Amnesty International reported Wednesday that Qatari police on March 12 and 13 detained hundreds of foreign workers without charge on the pretext of testing them for COVID-19. However, the authorities instead confiscated the workers' documents and mobile phones before cramming them into overcrowded cells without beds while feeding them small rations of bread and water. Doha subsequently deported dozens of them. The Qatar Government Communications Office issued a statement claiming they already informed Amnesty international that those deported were "engaged in illegal and illicit activity...[including] the manufacture and sale of banned and prohibited substances, along with the sale of dangerous food goods."
Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced late Tuesday that he finished assembling his cabinet and would begin negotiations to win a parliamentary vote of approval that eluded the two previous prime ministers-designate.
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz's mandate to form a government ended at midnight and President Reuven Rivlin is not expected to nominate someone else, instead giving the Knesset three weeks to hammer out any coalition agreement. Negotiations between Likud and Blue and White were reportedly stymied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that the next government repeal the section of the Basic Law: Government prohibiting an indicted person from serving as a government minister. If the Knesset does not vote in a government in the next three weeks, President Rivlin will call for a fourth election.
Days after an IDF statement accused Syrian Army 1st Division commander Lua'a Ali Ahmad Asa'ad of helping Hezbollah establish a front on the Golan Heights, an Israeli UAV struck a vehicle in Syria Wednesday that was reportedly transporting senior Hezbollah operative Imad Karimi. It remains unclear whether the strike caused any fatalities.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) troops defused a standoff between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers Tuesday after the latter thought Israeli forces crossed the border. UNIFIL troops deployed themselves between the Lebanese and Israeli soldiers, who were aiming their weapons at each other, until the Israelis withdrew. UNIFIL later released a statement confirming the Israelis had not crossed the border.
A presidential decree Tuesday guarantees free treatment and medicine for COVID-19 patients in public hospitals through December, even for those who failed to pay their monthly premium to Turkey's universal state insurance system.
An Egyptian policeman and seven Islamist militants died during a government raid late Tuesday on a terrorist cell in Cairo suspected of planning attacks on Coptic Christians during the Holy Week and Easter. The Coptic Church will celebrate Easter on April 19.
The Houthi rebels officially declared on Tuesday that they will not abide by the unilateral two-week ceasefire declared on April 9 by the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition supporting it. Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam tweeted: "Past experiences bear witness to the failure of any dialogue under siege and military aggression and our people will not accept the repetition of something that has been proven to be a failure."
A report released Tuesday by the Iranian parliament's Research Center think tank estimated, based on media reports of figures provided by hospital officials, that the country's real COVID-19 infection rate could be up to 10 times higher than the number reported by the health ministry and the death toll more than 80 percent higher.
Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Shukri Bishara told reporters Wednesday that the Palestinian Monetary Authority will borrow $400 million from local banks in the coming six months as part of an emergency budget to cover health ministry and security force expenses.
German Federal prosecutors disclosed that tactical police units arrested four suspected ISIS members in North Rhine-Westphalia Wednesday for allegedly planning attacks on American air force bases in the country. The suspects already possessed the weapons to carry out the operation.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum.