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US, Red Sea coalition forces destroy 5 Houthi drones

The US, according to a senior US military official, has targeted more than 230 locations in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen. (File/US CENTCOM)
The US, according to a senior US military official, has targeted more than 230 locations in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen. (File/US CENTCOM)
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Updated 28 February 2024

US, Red Sea coalition forces destroy 5 Houthi drones

The US, according to a senior US military official, has targeted more than 230 locations in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen.
  • UK Maritime Trade Operations said on Tuesday night that it had received an alert about an explosion 60 nautical miles west of Hodeidah

AL-MUKALLA: A US warplane and a coalition cruiser in the Red Sea intercepted and destroyed five explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia on Tuesday night, the US Central Command said on Wednesday.

This came as the Houthis said that the US and UK “aggression” conducted more attacks on the western province of Hodeidah.

“On Feb. 27, between the hours of 9:50 p.m. and 10:55 p.m. (Sanaa time), US aircraft and a coalition warship shot down five Iranian-backed Houthi one-way attack (OWA) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the Red Sea,” CENTCOM announced on social media.

Houthi media said that the US and UK had launched two airstrikes on targets on the Red Sea Labwan Island in Hodeidah province on Tuesday night, inflicting damage on the targeted areas.

At the same time, UK Maritime Trade Operations, a maritime agency that investigates ship attacks, said on Tuesday night that it had received an alert about an explosion 60 nautical miles west of Hodeidah in which a rocket was spotted hitting the starboard side of a ship sailing through the Red Sea.

The US, according to a senior US military official, has targeted more than 230 locations in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen, possibly destroying hundreds of Houthi weapons in recent weeks, and it, together with its ally naval forces, has intercepted and destroyed dozens of Houthi missiles and drones.

In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism on Tuesday, Daniel Shapiro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, said that the US Department of Defense was committed to defending civilians and international shipping lanes against Houthi attacks.

He added that the attacks had impeded the supply of humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine, to Yemen and other impoverished nations.

Since November, the Iran-backed Houthis have fired hundreds of drones and missiles against commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab and the Gulf of Aden, while also declaring a ban on any Israel-bound or related ships from passing through international maritime waters near Yemen.

The Houthis say that they want to force Israel to let food, water and other critical humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip. 

Despite airstrikes and local and international pleas for de-escalation in the Red Sea, the Houthis have pledged to continue their assaults until Israel removes its blockade on Gaza.

The UK Embassy in Yemen warned on Wednesday that Houthi assaults on ships would result in an environmental catastrophe off Yemen’s shores, citing the Lebanese-operated MV Rubymar ship, which generated a big oil slick in the Red Sea after being hit by Houthi missiles.

“Despite years of international effort to avert a crisis with the FSO SAFER, the Houthis are threatening another environmental disaster with the reckless attack on the MV Rubymar. The vessel is now at risk of leaking into the Red Sea. We call on the Houthis to stop their attacks,” the embassy said on X.

Yemen’s government told ż on Tuesday that they were racing against time to save the MV Rubymar ship, which was sinking with a cargo of 22,000 tons of fertilizer, and that they were seeking assistance from nations and conservation groups to bring the ship to land.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Interior Ministry said that it had apprehended 10 people who were planning to kidnap foreigners and government officials in the eastern province of Mahra.

The official news agency SABA quoted Interior Minister Ibrahim Haydan as thanking local security officials in Mahra for discovering a “terrorist” cell of 10 people on Sunday after tracking them for months, adding that security forces exchanged fire with the group when they refused to surrender. 


Arab League, UN cooperating on women’s security 

Arab League, UN cooperating on women’s security 
Updated 6 sec ago

Arab League, UN cooperating on women’s security 

Arab League, UN cooperating on women’s security 
  • Agreement will develop the Arab Women’s Strategy for Security and Peace

RIYADH: The Arab League and United Nations Women Regional Office for Arab States signed a cooperation agreement, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It was signed by Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Haifa Abu Ghazaleh and Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, regional director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Abu Ghazaleh highlighted the significance of cooperation in the “Women, Security and Peace” program. It will develop the Arab Women’s Strategy for Security and Peace as well as various national strategies across Arab countries, she added.

Eldhagen highlighted the challenges faced by women in conflict zones, including in Gaza. She hailed progress in women’s rights through cooperation between the UN and Arab League.
 


190 bodies found in mass grave in Gaza’s Nasser Medical Complex

190 bodies found in mass grave in Gaza’s Nasser Medical Complex
Updated 18 min 17 sec ago

190 bodies found in mass grave in Gaza’s Nasser Medical Complex

190 bodies found in mass grave in Gaza’s Nasser Medical Complex
  • Civil defense department alleges claimed that some of those killed had been tortured by the Israeli military

LONDON: A mass grave containing 190 bodies has been discovered by Palestinian civil defense teams at the Nasser Medical Complex in the Gazan city of Khan Younis, Jordan News Agency reported on Sunday.

The civil defense department said the deceased were victims of an Israeli attack on the facility.

Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for the department, claimed that some of those killed had been tortured.

“There were no clothes on some bodies, which certainly indicates (the victims) faced torture and abuse,” Bassal told AFP

Search efforts are ongoing, with officials saying a significant number of victims remain buried at the site.

The department estimates that around 700 individuals have been killed and buried in mass graves within the complex since the Gaza conflict broke out on Oct. 7.

The discovery was made following the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Khan Younis on April 7. 

Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since the conflict began, at least two-thirds of them children and women, according to the enclave’s Health Ministry.

It says the real toll is likely higher as many bodies are stuck beneath rubble or are in areas that are unreachable.


Houthis launch ‘indoctrination’ summer camps

Abdul Malik Al-Houthi announced the opening of the annual summer camps on Saturday. (File/AFP)
Abdul Malik Al-Houthi announced the opening of the annual summer camps on Saturday. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 min 11 sec ago

Houthis launch ‘indoctrination’ summer camps

Abdul Malik Al-Houthi announced the opening of the annual summer camps on Saturday. (File/AFP)
  • Children in Houthi camps taught how to make models for military equipment, sectarian ideas that inspire hatred, violence, says analyst 

AL-MUKALLA: The leader of the Houthi militia has called on families in regions under his control in Yemen to encourage their children to join summer camps, a move that has renewed accusations against the militia of child soldiering.

Abdul Malik Al-Houthi announced the opening of the annual summer camps on Saturday, saying they would fill in the free time of the country’s children during the summer and teach ideas rooted in the “faith identity” of Yemen, which would allegedly protect them from foreign ideas and also motivate them to confront their enemies. 

“The enemies are disturbed by the summer courses, and their media outlets usually start organized campaigns attacking the courses and those responsible for them,” Al-Houthi said, urging his supporters not to listen to critics. 

After their leader’s speech, Houthi officials in Sanaa, Hajjah, Hodeidah, and other areas controlled by the militia launched summer camps in their cities and encouraged parents to send their children. 

Similarly to summer camps in previous years, the Houthis have faced accusations from Yemeni government officials, journalists, activists, and human rights organizations that they exploit schools, mosques, and other facilities used for these camps to indoctrinate, recruit, and train children for military purposes against the government.

“The Houthi militia has converted these summer camps into mobilization camps before conscription. This is the initial step in the recruitment process,” Ali Al-Fakih, editor of Al-Masdar Online, told ż.

Instead of teaching children peace, human values, music, and sketching, Al-Fakih said, children in Houthi camps are taught sectarian ideas that inspire hatred, violence, and killing, as well as how to make models for military equipment.

“Unfortunately, all of the ideologies taught in these camps promote sectarianism, instigate hatred and violence, and create time bombs,” he said.

Videos from Houthi summer camps in recent years have shown Houthi figures instructing youngsters how to wield weapons while some children were taken on a tour of the graves of deceased Houthi warriors.

Other children were observed screaming Houthi slogans, professing allegiance to the militia leader, vowing to battle militia opponents such as Israel and America, and participating in mock military parades. 

Critics have warned families living in Houthi-controlled areas not to listen to the militia’s calls to join summer camps, noting that many graduates of those camps have turned their guns on their own families.  

“To parents in areas controlled by the terrorist Houthi militia, boycott Houthi summer camps to save your children’s lives. Beware of clerics, charlatans, and deceptive phrases,” said Saleh Al-Qutaibi, a Yemeni army officer in the central city of Marib.

In their most recent report to the UN Security Council, released late last year, the UN Panel of Experts accused the Houthis of committing the majority of human rights violations in Yemen, including child soldiering.

It said that Houthi summer camps exist in three forms: open summer camps for boys and girls, model summer camps for children, and closed residential summer camps where boys aged 13 to 17 spend at least a month without seeing anyone, including their families. The report said that the latter camps provide boys with military training.

To get youngsters into their camps, the Houthis offer incentives such as waiving their registration costs for the following school year. Families that refuse to send their children to the camps are penalized by being denied humanitarian help and having their children abducted and sent to the conflict. 

Al-Fakih said this year that Houthis in the province of Ibb would not release students’ school year results if they did not attend summer camps. 

“They tied the submission of results for the last school year to the student’s attendance at summer centers,” Al-Fakih said.


Baby in Gaza saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Baby in Gaza saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike
Updated 26 min 8 sec ago

Baby in Gaza saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Baby in Gaza saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike
  • Baby, weighing 1.4 kg and delivered in an emergency C-section

RAFAH: A baby girl was delivered from the womb of a Palestinian killed along with her husband and daughter by an Israeli attack in the Gaza city of Rafah, where 19 people died overnight in intensified strikes, Palestinian health officials said.
The dead, killed in hits on two houses, included 13 children from one family, they said.
The baby, weighing 1.4 kg and delivered in an emergency C-section, was stable and improving gradually, said Mohammed Salama, a doctor caring for her.
Her mother, Sabreen Al-Sakani, had been 30 weeks pregnant.
The baby was placed in an incubator in a Rafah hospital alongside another infant, with the words “The baby of the martyr Sabreen Al-Sakani” written on tape across her chest.
Sakani’s young daughter Malak, who was killed in the strike, had wanted to name her new sister Rouh, meaning spirit in Arabic, said her uncle Rami Al-Sheikh. “The little girl Malak was happy that her sister was coming to the world,” he said.
The baby would stay in hospital for three to four weeks, said Salama, the doctor. “After that we will see about her leaving, and where this child will go, to the family, to the aunt or uncle or grandparents. Here is the biggest tragedy. Even if this child survives, she was born an orphan,” he said.
The 13 children were killed in a strike on the second home, belonging to the Abdel Aal family, according to Palestinian health officials. Two women were also killed in that strike.
Asked about the casualties in Rafah, an Israeli military spokesperson said various militant targets were struck in Gaza including military compounds, launch posts and armed people.
“Did you see one man in all of those killed?” said Saqr Abdel Aal, a Palestinian man whose family were among the dead, grieving over the body of a child in a white shroud.
“All are women and children,” he said. “My entire identity has been wiped out, with my wife, children and everyone.”
Mohammad Al-Behairi said his daughter and grandchild were still under the rubble. “It’s a feeling of sadness, depression, we have nothing left in this life to cry for, what feeling shall we have? When you lose your children, when you lose the closest of your loved ones, how will your feeling be?” he said.

’WE ARE TRAPPED’
Over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have crowded into Rafah, seeking shelter from the Israeli offensive that has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip over the last six months.
Israel is threatening a ground offensive into the area, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said fighters from the militant group Hamas must be eliminated to ensure Israel’s victory in the war.
President Joe Biden has urged Israel not to launch a large-scale offensive in Rafah to avoid more Palestinian civilian casualties.
Palestinian health authorities say more than 34,000 people have been killed in Israel’s assault, which began after Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and abducting another 253, according to Israeli tallies.
The Palestinian health ministry said on Sunday that Israeli military strikes killed 48 Palestinians and wounded 79 others across Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours.
In the larger of the two Palestinian territories, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israel said its soldiers shot two Palestinians who tried to shoot and stab them on Sunday. The Palestinian health ministry said both men had died.
Abu Jehad, a Gaza City resident sheltering in Rafah with his family, said he was afraid the Israelis would invade Rafah unless a ceasefire is reached, and he would have to flee once again. “We are trapped and everyone awaits his turn to die,” said Abu Jehad, who was reached by phone.


Israeli PM Netanyahu says he will fight any sanctions on army battalions

Israeli PM Netanyahu says he will fight any sanctions on army battalions
Updated 21 April 2024

Israeli PM Netanyahu says he will fight any sanctions on army battalions

Israeli PM Netanyahu says he will fight any sanctions on army battalions
  • On Saturday, Axios news site reported that Washington was planning to impose sanctions on Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion
  • “If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) — I will fight it with all my strength,” Netanyahu said

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he would fight against sanctions being imposed on any Israeli military units after media reported that Washington was planning such a step against a battalion for alleged rights violations.
On Saturday, Axios news site reported that Washington was planning to impose sanctions on Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion that has operated in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military said it was not aware of any measures being taken.
“If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) — I will fight it with all my strength,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Israeli military said that Netzah Yehuda battalion is an active combat unit that operates according to the principles of international law.
“Following publications about sanctions against the battalion, the IDF is not aware of the issue. If a decision is made on the matter it will be reviewed. The IDF works and will continue to work to investigate any unusual event in a practical manner and according to law,” the military said.