Turkish Drones Target Security Guards at Al-Hol Camp, ISIS Families Try to Escape

A general view of al-Hol camp in Syria. Reuters file photo
A general view of al-Hol camp in Syria. Reuters file photo
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Turkish Drones Target Security Guards at Al-Hol Camp, ISIS Families Try to Escape

A general view of al-Hol camp in Syria. Reuters file photo
A general view of al-Hol camp in Syria. Reuters file photo

Two Turkish strikes Wednesday targeted forces guarding the exterior of Syria's Al-Hol detention camp, amid a state of chaos and fear among ISIS families and attempts by some of them to flee, a war monitor said.

The camp is home to over 50,000 people including relatives of suspected ISIS militants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the number of airstrikes fired by Turkish drones on areas held by the Autonomous Administration had amounted to 15 on Wednesday.

A Turkish drone attacked two positions in al-Malkiyah countryside in far north eastern Syria, the SOHR said.

In the first attack, the drone shelled positions in Shirk village, and in the second attack the drone attacked a fuel station in Ala Qos area in al-Malkiyah countryside near borders between Syria and Iraq.

A Turkish drone also hit power transmission station near a coronavirus hospital in al-Qamishli, while ambulances rushed to the targeted area.

The London-based war monitor had previously reported that a Turkish drone targeted a checkpoint for the (Kurdish) Asayesh security forces in Abu Rasin town in Hasaka’s northwestern countryside, injuring members of the checkpoint.

Another Turkish drone also targeted a house in Kararshak village in the countryside of Ain al-Arab (Kobani).

Turkish drones further targeted an oil station in Mashuq village and the Kil Hasnak station in al-Qahtaniyah countryside.



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)
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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)
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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.


ICRC: Yemen's Houthis Free More than 113 Detainees

A detainee embraces his mother after his release by the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
A detainee embraces his mother after his release by the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
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ICRC: Yemen's Houthis Free More than 113 Detainees

A detainee embraces his mother after his release by the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
A detainee embraces his mother after his release by the Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Yemen's Houthi group freed more than 113 detainees in Sanaa on Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported.
The Houthi group claimed the detainees had been government soldiers captured at the battlefront. But Yemen's internationally recognized government said the detainees were not soldiers, but civilians the Houthis had kidnapped from homes, mosques and workplaces.
"Releasing these victims under any name does not absolve (the Houthis) of this crime," Majed Fadail, deputy minister for human rights in Yemen's internationally recognized government wrote in a post on social media platform X.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed on Sunday the unilateral release of 113 "conflict-related" detainees and said in a statement that it assisted the detainees to ensure their release was humane and dignified.
"I feel completely at ease, as if I was born again today. Because we were desperate and thought we would never get out," said Murshed Al Jamaai, a detainee released on Sunday.
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthis ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
The outlines of a proposed Yemen UN roadmap for peace were agreed last December, but progress towards peace stalled as the Houthis ramped up attacks on ships in and around the Red Sea, alleging they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.
The campaign has disrupted global commerce, stoked fears of inflation and deepened concern that fallout from the Israel-Hamas war could destabilize parts of the Middle East.


Israel Fights Hamas in Gaza but Says Ready for New Truce Talks

Smoke billows following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 25, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke billows following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 25, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Fights Hamas in Gaza but Says Ready for New Truce Talks

Smoke billows following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 25, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke billows following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 25, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israel's armed forces bombarded Gaza on Sunday, but officials also said diplomatic efforts were expected to resume in coming days towards a truce and hostage release deal.

Air strikes and artillery shelling rained down again overnight on northern, central and southern area of Gaza in the more than seven-months-old war sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack.

Fighting has centered on the far-southern city of Rafah, where Israel has vowed to destroy the last remaining Hamas battalions despite a chorus of international opposition to a ground invasion of the city.

Israel's assault there from early May led Egypt to shut its side of the Rafah border crossing -- but on Sunday, aid trucks from Egypt again rolled into Gaza, this time via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing.

US President Joe Biden said Saturday his administration was engaged in "urgent diplomacy to secure an immediate ceasefire that brings hostages home".

Mediator Egypt was also continuing "its efforts to reactivate ceasefire negotiations", said Al Qahera News.

Israeli media has said intelligence chief David Barnea had agreed a new framework for talks on a ceasefire in a meeting with America's CIA chief and Qatari mediators in Paris.

An Israeli official, requesting anonymity, told AFP on Saturday that "there is an intention to renew these talks this week".

However, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told Qatar's Al Jazeera network that so far "there is nothing practical on this issue. It is just talk coming from the Israeli side."

- Bodies pulled from rubble -

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing domestic pressure over the fate of the hostages, with demonstrators rallying again in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

In recent days, the bodies of seven dead hostages have been retrieved from Gaza, heightening the fear and pain of relatives of the remaining captives.

In Tel Aviv, a crowd of several thousands observed a minute of silence Saturday for dead captives.

"I feared this moment," Avivit Yablonka, whose brother Chanan was brought back dead from Gaza, told the rally. "I will continue to shout, support, fight and do everything so that all the hostages return home."

Hamas meanwhile said Saturday it had taken "prisoner" at least one Israeli soldier in an ambush in Jabalia camp.

The claim was denied by the army, which said there was "no incident in which a soldier was abducted".

The war broke out 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.

Gunmen 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 35,903 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

The UN has warned of looming famine in the besieged territory, where most hospitals are no longer functioning.

In the latest fighting, Gaza's civil defense agency said Sunday it had retrieved six bodies after a house was targeted in a strike on Rafah's eastern Khirbet al-Adas neighborhood.

Witnesses said Israeli artillery had also targeted central Rafah's Yibna camp, and that heavy artillery shelling hit the city's Sooq al-Halal and Qishta neighborhoods.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Israeli air strikes targeted the Nuseirat camp, and witnesses said heavy artillery shelling hit northern Gaza.

Israeli tanks in Gaza City rained heavy gunfire on targets in the Zeitun and Netzarim area, an AFP reporter said.

Israel's military meanwhile said Sunday the arrival of aid had been stepped up, both via a new US-built pier and through its own land crossings, Kerem Shalom and Erez West.

"This week, after the pier began operating for the first time, a total of 1,806 pallets of food were transferred in 127 trucks to logistics centers of international aid agencies in the Gaza Strip," it said.

"In total, this week, 2,065 humanitarian aid trucks were inspected and transferred through the Kerem Shalom and Erez West crossings, which is almost twice the number in the previous week."

US Central Command said Saturday that four US Army vessels supporting the pier broke free of their moorings, and had run aground in heavy seas, with Israel aiding the recovery effort.

- Global pushback -

As the bloodiest ever Gaza war grinds on, Israel has faced heavy global pushback over the surging civilian death toll and the destruction of vast swathes of Gaza.

In the past week it faced landmark moves from two international courts based in The Hague and from three European governments.

Last Monday, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants on war crimes charges against Netanyahu and his defense minister as well as against three top Hamas figures.

On Wednesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain said they would recognize Palestinian statehood by May 28, a move Israel angrily rejected as a "reward for terrorism".

And on Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, demanded the release of hostages and urged the "unhindered provision" of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The ICJ ruling came in a case brought by South Africa alleging that Israel's military operation amounts to "genocide".

It ruled that Israel must "immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part".

Israel has denied any military operations in the Rafah area that "could cause the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part".


Israeli Army Shells Hezbollah Positions in South Lebanon

This picture taken from northern Israel shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on May 25, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. (AFP)
This picture taken from northern Israel shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on May 25, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. (AFP)
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Israeli Army Shells Hezbollah Positions in South Lebanon

This picture taken from northern Israel shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on May 25, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. (AFP)
This picture taken from northern Israel shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on May 25, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. (AFP)

The Israeli army said on Sunday that its fighter jets carried out several airstrikes against Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon last night.
Israel said the strikes targeted buildings and other infrastructure utilized by Hezbollah in the southern towns of al-Khyam and Aita al-Shaab, the Times of Israel newspaper reported Sunday.
The Israeli army also carried out artillery shelling on a number of other sites in southern Lebanon.
In three separate statements on Saturday, Lebanon-based Hezbollah said it targeted “with the appropriate weapons” two facilities in the Israeli settlement of Metula, a building in the settlement of Manara, and two buildings in the settlement of Shtula.
The Iran-backed party and Israeli forces have traded cross-border fire a day after the Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7 on an 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.


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.