Heba Saleh

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An aerial view of destroyed buildings in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza early in the conflict © Yahya Hassouna/AFP/Getty Images

Faysal Shawa thought he had seen the best and worst of what life in Gaza had to offer. As a young man three decades ago he was swept up in the giddy optimism as huge crowds packed into Gaza City to welcome the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat back from exile.It was the summer of 1994, 10 months after Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation signed the Oslo Accords, a historic breakthrough many hoped would lead to a sustainable settlement of their decades-long conflict. As a teary-eyed Arafat promised “a democratic and free homeland”, Gaza was briefly the base of Palestinian political power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian children wounded in an air strike are brought to Shifa hospital in Gaza on Wednesday © Ali Mahmoud/AP

The moment Nadav Peretz began to lose hope was when he finally got through to the emergency helpline.The Hamas militants embarking on what would become the deadliest ever attack on Israeli territory had burst into his kibbutz, or communal village, of Nahal Oz. Peretz and his partner had been hiding in the safe room of their house for hours, desperately trying to call in help from Israel’s security forces.

“I was begging [the woman who answered my call] ‘send the army, send them’”, Peretz recalls. “And she told me: ‘We know, we’ll be there.’ And then she must have thought I had hung up, because I heard her start crying and say to a colleague: ‘I can’t answer any more calls like this.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kais Saied, Tunisia’s president, staged a power grab in 2021 © Kais Saied, Tunisia’s president, staged a power grab in 2021 | FT montage; AFP/Getty Images/AP

On a recent Ramadan day in April, just before sundown when Muslims break their fast, dozens of Tunisian policemen swooped on the home of Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the country’s biggest political party and took the 81-year-old man to jail.

Ghannouchi, the former speaker of parliament and head of the moderately Islamist Nahda party, was charged a few days later with plotting against state security and ordered to remain in custody pending trial. The security services took over Nahda’s Tunis headquarters and banned meetings in its other offices. Several of the party’s other senior officials have also been detained.

The Islamist leader is the most high-profile politician to have been arrested since Kais Saied, Tunisia’s president, staged a power grab in 2021 and began dismantling the country’s young democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters storm the Sri Lankan prime minister’s office in Colombo. While the country appears to have moved away from violent confrontation, the economy is mired in a profound crisis © Rafiq Maqbool/AP

In a more optimistic era, the overthrow by Sri Lankans of a feckless government they blamed for their country’s economic collapse might have been called a Velvet Revolution. It began last Saturday when tens of thousands descended on the largest city Colombo and poured into public buildings, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence, amid chants of “Gota, go home”.

The president had fled for his safety, but in scenes reminiscent of many 20th-century regime collapses, the crowds hunkered down in the palace, sitting behind the president’s desk, bathing in his pool, and showering in his bathrooms.

By week’s end Rajapaksa was indeed gone — first on a military jet to the Maldives, then to Singapore, from where he finally tendered his resignation via email.…  Seguir leyendo »