Manama Regrets Beirut’s Hosting of Press Conference for Figures who Are Hostile to Bahrain

A view of Manama, Bahrain. (Getty Images)
A view of Manama, Bahrain. (Getty Images)
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Manama Regrets Beirut’s Hosting of Press Conference for Figures who Are Hostile to Bahrain

A view of Manama, Bahrain. (Getty Images)
A view of Manama, Bahrain. (Getty Images)

Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed on Sunday its "deep regret" over and denunciation of Beirut’s hosting of a press conference for "hostile persons designated as supporters and sponsors of terrorism, with the purpose of disseminating and promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the kingdom."

In a statement carried by the Bahrain news agency (BNA), the Ministry announced that a "strongly-worded formal protest note had been submitted to the Lebanese government regarding this unacceptable act, which is a flagrant violation of the principles of respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, in contravention of international charters and the charter of the Arab League."

The Ministry added that an official note verbale of protest had been sent to the Secretariat General of the Arab League in this regard, expressing Bahrain's condemnation of this "unfriendly step" by Lebanese authorities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the Lebanese government "to prevent such reprehensible practices that aim to offend the Kingdom of Bahrain, and are inconsistent with the most basic diplomatic norms and the brotherly relations between the two peoples."

In Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he was informed of Manama's formal complaint, saying he had urgently referred it to the concerned authorities and demanded that an immediate probe be launched in the incident so that it can be avoided in the future.

Mikati strongly condemned any offense against Bahrain, its leadership and people, rejecting any meddling in the kingdom's internal affairs.

He also refused to have Lebanon be used as a platform to launch abuse against Bahrain or any other Arab country, especially the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

He stressed that he is keen on the "historic and close ties" that bind Lebanon and Bahrain, adding that what they share "is deeper than any wrong behavior that does not reflect the position of the vast majority of the Lebanese people."

Bahrain had in October expelled the Lebanese ambassador over offensive comments made by a Lebanese minister against Saudi Arabia. The minister has since resigned.



Aid Trucks Expected to Start Entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing

Aid trucks are seen at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. (Reuters)
Aid trucks are seen at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. (Reuters)
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Aid Trucks Expected to Start Entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing

Aid trucks are seen at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. (Reuters)
Aid trucks are seen at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. (Reuters)

About 200 aid trucks, including four fuel trucks, are expected to enter Gaza on Sunday through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Khaled Zayed, the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society in North Sinai, told Reuters.

Egyptian state-affiliated Al Qahera News TV shared video on social media site X of what it said were the aid trucks as they entered the crossing.

The Rafah border crossing, which was the main entry point into Gaza for humanitarian aid and commercial supplies, has been shut for almost three weeks, since Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the crossing as it stepped up its military offensive in the area on May 6.

Some food supplies bound for Gaza have begun to rot with the Rafah crossing closed.

Egypt and the US agreed on 24 May to send aid via Israel's nearby Kerem Shalom crossing until legal arrangements are made to reopen Rafah from the Palestinian side, the Egyptian presidency said.

A global hunger monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.


Tunisian President: We Refuse to Throw People in Jail for their Opinions

Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
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Tunisian President: We Refuse to Throw People in Jail for their Opinions

Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)

Tunisian President Kais Saïed said he refuses to throw people in jail for their opinions, adding that the freedom of expression is enshrined in the country's charter.
During a meeting on Friday with Justice Minister Leila Jaffel, the President said, “I am fully opposed to throwing people in jail for their opinions and this is guaranteed by law, even more than in other countries”.
He said the protection of rights and freedoms is an “irreversible choice” in Tunisia. However, he rejected any foreign interference in the country’s affairs.
“We do not tolerate attempts to harm the country and tarnish its image abroad. Any interference in internal affairs is rejected,” he said, adding that Tunisia’s sovereignty is above any consideration.
Hundreds of Tunisians participated in a protest in the capital Tunis on Friday following a series of arrests of lawyers and journalists.
Protesters chanted, “Down with police repression”, “No fear, the streets are the people's.” They also raised signs that read: “No sovereignty without freedom.”
The protesters denounced what they call the “systematic crackdown on freedom of expression and public freedoms in the country.” They demanded the repeal of Decree 54 of 2022, on the fight against cybercrime.
Two Tunisian media figures received one-year jail sentences last Wednesday after making comments the authorities deemed critical, in the latest prosecutions under Decree 54, a 2022 ban on spreading false news.
Civil society activist Hind Al-Shawish said the march was organized by activists known for their defense of the revolution.
She said the march “expresses our anger and protest against the regime of President Saeid, which has threatened the Tunisian people, suppressed freedoms of expression, and further crippled the economic situation.”
For his part, political activist Ziad Makhlouf demanded the withdrawal of Decree 54, which was approved by President Saeid. “The basic principles of this march call for diversity and the freedom of expression and organization,” he said.

 


Ahead of Another Donor Conference for Syria, Humanitarian Workers Fear More Aid Cuts

Syrian refugees gather as they prepare to leave the Arsal area, before their journey to their homes in Syria, at Arsal in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 14 May 2024. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
Syrian refugees gather as they prepare to leave the Arsal area, before their journey to their homes in Syria, at Arsal in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 14 May 2024. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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Ahead of Another Donor Conference for Syria, Humanitarian Workers Fear More Aid Cuts

Syrian refugees gather as they prepare to leave the Arsal area, before their journey to their homes in Syria, at Arsal in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 14 May 2024. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
Syrian refugees gather as they prepare to leave the Arsal area, before their journey to their homes in Syria, at Arsal in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 14 May 2024. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

Living in a tent in opposition-held northwestern Syria, Rudaina al-Salim and her family struggle to find enough water for drinking and other basic needs such as cooking and washing. Their encampment north of the city of Idlib hasn't seen any aid in six months.
“We used to get food aid, hygiene items," said the mother of four. "Now we haven’t had much in a while”, reported The Associated Press.
Al-Salim's story is similar to that of many in this region of Syria, where most of the 5.1 million people have been internally displaced — sometimes more than once — in the country's civil war, now in its 14th year, and rely on aid to survive.
UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations have for years struggled with shrinking budgets, further worsened by the coronavirus pandemic and conflicts elsewhere. The wars in Ukraine and Sudan, and more recently Israel's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip are the focus of the world's attention.
Syria's war, which has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, has long remained largely frozen and so are efforts to find a viable political solution to end it.
Meanwhile, millions of Syrians have been pulled into poverty, and struggle with accessing food and health care as the economy deteriorates across the country’s front lines.
Along with the deepening poverty, there is growing hostility in neighboring countries that host Syrian refugees and that struggle with crises of their own.
Aid organizations are now making their annual pitches to donors ahead of a fundraising conference in Brussels for Syria on Monday. But humanitarian workers believe that pledges will likely fall short and that further aid cuts would follow.
“We have moved from assisting 5.5 million a year to about 1.5 million people in Syria,” Carl Skau, the UN World Food Program's deputy executive director, told The Associated Press. He spoke during a recent visit to Lebanon, which hosts almost 780,000 registered Syrian refugees — and hundreds of thousands of others who are undocumented.
“When I look across the world, this is the (aid) program that has shrunk the most in the shortest period of time,” Skau said.
Just 6% of the United Nations' appeal for aid to Syria in 2024 has so far been secured ahead of Monday's annual fundraising conference organized by the European Union, said David Carden, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria.
For the northwestern region of Syria, that means the UN is only able to feed 600,000 out of the 3.6 million people facing food insecurity, meaning they lack access to sufficient food. The UN says some 12.9 million Syrians are food insecure across the country.
The UN hopes the Brussels conference can raise more than $4 billion in “lifesaving aid” to support almost two-thirds of the 16.7 million Syrians in need, both within the war-torn country and in neighboring countries, particularly Türkiye, Lebanon and Jordan.
At last year's conference, donors pledged $10.3 billion — about $6 billion in grants and the rest in loans — just months after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and much of northern Syria, killing over 59,000 people, including 6,000 in Syria.
For northwestern Syria, an enclave under opposition control, aid "is literally a matter of life and death” this year, Carden told the AP during a recent visit to Idlib province. Without funding, 160 health facilities there would close by end of June, he said.
The International Rescue Committee’s head for Syria, Tanya Evans, said needs are “at their highest ever," with increasing numbers of Syrians turning to child labor and taking on debt to pay for food and basics.
In Lebanon, where nearly 90% of Syrian refugees live in poverty, they also face flagging aid and increasing resentment from the Lebanese, struggling with their own country's economic crisis since 2019. Disgruntled officials have accused the refugees of surging crime and competition in the job market.
Lebanon’s bickering political parties have united in a call for a crackdown on undocumented Syrian migrants and demand refugees return to so-called “safe zones” in Syria.
UN agencies, human rights groups and Western governments say there are no such areas.
Um Omar, a Syrian refugee from Homs, works in a grocery store in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli — an impoverished community that once warmly welcomed Syrian refugees.
For her work, she gets to bring home every day a bundle of bread and some vegetables to feed her family of five. They live rent-free in a tent on a plot of land that belongs to the grocery store’s owners.
“I have to leave the kids early in the morning without breakfast so I can work,” she said, asking to be identified only by her nickname, Arabic for “Omar’s mother.” She fears reprisals because of heightened hostilities against Syrians.
The shrinking UN aid they receive does not pay the bills. Her husband, who shares her fears for their safety, used to work as a day laborer but has rarely left their home in weeks.
She says deportation to Syria, where President Bashar Assad's government is firmly entrenched, would spell doom for her family.
“If my husband was returned to Syria, he’ll either go to jail or (face) forced conscription,” she explains.
Still, many in Lebanon tell her family, "you took our livelihoods,” Um Omar said. There are also those who tell them they should leave, she added, so that the Lebanese "will finally catch a break."


Hamas Armed Wing Says Captured Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Fighting

Israeli soldiers gather near the border fence with the Gaza Strip (EPA)
Israeli soldiers gather near the border fence with the Gaza Strip (EPA)
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Hamas Armed Wing Says Captured Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Fighting

Israeli soldiers gather near the border fence with the Gaza Strip (EPA)
Israeli soldiers gather near the border fence with the Gaza Strip (EPA)

A spokesman for Hamas' armed wing said on Sunday its fighters had captured Israeli soldiers during fighting in Jabalia in northern Gaza on Saturday, though the Israeli military denied the claim.

The Hamas armed wing spokesman did not say how many soldiers had been abducted, and showed no proof of the claim.

"Our fighters lured a Zionist force into an ambush inside a tunnel ... The fighters withdrew after they left all members of the force dead, wounded, and captured," Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Al Qassam Brigades, said in a recorded message broadcast by Al Jazeera early on Sunday.

The Israeli military on Sunday denied the claim by Hamas' armed wing, Reuters reported.

The army "clarifies that there is no incident in which a soldier was abducted," the military said in a statement.

The comments by Abu Ubaida came hours after prospects for a resumption of mediated Gaza ceasefire talks grew on Saturday.

An official with knowledge of the matter said a decision had been taken to resume the talks next week after the chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency met the head of the CIA and the prime minister of Qatar.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive, Gaza's health ministry says. Israel began the operation in response to Hamas-led militants attacking southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7.


Scuffles Erupt between Police, Protesters in Tel Aviv over Return of Hostages Held in Gaza

Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Scuffles Erupt between Police, Protesters in Tel Aviv over Return of Hostages Held in Gaza

Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Scuffles between Israeli police and protesters erupted in Tel Aviv on Saturday after thousands gathered to demonstrate against the government and demand that it bring back the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Meanwhile, a small US military vessel and what appeared to be a strip of docking area washed up on a beach near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, not far from the US-built pier on which the Israeli military said humanitarian aid is moving into the Palestinian territory.

Also on Saturday, Israeli bombardments were reported in northern and central Gaza.

Some protesters in Tel Aviv carried photos of the female soldiers who appeared in a video earlier in the week showing them soon after they were abducted during the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 started the war between Israel and Hamas. Some held banners reading “Stop the war” and “Help.” They called on the government to reach a deal to release the dozens of hostages still in captivity, The AP reported.

The protesters also called for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanded new elections.

“We all saw the video, we could not stay at home after the government abandoned all these people,” said Hilit Sagi, from the group “Women Protest for the Return of All Hostages.”

Divisions among Israelis have deepened over how Netanyahu has handled the war against Hamas after the attack.

“Basically they are not doing enough in order for the hostages to come back, either with military force, with (a) hostages’ deal, negotiating. Nothing is being done,” said Snir Dahan, uncle of hostage Carmel Gat, still in captivity in Gaza.

Earlier in the week, the bodies of three hostages killed were recovered from Gaza, Israel’s army said Friday. The army said they were killed on the day of the attack and their bodies were taken to Gaza. The announcement came less than a week after the army said it found the bodies of three other Israeli hostages killed on Oct. 7.

Around half of the 250 hostages taken by Hamas and other militants have been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

Netanyahu’s government has faced increasing pressure, both at home and abroad, to stop the war and allow humanitarian aid into the enclave that is home to 2.3 million Palestinians, almost 80% of whom have been displaced.

Also this week, three European countries announced they would recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, along with Hamas officials.

On Friday the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and to open the nearby border crossing for crucial humanitarian aid. The top United Nations court also said Israel must give war crimes investigators access to Gaza.

However, the judges stopped short of ordering a full cease-fire across the entire Palestinian territory, and Israel is unlikely to comply with the court’s ruling. South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians during the war in Gaza, which Israel vehemently denies.

“We were hoping the war would end,” said Islam Abu Kamar, who moved from Gaza City to Rafah following the ground operation launched by Israel after the Hamas attack in October.

In the past two weeks, more than a million Palestinians have fled Rafah as Israeli forces pressed deeper into the city. Israel’s takeover this month of the Rafah border crossing, a key transit point for fuel and supplies for Gaza, has contributed to bringing aid operations to near collapse, the UN and relief groups say.

Israel says it needs to invade Rafah to destroy Hamas’ last stronghold. Egypt said it agreed to send UN humanitarian aid trucks through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel’s main entry point into southern Gaza. But it remains unclear if the trucks will be able to enter because fighting still rages in Rafah.

Israel said aid is moving into the Palestinian territory through northern Gaza and via the US-built pier. On Saturday, a small US military boat and what appeared to be a strip of docking area washed up on a beach near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod.

The US Central Command said four of its vessels supporting the humanitarian aid mission were affected by rough seas with two of them anchoring near the pier off the Gaza coast and another two in Israel.

US officials said no injuries were reported and the US is working with the Israeli army to recover the vessels, Central Command said.

American officials hope the pier at maximum capacity can bring the equivalent of 150 truckloads of aid to Gaza daily. That’s a fraction of the 600 truckloads of food, emergency nutritional treatments and other supplies that USAID says are needed each day to bring people in Gaza back from the brink of famine and address the humanitarian crisis brought on by the 7-month-old Israel-Hamas war.

Israeli bombardments continued in the enclave on Saturday with reports of strikes northern and central Gaza. Witnesses said people were killed in strikes on the cities of Jabaliya and Nuseirat.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

 

 

 

 

 


CENTCOM: Heavy Seas Batter US Gaza Maritime Aid Mission

Drone view of the scene where vessels, used for delivering aid to Palestinians via a new US-built pier in Gaza, got stuck after they ran aground, on the Mediterranean coast in Ashdod, Israel May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Drone view of the scene where vessels, used for delivering aid to Palestinians via a new US-built pier in Gaza, got stuck after they ran aground, on the Mediterranean coast in Ashdod, Israel May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
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CENTCOM: Heavy Seas Batter US Gaza Maritime Aid Mission

Drone view of the scene where vessels, used for delivering aid to Palestinians via a new US-built pier in Gaza, got stuck after they ran aground, on the Mediterranean coast in Ashdod, Israel May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Drone view of the scene where vessels, used for delivering aid to Palestinians via a new US-built pier in Gaza, got stuck after they ran aground, on the Mediterranean coast in Ashdod, Israel May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Heavy seas battered the US maritime humanitarian mission to Gaza on Saturday, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said, with four vessels serving a floating aid delivery pier breaking free from their moorings.

No injuries were reported and the aid pier remains fully functional, CENTCOM said in a statement, adding that no US personnel would enter Gaza.

Two of the affected vessels were now anchored on the beach near the pier and the other two were beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon, CENTCOM said, adding that efforts to recover the vessels were under way with assistance from the Israeli Navy.


Borrell: ICJ Orders on Rafah are Binding, Israel Must Obey

The ICJ - the UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague - on Friday ordered Israel to immediately cease its attack on the city (Reuters)
The ICJ - the UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague - on Friday ordered Israel to immediately cease its attack on the city (Reuters)
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Borrell: ICJ Orders on Rafah are Binding, Israel Must Obey

The ICJ - the UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague - on Friday ordered Israel to immediately cease its attack on the city (Reuters)
The ICJ - the UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague - on Friday ordered Israel to immediately cease its attack on the city (Reuters)

A United Nations court order for Israel to stop its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah must be obeyed, the European Union's foreign affairs chief said on Saturday, dpa reported.

"We take note of the order" handed down to Israel, Josep Borrell said on X. "ICJ [International Court of Justice] orders are binding on the Parties and they have to be fully and effectively implemented."

The ICJ - the UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague - on Friday ordered Israel to immediately cease its attack on the city.

In his post, Borrell highlighted the court order for Israel to "maintain the Rafah crossing open for humanitarian assistance."

Israel on Friday responded to the court's ruling by insisting its actions in Rafah were part of "defensive and just war" following the October 7 attacks carried out by Hamas.

 


Syria: Car Bomb in Damascus Kills One; Drone Strike Targets Two Vehicles

View of the skyline of Damascus on June 26, 2013. (AFP)
View of the skyline of Damascus on June 26, 2013. (AFP)
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Syria: Car Bomb in Damascus Kills One; Drone Strike Targets Two Vehicles

View of the skyline of Damascus on June 26, 2013. (AFP)
View of the skyline of Damascus on June 26, 2013. (AFP)

A bomb attached to a car exploded early Saturday in the western part of the Syrian capital that is home to several diplomatic missions, killing one person and causing material damage, state media reported.

Damascus’ Mazze neighborhood houses the Iranian consulate, destroyed last month in a strike blamed on Israel. The attack at the time killed seven people including two Iranian generals and a member of Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah and triggered a direct Iranian military assault on Israel for the first time, sparking fears of a regionwide war, The AP reported.

Several airstrikes have hit the tightly-secured neighborhood over the past months, mostly targeting Iranian officials.

State news agency, SANA, didn't say who the person killed was but said the blast set two other cars ablaze.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the man killed in the explosion was a Mazze resident who carried a card identifying him as a Syrian army officer. Abdurrahman said the dead man had close ties to the Iranians.

Hours after the blast in Damascus, an Israeli drone strike reportedly targeted a car and a truck outside the western Syrian town of Qusair, northwest of Damascus, close to Lebanon's border, the Observatory and a Beirut-based pan-Arab TV station reported.

The strike hit the two vehicles near Dabaa air base. Qusair and its suburbs were struck several times over the past months by Israeli drones targeting Hezbollah fighters who have a presence in the area.

The Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV didn't say if there were casualties, but the Observatory said two Hezbollah members were killed and several others wounded in the drone strike.

Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Israeli forces have traded cross-border fire a day after the Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7 on almost daily basis. Since then, more than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters, and more than 70 civilians and non-combatants, according to an Associated Press tally.

Meanwhile, Israel says at least 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have so far been killed in the clashes.

Tehran has been sending advisers to Syria since the country’s conflict, which later turned into civil war, began in March 2011. Iran-backed fighters have helped tip the balance of power in favor of President Bashar Assad government in the conflict that has killed half a million people.

Iran’s military presence in Syria has been a major concern for Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment along its northern border. Syria has accused Israel of carrying out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts in recent years — but Israel has rarely acknowledged such strikes.


Italy Pledges Additional 35 Million Euros of Aid for Palestinians

Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani (L) shakes hands with State of Palestine Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa (R) after their meeting at Farnesina Palace, in Rome, Italy 25 May 2024. EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI
Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani (L) shakes hands with State of Palestine Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa (R) after their meeting at Farnesina Palace, in Rome, Italy 25 May 2024. EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI
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Italy Pledges Additional 35 Million Euros of Aid for Palestinians

Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani (L) shakes hands with State of Palestine Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa (R) after their meeting at Farnesina Palace, in Rome, Italy 25 May 2024. EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI
Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani (L) shakes hands with State of Palestine Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa (R) after their meeting at Farnesina Palace, in Rome, Italy 25 May 2024. EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

Italy will resume funding for the United Nations' Palestinian relief organization UNRWA as part of a 35 million euro ($38 million) aid package, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Saturday.
Tajani made the commitment during a meeting in Rome with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa.
The Italian minister said five million euros would go to UNRWA projects, with the remainder destined for its "Food for Gaza" initiative.
Italy was one of a number of countries to block aid for UNRWA following accusations by Israel that some of the agency's staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war.
"Italy has decided to resume financing specific projects destined to help Palestinian refugees but only after rigorous checks that guarantee that not one cent risks ending up supporting terrorism," Reuters quoted Tajani as saying.
UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza, running the enclave's schools, its primary healthcare clinics and other social services, and distributing humanitarian aid.
In recent weeks, several countries have resumed funding the agency. Germany said last month it would resume cooperation with UNRWA following a report led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna into UNRWA's procedures for ensuring adherence to principles of neutrality.


Israel Strikes Gaza’s Rafah after Top UN Court Orders it to Halt Offensive

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 24 May 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 24 May 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
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Israel Strikes Gaza’s Rafah after Top UN Court Orders it to Halt Offensive

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 24 May 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 24 May 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

Israel bombed the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, on Saturday, a day after the top UN court ordered it to halt military operations in the southern city.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also demanded the immediate release of all hostages still held by Palestinian militants, hours after the Israeli military announced troops had recovered the bodies of three more of the captives from northern Gaza.

The Hague-based court, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, also ordered Israel to keep open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which it closed earlier this month at the start of its assault on the city.

Israel gave no indication it was preparing to change course in Rafah, insisting that the court had got it wrong.

"Israel has not and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area that create living conditions that could cause the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part," National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a joint statement with Israel's foreign ministry spokesman.

Hours after the ICJ ruling, Israel carried out strikes on the Gaza Strip early Saturday while clashes between the Israeli army and the armed wing of Hamas continued.

Palestinian witnesses and AFP teams reported Israeli strikes in Rafah and the central city of Deir al-Balah.