Live updates | Israel rebuffs US push for humanitarian pause, says hostages must be released first
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected U.S. calls for a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war, telling U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday “we are going full steam ahead,” unless the hostages held by Hamas are released.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader urges Muslims to 'punish' Quran desecrators if governments fail to do so
The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says that if governments of Muslim-majority nations do not act against countries that allow desecration of the Quran, Muslims should “punish” those who facilitate attacks on Islam's holy book.
Amid crisis, Hezbollah 'bank' a lifeline for some Lebanese
As more Lebanese fall into poverty in the country's economic crisis, increasing numbers are turning to the financial arm of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group for help. He could still pull out the dollars in his account at the al-Qard al-Hasan Association, the financial arm of the militant Hezbollah group. Stepping in where the state and financial institutions have failed, Hezbollah is providing a vital lifeline for some Lebanese. Over the past year, the al-Qard al-Hasan association has seen a significant increase in clients, despite it being under U.S. Treasury sanctions since 2007. That has proven a boon for the al-Qard al-Hasan association, as some turned to it as an alternative to store their cash.
Lebanon, Israel begin indirect talks over maritime border
U.N. peacekeeping military vehicles enter the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Lebanon and Israel are to begin Wednesday indirect talks over the disputed maritime border between the two countries in the presence of American officials who are mediating between the Middle Eastern nations. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)NAQOURA – Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks on Wednesday over their disputed maritime border, with American officials mediating the talks that both sides insist are purely technical and not a sign of any normalization of ties. The U.S.-mediated talks began at a U.N. post along the border known as Ras Naqoura, on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Naqoura. Israel and Lebanon also held indirect negotiations in the 1990s, when Arab states and Israel worked on peace agreements.
Israeli navy prepares for arrival of new upgraded warships
An Israeli soldier fires on board the Israeli Navy Ship Lahav during a rare tour of Israel's offshore Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The natural gas industry, seen as a national asset, is at the heart of those efforts. With so much at stake, Hezbollah has identified Israeli gas installations as high-priority targets. During a monthlong war in 2006, a Hezbollah cruise-missile strike on an Israeli “Saar 5” warship killed four soldiers. Netanyahu, who is on trial in three other corruption cases, was not named as a suspect in the scandal and no one active in the Israeli navy has been connected.
Diplomat tapped to be PM in crisis-hit Lebanon
BEIRUT A Lebanese diplomat was appointed to form a new government in crisis-hit Lebanon on Monday after winning the backing of major political parties. Lebanon's president is holding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to designate a new prime minister for the crisis-stricken country, with a career diplomat poised to win the job Monday. Macron and other world leaders as well as the International Monetary Fund have refused to give assistance to Lebanon before its leaders enact major reforms. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri emerged from his meeting with Aoun on Monday, telling reporters his 18-member bloc had given its backing to Adib. Adib, who has been Lebanons ambassador to Germany since 2013, served as an advisor to one of Lebanons former Prime Ministers, Najib Mikati.
UN-backed court to deliver verdicts in Hariri assassination
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, shows an exterior view of the Special Tribunal for the assassination of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Leidschendam, Netherlands. Hariri was Lebanons most prominent Sunni politician at the time of his Feb. 14, 2005, assassination, while the Iran-backed Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group. The trial centered on the alleged roles of four Hezbollah members in the suicide truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and wounded 226 people. Initially, five suspects were tried, all of them Hezbollah members. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah last week insisted on the innocence of the suspects regardless of the verdicts.
UN-backed court to issue verdicts in Lebanon's Hariri case
Unlike the blast that killed Hariri and 21 others on Feb. 14, 2005, the Aug. 4 explosion was believed to be a result of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that accidentally ignited at Beirut's port. Hariri was Lebanons most prominent Sunni politician at the time, while the Iran-backed Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group. Hamadeh said those who killed Hariri were behind the attempt on his life. Hariri was killed by a suicide truck bomb on a seaside boulevard in Beirut that killed him and 21 others, and wounded 226 people. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the late Hariri, has said he will make a statement regarding the verdicts after they are made public.
Lebanese president calls probe into Beirut blast "complex"
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)BEIRUT Lebanese President Michel Aoun says the probe into a devastating blast in Beirut is very complex and wont be finished quickly. Responding to calls that he step down, Aoun told French TV station BFMTV in his first interview with foreign media since the Aug. 4 blast that it would be "impossible" because it would create a power vacuum. The cause of the fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beiruts port remains unclear. We had the determination to reach conclusions quickly but we found out that the issues are very complex and require time, said Aoun. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has denied his group has any role in the explosion and said any international probe would likely seek to clear Israel of responsibility in the port explosion, if it had a hand.
FBI team arrives this weekend to take part in Beirut probe
FILE - In this August 5, 2020 file photo, smoke rises from the scene of an explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)BEIRUT A team of FBI investigators is due to arrive in Lebanon this weekend to take part in the probe of Beirut's massive explosion, a senior U.S official said on Saturday after visiting the location of the blast. David Hale, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, called for a thorough and transparent investigation. Hassan Nasrallah said the cause of the explosion is still unclear, adding that any international probe would also have to clear Israel of any responsibility in the port explosion. On Friday, the United Nations launched a $565 million appeal for Lebanon with immediate humanitarian assistance and initial recovery efforts.
Virus adds to deep despair felt by war-weary young Arabs
In the Mideast, wave after wave of war, disease and economic collapse leaves this generation feeling hopeless. She was preparing to leave to England, where she would spend a year working on her masters degree in pharmacy. Even before the pandemic, in 2019 youth employment in the Arab region was estimated at 26.4%, compared to a global rate of 13.6%, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization. A U.N. report this week expected some Arab economies to shrink by up to 13% this year, compounding the suffering of those affected by armed conflict. Working at the pharmacy in Baghdads Karrada district, al-Diwani encounters people suspected of being infected with the virus every day.
Nasrallah says Lebanon should not observe US Syria sanctions
BEIRUT The head of Hezbollah group on Tuesday said Lebanon should not observe new U.S. sanctions against Syria which he described as deeply hurtful to his country if implemented. Nasrallah said Lebanon is likely to be deeply hurt if it observes those sanctions, known as the U.S. Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Losing the land route with Syria would force Lebanon to turn to Israel, which Nasrallah suggested is the aim of U.S. sanctions and which he said is rejected. In a confrontational 100-minute televised speech, Nasrallah said the sanctions on Syria are aimed at creating chaos after Damascus emerged victorious in the nine-year war. Turning to Syria, Nasrallah said the sanctions would fail to achieve their desired effects.