Umrah pilgrims must book via app, says Saudi govt

News Network
March 22, 2023

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Jeddah, Mar 22: Pilgrims who wish to perform the Muslim Umrah ritual are now required to reserve an appointment via the Nusuk or Tawakkalna apps, the Saudi interior ministry announced on Tuesday.

“The Umrah security plan for (this) year included managing and organizing crowds and traffic, providing humanitarian services, supporting and empowering the entities participating in implementing the plan, and distributing manpower,” said Director of Public Security Lt. Gen. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Bassami.

He said that there were a “sufficient” number of bookings available, and called on pilgrims to adhere to their specific dates, all of which were being organized in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

He was speaking to reporters during a press conference for the leaders of the Umrah security forces on the ministry’s plans and preparations for this year’s Umrah season at the 911 Unified Operations Center in Makkah, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

“The expected densities in public transport stations at the entrances to Makkah and the vicinity of the Third Ring Road and next to the Holy Mosque of Makkah were taken into account, and the paths were reorganized to ensure crowd movement safety,” Al-Bassami said.

He stressed the importance of wearing face masks to preserve public health and in compliance with instructions for preventive measures and health regulations.

Al-Bassami said that large crowds would be directed accordingly and beggars who entered these sites would be dealt with firmly and strictly.

Director-General of Civil Defense Maj. Gen. Hammoud bin Suleiman Al-Faraj said: “The General Directorate of Civil Defense has completed its preparations in all sites frequented by pilgrims and visitors to ensure readiness, fire prevention and protection, especially in areas that witness high density.”

He said that the Civil Defense had coordinated with authorities to take legal measures by applying regulations and controlling violations.

Al-Faraj said that the directorate was ready for intensive deployment around the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and important sites through safety inspectors and support forces.

He praised the fire and rescue services in Makkah, Madinah, the holy site centers, and the deployment of mobile units at specific times.

Al-Faraj also praised the creation of a number of rapid intervention teams, especially in the central area in Makkah, around the Prophet’s Mosque and other vital sites.

Maj. Gen. Saleh bin Saad Al-Murabba, deputy director-general of the General Directorate of Passports, said that his authority had worked on early social and technical preparations and equipment for the Umrah season, developed plans and executive programs, raised media awareness, enhanced communication, and supported and assisted operating agencies for pilgrims.

He said that the directorate had completed its operational preparations by equipping ports with manpower and modern technologies to easily complete the procedures for pilgrims at all international ports, through qualified staff that spoke a number of languages to guide visitors to adhere to Umrah instructions. 

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News Network
May 26,2024

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Cairo/Jerusalem, May 26: Hamas said it launched missiles at Tel Aviv on Sunday, prompting sirens to sound in the Israeli city for the first time in four months as the Palestinian group sought to show military strength despite Israel's Gaza offensive.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip where Israel kept up genocidal operation despite a ruling by the top U.N. court ordering it to stop attacking the city.

The Israeli military said a number of the projectiles were intercepted. Israeli emergency services said they had received no reports of casualties.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades said the rockets were launched in response to "Zionist massacres against civilians".

Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV said the rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip.

Rafah is located about 100 km (60 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

Israel claims it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area, but its assault has worsened the plight of civilians and caused an international outcry.

On Sunday, Israeli strikes killed at least five Palestinians in Rafah, according to local medical services.

Israeli tanks have probed around the edges of the city, close to the main southern crossing point into Egypt, but have not yet entered the city in force.

Following the rocket salvo, Israel's hardline public security minister Itamar Ben Gvir - who is not part of Israel's war cabinet - urged the army to hit Rafah harder.

"Rafah with full force," he posted on X.

The development came amid a genocidal war that the Israeli regime has been waging against Gaza since October 7.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have died as a result of the brutal military onslaught that began following Al-Aqsa Storm, a retaliatory operation staged by the coastal sliver’s resistance movements.

Despite the unabated campaign of bloodshed and destruction, the regime has so far fallen short of realizing its goals.

These include defeating Gaza’s resistance, enabling liberation of those who were taken captive during Al-Aqsa Storm, and causing forced displacement of Gaza’s entire population to neighboring Egypt.

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News Network
May 17,2024

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Hamas says the Israeli regime’s bombing of the Gaza Strip, which is enduring a genocidal Israeli war, has killed 70 percent of the Zionist captives, who have been held by the Palestinian resistance movement since an October operation.

Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau, announced the information in an interview with Lebanon’s al-Manar television network on Thursday.

“The Zionist enemy wants to recover the remaining captives by force, killing them by bombing,” he said.

Around 250 people were taken captive on October 7 last year during Al-Aqsa Storm, a retaliatory operation by Gaza’s resistance groups.

At least 35,272 Palestinians have died in an Israeli war of genocide that began following the operation.

Hamas released 105 of the captives during a week-long truce in late November.

Hamas recently agreed to another truce proposal enabling cessation of the Israeli aggression and release of the rest of the captives. The Israeli regime, however, rejected the proposal.

The Hamas’ official said, “The latest proposal presented to us comes very close to our demands, but the enemy has not respected the proposal or the mediators.”

Al-Hayya reiterated the movement’s demands, saying any potential truce agreement had to mandate a complete and comprehensive cessation of the Israeli aggression, withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza, and then a captive exchange deal.

‘Victory is our ally’

The Hamas’ official pointed to the Israeli regime’s failure to realize its war goals, including defeating the resistance.

“After eight months of aggression, the enemy has failed to eradicate the resistance in Gaza despite all the actions of the occupation,” he said.

“The resistance has rebuilt itself and can adapt its capabilities to face the occupation,” the official said, asserting, “The resistance is capable of enduring for many months and will continue to defend its people as long as the battle is ongoing.”

“The resistance has the ability to continue because it is right, and victory is our ally, while the enemy will face defeat.”

Thanking regional resistance

Elsewhere in his remarks, al-Hayya expressed gratitude towards the regional resistance groups for the pro-Palestinian operations that they have been carrying out against Israeli targets and those associated with the occupying regime.

“The fronts in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq support Gaza and link the cessation of [their] operations to the end of aggression on Gaza,” he said.

“When we meet with the resistance forces in the region, we affirm that the battle is one.”

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News Network
May 19,2024

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A senior UN official says around 800,000 people have been "forced to flee" Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip since the Israeli regime began carrying out ground incursions into the refugee-packed city from various axes.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, made the remarks in a post on X, former Twitter, on Saturday.

"Nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on May 6," he said.

The invasion of the city came amid a genocidal war against Gaza by the regime that has so far claimed the lives of more than 35,300 Palestinians.

Around 1.5 million Palestinians had taken refuge in Rafah prior to the incursions, having fled there from the ravages of the war that began following a retaliatory operation against the occupied territories by Gaza’s resistance groups.

The Gazans, who have now left the city, have fled to "the middle areas and [the southern Gaza city of] Khan Younis, including to destroyed buildings," Lazzarini said.

Al-Mawasi, a 14-square-kilometer town on the coast, as well as the central city of Deir el-Balah, were "crammed" with recently displaced people, he added.

"Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have ....Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again."

The Israeli military has, meanwhile, seized the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, which borders Egypt and serves as the main point of entry for aid supplies, including fuel, into Palestinian territory.

The move came as part of an all-out siege that the regime has been enforcing against the entire Gaza simultaneously with the war.

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