Israeli troops shoot Gaza fisherman, arrests West Bankers

Updated 17 December 2012
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Israeli troops shoot Gaza fisherman, arrests West Bankers

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israeli naval forces shot and wounded a Palestinian fisherman in waters off the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, sources on both sides said.
Nizar Aayesh, head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, said the man was wounded when navy gunfire hit his boat after which he was taken to hospital in the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon.
“There was a shooting toward a Palestinian fishing boat in the sea off northern Gaza. One fisherman was injured and the occupation’s navy took him to Barzilai hospital,” he told AFP.
Under the terms of Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, Palestinian boats are permitted to fish within waters up to six nautical miles from the coast.
The fishing zone was extended from three nautical miles after a November 21 truce ended an eight-day confrontation between Israel and Gaza militants.
“It was within the six nautical mile limit, but the Israeli vessels took the boat and whoever was on it and we are waiting for the fisherman to come back to know more details,” Aayesh said.
The military confirmed the incident but insisted the boat was beyond the permitted fishing limit.
“Earlier this morning during routine activity, soldiers from the Israeli navy identified a Palestinian vessel which deviated from the designated fishing area,” a spokesman said, indicating the boat had failed to respond to orders to stop.
“The soldiers fired in order to halt the vessel,” he said, confirming one Palestinian “was injured by shrapnel” and had been treated by soldiers before being transferred to an Israeli hospital.
Meanwhile, troops in the northern West Bank arrested four Palestinians in Beit Rima near Ramallah early on Monday on suspicion of shooting offenses, witnesses said.
“Soldiers came to a house and arrested three brothers and another Palestinian, who was wounded,” the witnesses told AFP, saying they were accused of shooting at soldiers.
The arrests sparked several hours of clashes, they added.
An army spokeswoman confirmed the arrests, saying: “Four Palestinians were arrested overnight in Beit Rima on security grounds. They were taken for questioning.”
In another incident just south of Nablus, Jewish residents of the hard-line Yitzhar settlement clashed with shepherds from the nearby village of Madama, one of whom was hit in the leg by a bullet, a local official said.
“Settlers from Yitzhar attacked shepherds who were tending their flocks south of the village and started shooting with live ammunition,” Madama local council head Ehab Al-Qat told AFP.
He said a 27-year-old shepherd was shot in the leg and his brother “was beaten by settlers.” Palestinian medics confirmed they had treated one person for a gunshot wound.


France urges Iran to free human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Updated 26 min 51 sec ago
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France urges Iran to free human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

PARIS: France on Thursday called for Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to be released and warned Tehran that its adherence to a nuclear accord does not give it a blank cheque on human rights.
“We will do all we can to secure the release of Mrs.Sotoudeh,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the upper chamber Senate.
“She was condemned under astonishing conditions,” for “defending the rights of women, in particular those who contest the obligation to wear the Islamic veil,” he added.
Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan told AFP on Sunday that his wife had been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison over a case with seven charges, but she is to only serve the longest sentence, 12 years imposed on Sunday for “encouraging corruption and debauchery.”
She has also been convicted of espionage.
Sotoudeh has also been sentenced to a total of 148 lashes for appearing in court without the hijab Islamic head covering and for another offense.
According to Khandan, Sotoudeh has refrained from choosing a lawyer as attorneys on her previous cases have faced prosecution for representing her.
“We have been making considerable efforts in recent months to preserve the (Iranian) nuclear accord, despite America’s withdrawal,” said Le Drian.
“We are doing so because we respect our signature, but Iran must also respect its obligations in particular those international agreements relating to civil and political rights,” he added.
Last month the UN atomic watchdog said that Iran has been adhering to its deal with world powers on limiting its nuclear program, as diplomatic wrangling continues over the future of the accord.
The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran was still complying with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with global powers under which Tehran drastically scaled back its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
Last week, European nations rejected a call from US Vice President Mike Pence to follow the US lead in withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal.
Le Drian said Thursday: “Our wish to preserve the Vienna accord does not grant carte-blanche to Iran and certainly not in the matter of human rights.”
Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran.
Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offenses committed as minors.
She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.