Israel in 'Offensive Action' in South Lebanon

Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
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Israel in 'Offensive Action' in South Lebanon

Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

Israel said Wednesday its forces were carrying out "offensive action" in Lebanon after launching cross-border strikes targeting Hamas ally Hezbollah as Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded the Gaza Strip.
Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7, Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group and Israeli forces have traded near-daily fire, heightening fears of a wider conflict breaking out, said AFP.
In war-battered Gaza, there has been mounting concern over Israeli plans to launch an assault on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people have sought refuge, many in makeshift encampments.
Aid groups warn any invasion would create catastrophic conditions for civilians. However, government spokesman David Mencer said Israel was "moving ahead" with its operation in Rafah, which Israeli officials have described as the "last" major Hamas stronghold where militants may be holding hostages.
Hamas meanwhile released a video of an Israeli-American man who was one of the 129 hostages Israel estimates remain in Gaza, a figure that includes 34 presumed dead.
Also on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill authorizing $13 billion in military aid to close ally Israel.
The bill also included $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Biden demanded Israel allow reach Palestinians "without delay".
Middle East tensions remain high more than 200 days into the devastating war, which has also seen rising violence between Israel and Iran's proxies and allies in the region.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that "many forces are deployed" along Israel's northern border, claiming the military has eliminated "half of Hezbollah's commanders in southern Lebanon" over months of violence.
Israel has struck increasingly deeper into Lebanon, while Hezbollah has stepped up rocket fire and drone attacks on Israeli military bases across the border.
Israeli forces are “currently carrying out offensive action throughout southern Lebanon", Gallant said, without specifying whether ground troops had crossed the border.
A spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, told AFP that "we didn't detect any ground crossing today."
The Israeli army had earlier said its forces struck around 40 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, with Lebanese official media reporting at least 13 strikes on several villages.
The war in Gaza began with an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.
In retaliation, Israel launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,262 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.



Yemen’s Central Bank Tightens Grip on Foreign Transfers

Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
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Yemen’s Central Bank Tightens Grip on Foreign Transfers

Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)
Yemen’s Central Bank. (Government media)

Yemen’s Central Bank, based in Aden, the interim capital, has tightened its grip on foreign money transfers, requiring all transactions to go through approved banks and exchange companies.

Banks and exchange companies must operate mainly from Aden and grant local entities permission to handle transactions. Moreover, they must deliver remittances in the received currency without converting unless the client requests otherwise.

This step aims to better regulate financial flows amidst Yemen’s challenging economic situation.

The decision strengthens the Central Bank’s control in Aden by requiring all banks and exchange companies in Houthi-held areas to get approval before conducting transactions.

It also ensures that transfers are made in the original currency, unlike what the Houthis are doing now, withholding transfers in US dollars. This comes just two days before the deadline for banks to move their main offices from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to the interim capital.

According to Yemeni financial expert Wahid Al-Fudai, the Central Bank’s decision aims to regulate international money transfers through remittance companies and tighten control over them.

Al-Fudai sees this decision as part of the bank’s efforts to regulate banks and exchange companies according to local laws, serving the public interest, and keeping up with global trends.

He explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Central Bank had previously issued instructions regarding financial networks, emphasizing the need for its oversight over external transfers.

He stressed that only qualified and licensed institutions are allowed to conduct these transfers, meeting all requirements for compliance with international standards, especially in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

Al-Fudai highlighted the importance of this step, especially with the Iran-backed Houthi militias now labeled as a terrorist organization by the United States and Australia, which could lead to further complications requiring the Central Bank’s attention.