Middle East Roundup: Syrian journalist ponders disappeared father’s fate

Protests in Syria, a Palestinian woman’s fight, secret Libya-Israel meeting — here’s the Middle East this week.

‘My father, Mustafa Haj Suleiman, is one of the forcibly disappeared,’ writes Ali Haj Suleiman [Courtesy of Ali Haj Suleiman]Published On 31 Aug 202331 Aug 2023

Unusual anti-government protests in Syria | A Palestinian woman’s fight to stay with her children in Israel | Secret meeting between Libyan and Israeli officials causes an uproar | Here’s the Middle East this week:

A missing father | Syrian Druze protest

Photojournalist Ali Haj Suleiman takes pictures for a living, but he only has one of his father.

In 2013, when Ali was only 13, his father disappeared — one of about 130,000 people forcibly disappeared in Syria since the war started in 2011. They don’t know where he is, or if he’s even alive.

Ali’s pain inspired him to document the war and people in his country — and here at Al Jazeera, we are lucky enough to work with him.

Elsewhere, a government-controlled Druze stronghold in Syria’s south, Swieda, is looking rough. It’s largely stayed out of the war so far, but now there are daily demonstrations as people protest against economic problems — and call for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

A Palestinian mother’s fight to stay with her 12 children

Agzaya al-Karaan, born in the Gaza Strip, has lived in Israel since she married a Palestinian citizen of Israel and had 12 children.

Three weeks ago, she was “deported” to Gaza after being stopped at a checkpoint. She wasn’t allowed to call her children to tell them she had been taken. Her youngest child is eight.

Al Jazeera went to see Agzaya and followed her story as it developed.

Agzaya al-Karaan was separated from her 12 children after she was deported to Gaza [Al Jazeera]

Libya: Secret meetings, neglected deaths

Libyan Foreign Minister (until this week) Najla al-Mangoush is probably not happy with her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, who divulged a secret meeting between them in Rome.

Libyans were angry that a Libyan representative would meet an Israeli official and al-Mangoush was fired after an uproar.

A horrifying story from Libya this week surfaced with a video of a woman lying dead on the floor at a refugee holding centre. Refugees in Tunisia, who had been detained in Libya before, told Al Jazeera they weren’t surprised this happened.

Ben-Gvir’s does it again

Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told a Palestinian journalist that his rights, as an Israeli living in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank, were more important than the freedom of movement of occupied Palestinians. “Sorry, Mohammad, but that’s the reality,” he said. Wow.

Some would say that this is the definition of apartheid – a two-tier system, with rights afforded to one group of people over another.

Ben Gvir [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

There was a backlash, including from American supermodel Bella Hadid, who is half-Palestinian. On Instagram, Hadid posted “in no place, no time… should one life be more valuable than another’s”.

Ben-Gvir didn’t like that and doubled down, calling Hadid an “Israel-hater”.

And now, something different

What’s better than breaking a world record? Well, maybe inventing one.

A tennis player and a footballer in Iran passed a ball to each other over the net 637 times — one using his racket, and the other his foot.

The footballer, Mehdi Hobe Darvish, has a knack for unusual world records. He previously juggled a tennis ball with his feet 144 times — in one minute.

He says his latest feat should be a world record. Good luck to whoever wants to break it.

Footballer Mehdi Hobeh Darvish, right, with Amir Hossein Badi, one of Iran’s top tennis players, on an open-air tennis hardcourt located at the Espinas Palace Hotel [Courtesty of Mahmoud Najafzadeh]


Quote of the Week

“I am still waiting for Baba because the fact that he has disappeared doesn’t mean ever forgetting or abandoning him.” | — Ali Haj Suleiman, who still has hope that his father is alive.

Source: Al Jazeera