Israeli navy practises boarding ships in readiness for Gaza flotilla



TEL AVIV // Israeli naval commandos carried out a wide-ranging exercise yesterday in the takeover of a large ship in preparation for a possible raid of the vessels taking part in the Gaza-bound flotilla that is expected to sail in coming weeks.

The exercise appeared aimed at avoiding the killing of any of the passengers in case the commandos are ordered to board the ships to stop them from heading to Gaza to break Israel's naval siege of the Palestinian enclave.

The simulated takeover of the ship came after months of training by naval commandos along with forces from the police and prison services. It was meant to implement the lessons learned from the deadly attack that the navy carried out in May last year on another Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Israeli media reported that the government was concerned about drawing international condemnation should passengers again be killed in a possible raid, and was preparing a larger force that it hopes would be able to take over the ships much faster.

"The instructions from the political leadership are clear," reported the state-owned military radio station yesterday. "Israel will not allow the boats to break the naval blockade on Gaza, and will take control of them by force."

But even as the Israeli military launched its exercise, it remained unclear whether the ships would sail at all amid US pressure on Turkey to stop their mission.

Yesterday, Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported that the Turkish-based IHH Islamic charity, one of the flotilla's key organisers, is considering cancelling the trip because of the violence in the region, especially amid the growing tide of Syrian refugees racing into Turkey after a fierce government crackdown in Syria.

"We are reconsidering our plans - we cannot close our eyes to the developments on our doorstep," Huseyin Oruc, a board member of the IHH, told the newspaper. The IHH has refurbished the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-flagged boat on which the activists were killed in last year's raid.

Nevertheless, other groups that were also planning to participate in the flotilla were quoted by Israeli media as claiming they were still going ahead with the protest even if IHH drops out.

The activists are expected to meet in Athens this weekend to discuss their plans, according to the newspaper.

The IHH's rethinking of its participation comes after a call by Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, this month to reconsider the flotilla's mission in the light of changes in Gaza's blockade, especially Egypt's more frequent opening of its Rafah border with Gaza.

Israel controls Gaza's waters, air space and all of its border crossings except for Rafah. Israeli media have speculated that Mr Davutoglu's statements may have been spurred by pressure from the US, which has been urged by Israel to launch a diplomatic bid to stop the flotilla.

Gaza is controlled by the Islamic group Hamas, which is regarded by Israel and the US as a terrorist organisation. Israel restricted movement into and out of Gaza in 2006 after Hamas kidnapped one of its soldiers, and implemented a hermetic siege on the border crossings in 2007 after Hamas violently ousted forces loyal to the secular Fatah movement from the enclave.

Israel itself appears to have little influence on Turkey since ties between the two countries sharply deteriorated following last year's assault on the ship.

Yediot Ahronot, Israel's biggest mass-circulation newspaper, reported yesterday that the United States is concerned that a new clash may emerge between Israel and Turkey as a result of the upcoming demonstration. The report said that the White House hoped the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, would be more prepared to improve relations with Israel and help dissuade the ships from trying to break the Gaza blockade following his party's victory in Sunday's parliamentary election.

However, the activists may become more motivated to sail after a report released on the fifth anniversary of Israel's blockade yesterday showing that humanitarian conditions in Gaza are deteriorating, with nearly half of the enclave's labour force out of work last year.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, the agency that issued the report, criticised the Israeli policy that "deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution".

The activists have said that 15 ships would take part in the flotilla, carrying 1,500 people from about 100 countries, humanitarian aid and construction materials.

THE SPECS

Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8

Gearbox: eight-speed automatic

Power: 571hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,000-4,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 11.4L/100km

Price, base: from Dh571,000

On sale: this week

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Ramez Gab Min El Akher

Creator: Ramez Galal

Starring: Ramez Galal

Streaming on: MBC Shahid

Rating: 2.5/5

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

hall of shame

SUNDERLAND 2002-03

No one has ended a Premier League season quite like Sunderland. They lost each of their final 15 games, taking no points after January. They ended up with 19 in total, sacking managers Peter Reid and Howard Wilkinson and losing 3-1 to Charlton when they scored three own goals in eight minutes.

SUNDERLAND 2005-06

Until Derby came along, Sunderland’s total of 15 points was the Premier League’s record low. They made it until May and their final home game before winning at the Stadium of Light while they lost a joint record 29 of their 38 league games.

HUDDERSFIELD 2018-19

Joined Derby as the only team to be relegated in March. No striker scored until January, while only two players got more assists than goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. The mid-season appointment Jan Siewert was to end his time as Huddersfield manager with a 5.3 per cent win rate.

ASTON VILLA 2015-16

Perhaps the most inexplicably bad season, considering they signed Idrissa Gueye and Adama Traore and still only got 17 points. Villa won their first league game, but none of the next 19. They ended an abominable campaign by taking one point from the last 39 available.

FULHAM 2018-19

Terrible in different ways. Fulham’s total of 26 points is not among the lowest ever but they contrived to get relegated after spending over £100 million (Dh457m) in the transfer market. Much of it went on defenders but they only kept two clean sheets in their first 33 games.

LA LIGA: Sporting Gijon, 13 points in 1997-98.

BUNDESLIGA: Tasmania Berlin, 10 points in 1965-66

The BIO:

He became the first Emirati to climb Mount Everest in 2011, from the south section in Nepal

He ascended Mount Everest the next year from the more treacherous north Tibetan side

By 2015, he had completed the Explorers Grand Slam

Last year, he conquered K2, the world’s second-highest mountain located on the Pakistan-Chinese border

He carries dried camel meat, dried dates and a wheat mixture for the final summit push

His new goal is to climb 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 metres above sea level

Istanbul earthquake risk

- 50,000 - predicted death toll

- 7.5-7.7 on the Richter scale - the size of the predicted quake

- Over half - the number of buildings in Istanbul deemed unsafe by experts

Points classification after Stage 4

1. Arnaud Demare (France / FDJ) 124

2. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Quick-Step) 81

3. Michael Matthews (Australia / Sunweb) 66

4. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 63

5. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha) 43

ESSENTIALS

The flights 

Etihad (etihad.com) flies from Abu Dhabi to Mykonos, with a flight change to its partner airline Olympic Air in Athens. Return flights cost from Dh4,105 per person, including taxes. 

Where to stay 

The modern-art-filled Ambassador hotel (myconianambassador.gr) is 15 minutes outside Mykonos Town on a hillside 500 metres from the Platis Gialos Beach, with a bus into town every 30 minutes (a taxi costs €15 [Dh66]). The Nammos and Scorpios beach clubs are a 10- to 20-minute walk (or water-taxi ride) away. All 70 rooms have a large balcony, many with a Jacuzzi, and of the 15 suites, five have a plunge pool. There’s also a private eight-bedroom villa. Double rooms cost from €240 (Dh1,063) including breakfast, out of season, and from €595 (Dh2,636) in July/August.

Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

Emirates Cricket Board Women’s T10

ECB Hawks v ECB Falcons

Monday, April 6, 7.30pm, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

The match will be broadcast live on the My Sports Eye Facebook page

 

Hawks

Coach: Chaitrali Kalgutkar

Squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Archara Supriya, Chamani Senevirathne, Chathurika Anand, Geethika Jyothis, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kashish Loungani, Khushi Sharma, Khushi Tanwar, Rinitha Rajith, Siddhi Pagarani, Siya Gokhale, Subha Srinivasan, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish

 

Falcons

Coach: Najeeb Amar

Squad: Kavisha Kumari (captain), Almaseera Jahangir, Annika Shivpuri, Archisha Mukherjee, Judit Cleetus, Ishani Senavirathne, Lavanya Keny, Mahika Gaur, Malavika Unnithan, Rishitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Shashini Kaluarachchi, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi, Vaishnave Mahesh

 

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

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