Dozens Killed in 3rd Day of ISIS 'Rebellion' in Syria's Hasakeh

Photo released by the SDF showing some ISIS members arrested by Kurdish forces after the attack on Ghwayran prison in the northern city of Hasakeh, Syria. AP
Photo released by the SDF showing some ISIS members arrested by Kurdish forces after the attack on Ghwayran prison in the northern city of Hasakeh, Syria. AP
TT

Dozens Killed in 3rd Day of ISIS 'Rebellion' in Syria's Hasakeh

Photo released by the SDF showing some ISIS members arrested by Kurdish forces after the attack on Ghwayran prison in the northern city of Hasakeh, Syria. AP
Photo released by the SDF showing some ISIS members arrested by Kurdish forces after the attack on Ghwayran prison in the northern city of Hasakeh, Syria. AP

Kurdish-led fighters advanced slowly Saturday under the cover of US-led coalition air power in Syria's northeast. Intense clashes with ISIS militants took place around a prison where thousands of extremists were held, officials said.

Fighting broke out Thursday night when ISIS unleashed its biggest attack in Syria since the fall of its so-called “caliphate” three years ago. More than 100 militants assaulted the main prison holding suspected extremists in the northeastern city of Hasakeh, sparking a battle with US-backed Kurdish fighters that has so far left dozens dead.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces lost 17 fighters killed and 23 wounded since the fighting began, spokesman Farhad Shami tweeted Saturday. Dozens of ISIS gunmen were also killed.

Despite their defeat in Syria nearly three years ago, ISIS sleeper cells have carried out deadly attacks against SDF as well as government forces on the west bank of the Tigris River in eastern Syria.

The group’s territorial control in Syria and Iraq, where they once declared their “caliphate” was crushed by a years-long US-backed campaign. But its fighters continued with sleeper cells that have increasingly killed scores of Iraqis and Syrians in past months.

The US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces brought more reinforcements into Hasakeh in an attempt to regain control of areas taken by ISIS, residents said. More civilians fled the areas of fighting as sounds of explosions echoed in the city and black smoke billowed from the Gweiran Prison area on the southern edge of Hasakeh.

Hasakeh Gov. Ghassan Khalil told Syrian state media that some 4,000 civilians have fled to areas controlled by Syrian government forces in the city and its suburbs. He told state TV that authorities set up three shelters for the displaced and mosques were also asked to open their doors for those who were forced to leave their homes.

Hasakeh-based journalist Adnan Hassan said in the early afternoon, a large SDF force consisting of scores of fighters, Humvees and vehicles carrying heavy machineguns arrived in the areas to boost the anti-ISIS operations.

SDF fighters “succeeded in thwarting the attempt to free the prisoners but it is not clear when they will have the situation under full control,” Hassan said.

Gweiran Prison is the largest of around a dozen facilities run by US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces holding suspected ISIS fighters. Gweiran holds more than 3,000 inmates, including ISIS commanders and figures considered among the most dangerous.

“The battles are taking place on the edge of the prison,” SDF spokesman Siamand Ali told The Associated Press, adding that most of the prison is under their control apart from a small part that is held by rioting prisoners. He added that fighting is also ongoing in the nearby Zuhour neighborhood, where ISIS fighters were holed up.

Ali said SDF fighters and US-led coalition aircraft targeted a technical academy building where dozens of ISIS "terrorists took positions.” Ali said SDF fighters are advancing slowly in order to protect the lives of civilians as ISIS gunmen are holed up in alleys and in residential homes.

He said the SDF's elite anti-terrorism unit and commandos are leading the operations that intensified Saturday night in neighborhoods east of the prison, where scores of ISIS fighters are holed up. He said SDF officials are at the same time trying to convince rioting detainees to surrender, because a confrontation inside the prison "could have grave consequences” due to the large numbers of detainees.

Ali said some 45 ISIS gunmen were killed in the fighting and dozens of prisoners who fled were recaptured.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said that since Thursday night, 89 people have been killed, including 56 IS gunmen, 28 Kurdish fighters and five civilians. The Observatory added that SDF fighters were using loudspeakers to call on ISIS fighters to surrender but the extremists refused.

On Friday, the SDF’s top military commander, Mazloum Abadi, said ISIS mobilized “most of its sleeper cells” to organize the prison break.

The militants, armed with heavy machine guns and vehicles rigged with explosives, attacked Thursday evening, aiming to free their comrades.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday the US used airstrikes to support the SDF.

On Friday an SDF spokesman said they recaptured 104 militants who escaped from the prison. But he said the total number who had broken out was not determined.

The ISIS group claimed responsibility for the prison break on its Aamaq news service Friday, describing it as ongoing. Freeing convicts and imprisoned comrades has been a main tactic of the group. During their 2014 surge that overwhelmed territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS carried out multiple prison breaks.

At its height, the ISIS held about a third of both of Iraq and Syria. The ensuing war against them lasted several years, killed thousands, and left large parts of the two neighboring countries in ruins. It also left US-allied Kurdish authorities in control of eastern and northeastern Syria, with a small presence of several hundred American forces still deployed.



Arab FMs, EU Foreign Affairs Council Discuss Gaza War

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah at the Brussels meeting on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah at the Brussels meeting on Monday. (SPA)
TT

Arab FMs, EU Foreign Affairs Council Discuss Gaza War

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah at the Brussels meeting on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah at the Brussels meeting on Monday. (SPA)

The members of the Ministerial Committee assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit met in Brussels on Monday with European Union Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the war on Gaza.

Chaired by Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, the committee included Qatari Prime Minister and FM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Jordan's Deputy PM and FM Dr. Ayman Al-Safadi, and Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry.

They discussed the dangerous developments in Gaza and the Israel’s ongoing military operation that is claiming the lives of innocent civilians, including the recent “appalling targeting of the tents of displaced Palestinians near the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)” in Rafah.

The Ministerial Committee “stressed the need for the international community to fulfill its responsibility to intervene immediately to stop the massacres committed by the Israeli forces and to stop the deepening of the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe that the Palestinian people are experiencing.”

It reiterated the importance of creating serious political conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in line with the relevant international resolutions.

It expressed its rejection of “discussing the future of the Gaza Strip in isolation from the Palestinian issue.”

It called for “confronting all flagrant violations committed by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian people” and stressed the importance of holding the Israel accountable for the ongoing violations in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.


With Few Signs of Syria Solution, EU Pledges More Support to Refugees

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell (L), speaks to the press during the 8th Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region" in Brussels, Belgium, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell (L), speaks to the press during the 8th Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region" in Brussels, Belgium, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
TT

With Few Signs of Syria Solution, EU Pledges More Support to Refugees

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell (L), speaks to the press during the 8th Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region" in Brussels, Belgium, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell (L), speaks to the press during the 8th Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region" in Brussels, Belgium, 27 May 2024. (EPA)

The European Union pledged more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) on Monday to support displaced Syrians, but it dismissed any notion of them being able to return home because of instability under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Before an EU-led donor conference on the 13-year-old war, Jordan's foreign minister said that the international community was abandoning Syrian refugees as funding to support them in host countries dwindles, suggesting that ways had to be found to ease voluntary returns to Syria.

The EU conference aims to keep the war on the agenda, as well as support for the millions of refugees it has created. But as the economic and social burden on neighboring countries mounts the bloc is divided and unable to find solutions, diplomats say.

Refugees returning home is not yet one of them however, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made clear at the start of the conference.

"While the European Union would wish that returning home could be a realistic option for all refugees, everywhere and always, we concur with the United Nations system that currently the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified returns to Syria are not in place," Borrell said.

"We insist that it is the Assad regime that bears the primary responsibility for putting in place these conditions."

Borrell said the bloc was pledging 560 million euros in 2024 and 2025 to support refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan and a further 1 billion euros for Türkiye.

Syria has become a forgotten crisis that nobody wants to stir, amid the Israeli war in Gaza and tensions growing between Iran and Western powers over its regional activities.

Although Assad has long since reasserted control over most of Syria in a war that began with a 2011 uprising against him, more than 5 million refugees mostly in Lebanon, Türkiye and Jordan and millions more displaced internally still have little prospect of returning home.

"We're going to be sending a very clear message from Jordan as a host country that we feel that refugees are being abandoned," Ayman Safadi told reporters on arrival in Brussels. "Host countries are being abandoned."

Jordan is hosting around 1.3 million Syrians. Safadi said the issue "can only be solved by them going back to their country. So, we need to focus more on creating conditions conducive for them to return voluntarily."

Funding to support refugees is dropping with the likes of the World Food Program reducing its aid. Countries say hosting refugees is an increasing burden, notably in economic crisis-hit Lebanon, where the discontent has seen forced deportations.

"We expect our partners to uphold international law, including the principle of non-refoulement, and reject and condemn any forced deportations," Borrell said.

The 8th Syria conference brings together European and Arab ministers along with key international organizations, but beyond vague promises and financial pledges there are few signs that Europe can take the lead, diplomats said.

The bloc has no ties with the Assad government and Monday's talks come just ahead of the European elections on June 6-9 in which migration is a divisive issue among the EU's 27 member states. With far-right and populist parties already expected to do well, there is little appetite to step up refugee support.

An upswing in migrant boat arrivals from Lebanon to Europe, with Cyprus and Italy major destinations, has prompted some EU countries to warn of a big new influx into the bloc.

"We'll continue to do everything we can. But unless we're helped, unless the international community shoulders its responsibility, there will be a decrease in services and there will be more suffering for refugees," Safadi said.


Arab Condemnations of Israeli Massacre against Displaced Palestinians in Rafah 

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
TT

Arab Condemnations of Israeli Massacre against Displaced Palestinians in Rafah 

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)

Arab countries and organizations slammed on Monday Israel for its strikes on a center for displaced Palestinians that killed dozens near the southern city of Rafah on Sunday.

The health ministry in Gaza said in a statement that the strikes "claimed the lives of 35 martyrs and left dozens injured, most of them children and women".

The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza earlier said the attack hit a center run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees near Rafah, branding it a "horrific massacre".

The Palestinian Authority presidency in the West Bank called it a "heinous massacre", accusing Israeli forces of "deliberately targeting" the tents of displaced people.

The massacre is an act of "defiance to all international resolutions," it added in a statement.

Gaza's civil defense agency said Israeli strikes killed and wounded at least 50 people in the area, where it said 100,000 displaced people live.

Hamas said Palestinians must "rise up and march" against the attack.

The Israeli army said it had targeted Hamas fighters. Israel's army said its aircraft "struck a Hamas compound in Rafah", killing Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, both senior officials for the Palestinian armed group in the occupied West Bank.

It added that it was "aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited, several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review."

Palestinians carry a body after an Israeli army raid on a camp at an area designated for displaced people in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 27 May 2024. (EPA)

Qatar said on Monday the latest Israeli attack on Rafah could hinder mediation efforts to reach a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal, a foreign ministry statement said.

Kuwait's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack, saying the Israeli forces’ actions against Palestinians "exposes their blatant war crimes and unprecedented genocide to the whole world."

"This calls for immediate and firm intervention by the international community to compel these forces into adhering to international legitimacy resolutions, including the International Justice Court resolution on immediately ceasing the aggression against Rafah, and protecting the Palestinian people," it demanded in a statement.

Egypt strongly condemned the attack, saying Israeli forces "deliberately" targeted the displaced.

The Foreign Ministry said Cairo had called on Israel "to meet its legal commitments as an occupying power" and respect the International Court of Justice’s call on it to immediately cease its military operations.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the "ongoing heinous war crimes committed by the Israeli forces in Gaza," saying the latest attack in Rafah was a "flagrant challenge to the ICJ and grave violation of international law and international humanitarian law."

The Arab Parliament echoed the condemnation, warning in a statement that "failure to hold Israel to account for its crimes and massacres against the Palestinians and failure to take any deterrent measures against it will only make it commit more killings and cause more destruction."

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation slammed the "heinous Israeli massacre against Palestinian civilians," describing it as a "war crime, crime against humanity and state organized terrorism" and demanding that Israel be held to account before international justice.


Israeli Attack on Rafah Tent Camp Kills 45, Prompts International Outcry

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
TT

Israeli Attack on Rafah Tent Camp Kills 45, Prompts International Outcry

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

An Israeli airstrike triggered a fire that killed 45 people in a tent camp in the Gazan city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court order to halt Israel's assault.

Palestinian families rushed to hospitals to prepare their dead for burial after a strike late on Sunday night set tents and rickety metal shelters ablaze.

Israel's military, which is trying to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, said it was investigating reports that a strike it carried out against commanders of the militant group in Rafah had caused the fire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strike had not been intended to cause civilian casualties.

"In Rafah, we already evacuated about 1 million non-combatant residents and despite our utmost effort not to harm non-combatants, something unfortunately went tragically wrong," he said in a speech in parliament that was interrupted by shouting from opposition lawmakers.

Survivors said families were preparing to sleep when the strike hit the Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood where thousands were sheltering after Israeli forces began a ground offensive in the east of Rafah over two weeks ago.

"We were praying...and we were getting our children's beds ready to sleep. There was nothing unusual, then we heard a very loud noise, and fire erupted around us," said Umm Mohamed Al-Attar, a Palestinian mother in a red headscarf.

"All the children started screaming... The sound was terrifying; we felt like the metal was about to collapse on us, and shrapnel fell into the rooms."

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed a fire raging in the darkness and people screaming in panic. A group of young men tried to haul away sheets of corrugated iron and a hose from a single fire truck began to douse the flames.

More than half of the dead were women, children, and elderly people, health officials in Hamas-run Gaza said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise from people with severe burns.

Israel's military said Sunday's strike, based on "precise intelligence", had eliminated Hamas' chief of staff for the second and larger Palestinian territory, the West Bank, plus another official behind deadly attacks on Israelis.

That followed the interception of eight rockets fired towards Israel from the Rafah area in Gaza's southern tip.

Israel has kept up its offensive despite a ruling by the top UN court on Friday ordering it to stop, saying the court's ruling grants it some scope for military action there. The court also reiterated calls for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.

The US urged Israel to take more care to protect civilians, but stopped short of calling for a halt to the Rafah incursion.

"Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians," a National Security Council spokesperson said. "But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians."

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "outraged" over Israel's latest attacks. "These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians," he said on X.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the International Court of Justice ruling must be respected.

"International humanitarian law applies for all, also for Israel's conduct of the war," Baerbock said.

NO SAFE ZONE

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive, Gaza's health ministry says. Israel launched the operation after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

By daylight, the camp in Rafah was a smoking wreckage of tents, twisted metal and charred belongings.

Women wept and men held prayers beside bodies in shrouds.

Sitting beside bodies of his relatives, Abed Mohammed Al-Attar said Israel lied when it told residents they would be safe in Rafah's western areas. His brother, sister-in-law and several other relatives were killed in the blaze.

"The army is a liar. There is no security in Gaza. There is no security, not for a child, an elderly man, or a woman. Here he (my brother) is with his wife, they were martyred," he said.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs based in the West Bank condemned "the heinous massacre." Egypt also condemned Israel's "deliberate bombing of the tents of displaced people", state media reported, describing it as a blatant violation of international law.

On Monday, the Israeli military said it was investigating reports of an exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian soldiers close to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

Egypt's military spokesperson said that shooting near the Rafah crossing led to the killing of one person and authorities were investigating.

Israeli tanks stepped up the intensity of bombardments of eastern and central areas of Rafah on Monday, killing at least eight, local health officials said. Two medical workers were killed by a missile fired from a drone as they left the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah, medics said.

In Al-Nuseirat camp in central Gaza Strip, an Israeli attack killed three Palestinian police officers, Gaza's Hamas-run interior ministry said.

Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area.

But it faces global condemnation for failing to spare civilian lives.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also condemned the Israeli attack and Qatar said the Rafah strike could hinder efforts to mediate a ceasefire and hostage exchange.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told reporters in Beirut on Monday that there were no plans for ceasefire talks and the group's demands to achieve an accord, which include a permanent ceasefire, remain unchanged. 


UNRWA Says Attacks on Rafah 'Horrifying'

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
TT

UNRWA Says Attacks on Rafah 'Horrifying'

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said on Monday that reports of attacks on families seeking shelter in Rafah in the southern tip of the Gaza Strip were "horrifying.”
"Information coming out of Rafah about further attacks on families seeking shelter is horrifying," UNRWA wrote on X.
"There are reports of mass casualties including children and women among those killed. Gaza is hell on earth. Images from last night are yet another testament to that."
Palestinian health and civil emergency service officials said on Sunday Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens in an area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah designated for the displaced.
The Israeli military said its air force struck a Hamas compound in Rafah, and that the incident was under review.


Reporters Without Borders Files ICC Case over Journalists' Deaths in Gaza

Palestinians look at the damages while searching for food among burnt debris at the site of an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians look at the damages while searching for food among burnt debris at the site of an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
TT

Reporters Without Borders Files ICC Case over Journalists' Deaths in Gaza

Palestinians look at the damages while searching for food among burnt debris at the site of an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians look at the damages while searching for food among burnt debris at the site of an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Monday it had filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court over Palestinian journalists killed or injured in Gaza.

RSF said it was asking the ICC's prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli army against at least nine Palestinian reporters since December 15, Agence France Presse reported.

The ICC said in January it was probing potential crimes against journalists since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, which has cost the lives of more than 100 reporters.

RSF said it had "reasonable grounds for thinking that some of these journalists were deliberately killed and that the others were the victims of deliberate IDF (Israel Defense Force) attacks against civilians."

This specific complaint -- the third the RSF has made -- concerns eight Palestinian journalists killed between December 20 and May 20, and one other who sustained injuries.

"All concerned journalists were killed (or injured) in the course of their work," RSF said in a statement.

Antoine Bernard, RSF advocacy and assistance director, said: "Those who kill journalists are attacking the public's right to information, which is even more essential in times of conflict."

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan last week asked the court to issue arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes and crimes and humanity.

Israel has strongly denied the allegation and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that to draw a parallel between Hamas and Israeli leaders was "despicable".

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 107 journalists and media workers have been killed during the Gaza war, the "deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992".

The RSF complaint includes the case of two Palestinian journalists killed in January while working for Al Jazeera.

Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, who also worked as a video stringer for AFP and other news organizations, were killed while they were "on their way to carry out their duty" for the channel in the Gaza Strip, the network said.


Egypt Stresses Importance of Maintaining Somalia’s Security, Stability

A meeting held Sunday between Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar Abu Bakr, the outgoing Ambassador of Somalia to Egypt (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
A meeting held Sunday between Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar Abu Bakr, the outgoing Ambassador of Somalia to Egypt (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
TT

Egypt Stresses Importance of Maintaining Somalia’s Security, Stability

A meeting held Sunday between Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar Abu Bakr, the outgoing Ambassador of Somalia to Egypt (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
A meeting held Sunday between Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar Abu Bakr, the outgoing Ambassador of Somalia to Egypt (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)

Egypt on Sunday emphasized the importance of achieving security, stability, and peace in Somalia as a fundamental pillar for security and stability in the entire region.

Cairo also affirmed its full support for Mogadishu.

Last January, Egypt emphasized the necessity of full respect for the unity and sovereignty of Somalia over its lands, expressing its full rejection to any measures that would undermine Somalia's sovereignty.

This came after Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland that would give Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea, a key waterway for global trade. In return, Ethiopia would consider recognizing Somaliland's independence.

Mogadishu had rejected the MoU, saying it violates its sovereignty.

On Sunday, Egypt reiterated its support for Somalia’s stability during a meeting held between its Prime Minister, Moustafa Madbouly, and Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar Abu Bakr, the outgoing Ambassador of Somalia to Egypt.

The PM affirmed Egypt’s full support for Somalia in light of close historical relations between the two sides.

Madbouly asked the ambassador to convey his greetings to the Somali Prime Minister and expressed his desire to strengthen joint cooperation between the two nations.

For his part, Abu Bakr praised the cooperation he received from Egyptian state institutions and emphasized Somalia’s aspiration for continued Egyptian support, particularly in light of the political and security challenges the country faces.

The Arab League had also rejected the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland and affirmed its support for Somalia’s sovereignty.

Somaliland is a former British colony that declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but was not recognized by the international community.

Last January, the MoU faced international opposition. The US, the EU and the UK urged parties to respect Somali sovereignty.

The Somali Ambassador on Sunday expressed his appreciation for the Egyptian political leadership’s support in achieving stability in Somalia.


Egypt Warns about Regional Repercussions of Israeli Military Operations in Rafah

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell hold talks in the Belgian capital, Brussels (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell hold talks in the Belgian capital, Brussels (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
TT

Egypt Warns about Regional Repercussions of Israeli Military Operations in Rafah

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell hold talks in the Belgian capital, Brussels (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell hold talks in the Belgian capital, Brussels (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)

Egypt on Sunday reiterated its concerns about the devastating humanitarian impact of the Israeli military operations in Rafah on over 1.4 million Palestinians and the broader implications for regional peace and stability.

Cairo, therefore, called on Israel to fulfil its responsibilities as the occupying power by removing barriers to aid entry by opening all land crossings between Israel and Gaza and ensuring secure conditions for international relief efforts in Gaza.

The Egyptian warnings came during a meeting held Sunday between Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in the Belgian capital, Brussels, to discuss the escalating crisis in Gaza.

On Sunday, the Israeli army continued its bombardment of Gaza and Rafah despite an order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last Friday to immediately halt Israel’s operations in this southern Gaza Strip town.

The UN's top court based in the Dutch city of The Hague also ordered Israel to “maintain the Rafah crossing open for humanitarian assistance.” The crossing has been closed since the Israeli army launched its ground assault on the city early this month.

During their meeting in Brussels, Shoukry and Borrell stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire in Gaza as well as a cessation of the Israeli military operations in the Palestinian city of Rafah, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

They also emphasized the importance of ensuring unhindered and safe access to humanitarian aid and relief supplies throughout Gaza to address the urgent needs of its residents.

Egypt's top diplomat and the EU official then asserted the necessity for Israel to protect and respect humanitarian workers and refrain from targeting the facilities of international relief agencies.

Both sides further stressed that Israel should facilitate the movement of relief teams in the Gaza Strip per international humanitarian law.

Shoukry and Borrell discussed the dire humanitarian, security, and political aspects of the crisis in the Gaza Strip, Abu Zeid said.

Furthermore, they explored ways to mitigate the consequences of the crisis in Gaza and advance a political path to implement the two-state solution, thus resolving the crisis comprehensively, according to the FM’s spokesperson.

Shoukry then highlighted the crucial role sought from influential international parties, including the European Union, in supporting the ongoing efforts to halt the Israeli war on Gaza and prevent further loss of Palestinian lives.

The Minister expressed his appreciation for the significant efforts of the EU top official in alleviating the humanitarian crisis and its repercussions.

He also reiterated concerns about the devastating humanitarian impact of the Israeli military operations in Rafah and called on Israel to fulfil its responsibilities as the occupying power by removing barriers to aid entry by opening all land crossings between Israel and Gaza and ensuring secure conditions for international relief efforts in Gaza.

Last week, Egypt's state-run Al-Qahera News channel quoted a high-level Egyptian source as denying Israeli media reports saying Cairo and Tel Aviv are coordinating on Israel’s military operation in the Palestinian Rafah city.

The source stressed that “Egypt had warned Israel of the repercussions of escalation in the Gaza Strip, and refused any coordination with Tel Aviv on the Rafah crossing.”

In this regard, Shoukry on Sunday said: “Egypt rejects Israel's insistence on controlling all of Gaza's crossings as a tool to tighten the siege and starve the Palestinian people in Gaza, creating an uninhabitable reality in the strip.”

He also affirmed Egypt's categorical rejection of any attempts to displace Palestinians from their lands or liquidate the Palestinian cause.


Hamas Rocket Attack from Gaza Sets off Air Raid Sirens in Tel Aviv for First Time in Months

29 December 2020, Palestinian Territories, Gaza: Rockets are fired during a military drill organized by the Hamas. (dpa)
29 December 2020, Palestinian Territories, Gaza: Rockets are fired during a military drill organized by the Hamas. (dpa)
TT

Hamas Rocket Attack from Gaza Sets off Air Raid Sirens in Tel Aviv for First Time in Months

29 December 2020, Palestinian Territories, Gaza: Rockets are fired during a military drill organized by the Hamas. (dpa)
29 December 2020, Palestinian Territories, Gaza: Rockets are fired during a military drill organized by the Hamas. (dpa)

Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months on Sunday in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel's massive air, sea and ground offensive.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed the attack.

Palestinian fighters have sporadically fired rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border, and the military arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group later Sunday said it fired rockets at nearby communities.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion. It said “a number” of the projectiles were intercepted.

Earlier Sunday, aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. But it was not immediately clear if humanitarian groups could access the aid because of fighting.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count. The Health Ministry said the bodies of 81 people killed by Israeli strikes had been brought to hospitals over the past 24 hours.

Around 80% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Hamas triggered the war with its Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas still holds some 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.


Recognition of Palestinian State by 3 European Countries May Encourage More, Says Palestinian PM

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa attends a press conference with Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares (not pictured) after their meeting in Brussels Belgium 26 May 2024. (EPA)
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa attends a press conference with Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares (not pictured) after their meeting in Brussels Belgium 26 May 2024. (EPA)
TT

Recognition of Palestinian State by 3 European Countries May Encourage More, Says Palestinian PM

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa attends a press conference with Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares (not pictured) after their meeting in Brussels Belgium 26 May 2024. (EPA)
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa attends a press conference with Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares (not pictured) after their meeting in Brussels Belgium 26 May 2024. (EPA)

The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority expressed hope on Sunday that Spain, Ireland and Norway's recognition of a Palestinian state would encourage other European countries to do the same.

Mohammad Mustafa, in Brussels to attend a meeting with international donors, said he was grateful that the three had effectively joined 143 other countries that backed a Palestinian bid to become a full United Nations members in a resolution earlier in May.

"We obviously want to have every country in Europe do the same," he told a news conference in Brussels with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares.

"So this is again hopefully a source of encouragement for these countries to take the necessary courageous step."

The Middle East conflict has exposed diverging views in the European Union. Some EU diplomats have said it is not the right time to recognize Palestinian statehood.

Mustafa said recognition now was vital to keep the peace process alive.

Spain's Albares said other European countries were thinking about it, including Slovenia that had started the process.

Spain, Ireland and Norway said they will formally recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday to help secure a halt to Israel's Gaza offensive after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 and revive peace talks that stalled a decade ago.

Israel has called plans for recognition of a Palestinian state a "prize for terrorism".

Mustafa said he would spell out to international partners three priorities for his authority - supporting the people of Gaza, including by restoring basic services, building the institutions of a state and stabilizing the financial situation.