Morocco: More Than 12,000 Illegal Migrants Held in 2021

A Spanish soldier helps a migrant after his arrival at a beach in the Ceuta enclave, in the north of Morocco, on Sunday (EPA)
A Spanish soldier helps a migrant after his arrival at a beach in the Ceuta enclave, in the north of Morocco, on Sunday (EPA)
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Morocco: More Than 12,000 Illegal Migrants Held in 2021

A Spanish soldier helps a migrant after his arrival at a beach in the Ceuta enclave, in the north of Morocco, on Sunday (EPA)
A Spanish soldier helps a migrant after his arrival at a beach in the Ceuta enclave, in the north of Morocco, on Sunday (EPA)

Moroccan police said Monday they had arrested more than 12,000 people trying to leave the country illegally since the start of the year and had also dismantled 150 smuggling networks.

In a statement carried by the official MAP agency, the Directorate General of National Security said it had detained "415 organizers and mediators and 12,231 candidates for illegal immigration" and dismantled "150 criminal networks active in organizing illegal immigration".

Mainland Spain is only about 20 kilometers from Morocco, making it a target for those fleeing poverty or conflicts elsewhere in Africa or even further afield.

Officers also seized "752 forged travel documents, 67 inflatable boats and 47 engines, and 65 vehicles", AFP quoted MAP as saying.

The year's figures relate only to police operations, and do not include naval interceptions of migrants headed to Spain.

A military source said the Moroccan coastguard aided around 330 migrants between November 12 and 15 in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

At the end of September, the UN's International Organization for Migration said 2021 had been "the deadliest year on the migratory route to Spain", with more than 1,000 fatalities.

Other North African countries, Tunisia and Libya, are also major migrant departure points to Europe.



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.