Thursday, 22 November 2012

10 killed in Yemeni plane crash

AFP

TEHRAN IRAN has supplied military aid to the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza locked in a conflict with Israel during which it has fired missiles at Tel Aviv for the first time, the parliament speaker said on Wednesday.

“We are proud to defend the people of Palestine and Hamas ... and that our assistance to them has been both financial and military,” Ali Larijani said without elaborating, in remarks reported by parliament’s website, ICANA.ir.

Iran has never made a secret of its support for Israel’s foes Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip but generally eschews mention of sending military aid. The Jewish state has accused Iran of supplying Hamas with its Fajr 5 missile, used to target Tel Aviv since an Israeli offensive on Gaza was launched on November 14.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief General Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Wednesday that Tehran was only responsible for having shared the missile’s “technology.” Jafari said: “Iran provides technical assistance to all Muslims who fight against world arrogance,” a term used by Iranian officials to describe the West and Israel, the ISNA news agency reported.

The Fajr 5 missiles launched at Tel Aviv “have not been delivered from Iran, but their technology has,” Jafari said, adding that the missiles were being “rapidly produced” in Gaza.

17 killed in Israeli offensive on Gaza as blast hits Tel Aviv

AFP

TEL AVIV A BLAST ripped through a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday injuring 17 people in what Israel said was a terrorist attack, further vexing international efforts to end relentless violence in and around Gaza.

The attack came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN chief Ban Kimoon shuttled between Jerusalem and Ramallah trying to secure a halt to the week-long conflict in which 147 Palestinians and five Israelis have died.

In the Israeli offensive on Gaza on Wednesday, 17 people were killed including a child who died when the tower housing AFP’s office was struck for the second time in 24 hours.

Soon after the bus blast, Israel launched fresh air strikes on Gaza City, killing six Palestinians in attacks which raised the day’s toll to 10, medics said.

One of the strikes hit the building housing AFP’s Gaza City offices for the second time in 24 hours, killing a toddler in the block next door, a health ministry spokesman said.

No AFP journalists were in the building at the time.

The strike came shortly after the Tel Aviv blast, which occurred very close to the Israeli defence ministry, the Kiriya.

“A bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv. This was a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his official Twitter account.

Of the 17 wounded, one was in moderate to serious condition while another three sustained moderate injuries, Israel’s emergency services said.

Television images showed the bus with its windows blown out and its metal frame contorted from the force of the blast, in images reminiscent of scenes from the second Palestinian intifada, from 2000 to 2005.

Condemnation poured in from around the world, with Washington branding it a “terrorist attack,” and Moscow denouncing it as a “criminal terrorist act.” France and Germany meanwhile both called for an urgent and lasting ceasefire to end the bloodshed.

Just before the explosion, the UN chief had called for an immediate halt to militant rocket attacks on Israel after talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“I reiterate my call for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israeli populated centres.

This is unacceptable,” Ban told a news conference.

“Now is the time for diplomacy and stopping the violence,” he said after a week of deadly Israeli air strikes on Gaza which have killed more than 145, as militants fired more than 1,300 rockets over the border, killing five Israelis.

Abbas had earlier held talks with Clinton, with a senior official saying he had expressed hope that a truce would be announced by the end of Wednesday, while the US diplomat was still in the region.

“The secretary of state assured president Abbas that the United States has done everything possible to reach a ceasefire,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

Syrian army repels rebel attack, 25 killed

AFP

BEIRUT SYRIA’S army repelled a rebel attack on Wednesday on a military base at Sheikh Suleiman, 25 kilometres northwest of the city of Aleppo, and killed at least 25 insurgents, a watchdog said.

Rebel fighters have besieged the base for several weeks, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They have now been forced to pull back as forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad win back ground in northwest Syria.

At least 25 rebel fighters were killed, said the Britain-based monitoring group, citing rebels.

The area was mined and came under aerial bombardment, it said.

Rebels seized the strategically located Base 46 late last week, according to the monitoring group. The base is a large military complex perched on a hill, and is also located near Syria’s second city Aleppo.

Base 46 was one of the army’s last remaining bases in the area bordering Turkey, which supports the revolt against Assad.

Rebels had aimed to expel the army from Sheikh Suleiman, as they edge towards declaring the “liberation” from regime hands of northwestern Syria.

In violence in the capital on Tuesday, a mortar shell smashed into an upmarket district that houses several embassies, killing one person and injuring several others, the Observatory and Syria’s official media said.

The blast in Abu Rummaneh marked the first time the wealthy district has been targeted since the March 2011 outbreak of the revolt against the regime.

Pro-government Al Watan daily also reported the attack, saying “a mortar shell fell near the Madfaa garden in the district of Abu Rummaneh, causing casualties.” It did not elaborate.

On Wednesday, the army shelled the southern belt of Damascus and the town of Daraya southwest of the capital, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers to compile and verify its data.

The group added that helicopters and warplanes were deployed over the Eastern Ghouta area as the army launched new operations to retake control of areas of Damascus province from the rebel Free Syrian Army.

At least 39,000 people have been killed across Syria since the outbreak of the revolt, according to the watchdog.

Al-Jazeera’s Cairo office attacked

REUTERS

CAIRO A STUDIO used by the Al-Jazeera TV network in Cairo was set on fire on Wednesday in an attack that an employee said was carried out by a mob that had been chanting slogans against the Qatari-owned station.

The studio overlooks Tahrir Square and is located near the scene of violent clashes between youths and the security forces this week in which dozens of people have been injured. Those confrontations grew out of protests to mark the first anniversary of lethal street battles in the same area.

The first-floor office used by Al- Jazeera Mubasher Misr, a station set up after the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, was badly damaged by fire.

The studio’s windows were smashed and two empty bottles, which had apparently been converted into fire bombs, were found inside the office.

The Interior Ministry described the perpetrators as “trouble makers” who had attacked police officers when they had arrived to investigate.

Hamas, Israël afspreken wapenstilstand; tol 160

QNA & agencies

CAIRO Israel about a truce adopted HAMASand force on Wednesday night, ends a week of violence in and around the Gaza Strip that killed more than 160 people, Egypt and the United States said.

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Kamel Amr, speaking at a joint press conference in Cairo with us Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that the cessation of hostilities would begin at 1900 GMT.

"The United States welcomes the agreement for a ceasefire today. The next few days the United States will cooperate with partners in the region to consolidate this progress, "said Clinton.

Almost told 24 hours after a truce had expected to keep Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama he was ready to make the ceasefire a chance, but that "stronger action" would be needed if it is not, according to a statement from his Office.

Obama repeated his commitment to the security of Israel in turn and promised to search for resources for a common defence program, said the White House.

"A short time ago Netanyahu spoke with Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give a chance to an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and thus a chance for the stabilisation of the situation and a calming," said a statement. He won praise from Obama.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal In Cairo was due to address a press conference after the announcement, Hamas sources said.

Hope for a truce appeared to have been just hours earlier as vague a blast tore through a bus in Tel Aviv, 18 people wounded and sparks of panic and Israel hit back with deadly air strikes on Gaza City and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories.

The explosion in Tel Aviv is very close to the Ministry of defence of the Israeli occurred and was quickly denounced by Netanyahu's spokesman, who tweeted: "this was a terrorist attack".

Condemnation poured in, with Washington branding it "scandalous", denouncing it as a "criminal", Moscow and France and Germany demands an urgent and permanent truce in Gaza.

The chances of a ceasefire appeared dim only hours earlier, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon said after talks in Egypt with President Mohamed Morsi that there are still "a lot of details to work out".

"Everyone knows there are many details to work out, but as long as that happens, citizens continue to die and cities be directed. And that is why we need a cease-fire now, immediately, "he told reporters in Cairo.

Israel launched its offensive on 14 November with the targeted killing of a military leader of Hamas. Since then, Palestinians and five Israelis killed 148.

It came as Israel heads to general elections in January, and the specter of a broader military campaign along the lines of the Jewish State devastating 22-day operation launched at the end of December 2008.

Earlier in Doha Qatar Cabinet condemned the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip resulting in the deaths of and injuries to a large number of citizens.