Motorcyclist killed in Israeli strike near hospital in southern Lebanon

A charred motorbike reportedly hit by an Israeli airstrike is pictured on May 27, 2024 outside the Salah Ghandour Hospital in southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil near the border with Israel. (AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2024

Motorcyclist killed in Israeli strike near hospital in southern Lebanon

  • Health Ministry denounces ‘full-fledged crime’ as health care workers, patients injured in drone attack

BEIRUT: An Israeli strike on Monday outside a hospital in south Lebanon killed one person, the latest deadly raid in the country’s south.

Victim, Ali Wizani, on a motorcycle at the hospital entrance, was heading for medical tests.

Fifteen other people sustained varying injuries, including seven civilians and eight health care workers at Salah Ghandour Hospital in the city of Bint Jbeil.

The hospital security guard, Hassan Jouni, underwent surgery due to severe injuries.

An Israeli combat drone carried out Monday’s attack during a peak time when patients were arriving at the hospital at the start of the week.

For the first time since the hostilities began in the southern Lebanon border area, the Israeli army targeted the vicinity of a hospital on Monday morning.

The Israeli military has increased its efforts in recent days to apprehend individuals using cars or motorcycles on the roads, resulting in the fatalities of Hezbollah members and civilians.

The Lebanese Ministry of Health condemned the brutal Israeli shelling that targeted the hospital.

The hospital “is the only one still operating in this area from which residents have been displaced due to Israeli attacks,“ its director, Dr. Mohammed Sleiman, told Arab News.

“When the drone carried out its attack on the hospital entrance, there were people gathered to enter, which caused injuries.”

He said: “The hospital staff quickly evacuated the patients from the damaged front floors.

“We found that the shells used contained nails or iron fragments that left traces in the hospital building.

“The hospital’s role is humanitarian. The Israelis know the hospital very well, and we follow all required instructions during wars.”

Dr. Sleiman added: “In the July 2006 war, the hospital was subjected to direct shelling, and after today’s attack, we resumed work normally.

“We receive all patients in addition to the wounded from Israeli attacks. We currently have 17 patients besides the war-wounded.

“We receive non-urgent surgeries, and we have a medical team residing in the hospital since the attacks began.

Ambulances operate normally, and the medical staff comes to the hospital as usual. After the attack, doctors and nursing staff who were off-duty came to the hospital to help.

“We do not suffer from any shortages of medicines and equipment, as the Ministry of Health supplies us with what we need.”

The Health Ministry described the hospital attack as a “full-fledged war crime and a new episode in the series of repeated and flagrant violations committed by Israel against health care facilities and health care workers in Lebanon, violating all human rights laws, the Geneva conventions, and all international laws and norms that stipulate the protection and respect of health care workers and the provision of safety for them during armed conflicts.”

Hezbollah retaliated against the Israeli assault on the hospital by “targeting and destroying the newly installed spy equipment at the Miskaf Am site.”

Media outlets in Israel reported that “firefighting crews are working to extinguish a massive fire that broke out in the settlement of Kiryat Shmona after rockets were launched from Lebanon.”

Hezbollah targeted “a building used by enemy soldiers in the Margaliot settlement with appropriate weapons and achieved confirmed casualties.”

The group also “launched an intense fire attack on the Al-Malikiyah position with guided missiles and artillery shells, targeting its garrison, its equipment, and the positions of its soldiers.”

Hezbollah used “attack drones on targets inside the site and hit them accurately” in its retaliation.

The Israeli army said that “a Sky Rider drone fell inside Lebanese territory, and the incident is being investigated.”

The Israeli military said that it bombed a building where Hezbollah members were located in the Yaron border area on Sunday.

Additionally, the air force targeted Hezbollah members in Hula, hitting a weapons storage facility in Mays Al-Jabal and military infrastructure in Khiam.

The Israeli raid on the town of Yaron led to casualties.

The border villages have not been spared from continuous Israeli bombardment, which it is said, aims to destroy homes and properties and burn crops with internationally prohibited phosphorus bombs.

An Israeli army spokesman said, “The Israeli forces have increased their readiness for the war on Lebanon. Over the past weeks, the 146th Division and the 205th Reserve Armored Brigade conducted an exercise at the division and brigade level simulating ground maneuvers in Lebanon.”

The spokesperson said “the exercise simulated combat scenarios on the northern front, the rapid deployment of forces in the field, the role of division and brigade command centers, and the readiness of forces for attack.” 

Also on Monday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati discussed the security situation in the south with Gen. Aroldo Lazaro, the commander of UNIFIL Forces.

The talks included preparations to submit the periodic report to the UN Security Council about the implementation of Resolution 1701 and the coordination between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army.

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Updated 4 sec ago

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

  • Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people so far

TEHRAN: Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for joint action on the part of Islamic countries to pressure Israel into ending its brutal military activities in Gaza, which have devastated most of the enclave and killed thousands of Palestinians there.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people, mostly civilian women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Humanitarian supplies for millions of Palestinians displaced by the conflict have been squeezed despite the Israeli military declaring it would “pause” fighting daily around a southern route to facilitate aid flows.

The Iranian official also spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi via telephone on Sunday, with the two discussing bilateral relations as well as the situation in war-ravaged Gaza.

Kani reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Kabul resolve its challenges and achieve growth, Iran’s news agency IRNA reported.

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Updated 9 min 45 sec ago

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

KUWAIT CITY: The Public Prosecution in Kuwait has ordered the detention of a citizen on charges of joining a group aimed at illegally undermining the country’s basic systems, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

The individual is also accused of receiving training in making explosives and preparing poisons for illicit purposes, as well as planning to leave the country to fight with the group, though he was unable to do so.

The Public Prosecution interrogated the accused and presented him with the charges, according to a statement released on its official account on X. Investigation procedures are ongoing.

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Updated 13 min 14 sec ago

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

  • The Houthis declared that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories

SANAA: The Houthi militia’s army spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced on Sunday that an American destroyer and two Israel-linked ships were targeted in recent operations in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saree said that the US destroyer was hit by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea, while the two ships — Captain Paris and Happy Condor — were targeted in the Arabian Sea using naval missiles and drones, respectively.

He stated that these ships were targeted because they were en route to ports in Israeli-occupied territories.

Saree reaffirmed Yemen’s stance, declaring that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories.

He also emphasized that the Yemeni army would continue to defend its territory against US-UK “aggression,” referring to joint airstrikes by the two Western nations, which the latter claim were launched to protect international shipping.

The Houthis have rejected these claims, asserting that their military operations in international waters, ongoing since mid-November, only target Israeli ships or vessels heading to Israeli-occupied ports.

Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

Updated 20 min 37 sec ago

Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

  • In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month

GAZA: Israel struck Gaza on Monday and witnesses reported blasts in the besieged territory’s south, but fighting has largely subsided after a day of relative calm and as Muslims marked Eid Al-Adha.
In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month, saying it was “the best way to end the violence in Gaza” and to help civilians suffering “the horrors of the war between Hamas and Israel.”
A daytime “pause” for aid deliveries announced at the weekend by Israel’s military around a southern Gaza route appeared to be holding, while elsewhere in the Palestinian territory an AFP correspondent said strikes and shelling have decreased.
In Gaza City, medics at Al-Ahli hospital said at least five people were killed in two separate air strikes, and witnesses reported tank shelling in the southern neighborhood of Zeitun.
At least one strike hit Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said.
Palestinian officials in the far-southern city of Rafah reported tank shelling early on Monday, before the start of the daily “local, tactical pause of military activity” announced by the army.
It said the pause “for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) until 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah Al-Din road and then northwards.”
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP “there was no change” in the military’s policy and stressed fighting “continues as planned.”
An army spokeperson told AFP the pause was in effect on Monday, and the military in a statement said troops were still operating in Rafah and central Gaza, reporting “close-quarters combat” that killed several militants.
Witnesses told AFP they could hear blasts in Rafah’s city center and west on Monday morning.

A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending up to Rafah’s European Hospital, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Kerem Shalom.
Mahmud Basal, spokesman for the civil defense agency in the Hamas-ruled territory, said that apart from the deadly Gaza City strikes overnight, “the other areas of the Gaza Strip are somewhat calm.”
He reported military movements and gunfire in parts of Rafah as well as Bureij camp in central Gaza.
On Sunday, the first day of Eid Al-Adha, or the feast of the sacrifice, the spokesman said “calm has prevailed across all of Gaza.”
The United Nations has welcomed the Israeli announcement of the pause, although “this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
He called for “further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues” on humanitarian needs.
Gazans “urgently need food, water, sanitation, shelter, and health care, with many living near piles of solid waste, heightening health risks,” Laerke said.
Dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip have been exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized its Palestinian side in early May.
The military said the pause was in effect as part of efforts to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid” following discussions with the United Nations and other organizations.
It was announced a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near Rafah and three more troops died elsewhere, in one of the heaviest losses for the army in more than eight months of war against Hamas militants.

The war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive aimed at wiping out Hamas has killed at least 37,337 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.
Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators have been pushing for a new Gaza truce, so far without success.
Washington has been pressing Israel and Hamas to formally accept Biden’s truce plan, which would allow an initial six-week pause to fighting.
“I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the UN Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,” the US president said.
The only previous truce lasted one week in November and saw many hostages released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, while increased aid flowed into Gaza.
Hamas has insisted on the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire — demands Israel has repeatedly rejected.

Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

Updated 26 min 26 sec ago

Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

  • The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move that came after the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet.
The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.
The forum was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the war in October and also included Gantz’s partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.
Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.