Thousands of acres of farmland and cattle also wiped out with damage estimated at three times that of 2008-9 conflict
Mohammed Al Tebani inside his factory in Gaza, which made ice cream among other sweets, and was destroyed by targeted shelling
Gaza‘s economy will take years to recover from the devastating impact of the war, in which more than 360 factories have been destroyed or badly damaged and thousands of acres of farmland ruined by tanks, shelling and air strikes, according to analysts.
Israeli air strikes on Gaza have resumed since a temporary ceasefire brokedown on Tuesday after rockets were fired from Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force said it launched air stikes on 20 sites on Friday morning and Gaza health officials said two Palestinians were killed in an attack on a farm.
Almost 10% of Gaza’s factories have been put out of action, said the Palestinian Federation of Industries. Most other industrial plants have halted production during the conflict, causing losses estimated at more than $70m (£42m), said the union of Palestinian industries. The UN’s food and agriculture organisation (FAO) said about 42,000 acres of croplands had sustained substantial direct damage and half of Gaza’s poultry stock has been lost due to direct hits or lack of care as access to farmlands along the border with Israel became impossible.
More than 9% of the annual fishing catch was lost between 9 July and 10 August, it added.
“The initial indications are that economic damage caused by the war is three times that of the 2008-9 conflict,” said Gaza-based economist Omar Shaban, referring to the Israeli military operation, codenamed Cast Lead. “It’s huge.”
Unemployment would increase from the prewar rate of 40%, a result of factory destruction, he said. “Recovery will depend on the terms of the ceasefire agreement – whether the siege is lifted, and how quickly. But it will take a minimum of two to three years even if it is lifted.”
Gaza’s biggest factory, al Awda in Deir al-Balah, which made biscuits, juice and ice-cream, was destroyed after days of air strikes and shelling last month, which caused a massive fire. Its entire stock of raw ingredients was lost and valuable hi-tech machinery damaged beyond repair. The factory employed 450 people.
“This is a war on our economy,” said owner Mohammed al-Telbani. “I started at ground zero, spent 45 years building this business and now it’s gone.”
Manal Hassan, the factory’s manager, estimated the losses at $30m. “We kept a very large stock because of the difficulties of getting raw materials and spare parts into Gaza, so we had enough to keep production going for a year,” she said. “This was a factory for making biscuits and ice-cream, not guns. There were no rockets fired in this area.”
At the Nadi family farm in Beit Hanoun, Mahmoud Nadi said almost half the stock of 370 dairy cows had been killed in shelling from tanks positioned inside the border and air strikes. The family, which has farmed in the area for 15 years, fled to UN shelters in Jabaliya when the Israeli ground invasion started.
“When we came back, there were dead cows everywhere. We could hardly reach them because of the smell,” he said. The milk yield from the remaining stock had plummeted due to the animals’ trauma, he added.
In Beit Lahiya, camel farmer Zaid Hamad Ermelat returned to his land last week to find 20 animals – worth $2,800 a head – had been shot by ground forces. Their decomposing carcasses remained on the ground amid spent bullet casings from M16 rifles.
“This is our only income, supporting 17 members of the family,” said the 71-year-old Bedouin, who came to Gaza as a refugee during the 1948 war. Asked what he would do to earn a living, he shrugged he would try to find work as a farm labourer.
In a nearby field, peppers were shrivelled on plants as farmers have been unable to harvest crops during the war.
At a cluster of farms in Juha Deek, nearly a mile from the border, almost every house, store and animal pen was wrecked, fruit and olive trees snapped or uprooted and cattle, sheep and goats killed by shrapnel, bullets or starvation as families fled for safety.
“How do I feel? Look at this,” said Ahmed Abu Sayed, 22, gesturing at a view of destroyed buildings and tank-churned land. “This tells you how I feel.”
The FAO said it would distribute enough fodder to feed 55,000 sheep and goats for 45 days once a permanent ceasefire had been established.
(Source / 22.08.2014)
Several Palestinians have been killed and dozens more injured in fresh Israeli aerial attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few hours.
The casualties come as Israeli warplanes bombed residential areas in the besieged Palestinian enclave on Friday.
Palestinian sources say the latest fatalities included two people in al-Nusairat and two others in Deir al-Balah. Two people, a man and a child, have also died of injuries.
A couple of other people had earlier been killed in Rafah, south of Gaza, while riding on a motorcycle.
Also, at least four people were killed when an Israeli airstrike targeted a cemetery. The victims were burying their relatives who had been killed in an overnight attack.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 37 people have been killed during the Israeli aggression since Thursday morning.
Friday marked the third day of continued fighting in the coastal enclave following the collapse of ceasefire talks in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have called for more retaliatory responses to the Israeli attacks following the killing of three senior commanders of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, in an airstrike in Rafah.
Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, the commanders of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of Hamas, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Tel al-Sultan refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday.
The death toll from the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip stands at above 2,090. Some 10,300 others have been wounded since the Israeli aggression began on July 8.
(Source / 22.08.2014)
Human rights bodies condemn ‘extra-judicial executions’ while death of four-year-old in Israel threatens escalation of conflict
Rescue workers search for victims under the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike that killed three Hamas military commanders
Hamas has turned its anger over Israel‘s assassination of three military commanders against alleged collaborators in Gaza, killing 21 people in a little over 24 hours and warning that the “same punishment will be imposed soon on others”.
The suspected informers – including two women – were killed in three batches in a campaign codenamed “Strangling Necks”. Three were killed on Thursday, 11 at a disused police station early on Friday, and another seven shot dead in public outside a mosque in Gaza City shortly after noon prayers.
The conflict seemed likely to escalate further on Friday afternoon after a four-year-old Israeli child was killed when a mortar hit a car close to the Gaza border. It was the first civilian death in Israel since fighting resumed after the collapse of the latest temporary ceasefire earlier this week, and was expected to trigger a strong response from the Israeli military.
The boy is the fourth civilian and the first child to be killed in Israel since the war began. Sixty-four soldiers have also died. More than 500 children have been killed in Gaza, out of a total of more than 2,000 deaths.
The summary executions in Gaza triggered swift condemnation from Palestinian and international human rights organisations. Raji al-Surani, the director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, said: “We demand the [Palestinian Authority] and the resistance [militant groups] to intervene to stop these extra-judicial executions, no matter what the reasons and the motives are.”
Pictures showed a group of men, with their heads covered and hands tied behind their backs, kneeling against a wall. Masked Hamas fighters dressed in black and armed with AK47s pushed to them to the ground before shooting them.
The mosque’s imam asked worshippers to inform Hamas security officials about anyone suspected of behaving strangely, or asking about fighters. “We have to protect our mujahideen [fighters] and back them, not let the Zionist occupation [Israel] easily target them as happened in Rafah with commanders,” he said.
A notice attached to a wall detailed the charges against one suspect. It said he or she had provided “information to the enemy on the places of mujahideen [fighters], standing positions, tunnels, the places of explosive devices, and their houses and rockets”, allowing Israel to target its air strikes. “And upon that the justice revolutionary verdict was implemented.”
The Hamas-run Al Rai website suggested a direct link between the executions and Israel’s targeting of Hamas commanders, saying “the current circumstances forced us to take such decisions”.
The suspects were believed to have been arrested before theassassination early on Thursday of three top Hamas military leaders in Rafah and the possible death of military chief Mohammed Deif in an air strike in Gaza City on Tuesday, which killed his wife and two children.
The killings were an unambiguous warning to informers. Hamas claimed that a verdict and sentence was handed down by a court, although it is unlikely that the suspects went through a fair and impartial judicial process.
A statement issued in the name of “the Palestinian resistance” said that the court’s sheikhs ordered the executions of “collaborators who betrayed their religion and sold their people and land for a cheap price, and achieved many missions for the enemy”.
It said it had not named the suspected informers “for keeping the reputation and honour of their families and children”. Anyone who “allows himself to be a tool of enemy crimes will definitely face the same destiny”, it added.
Some of those at the mosque expressed approval of the killings. “It was a late move – I wish it was from the beginning, and I hope it continues until we reach a community empty of traitors and collaborators,” said Mohammed Wasfi.
The suspected collaborators deserved to die, said Awni Switti. “Palestinians have to stop this cheap assistance to the enemy.” But he added: “I hope they have checked and investigated with them carefully before they made this decision.”
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, condemned the killings. “No justification for #Hamas summary execution of 11, informer or not. No due process. Executions always wrong,” he wrote on Twitter.
Collaboration with Israel is punishable by death under Palestinian law, though the death sentence requires presidential approval. Hamas has repeatedly carried out summary executions. In the last conflict in Gaza, in November 2012, several suspected informers were killed and the body of at least one was dragged through the streets of Gaza City by a motorcycle.
Israeli intelligence relies heavily on informers in Gaza and the West Bank. Sometimes people are coerced or blackmailed into becoming collaborators; sometimes the motive is financial. If exposed, they risk death and their families – whether they knew or not – are ostracised.
The killing of the three military commanders in Rafah was a significant blow to Hamas after weeks in which senior political and military figures had avoided being targeted by the Israel Defence Forces, largely by keeping underground in a network of bunkers and tunnels and refraining from using mobile phones.
Deif’s fate was still unclear. Israeli officials said they were confident that he had died in the blast but no conclusive evidence was produced.
Ismail Haniyeh, the most senior Hamas politician in Gaza, said in a statement that “despite the pain” of losing the military commanders, “the history of the Hamas movement has proven more than once that it is stronger after every targeted killing of one of its senior members. After a senior operative is killed, we immediately continue on our path without hesitating or stepping back.”
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict shifted from Cairo to New York, with a United Nations security council resolution drafted by Britain, France and Germany with US support. According to reports in the Israeli media, it called for an immediate cessation of fighting, the opening of crossings in and out of Gaza, international supervision to prevent weapon smuggling and the construction of tunnels, and the Palestinian Authority to be the governing authority. No date had been set for debating and voting on the proposal.
The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was in Qatar meeting Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Meshaal, to push him to return to a ceasefire, and to encourage Qatar to support Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce, a Palestinian official said.
Abbas was due to travel to Cairo later on Friday to meet Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss ceasefire efforts.
(Source / 22.08.2014)
“If the United States thinks that they can fix things by bombing the area now, it is impossible.” —Mehmet Ali Sahin, deputy chairman of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party
Recent territorial gains in Iraq by the ISIL, the self-proclaimed Islamic State also known as ISIS or DAESH, allegedly without foreknowledge of the western powers, beg the question of who is behind the al-Qa’ida alumnus.
Pundits are quick to accuse Saudi Arabia, but other informed sources point to Qatar and Turkey as the main culprits behind the violent Takfiri terrorist cum non-state actor. Still others claim that the ISIL is a U.S. and U.K. trained, CIA- Mossad proxy force led by a Jewish operative.
The ISIL has its origins in a Kurdish insurgent group, which formed after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and was headed by former arch terrorist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, who swore allegiance to al-Qa’ida in 2004 to form al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). After al-Zarqawi’s death by a U.S. air raid in 2006, the surge in 2007 and the program of bribing Sunni tribesmen to renounce resistance against the American occupation, AQI experienced a period of decline, but rebounded after the start of the western regime change operation in Syria in 2011, when the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dispatched fighters for Jabhat al-Nusra while renaming his contingent in Iraq the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan was heavily involved with arming Takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq during his tenure as head of Saudi intelligence from July 20, 2012 until his departure on April 15, 2014. An ambassador to the U.S. for 22 years, Prince Bandar has freely employed terrorists in pursuit of U.S. and Saudi policy objectives, and even obliquely threatened Russian Prime Minister Putin with the disruption of the Sochi Winter Olympic games by extremists under Saudi control. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year,” Bandar reportedly said to Putin in a July 2013 meeting.
Qatar has been the chief logistical supplier to the Takfiri extremists attempting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. According to the New York Times, as of 2013 Qatar had supplied insurgents with some 85 planeloads of weapons and supplies as opposed to 37 for Saudi Arabia and lesser amounts for other actors such as Jordan. While not as big a financial supporter as Qatar, Turkey nevertheless serves as the primary logistical base through which most munitions, materials and manpower are funneled to the foreign-backed militants in Syria.
In a press conference in August 2009 with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the ruler of Qatar, expressed his desire to route a pipeline across Syria to Turkey for exporting his country’s vast liquid natural gas reserves. “We are eager to have a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey,” he exclaimed, and in pursuit of that goal, Qatar began aiding a foreign insurgency in Syria almost as soon as Muamar al-Gadhafi had been killed in Libya in October 2011. Previously, Qatar had played a key role in toppling the Libyan regime by supplying rebels with weapons, supplies and training.
In January 2012 on the CBS news program 60 Minutes, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani publicly announced his desire to topple the Syrian government, declaring, “For such a situation to stop the killing…some troops should go to stop the killing.” Then in February, Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani affirmed, “We should do whatever is necessary to help [the Syrian opposition], including giving them weapons to defend themselves.” To that end and at the request of Saudi deputy foreign minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud, a military command and control center was established in the Turkish city of Adana, which is home to the U.S. air base of Incirlik, a convenient location for forwarding Washington’s “nonlethal” aid.
Naming three Kuwaitis as prime fundraisers for ISIL, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said, “Through fundraising appeals on social media and the use of financial networks, Shafi Al Ajmi, Hajaj Al Ajmi, and Al Anizi have been funding the terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.” Besides the funds funneling through Kuwait, ISIL seems to be developing its own financial sector. Paul Sullivan, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University in Washington, said, “ISIL is developing in a vital oil, gas and trade area of the world.” Previously, ISIL gained control of the former Conoco gas field at Deir al-Zor in Syria, and, according reliable estimates, was already netting about $8 million a month before recent territorial gains in Iraq.
The U.S. sees itself and its western allies as being locked in “an epic struggle against adversaries bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant Western dominance.” Of course ISIL plays a leading role as the current villain in this continuing drama that bears an uncanny resemblance to a U.S. Army mission trajectory called “Expanding Scope,” which is discussed in a 2008 report entitled “Unfolding the Future of the Long War” by the Rand Corporation. “A powerful Sunni Islamic state may prove even more troublesome than Iran,” the authors of the report caution, “especially in its support for SJ [Salafi-Jihadism].”
Yet despite the warning, the U.S. and its western allies have repeatedly armed and trained extremists to destabilize governments targeted for regime change, among them Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Concurring with the irrational policies of his western masters, the former Emir of Qatar expressed his belief that extremists could be transformed into political participants if promises of democracy and justice can be fulfilled. “I believe you will see this extremism transform into civilian life and civil society,” he insisted in an al-Jazeera interview on September 7, 2011.
But instead of transforming terrorists into political participants, the U.S., along with its Saudi, Qatari, Turkish and western allies, has created an out-of-control monster with upwards of 50,000 fighters controlling an area the size of Belgium. “What began in Syria during the spring of 2011 as a simple uprising by a few so-called rebels has blossomed into a brazen and bloody movement led by the Salafi cabal, housed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, to topple not just the Syrian regime, but also Iraq and Lebanon,” lamented Agha Shaukat Jafri.
Indeed, the ISIL not only poses an immediate threat to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, its rapid emergence as a regional actor is jeopardizing Saudi interests, which suggests rapprochement with Tehran would be wise, yet Riyadh continues to issue Iranophobic rhetoric. “There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran,” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal confided, “We’re really concerned – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East countries – about this,” implying the existence of a de facto alliance among the Zionist regime, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Kuwait, and possibly other regional players as well.
The ISIL may in fact be a CIA-Mossad proxy force. U.S. Senator John McCain has been photographed together with ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who, according to sources traceable to Edward Snowden as uncovered by Iran’s intelligence services, is really Simon Elliot, a Jewish agent for the Zionist intelligence agency Mossad. The plan was to invade countries that constitute a threat to the Israeli entity in order to establish the biblical “Greater Israel.”
In any event, AKP deputy chairman Mehmet Ali Sahin is correct that bombing will not fix the mess the U.S. and its misguided allies have created. To eradicate the malignancy of Takfiri terrorism in the Middle East, the U.S. must cut its support for the Zionist regime, renounce regime change in Syria, and align itself with the only regional power that can help, namely Iran.
(Source / 22.08.2014)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an accompanying delegation landed in Cairo, on Friday afternoon, to begin a 3-day visit to the region during which he is scheduled to meet with Egyptian officials, with the aim of reaching a lasting state of truce with Israel.
Abbas was accompanied by PLO chief negotiator and executive committee member Saeb Erekat, PLO executive committee member Saleh Rafaat, Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, and head of intelligence Majed Farraj.
According to Ma’an News Agency, Abbas met with Deputy Secretary General Ziyad al-Nakhala and Khalid al-Batsh of the Islamic Jihad, on Friday evening, after arriving from Qatar earlier in the afternoon. The Islamic Jihad media office said that the meeting aimed to discuss ceasefire initiatives which adhere to Palestinian demands.
President Abbas had previously been in Doha, where he met with the Qatari Emir and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, also to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire.
Earlier in the week, the Israeli delegation left Cairo with no response to a proposal offered by the Palestinian side.
Abbas is expected to meet with Egyptian president Abd al-Fattah Sisi and other Egyptian officials on Saturday.
(Source / 22.08.2014)
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen’s government. But what do the Houthis really want?
The Houthis demand the return of fuel subsidies, among other grievances with the government
|Sanaa, Yemen – Thousands of supporters of Yemen’s Houthi movement protested in the streets of the Yemeni capital in response to a call by the group’s leader to force the government to step down.
In a televised speech on August 17, Houthi leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi demanded that fuel subsidies, which had been cut significantly in late July, be reinstated, among other demands. He gave the government until Friday to meet the Houthis’ demands, or said “other steps” would be taken.
“This government is a puppet in the hands of influential forces, which are indifferent to the rightful and sincere demands of these people,” al-Houthi said in his speech, referring to the United States.
The Houthis are also demanding a more representative form of government that would reflect the seats allocated to political groups and independent activists during Yemen’s 10-month National Dialogue Conference, a series of meetings to map out the political future of Yemen after its 2011 uprising.
“Our demands are like the demands of the Yemeni people who seek a decent life, a good economy, security, stability, freedom of expression,” Mohammed Abdul Sallam, a spokesperson for the group, told Al Jazeera, without getting into specifics.
Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has called for dialogue with the Houthis, and invited the group to join a “unity government”, according to AFP news agency.
The Houthis, Hadi said on Wednesday, must “be committed to what all Yemenis agreed upon, and work to achieve their goals in the political framework that were guaranteed by the constitution, as well as the outcome of national dialogue”.
Officially known as Ansarallah [the partisans of God], the Houthi rebel group began as a theological movement that preached tolerance and peace in the early 1990s, according to Ahmed Addaghashi, a professor at Sanaa University and author of two books on the movement, Houthi Phenomenon and Houthis and their Political and Military Future.
Addaghashi told Al Jazeera that the Houthi movement originally held a considerably broad-minded educational and cultural vision. A religious group affiliated with the Zaydi sect of Shia Islam, the Houthis maintain a stronghold in the northern province of Saada today.
“The group started as a gathering called the ‘Believing Youth Forum’ in the early nineties. Then, it fell into internal strife between two lines; the first called for more openness, while the second urged sticking to the traditional legacy of the Shia sect,” Addaghashi said.
Ironically, said Addaghashi, Hussein Bader Addian al-Houthi, the founder of the group, was in favour of the first line. “The movement turned to arms in 2004 on grounds of self-defence when the first war with the government erupted.”
Addaghashi said that tensions between Yemeni security forces and the Houthis first flared when the group’s supporters protested in mosques in the capital, which then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh saw as a challenge to his rule. Saleh ordered the arrest of some group members, and urged their then-leader Hussein Bader Addian al-Houthi to stop the protesters from disturbing worshippers.
“The first war began when Saleh sent some troops to the province of Saada to arrest Hussein who refused to curb his supporters,” Addaghashi said. Hussein al-Houthi was killed in 2004 after Saleh sent government forces into Saada. The years-long intermittent war ended in a ceasefire agreement in 2010.
In 2011, the Houthis were among many forces that took part in the revolt against Saleh.
The group has been strongly opposed to one of the central recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference: the transformation of Yemen into a federal state of six regions. Under the proposed refiguration, Saada province, which has historically been the Houthis’ stronghold, would be linked to the Sanaa region.
The Houthis have demanded a greater share of power in the federal government, and that the north be designated its own region. In documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, US defence analysts have suggested the Houthis are unlikely to demand independence, and would continue on their stated aim of regional autonomy.
“The Houthis are capitalising on widespread frustration with the government and the recent rise in fuel prices to rally support and extract political concessions,” April Longley Alley, a Yemen specialist with the International Crisis Group, told AFP news agency.
“What is happening now appears to be increasingly dangerous political bargaining as part of the Houthis’ bid to become a dominant political force in the north and in the national government,” she said.
The Houthis have recorded a series of important victories over government and rival tribal groups in recent months. In July, supported by the country’s largest tribal federation, Bakil, the Houthis captured Amran from the Hashid tribal federation, and inflicted a humiliating defeat on the powerful al-Ahmar clan, co-founders of the rival Sunni Islamist Islah party.
“What happened there [in Amran] will not harm the republic. The problem was a desire for trouble and criminal attacks by known parties,” said Abdulmalek al-Houthi, in a televised speech broadcast by his group’s television outlet, Al-Masira, referring to the Islah party.
The Houthis’ political rivals, the Islah party has accused the Shia rebels of being a proxy of Iran and trying to restore the Zaydi imamate that ruled Yemen until 1962. Islah has repeatedly accused the movement of creating unrest in Amran and other regions as part of a plan to seize control of the capital Sanaa.
The Houthis have historically been concerned with reviving Zaydism amid the increasing influence of Salafism. Since Yemen’s 2011 uprising, the Houthis appear to have participated in more sectarian conflicts.
A year after the start of the revolt, which led to the overthrow of Saleh, the Houthis besieged a religious school controlled by Salafis in Saada. The Shia Muslim rebels said the institute was being used to recruit foreign fighters, but the Salafis said the incident was an attempt by the Houthis to strengthen their hold on the province.
Hundreds died in the clashes, which ended when the Salafis agreed to leave the province.
Later clashes, in cities closer to the capital, pitted the Houthis against the Sunni Islamist Islah party and army brigades allied to it.
“The Islah party… fears Ansarallah [Houthis] will take revenge for [Islah's] participation in the former regime’s [of Ali Abdullah Saleh] wars in Saada,” Usama Sari, a pro-Houthi journalist, told Al Jazeera. According to Sari, the Houthis have accused Islah of inciting people against them, and allegedly encouraging some army regiments to fight them.
Meanwhile, Hadi’s government and other opponents have frequently accused Iran of arming the Houthis. The government said that it has seized arms cargoes originating from Iran that were heading to the rebels in the north, but the Houthis dispute accusations of foreign help.
Unlike his predecessor, Hadi, who took power in 2012 following Saleh’s removal, has taken a less confrontational stance towards the Houthis, prompting the ire of Islamist parties, who accuse him of closing his eyes to alleged Houthi crimes.
Hadi has not addressed the criticism directly but his minister of defence, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, said that the country’s armed forces were “neutral and stand at an equal distance from everyone”.
Sami Ghaleb, a political analyst and founder of Al-Nida newspaper, said that the Yemeni president has common interests with the Houthis, and shares the same tribal and political opponents. “Hadi wanted to weaken the forces that derail his movement. The strongest one is the Islah party and its tribal and military allies,” including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Ghaleb said.
“The people found a growing party that was not involved in the corruption of the former regime and its war in the south,” said Ghaleb, adding that the interim government’s failure to address people’s grievances has boosted support for the Houthis.
The group has also moved into mainstream politics in Yemen, after it held 35 seats in the National Dialogue Conference. The political talks brought together 565 delegates from across Yemen’s political spectrum, including tribal and religious groups, and independent women’s and human rights activists.
“The Houthis have doubled their ability to influence the decision-making process,” he said. “Previously, the Houthis were not an important part of the transitional process, but now no one can bypass them.”
(Source / 22.08.2014)
Hamas’ military wing announced the killing of three of its most senior leaders in an Israeli bombardment on early Thursday in Gaza
Raed Al-Attar, one of the commanders killed on Thursday, is seen on the far right in 1999
The three Hamas military commanders killed early Thursday in southern Gaza are amongst the earliest generation of Qassam Brigade fighters. Here are more details about the three:
Born in 1974, Raed al-Attar joined Qassam Brigades in his early youth. Over the years, he has gained a reputation for building Hamas’ military capacity and has become one of Hamas’ top ranking leaders.
Since 1994, he has been on Israel’s most wanted list and has accused him of being able to snap up Israeli soldiers, teaching Qassam Brigades soldiers Hebrew and drugging Israeli soldiers during military confrontations. Several assassination attempts have been made on his life, including repeated bombing of his home on several occasions. He has been known to change his locations and never stay in one place for long.
More recently, al-Attar is a member of the higher military council of Qassam Brigades and was the Rafah Division commander. He was also one of the founders of Hamas’ elite commando unit, Nukhba.
He is best known within Gaza as the architect behind the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and kept Shalit in a secret place for five years in Gaza.
In a video showing al-Attar walking beside Shalit on the day the exchange deal happened, Israeli TV channel 2 said al-Attar was “sharp looking, quiet and ready to deal with any emergency, his eyes filled with determination and is wearing very modern clothes.”
During the recent conflict, Israeli intelligence have accused al-Attar of knowing the whereabouts of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin who was reportedly captured by Hamas during recent fighting and has been reported to be dead. As the commander of Rafah, al-Attar has also been accused of supplying weapons to Hamas through the smuggling tunnels underneath the border town.
He was married and a father of two children.
Head of the Southern Division commander, Mohammed Abu-Shamalah is one of the most senior leaders in southern Gaza Strip and was in charge of overseeing the Rafah and Khan Younis area.
Born in 1973 in Rafah and married with five children, Abu-Shamalah is believed to have been the successor to Hamas’ former second in command, Ahmed al-Jabari, killed during the eight-day Israeli offensive in November 2012. He is thought to be one of the founders of the Qassam Brigades and directs the fighting arm’s strategies.
In the First Intifada, between 1987 and 1991, Abu-Shamalah was involved in chasing down alleged Israeli collaborators and planning resistance operations in different parts of Gaza.
In 1999, Palestinian Authority have issued execution orders against both Al-Attar and Abu-Shamalah, but massive demonstrations held after the orders were released were attributed with stopping the executions.
Abu-Shamalah worked with Al-Attar on the Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
Abu-Shamalah has been on Israel’s most wanted list since 1991 and has survived previous assassination attempts. One of the most high-profile attempts occurred in 2004 when Israeli troops surrendered his home and bombed it with explosives. In 2012, Israeli warplanes bombed his home again. A third home which he built in 2014 bombed by F16 missiles few weeks ago.
A close friend to al-Attar and Abu-Shamalah, Barhoum was Rafah Division senior commander. In 1992, he left the occupied Palestinian territories after being chased by Israeli intelligence. He has continued to travel secretly between different Arab states, but he returned during the Second Intifada to re-join the Qassam brigades.
Born in 1970 and married, Barhoum is not well-known in Gaza, but was nicknamed “the gray-haired man”.