Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 June 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

  • The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza
  • Troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said

QABATIYA, West Bank: Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks.
The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the raid in Qabatiya, troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said. The two Palestinians were killed and witnesses saw the body of one them being lifted out by an armored bulldozer.
A third Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops elsewhere in the town, medical officials said.
There was no immediate claim of the dead men by any armed Palestinian faction. The army described the two killed in the building as “senior terrorists” without elaborating, and added that weapons were seized in the raid.
Several Palestinians were detained by troops, who also “exposed explosives planted into roads which were intended to be used to attack the forces,” the army statement said.
A soldier was wounded during exchanges of fire, it added.


PM: Egypt will halt power cuts on Sunday

Updated 27 sec ago
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PM: Egypt will halt power cuts on Sunday

DUBAI: Egypt will halt load-shedding power cuts during the summer as of Sunday, after some natural gas shipments arrived, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Wednesday, in a bid to end a crisis that inconvenienced a population of 106 million.

The North African country has been grappling with power shortages as high cooling demand during summer drives up consumption. Egypt generates most of its electricity from burning natural gas.

Load-shedding refers to rotating power cuts in parts of the electricity grid to prevent failure of the entire system when demand exceeds capacity.

Egypt’s daily power consumption has exceeded 37 gigawatts, up 12 percent from last year, Madbouly said in a televised press conference.

It has received five cargoes containing 155,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas out of 21 cargoes that it contracted for, the Petroleum Ministry said on Monday.


Daesh ‘trying to reconstitute’ in Iraq, Syria, says US Central Command

Updated 6 min 26 sec ago
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Daesh ‘trying to reconstitute’ in Iraq, Syria, says US Central Command

  • Attacks double compared to 2023

BAGHDAD: The US Central Command said on Wednesday that the Daesh group is trying “to reconstitute” as the number of attacks in Syria and Iraq is on track to double this year, compared to the year before.

Daesh claimed 153 attacks in the two countries in the first six months of 2024, CENTCOM said in a statement. 

According to a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t allowed to speak publicly on the matter, the group was behind 121 attacks in Syria and Iraq in 2023.

“The increase in attacks indicates Daesh is attempting to reconstitute following several years of decreased capability,” CENTCOM said.

In northeastern Syria, Kurdish-led authorities issued a general amnesty on Wednesday that would include hundreds of Syrians who have been held by the main US-backed force over their roles within IS.

The US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, are holding over 10,000 captured Daesh fighters in around two dozen detention facilities — including 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them. The SDF captured the last sliver of land in Syria from Daesh in March 2019.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria said a life sentence will be reduced to 15 years in jail, while those detainees serving life sentences who have incurable diseases will be set free, as will those who have reached the age of 75. 

It said the amnesty will not include Daesh officials and members who fought against the SDF, nor those who carried out attacks with explosives that killed people. Legal expert Khaled Jabr said the amnesty will include some 600 Syrian citizens who are held on terrorism charges and links to Daesh, as long as their hands are not tainted with blood or they were detained while fighting SDF members. The announcement comes just after the 10-year mark since the militant group declared its caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria. 

At its peak, the group ruled an area half the size of the UK where it attempted to enforce its extreme interpretation of Islam, which included attacks on religious minority groups and harsh punishment of Muslims deemed to be apostates.


Tunisia urges EU to increase aid to tackle migration crisis

Updated 11 min 11 sec ago
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Tunisia urges EU to increase aid to tackle migration crisis

TRIPOLI: Tunisia’s prime minister urged European countries on Wednesday to increase financial assistance to his country and others to help tackle the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Tunisia has faced protests by local residents and extra financial costs over migrants arriving from other countries in the hope of traveling on to Europe by sea, risking perilous journeys on what in many cases are dilapidated boats.

Thousands of migrants are now concentrated in southern Tunisian towns such as Amra and Jbeniana, many of them fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.

“More assistance must be provided to countries such as Tunisia. The aid provided is insufficient to address the problem,” Tunisian Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani told a migration conference in Tripoli.

He said Tunisia was a victim country and was exhausting its public finances on efforts to deal with the migration crisis, which is an additional burden for a government that was already facing other problems.

“There are towns that have absorbed migrants beyond their ability,” he said, referring to Amra and Jbeniana.

“There has been money spent for 10 or 50 years on this problem, and this problem has not been solved,” Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh told the conference. “This money must be spent there (in the countries of origin) and not in detention camps, whether in Libya or Europe.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told the conference that the situation could not be resolved without tackling the problem in the countries of origin.


Syrian official who oversaw prisons with widespread allegations of abuse arrested by US officials

Updated 21 min 11 sec ago
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Syrian official who oversaw prisons with widespread allegations of abuse arrested by US officials

  • Samir Ousman Al-Sheikh, 72, was arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport on immigration fraud charges
  • Al-Sheikh, who was in charge of Syria’s infamous Adra prison, ‘provided materially false information on his visa application’

LOS ANGELES: A former Syrian military official who oversaw prisons with widespread allegations of abuse has been arrested in Los Angeles.
Samir Ousman Al-Sheikh, 72, was arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport on immigration fraud charges, specifically that he denied on his US visa and citizenship applications that he had ever carried out any abuse in Syria, according to a criminal complaint filed on July 9.
Al-Sheikh, who was in charge of Syria’s infamous Adra prison, “provided materially false information on his visa application by falsely stating that he had not committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence,” the complaint states. Al-Sheikh has been a resident of Los Angeles since 2020.
Investigators were considering additional charges, according to court papers.
“This is the highest level Assad regime official arrested anywhere in the world, it is the highest regime official arrested in the United States for sure, if not the only one of his type,” Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, said Wednesday. “This is a really big deal, it’s unprecedented.”
Human rights groups and United Nations officials have accused the Syrian government of widespread abuses in its detention facilities, including torture and arbitrary detention of thousands of people, in many cases without informing their families about their fate. Many remain missing and are presumed to have died or been executed.
Other players in Syria’s civil war, now in its 14th year, have also been accused of abuse of detainees, including insurgent groups and the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which guard suspected and convicted Islamic State members imprisoned in northeastern Syria.
The war, which has left nearly half a million people dead and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, began as peaceful protests against the government of Bashar Assad in March 2011.


US declares end to troubled Gaza aid pier mission

Updated 57 min 28 sec ago
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US declares end to troubled Gaza aid pier mission

  • Joe Biden has expressed disappointment in the performance of the pier, which has repeatedly been detached from the shore because of bad weather
  • Vice Admiral Brad Cooper: ‘The maritime surge mission involving the pier is complete, so there’s no more need to use the pier’

WASHINGTON: The US military’s problem-plagued mission to deliver desperately needed aid to Gaza via a temporary pier has ended, a senior American officer said Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden has expressed disappointment in the performance of the pier, which has repeatedly been detached from the shore because of bad weather since its initial installation in mid-May, limiting the time it has been operational.
“The maritime surge mission involving the pier is complete, so there’s no more need to use the pier,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper told journalists.
The pier was damaged by bad weather in May and had to be removed for repairs. It was then reattached on June 7, but was moved to Ashdod on June 14 to protect it from anticipated high seas — a situation that was repeated later in the month.
Distribution of aid once it reaches land has also been a problem, with the UN World Food Programme suspending deliveries of assistance that arrived via the pier last month to assess the security situation after Israel conducted a military operation nearby.
Biden announced the pier project during his State of the Union address in March as Israel held up deliveries of assistance by land, and the Pentagon has said it helped push the Israeli government to open more aid routes.
“The deployment of this pier has... helped secure Israeli commitment to opening additional crossings into northern Gaza,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists last week.
Gaza is suffering through a war that broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 38,794 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures from Gaza’s health ministry.