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Israeli tear gas kills woman in Palestine


  • Israeli border police officers react after spraying pepper spray during a demonstration marking the Land Day at the Damascus gate in Jerusalem’s old city, in this March 30, 2014 photo. (AP)


BETHLEHEM: A Palestinian woman died after inhaling tear gas used by Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a medical official said Tuesday, but the military denied any involvement.
The army “fired tear gas” at stone-throwing Palestinians late Monday near the home of the woman, who was “suffering from health problems,” the official said.
The woman, in her 40s, “died after arriving at hospital.”
The incident took place at Ayda refugee camp northwest of Bethlehem, where Palestinians regularly clash with Israeli soldiers.
In a similar incident in January, an 85-year-old Palestinian man died in his own home after breathing in tear gas fired by Israeli security forces near Nablus.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops were scouring a village near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday, residents said, a day after a gunman killed an Israeli nearby.
The incident at the start of the Jewish Passover holiday on Monday was the first deadly attack on an Israeli in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year, and came as tensions were soaring over the near-breakdown of US-brokered peace talks.
The army was searching several houses and businesses close to where the incident took place southwest of Idhna, a village outside Hebron, residents told AFP.

Abu Ghraib shut over security fears

  • In this Feb. 10, 2004 file photo shows a US army band performing songs during a transfer of authority ceremony at the American base in Abu Gharib area, west of Baghdad. (AFP)


Published — Wednesday 16 April 2014

BAGHDAD: Iraq has closed Abu Ghraib prison, made infamous by Saddam Hussein’s regime and US forces, due to security concerns following a mass breakout last year, the justice ministry said Tuesday.
The country is suffering a protracted surge in violence that has claimed more than 2,550 lives this year, and the area west of Baghdad where the prison is located is particularly insecure.
The ministry announced online the “complete closure of Baghdad Central Prison, previously (known as) ‘Abu Ghraib,’ and the removal of the inmates in cooperation with the ministries of defense and interior.”
The statement quoted Justice Minister Hassan Al-Shammari as saying 2,400 inmates arrested or sentenced for terrorism-related offenses have been transferred to other facilities in central and northern Iraq.
“The ministry took this decision as part of precautionary measures related to the security of prisons,” Shammari said, adding that Abu Ghraib prison is “in a hot area.”
It was not immediately clear whether the closure was temporary or permanent.
The prison is located between Baghdad and the city of Fallujah, which has been held by anti-government fighters since early January.
Shelling in Fallujah on Tuesday killed five people and wounded 16, while mortar rounds and twin suicide bombings in Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, farther west, left one dead and eight wounded.
Abu Ghraib prison became a byword for abuses by US forces following the 2003 invasion, with photographs surfacing the following year showing detainees being humiliated by American guards, igniting worldwide outrage.
And in July 2013, militants assaulted Abu Ghraib and another prison in Taji, north of Baghdad.
Officials said hundreds of inmates escaped and more than 50 prisoners and members of the security forces were killed in the assaults, which were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a powerful group.

KSA toughens stance on illegals

  • Tough-labor-law_0.jpg


Published — Tuesday 15 April 2014


Saudi Arabia on Monday announced tough punishment for expats violating the country’s residency, labor and business regulations. Punishment includes fines up to SR100,000, a jail term for up to two years, a recruitment ban and deportation.
The move targets foreigners who have come to the Kingdom on work, visit, Haj and Umrah visas, and have overstayed their visas, the Interior Ministry said.
“Punishment will be increased depending on the number of violations and individuals involved, while violating expats will be deported and prevented from entering the Kingdom for a specific period,” the ministry said in a statement. “Those arrested for violations will not be released, even on bail.”
Administrative panels at the Passport Department will determine the violations.
“People will have the right to appeal against the panel’s decision to the interior minister within 30 working days following the issuance of the decision,” the statement said. A special legal panel at the ministry will look into such appeals and provide the minister with their proposals.
Expats working independently will be fined SR10,000 and deported if the violation is committed for the first time, while second-time offenders will be fined SR25,000, jailed for one month and deported and third-time offenders will incur a SR50,000 fine, a six-month jail and deportation, the statement said.
Expats overstaying their visas after they have expired for the first time will be fined SR15,000 and deported, while second-time offenders will be liable to pay SR25,000, spend three months in jail and face deportation.
Third-time overstayers, meanwhile, will incur a SR50,000 fine, a six-month jail term and deportation.
Saudis and expats have welcomed the ministry’s statement, saying it would strengthen the Kingdom’s security and stability.
“The Interior Ministry’s decision compliments the Labor Ministry’s efforts to flush out illegals and regulate the labor market,” said Ibrahim Badawood, managing director of ALJ Community Initiatives.
“The punishments issued by the ministry show that they are very serious on the issue. The punishment covers not only expats, but also companies and individual employers,” he said. “Now, employers will think twice before hiring or sheltering an illegal expat,” Badawood said.
He said the government’s move would also address the “tasattur” (cover-up businesses) phenomenon and other illegal activities.
“Some sponsors have recruited many expats and they don’t know what their workers are doing. This is a serious issue and the new punishments will definitely reduce such illegal operations,” he said.
The ministry said intruders held outside the border will be fined SR15,000 and deported after serving a one-month jail sentence. Second time violators will be fined SR25,000, jailed three months and deported, while third-time or more offenders will have to pay SR100,000 fine and serve six months in jail before deportation.

Those who transport, employ and shelter intruders will be fined SR25,000, jailed for six months and deported if expats.
Their vehicles will be seized if the violation is committed for the first time. Second-time violators will be fined SR50,000, jailed for one year, deported, shamed and have their vehicle confiscated, while third-time offenders will be liable to pay a SR100,000 fine, face a two-year jail and be deported.
The ministry said all those who transport, shelter or employ violators of the Kingdom’s laws will be fined SR15,000 and deported (if expat); second-time violators will be fined SR30,000, deported and jailed for 3 months. Third-time offenders, meanwhile, will pay a SR100,000 fine and serve a six-month jail sentence before being deported.
An individual employer who allows his workers to work for others or for their personal accounts will be fined SR15,000 and deported (if expat) and prevented from recruitment for one year. For the second-time violators, the punishments are: a SR30,000 fine, deportation, three-month jail and ban on recruitment for two years; third time and more: SR100,000 fine, deportation, six-month jail and ban on recruitment for five years.
Expats who fail to report delays in the departure of overstaying employees will be fined SR15,000 and face deportation (if expat) for the first time, SR25,000, jail for three months and deportation the second time, and SR50,000, a six-month jail term and deportation the third time.
The ministry said that companies and organizations that fail to inform authorities about Haj or Umrah overstayers would be fined SR25,000 the first time round, SR50,000 the second time and SR100,000 the third time round or any time after that.

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