Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia has declared a national holiday after the football team's stunning World Cup win on Tuesday over Argentina, state media reported. The 86-year-old monarch "orders that Wednesday be a holiday for all employees in the public and private sectors, as well as male and female students at all educational levels", the Al-Ekhbariya channel said on Twitter.
The United Nations expressed grave concern over the recent series of deadly bombings and artillery attacks that targeted several camps for internally displaced persons in the Syria's northwest province of Idlib, which resulted in at least seven civilians dead and about 30 wounded. The UN Human Rights Office has verified the killing of at least seven civilians, including a woman, three girls, and one boy, and the wounding of at least 27 others, including seven women, four girls, and two boys. Spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Jeremy Laurence indicated that there are "worrying signs of a new upsurge in hostilities" in this area of the country. "The uptick in fighting and return to violence is cause for alarm. As in previous escalations, civilians are the ones paying an unacceptable price in terms of loss of life, reduced access to basic services, destruction of essential infrastructure and exposure to new displacements," he denounced. He highlighted that this situation "is exacerbated by the harsh weather conditions, the poor humanitarian and economic situation and an outbreak of cholera in the area." Meanwhile, Deputy Special Envoy Najat Rochdi said that "hostilities in Syria again kill civilians-reports of children among the dead. Another devastating tragedy for too many. This must stop. Civilians are not a target." Rochdi reiterated the call for a ceasefire in Syria, urging all parties to protect civilians wherever they are in Syria.
The United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed Tuesday to develop one of the world's largest wind farms in a deal struck on the sidelines of the UN's COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. The 10-gigawatt (GW) onshore wind project in Egypt will produce 47,790 GWh of clean energy annually once it is completed, the UAE's state news agency WAM said in a statement, without specifying an exact timeframe. It will offset 23.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions - equivalent to around nine percent of Egypt's current CO2 output, according to WAM. The wind farm will also save Egypt an estimated $5 billion in annual natural gas costs and help create as many as 100,000 jobs, it said. Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan joined his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the signing of the agreement between the UAE's Masdar renewable energy firm and Egypt's Infinity Power and Hassan Allam Utilities. In a statement on Twitter, Sheikh Mohamed said the deal was "consistent with our commitment to advance renewable energy solutions that support sustainable development". The UN's COP27 climate summit kicked off Sunday in Egypt with warnings against backsliding on efforts to cut emissions and calls for rich nations to compensate poor countries after a year of extreme weather disasters. "We will endeavour to take forward the gains made here at COP27, as the UAE prepares to host COP28 next year," WAM quoted Emirati industry minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber as saying. COP28 will be held in the UAE from November 6-17, 2023.
UN chief Antonio Guterres warned world leaders at a climate summit in Egypt yesterday that humanity faces a stark choice between working together or “collective suicide” in the battle against global warming. Nearly 100 heads of state and government are meeting for two days in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, facing calls to deepen emissions cuts and financially back developing countries already devastated by the effects of rising temperatures. “Humanity has a choice: co-operate or perish,” Guterres told the UN COP27 summit. “It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact or a Collective Suicide Pact,” Guterres said, urging the world to ramp up the transition to renewable energy and for richer polluting nations to come to the aid of poorer countries least responsible for heat-trapping emissions. Nations worldwide are coping with increasingly intense natural disasters that have taken thousands of lives this year alone and cost billions of dollars — from devastating floods in Nigeria and Pakistan to droughts in the US and Africa and unprecedented heatwaves across three continents. “We have seen one catastrophe after another,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “As soon as we tackle one catastrophe, another one arises — wave after wave of suffering and loss. Is it not high time to put an end to all this suffering?” But a multitude of other crises, from Russia’s war in Ukraine to soaring inflation and the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic, has raised concerns that climate change will drop down the priority list of governments. Guterres, however, told world leaders climate change could not be put on the “back burner”. He called for a “historic” deal between rich emitters and emerging economies that would see countries double down on emissions reductions, holding the rise in temperatures to the more ambitions Paris Agreement target of 1.5C above the pre-industrial era. Current trends would see carbon pollution increase 10% by the end of the decade and put the world on a path to heat up to 2.8C. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” Guterres said. The UN secretary general said the target should be to provide renewable and affordable energy for all, calling on the US and China in particular to lead the way. He also said it was a “moral imperative” for richer polluters to help vulnerable countries. Earlier yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the US, China and other non-European rich nations to “step up” their efforts to cut emissions and provide financial aid to other countries. “Europeans are paying,” Macron told French and African climate campaigners on the sidelines of COP27.”We are the only ones paying.” Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose country is the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, is not attending the summit. US President Joe Biden, whose country ranks second on the top-polluters list, will join COP27 later this week after midterm elections today that could put Republicans hostile to international action on climate change in charge of Congress.
Israeli forces on Wednesday shot dead a Palestinian man at the entrance of the village of Beit Ur, to the west of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Habes Abdul-Hafeez Rayyan, 54, from the town of Beit Duqqu, northwest of the occupied city of Jerusalem, was killed after Israeli soldiers shot him near the military checkpoint at the entrance of the said city, sources told (WAFA) News Agency. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces arrested ten Palestinians in separate areas of the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. The occupation forces also set up several military checkpoints at the entrances to the towns of Yatta, Sa'ir and Halhul, and the northern entrance to the city of Hebron. They stopped and searched vehicles and checked citizens' IDs.
Already mired in political and economic crises, Lebanon is now also without a president after Michael Aoun's mandate expired without a successor. Aoun's six-year term, that came to a close on Sunday, was marred by mass protests, a painful economic downturn and the August 2020 mega-explosion of ammonium nitrate that killed hundreds and laid waste to swathes of the capital Beirut. Today, headed by a caretaker government, Lebanon is unable to enact the reforms needed to access billions of dollars from international lenders to help save an economy in free-fall since late 2019. In Lebanon, power is divided among the country's main sects -- none of whom hold a clear majority. Why is there no president? Aoun left the presidential palace Sunday, a day before the end of his term, cheered on by a few thousand supporters. In Lebanon, lawmakers vote in parliament for president. Parliament has held four rounds of voting since last month, with no candidate garnering enough support to succeed Aoun. Without a dominant party in parliament, decisions like electing a president, naming a prime minister or forming a government can take months or even years of political horse-trading, sometimes even leading to violence. Who rules the country? The president's powers fall to the Council of Ministers if he leaves office without a successor. Aoun signed on Sunday a decree formalising the resignation of premier Najib Mikati's government, in a caretaker role since legislative elections in May. The move exacerbates a months-long power struggle that has paralysed the government. Mikati retorted that his government will continue his work in caretaker capacity as usual, but that cabinet will only meet "for urgent matters". Experts said it was part of ongoing political arm-wrestling between Aoun and the premier. A cabinet in a caretaker role cannot take important decisions that might impact the country's fate. "This greatly affects the government's work, because it cannot issue decrees or take any decisions that require collective consensus," a source close to Mikati said. This includes decisions needed to kickstart offshore gas exploration and extraction, after Lebanon demarcated its sea border with Israel last week. What happens next? Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri might invite political parties for a national dialogue, so they can agree on a new president, a lawmaker close to him said on the condition of anonymity. "No party can impose a candidate," he said. "Therefore the only solution is to reach a consensus, otherwise the presidential vacancy is likely to last." But such initiatives have failed in the past. So far, lawmaker Michel Moawad, 50, has garnered the most support in parliament, mostly from those opposed to Hezbollah. But without Hezbollah's support, Moawad's chances of becoming president are slim. Hezbollah has not officially endorsed a candidate, but Sleiman Frangieh, 57, a personal friend of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, was always considered one of the group's preferred choices. But Hezbollah's Christian ally, Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), will not back Frangieh. Gebran Bassil, 52, the FPM's leader and Aoun's son-in-law, is also vying for the presidency. Others have also floated Lebanon's army chief Joseph Aoun, 58, as a potential candidate for the presidency, in a country where army commanders have snatched this post several times.
Israeli occupation navy boats fired, automatic weapons and poison gas canisters towards Palestinian fishermen's boats in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) stated that the Israeli occupation navy, stationed at sea, fired their heavy machine guns and poison gas bombs towards Palestinian fishermen boats operating in the seas of Al-Sudania and Al-Waha. The news agency pointed out that the fishermen were forced to withdraw from the sea, in order to preserve their lives, especially since a number of them were martyred and injured over the past years by the occupation navy's bullets. The occupation navy targets on a daily basis the fishermen working in the Gaza Strip sea, and deprives them of obtaining their livelihood in peace and security. At the same time, the occupation forces arrested a Palestinian young man from the town of Silwan, south of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Local sources reported, the occupation forces arrested a young man after beating him in the "Al-Ain Street" area. The town of Silwan witnessed violent nighttime confrontations, during which the occupation forces fired sound bombs and rubber bullets at Palestinian youths.
The first phase of the voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their country, which is organized by the Lebanese General Security, kicked off on Wednesday morning. Buses began transporting Syrian nationals wishing to return to Syria from different Lebanese regions, Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) said. Lebanese President General Michel Aoun revealed last week that the process of returning the displaced Syrians to their country will start today in batches. Lebanon hosts nearly 2 million displaced Syrians, in light of the inability of the Lebanese government to secure their humanitarian needs and the failure of the international community to fulfill its obligations towards them. According to ministerial estimates, the cost of the Syrian displacement to Lebanon has reached nearly $20 billion.
Lebanon’s parliament failed yesterday for a fourth time to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun, with lawmakers divided over a candidate opposed by the powerful Hezbollah movement. Already governed by a caretaker cabinet, crisis-hit Lebanon is hurtling towards an imminent power vacuum, with just days before the current president’s term finishes at the end of the month. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for another vote on Thursday in the hope of overcoming long-running arguments. A total of 50 lawmakers in Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament left their votes blank, many from the Hezbollah and its allies. Their rivals mostly backed lawmaker Michel Moawad, whose father Rene Moawad was a former president. He has emerged as a frontrunner since parliament first met to name a president last month. But Moawad, who won 39 votes yesterday, was still was far short the 86 ballots needed — two-thirds of seats — to win. University professor and activist Issam Khalife took 10 votes, cast by independent lawmakers who emerged from a mass 2019 anti-government protest movement, as well as others. But the required quorum was lost before a second round could be held, after some lawmakers walked out — a recurring scenario in past votes. Moawad’s supporters accused Hezbollah and its allies of obstructing a second round of voting to negotiate with other blocs, effectively preventing the election. “No bloc in parliament can impose a president, not Hezbollah nor anyone else,” said Elias Hankash, a lawmaker from the Kataeb Party that supports Moawad. Hankash accused lawmakers who left parliament of “systematic disruption”, because there were not enough lawmakers to make a vote legitimate. Under Lebanon’s longstanding confessional power-sharing system, the presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian. Aoun was elected in 2016 after a more than two-year vacancy at the presidential palace, as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts to name a candidate. Since late 2019, Lebanon has been crippled by an economic crisis, dubbed by the World Bank as one of the worst in recent history.Economic meltdown has pushed most Lebanese into poverty. Talks with the International Monetary Fund to unlock billions of dollars in loans have stalled, as Lebanese leaders have been unable to enact substantial reforms demanded by the lender and donor countries.
The decision to hold next month’s COP27 climate summit in a highly secured tourist resort in Egypt, along with restrictions on access, is curbing civil society’s participation in the event, some prominent activists say. The Nov 6-18 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh is the first annual UN climate conference to be held after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Campaigners see it as a crucial venue for raising the alarm over climate change and pressuring governments to act. But they say voicing their concerns through rallies and protests as they have done in past host countries or cities will be more challenging in Egypt, where public demonstrations are effectively banned and activists have struggled to operate legally amid a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent. Limits on accreditation and attendance badges for activists, especially from poorer nations, have also been a point of contention at previous UN climate summits. Egypt, which has just one non-governmental organisation permanently accredited to attend the annual summits, says inclusion of civil society is a priority, and it has helped add more NGOs including 35 Egyptian groups through a single-year admission valid only for COP27. That was a positive step but the process was not publicly announced and did not give some groups a fair chance to apply, said Hossam Bahgat, head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and one of Egypt’s best known campaigners. “As a result, the list of accredited organisations does not include a single human rights organisation and none of the independent human rights groups in Egypt, including those that are working on the nexus of human rights, environmental justice and climate justice,” he said.
A senior member of a Palestinian fighter group was killed overnight yesterday in the occupied West Bank in what Palestinians described as a targeted explosion carried out by Israel. Tamer Kilani, a leader in a group known as the “Den of Lions” in the city of Nablus, where clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli security forces have been occurring almost daily, was killed when a bomb placed on a motorcycle parked nearby was detonated, according to the group. The Israeli military declined to comment on the explosion. A spokesperson told Reuters the military was “operating against plots all the time”. “The bomb exploded as he passed by and he became a martyr,” said Kilani’s father, Sufian Kilani, who was not at the scene when the bomb went off. “We don’t know whether the bomb was timed or triggered remotely.” Yesterday’s violence follows months of tension that has deepened since Israeli forces began a crackdown in the West Bank in March in response to attacks.
A Palestinian man died yesterday of an Israeli army gunshot wound sustained during clashes the day before in a village of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said. Two Palestinians were critically wounded by gunfire in the clashes Saturday in Qarawat Bani Hassan, near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to the ministry. It said Mujahed Dawood, 30, died in hospital of his injuries. More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed since the start of the year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations. Violence has surged amid near daily West Bank raids and a rise in attacks on Israeli troops. The expansion of Israeli military operations, especially in the northern West Bank, followed deadly attacks inside Israel earlier this year. Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The Israeli defence ministry body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, announced yesterday it had withdrawn permits to enter Israel for 164 family members of “fighters of the Nablus region”. “The fighters hiding among the civilian population of Nablus must understand their identity is known to the security services and their choice to follow the path of violence will have repercussions on their families who will no longer be able to make a living in Israel,” COGAT head Ghasan Alyan said in a statement.
Authorities in northern Iraq yesterday unveiled an “archaeological park” of 2,700-year-old carvings from the rule of the Assyrians, including showing kings praying to the gods. The 13 stunning monumental rock-carved bas-reliefs were cut into the walls of an irrigation canal that stretches for some 10 kilometres at Faida in northern Iraq. The panels, measuring five metres wide and two metres tall, date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib. “Perhaps in the future others will be discovered”, said Bekas Brefkany, from the department of antiquities in Dohuk, in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region. Faida is the first of five parks the regional authorities hope to create, part of a project aimed to be “a tourist attraction and a source of income”, Brefkany added. The carvings were unearthed during several digs over recent years, by archaeologists from Kurdistan and Italy’s University of Udine. Last year, Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, professor of Near Eastern archaeology at the university, said that while there were other rock reliefs in Iraq, none were so “huge and monumental” as these. Iraq was the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest cities. As well as Assyrians it was once home to Sumerians and Babylonians, and to among humankind’s first examples of writing. But in recent years it has suffered as a location for smugglers of ancient artefacts. Looters decimated the country’s ancient past, including after the 2003 US-led invasion. Then, from 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State group demolished dozens of pre-Islamic treasures with bulldozers, pickaxes and explosives. They also used smuggling to finance their operations. Some countries are slowly returning stolen items. Last year, the United States returned about 17,000 artefacts to Iraq, pieces that mostly dated from the Sumerian period around 4,000 years ago.
Two Palestinians were critically wounded yesterday by Israeli military fire in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, amid heightened tensions in the occupied territory. One Palestinian was hit by “live bullets to the chest” during clashes with Israeli troops in the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, southwest of Nablus, the ministry said, adding that another was also critically wounded. Both were taken to hospital in the nearby town of Salfit. The Israeli army said in a statement that “suspects hurled rocks” at soldiers who responded to “a violent riot” near Qarawat Bani Hassan. The latest violence follows an Israeli raid in the flashpoint city of Jenin on Friday that left two Palestinian dead. Hours later Israeli troops killed a Palestinian accused of firing shots at the Beit El settlement in the occupied West Bank, wounding a resident. The Palestinian health ministry identified the dead man as 23-year-old Qais Shajaeyah. The Israeli army said yesterday it arrested a “second suspect involved in the shooting attack”, 19-year-old Mohamed Odeh. Odeh, an alleged member of Hamas group, was apprehended “along with two additional suspects” accused of involvement in the shooting, the army added. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, on Friday had called on “our resistance... to continue their steadfastness and their heroism with all means”. Violence has surged in recent months in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, amid near daily West Bank raids and an uptick in attacks on Israeli troops. More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed since the start of the year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations. The expansion of military operations in Jenin and elsewhere in the West Bank followed deadly attacks on Israelis earlier this year. Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. Around 475,000 Israelis now live in settlements across the territory, which are considered illegal by most of the international community. They live alongside some 2.8mn Palestinians, who in different areas of the West Bank are subject to Israeli military rule or live under limited Palestinian governance.
Thousands of Tunisians demonstrated yesterday in the capital Tunis, denouncing a power grab by President Kais Saied and demanding accountability for the country’s long-running economic crisis, AFP correspondents said. Saied staged a dramatic power grab in July last year and later pushed through a constitution enshrining his one-man rule, in what critics have called a return to autocracy in the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring. Protesters in central Tunis chanted, “Down, down”, “Revolution against Kais” and “The coup will fall.” The march was organised by the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition parties including the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha that had dominated Tunisia’s parliament before its dissolution by Saied. Ali Laarayedh, Tunisia’s former prime minister and a senior Ennahdha official, said that the protest was an expression of “anger at the state of affairs under Kais Saied”. “We are telling him to leave.” Saied’s power grab was welcomed by some Tunisians tired of what they saw as a fractious and corrupt system established after the 2011 revolution that ousted late dictator Zine El Abidine Ali. But a worsening economic situation, compounded by supply shortages in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, has agitated many in the North African country of 12mn. If Saied stays, “Tunisia will have no future,” said Laarayedh, citing growing despair, poverty and unemployment. The National Salvation Front has announced it will boycott a December vote to elect a new parliament with limited powers. Ennahdha’s deep ideological rival, the secular Free Destourian Party (PDL), also organised a protest in the capital yesterday. Saied “is doing nothing, and things are only getting worse”, said Souad, a pensioner in her 60s at the secular party’s demonstration. Some of the protesters carried empty containers to symbolise the rising cost of water due to inflation, which hit 9.1% in September. Around 1,500 people joined the Ennahdha-led demonstration, while nearly 1,000 attended the PDL protest, the interior ministry said. In public remarks, Saied has argued he was working to “correct” economic troubles he had inherited from Tunisia’s post-Ben Ali leadership. Cash-strapped Tunisia is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout loan of about $2bn.
Frustrated motorists queued in long lines outside Tunisian petrol stations yesterday even after the energy minister had said a shortage would end on Monday with a new delivery of fuel. Many petrol stations started running out of fuel over the weekend as imports slowed and national supplies dropped, leading to lines of cars stretching kilometres in some places, causing bad traffic in Tunisian cities. “I didn’t go to work today,” said Mohamed Neji, who had been waiting for an hour and a half in the Ariana district of Tunis. “We’ve become like refugees in our own country,” he added, alluding to other shortages that have struck Tunisia in recent weeks including flour, sugar, butter, milk and cooking oil. Tunisia faces a crisis in public finances and the influential labour union which has branches in government and national supply sectors says the state has struggled to pay for imports of goods that it sells at subsidised rates. President Kais Saied, who moved to rule by decree after shutting down parliament last year and expanding his powers with a new constitution, has blamed hoarders and speculators for goods shortages. Tunisia hopes soon to finalise a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue programme that could also unlock billions of dollars in bilateral support from other countries. However, it is not clear if it can push through the reforms that the IMF wants, including reductions in subsidies that are opposed by the labour union. Near petrol stations in Tunis yesterday there was furious honking from cars as lines of waiting motorists blocked traffic lanes, with vehicles crammed into the spaces around. Cars at many petrol stations were only allowed to fill up to 30 dinars ($9) worth of petrol, or about 13 litres. At some, petrol station workers were distributing petrol from plastic bottles to ease congestion at the pumps.
Two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead yesterday in an operation by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, prompting the Palestinian leadership to warn such military action may lead to “a point of no return” in the territory. The Palestinian health ministry announced the killing of “two citizens by occupation (Israeli) bullets in Jenin”, as Israeli troops carried out an arrest in the flashpoint northern city. Eleven others were wounded in the latest violence to hit the West Bank, a day after two other Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli forces elsewhere in the territory. Israel’s military said troops entered Jenin yesterday to detain a 25-year-old Palestinian it said was a member of a fighter group and suspected of shooting at troops in the area. “During the activity, dozens of Palestinians hurled explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at IDF (Israeli army) soldiers and shots were fired at them. The soldiers responded with live fire towards the armed suspects,” an army statement said. Those killed were named by the Palestinian health ministry as Ahmad Daraghmeh, 16, and Mahmoud as-Sous, 18. Islamic Jihad praised the teenagers as “its martyrs”.Israeli forces have launched frequent and often deadly raids in Jenin and other parts of the West Bank in recent months, often targeting Palestinian fighters. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed, including fighters and civilians. Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in May while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin. Following the latest deaths in the city, the Palestinian presidency called on Washington to “exert serious pressure on Israel to stop its all-out war against our Palestinian people”. Israeli action “will push matters towards an explosion and a point of no return, which will have devastating consequences for all,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for president Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The agency also reported Israeli forces fired directly at journalists during the Jenin raid. Two reporters were wounded on Wednesday while covering a military operation witnessed by an AFP journalist near the West Bank city of Nablus, in which one Palestinian was killed. Palestinian group Hamas said the Jenin raid demonstrated the Israeli military’s weakness against “the resistance in the West Bank”. “So it resorts to mobilising military machines and helicopters to arrest one person,” Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said in a statement. Yesterday’s violence in Jenin comes a day after two other Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli forces, according to the health ministry. Fourteen-year-old Adel Dawoud was killed in Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank, while Mahdi Ladadweh, 17, was killed near the city of Ramallah. The Israeli military said its soldiers fired at a suspect who threw Molotov cocktails at troops in Qalqilya and responded to a “violent riot” in the rural area northwest of Ramallah. Ladadweh’s mother Nawal said her son had gone out after lunch and a neighbour later came to tell her what had happened. “I was at home...then she told me that my son was wounded,” she said yesterday, as the funeral was held. Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and around 475,000 Israelis now live in settlements across the territory, which are considered illegal by most of the international community. They live alongside some 2.8mn Palestinians, who in different areas of the West Bank are subject to Israeli military rule or limited Palestinian governance.
A 5.4 magnitude earthquake in northwestern Iran injured more than 500 people early Wednesday, most of them lightly, state media reported. "The quake that hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) in West Azerbaijan province has injured 528 people, 135 of whom have been admitted to hospital," the region's governor Mohammad Sadegh Motamedian told state television. The quake and its aftershocks "damaged 500 houses, completely destroying 50 of them, in 12 affected villages," he added. State television aired footage of stores damaged and homes destroyed in the 3:30 am (0000 GMT) quake. National emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi told the state broadcaster that "electricity and water have been cut in some villages" near the cities of Salmas and Khoy, which lie close to the epicentre of the earthquake. Iran sits astride the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity. Iran's deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran levelled the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.
Scuffles broke out between protesters and security forces injuring dozens as thousands gathered yesterday in Iraqi cities to mark three years since nationwide demonstrations erupted against endemic corruption. The latest protests come as Iraq has been mired in political paralysis since elections in October last year that have failed to bring in a new president, prime minister or government. Protesters were heard chanting “the people demand the fall of the regime”, as thousands demonstrated in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protest movement, an AFP correspondent said. Many brandished portraits of the “martyrs” killed in the wave of rallies three years ago. “Today, it is essential to confront power,” activist Ali al-Habib said. “All the bridges and roads are blocked because the authorities are afraid of the protesters,” he added, condemning “infighting within the political class, which completely ignores the will of the people”. The demonstrations seek to revive the unprecedented protests of October 2019 that condemned rampant unemployment and the country’s decaying infrastructure. Those protests raged for months before winding down under the shadow of coronavirus restrictions and a harsh crackdown that saw at least 600 demonstrators killed and tens of thousands more wounded. The protesters yesterday gathered at Al-Jumhuriya Bridge, where they attempted to overcome a series of barriers set up by security forces to block access to the fortified Green Zone that houses government buildings and diplomatic missions. Protesters threw the iron barriers into the river, according to an interior ministry official, who reported 18 minor injuries among riot police resulting from stones and glass bottles being thrown at them. Police retaliated by throwing smoke grenades at the crowd to disperse them, the AFP correspondent said. At least 36 protesters required medical attention, most for breathing difficulties, an interior ministry official said. Protesters remained on the streets after dark, although in smaller numbers, the AFP correspondent reported. Large demonstrations were also held in the main southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah. In Basra, protesters threw stones at police who responded with tear gas, an AFP photographer reported. Rival factions in parliament have for months vied for power and the right to select a new prime minister and government. The impasse pits the powerful cleric Moqtada Sadr against his rivals the Co-ordination Framework, which includes lawmakers from the party of his long-time foe, ex-prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. Sadr wants snap elections and the dissolution of parliament but the Co-ordination Framework wants a new head of government appointed before any new polls are held.
With the cost of living surging, free hot bread distribution for the poor has been introduced in Dubai, where millionaires rub shoulders with hard-working migrants. The city of skyscrapers soaring above the desert, which imports almost all of its food, has been impacted by rapidly rising consumer prices, a global trend exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ten vending machines were installed last week in supermarkets, with a computer touch screen allowing people to select different types: loaves for sandwiches, pitta bread or flat Indian-style chapatis. The machine has a credit card reader — for donations not payment. “A friend told me there was free bread, so I came,” said Bigandar, a young man from Nepal who works at a car wash, not wanting to give his full name. Like millions of Asian migrants, he dreamt of making a fortune in the United Arab Emirates. He headed for Dubai. According to government figures from the Dubai Statistics Center, the food price index, which tracks the monthly change in the cost of a basket of food commodities, rose by 8.75% in July, year on year. The cost of transport has jumped by more than 38%. The bread machines are the initiative of a foundation set up by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. “The idea is to go to disadvantaged families and workers before they come to us,” said the foundation’s director, Zeinab Joumaa al-Tamimi. Anyone in need can now get hot bread just “by pressing a button”, she said. The oil-rich UAE has a population of nearly 10mn people, 90% of them foreigners, many labourers from Asia and Africa. Bigandar, who has worked there for the past three years, says that for each vehicle he cleans he earns three dirhams, or 81 US cents. Working hard and with tips from customers, he can earn between 700 and 1,000 dirhams a month ($190-270). “My employer covers housing and transportation, but not food,” he said. In a sign of the growing difficulties faced by migrant workers, a rare strike was led in May by delivery men demanding better wages in the face of rising fuel prices.