Media Summary

Iran backed Houthi drone attack injures eight at Saudi airport

BBC News reports on the oil tanker Gulf Sky, which vanished off the waters of the UAE in July 2020. The ship later turned up in Iran where it has been suspected of operating as a ‘ghost ship’ transporting oil in violation of international sanctions. The article outlines the events that transpired leading to the disappearance and reappearance of the oil tanker. The crew has said they were held captive, adding: “Sometimes we felt that maybe they were going to kill us. We felt that we weren’t going to see our families again.”

The Guardian reports on a video leaked from Iran’s Evin prison that shows violent abuse of prisoners. Iranian authorities are investigating the six guards who were caught abusing the detainees. The six guards are facing criminal charged. A spokesman for the judiciary said: “The scenes shown in the published films were against the law and it is not justifiable under any circumstances.”

BBC News reports that an oil spill from a Syrian power plant is threatening the waters of the Mediterranean. Authorities in Cyprus are following the spill with great concern, noting that the spill could soon reach the shores of the country. Reports also indicate that the spill is much larger than anticipated, spanning 1,000 square kilometres so far.

Reuters reports that Syrian pro-regime forces backed by Iran have stepped up an offensive operation against the Deraa al-Balad rebel enclave in the southwest of the country bordering Jordan and Israel. The Russian government reportedly presented a plan to halt the fighting, with rebel forces accepting it. Pro-regime forces have yet to decide whether they will accept the offer, which would involve Russian military police patrolling the area.

The Telegraph reports that a woman in Saudi Arabia was accidentally switched at birth 35 years ago and has now been given a pay-out of £386,000 for being brought up in a poor family. The woman was born in a government hospital in Mecca. A Saudi court ruled that she suffered moral and financial damages because she was raised in a “poorer family”.

The Associated Press reports that a drone equipped with a bomb injured eight people and damaged a civilian aircraft after detonating at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport. The monarchy has blamed the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen for the attack, adding it was the second such attack on the airport in the last 24 hours.

The Telegraph reports that a British member of the Islamic State’s ‘Beatles’ has changed his plea to guilty for charges relating to the capturing and beheading of Western hostages. According to documents filed in the United States, Alexanda Kotey’s change of plea means he could avoid trial by jury, which is set for January 2022.

The Associated Press reports that Israel’s government watchdog has criticised former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the State Comptroller, there were “failings in the process of making decisions and executing them”. The Associated Press also notes: “Netanyahu’s government did not adequately learn from its mistakes after the country’s first wave of infections in early 2020. It also said the administration did not properly address the pandemic’s impact on education, the economy and social welfare until June, three months after it began.”

The Independent reports that Israel is on the hunt for a crocodile which reportedly crossed the Jordanian border. The Jordanian army warned their Israeli counterparts that the crocodile was spotted in the Yarmouk River, a bordering river between the two countries.

The Associated Press reports that Israel has allowed truckloads of construction material into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. This marked an easing of a blockade which had been in place after the 11-day war in May. A Palestinian official confirmed that 30 truckloads of cement, 120 trucks of gravel, and 15 trucks of steel entered the Strip yesterday.

The Guardian writes about how the killing of Fatah critic Nizar Banat “has underlined the PA’s complicity with Israel and how far Mahmoud Abbas will go to crush dissent”. The paper notes that: “Public anger with the authority’s many failures is cresting. But rather than acknowledge any wrongdoing, the authority and Fatah appear to be doubling down on a playbook of repression and intimidation. In some respects, the authority has never been weaker, which gives its opponents hope – but it comes at a cost”.

All the Israeli press cover the beginning of the new school year today, following weeks of debate in Israel about when it should start. This comes as Israel has reported a record number of COVID-19 cases, with 11,000 confirmed cases on Tuesday. The previous record was set on January 18, with 10,118 cases. The Health Ministry reported that the infection rate stood at 7.5 per cent. However, the papers note that the number of patients hospitalised in serious condition remains stable despite the growing infection rate.

Writing in Yediot Ahronot Nadav Eyal argues, “Let’s make no mistake. The problem is not just the fact that more than 10,000 people tested positive [in one day]. The problem is also the relatively high percentage of tests that came back positive. The problem is the number of people in serious condition who were not counted as such because they are being treated at home or in geriatric facilities. The situation is very complex and unstable … if the R number rises by 0.2% because of the [high holidays] in September, Israel is likely to have 1,300 people hospitalised in serious condition. One senior political official recently said that if Israel has that many people hospitalised in serious condition, it may be forced to impose very severe restrictions and possibly even a lockdown.”

Maariv reports that while Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz objects to imposing further restrictions during the high holidays, “Health Ministry officials said that they would demand that new restrictions be imposed on the public unless the infection rate and the hospital rate were to drop”.

Kan Radio News report that 2.4 million students will begin the school year today. However, roughly 150,000 students in ‘red’ cities will begin the school year with remote learning, because Health Ministry guidelines require 70 per cent of a class to be vaccinated. Another 100,000 students across the country begin the year in quarantine.

Ynet reports that Khaled Al Jalahma, Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the ambassador saying, “We are looking forward to what will no doubt be a very productive tenure, advancing relations between our two countries.”

Ynet reports that the Israeli army has held a naval drill for the first time with the US 5th fleet in the Red Sead. The drills involved search and rescue scenarios and defensive manoeuvres in an area where maritime trading routs have been at risk. Brig Gen Daniel Hagari, the IDF Naval Commander, said the exercise “is the start of a cooperation that will grow to increase security and combat terrorism”.