Final UN humanitarian aid route into Syria set to be closed
The BBC and The Times write that US-led coalition forces have captured a senior leader of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in an overnight raid in northern Syria Wednesday. The man was “an experienced bomb maker and operational facilitator”, a coalition statement said. Officials told US media that he was named Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi. A monitoring group said troops were dropped by two helicopters in al-Humayra, close to the Turkish border in opposition-held Aleppo province. There were seven minutes of armed clashes between the troops and people inside the village before the helicopters flew off.
The Independent reports an exclusive that an independent review has found racial discrimination, bullying and white savourism is endemic within the award-winning human rights charity Amnesty International UK. Initial findings of Global HPO’s independent inquiry into the charity were published in April but now the scale of the organisation’s issues with race have been laid bare in their final report. Earlier this year, the group claimed that Israel was practicing Apartheid in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel itself.
Suffocating dust storms leave thousands of Iraqis gasping for air, says the Telegraph. Hospitals are filled with people struggling to breathe as experts warn of stronger and more frequent ‘dusty days’. The dust storms come yearly, in spring and summer, but their frequency is increasing due to chronic droughts. Iraq’s environmental ministry forecasts the country will experience 300 “dusty days” each year by 2050.
The Guardian reports that the last remaining UN humanitarian aid route into Syria is set to be shut down in a vote at the body’s security council next month, in what would be another casualty of the collapse in relations between the West and Russia. On 10 July the council is due to vote on whether to keep open the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey, which helps service rebel-held Idlib.
Also in The Guardian, Khalid Aljabri, the son of the exiled former senior Saudi intelligence officer Saad Aljabri says Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is “the equivalent of a presidential pardon for murder”.
More than half of all children in Gaza have contemplated suicide, while three out of five are self-harming after living 15 years under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, according to Save The Children in the Independent. In a new report entitled “Trapped”, the global rights group said their research showed that in total four out of five children in the besieged strip are living with depression, grief and fear, a significant increase from a similar survey taken just four years ago.
The political stalemate continues to dominate the Israeli news today. Israel Hayom notes that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid have agreed to fight to the very end for the continued survival of the government, despite the difficult position the coalition finds itself in. “So far all efforts to get MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) and Mazen Ghanaim (United Arab List) out of the Knesset in order to fill their seats with individuals who will support the government have failed, as have efforts to lure Nir Orbach (Yamina) back into the coalition. The alternatives for keeping the current, challenging coalition alive are even worse in Bennett’s eyes: another round of elections, or a right-wing government led by Netanyahu that would include MK Itamar Ben-Gvir. He is not prepared to say which of the two possibilities he would prefer if his government ceases to exist. Presumably, both are equally bad to Bennett.” The paper adds: “The only way to keep the Judea and Samaria ordinances in effect without a vote would be to dissolve the Knesset, but time is running out to do that.”
All the papers report that at least three Palestinian gunmen were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Jenin last night. The IDF said a Golani commando unit had entered Jenin to find weapons at two locations. The troops came under heavy fire during the operation and explosives were thrown at them when they reached the first destination. The troops returned fire. The soldiers spotted a suspicious vehicle on the side of the road while heading for the second destination. The soldiers came under gunfire from the car’s direction and then killed the gunmen. Two M-16s, a Carl Gustav, clips of ammunition, and body armour were found in the car. The IDF has elevated an alert for possible revenge attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and inside Israel.
Kan Radio reports the National Security Council has issued another exceptional advisory to Israelis in Istanbul. The council reiterated its call on Israelis to leave the city because terrorists intend to hurt Israelis. Those who stay in the city nevertheless are asked to keep up with the travel advisory, maintain contact with family in Israel, play down signs that they are Israelis, and avoid locations that are known to have large concentrations of Israelis, including restaurants, hotels, and leisure sites. The council also warned against listening to tempting offers and opportunities for business or tourism.
Ynet reports that the IDF outlined on Thursday its new strategy to secure the Gaza border after the calmest year in decades. In a briefing held by the southern command, IDF commanders estimated the beating Hamas had taken during the 11 days of fighting last May including substantial blows to its military wing, have led the Gaza rulers to certain conclusions. Hamas, senior IDF officers believe, opted to avoid further rounds of military conflict in the immediate aftermath of the war while the Israeli military was on high alert. They estimated that only by launching a surprise attack, in a period of relative calm, would the terror group achieve substantial gains. Yesterday the government approved entry for another 2,000 Palestinian merchants via the Erez crossing from Gaza, taking the total number to 14,000. The IDF says the move “is on the condition of the continued maintenance of security stability”.
Meanwhile, Channel 12 News reports that tens of thousands of Israelis have cancelled summer travel plans to Turkey in light of Israel’s travel advisory. Last night, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines informed Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov’s office that tens of thousands of people who had cancelled their travel plans would receive compensation.
Also in Israel Hayom, Palestinian officials are reportedly concerned that Israel-Saudi moves towards normalising diplomatic ties could leave Ramallah behind: “Fear is mounting in light of the reports that Israel and Saudi Arabia have grown significantly closer ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region on July 13. The leadership can’t stand the idea that Israel is promoting its ties with the Arab states before resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which constitutes a violation of the Arab peace initiative of 2002, which Saudi Arabia led and the Arab League adopted. They’re [the Palestinian leadership] afraid that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will leave the Palestinians behind.”
The Jerusalem Post follows revelation last night by the Wall Street Journal that Israel has coordinated with the US before some of the strikes it’s conducted in Syria in recent years. Similar to the deconfliction mechanism in which Israel and Russia coordinate on operations in Syria, the US and Israel have held secret coordination to ensure Israeli airstrikes do not interrupt the US-led coalition’s fight against ISIS. According to the report, for several years many of Israel’s operations in Syria have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at US Central Command (CENTCOM) and at the Pentagon.