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Gaza violence: UN votes on condemning Israel

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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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Politics

4 years of coalition strikes on Syria kill 3,300 civilians!

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BEIRUT: More than 3,000 civilians have been killed in US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria since they began four years ago, a monitor said on Sunday.
The Washington-led alliance puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and neighboring Iraq and says it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths. The coalition began bombing IS targets in Iraq in August 2014 after the jihadist group seized swathes of territory straddling the two countries, proclaiming an Islamic “caliphate”. The coalition extended its strikes to Syria on September 23, 2014. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said on Sunday those Syria strikes had since killed 3,331 civilians. The monitor relies on a network of sources inside Syria and tracks flight patterns, aircraft involved and ammunition used to determine who carries out raids.
“Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.  The coalition says it takes every possible precaution to prevent civilian deaths.  In its latest civilian casualty report published last month, the coalition said its strikes had unintentionally killed 1,061 civilians in both Iraq and Syria up until July 30, 2018.  It is still assessing a further 216 reports of civilian casualties, some of them in strikes dating back to 2014.  Its spokesman did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on the discrepancy between its toll and that of the Observatory, or for a breakdown of civilian casualties in Syria. The coalition’s operations have largely wound down, with the jihadists ousted from all but tiny bits of territory in Syria. More than 360,000 people have been killed across Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, nearly a third of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

 

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Asia

Maoist rebels kill India lawmaker: police

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NEW DELHI: Maoist rebels were accused Sunday of assassinating a south Indian lawmaker and another former legislator in a brazen daytime ambush on their vehicle, police and media reports said.
Kidari Sarveswara Rao, a member of the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh state, was shot dead near the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in what police say was a targeted hit on the sitting legislator.
Former lawmaker S. Soma, who was accompanying Rao, was also gunned down in the attack blamed on Maoist fighters active in a forested belt of central and eastern India.
E. Naidu, a local police official, told AFP that Rao was on a Maoist “hit list” of powerful figures accused of having ties to bauxite miners in the mineral-rich state.
“There were some 30 Maoists in hiding. They attacked suddenly, giving no time for them (Rao and Soma) to react,” he said.
The Press Trust of India reported that a large group blocked the car and overpowered the bodyguards escorting the two officials, before turning their weapons on them.
It was the first such attack in many years in Andhra Pradesh, once a hotbed for insurgents fighting for what they say are the land rights of marginalized tribal communities.
Maoists are still active across thousands of square miles of central and eastern India known as the “Red Corridor”.
The insurgency began in West Bengal five decades ago when peasant farmers rose up against feudal landlords. Some 10,000 people have been killed since.

 

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Europe

Macron’s popularity at record lows

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PARIS: The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29 percent of respondents satisfied with his leadership.
The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old’s battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.
The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.
A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19 percent of French people had a positive view of Macron’s record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29 percent thought he was a “good president.”  The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election — something suffered by Macron’s predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.
His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.
Macron’s biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth. His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France’s chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.
The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1,964 people. Macron’s approval rating of 29 percent includes 3.0 percent of people who declared themselves “very satisfied” and 26 percent who said they were “mostly satisfied.”
Hollande had an inferior rating of 23 percent at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34 percent.

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