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Gaza violence: UN votes on condemning Israel

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Emergency UN GA meeting on Gaza

MANHATTAN: The UN General Assembly was set to vote Wednesday on condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza in a resolution opposed by the United States, which wants the world body to blame Hamas for the violence.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the Arab-backed measure as “fundamentally imbalanced” for its failure to mention Hamas and has proposed an amendment that condemns the Palestinian militant group.

“Any resolution focused on the protection of civilians in Gaza must recognize the destabilizing and reckless actions of Hamas, which endanger the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians,” Haley wrote in a letter sent to fellow ambassadors on the eve of the vote.

At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.

The Arab-drafted text deplores Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

The 193-nation assembly is expected to vote first on the US-drafted amendment condemning Hamas for “inciting violence” along the border with Gaza before the vote on the resolution. Diplomats said Algeria, which presented the draft resolution with Turkey, could push for a “no-action” motion to block a vote on the US amendments.

Despite the maneuvers, the Arab-backed resolution is expected to be adopted, but it remains unclear whether a strong majority will support it in the face of strong US opposition.

Relevant pieces published earlier: 

i) The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency meeting next Wednesday at 3:00 pm (19:00 GMT) to vote on an Arab-backed resolution on Gaza, the body’s president Miroslav Lajcak announced Friday. The resolution will condemn Israel and will be similar to one vetoed by the United States in the Security Council last week, which called for protecting Palestinians from Israeli aggression, according to diplomats. It comes as four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on Friday, as weeks of deadly clashes with protesters continued. Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly have no binding value, unlike those passed by the Security Council. “We will work next week to get the maximum number of votes,” a diplomat from a country that supported the measure told the Media. Arab countries turned to the General Assembly in December after the US vetoed a Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn its decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Fourteen members of the Security Council backed the December resolution, though the US, as well as the council’s four other permanent members, retain a right to veto. The measure then received 128 votes out of 193 in the General Assembly. (Published on 9th June 2018) 

ii) An AFP photographer was shot in the leg as Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators along the Gaza border on Friday, the health ministry and the journalist said. Mohammed Abed al-Baba, who has worked for AFP in Gaza since 2000, said he was shot in the leg while wearing a clearly identified press vest and helmet around 200 meters (yards) from the border east of Jabalia in northern Gaza. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said Baba was wounded by Israeli fire. The bullet hit him below the knee, with his condition, not life-threatening, medics said. Three Palestinians, among them a 15-year-old, were killed by Israeli fire elsewhere along the border as thousands demonstrated, the health ministry added. The Israeli army said it was dealing with a riot. Minor clashes were underway east of Jabalia when Abed was shot and he said he was trying to photograph a wounded protester. He was taken to the Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza for treatment, where a doctor said he would undergo surgery to stabilize a bone. (9th of June, 2018)

iii) ICC vows to ‘take any action warranted’ over Gaza unrest, The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court vowed Tuesday that she was watching closely the unrest in Gaza and would “take any action warranted” to prosecute crimes. “My staff is vigilantly following developments on the ground and recording any alleged crime that could fall within” the tribunal’s jurisdiction, Fatou Bensouda warned in a statement to AFP, “The violence must stop,” she insisted, urging “all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this situation and the Israel Defense Forces to avoid excessive use of force.” Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during clashes and protests on Monday over the deeply controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in January 2015 signing up to the Rome Statute which underpins the world’s only permanent war crimes court. The Palestinians asked the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in the Gaza war the previous year, and Bensouda opened her inquiry just a few days later. She recalled Tuesday that the “situation in Palestine is under preliminary investigation by my office. I will be watching and I will take any action warranted by my mandate under the Rome Statute,” she warned a day after one of the bloodiest days for years in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  

In her final embrace, Mariam al-Ghandour hugs the tiny body of her daughter, Leila, tight, tears rolling down her face. “The Israelis killed her,” she sobbed. The health ministry in Gaza says baby Leila, only eight months old, died after inhaling tear gas along the border with Israel on Monday as major protests escalated into the bloodiest day in years, with at least 60 Palestinians killed. The family prefers to focus on who fired the gas rather than the series of decisions that led to a baby being a few hundred meters (yards) from the Israeli border during the protests and clashes. Leila is an outlier — 13 years younger than any of the other victims and one of only two females. The vast majority have been killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli snipers but Leila was caught up in a cloud of tear gas, only temporarily painful for adults but potentially more dangerous for infants. Mariam, herself only 17, explained that she had a dentist appointment “so I left Leila with my brothers at home”. “My little brother took her and went to the border,” she said.

 

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UN peacekeeping chief to visit Pakistan

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MANHATTAN: UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix will visit Pakistan and three other South Asian nations to thank troop-contributors for their service and to update them on the ongoing reforms to strengthen the world body’s flagship activity.
Lacroix will visit Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and Pakistan from June 23 to July 3. He will visit Dhaka, Bangladesh, following which he will travel to Kathmandu. He will then travel to New Delhi, before concluding his trip to the region with a visit to Islamabad.
A note issued to correspondents Friday said that troops and police from these four countries together make up close to one-third of some 91,000 uniformed personnel across 14 UN peacekeeping operations.
The purpose of Lacroix’s visit is to “thank the four countries for their service and sacrifice in the name of peace, as well as to update on the ongoing reforms in the UN peace and security reform area, and specifically the UN Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative to make peacekeeping more focused, safer and stronger,” the note said.
The A4P initiative centers on three areas: refocusing peacekeeping with realistic expectations; making peacekeeping missions stronger and safer; and mobilizing greater support for political solutions and for well-structured, well-equipped, well-trained forces.
While in the region, Lacroix will meet with senior officials from all four countries, including government, military, and police officials.
Pakistan is one of largest contributors of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping. It currently contributes nearly 6,000 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lauded Pakistan’s contribution to peacekeeping missions and paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Pakistan also hosts one of UN’s oldest missions — the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the ceasefire line in the disputed state of Kashmir.
The group, established in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire line in Kashmir, is composed of 44 military observers and 23 international civilian personnel.

 

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Pakistan expresses concerns over humanitarian crisis in Yemen!

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Pakistan Saturday expressed its concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and urged all parties to return to the negotiation table as only a political settlement could ensure lasting peace in the country.
Addressing the Meeting of the Information Ministers of the Coalition Countries for the Support of Legitimacy in Yemen here, Shafqat Jalil, Additional Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting who led the Pakistani delegation in the meeting, said Pakistan supported all peace efforts in Yemen and looked forward to an early cessation of hostilities in the country and its return to peace and tranquility.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Culture and Information of Saudi Arabia Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad and information ministers and delegates from the member countries of the coalition.
Shafqat Jalil told the meeting that Pakistan desired de-escalation of the ongoing crisis and an early commencement of negotiation among the rival factions, to restore peace in the country.
“Pakistan calls for the unconditional restoration of the legitimate government of President Abdurabuh Mansour Hadi and withdrawal of rebel forces from territories seized by them, including Sana’a,” he said.
He said the resolution passed by Pakistan’s parliament on April 10, 2015, endorsed these principles and strengthened the hands of the government for playing a positive and constructive role.
He said despite four years of war, peace in Yemen still remained elusive in spite of tireless efforts of the international community.
“The ongoing war in Yemen poses a serious threat to peace and stability of the entire region and, therefore, calls for our immediate attention,” he remarked.
He said the role of non-state factors in Yemen conflict was of particular concern for all regional countries and their unremitting attacks on civilian population and sensitive targets in Saudi Arabia were viewed as a threat to the entire Muslim world.
He said Pakistan was concerned and seized with the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which called for more concerted efforts at the global level to alleviate the sufferings of the Yemeni people.
Shafqat Jalil said Pakistan welcomed and appreciated the generous efforts of the international community, including those of the UN and OIC to help the Yemeni people through the provision of much-needed humanitarian aid.
Pakistan also contributed US$ 1 million worth of food assistance to Yemen last year; he recalled and lauded the Saudi initiative of providing relief to the war victims in Yemen.
Pakistan also appreciated the contribution of King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Centre and Saudi for various humanitarian projects in the country since 2015, including its contribution to the UNICEF.

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Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud is the new TTP Leader

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KUNAR: The banned militant outfit TTP’s Shura Council has today disclosed the name of their new chief, 40-year-old Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud.

Noor Wali Mehsud will be their Amir after Mullah Fazlullah, who was droned to death on 14th June (2018) in Kunar Province (close to Pakistan border) like two of his predecessors. 

Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud who had got his Islamic edification at a number of seminaries in Pakistan had penned the details of planning the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud. 

Death of Mullah Fazlullah: 

Hours after COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa left Kabul for Pakistan*, US armed forces carried out a drone attack here on Wednesday 13th June at 9 am local time, killing (Fazal Hayat, commonly known as) Mullah Fazlullah or Maulana Radio.**

Mullah Fazlullah was made the TTP chief when his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud was droned to death in North Waziristan by US forces on 1st of November 2013. It is pertinent to mention here that Fazlullah was the first non-Mehsud*** to head TTP. 

Graves of Maulana Radio and his associates!

Afghan defense ministry spokesman proclaimed: “I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in a joint air operation – with the US – in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province.”Confirming the death of Mullah Fazlullah, TTP said that Afghan intelligence service (National Directorate of Security/Riyāsat-e Amniyat-e Milli – NDS) provided information facilitating the drone attack. It is yet to be ascertained who got the head money of $5million****.

A spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan told:  “US forces conducted a counterterrorism strike June 13 in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.”

According to sources while 3,739 were killed in 2012 by armed groups including TTP, the number came down to 748 deaths in 2017. Pakistan Military claims to have killed over 4000 TTP fighters.

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* So far Pakistan and Afghanistan have held seven meetings on Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS – formed following the deadly attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel that also claimed life of Afghan envoy to Pakistan) during 2018. In one such meetings Afghanistan has been asked by Pakistan to hand over 43 militants including Fazal Hayat.

* *Fazal Hayat/Fazlullah was called Maulana Radio as he also used to transmit broadcasts of his sermons on a clandestine local FM radio channel. 

***Mehsud is a tribe mostly based in South Waziristan Agency (in Pakistan).

****US designated him a global terrorist and put a bounty of $5 million.

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