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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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Region

A young girl rides a bicycle as people walk past garbage piled up near tents set up by displaced Palestinians in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday. AFP

UN says 800,000 have fled fierce fighting in Rafah

Heavy clashes and bombardment rocked the southern Gaza city of Rafah Saturday, as the UN said 800,000 people had been "forced to flee" an Israeli assault.Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, said that since Israel's Rafah operation began, there had been a massive movement of people."Nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May", he said in a post on X.He said people were fleeing to areas without water supplies or adequate sanitation.Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said it fired a barrage of rockets towards Israel's port of Ashkelon and targeted an Israeli command centre at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.An AFP reporter said air strikes and artillery pounded eastern Rafah as warplanes overflew the city on Gaza's border with Egypt.More than 10 days into the Israeli operation in Rafah that sparked an exodus of Palestinians, fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants has also flared again in northern Gaza.Hamas slammed what it called Israel's "escalating crimes of the occupation" and "intensified brutal raids" on Jabalia, saying they had killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds more.Aid groups say Israel's Rafah incursion, launched despite overwhelming international opposition and as mediators were hoping for a breakthrough in stalled truce talks, has worsened an already dire humanitarian crisis.With key land crossings closed or operating at limited capacity because of the fighting, some aid began entering Gaza via a temporary US-built floating pier.The Israeli army said 310 pallets began moving ashore in "the first entry of humanitarian aid through the floating pier".Satellite pictures showed more than a dozen trucks lining up Saturday on the pier's approach road.In the coming days, around 500 tonnes of aid are expected to be delivered to Gaza via the pier, according to US Central Command.But UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups have warned sea or air deliveries cannot replace far more efficient truck convoys into Gaza, where the UN has repeatedly warned of looming famine.Israel's offensive has killed at least 35,386 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.The toll includes at least 83 deaths over the past 24 hours, said a ministry statement Saturday.Palestinian sources in Rafah said Israeli forces were operating in the Al-Salam and Jenina neighbourhoods as well as on the Philadelphi route along the Egyptian border."Troops are advancing and retreating around these areas," a security source said.Cairo, which has been involved in mediation efforts, says a potential Israeli takeover of Philadelphi could violate the two countries' landmark 1979 peace deal.In northern Gaza's Beit Lahia, witnesses reported air strikes near Kamal Adwan hospital on Saturday.Its director Hussam Abu Safiya said Friday the facility had received "large numbers" of casualties from nearby Jabalia and was running low on supplies.The fuel aid that had reached the hospital was "barely enough for a few days", he told AFP.The World Health Organization has received no medical supplies in Gaza since the Rafah operation began, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday.— Biden aide visits -On the diplomatic front, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was heading to the region.Sullivan will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.Meanwhile, Israel said it killed two senior Islamic Jihad militants in separate air strikes in the northern West Bank and in Rafah.The armed wing of Islamic Jihad confirmed a local commander was killed in an overnight strike on the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp.But there was no immediate comment from the group, which has fought alongside Hamas, on the army announcement that a "significant" operative was killed in Rafah.A military statement did not name him but said he had been involved in "preparing... for operations against IDF (army) ground troops in the area".

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Damage in Israeli air base after Iran attack

Israeli army footage of what it says is the damage caused by the Iranian attack on the Nevatim Air Base, which was launched late Saturday in retaliation for a deadly air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed its consular building in Syria's capital early this month. AFP

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Six months of bloodshed: The toll on Gaza’s children

The bloodiest ever Gaza war which broke out over six months ago has taken an appalling toll on children. NGO Save the Children estimates that some 26,000 children have been killed or injured in the war, 17,000 have been orphaned, according to UNICEF, and 1 in 3 children under two years old in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition. In total, at least 33,207 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory in Israel's retaliatory campaign for the October 7 attack, according to Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry. The unprecedented Hamas raid on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 Israelis and foreigners, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. AFP

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Gazans struggle to secure flour for daily bread

"I spent the night on Kuwait Roundabout to secure this bag of flour", says a Palestinian in Gaza City carrying a bag of flour he managed to get from an aid truck. A UN-backed report warned that half of Gazans are experiencing "catastrophic" hunger, with famine projected to hit the north of the territory unless there is urgent intervention. AFP

Gulf Times

Bahrain Declaration underpins centrality of Palestinian cause

The Bahrain Declaration issued by the 33rd regular session of the Arab League Council at the summit level, the Bahrain Summit, which was held in Al Sakhir Palace in the Kingdom of Bahrain on Thursday, affirmed the firm and supportive Arab position on the Palestinian issue, stressing it as the central issue and the backbone of peace and stability in the region. It also issued categorical rejection of all attempts to displace the Palestinian people inside or outside their land, as a clear violation of international law, and that such efforts will be confronted collectively.The declaration strongly condemned all illegal Israeli measures and practices that target the brotherly Palestinian people and deprive them of their right to freedom, state, life and human dignity guaranteed by international laws.The declaration reiterated the leaders' firm position and call for a just and comprehensive peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue, and their support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for convening an international peace conference. It backed the call for taking irreversible steps to implement the two-state solution in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and resolutions of international legitimacy to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the lines of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to accept its membership in the United Nations as an independent and fully sovereign state in common with other countries in the world, and to ensure the restoration of all legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, in particular, the right to return and self-determination, empowerment and support.They called on the international community to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions issued since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, including resolution 2720, and urged the United Nations Senior Humanitarian Coordinator to expedite the establishment and activation of the UN mechanism stipulated in the resolution to be established inside the Gaza Strip to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid, and to overcome all obstacles imposed by Israel to the entry of aid in sufficient quantities to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.The statement also called for the co-ordination of a joint Arab effort to provide humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip urgently and immediately, in co-operation with the relevant United Nations organisations.In the same context, the statement strongly condemned Israel's obstruction of ceasefire efforts in the Gaza Strip and its continued military escalation through the expansion of its aggression against the Palestinian city of Rafah, despite international warnings of catastrophic humanitarian consequences. The statement also condemned the Israeli forces' control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with the aim of tightening the siege on civilians in the Gaza Strip, noting that this has led to the suspension of the crossing's functioning and the cessation of the flow of humanitarian aid, and the loss of the main lifeline of the Palestinian population of Gaza, and called on Israel to withdraw from Rafah, in order to ensure safe humanitarian access.The statement emphasised the need to immediately halt the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation forces from all areas of the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the siege imposed on it, the removal of all obstacles and the opening of all crossings for the entry of adequate humanitarian assistance throughout it, and enabling United Nations organisations, especially the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to operate, and to provide them with financial support to carry out their responsibilities freely and securely.The statement reiterated the Arab countries' categorical rejection of any attempts to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from their land in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and called for urgent action for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, an end to the aggression in the Gaza Strip, protection of civilians and the release of hostages and detainees.The statement reaffirmed the importance of the continuation of the Arab-Islamic Joint Ministerial Committee in its efforts aimed at stopping the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, ending the humanitarian catastrophe afflicting over 2.3mn Palestinian citizens, and mobilising an international position in support of the right of the brotherly Palestinian people to live in security, safety and freedom in their independent and sovereign state on their national soil, thanking the committee in this regard for its efforts at the regional and international level, as well as the efforts of the General Secretariat of the League of Arab states in preparing and arranging for the 33rd Summit.The statement expressed the condolences of Arab leaders to Kuwait and its brotherly people on the death of the late Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the late Amir of Kuwait, may God rest his soul, and congratulated Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, on his assumption of the reins of power in Kuwait, wishing him success and the people of Kuwait development and prosperity. The statement also expressed appreciation for the fine efforts of Saudi Arabia during its presidency of the 32nd Arab Summit, and its generous endeavours to unify efforts, support joint Arab action, enhance regional security, and defend the interests of Arab countries and their peoples.The declaration called on the international community to fulfil its legal obligations and take decisive measures to end the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories occupied in June 1967, including the occupied Syrian Golan and southern Lebanon, and to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions.The declaration stressed the need for Israel, as the occupying power, to cease all its illegal actions that violate the rights of the Palestinian people and undermine the two-state solution and the prospects for a just and comprehensive peace in the region, including the construction and expansion of settlements, the confiscation of Palestinian land and the displacement of Palestinians from their homes. Arab countries also stressed the need to halt all Israeli military operations and settler terrorism against the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and to end all measures that impede the growth of the Palestinian economy, including the withholding of Palestinian funds, in violation of international law, international humanitarian law and resolutions of international legitimacy.The declaration stressed the sanctity of the occupied city of Jerusalem and its place among the monotheistic religions. We reject and condemn all Israeli attempts aimed at the Judaisation of Jerusalem, changing its Arab, Islamic and Christian identity, or changing the historical and legal status quo in it and its holy sites, whilst also stressing the need to protect the holy places in Bethlehem and to not compromise its cultural identity and religious sanctity."We affirm our support for the historic Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and its role in protecting its Arab, Islamic and Christian identity, as well as its role in protecting the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites, noting that the Al-Aqsa Mosque /Al-Haram Al-Sharif with its entire area of 144,000 square metres, is a place of worship exclusively for Muslims, emphasising that the Jordanian Directorate of Jerusalem Endowments and the Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs is the exclusive legitimate body with jurisdiction to manage the affairs of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to maintain it and regulate entry to it," the declaration added.Arab states reaffirmed their support for the role of the chairmanship of the Al-Quds Committee and the Bayt Mal Al-Quds Al-Sharif Agency, chaired by King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco.They expressed grave concern over the recent military escalation in the region and the seriousness of its repercussions for regional security and stability. The declaration called on all parties to exercise restraint and spare the region and its peoples the dangers of war and the increase in tension, and called on the UN Security Council to assume its responsibility towards the maintenance of international peace and security, and to work to implement its resolutions related to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and to prevent the escalation of the crisis and the expansion of conflict in the Middle East.It called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to follow-up efforts to advance the peace process to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution, which embodies an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the lines of the fourth of June 1967, able to live in security and peace alongside Israel in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and established references, including the Arab Peace Initiative.The statement called for the deployment of United Nations international protection and peacekeeping forces in the occupied Palestinian territory until the two-state solution is implemented.In this context, the declaration stressed the responsibility of the Security Council in taking clear measures to implement the two-state solution, and the need to set a time limit for the political process, and for a resolution to be issued by the Security Council under Chapter VII to establish an independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state on the lines of the fourth of June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to end any occupation presence on its territory, while holding Israel responsible for the destruction of cities and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.Arab states welcomed the decision of the UN General Assembly at its meeting on May 10, 2024 on the request of the State of Palestine to obtain full membership of the United Nations, supported by 143 countries, and called on the United Nations Security Council to reconsider its resolution issued in this regard in its session on April 18, 2024. They called on the Council to be fair and supportive of the rights of the Palestinian people to life, freedom and human dignity, and to work to implement its resolutions related to the Palestinian issue and the occupied Arab territories. The Arab states expressed its valuing of the positions of the countries which have recognized the State of Palestine, and those which have announced that they will recognise it.The declaration called on all Palestinian factions to join together under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and to agree on a comprehensive national project and a unified strategic vision to focus efforts towards achieving the aspirations of the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights and establish their independent national state on their national soil, on the basis of the two-state solution, and in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and established references.As for Sudan, the Arab countries expressed their full solidarity with the brotherly Sudan in preserving its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and preserving the institutions of the Sudanese state, foremost of which are the armed forces. The declaration called for commitment to the implementation of the Jeddah Declaration in order to reach a ceasefire that guarantees the opening of humanitarian relief channels and the protection of civilians. It also urged the Sudanese government and the Rapid Support Forces to engage seriously and effectively with initiatives aimed at settling the crisis, including through the Jeddah platform, neighbouring countries and others, in order to end the ongoing conflict, restore security and stability in Sudan and end the plight of the brotherly Sudanese people.Reaffirm the need to end the Syrian crisis, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, in a way that preserves Syria's security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, achieves the aspirations of its people, rids it of terrorism, and provides an environment for the dignified, safe and voluntary return of refugees. We reject interference in Syria's internal affairs and any attempts to bring about demographic changes in it.The declaration stressed the importance of the role of the Arab Liaison Committee and the Arab initiative to resolve the crisis and the need to implement the Amman Communique. It also supported the efforts of the United Nations in this regard. The declaration highlighted the need to find conditions to ensure the dignified, safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their country, including the lifting of unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria, and the need for the international community to continue to shoulder its responsibilities towards them and to support host countries until their dignified, safe and voluntary return to Syria is achieved, in accordance with international standards. We warn of the repercussions of declining international support for Syrian refugees and their host countries.As for Yemen, the Arab leaders renewed their firm support for the Presidential Leadership Council of the Republic of Yemen headed by Dr. Rashad Mohammed al-Alimi, and support the efforts of the Yemeni government in its endeavor to achieve national reconciliation among all components of the brotherly Yemeni people, as well as Yemeni unity to achieve security and stability in the country. We also support UN and regional efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis in accordance with the internationally established references represented by the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue and Security Council Resolution No. 2216, in order to achieve our collective goal to achieve the legitimate aspirations of the brotherly Yemeni people for peace, stability, development and prosperity.The Arab leaders expressed their full support for Libya, its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, the cessation of interference in its internal affairs, and the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from its territory within a specified period of time. We call on the Libyan House of Representatives and the High Consultative Council of the State to quickly agree on the issuance of electoral laws that meet the demands of the Libyan people to achieve simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections and end the transitional periods.They called on all parties in Libya to continue the political process and achieve national reconciliation in a way that preserves the supreme interests of Libya and achieves for its people their aspirations for peace, stability and prosperity. We praise the efforts of Libya's neighboring countries, the League of Arab States, the United Nations and the African Union in bringing the views of the Libyan parties closer to restore Libyan unity and reach a political settlement to the Libyan crisis.The declaration affirmed the support for Lebanon and its sovereignty, stability and territorial integrity, and urged all Lebanese parties to give priority to the election of the president, and to strengthen the work of constitutional institutions, address political and security challenges, implement the necessary economic reforms, and strengthen the capabilities of the Lebanese armed forces and Internal Security Forces to maintain Lebanon's security and stability and protect its internationally recognized borders in the face of Israeli aggressions.It reaffirmed unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Somalia, and solidarity with Somalia in protecting its sovereignty and confronting any measures that may detract from this. It also expressed Arab country's support of the efforts of the Somali government in combating terrorism, maintaining its security and stability, and advancing the process of sustainable development, and prosperity for the good and benefit of the brotherly Somali people.The declaration reaffirmed the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa), and called on Iran to respond to the initiative of the United Arab Emirates to find a peaceful solution to this issue through direct negotiations or recourse to the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the rules of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, which will contribute to confidence-building and enhancing security and stability in the Arabian Gulf region.It reaffirmed that Arab water security is an integral part of Arab national security, especially for Egypt and Sudan, and emphasised the rejection of any action or procedure that infringes their rights to the waters of the Nile, as well as in the case of Syria and Iraq in respect to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and expressed solidarity with them in taking necessary measures to protect their security and water interests, expressing deep concern about the continuation of unilateral measures that would harm their water interests.The declaration reiterated the total and firm rejection of Arab countries of any support for armed groups or militias that operate outside the sovereignty of states and pursue or implement foreign agendas that contradict the supreme interests of Arab states, while stressing solidarity with all Arab countries in defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity and protecting their national institutions against any external attempts to attack, impose influence, undermine sovereignty, or prejudice Arab interests.“We strongly reiterate our firm position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, categorically rejecting its motives and justifications, whilst working to dry up its sources of financing, supporting international efforts to combat extremist terrorist organisations, prevent their financing, and confront the serious repercussions of terrorism on the region and its threat to international peace and security,” the statement said.The declaration also called for the adoption of deterrent measures, in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the League of Arab States and the UN Security Council, to combat extremism, hate speech and incitement, and to condemn these acts wherever they may occur, given their negative impact on social peace and the sustainability of international peace and security, and how they encourage the spread, escalation and recurrence of conflicts around the world, and destabilises security and stability. It also called on all States to promote the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and human fraternity, and to reject hatred, sectarianism, intolerance, discrimination and extremism in all its forms.The declaration reaffirmed the adherence of Arab states to the freedom of maritime navigation in international waters in accordance with the rules of international law and the conventions of the law of the sea, and to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. They also strongly condemned the threats to commercial shipping which threaten freedom of navigation, international trade and the interests of the countries and peoples of the world.They renewed their call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and support the right of States to possess peaceful nuclear energy.Arab countries affirmed their determination to continue efforts to strengthen partnerships, strategic dialogues and joint co-operation with international blocs and friendly countries at all political, security, economic and social levels, within the framework of the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, constructive dialogue, understanding and joint co-ordination, to promote common interests, and advance development and prosperity, to face all current challenges. They reaffirmed their keenness to co-operate closely with the United Nations and its specialized agencies, and to adhere to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law to maintain international peace and security, and support their efforts to address global challenges, including achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, climate change, environmental protection, human rights, poverty, water and food security, renewable energy, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.Arab leaders also said in the declaration that "(we) Express our appreciation to Bahrain for hosting the Thirty-Third Arab Summit and for its keenness and interest in developing prospects for joint Arab co-operation in various fields, and for the initiatives it has proposed aimed at creating a secure and stable environment for all peoples of the Middle East to start the phase of the recovery of the region, as follows:I. Issuing a collective call to convene an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations to resolve the Palestinian issue based on the two-state solution, which ends the Israeli occupation of all occupied Arab territories, embodying an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, to live in peace and security alongside Israel, as a way to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.II. Directing the ministers of foreign affairs of the Arab States to take immediate action to communicate with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries of the world to urge them to quickly recognise the State of Palestine, and for the ministers of foreign affairs to consult on how to proceed, and to inform the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States, in support of Arab efforts to obtain full membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations as an independent and fully sovereign State, and to intensify Arab efforts with all members of the Security Council to achieve this recognition.III. Providing educational services to those affected by conflicts in the region, who have been deprived of their right to formal education due to the security and political situation and the repercussions of displacement, asylum and migration, in co-operation and co-ordination between the League of Arab States, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Bahrain.IV. Improving healthcare for those affected by conflicts in the region, developing the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry in Arab countries, and ensuring the availability of medicine and treatment, in co-operation and joint co-ordination between the League of Arab States, the World Health Organisation and the Kingdom of Bahrain.V. Developing Arab co-operation in the field of financial technology, innovation and digital transformation, in order to provide an appropriate environment for the development of innovative financial products and services using modern technology." (QNA)

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