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MIDEAST

5

WWW.

SAUDIGAZETTE

.COM.SA

TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2018

Israeli army

abducts ten

Palestinians

in West Bank

TULKAREM —

Israeli soldiers

abducted, earlier Monday, at

least ten Palestinians, including

two children, and summoned one

for interrogation, after invading

and searching many homes in the

occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Prisoners’

Society (PPS) has reported that

the soldiers searched homes in

Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethle-

hem, and abducted two children,

identified as Yazan Mahmoud

Taqatqa, 15, and Mofeed Moham-

mad Taqatqa, 14.

The PPS added that the sol-

diers also abducted Bara’ Riyad,

Mojahed Harm Ad-Dali and

Qassem Jamal Hmeidan, from

their homes on Biddu and Qotna

towns, northeast of occupied

Jerusalem. The soldiers also

searched homes in Ramallah, in

central West Bank, and abducted

Omar Ladadweh, Yousef Oleyyan

and Zohdi Al-Khawaja.

In occupied Jerusalem, the

soldiers abducted a student of

the Al-Aqsa School, in the Al-Aq-

sa Mosque compound, and took

him to an unknown destination.

In Tulkarem, in northern

West Bank, the soldiers invaded

homes and searched them, be-

fore abducting a former political

prisoner, identified as Salaheddin

Awni Abdul-Ghani.

In Hebron, in southern West

Bank, the soldiers broke into and

searched many homes in several

neighborhoods, and summoned

Midhat Al-Juneidi for question-

ing in Etzion military base, north

of Hebron.

— Agencies

Two dead as migrant boat sinks off Turkish coast

ISTANBUL —

Two migrants

including a child died after their

boat sank off Turkey’s western

coast on Monday, the Turkish

coastguard said, adding that a

search was underway to find 10

others.

The coastguard said it res-

cued one migrant after two oth-

ers swam to shore not far from

the coastal town of Dikili in Izmir

province.

Initial testimonies from the

survivors revealed that the boat

was carrying 15 migrants — 14 Af-

ghans and one Iranian, the coast-

guard said in a statement.

The search found two bodies,

one that of a child. Another child

was believed to be on board.

Separately, Turkish security

forces rounded up 73 illegal mi-

grants including Iraqis, Iranians,

Afghans and Pakistanis in the

northwestern Turkish province

of Kirklareli, the state-run An-

adolu news agency reported on

Monday.

The migrants were trying

to reach Europe, it added. The

Kirklareli region is on the border

with Bulgaria.

Turkey has been a main tran-

sition route for migrants trying

to get to Europe, especially since

the start of the Syrian conflict

in 2011. Turkey hosts more than

three million Syrian refugees and

up to 300,000 Iraqis.

The number of migrants

coming to Europe has declined

since the influx hit a peak in 2015

when more than a million people

landed in Greece from Turkey,

mainly via boats.

— AFP

Gaza border quiet after

botched Israeli operation

GAZA —

The Israel-Gaza bor-

der fell quiet on Monday after

a botched Israeli undercover

operation in the Gaza Strip led

to fighting that killed a Hamas

commander, six other Palestinian

militants and an Israeli colonel.

Palestinians fired 17 rockets

into southern Israel late on Sun-

day in response to the incursion

and airstrikes, which Hamas, the

dominant armed group in Gaza,

said were intended to cover the

retreat of a car used by the Israeli

troops.

There were no reports of

injuries or damage in Israel, but

the military said a lieutenant-

colonel, identified only as “M”,

had been killed in the raid and

another officer wounded.

Hamas said the Israeli ac-

tions dealt a blow to Egyptian,

Qatari and UN efforts to broker a

long-term ceasefire between the

Palestinian group and Israel and

ease an Israeli blockade that has

deepened economic hardship in

Gaza.

But neither side appeared ea-

ger to pursue broader conflict.

Hamas received $15 million in

Qatari-donated cash via Israel on

Friday to pay for civil servants’

salaries and fuel to address Ga-

za’s energy crisis.

No new rocket launches were

reported on Monday morning.

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car that was destroyed

following an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip,

Monday.

— AFP

UN’s envoy for Libya wants election by June

By Ulf Laessing

and

Ayat Basma

PALERMO, Italy —

The UN

envoy for Libya hopes anoth-

er attempt to hold an election

will take place by June after he

scrapped a December plan, but

said Libyans should first use a

national conference in early 2019

to decide on the poll’s format.

UN Special Envoy Ghassan

Salame decided to abandon a

plan to hold elections on Dec. 10

after a spike in violence in Libya,

which has been gripped by con-

flict and paralyzed by political

deadlock since the overthrow of

Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Salame was speaking to Re-

uters before the start of a con-

ference in Palermo organized by

Rome with the aim of pushing

forward a new UN plan. Salame

said last week this plan would

include an election in the spring,

without elaborating.

At Monday’s interview, the

envoy said this meant the vote

would be held between late

March and late June, but that the

format of the poll would depend

on what was decided at the na-

tional conference scheduled for

early 2019.

“We want to ask at the na-

tional conference what type of

election do you want, parliamen-

tary or presidential, and what

kind of law,” Salame said.

The envoy said the national

conference should “preferably”

take place on Libyan soil. He said

surveys had shown that 80 per-

cent of Libyans want elections to

end the stalemate between Lib-

ya’s rival administrations, both

of which are backed by armed

groups. Salame said he hoped

the Palermo conference would

put pressure on Libya’s interna-

tionally recognized parliament,

the House of Representatives

(HOR), which has refused to ap-

prove an election law.

“The HOR has been sterile,

has produced no law ... I think we

need wider representation of the

Libyans,” he said.

Salame also called on the

central bank to unify the ex-

change rate of the dinar to the

dollar to prevent armed groups

with access to cheap dollars from

selling them on the black market

at a premium.

Libya had introduced a fee

on hard currency transactions

which had helped to lower the

spread between official and black

market rate but a unified rate was

needed.

“We applaud the results ...

we want this exchange rate to go

even lower,” he said.

— Reuters

UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame speaks during an interview with

Reuters ahead of the first day of the international conference on Libya, in

Palermo, Italy, Monday.

— Reuters

Turkey to seal

borders with

sensors, walls

and cameras

AFYONKARAHISAR, Turkey —

Tur-

key’s eastern and southern borders will be

sealed with cameras, sensors and walls as

a precaution against terror, drug trafficking

and irregular migration, the interior minis-

ter said on Monday.

Suleyman Soylu’s remarks came at the

academic year opening ceremony of Af-

yon Kocatepe University in western Afyon

province. “All of our eastern and southern

borders are being sealed with cameras,

sensors, and walls in order to prevent ter-

rorist infiltration, drug trafficking, and ir-

regular migrants to Turkey,” Soylu said.

Soylu said that Turkey “will be able to

have the technology to monitor the Aegean

Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea in

2-3 years with cameras and radar systems.”

With the help of state-backed housing

developer TOKI and the governorates of

the border provinces, Turkey already com-

pleted the construction of a 764-km con-

crete wall along its border with Syria on

June 9.

Ankara had launched the construction

project in 2015 to build an 826-km wall on

the Syrian border, as part of Turkey’s mea-

sures to increase border security and com-

bat smuggling and illegal border-crossings.

The wall was sealed along Turkey’s

border provinces of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep,

Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Sirnak.

Soylu said terrorism was being sup-

ported by European countries and pointed

to European equipment, drugs and guns

seized during counter-terrorism opera-

tions in Turkey’s southeastern regions.

“We have found drug pills produced in

Europe filled in barrels which are ready for

shipment and brand new European-made

guns in unopened boxes in the caves which

you will not be able to find or reach even if

I give you money, vehicle, map and equip-

ment to go,” Soylu said.

— Agencies

4 get death

in Bahrain

for bombing

that killed a

policeman

DUBAI —

Bahrain’s top crimi-

nal court on Monday sentenced

four Shiites to death for a 2017

bombing that killed a policeman

in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a ju-

dicial official and the public pros-

ecutor said.

A statement by the prosecu-

tor’s office said the four were

found guilty on charges of pre-

meditated murder and posses-

sion of unlicensed arms “with

terrorist aims” over the June 18,

2017 bombing.

A police officer was killed in

the blast in Diraz, a flashpoint vil-

lage outside the capital Manama.

A judicial source involved in

the case, who spoke on condi-

tion of anonymity, said all four of

those sentenced were Shiites.

Only one of them is in cus-

tody, according to the London-

based Bahrain Institute for

Rights and Democracy, which

said the three others were tried

in absentia.

Bahrain has been hit by

waves of unrest since 2011, when

security forces crushed protests

led by majority Shiites demand-

ing an elected prime minister.

Authorities have since jailed

hundreds of dissidents and

stripped many of citizenship,

banning all opposition groups

under court orders.

Diraz in particular has been

rocked by protests, police raids,

riots and sporadic bombings.

The village is home to Bah-

rain’s top Shiite cleric, Sheikh

Isa Qassim, who was stripped of

citizenship in 2016 and is under

house arrest.

Bahrain accuses Shiite Iran of

provoking unrest in the kingdom,

which Tehran denies.

Monday’s verdict comes

ahead of the parliamentary elec-

tions that Bahrain’s King Hamad

has called for Nov. 24 in the key

US ally, which is home to the US

Fifth Fleet and a permanent Brit-

ish military base.

— AFP

A militant of the Al-Nasser Saladin Brigades takes part in the funeral of

Palestinian Khaled Qwaider, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike,in Khan

Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

— Reuters

Syrian fighters resume anti-Daesh offensive

BEIRUT —

US-backed Syrian

fighters resumed their ground of-

fensive Sunday against Daesh (the

so-called IS) group in the last ter-

ritories controlled by the extrem-

ists in eastern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces

said in a statement that the deci-

sion to resume the fighting came

after threats from Turkey against

the Kurdish-led force dropped

due to diplomatic activities.

The SDF said in late October

it was temporarily suspending its

campaign against IS in the eastern

province of Deir El-Zour, accus-

ing Turkey of jeopardizing its ef-

forts.

The group said that the aim of

the renewed operation that began

two months ago is “to work for

the final defeat of Daesh organiza-

tion.” Turkey considers the SDF

a terror threat and an extension

of Kurdish rebels waging an in-

surgency within Turkey. US sup-

port for the Kurdish-led forces

has resulted in increased tension

between Washington and Ankara.

Last month, in a spike in ten-

sions, Turkey said its military

shelled Kurdish positions across

the border in Syria, east of the Eu-

Turkish and US troops are pictured during a joint patrol in Manbij area, northern Syria, last week.

— Reuters

n

Seven Palestinians and an Israeli officer killed

n

Flare-up comes amid int’l ceasefire push

Violence has flared regularly

along the Israel-Gaza border since

Palestinians began protests there

on March 30 to demand rights to

land lost to Israel in the 1948 war

of its creation.

Israeli gunfire has killed more

than 220 Palestinians since the

start of the demonstrations, which

have included breaches of Israel’s

border fence.

Hamas said that during Sun-

day’s fighting, assailants in a pass-

ing vehicle opened fire on a group

of its armed men, killing one of its

local commanders, Nour Baraka.

A pursuit ensued and witness-

es said Israeli aircraft fired more

than 40 missiles into the area. Pal-

estinian officials said that in addi-

tion to Baraka, five other Hamas

men and a member of the Popu-

lar Resistance Committees were

killed. In an apparent attempt to

defuse tensions, Israel’s chief mil-

itary spokesman said the special

forces had not been dispatched to

assassinate Hamas commanders,

a tactic that led to wider conflict

in the past and which has largely

been abandoned.

The spokesman, Brig.-Gen.

Ronen Manelis, told Army Radio

that covert missions were mount-

ed frequently, comments that sug-

gested the Israeli force may have

been gathering intelligence.

“During the operation, it

found itself in a very complex

situation, faced by enemy forces.

The (Israeli) force, including Lt.

Col. M., kept its cool, returned fire

and evacuated itself together with

the (help of the) air force back

into Israel,” Manelis said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benja-

min Netanyahu cut short a visit

to Paris, where he attended World

War One commemorations with

other world leaders.

He returned home early Mon-

day.

— Reuters

phrates River. Since SDF suspend-

ed operations, Daesh has launched

several offensives that have left

scores of US-backed fighters dead

or wounded.

Despite the cessation of

ground operations, the US-led co-

alition continued with its airstrikes

against the extremist group.

The SDF said its fighters cap-

tured a senior Daesh commander

in the northern city of Raqqa

which until last year was the de

facto capital of the extremists.

“This shows that the organi-

zation still has roots and sleeper

cells in liberated areas,” it said.

Agencies