Six In The Morning Sunday December 20

Strike kills former Israeli prisoner Kantar in Syria

Samir Kantar, a prominent Hezbollah member, killed in what group says was Israeli air strike in Damascus.

| War & Conflict, Middle East, Syria

A high-profile member of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah, who had spent years in Israeli prisons, has been killed in Syria in a suspected Israeli air strike, according to Hezbollah.

Samir Kantar was killed along with eight others in a strike on a building in the Jaramana area of the capital Damascus on Sunday morning, al-Manar TV, the official channel of Hezbollah, reported.

“Zionist enemy planes bombed the building where he lived in Jaramana,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

Kantar’s brother, Bassam, confirmed the death on social media.

“With pride, we mourn the martyrdom of the commander Samir Kantar. We have the honour of becoming among the families of martyrs after being among the families of the prisoners for 30 years,” Bassam Kantar tweeted.

The Children of Ebola: Meet the girls and boys who reveal how courage and kindness helped them endure 2015

The year began with the deadliest Ebola epidemic ever seen. It ends with Sierra Leone, the worst-affected country, finally free of the disease yet 20,000 children orphaned in the region. Film-maker Ben Steele travelled to West Africa to meet the remarkable boys and girls rebuilding their broken families

Last month, Sierra Leone, the country at the centre of the most recent Ebola outbreak, was finally declared free of the highly contagious and deadly disease. There, and in the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Guinea, around 11,300 people died over the course of two years in the world’s worst Ebola epidemic.

As catastrophic as the outbreak was to West Africa, a year ago many feared it might develop into an even worse situation. In December 2014, Sierra Leone teetered on the brink of disaster. In a country with a population of six million, more than 40 people were dying a day; that month, total fatalities almost doubled. The country’s fragile health service lay in ruins, and more than 100 frontline medical staff were dead. The disease had reached the capital, Freetown, and infections were spreading along the city’s seafront slums.

Refugee crisis warnings to eastern EU nations from Germany, Austria

Eastern EU nations that refuse to accept refugees risk funding cuts and legal sanctions, according to two German cabinet ministers. Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier added that no nation can ignore globalized migration.

Peter Altmaier and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued veiled warnings on Saturday to eastern members such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic that their aversion to accepting refugees could come at a high cost.

In a majority summit decision in September, EU leaders voted to redistribute 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU nations using criteria such as their size of population and economy. The move was approved over the dissent of a number of countries.

European solidarity was “not a one-way street,” said Steinmeier, referring to EU treaty commitments signed by members during accessions to the 28-nation bloc and Brussels’ option to file breach of contract lawsuits at the European Court of Justice.

“If it can’t be done any other way, then things will have to be clarified using judicial means,” he told the German news magazine “Der Spiegel.”

Evyatar Slonim: Jewish terrorist or scapegoat for the state of Israel?

Middle East Correspondent

Duma, occupied West Bank: The small house of Saad and Riham Dawabshe still smells of the fire that took their lives and that of their 18-month-old son, Ali. The floor is a jumble of clothes, melted furniture and cracked glass, the walls blackened by the ferocious flames that two fire trucks struggled to extinguish.

To hear witnesses retell the story of the firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31 is heart-stopping.

Saad, 32, was already dying in front of his house by the time his brother Nasser reached him. Saad’s wife Riham, 27, was lying nearby, clutching a blanket she believed held Ali.

Two masked Israeli settlers stood over their bodies, determined, Nasser Dawabshe says, to see them die.

Another son, five-year-old Ahmad, was trapped behind the lounge room door, his screams rising above the roar of the inferno. A neighbour managed to get him out. Ali could not be saved. “The more we threw water on the flames the more they burned,” Nasser says.

The upswing


THIS is what it looks like. Muddling through. But it’s easy to miss when you’re in the middle of it.

This was the year that everything changed. APS made it possible. Never again would the Taliban scare us. We would fight them anywhere we found them. In the name of the martyrs.

But we were already fighting them. Counter-insurgency was at a historic, inarguable peak. Zarb-i-Azb was six months old; Khyber-I had been launched in Oct. There was, literally, nowhere left to go in Fata. The boys had not waited for and did not need universal backing.

But it helps to portray it that way. So we have this ex-post, after the event, tweaking of the story. It all began with APS. Pakistan would never be the same.

Clashes and protests in Haiti after election results

Demonstrators took to the streets after the release of election results; most protests were largely peaceful, but in some outlying towns clashes turned violent with protesters shot and government buildings burned.

Several government buildings have been set ablaze in scattered sections of Haiti and one demonstrator was killed in violent protests ignited by the release of final legislative election results, officials said Saturday.

Street demonstrations and clashes between factions troubled several towns around the Caribbean country, though the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince and most other areas of the country of 10 million people were peaceful Saturday.

In parts of northern and southern Haiti, angry partisans insisted that the results released late Friday by the much-criticized electoral council did not reflect voters’ will. Presidential and legislative runoffs are scheduled for next weekend amid numerous accusations of fraud and manipulation of results.