Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has showered praises on Nigeria’s national female football team the Super Falcons emerging as champions of Africa for the eighth time after beating host nation Cameroon.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, Dogara said that by winning the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, the Super Falcons have made the country proud.
He said that the Super Falcons played classic Nigerian soccer exhibiting the true Nigerian spirit of resilience and hardwork and described them as patriots.
The Speaker specifically commended Desire Oparanozie who scored the only goal that saw the Falcons beat the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroun on their home soil.
He noted that by weathering the storm in all stages of the competition, the Super Falcons displayed an uncommon spirit of patriotism to Nigeria.
“You have not only earned yourself a place in our history and advanced your careers as athletes but your victory today is a victory to all Nigerians.
“We are proud of all the players and members of the technical crew more especially Florence Omagbemi who made history as the first to win the championship as a player and a coach,” he said.
Nigeria scored 13 goals in the tournament, conceding one, with Asisat Oshoala emerging as the highest goal scorer.
The President, who described the hard-earned victory over the Indomitable Lionesses as “very sweet and well-deserved,” particularly commended the Nigerian women for their “indomitable spirit, resilience and team work” which spurred them to victory in spite of a vociferous home crowd.
President Buhari notes that the Nigerian team achieved “this feat of being African champions for the 8th time,” a development he says has lifted the spirits of sports-loving Nigerians.
He enjoined other Nigerian sportsmen and women to emulate the exemplary attitude of the Super Falcons who placed the interest of the nation above personal interests, while assuring that the Federal Government will not relent in doing its best to promote sports within available resources.
The President alsoacknowledged the technical competence of the coaching crew, which enabled the Nigerian players to overcome their hard-fighting opponents throughout the competition.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria are champions of Africa for the eight time with Desire Oparanozie scoring the lone goal for Nigeria in the 84th minute.
Coach of the Nigerian team, Florence Omagbemi, also made history by becoming the first individual to win the AWCON as a player and a coach.
Nigeria scored 13 goals in the tournament, conceding one, with Asisat Oshoala emerging as the highest goal scorer.
A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at ending their seven-week conflict in Gaza appeared to be holding early on Wednesday as the focus shifted to securing an arrangement for the long term.
No clear victor emerged from what had become a war of attrition between the Middle East’s most powerful armed forces and the dominant Hamas militant movement in the Gaza Strip.
Exacting a heavy toll in Palestinian lives and property, Israel said it dealt a strong blow to Hamas, killing several of its military leaders and destroying the group’s cross-border infiltration tunnels.
But Israel also faced persistent rocket fire for nearly two months that caused an exodus from a number of border communities and became part of daily life in its commercial heartland.
Palestinian and Egyptian officials said the deal, which was mediated in Cairo and took effect on Tuesday evening, called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
A senior official of the Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, voiced willingness for the security forces of Western-backed Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and the unity government he formed in June to control the passage points.
Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are seeking guarantees that weapons will not enter the territory of 1.8 million people.
Under a second stage of the truce that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and Israel’s release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, possibly in a trade for body parts of two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas, the officials said.
After the ceasefire began, crowds and traffic filled the streets of Gaza. Car horns blared and recorded chants praising God sounded from mosque loudspeakers. Celebratory gunfire killed one Palestinian and wounded 19 others, hospital officials said.
“Today we declare the victory of the resistance, today we declare the victory of Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Israel gave a low-key response to the truce, saying it would facilitate the flow of civilian goods and humanitarian and reconstruction aid into the impoverished territory if the “open-ended” ceasefire was honored.
“We have no problem with civilian support for Gaza,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We don’t want to see Hamas rebuild its military machine.”
Many residents of southern Israel remained skeptical, and some officials recommended against returning home too soon.
“We had ceasefires in the past that didn’t succeed or work out well, and (Hamas) continued with their terror, destruction, with all their craziness, and we no longer believe them,” said Israeli Meirav Danino outside a supermarket in the border town of Sderot that for years has been hit by rockets.
The United States and United Nations urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement.
“We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead.”
Palestinian health officials say 2,139 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in the enclave since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket salvoes.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel have been killed – a civilian died after the ceasefire was announced from a mortar attack earlier in the day.
Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip United Nation have been destroyed or damaged in the most prolonged Israeli-Palestinian fighting since a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising. The has named a panel to investigate possible war crimes committed by both sides.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced in the Gaza Strip. Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants and uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launch sites for rockets.
“We have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken,” said Gaza teacher Ahmed Awf, 55, as he held his two-year-old son in his arms and joined in the street festivities.
Many of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, a partly U.S.-funded project hailed by many Israelis as an example of their nation’s high-tech capabilities.
But short-range mortar bombs rained down on farming communities and towns near the Gaza border, putting into question the start of the school year in the area on Sept. 1.
Israel has purportedly accused Hamas of violating a cease fire agreement after Hamas fired a rocket at the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Saturday.
On Sunday, Hamas decided to call for a ceasefire, but to Israel, it was a joke.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised that Israel would do what it must to defend itself not minding the number of civilian casualty, which has been rising consistently over the last few days.
What is worse is that while both sides are yet to agree to a ceasefire through expected talks, there could be more deaths because of lack of food, or treatment materials as hospitals have ran out of medical supplies. What they have can barely dress a wound caused by a shrapnel.
Israel has ignored calls by the international community to scale back its attacks. Hamas on the other hand, has been playing up civilian casualties to its own advantage, saying Israel has been targeting civilian populations.
Early last week, baby Shayma Hussien was delivered by the doctors from her mother, whom they said was killed in an Israeli airstrike in their house. Baby Sheyma lies peacefully in her incubator. Obliviously to the rest of the world, baby Sheyma has a tough future ahead of her.
Doctors had said that her father and siblings had been killed in air strikes.
This is one of the many personal and hapless tales from the Hamas/Israeli conflict in Gaza.
More than 2 weeks now, the Palestinian population in Gaza, have borne the brunt of Israeli’s vengeance on Hamas.
Although, fighting did subside on Sunday, at the end of the Muslim Ramadan holiday, but thus; attacks has not stopped.
Earlier on Sunday, Hamas said it had endorsed a call by the United Nations for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire, at least for the holiday.
But rocket fire could still be heard,causing Mr Netanyahu, to question the validity of the announcement.
Video shown on Israeli television showed Israeli ground forces as they travelled to Gaza’s Khirbet Khze’a neighbourhood and walked through rubble-filled streets.
They said they were in a Hamas stronghold, indicating a determination that Israel will fully carry out its threat on Hamas.
The Israeli has stepped up its ground offensive in Gaza early on Friday, pounding targets with artillery fire and using tanks and infantry to battle Hamas fighters.
Orange flashes illuminated the eastern Gaza Strip as Israeli gunboats off the Mediterranean coast fired shells and tracer bullets, and helicopters fired across the border. Hamas fired rockets back into Israel towards the southern towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
Palestinian health officials said 23 Palestinians had been killed since Israel launched its ground offensive against the densely-populated strip of 1.8 Million Palestinians on Thursday. Israel said one of its soldiers had been killed in fighting.
A video clip released by the military showed six tanks rolling in through the sand dunes of Gaza, after a soldier opened a border fence, and two long rows of foot soldiers.
“We are using a very high level of fire power and artillery,” Israeli military spokesman, Brigadier General Motti Almoz said. “A great number of soldiers are in action in the Gaza Strip, soldiers are overtaking their targets, tunnels, Hamas targets,” Almoz said, and several “points of friction” with gunmen.
Israel signalled the invasion would be limited in scope – targeting tunnels dug by gunmen – and said it was not intended to topple Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s dominant Islamist group.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded with defiance, saying, “We warn (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu of the dreadful consequences of such a foolish act”.
Live television showed interceptions of rockets by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system and no casualties were reported.
Almoz said one soldier had been killed and several wounded in fighting, Israeli media said was concentrated in several areas in the north and south of the territory.
The soldier was Israel’s second fatality in eleven days of fighting which spilled over into a land offensive late on Thursday. A rocket attack killed a civilian two days ago. In all, 251 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the fighting began on July 8.
Israeli military Spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, said on Twitter that Israel had killed 14 Palestinian gunmen in “exchanges of fire throughout Gaza” and destroyed 20 rocket launchers.
Hamas’s armed wing said in a statement they had detonated three explosives in northern Gaza and “clashes are ongoing”. It also said its fighters had repelled Israeli forces trying to enter another Gaza town, Beit Hanoun, wounding seven soldiers.
Israel began the air and sea offensive in what it called a response to mounting rocket salvos, more than 100 a day, fired by Gaza militants into its cities, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis dashing to shelters as far north as the Tel Aviv business hub.
At least 20 more rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, a military spokeswoman said.
Hamas leaders have talked up their “tunnel campaign” against the Israeli enemy. One publicity video showed Palestinian fighters hauling rockets through a narrow passage to load onto a launcher that appears buried in an orchard. It is then fired remotely after its mechanized cover slides open.
French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, will visit the Middle East on Friday to try to defuse the crisis, and for discussions about putting a European mission on the Gaza-Israel border, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.
Israel last mounted a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip during a three-week war in late 2008 and early 2009 that claimed 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.
Palestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.
About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.
The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.
At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.
Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.
In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.
“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”
After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.
The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.
Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.
However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.
There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.
“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.
Israel has resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire that Tel Aviv agreed to, failed to stop Hamas militants from halting rocket attacks.
Israel had earlier accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal and halted operations on Tuesday morning but Hamas defied Arab and Western calls to cease fire and rejected the initiative as a “surrender”.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire deal, a proposal that addressed, in only general terms, some of its key demands, and said its battle with Israel would “increase in ferocity and intensity”.
A top Hamas political official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, who was in Cairo, said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease Egyptian and Israeli border restrictions throttling Gaza’s economy, had made no final decision on Cairo’s proposal.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had warned that if the rocket fire continued, Israel would hit back hard.
Israel had also threatened to step up a week-old offensive that could include an invasion of the densely populated enclave of 1.8 million.
Thus, Israel resumed attacks in Gaza hours after implementation of the truce was to have begun.
The military said it targeted at least 20 of Hamas’s hidden rocket launchers, tunnels and weapons storage facilities.
A Palestinian civilian was, reportedly, killed in an air strike in Khan Younis, raising the death toll in the Gaza Strip in eight days of fighting to 188, including at least 150 civilians, among them 31 children, according to Gaza medical officials.
There have been no huge fatalities in Israel, largely due to Iron Dome, but the rocket salvoes have made a rush to shelters a daily routine for hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
The surge in hostilities over the past week was prompted by the murder last month of three Jewish seminary students in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the revenge killing on July 2 of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem.
Israel said on Monday that three Jews in police custody had confessed to killing the Palestinian.
In the densely populated Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, explosions echoed day and night, shaking buildings and sending up plumes of smoke, at least 17 civilians including five children were among the 23 dead, Palestinian officials said.
Israelis escaped on Tuesday, as air-raid sirens sounded in the business capital, Tel Aviv and the holy city of Jerusalem, both of which were hit in the Gaza war of November 2012.
Israelis Iron Dome interceptor shot down a rocket fired at Tel Aviv by Gaza faction Islamic Jihad, Israel said this may be just the start of a lengthy offensive against Islamist militants whose rockets struck deeper than ever before into Israel.
Hamas said it also fired a rocket at the major Northern City of Haifa, 140 km (88 miles) away, though this was not confirmed, Israel said a rocket had landed in Hadera, 100 km (60 miles) from Gaza, further than had previously been reached.
The rocket strikes could lead to an Israeli ground invasion, something officials have said is a possible option.
The militant, Hafez Hamad, two brothers and his parents were killed when his house was bombed in an air strike in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas Media and Gaza Interior Ministry said. An unidentified woman in the house was also killed.
Since Israel launched its offensive on Tuesday, five Hamas gunmen, an Islamic Jihad leader and 17 civilians, including seven children, have been killed.
Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on Israelis to rally together and “show resilience because this operation could take time”.
“We will not tolerate rocket fire against our cities and townships, and therefore I ordered a significant broadening of IDF (Israel Defence Force) operations against the terrorists of Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip,” he said in a statement.
In a bold infiltration, gunmen from Hamas landed on the shore near Zikim, adjacent to the Gaza border, where a kibbutz and a military base are located. Four gunmen were killed.
Palestinians have since launched more than 200 rockets from Gaza, Israel said.
While threatening an “earthquake” of escalation against Israel, Hamas said it could restore calm if Israel halted the Gaza offensive, once again committed to a 2012 Egyptian-brokered truce and freed prisoners it detained in the West Bank last month.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday that, to support regular forces, it had called up 1,000 reserve troops out of a pool of 40,000 approved by the security cabinet. Some 1,500 other reservists have already been mobilised.
Reuters – Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel on Friday, 9 December, in retaliation against the Israeli air strike that killed three Palestinians and wounded several others.
The rocket fire was captured in a video obtained by Reuters, which was released to the foreign news organisations by the Salahudeen Brigades.
The video showed milit
ants on Friday launching rockets into nearby towns in Southern Israel. According to Reuters reports, the militants also released a statement declaring that they would attack Israeli towns close to the Gaza Strip.
The rocket attack is the latest in a string of violence between Israel and Gaza that erupted on Thursday 8 December, when the Israeli air force killed three Palestinians and militants by firing rockets deep across the border. One of the militants killed was from Gaza’s governing Islamist group Hamas, whom Israel accused of planning to send gunmen to attack it through the neighbouring Sinai region of Egypt.
Palestinian militants responded to Thursday’s air strike with a barrage of rockets, some of which landed near Beersheba, a city 35 km (30 miles) from Gaza. No one was hurt. Air-raid sirens summoned residents of southern Israel to shelters.
Another Israeli air strike followed before dawn on Friday, hitting a Hamas training camp in Gaza City. The blast flattened a nearby home, killing its owner and wounding his wife and six of their children, two critically, according to hospital officials.
In a statement voicing regret for the civilian casualties, the military said Palestinian rockets stored next to the camp had stoked the explosion. Hamas accused Israel of a “massacre”.
Palestinian militants stepped up rocket attacks as night fell. Three groups said they had fired more than a dozen projectiles across the border. Israel police said at least ten of them landed in Israeli territory, causing no casualties.
Witnesses in Gaza reported heavy activity of Israeli drones over head.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, said the group was pursuing “intensive contacts with several Arab and international parties” and wanted immediate cease on the “aggression”.
Hamas spurns peacemaking with the Jewish state but has in the past proposed truces as it sought to consolidate control over Gaza and negotiate power-sharing with the rival, U.S.-backed Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.