Houthis Turn Parts of Sanaa’s Presidential Palace into a Commercial Complex

Houthi members chanting the group's slogans in a demonstration on a street in Sanaa (AP)
Houthi members chanting the group's slogans in a demonstration on a street in Sanaa (AP)
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Houthis Turn Parts of Sanaa’s Presidential Palace into a Commercial Complex

Houthi members chanting the group's slogans in a demonstration on a street in Sanaa (AP)
Houthi members chanting the group's slogans in a demonstration on a street in Sanaa (AP)

Houthis have transformed parts of Yemen’s Presidential Palace, located in southern Sanaa, into a commercial center designated for militia leaders from the Saada governorate, according to local trade sources.

The Yemeni Holding Company, overseen by the internationally sanctioned Houthi financial leader Saleh Mesfer Al Shaer, had acquired swathes of Presidential Palace lands.

Sources based in Sanaa, which was overrun by Houthis in 2014, reported that the group is almost done building a chain of commercial stores on large parts of the presidential complex near the al-Sabeen neighborhood.

Upon completing the construction process, Houthi militias plan on removing the fortified wall surrounding the compound, sources added.

Yemen’s Presidential Palace was built by the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the mid-1980s.

The complex contains special sections for presidential housing, meeting rooms, and administrative offices. It also includes a horse ranch, a helipad, and barracks for the Presidential Protection Forces.

Sources point out that Houthis have shrouded the construction of the commercial stores in total secrecy to avoid public discontent, especially from the Yemeni families who had given up their land for the Presidential Palace to be erected.

While there are vast areas of land surrounding the presidential complex, construction was prevented decades ago for security reasons.

The Yemeni Holding Company has been seizing vast tracts of land and companies owned by those who are in opposition to Houthis.

It succeeded in taking over Y-Telecom, a telecommunications company, after a Houthi-aligned judge ordered the firm to file for bankruptcy. This allowed the Yemeni Holding Company to purchase Y-Telecom for cheap.

After seizing the business, Houthis fired 400 employees and later refused to pay the deal’s dues.

Three years after concluding the suspicious deal, Houthis found themselves unable to operate the company.

Although Houthis were hoping to reap billions of riyals from the acquisition, they are now trying to rebrand Y-Telecom and sell it to new shareholders.



Arab Leaders Express Condolences over the Death of Iran's President

FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech after taking his oath as president in a ceremony at the parliament in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 5, 2021.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech after taking his oath as president in a ceremony at the parliament in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
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Arab Leaders Express Condolences over the Death of Iran's President

FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech after taking his oath as president in a ceremony at the parliament in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 5, 2021.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech after taking his oath as president in a ceremony at the parliament in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

 

Several Arab leaders on Monday reacted to the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who was killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Azerbaijan border.
Raisi, a hardliner long seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63.
Several Arab leaders reacted to his death, the following are reactions to the news:
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-sudani said in a statement: “With profound sadness and deep sorrow, we received the tragic news of the passing of the President of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and their companions, due to the unfortunate plane crash incident in northern Iran.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, and to the nation of Iran, its government and people. We express our solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people and the officials of the Islamic Republic during this painful tragedy."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad affirmed Syria's solidarity with Iran and the families of the dead, adding that Raisi's dedication to his work and duties had taken him to East Azerbaijan to inaugurate a vital project for his country, where he was martyred in the line of duty.
Assad added that Syria had worked with the late president to ensure strategic ties between Syria and Iran remained prosperous, recalling Raisi's important visit to Syria as part of enhancing ties for the benefit of both nations.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi mourned the death of Raisi and other senior officials in a helicopter crash. In a statement, Sisi expressed his country’s solidarity with “the leadership and people of Iran in this great loss.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah said on X: "My deepest condolences to the brothers, leadership, government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the death of Brother President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Brother Hossein Amir Abdullahian and those accompanying them, may God have mercy on them all.
"We stand in solidarity with our brothers in Iran in this difficult circumstance”.
The Palestinian Hamas movement conveyed “deepest condolences and solidarity" to Khamenei, the Iranian government, and the Iranian people for "this immense loss."
It praised the deceased Iranian leaders for supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel and expressed confidence that Iran's "deep-rooted institutions" will enable it to overcome "the repercussions of this great loss."
Head of Yemen’s Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Alo al-Houthi said on X platform: “Our deepest condolences to the Iranian people, the Iranian leadership, and the families of President Raisi and the accompanying delegation... We ask God to grant their families patience and solace. Verily we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. The Iranian people will remain adhering to the loyal leaders of their people, by God's will."
In a statement, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group also expressed condolences to Khamenei over the death of Raisi.
The country's foreign minister announced a three-day national mourning.
 

 


UNRWA: Israel Arrested, Tortured Our Employees

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
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UNRWA: Israel Arrested, Tortured Our Employees

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, said on Sunday that aid is hardly arriving to the Gaza Strip, noting that the agency's employees have been arrested and tortured by Israel, and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.

In a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Lazzarini said that despite the international community's calls, Israel invaded and attacked the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah on May 6, with half of Gaza's population forced to flee.

He pointed out that the two main crossings in the south, Rafah Crossing and Kerem Shalom Crossing, have turned into conflict zones, and there are currently no crossings to transport aid across the borders.

Lazzarini noted that “198 UNRWA employees were killed, 160 sites were completely or partially destroyed, and employees were arrested, tortured, and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.”

In January, Israel alleged that 12 UNRWA employees had participated in the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel.

Later in April, an independent review for the United Nations said Israel failed to support its claims.

Safadi said UNRWA continues to play its role in the Gaza Strip despite all the pressures, affirming that Jordan is committed to supporting the UN Agency.

“The UNRWA role is indispensable and cannot be replaced by any other party because no other party has the ability, knowledge or capabilities that this agency possesses to help the Palestinian people who are facing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

The Minister added that “the situation in Gaza is still catastrophic and is still worsening at all levels, even if enough food is brought into Gaza, which is not the case.”

Safadi noted that accusations levelled at 12 out of 13,000 UNRWA staff were refuted, “and the attempt to assassinate UNRWA politically failed.”

He said, “The report issued by the independent committee headed by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna confirmed that the agency has all the tools to ensure that what it does is in line with all principles of conduct, ethics and UN charters and regulations.”

Despite all the pressures, the Jordanian Minister affirmed that UNRWA is doing everything it can “to provide aid to 2.3 million Palestinians who are now suffering from this brutal war and its inhumane consequences of killing, destruction and the absence of food, medicine, treatment and education.”

But the Agency is still facing major financial challenges, according to Safadi, who said 16 countries stopped funding UNRWA after the Israeli accusations first surfaced.

He noted that 14 of them reversed their decision and announced the resumption of support for the UN agency.

Safadi also said the kingdom demanded an international investigation into what it said were many war crimes committed during Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

He added that those responsible for documented crimes should be brought to justice.


Airstrike Kills 27 in Central Gaza, Fighting Rages as Israel’s Leaders Get Increasingly Divided

Palestinians reported more airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway (File photo)
Palestinians reported more airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway (File photo)
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Airstrike Kills 27 in Central Gaza, Fighting Rages as Israel’s Leaders Get Increasingly Divided

Palestinians reported more airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway (File photo)
Palestinians reported more airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway (File photo)

An Israeli airstrike killed 27 people in central Gaza, mostly women and children, and fighting with Hamas raged across the north on Sunday as Israel's leaders aired divisions over who should govern Gaza after the war, now in its eighth month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces criticism from the other members of his War Cabinet, with main political rival Benny Gantz threatening to leave the government if a plan is not created by June 8 that includes an international administration for postwar Gaza. His departure would leave Netanyahu more reliant on far-right allies who support full military occupation of Gaza and rebuilding of Jewish settlements there.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu, and the his office said in a statement they focused on Israel's military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, humanitarian aid and hostages held in Gaza.

Netanyahu opposes Palestinian statehood, saying Israel will maintain open-ended security control over Gaza and partner with local Palestinians unaffiliated with Hamas or the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

The US said Sullivan said Israel should “connect its military operations to a political strategy” and proposed measures to ensure more aid “surges” into Gaza.

In recent weeks, Hamas militants have regrouped in parts of northern Gaza that were heavily bombed in the war's early days.

The airstrike in Nuseirat, a built-up Palestinian refugee camp in central Gaza dating back to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, killed 27 people, including 10 women and seven children, according to records at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in nearby Deir al-Balah, which received the bodies.

A separate strike on a Nuseirat street killed five people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service. In Deir al-Balah, a strike killed Zahed al-Houli, a senior officer in the Hamas-run police, and another man, according to the hospital, The AP reported.

Palestinians reported more airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway.

The Civil Defense said strikes hit several homes near Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, killing at least 10 people. And in the urban Jabaliya refugee camp nearby, residents reported a heavy wave of artillery and airstrikes.

Abdel-Kareem Radwan, 48, said the whole eastern side has become a battle zone where the Israeli fighter jets “strike anything that moves."

Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for the Civil Defense, said rescuers had recovered at least 150 bodies, more than half of them women and children, since Israel launched the operation in Jabaliya last week.

The war on Gaza has killed at least 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. Around 80% of the population of 2.3 million Palestinians have been displaced within the territory, often multiple times.

“We need a decent life to live," said Reem Al-Bayed, who left Gaza City and shelters with thousands in the gritty coastal Muwasi camp in the south without basic facilities like wells. "All countries live a decent life except us.”

She took a quick mouthful of bread before tearing the rest into pieces for half a dozen children, then poured them a can of beans.

Netanyahu faces pressure from Israel's closest ally, the United States, which has provided military aid and diplomatic cover for the offensive while expressing growing frustration with Israel's conduct of the war and the humanitarian crisis.

President Joe Biden's administration recently held up a shipment of 3,500 bombs and said the US would not provide offensive weapons for a full-scale invasion of Rafah, citing fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

But last week, after Israel launched what it called a limited operation in Rafah, the Biden administration told legislators it would move forward with the sale of $1 billion worth of arms, according to congressional aides.

The Palestinian Crossings Authority in a statement said humanitarian aid has not entered through the vital Rafah border crossing with Egypt since the military operation began almost two weeks ago.


Libya Begins Operating Pipeline from North Hamada Oilfield

A general view shows Libya's Sharara oilfield. (File photo: Reuters)
A general view shows Libya's Sharara oilfield. (File photo: Reuters)
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Libya Begins Operating Pipeline from North Hamada Oilfield

A general view shows Libya's Sharara oilfield. (File photo: Reuters)
A general view shows Libya's Sharara oilfield. (File photo: Reuters)

Libya has begun operating the new pipeline from its North Hamada oilfield with initial transfer capacity expected at 2,000 barrels per day (bpd), the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Sunday.

The North Hamada field, which is operated by Nafusah Oil Operations, is expected to increase transfer capacity through the line to 25,000 bpd before eventually reaching 10,000 bpd in September as part of the field's first development stage, NOC's statement said, Reuters reported.

The 50km pipeline to Mellitah port has design capacity of 70,000 bpd, NOC added.


Hundreds Rally in Support of Tunisia President Amid Series of Arrests

Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a speech at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace outside the capital Tunis, Tunisia February 27, 2020. (Reuters)
Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a speech at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace outside the capital Tunis, Tunisia February 27, 2020. (Reuters)
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Hundreds Rally in Support of Tunisia President Amid Series of Arrests

Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a speech at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace outside the capital Tunis, Tunisia February 27, 2020. (Reuters)
Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a speech at the government's swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace outside the capital Tunis, Tunisia February 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Hundreds of people rallied Sunday in downtown Tunis in support of President Kais Saied amid the recent arrests of journalists, lawyers, and other public figures in Tunisia.

The rally came days after an international backlash over the flurry of arrests, which the UN and the EU said were unlawful.

President Saied on Thursday blasted the international criticism as foreign "interference" and ordered the Tunisian foreign ministry to summon the ambassadors of several countries.

"No to foreign interference, because we are a sovereign state," said Saber Rzigue, a protester on Sunday, AFP reported.

"We support the Tunisian leadership, particularly President Kais Saied."

"We are against foreign interference and against traitors, even if they are Tunisian," said Mohamed Hentati, another protester.

"Today, we want to contribute to history and stand against anyone who wants to occupy our country and try to change its social fabric," he added.

Sunday's rally also came after a significant protest and strike by lawyers earlier in the week over police raids and arrests in the national bar association.

The head of the bar, Hatem Meziou, called for an end to "the abuse of power" and for President Saied to intervene.

But Saied, who seized sweeping powers in 2021, replied on Thursday by saying the arresting of two lawyers was "in full respect for Tunisian law, which guarantees equality and the right to a fair trial".

Demonstrators on Sunday defended the president.

"Kais Saied is above all of us," said Mahmoud, a protester who chose not to give his full name.

"It is in him that we trust. He brought us security and peace."


Jordan Demands Investigation of 'War Crimes' in Gaza

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Jordan Demands Investigation of 'War Crimes' in Gaza

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday that the kingdom demanded an international investigation into what it said were many war crimes committed during Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

In remarks made during a press conference with the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Safadi said those responsible for documented crimes should be brought to justice.

An Israeli airstrike killed 20 people in central Gaza, mostly women and children, and fighting raged across the north on Sunday as Israel's leaders aired divisions over who should govern Gaza after the war, now in its eighth month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced criticism from his own War Cabinet, with his main political rival, Benny Gantz, threatening to leave the government if a plan is not formulated by June 8 that includes an international administration for postwar Gaza.

The war has killed at least 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. Around 80% of the population of 2.3 million Palestinians have been displaced within the territory, often multiple times.


Britain's Cameron: Violence in Darfur May be Crime Against Humanity

Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Gadaref on May 12, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Gadaref on May 12, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Britain's Cameron: Violence in Darfur May be Crime Against Humanity

Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Gadaref on May 12, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Gadaref on May 12, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

British foreign minister David Cameron said on Sunday violence in the Darfur region of Sudan may be a crime against humanity.

"I am deeply concerned by highly credible reports that some of the violence in Darfur is ethnically motivated," Cameron said in a statement published on the government website.

"The ongoing pattern of violence in Darfur, including apparent systematic attacks against civilians, may amount to crimes against humanity."

The UN human rights chief said on Friday he was "horrified" by escalating violence near Sudan's al-Fashir and held discussions with commanders from both sides of the conflict, warning of a humanitarian disaster if the city is attacked.

Hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering in al-Fashir without basic supplies amid fears that nearby fighting will turn into an all-out battle for the city, the Sudanese army's last stronghold in the western Darfur region.

Its capture would be a major boost for the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as regional and international powers try to push the sides to negotiate an end to a 13-month war.


Israel Launches Strikes Across Gaza

Mourners grieve during the funeral of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike, at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Mourners grieve during the funeral of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike, at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Launches Strikes Across Gaza

Mourners grieve during the funeral of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike, at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Mourners grieve during the funeral of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike, at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 19, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israeli planes and tanks pounded areas across the Gaza Strip overnight, residents said.

Israel has been pushing into the southern city of Rafah that it says is the last bastion of Hamas forces. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled the area that was one of their few remaining places of refuge.

Israeli forces also pushed deeper into the narrow alleyways of Jabalia in northern Gaza, returning to an area that they said they had cleared earlier in the conflict, residents said.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Service said in a statement rescue teams have so far recovered the bodies of 150 Palestinians killed by the army in recent days, while their count showed that 300 houses had been struck by Israeli aerial and ground fire.

At least 35,386 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7, according to the enclave's health ministry. Aid agencies have warned of widespread hunger and shortages of fuel and medical supplies.


Hamdok, Abdul Wahid Nur Sign Declaration Urging Sudan War Halt

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Hamdok, Abdul Wahid Nur Sign Declaration Urging Sudan War Halt

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, leading the “Tagaddum” anti-war civilian coalition, and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement joined forces in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to sign a political agreement.

This deal aims to end the conflict and establish civilian rule in Sudan. Both leaders pledge to work together to tackle Sudan’s challenges and find lasting solutions.

Both parties urged an immediate ceasefire to pave the way for ending the war, with support from international and regional efforts, including the Jeddah platform.

The Nairobi declaration called on the warring factions to abide by international humanitarian law by removing obstacles to aid delivery and ensuring access for all citizens in conflict zones.

It also stressed the importance of protecting humanitarian workers from international and local organizations.

Tagaddum and the Sudan Liberation Movement have agreed to establish a security and military system meeting international standards.

This system aims to create a unified national army dedicated to safeguarding national security under a new military doctrine aligned with the constitution.

The agreement also calls for a federal democratic civilian government in Sudan, ensuring equal participation for all Sudanese in power and resources.

The Nairobi declaration stressed the need for an inclusive discussion involving all national stakeholders supporting these principles.

Both sides called on international and regional actors to pressure the warring factions and step up efforts for an immediate end to the war.


Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in South Gaza

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in South Gaza

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a battle in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, the military said on Sunday.

Israel's military has been focusing its offensive in the southern part of Gaza where it says the remaining Hamas brigades are holed up.