Yemeni Activists Urge Int'l Intervention to Stop Houthi Plan to Demolish 500 Buildings in Old Sanaa

A general view showing the buildings included in the UNESCO list in the Old City of Sanaa (EPA)
A general view showing the buildings included in the UNESCO list in the Old City of Sanaa (EPA)
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Yemeni Activists Urge Int'l Intervention to Stop Houthi Plan to Demolish 500 Buildings in Old Sanaa

A general view showing the buildings included in the UNESCO list in the Old City of Sanaa (EPA)
A general view showing the buildings included in the UNESCO list in the Old City of Sanaa (EPA)

Yemeni intellectuals and activists urged interventions to stop the Houthi militia's plan to demolish 500 archaeological buildings in the Old City of Sanaa, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

They warned that the planned demolition includes four crucial markets intending to establish a sectarian shrine in the city.

Yemeni intellectuals fear that the behavior of the Houthis would remove the Old City from the World Heritage List, as the militias aim to change the demographic composition of the Yemeni capital.

A statement signed by dozens of Yemeni writers, authors, and activists expressed the Houthi militia's intention to destroy several homes and markets, urging the coup authority to refrain from building the shrine, which could damage the people and the area.

They expressed their solidarity with the residents of the Old City.

Residents described the plan as a "new Houthi crime against Yemen's land, history and heritage," saying it was complementary to previous steps targeting the city and changing its demographic composition.

The group previously hiked the rent of state-owned shops and homes and confiscated other facilities claiming they were public properties.

Yemen's Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Moammar el-Eryani, warned that the militias have begun to draw up construction plans to remove the four ancient markets and turn them into a shrine.

Eryani pointed out that the Houthi militia previously demolished the historic al-Nahrain Mosque, one of the oldest ancient mosques in the world, and leveled it to the ground.

The minister affirmed that the Houthi militia's systematic targeting and destruction of archaeological and heritage sites fall within its plan to change Yemen's identity and cultural, civilizational, and historical heritage.

He warned that the group aims to replace the Yemeni culture with an identity imported from Iran, which violates all international laws and conventions.

Eryani urged the international community, the UN, and relevant international organizations, led by UNESCO and ALESCO, specialized studies and research centers, and all interested parties, to condemn the "heinous crime."

He called for international intervention to stop the massacre that the Houthi militia intends to commit against one of the World Heritage sites subject to international protection, as the property of all humankind and part of humanity's history and identity.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.