes confrontations to new level, directly targets soldiers
  • Hezbollah said operation was a ‘response to the killing of several resistance fighters in Ain Baal and Shehabiya in southern Lebanon’

BEIRUT: The Iran-backed Hezbollah launched on Wednesday “a combined attack with guided missiles and explosive drones on a military reconnaissance command center in Arab Al-Aramshe,” as it targeted the Israeli army south of the border with Lebanon.

The group claimed responsibility for the operation, saying that “it is in response to the killing of several resistance fighters in Ain Baal and Shehabiya in southern Lebanon.”

Israeli media outlets announced that “a kamikaze drone struck an Israeli army gathering in Arab Al-Aramshe, western Galilee, resulting in six casualties, at least.”

They added: “An Israeli army helicopter was hit while rescuing the injured in Arab Al-Aramshe.”

The Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya said that it had received 14 injured people.

Hezbollah has adopted new tactics of late. According to a security source, these “were seen last week, when it (Hezbollah) detonated explosive devices targeting Israeli soldiers on the border, injuring four Golani Brigade members.”

The source added that Hezbollah “has taken the confrontations to another level by directly targeting Israeli soldiers.”

Israeli forces launched immediate retaliation by bombing and targeting phosphorus bombs on the border area.

This region included the outskirts of Rachaya Al-Fekhar, Fardis, Al-Habbariyeh, Alma Al-Shaab, Dhahira, Marwahin, and Yarin, as well as the city of Nabatieh, where a house belonging to the Sayyed family was destroyed.

No casualties were reported in the incidents, but the border region has witnessed the Israeli military’s dramatic targeting and killing of two key figures.

Hezbollah is mourning the death of Ismail Youssef Baz, a senior commander of the organization, while the Amal Movement — an ally of Hezbollah — has been coming to terms with the death of Hussein Qasim Karsht.

Israeli media reported that Baz, who was killed in his car following a drone attack, was “the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal sector.”

It added: “He was working on promoting and planning the launching of rockets and anti-tank missiles toward Israel from the Lebanese coastline. During this ongoing war, he organized and planned to carry out various plans against Israel.”

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Sonic booms heard over Beirut as Israeli raids on Lebanon continue

Updated 6 sec ago

Sonic booms heard over Beirut as Israeli raids on Lebanon continue

  • Lebanon expects extension of UNIFIL mandate for another year, PM says
  • Mikati: ‘No one can guarantee Israel’s intentions’

BEIRUT: Israeli warplanes broke the sound barrier over Beirut, Sidon and other parts of Lebanon on Monday.

The planes conducted mock raids over the Hasbaya area and the occupied Shebaa Farms, reaching as far as Bekaa.

Although hostile operations on the southern front have significantly decreased, sporadic strikes continue.

One Israeli air raid targeted a house in the town of Chihine in the Tyre district.

The raid resulted in injuries, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party reported that one of its members was killed.

A Lebanese Army unit, meanwhile, found the wreckage of a drone in the town of Aaiha in the Rashaya district. Army command did not clarify the nature of the drone or whether it was Israeli-made or from another source.

A Lebanese Army watchtower was attacked by Israel on Sunday night on the outskirts of the town of Alma Al-Shaab in southern Lebanon, resulting in “moderate injuries to two soldiers, who were transferred to a hospital for treatment,” according to the military.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, targeted the Israeli military site of Al-Malikiyah with an attack drone, hitting one of its bunkers.

The developments in the south and the issue of renewing UNIFIL’s mandate, which is on the UN Security Council’s agenda, have been the focus of internal political attention.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said at a meeting with key officials that recent developments “naturally call for caution, but we continue to discuss with concerned parties and engage in necessary diplomatic contacts to prevent matters from spiraling into undesirable consequences.”

He added: “We cannot say there are reassurances and guarantees, as no one can guarantee the Israeli enemy’s intentions. However, we continue our diligent efforts to address the situation.”

Regarding the renewal of the mandate for the international forces operating in the south of Lebanon, Mikati said: “We continue diplomatic contacts to ensure a calm extension of UNIFIL’s mandate, whose essential role in the south we highly appreciate, along with the fruitful cooperation between them and the army.

“From the contacts we have made, we have sensed a keenness to maintain this role, especially under the delicate circumstances the south is going through.”

Speaking after a meeting with Mikati, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said he informed the prime minister that “there is a quasi-agreement to renew the work of UNIFIL forces for one year, under the same conditions and without any modifications.”

Bou Habib, who briefed Mikati upon his return from New York, also said that US and European officials he met with emphasized “the importance of not expanding the war and working to avoid escalating military actions in the south.”

He added: “There is a kind of optimism, or less pessimism, about the outbreak of a wide war in Lebanon.”

Also on Monday, a group of opposition MPs submitted a petition requesting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri hold a session to discuss the repercussions of the ongoing conflict between Hezbollah and the Israeli military, now in its 10th month. 

The opposition MPs — Georges Okais, Mark Daou, Ashraf Rifi, and Salim Sayegh — demanded Berri “hold a parliamentary session at the earliest opportunity to discuss the ongoing war, prevent its escalation, and ensure that the government fulfills its constitutional duties.”

In their petition, the parliamentarians called for diplomatic efforts to return to the 1949 ceasefire agreement and fully implement UN Resolution 1701.

They stressed the need to put an end to military actions “outside the framework of the Lebanese state and its institutions, declare a state of emergency in the south, hand over control to the army, and allow it to respond to any attack on Lebanese territory.”

They referred to the “escalation and threats reaching the highest level since Oct. 8, and the increasing fears of the expansion of the ongoing war, which has cost us hundreds of Lebanese lives and thousands of destroyed residential units so far, in addition to the economic and environmental damage caused by daily Israeli attacks, and the repercussions of this in light of the political and economic crises plaguing the country, and the obstruction of electing a president for the country.”

Nabil Qaouk, a member of the Central Council of Hezbollah, stated that Israel had put the region “on a path of escalation.”

He said that “the support fronts in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen have entered a new phase, introducing new field equations through which we hope to increase pressure on the Israeli enemy to stop the aggression on the Gaza Strip.”

West Bank village lives in constant fear of Israeli settler raids

Updated 4 min 6 sec ago

West Bank village lives in constant fear of Israeli settler raids

SUSYA, Palestinian Territories: The stress shows on the face of Samiha Ismail, who since Oct. 7 has been stuck in her home in an occupied West Bank village that lives in constant fear of attack by Israeli settlers.

The day after the Hamas raid into southern Israel, settlers entered Susya, a hilltop village in the south of the West Bank, vowing retribution and “humiliation,” the 53-year-old Palestinian recalled.

More than nine months on, Ismail is among 450 inhabitants who spend most of the day indoors. Even their sheep are not allowed out of their sheds.

“Every time we take them to pasture, the settlers chase us,” said the panicked Ismail.

Instead, the sheep of Israeli settlers now dot the nearby hills.

Susya’s inhabitants say their livelihood has gone. 

One international aid group has sent counselors to help Susya residents with their mental health.

“Before the war, we would have defended our land, but today, nobody moves,” she said.

The settlers are armed and protected by the army, she added, and her husband and son have been “beaten up” several times.

Since the start of the Gaza war, Israeli settlement of the occupied West Bank — considered illegal under international law — has hit new records.

Excluding annexed East Jerusalem, some 490,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank alongside some 3 million Palestinians.

In June, the Israeli government declared more than 12 sq. km. of the West Bank to be state land, the largest land appropriation since the 1993 Oslo Accords set out the foundations for land use in the territory.

Land that is declared as Israeli state property can be used for more settlements.

In addition, 25 settlement outposts — not even authorized by Israel — have sprung up across the West Bank since the start of the year, according to Peace Now, a settlement watchdog.

Men in military fatigues have meanwhile raided Susya at night, kicking down doors and looting property, including donkeys and mules, locals said.

Some have even entered houses at night to intimidate residents.

“Most of us no longer sleep at night,” Ismail said.

Mohamed Al-Nawajaa, 78, was born before the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians when Israel was created in 1948 — known as the Nakba, or catastrophe, to Palestinians.

“After October 7, they took all these hills. We were kicked out in 1948, 1967 ... and again in 2024. But this land is ours,” the shepherd said, his head wrapped in a traditional keffiyeh scarf.

Israel’s offensive has killed at least 39,006 people in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to data from the Health Ministry in the territory.

Since the war erupted, violence has soared in the West Bank, with at least 579 Palestinians killed in violence with settlers or Israeli troops, according to the Palestinian authorities.

At least 16 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed in attacks involving Palestinians, according to official Israeli figures.

Nawajaa said his biggest concern is his grandchildren. He does not let them leave the house.

He said the settlers had struck him and left him lying on the floor of his house. Others in the village have had similar experiences.

“They come at night, around 3 a.m. They say, ‘this house is mine,’” he said

The harassment has frayed nerves in Susya. The Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, charity set up tent clinics this year due to concerns for the villagers’ mental health.

“There is no doubt that this is the biggest problem here,” said Simona Onidi, an MSF coordinator. 

“We can’t talk about post-traumatic disorder here. It’s never post; it’s a permanent trauma.”

Abdul Rahim Al-Nawajaa is despondent about the future. “The suffering is endless,” said the 60-year-old Bedouin as he pruned his acacia tree, the only one left standing since his olive trees were “vandalized.”

Settlers killed his father a few years ago in a dispute over a sheep and have demolished Abdul’s house “several times.”

“The settlers act in total impunity. A soldier might put a gun to your head, and you can’t do anything,” the shepherd said.

Fears of a new forced exodus stalk Susya. But Mohamed Al-Nawajaa defiantly declared: “We will stay in our houses.”

Iraq hangs 10 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security and health sources

Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president.
Updated 22 July 2024

Iraq hangs 10 convicted of ‘terrorism’: security and health sources

  • Health official said 10 Iraqis “convicted of terrorism crimes and of being members of the Daesh group were executed by hanging” at Al-Hut prison in Nasiriyah

NASIRIYAH: Iraqi authorities on Monday hanged 10 people convicted of “terrorism,” security and health sources said.
Courts have handed down hundreds of death and life imprisonment sentences in recent years to Iraqis convicted of “terrorism.”
Under Iraqi law, terrorism and murder offenses are punishable by death, and execution decrees must be signed by the president.
A health official said 10 Iraqis “convicted of terrorism crimes and of being members of the Daesh group were executed by hanging” at Al-Hut prison in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
A security source confirmed the executions.
They were hanged under Article 4 of the anti-terrorism law and the health department had received their bodies, the health official told AFP.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Al-Hut is a notorious prison in Nasiriyah whose Arabic name means “the whale,” because Iraqis believe those jailed there never walk out alive.

Egypt keen to work with partners to find swift solution to Sudan crisis, foreign minister says

Updated 22 July 2024

Egypt keen to work with partners to find swift solution to Sudan crisis, foreign minister says

  • African Union official praises Cairo during talks in Ghana for its pivotal role in efforts to enhance regional security and stability
  • FM Abdelatty emphasized the need for increased consultation and coordination between member states and the union’s agencies

CAIRO: Egypt earned praise during talks on Monday in Accra, Ghana, for the pivotal role it plays in efforts to enhance security and stability on the African continent.

Bankole Adeoye, the African Union’s commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said he was keen to continue to coordinate with Cairo on all priority issues related to the bloc.

It came as he held talks with Badr Abdelatty, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs, emigration and Egyptian expatriates, on the sidelines of the sixth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.

They discussed the latest political and security developments in the crisis in Sudan and agreed on the need to unite the country’s civil political forces, preserve national unity and institutions, and coordinate regional and international mediation.

Abdelatty said Egypt was aware of the seriousness of the situation and eager to work with all partners and mechanisms to resolve the crisis swiftly. He stressed the importance of fully involving Sudan in talks about ways to resolve the situation, to preserve “our Sudanese brothers’ ownership of these solutions and proposals.”

The minister welcomed consultations and coordination with the African Union’s commissioner on peace and security in Africa. He said Egypt remains committed to support of the organization and its agencies, and to participation in its Peace and Security Council, in pursuit of peace and stability.

Abdelatty emphasized the need for increased consultation and coordination between member states and the union’s agencies in response to escalating security challenges on the continent, the expanding scope of conflicts and the associated human suffering.

He also outlined Egypt’s agenda and planned activities for its chairmanship of the Peace and Security Council in October. He said its plans prioritize the operationalization of the African Union Center for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development, an effort that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has led within the union to support countries facing multiple crises.

Egypt welcomed the approval by the Peace and Security Council of a request from the Somali government to extend the time frame for the third phase of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, Abdelatty said. He highlighted plans for the deployment of a new mission in the country when the current one expires, and emphasized the need to support the Somali government’s efforts to enhance security and stability.

Adeoye and Abdelatty also discussed other issues of mutual concern, including the Great Lakes issue, the Renaissance Dam, security challenges in the Red Sea, and the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards intercepted UAE-managed tanker, Ambrey says

Updated 22 July 2024

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards intercepted UAE-managed tanker, Ambrey says

  • Vessel had loaded marine gas oil off the coast of Iraq and was destined for Sharjah when it was intercepted on Sunday 61NM southwest of Iran’s port of Bushehr

DUBAI: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have intercepted a Togo-flagged, UAE-managed products tanker carrying 1,500 tons of marine gas oil, British security firm Ambrey said on Monday.
The vessel had loaded marine gas oil off the coast of Iraq and was destined for UAE’s Sharjah when it was intercepted on Sunday 61 nautical miles southwest of Iran’s port of Bushehr, Ambrey said.
Ambrey added that the incident is unlikely to be politically motivated and is not assessed as a ‘war’ event.
The interception was likely a counter-smuggling operation by the IRGC, as the vessel’s “trading behavior was consistent with previous IRGC target profile,” Ambrey said.
Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the plunge in the value of its currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling to neighboring countries.
No further information was provided regarding the fate of the vessel.