Four lose lives as Aden protesters clash with police

Updated 22 February 2013
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Four lose lives as Aden protesters clash with police

ADEN: Yemeni police shot dead four people in Aden yesterday in clashes with protesters calling for southern independence on the first anniversary of the ouster of autocratic leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, their movement said. The police fired on the protesters after thousands of them had gathered at a square in the southern port city, Fathi Ben Lazraq, a member of the Southern Movement, told AFP.
Three activists “were killed by police gunfire as they were trying to reach the place where the rally was being held,” said Ben Lazraq, adding that a passerby was also shot dead.
A rival rally was held in the same spot by members of Al-Islah (reform) party, in support of unity and of President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose uncontested election ended 33 years of iron-fisted rule under Saleh. The powerful Southern Movement is demanding independence for south Yemen, and had warned of unrest if Al-Islah went ahead with rival demonstrations.
Twenty-eight southerners were also wounded by the police in clashes around Aden as they tried to prevent protesters from entering the city from neighboring provinces, according to the group.
Two policemen were wounded by sniper fire from the rooftops of buildings surrounding the protest square, security officials said.
Aden was paralyzed on Thursday as security forces deployed heavily around the city, and amid fears by residents that the rival rallies would degenerate into violence, an AFP correspondent reported.
Thousands of Al-Islah supporters gathered in the area, waving Yemeni flags and holding portraits of Hadi as well as banners reading “unity is our strength.” The southerners, for their part, carried flags of the former South Yemen, which was a separate state before unification with the north in 1990.
They also displayed pictures of Ali Salem Al-Baid, who served as the last president of the region before union. “Revolution in the south, occupiers go out,” they chanted.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

Updated 7 min 31 sec ago
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

  • Israel rejects report saying the protection should be against Palestinian leaders
  • The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.

But the report has been rejected by the Israelis.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement late Friday that “the only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership.”
“Instead of suggesting ways to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should instead hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for continually endangering its own people,” Danon said.
“The report’s suggestions will only enable the Palestinians’ continued rejectionism.”
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.