RIYADH: Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf has called for closer GCC-Ukrainian ties, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
It came during the GCC secretary-general’s meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Anatolii Petrenko on Monday in Riyadh.
During the meeting, the two reviewed Gulf-Ukraine relations as well as regional and international developments.
The ambassador said the meeting was a “vital opportunity to discuss priorities of the Ukraine – GCC cooperation framework and to elaborate further joint efforts for the benefit of Ukraine and all Gulf countries.”
RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, including a man claimed by an armed group as a member, during a confrontation that erupted early Monday when troops entered a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said.
The two men were killed in the village of Kafr Dan near the northern city of Jenin. The Israeli military said it entered Kafr Dan late Sunday to demolish the houses of two Palestinian gunmen who killed an Israeli soldier during a firefight in September.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified those killed as Samer Houshiyeh, 21, and Fouad Abed, 25. Houshiyeh was shot several times in the chest, according to Samer Attiyeh, the director of the Ibn Sina Hosipital in Jenin. Attiyeh initially said Abed was 17, but the ministry later gave his age as 25.
An armed group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, later claimed Houshiyeh as a member. The group, an offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, published an older photo in which Houshiyeh had posted with rifles. Video on social media showed his body wrapped with the armed group’s flag as his mother and other mourners bid farewell.
The year 2022 was the deadliest in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 2006. The Israeli military conducted near-daily raids into Palestinian cities and towns last year, killing more than 150 Palestinians. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek those territories for a future state.
DUBAI: Kuwaiti authorities have foiled attempts to smuggle drugs into the country, state news agency KUNA reported.
The prohibited substances were 1.2 million Captagon pills, 250kg of hashish and 104kg of crystal meth which, based on the 2019 price report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, had a street value of at least $14.5 million.
The Gulf country has been active in its campaign against the smuggling, sale, and use of illegal substances, with smugglers attempting to bring in the narcotics by air, land, and sea.
JERUSALEM: The tourism minister of Israel’s new hard-line government on Sunday promised to invest in developing the West Bank, calling the occupied area “our local Tuscany.”
Haim Katz made the comments days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government took office, promising in its coalition guidelines to make West Bank settlement construction a top priority. His coalition includes far-right settler leaders in top posts.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built dozens of settlements that are now home to roughly 500,000 Israelis.
The Palestinians claim the entire area as part of a future independent state and consider the settlements illegal — a position that is widely shared by the international community. Israel’s commitment to deepening its control of the West Bank has threatened to put it on a collision course with some of its closest allies.
At a ceremony Sunday, Katz said he would channel resources to promote tourism in the West Bank. “We will invest in areas that may not have received sufficient support to date,” he said. “For example, our local Tuscany in Judea and Samaria,” he added, using the biblical term for the West Bank favored by religious and right-wing Israelis.
The West Bank settler community has developed a small tourism sector that includes hotels, bed and breakfasts and wineries. Israel considers these industries to be part of the country’s broader tourism sector, while international human rights groups have said they deepen control of occupied territory.
Airbnb in 2018 said it would bar listings in the Israeli settlements, but it quickly backed down under heavy Israeli pressure. Last year, Booking.com said it was adding warnings to its listings there.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly asked the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu called the resolution “disgraceful” and said Israel is not obligated to cooperate with the International Court of Justice.
BEIRUT: Israel’s military fired missiles toward the international airport of Syria’s capital early Monday, putting it out of service and killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the Syrian army said.
The attack, the second in seven months to put the Damascus International Airport out of service, caused material damage in a nearby area, the army said, without giving further details.
Israel has targeted airports and ports in government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent arms shipments from Iran to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
An opposition war monitor reported the Israeli strikes hit the airport as well as an arms depot close to the facility south of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people were killed in the strike.
There was no comment from Israel.
On June 10, Israeli airstrikes that struck Damascus International Airport caused significant damage to infrastructure and runways. It reopened two weeks later after repairs.
In September, Israeli airstrikes hit the international airport of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest and once commercial center, also putting it out of service for days.
In late 2021, Israeli warplanes fired missiles that struck the port of Latakia hitting containers and igniting a huge fire.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Thousands of Iran-backed fighters have joined Syria’s 11-year civil war and helped tip the balance of power in Assad’s favor.
Israel says an Iranian presence on its northern frontier is a red line that justifies its strikes on facilities and weapons inside Syria.
AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s leader has promised to liberate his country from the Houthis, pay public wages and restore deteriorating public services in his new year message.
“Your armed and security forces, popular resistance, and patriotic alignment will remain our exemplar for restoring the state, putting a stop to the coup, and defending the republican system,” said Rashad Al-Alimi, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, in a message on Twitter.
He said that the council, with the assistance of the Arab coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will prioritize promoting harmony and collaboration between diverse Yemeni forces to restore peace to Yemen.
Al-Alimi went back on a previous statement that his government would be unable to pay government salaries due to Houthi assaults on oil infrastructure, and reassured the public that the council would attempt to secure regular salary payments.
“We reiterate our resolve to continue our efforts to relieve the suffering caused by the terrorist Houthi militia supported by Iran, including the regular payment of wages to civil and military personnel, diplomatic missions, and state-funded students in compliance with comprehensive government reforms.”
The eight-member presidential council came to power in April when former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stepped down.
Yemenis say that previous guarantees by the Yemeni government and the presidential council have not resulted in any changes on the ground in the freed provinces, as they continue to complain about rising costs, a depreciating currency, and severe and worsening power cuts.
The Yemeni riyal began the new year falling further against the dollar, extending a week of declines against other currencies for the first time in many months.
Traders said on Sunday that the Yemeni riyal was trading at 1,230 per dollar, down from 1,200 last week, following an official announcement on a full stop to oil shipments, the country’s principal source of income.
Unlike past years during winter, Al-Mukalla, Aden, and other government-controlled cities have experienced long periods without power.
Public workers say that their wages have not increased since 2011 and have lost 200 percent of their worth owing to the fast depreciation of the riyal and rising inflation.
Meanwhile, on the first day of the new year, fighting subsided in Taiz, Hodeidah, Marib and other provinces.
The calm came almost two days after fierce fighting between government forces and the Houthis in the southern province of Dhale left scores of combatants dead or injured on one of the worst days since the breakdown of the UN-brokered truce in October.
Separately, a Houthi-run court in Sanaa condemned three teachers from the province of Mahwet to death on espionage accusations on Saturday, the latest in a series of death sentences against hundreds of people.
Abdul Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni defense lawyer based in Sanaa, told Arab News on Sunday that his clients who were abducted in 2015 from their home province Mahwet for allegedly collaborating with the Yemeni government and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.
They were sentenced in the capital’s Specialized Criminal Court.
Last month, a Houthi court sentenced 16 Yemenis to death for collaborating with the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the militia’s Yemeni adversaries.
The escalation in death sentences has been seen by Yemeni observers as a means of intimidating the population in Houthi-controlled areas, where discontent is rising due to the militia’s failure to pay public employees and its savage crackdown on the media and dissidents.