Bahrain opens biggest Catholic church in the Arabian Gulf

News Network
December 10, 2021

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Against the backdrop of mosque minarets and a desert oil field, the biggest Catholic church in the Arabian peninsula opened its doors in Bahrain on Thursday.

The cavernous Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, with seats for 2,300 people, will serve the majority-Muslim Gulf country’s small Catholic community.

“We’re happy for this church,” Bahrain-based priest Father Charbel Fayad told AFP. “It will be for the spiritual needs and spiritual health of all the people.”

The modern-style church, with two tiers of seating, lies about a mile (1.6 kilometres) from a large mosque and a stone’s throw from an oil well, in the south of the state.

The Vatican estimates Bahrain has some 80,000 Catholics, mainly workers from Asia, mostly India and the Philippines.

“Christians and non-Christians, all are children of God and they are all welcome here in this beautiful church,” Father Charbel said.

King Hamad last week invited Pope Francis to visit Bahrain.

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News Network
February 2,2023

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Israel has carried out new airstrikes against several areas across the Gaza Strip, triggering retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinian resistance groups based in the besieged enclave.

Israeli warplanes pounded targets in the center of Gaza City on Thursday, Palestinian media outlets reported, adding that the resistance groups’ anti-aircraft defense systems intercepted the regime’s fighter jets.

The Israeli military claimed in a statement that it struck a weapons manufacturing site belonging to the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas in the central Gaza Strip after confirming that it is “striking in” the coastal enclave.

It further said the strikes came in response to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip into Israeli communities a day earlier.

Local sources and witnesses said that the first Israeli strike – out of at least seven – hit a training center belonging to the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

A second round of Israeli airstrikes targeted the resistance’s training center southwest of Gaza City, they added.

In response, the resistance groups fired a barrage of retaliatory rockets at illegal Israeli settlements surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip. Rocket sirens blared in the town of Sderot following the strikes, according to the Israeli military.  

The latest development comes almost a week after the Israeli military pounded areas west and south of Gaza, including posts belonging to the Palestinian resistance.

The strikes were carried out after at least 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, including a 61-year-old woman.

Last Thursday, more than 70 Israeli armed vehicles and hundreds of the regime’s soldiers stormed Jenin and the neighboring refugee camp, while Israeli snipers were deployed on rooftops and heavily armed soldiers opened fire at Palestinian youths who tried to block their way. Ten Palestinians were killed in the attack. 

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement vowed to respond to the raid.

According to reports, more than 30 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of 2023. 

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News Network
January 24,2023

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Ramallah, Jan 24: A Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week posed no threat or danger, the Israeli army has openly admitted.

Ahmed Kahla, 46, from Ramon, near Silwad in the occupied West Bank, was shot in the neck from close range at a military checkpoint on Jan. 15.

The Israeli army initially claimed that Kahla had been shot because he got out of his car with a knife in his hand and ran toward soldiers with the intention of stabbing them.

Kahla’s son Qusai, 20, who was with his father at the time, said their car was stopped at the checkpoint and a soldier fired a stun grenade that hit the roof of the vehicle. When Kahla asked why they were being attacked, an officer used pepper spray on him and pulled him from the vehicle before the soldier shot him dead.

An army investigation found that Kahla had no intention of carrying out a stabbing attack and “the incident should not have ended in death.”

The victim’s brother Zayed, 45, said: “They killed him for no reason. We will take all measures to prosecute them.” The family intends to seek financial compensation from the army in the Israeli courts, and will also go to the International Criminal Court.

“We realize that their trial will not bring our brother Ahmed back to life, but we want them to pay the price for their crime,” Zayed said. “We want to deter them from killing more Palestinians in cold blood and without reason.”

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News Network
January 30,2023

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Dubai/Washington, Jan 30: Israel appears to have been behind an overnight drone attack on a military factory in Iran, a US official said on Sunday.

Iran claimed to have intercepted drones that struck a military industry target near the central city of Isfahan, and said there were no casualties or serious damage.

The extent of damage could not be independently ascertained. Iranian state media released footage showing a flash in the sky and emergency vehicles at the scene.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military declined to comment. Arch-foe Israel has long said it is willing to strike Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but it has a policy of withholding comment on specific incidents.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said no US military forces were involved in strikes in Iran, but declined to comment further.

That US officials were pointing to an Israeli role in the attack was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing several unidentified sources. One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters it did appear that Israel was involved. Several other US officials declined to comment, beyond saying that Washington played no role.

Tehran did not formally ascribe blame for what Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called a “cowardly” attack aimed at creating “insecurity” in Iran. But state TV broadcast comments by a lawmaker, Hossein Mirzaie, saying there was “strong speculation” Israel was behind it.

The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms — including long-range “suicide drones” — for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.

The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s Defense Ministry said the explosion caused only minor damage and no casualties.

“Such actions will not impact our experts’ determination to progress in our peaceful nuclear work,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in televised remarks.

An Israeli strike on Iran would be the first under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he returned to office last month at the helm of the most right-wing government in Israeli history.

In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to attack civilian targets in Ukrainian cities far from the front, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky linked the incident directly to the war there.

“Explosive night in Iran,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Did warn you.”

Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but says they were sent before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Moscow denies its forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, although many have been shot down and recovered there.

“Minor damage”

“Around 23:30 (2000 GMT) on Saturday night, an unsuccessful attack was carried out using micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) on one of the ministry’s workshop sites,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by state TV.

It said one drone was shot down “and the other two were caught in defense traps and blew up. It caused only minor damage to the roof of a workshop building. There were no casualties.”

A military official in the region said given the location of the strike in central Iran and the size of the drones, it was likely that the attack was staged from within Iran’s borders.

Separately, IRNA reported early on Sunday a massive fire at a motor oil factory in an industrial zone near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It later said oil leakage caused that blaze, citing a local official.

Iran has accused Israel in the past of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team made up of Kurdish militants working for Israel who planned to blow up a “sensitive” defense industry center in Isfahan.

Several Iranian nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a number of explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial sites in recent years.

Talks between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since September. Under the pact, abandoned by Washington in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Tehran agreed to limit nuclear work in return for easing of sanctions.

Iran’s clerical rulers have also faced internal turmoil in recent months, with a crackdown on widespread anti-establishment demonstrations spurred by the death in custody of a woman held for allegedly violating its strict Islamic dress code.

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