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Israeli strikes kill 42, topple buildings in Gaza City; toll 188, including 55 children and 33 women

(Asian News Hub) – Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people Sunday, medics said, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza would continue despite international efforts to broker a cease fire.

In a televised address, Netanyahu said Sunday evening the attacks were continuing at “full-force” and will “take time.“ Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, he said.

The violence marked the worst fighting here since the devastating 2014 war in Gaza.

The airstrikes Sunday hit a busy downtown street of residential buildings and storefronts over the course of five minutes just after midnight, destroying two adjacent buildings and one about 50 yards (meters) down the road.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 16 women and 10 children were among those killed, with more than 50 people wounded, and rescue efforts are still underway.

Earlier, the Israeli military said it destroyed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yahiyeh Sinwar, in a separate strike in the southern town of Khan Younis. It was the third such attack in the last two days on the homes of senior Hamas leaders, who have gone underground.

Israel appears to have stepped up strikes in recent days to inflict as much damage as possible on Hamas as international mediators work to end the fighting. But targeting the group’s leaders could hinder those efforts. A U.S. diplomat is in the region to try to de-escalate tensions, and the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Sunday.

In its airstrikes, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they contain Hamas military infrastructure. Among them was the building housing The Associated Press office and those of other media outlets.

The latest outbreak of violence began in east Jerusalem last month, when Palestinian protests and clashes with police broke out in response to Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers. A focal point of clashes was the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint that is located on a hilltop compound that is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on impoverished Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property. The violence also sparked pro-Palestinian protests in cities across Europe and the United States, with French police firing tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators in Paris.

At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded. Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.

The military said Sunday it struck Sinwar’s home and that of his brother Muhammad, another senior Hamas member. On Saturday it destroyed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch.

Hamas’ upper echelon has gone into hiding in Gaza, and it is unlikely any were at home at the time of the strikes. Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, divides his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which provide political support to the group.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have acknowledged 20 fighters killed since the fighting broke out Monday. Israel says the real number is far higher and has released the names and photos of two dozen alleged operatives it says were “eliminated.”

AP

Middle East

Iran’s President-elect Raisi vows to do his best to solve people’s living problems

(Asian News Hub) – Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that the new government will make every effort to solve the country’s problems, particularly the living problems of the people.

He made the remarks speaking to reporters after a meeting with Iranian Parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Qalibaf went to congratulate Raisi on Saturday after preliminary results of the Friday election showed that Raisi was so far ahead of his rivals that left no doubt that he will be the next Iranian president after Hassan Rouhani leaves office in early August.   

Raisi said that he will consult with the Iranian parliament speaker and other Members of Parliament, as well as all experts, to form a government which could maintain the trust of the people.  

Raisi also told reporters after a meeting with President Rouhani that he will make use of the experiences of the incumbent government.

The president-elect expressed hope that his government will be able to carry out the heavy burden of the duty that the people placed on his shoulder.

IRNA

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Middle East

Al-Hassan: The best young volunteer in the Middle East

(Asian News Hub) – Al-Hassan Al-Fakih, has done different types of volunteer work year after year. Actually, he has become the first person in the world to provide humanitarian aid to a thousand people through humanitarian initiatives and campaigns, community service initiatives, initiatives to prepare and qualify university students, educational initiatives in remote areas, and initiatives to reconstruct damaged houses.

Al-Hassan has around seven thousand hours of volunteer work under his belt, and his passion to help others led him to do amazing things! He started by launching the Yadan Biyad “Hand in Hand” initiative which aimed at reconstructing damaged houses in remote areas in Yemen and Jordan. This initiative helped reconstruct fifty houses, and also distributed two hundred school bags to two hundred less fortunate students aged between four and seven.

Al-Hassan, twenty-one years old, also established a youth foundation in 2019 which aimed at preparing university students for the labor market. The foundation actually held various workshops to train, empower, qualify, and prepare around 180 university students for life after graduation.

All that was not enough for Alhassan! Therefore, he established the Intilaqat Khair (Spread of Goodness) initiative in Yemen to support families affected by war in remote areas there. This initiative managed to hand out around three hundred food parcels to three hundred families in different governorates of Yemen, and it also helped twenty needy people there to find jobs!

Alhassan Al-Fakih is the first person in the Middle East to provide humanitarian aid to a thousand people through seven thousand hours of volunteer work!

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Middle East

Saudi Arabia says Hajj to be limited to 60,000 in kingdom

(Asian News Hub) – Saudi Arabia announced Saturday this year’s hajj pilgrimage will be limited to no more than 60,000 people, all of them from within the kingdom, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement by the kingdom comes after it ran an incredibly pared-down pilgrimage last year over the virus, but still allowed a small number of the faithful to take part in the annual ceremony.

A statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted the kingdom’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry making the announcement. It said this year’s hajj, which will begin in mid-July, will be limited to those ages 18 to 65.

Those taking part must be vaccinated as well, the ministry said.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is honored to host pilgrims every year, confirms that this arrangement comes out of its constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries,” the statement said.

In last year’s hajj, as few as 1,000 people already residing in Saudi Arabia were selected to take part in the hajj. Two-thirds were foreign residents from among the 160 different nationalities that would have normally been represented at the hajj. One-third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.

Each year, up to 2 million Muslims perform the hajj, a physically demanding and often costly pilgrimage that draws the faithful from around the world. The hajj, required of all able-bodied Muslims to perform once in their lifetime, is seen as a chance to wipe clean past sins and bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims.

The kingdom’s Al Saud ruling family stakes its legitimacy in this oil-rich nation on overseeing and protecting the hajj sites. Ensuring the hajj happens has been a priority for them.

Disease outbreaks have always been a concern surrounding the hajj. Pilgrims fought off a malaria outbreak in 632, cholera in 1821 killed an estimated 20,000, and another cholera outbreak in 1865 killed 15,000 before spreading worldwide.

More recently, Saudi Arabia faced danger from a different coronavirus, one that causes the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The kingdom increased its public health measures during the hajj in 2012 and 2013, urging the sick and the elderly not to take part.

In recent years, Saudi officials also instituted bans on pilgrims coming from countries affected by the Ebola virus.

Saudi Arabia had closed its borders for months to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus. Since the start of the pandemic, the kingdom has reported over 462,000 cases of the virus with 7,500 deaths. It has administered some 15.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, according to the World Health Organization. The kingdom is home to over 30 million people.

AP

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