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PIRAEUS, GreeceLibya is descending into a civil war spiral that is much worse than the unrest
that toppled its dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, residents fleeing the country said on
We have gone through [war] before, with Gadhafi, but now its much worse, Paraskevi
Athineou, a Greek woman living in Libya, told Agence France-Presse.
Chaos reigns. There is no government, we have no food, no fuel, no water, no electricity for
hours on end, she said.
Athineou was part of a group of 186 people evacuated from Tripoli by a Greek Navy frigate, which
reached the port of Piraeus early on Saturday.
In addition to 77 Greek nationals, there were 78 Chinese, 10 Britons, 12 Cypriots, 7 Belgians, 1
Albanian and a Russian.
Chronic insecurity
Among them were several diplomats, including the Chinese ambassador to Libya.
Libya has suffered chronic insecurity since Gadhafis overthrow in 2011, with the new
government unable to check militias that helped to remove him and facing a growing threat from
Islamist groups.
So many people died to make the country better. But now we started killing each other in a civil
war, said Osama Monsour, a 35-year-old employed at a nongovernment organization in Tripoli.
Fighting between rival militias in Tripoli has forced the closure of the citys international airport,
while Islamist groups are also battling Army special forces in the eastern city of Benghazi.
War reaches Tripoli
War is in the city and we civilians are under fire from both sides, Athineou said.
It is worse than 2011, said Ali Gariani, a Libyan married to a Greek woman.
That time were being bombed by Nato. But now we are being bombed by the Libyans
themselves, and that is really shameful, he said. AFP


NUSEIRAT REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) Only the minaret nonetheless stands
immediately after an Israeli airstrike decreased Gaza's Al-Qassam Mosque to a heap
of concrete, iron rods and dust. Hours just after the pre-dawn attack, rescue workers
NUSEIRAT REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) Only the minaret nonetheless stands immediately
after an Israeli airstrike decreased Gaza's Al-Qassam Mosque to a heap of concrete, iron rods and
dust. Hours just after the pre-dawn attack, rescue workers searched in the rubble, residents
gathered and plainclothes Hamas security agents mingled among them.

Also identified as the Grand Mosque, it was one particular of 63 that Israel has destroyed in its
monthlong war with Hamas, according to Palestinian officials. The cause, Israel says, is that
Hamas is using mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers, and to hide tunnels made
use of to infiltrate into Israel and carry out attacks.
Gaza's Hamas rulers deny the accusation, saying Israel is waging a war against Islam. On the
ground, numerous Gazans react the identical, saying Israel is attacking their faith.
In its determination to go after what it says are militant arsenals, Israel is throwing aside any
reluctance it had in the previous to hit religious sites for fear of a diplomatic backlash. In Israel's
week-extended 2012 air campaign in Gaza, not a single mosque was hit. In the 3-week 20082009 war with Hamas, Israel shelled 17 mosques and toppled 20 minarets, saying they were
applied as Hamas military antennas.
For the duration of current visits by The Linked Press to a half-dozen Gaza mosques destroyed by
Israeli strikes, residents categorically denied they have been made use of by Hamas as hideouts
for its fighters or as storage places for its hardware.
"None, definitely none," or "I never saw members of the resistance anywhere here" had been the
most popular responses to queries about no matter if the militants utilized them for military
And, indeed, most of the targeted mosques did double as social, education and wellness centers
for residents, providing them healthcare care, classes to memorize the Quran and eradicate
illiteracy, as properly as sports events like soccer and table tennis tournaments.
Still, in a string of recent conflicts in the area, such as the ongoing Syrian civil war and the 20032011 Iraq war, militants routinely stored weapons in mosques as Israel accuses Hamas of
carrying out the houses of worship serving as a deterrent to the enemy, since targeting them
could develop a public relations disaster.
In this war, Israel's military says that Hamas has applied mosques to stockpile weapons and
rocket launchers, to hide tunnel access shafts and lookout posts, and to hold military technique
sessions. It says that of the much more than three,000 rockets Hamas fired at Israel throughout
the war, 600 have been launched from civilian facilities, which includes 160 from mosques. It has
also posted video clips on social media internet sites that it says show Israeli troops uncovering
weapons caches inside mosques.
"Terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, cruelly abused mosques and humanitarian
facilities by working with them for terror activities," the Israeli military stated in a statement
emailed to the AP. "It was Hamas that intentionally chose to establish its offensive capabilities
inside these premises, rendering them a reputable target."
Israeli counterterrorism expert Jonathan Fighel agreed.
"Cynically, they are using these locations in order, initially of all, to really feel immune that they
will not be targeted," stated Fighel of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, an
independent assume tank.
"And then if the place is targeted, they can scream and shout and say that the attacking side
was violating the sanctity of worship."

Mosques have traditionally been a key portion of Hamas' infrastructure, serving as centers for
recruiting, training and nurturing future fighters, and their destruction would undoubtedly have
negative repercussions for the militant movement in the future.
"They want to undermine our faith and resolve, which are the foundations of jihad," stated Yahya
Abu Siyam, a bearded main school teacher, as he sat with other worshippers inside the ruins of
the Farouq Mosque in the southern town of Rafah, targeted in a July 22 airstrike that also
damaged quite a few houses.
Standing atop the ruins of the Al-Qassam Mosque in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Abu Bilal
Darwish, the director of Islamic Endowments for central Gaza, echoed the exact same argument.
"This is aggression against Islam," he declared. "The occupiers realize that our mosques raise
men and individuals who need martyrdom for the sake of God."
Of the mosques visited by the AP, Al-Qassam stood out as the most suspicious provided that
three senior Hamas officials perished in the pre-dawn airstrike Saturday and judging by the
heavy safety presence in the aftermath of the attack. Underlining the tension, an AP reporter was
briefly detained by plainclothes Hamas safety guys following he took down the names of two
religious books recovered from the rubble.
Targeting mosques touches a raw nerve in Gaza, exactly where they are noticed not just as areas
of worship but as integral parts of the social fabric in the conservative coastal strip a spot
where individuals meet pals and relatives, as nicely as the venue for weddings and funerals. In a
conflict generally framed in religious terms, they are laden with symbolic significance and are
as austere as Gaza itself, without the grandiosity of quite a few not too long ago built mosques
across the area.
In at least a single attack, an ancient mosque was hit: The 7th century al-Omary mosque in the
Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which stands next to a huge, modern day, two-story
mosque by the similar name. Both have been destroyed.
Other mosques visited by the AP have a history that is deeply interwoven with the lives of the
Palestinians around them.
The towering Hamza Ibn Abdul-Mutaleb Mosque in Gaza City's Enjoy Hill district was a $1 million
project, two years in the generating and just weeks from completion, funded by the son of a
wealthy Palestinian businessman who passed away without the need of realizing his lifelong
dream of creating a mosque in his native land.
"To us, the mosque was a newborn infant that we all looked right after," stated Kamal Salim, who
sat on a committee that oversaw its construction. "With the blockade of Gaza, we struggled to
obtain developing material and the donor hired guards to cease anybody from attempting to use
the creating for purposes other than worship."
On the other side of Gaza, in the Zeitoun district, Kamal Foudah recalled the Aug. two strike that
demolished the neighborhood's Martyrs of Zeitoun mosque.
Just before dawn, he said, he received a call with these directions: "Go rouse everyone living
about the mosque and inform them to get out and move to a safe distance. You have 5 minutes
to do that prior to we bomb it."

Scared and confused, Foudah said he did what he was told.

"I ran out like a crazy man screaming 'Wake up! Get out, quick! The Jews will bomb the mosque!'"
he said, standing outside his dwelling, some 30 meters (yards) from the leveled mosque.
The caller was from the Israeli military and, as promised, the airstrike took place 15 minutes
later, damaging various properties but killing no one.
"I am a coward. Ahead of that night, I had not left property due to the fact the war began. I
cannot think I did what I did," Foudah mentioned.