-The Arab English Language Press: What they are saying

A selection of news reports for July 23-24, 2011.

GAZA: Gaza health official: PA failing to send medicine

GAZA CITY — Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qedra on Saturday accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to obstruct national unity by failing to send sufficient medicine to the Gaza Strip. Al-Qedra said the Hamas-run health ministry sent lists of Gaza’s medical needs to the PA but that the Ramallah-based government still did not send enough medicine. The Hamas spokesman said the health sector had been in crisis since early June due to severe shortages of 163 medicines and 149 items of medical equipment. One-third of the patients in Gaza’s hospital were affected, he said. Al-Qedra said the PA’s policy aimed to obstruct reconciliation by deepening the division between the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank and the Hamas-run government in Gaza. “We have demanded more than once that the PA government distance itself from the health issue … to put the rights of patients in Gaza at the top of [its priorities] but the practice in the field until recently does not go along with signing a conciliation agreement.” (Maan News Agency)

EGYPT: Imam says secularists should leave country

Arguments broke out between Jama’a al-Islamiya members, Salafis and others at the Fateh Mosque on Friday over the shape of the future Egyptian state. Jama’a al-Islamiya members drove those defending a secular state out of the mosque at the end of the argument. Abdallah Darwish, the mosque’s imam, criticized proponents of the secular state, saying they should leave the country if they do not want it to be an Islamic one that adopts Islamic law. “Grow that secular seed outside Egypt. Since we were young, we have learned that this is an Islamic state.” Darwish called for the restoration of security and order by ending protests and conducting elections. He also called for the trial of those guilty of corruption, adding that slow justice is a form of oppression. “Security will not be restored until Islam returns. (Egypt.com)

TURKEY: Erdogan. “I want to kiss the tearful eyes of Palestinian women.”

The reaction of Palestine’s ambassadors to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s statements for Palestine was unprofessional and even naive, proving that they still believe the world must understand them without any need on their part to express their feelings. More than 100 ambassadors of the Palestinian Authority, headed by the PA’s president and a high-profile delegation including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Maliki, listened to Erdogan as he delivered his speech at a conference in Istanbul. Erdogan improvised very influential and enthusiastic statements for Palestine. He carefully selected his impressive words, and yet none of them bothered to clap their hands and applaud his words even when he said, “I want to kiss the tearful eyes of Palestinian women.” (Ma’an News Agency)

KUWAIT: Libyan rebels selling weapons to Hamas

Israel expressed concerns on Thursday regarding what it described instability in Libya, accusing Hamas of smuggling weapons for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through buying them from Libyan rebels. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon quoted by Israeli radio as saying that “weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers.” “With eastern Libya largely held by rebels who rose up against Muammar Gaddafi in February, arms were being brought across the border, through neighboring Egypt, to the Islamist Hamas-ruled territory,” Yaalon added. (Kuwait News Agency)

JORDAN: UN bid forced on Palestinians – Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that the Palestinians’ bid for UN membership was forced upon them by Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building and end its occupation. “We are going to the United Nations because we are forced to, it is not a unilateral action,” he said in a speech in Istanbul, where he is meeting Palestinian diplomats from around the world. “What is unilateral is Israeli settlement,” Abbas said as he convened the envoys to finalise Palestinian strategy ahead of the UN General Assembly in September. “We have not been able to return to negotiations with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu because of his refusal to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders and to stop settlement,” he said at the meeting, attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Jordan Times)

LEBANON: Hezbollah simulates wartime rescue

TYRE: Hezbollah carried out search and rescue exercises on the anniversary of the July 2006 war Saturday. In the presence of local politicians and delegates from the civil defense, the Lebanese Red Cross, the heads of local clubs and associations and the general public, Hezbollah supporters simulated the exercises off the coast of Tyre. The simulations included the rescuing of wounded people from a car targeted by an airstrike, followed by a rescue of injured trapped under the rubble of a building subjected to bombardment. A group of women also conducted exercises on what to do if caught during an attack at home while frying oil or other hazardous material. Also practiced was how to save wounded people from high buildings with the use of ropes. Special equipment was used to cut metal and lift heavy stones and rubble, and participants were shown how to fit the wounded with metal braces. A special exercise designed for children involved climbing ropes from great heights. (The Daily Star, Lebanon)

SAUDI ARABIA: Turkey will never forget 9 flotilla dead: Erdogan

ISTANBUL: Turkey will never forget the nine Turks killed when Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, days before the submission of a UN report on the raid last year. In a speech to a conference of foreign ambassadors to the Palestinian territories in Istanbul, Erdogan condemned the continuing blockade of Gaza as “illegal and inhuman” and said the Palestinians’ troubles were Turkey’s troubles and would not go neglected. Erdogan opened his speech by naming each of the men killed in the raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry, which led the activists flotilla. “We have not forgotten, nor will we forget, the self-sacrifice of our brothers, their memories and the massacre they were subjected to,” he said. Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel after the incident in May 2010, suspended military cooperation, and closed its airspace to Israeli military aircraft. It wants Israel to apologize for the killings, pay compensation to the families, and end the embargo of Gaza. For its part, Israel has agreed in principle to pay compensation, but says its marines acted in self-defense after an initial boarding party was attacked with knives and clubs. (Arab News, Saudi Arabia)

UAE: Dozens injured in Cairo stone-throwing clashes

CAIRO – Dozens of people were injured in Cairo on Saturday when thousands of demonstrators fought opponents with stones after marching to the Defence Ministry to urge their military rulers to speed up reforms, witnesses said. They said most of the injuries occurred when civilians believed to be thugs hurled barrages of stones and at least six firebombs at demonstrators, who fought back with stones torn up from the pavements. Military police, armed with Tasers and batons, fired in the air to stop the demonstrators from approaching the Defence Ministry. A Reuters witness said tear gas fumes were wafting outside the area as military helicopters circled overhead. An aide to the health minister told state television that 55 people were hurt in the violence, including six who required hospital treatment. The clashes broke out after the head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, promised in a televised speech to push ahead with elections to transform the Arab world’s most populous nation into a democracy. Young protesters were angered by clashes between military police and protesters in a number of cities on Friday, in which up to 10 protesters and four policemen were hurt. The army denied using force against the demonstrators. (Khaleej Times, UAE)

BAHRAIN: Egypt Condemns Israel For Intercepting Al-Karama Ship

Egypt has today condemned Israel for intercepting the only ship from a pro-Palestinian flotilla that managed to set sail from Greece for the blockaded Gaza Strip, describing the operation as a flagrant violation of the international law. “The Israeli act sheds the light once more on the tragedy of the Gaza Strip which has been under Israeli siege for five years now”, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Orabi said in a statement, describing the incident as a message to the world that it is now time to put an end to the blockade. “This belligerent act conducted by Israel exposes its false claims that it had ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip”, he said, stressing the Hebrew State’s full responsibility for the continued Gazans’ suffering until the independent and sovereign Palestinian State on the June 4 borders. He pointed out that Egypt would continue efforts to alleviate the Gazans’ suffering by easing up the entry of relief aid and facilitating the movement of Palestinians in and out of Gaza through Rafah border crossing. (Bahrain News Agency)

KUWAIT: Egyptian policeman injured on trying to prevent Africans infiltrate into Israel

An Egyptian soldier was injured Saturday by the gunfire of smugglers on the coterminous international Egyptian-Israeli borders when he tried to stop the infiltration of African nationals into Israel. The policeman, aged 21, and called Mohammad Abdulrazeq, belongs to the Egyptian Central Security Forces in northern Sinai, and was on duty at Karam Salem gateway, south of Rafah border crossing, where he monitors borders to prevent smuggling and infiltration operations, an informed source said in a statement. Then, the policeman was surprised with two pick-up trucks carrying a group of African nationals drawing close to the international borders with the aim of smuggling those on board to Israel, and consequently he tried to obstruct them, but they opened fire on him, and he got injured with a bullet in his right thigh. (Kuwait News Agency)

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