Hundreds of teachers arrested in Jordan
BBC News and The Times report on a record heatwave hitting cities across the Middle East. Iraq has been most affected by the heat as towns across the country saw temperatures of 50C every day this week. This comes as the country continues to deal with sectarian divisions and economic decline resulting from widespread corruption, putting even greater pressure on the country’s strained public resources. Electricity cuts across the country’s capital, Baghdad, has left people reliant on generators for fans and air conditioners, leading to widespread anger and renewed protests. According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, 20 people were killed by security forces in the protests.
The Times reports that hundreds of teachers have been arrested in Jordan after a government crackdown. Fearing a worsening economic situation and coronavirus lockdowns, police began arresting teachers and their union leaders, claiming that the protesters were detailed on suspicion of corruption and other criminal activity. The government said “the teachers’ union was threatening again to stage protests, sit-ins and strikes that harm the state’s essential services” but a human rights monitor said the arrests were politically motivated.
The Guardian reports that a food poisoning outbreak in Jordan has left over 800 people ill and killed a five-year-old boy. The government traced the outbreak to a shawarma restaurant north west of Amman, which had been offering a special meal offer. Healthy Ministry officials said the meat had been infected as it was not refrigerated, coinciding with a heatwave across the country of temperatures over 40C. Government officials added that 321 people were in hospital with four people in intensive care.
BBC News and The Guardian cover a report from Amnesty International which claims that Yazidi survivors of ISIS captivity have been left to fend for themselves and “effectively abandoned”. 2,000 children living in the Kurdish Regional Government area in Iraq continue to deal with lasting trauma and health implications and are in desperate need for long-term support.
Martin Chulov writes for The Guardian about Lebanon’s unravelling economy, where the “prices of most goods have nearly tripled and the value of the national currency is plummeting”.
Reuters reports that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz was released from hospital last night after undergoing surgery to remove his gallbladder earlier this week.
The Guardian reports that British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert will be granted a meeting with Australia’s Ambassador to Iran as soon as Sunday. This comes following reports that she was seriously unwell in prison, though state-run Mizan news agency reported that she was in “perfect health”.
The Independent reports that Turkey’s new social media law will lead to harsh censorship and further erode the ability to voice criticism. The new law requires social medial companies with more than 1 million local daily users to set up offices or hire a Turkish representative and store data inside the country or face fines up to 40 million Turkish lira (£4.4m). Additionally, social media companies will be required to respond to requests for content removal within 48 hours. There has been harsh domestic and international criticism of the law, with the International Press Institute warning it would “greatly expand digital censorship and threaten media freedom”.
The Economist examines Turkey’s growing influence across the Arab world, writing that in expanding its footprint, the country uses “force more than diplomacy”. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not appear to have an all-encompassing vision for the region, he is pursuing his country’s economic interests and is making good on his promise to “go and confront problems where they nest”.
All the Israeli media cover the various protests that took place last night. Yediot Ahronot reports around 2,000 people gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, and were joined by MK Moshe Yaalon, Yesh Atid -Telem, “who had pledged earlier this week to attend the protests in order to protect the demonstrators.” However, the protest was relatively calm compared to previous demonstrations. Also present were MKs Ofer Shelah Yesh Atid- Telem and Eli Avidar from Yisrael Beiteinu. Further south in Jerusalem, at the First Station compound, about 100 Beitar Jerusalem fans, members of the La Familia organisation, held a counter-demonstration supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu. They called out slogans against the left-wing organizations. Some of them attacked journalists associated with Channel 13 News. Kan Radio News reported that the police arrested 16 right wing protestors for disturbing public order, attacking demonstrators and attacking a policeman. In Tel Aviv, a few dozen people demonstrated outside the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana. They were protesting what they called government corruption and police violence.
All the Israeli media continue to cover the growing number of people with coronavirus. There are currently 26,080 people with coronavirus, with 8,280 of them confirmed ill this past week. There have been nine more fatalities taking the death toll to 503. According to the Health Ministry, one in every 11 tests for coronavirus was found to be positive on Thursday with 1,967 new cases confirmed. There are currently 328 people hospitalised in serious condition, 102 of them on ventilators. The partial weekend lockdown will go into effect this afternoon. There will be restrictions mainly on commerce until Sunday morning. Next week, the cabinet will discuss lifting weekend restrictions because of the Health Ministry’s position that they are not effective.
Israel Hayom reports that the number of infections of coronavirus in Iran has reached 301,530, according to official Health Ministry figures announced on state TV on Thursday. There were 226 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths from the pandemic to 16,569.
Maariv reports that the IDF remain on high alert in the north, “prepared to mount a significant response should Hezbollah carry out an attack on the border and harm IDF soldiers. However, the civilian routine is being maintained, and there are no restrictions on tourist sites in the area, given the assessment that the Lebanese terror organisation seeks to hit a military target rather than attack civilian targets.” The paper reflects on Monday’ incident and explains that the IDF has deliberately refrained from publicising photos of the equipment left behind by the Hezbollah fighters, and neither have they released the surveillance footage of the Hezbollah cell, which is several hours long. “This was done in an attempt to calm the situation on the ground. IDF officials assessed that the course of action chosen [by Israel]—to drive the cell back to Lebanon rather than killing its members—could give Hassan Nasrallah a way to climb down from his high horse, in the context of his commitment to retaliate for every Hezbollah member killed, including in Syria.”