Yemen, UN, Netherlands Discuss Safer Tanker in Aden

A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands (Saba)
A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands (Saba)
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Yemen, UN, Netherlands Discuss Safer Tanker in Aden

A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands (Saba)
A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands (Saba)

A tripartite meeting between the Yemeni government, the UN, and the Netherlands was held in Aden to discuss the status of the FSO Safer tanker and efforts to initiate the implementation of the first phase of the UN plan to empty and maintain the tanker to avoid a global environmental disaster.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, and several Yemeni ministers and experts.

Since their coup against the legitimacy in Yemen, the Houthi militias have obstructed all efforts to empty the tanker's reservoir and have more than once prevented the implementation of urgent UN maintenance.

The UN convinced the Houthis of its plan, about $80 million, to start the rescue operation.

The Yemeni government offered to empty the tanker, sell the crude, and use the revenues to support the health sector in the Houthi-controlled areas, but the militias rejected the offer.

Yemeni official sources stated that the tripartite meeting discussed the situation of the Safer tanker and efforts to implement the first phase of the UN plan to empty it and maintain it.

Saba Agency reported that the meeting dealt with practical steps to solve the problem of the FSO Safer and joint coordination to mobilize international efforts to cover the funding gap for the UN plan.

The agency quoted Abdul-Malik as saying in the meeting that the issue of the tanker is a real threat to the Red Sea, the lives and livelihoods of millions of Yemenis, and neighboring countries.

The Prime Minister said the tanker was a "ticking bomb," explaining that it has been operational for 45 years and carries over one million barrels of crude oil.

He warned that it reached a significant deterioration, as maintenance operations have stopped since the beginning of the war, reiterating that any collapse or explosion of the reservoir would be catastrophic and exceed any environmental disaster in human history.

Abdulmalik explained that the cost of dealing with environmental damage in the event of the tanker's explosion and oil leakage would be tens of billions.

The government has always been clear in rejecting the politicization of the issue, or its inclusion in any political discussions, asserted Abdulmalik, noting that authorities have repeatedly demanded that United Nations experts be allowed onboard the tanker to evaluate and empty it.

The Yemeni prime minister thanked the Netherlands and the international community for addressing the Safer oil tanker and its adoption of a path that neutralizes the danger of the reservoir by replacing another tanker with it.

Abdulmalik hoped that the funding gap for the first phase would be covered and that the UN would start implementing the first phase soon, before the hurricane season and without hindrance from the Houthi militias.

Meanwhile, Yemeni official sources announced that the Dutch Minister confirmed her country's interest in the issue of the tanker and realized the catastrophic risks of any leakage or explosion.

The Dutch minister also confirmed her country's efforts to finance the entire plan and empty and maintain the oil reservoir, according to the plan prepared by the United Nations.



UNRWA Says Around 1 Million People Have Fled Rafah in Past 3 Weeks 

Palestinians flee the area of Tal al-Sultan in Rafah with their belongings following renewed Israeli strikes in the city in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
Palestinians flee the area of Tal al-Sultan in Rafah with their belongings following renewed Israeli strikes in the city in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
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UNRWA Says Around 1 Million People Have Fled Rafah in Past 3 Weeks 

Palestinians flee the area of Tal al-Sultan in Rafah with their belongings following renewed Israeli strikes in the city in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)
Palestinians flee the area of Tal al-Sultan in Rafah with their belongings following renewed Israeli strikes in the city in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP)

Around one million people have fled the Gazan city of Rafah in the past three weeks, the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said on Tuesday.

The small city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip had been sheltering more than a million Palestinians who fled Israeli assaults on other parts of the enclave.

Since early May, Israel's military has been carrying out what it says is a limited operation in Rafah to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, which runs Gaza. It has told civilians to go to an "expanded humanitarian zone" some 20 km (12 miles) away.

Many Palestinians have complained they are vulnerable to Israeli attacks wherever they go and have been moving up and down the Gaza Strip in the past few months.

UNRWA said the flight from Rafah "happened with nowhere safe to go and amidst bombardments, lack of food and water, piles of waste and unsuitable living conditions."

Providing assistance and protection is becoming nearly "impossible", the agency said.


Spain’s PM Says Cabinet to Recognize a Palestinian State as EU Rift with Israel Widens 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is pictured as he delivers a speech on TV over the recognition of Palestinian statehood by Spain, in Madrid on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is pictured as he delivers a speech on TV over the recognition of Palestinian statehood by Spain, in Madrid on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
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Spain’s PM Says Cabinet to Recognize a Palestinian State as EU Rift with Israel Widens 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is pictured as he delivers a speech on TV over the recognition of Palestinian statehood by Spain, in Madrid on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is pictured as he delivers a speech on TV over the recognition of Palestinian statehood by Spain, in Madrid on May 28, 2024. (AFP)

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the Spanish Cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state at its Tuesday morning meeting as a European Union rift with Israel widens.

Ireland and Norway were also to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state later in the day. While dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, none of the major Western powers has done so.

“This is a historic decision that has a single goal, and that is to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace,” said Sánchez, standing at the gates of the prime minister's palace in Madrid, during a televised speech.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, however, lashed out at Spain on X, saying Sánchez's government was “being complicit in inciting genocide against Jews and war crimes.”

Relations between the EU and Israel nosedived Monday, the eve of the diplomatic recognition EU members Ireland and Spain, with Madrid insisting that the EU should take action against Israel for its continued deadly attacks in southern Gaza’s city of Rafah.

Norway, which is not an EU member but often aligns its foreign policy with the bloc, handed diplomatic papers to the Palestinian government over the weekend ahead of its formal recognition of a Palestinian state.

At the same time, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threw his weight to support the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, including leaders of the Hamas armed group.

In his speech on Tuesday, Sánchez said that the recognition of a Palestinian state was “a decision that we do not adopt against anyone, least of all against Israel, a friendly people whom we respect, whom we appreciate and with whom we want to have the best possible relationship.”

The Socialist leader, who announced his country’s decision before parliament last week, has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to garner support for recognition and a cease-fire in Gaza.

He called for a permanent ceasefire, for stepping up humanitarian aid into Gaza and for the release of hostages that Hamas has held since the Oct. 7 attack that triggered Israel's response.

Sánchez said that the move was to back the beleaguered Palestinian National Authority, which lost effective political control of Gaza to Hamas. He laid out his vision for a state ruled by the Palestinian National Authority that must connect the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem through a corridor.

“We will not recognize changes in the 1967 border lines other than those agreed to by the parties,” Sánchez added.

“Furthermore, this decision reflects our absolute rejection of Hamas, a terrorist organization who is against the two-state solution,” Sánchez said.

“From the outset, Spain has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7. This clear condemnation is the resounding expression of our steadfast commitment in the fight against terrorism. I would like to underline that starting tomorrow we would focus all our efforts to implement the two-state solution and make it a reality.”


Israel Imposes New Security Measures along Border with Lebanon

A picture taken during a tour with the Israeli army in Dovev, a Moshav in north Israel close to the border with Lebanon, shows Israeli soldiers inspecting the damage to a synagogue after it was hit by rockets fired from Lebanon on May 27, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
A picture taken during a tour with the Israeli army in Dovev, a Moshav in north Israel close to the border with Lebanon, shows Israeli soldiers inspecting the damage to a synagogue after it was hit by rockets fired from Lebanon on May 27, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
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Israel Imposes New Security Measures along Border with Lebanon

A picture taken during a tour with the Israeli army in Dovev, a Moshav in north Israel close to the border with Lebanon, shows Israeli soldiers inspecting the damage to a synagogue after it was hit by rockets fired from Lebanon on May 27, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
A picture taken during a tour with the Israeli army in Dovev, a Moshav in north Israel close to the border with Lebanon, shows Israeli soldiers inspecting the damage to a synagogue after it was hit by rockets fired from Lebanon on May 27, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Israeli army said it kicked off a series of new security measures in the northern Israeli towns after carrying out a drill simulating a ground offensive in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah group had intensified its attacks on Israel in response to the latter’s Monday strike that targeted a hospital entrance in south Lebanon killing one person.
In recent weeks, the Israeli army carried out a drill simulating a ground offensive on Lebanon.
The Israeli army spokesperson said the “exercise simulated combat scenarios in the northern arena, the rapid deployment of forces on the ground, the functioning of the division and brigade headquarters and the readiness of the forces for an attack”.
Israel’s announcement comes amid new strict measures imposed in Israeli settlements and northern towns.
News agencies have displayed images showing cement barriers placed as roadblocks in northern Israel.
An Israeli newspaper also reported that the army decided to trim down its alert units in the northern towns, a decision that drew criticisms from Israeli officers.
An order was also issued to close an Israeli settlement, and entry banned even for Israeli soldiers.
The new measures triggered concern among the town residents, amid mass destruction of buildings estimated by Israel’s i24 News at 930 buildings destroyed by Hezbollah strikes.
On Sunday, Hezbollah heavily shelled the town of Kiryat Shmona. The town’s municipal chief was quoted as saying that over 40 percent of the town’s fleeing residents have no plans of returning back. “We expect the number to rise”, he said.
Hezbollah, in a wide-scale offensive, carried out 15 military operations on Sunday against Israeli targets in response to the latters’ successive attacks targeting people on motorcycles in Lebanese border towns.
An Israeli strike on Monday outside a hospital in south Lebanon killed one person at the hospital entrance. He was heading for medical tests.
Fifteen other people sustained varying injuries, including seven civilians and eight health care workers at Salah Ghandour Hospital in the city of Bint Jbeil.
The hospital security guard, Hassan Jouni, underwent surgery due to severe injuries.
For the first time since the hostilities began in the southern Lebanon border area, the Israeli army targeted the vicinity of a hospital on Monday morning.
The Israeli military has increased its efforts in recent days to apprehend individuals using cars or motorcycles on the roads, resulting in the fatalities of Hezbollah members and civilians.
The Lebanese Ministry of Health condemned the brutal Israeli shelling that targeted the hospital.
Hezbollah retaliated against the Israeli assault on the hospital by “targeting and destroying the newly installed spy equipment at the Miskaf Am site.”
The Israeli military said that it bombed a building where Hezbollah members were located in the Yaron border area on Sunday.
Additionally, the air force targeted Hezbollah members in Hula, hitting a weapons storage facility in Mays Al-Jabal and military infrastructure in Khiam.
The Israeli raid on the town of Yaron led to casualties.


Two KFC Outlets Attacked in Baghdad Over Gaza War, Police Sources Say 

A Federal police vehicle is parked near a KFC fast food restaurant following an attack in Baghdad, Iraq May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
A Federal police vehicle is parked near a KFC fast food restaurant following an attack in Baghdad, Iraq May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
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Two KFC Outlets Attacked in Baghdad Over Gaza War, Police Sources Say 

A Federal police vehicle is parked near a KFC fast food restaurant following an attack in Baghdad, Iraq May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
A Federal police vehicle is parked near a KFC fast food restaurant following an attack in Baghdad, Iraq May 27, 2024. (Reuters)

Two Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants were attacked in Baghdad over the past 48 hours, causing damage but no injuries, and Iraqi security forces arrested some suspects, the interior ministry and police sources said on Monday.

Initial investigations showed that the restaurants were targeted over the perceived support of US-based brands for Israel amid the war in the Gaza Strip, police sources said.

The first attack took place early on Sunday when two men on a motorcycle threw a make-shift bomb at a branch of the American fried chicken chain restaurant in eastern Baghdad's Palestine Street, causing minor damage, police sources said.

On Monday, another KFC Baghdad branch and a second American-style restaurant were attacked by group of masked men who broke into the restaurants and used sticks to smash glass and destroy furniture.

They fled before the arrival of security forces, police sources said.

KFC did not immediately comment on the attacks.

The interior ministry did not elaborate on the motives behind the attacks and said a police commander and other officers responsible for the areas where the attacks occurred had been detained and faced punitive measures.

Western brands have been hit by boycotts and other forms of protest by a largely spontaneous, grassroots campaign over Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip since the deadly Hamas attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The actions reflect a groundswell of anger over Israel's military operation that has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there, and caused a humanitarian crisis.


Biden Tells Israel to Protect Civilians After Rafah Strike 

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)
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Biden Tells Israel to Protect Civilians After Rafah Strike 

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)

The Biden administration told Israel to take every precaution to protect civilians after a military strike in Rafah killed dozens of Palestinians, as it faced calls from some fellow Democrats to halt military shipments to Israel.

"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.

Biden has faced increasing pressure from within his own party to scale back support for Israel, even before the airstrike on Sunday night that set tents and rickety metal shelters ablaze in a Rafah camp, killing 45 people.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent Democratic lawmaker in the House of Representatives, on Monday called the strike "an indefensible atrocity", adding in a social media post that "it is long past time for the President to live up to his word and suspend military aid."

"Horrific and gut wrenching images coming out of Rafah last night," Representative Ayanna Pressley said in a social media post. "How much longer will the US stand by while the Israeli military slaughters and mutilates Palestinian babies?"

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American serving in Congress, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "genocidal maniac".

Netanyahu on Monday said the strike was not intended to cause civilian casualties but went "tragically wrong."

The NSC spokesperson said the US government was "actively engaging" with the Israeli military and others on the ground to assess what happened.

Almost half of Democratic voters disapprove of Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war, according to a recent poll from Reuters/Ipsos.

Weeks of campus protests about the war have added to the pressure, and wider demands for a permanent ceasefire have put Biden's reelection campaign on the defensive.


Israeli Strike in Southern Lebanon Kills 2 People Near Hospital, Officials Say 

Smoke rises on the Israeli side of its border with Lebanon following a rocket that was launched from Lebanon and fired towards Israel, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel, May 26, 2024. (Reuters)
Smoke rises on the Israeli side of its border with Lebanon following a rocket that was launched from Lebanon and fired towards Israel, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel, May 26, 2024. (Reuters)
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Israeli Strike in Southern Lebanon Kills 2 People Near Hospital, Officials Say 

Smoke rises on the Israeli side of its border with Lebanon following a rocket that was launched from Lebanon and fired towards Israel, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel, May 26, 2024. (Reuters)
Smoke rises on the Israeli side of its border with Lebanon following a rocket that was launched from Lebanon and fired towards Israel, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel, May 26, 2024. (Reuters)

An Israeli strike targeting a motorcycle in southern Lebanon hit next to a hospital entrance Monday, killing the motorcycle driver and a hospital security guard and wounding several civilians nearby, local health officials said.

It was not immediately clear who the driver was or why he was targeted in the strike in the town of Bint Jbeil.

The Israeli army did not give a statement on the strike but said it had targeted other areas of southern Lebanon in response to “terrorist launches.”

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been exchanging strikes with Israeli forces in the border area almost daily since Oct. 8, a day after the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza began.

Mohammed Suleiman, director of the Salah Ghandour Hospital in Bint Jbeil, said they had initially received one person killed and nine wounded in the strike, most of whom were “civilians who were in front of the hospital, where family members and people accompanying the patients usually gather.”

Hospital officials later said that a security guard who was wounded in the strike had died.

The strike also caused minor damage to the hospital, an Associated Press photographer at the scene said.

Hezbollah later said it had launched a barrage of dozens of missiles at Meron, Safsufa and Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel in response.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 400 people in Lebanon since the war in Gaza began, most of them militants with Hezbollah and allied groups but also including more than 70 civilians and non-combatants. On the Israeli side, strikes from Lebanon have killed 15 soldiers and 10 civilians.

The clashes have displaced tens of thousands on each side of the border. Israeli officials have said they may launch an offensive in Lebanon if no diplomatic solution is reached that would allow the displaced to return.

The Israeli military said Monday that its reservists had in recent weeks “conducted a division-level and brigade-level exercise that simulated ground operations in Lebanon."

Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah, who visited the site of the strike in Bint Jbeil, said that Israel “will not be able to return settlers (residents) to the north in this way.”

“The only way to stop everything that is happening in the region today and on the border with Lebanon is to stop the aggression against Gaza,” he said.

Western countries, in particular the US and France, have come forward with a series of proposals for a cessation of hostilities on the Lebanon-Israel border. Hezbollah has refused to enter into an agreement until a ceasefire is implemented in Gaza.

Initially, the proposals stipulated that Hezbollah would move its forces several kilometers away from the border, but a French diplomatic official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations said the latest proposal has abandoned this idea as Hezbollah would not agree to it unless Israel also halted its overflights in Lebanese airspace.

Instead, the new proposal would rely on a strengthened presence of the official Lebanese army and UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon to enforce the cessation of hostilities, with a long-term aim of negotiations for demarcation of the land border between Lebanon and Israel.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was expected to arrive in Beirut on a diplomatic visit Tuesday.


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)
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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)
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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)
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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.


Security Council Set to Meet Over Deadly Rafah Strike 

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)
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Security Council Set to Meet Over Deadly Rafah Strike 

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)

The UN Security Council was set to convene an emergency meeting Tuesday over an Israeli strike that killed dozens in a displaced persons camp in Rafah, as three European countries were slated to formally recognize a Palestinian state.

AFP journalists on the ground early Tuesday reported fresh Israeli strikes overnight in the southern Gaza border city, where an Israeli attack targeting two senior Hamas members on Sunday night sparked a fire that ripped through a displacement center, killing 45, according to Gaza health officials. 

The attack prompted a wave of international condemnation, with Palestinians and many Arab countries calling it a "massacre". Israel said it was looking into the "tragic accident". 

"There is no safe place in Gaza. This horror must stop," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres posted on social media. 

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths pointed to the widespread warnings of civilian deaths that circulated ahead of Israel's incursion into Rafah, saying in a statement: "We've seen the consequences in last night's utterly unacceptable attack." 

"To call it 'a mistake' is a message that means nothing for those killed, those grieving, and those trying to save lives," he added.  

Diplomats said the UN Security Council would convene Tuesday for an emergency session called by Algeria to discuss the attack.  

The EU's foreign policy chief said he was "horrified by news" of the strike, while French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "outraged", and a US National Security Council spokesperson said Israel "must take every precaution possible to protect civilians".  

The Israeli military said it was launching a probe.  

- 'Don't know where to go' -  

Displaced Gazan Khalil al-Bahtini was preparing to leave the impacted area, telling AFP Monday that "last night, the tent opposite to ours was targeted".  

"We have loaded all our belongings, but we don't know where to go." 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told parliament the deaths occurred "despite our best efforts" to protect civilians.  

The outcry over the strike came as Spain, Ireland and Norway were set to formally recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday in a decision slammed by Israel as a "reward" for Hamas.  

"Recognizing the state of Palestine is about justice for the Palestinian people," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Monday in Brussels.  

It was also "the best guarantee of security for Israel and absolutely essential for reaching peace in the region", he said alongside his Irish and Norwegian counterparts.  

On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he had told Spain's consulate in Jerusalem to stop offering consular services to West Bank Palestinians from June 1 as a "preliminary punitive" measure.  

- 'Charred bodies' -  

Israel launched the deadly strike on Rafah late Sunday, hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at the Tel Aviv area, most of which were intercepted.  

Israel's army said its aircraft "struck a Hamas compound" in the city and killed Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, senior officials for the militant group in the occupied West Bank. 

Gaza's civil defense agency said the strike ignited a fire that tore through a displacement center in northwestern Rafah near a facility of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.  

"We saw charred bodies and dismembered limbs... We also saw cases of amputations, wounded children, women and the elderly," said civil defense agency official Mohammad al-Mughayyir.  

One survivor, a woman who declined to be named, said: "We heard a loud sound and there was fire all around us. The children were screaming."  

Adding to already heightened tensions since Israel launched its Rafah ground operation, the Israeli and Egyptian militaries reported a "shooting incident" on Monday that killed one Egyptian guard in the border area between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip.  

Both forces said they were investigating.  

- 'Dangerous violation' -  

Footage from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society showed chaotic nighttime scenes of paramedics racing to the attack site and evacuating the wounded. 

Mughayyir said the rescue efforts were hampered by war damage and the impact of Israel's siege, which has led to severe shortages of fuel and "water to extinguish fires".  

The Israeli attack sparked strong protests from Egypt and Qatar, both of which have played key roles as mediators in efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and hostage-prisoner exchange.  

Egypt deplored what it called the "targeting of defenseless civilians", saying it was part of "a systematic policy aimed at widening the scope of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip to make it uninhabitable".  

Qatar condemned a "dangerous violation of international law" and voiced "concern that the bombing will complicate ongoing mediation efforts" towards a truce.  

The top world court, the International Court of Justice, on Friday ordered Israel to halt any offensive in Rafah and elsewhere that could bring about "the physical destruction" of the Palestinians.  

The war in Gaza started after Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.  

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.  

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,050 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.  

Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, which has been central to aid operations in the besieged territory during the war, said on social media platform X that "with every day passing, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible".  

"The images from last night are testament to how Rafah has turned into hell on Earth," he said.