Headlines in Arab dailies on Thursday report on the start of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, closely followed by reports of an Israeli attack on an arms factory in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
“Israeli airstrike destroys military factory near Khartoum,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat, which dubbed the attack “a dangerous development that could have repercussions.”
Sudan will reportedly file a complaint with the UN Security Council and said it maintains the right to respond “in the right time and place.”
“Sudan threatens Israel with a forceful reaction to the bombing of a weapons factory,” reads the headline of the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. According to a Sudanese government spokesman, four Israeli aircraft entered Sudan from the east and bombed the Yarmouk factory in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports that although the attack caused Sudanese citizens to feel unsure about their country’s security, Sudan’s politicians are trying to downplay the importance of the “recurring attacks.”
A local security expert, Ali Hassan Najilah, tells the daily that the Yarmouk factory manufactures “internationally permissible ammunition,” and that its targeting was meant to paralyze the local arms industry.
Najilah says, however, that the government should remove arms factories from residential areas of the capital. That same sentiment is echoed by parliamentary opposition leader Ismail Hussein, who tells Al-Jazeera that parliament will pass legislation to remove military units from the capital “without waiting for inquiry commissions, which lead to nothing.”
New ceasefire between Israel and Hamas
Egyptian mediation in implementing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is widely reported by Arab media Thursday, following the firing of dozens of missiles from Gaza into Israel.
The lead editorial in the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi writes that the festivities in Gaza celebrating the visit of Qatari leader Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani have been replaced by Israeli air strikes.
“The Gaza Strip is on the brink of a new Israeli massacre. It is not unlikely that Israel will resume assassinations of Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, and Popular Resistance Committees leaders in the coming few days,” writes the editor.
“Israel files a complaint with the UN and agrees to a ceasefire with Hamas,” reads a headline in Al-Hayat, adding that despite having reached an agreement with Hamas, Israel “escalated its language, threatening military operation, and is returning to the crimes of assassinations.”
Meanwhile, perhaps in an attempt to bash the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the PA daily Al-Ayyam, quoting anonymous sources, reports that “there are no attempts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and Egypt did not intervene.” This report seems to run counter to all other reports in Arab media Thursday.
All of Thursday’s editorials in Al-Ayyam criticize Sheikh Hamad’s visit to Gaza, reflecting the frustration and disappointment of the Palestinian Authority in light of the diplomatic boost to Hamas.
‘The Qatari emir’s visit to Gaza beckons the end of the political blockade. We have no doubt that other visits of other leaders will follow. The emir has opened the door to those who will come after him’
“The Qatari decision to allocate nearly $250 million [to Gaza], raised subsequently to $400 million, was taken unilaterally and contravened the conditions of the city’s reconstruction, including the reconciliation which has not yet been implemented and is not expected to be in the near future. This issue [of reconstruction] was one of the main issues the national unity government was meant to deal with under the Doha reconciliation declaration,” writes columnist Talal Okal.
Okal then proceeds to attack Hamas’s claim that the visit challenged the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
“Gaza is under occupation, so such a visit constitutes tacit and indirect recognition of the authority that administers this occupation,” writes Okal. “It is impossible that the visit will challenge the occupation. Moreover, it gradually absolves the occupation of its legal, political and moral obligations toward this segment of the people occupied by Israel. [Israel] wishes to rid itself of these responsibilities as soon as possible.”
An opinion piece in the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera regarding the Gaza visit obviously carries a different point of view.
“The Qatari emir’s visit to Gaza beckons the end of the political blockade,” writes columnist Ibrahim Hammami on the channel’s website. “We have no doubt that other visits of other leaders will follow. The emir has opened the door to those who will come after him.”