Abbas urges UN to end ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
Updated 21 September 2017
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Abbas urges UN to end ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday urged the United Nations to end what he described as an “apartheid” regime imposed by Israel in the Palestinian territories.
“We are entrusted and you are entrusted to end apartheid in Palestine,” Abbas told the UN General Assembly in a nearly 45-minute address.
“Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?” he asked.
Taking the podium a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas slammed Israel over the construction of new settlements “everywhere,” saying they were putting the two-state solution in jeopardy.
“There is no place left for the state of Palestine and this is not acceptable,” he said.
The United Nations considers settlements illegal under international law and the Security Council in December adopted a resolution demanding an end to the expansion of the Jewish outposts on the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The resolution passed after the United States under the previous administration of Barack Obama declined to use its veto and instead abstained.
The Palestinian leader vowed to push for full recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, a move that would require approval from the Security Council where the United States, Israel’s key ally, holds veto power.
Abbas spoke at the assembly after meeting US President Donald Trump who said he was “working very hard with everybody involved toward peace” but offered little detail.


Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

Updated 15 August 2018
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Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

  • A military fact-finding mission into the “Black Friday” assault showed that a criminal investigation was “not warranted”
  • It acknowledged, however, that up to 70 civilians were "unintentionally killed"

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military on Wednesday closed its probe into a deadly 2014 assault in Gaza that followed the capture of a soldier despite a rights group’s charge of possible war crimes.
A military fact-finding mission into the “Black Friday” assault in which Amnesty says more than 130 Palestinian civilians died during the 2014 Gaza war showed that a criminal investigation was “not warranted,” the army said in a statement.
It acknowledged, however, that up to 70 civilians were “unintentionally killed as a result of attacks directed at military targets and military operatives.”
At least 42 Palestinian militants were also killed, the statement said, citing information gathered by the military advocate general.
The assault in Rafah, southern Gaza, on August 1, 2014 was launched after the kidnapping of Israeli Lt. Hadar Goldin shortly after the announcement of a cease-fire.
Two other soldiers were killed in fighting that led to the kidnapping in the Hamas-run enclave, while Goldin himself was later declared dead.
In response, the military implemented the so-called Hannibal Directive — a controversial procedure which allows for an intensive military response to secure the rescue of a captured soldier.
Israel bombed the city of Rafah and the surrounding area near the border with Egypt.
In 2015, Amnesty International said there had been “strong evidence” of war crimes by Israeli forces as it published a detailed analysis of the assault using eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery, photos and videos.
According to Amnesty, at least 135 civilians were killed in the air and ground assault.
Civilians had begun to return home due to the cease-fire announcement, Amnesty said, alleging “massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets.”
Israel’s statement on Wednesday said the use of force was “in accordance with operational considerations and with an effort to mitigate, as much as possible, harm to civilians.”
“No grounds were found to support the allegation that the objective of the (military’s) actions were to extract revenge following the abduction of Lt. Goldin,” it said.
The statement said there was no evidence that the Hannibal Directive led to “the use of force in a disproportionate or unrestrained manner.”
The decades-old directive has since been revoked by the military and replaced with a new one.
More than 2,250 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children, in the 2014 war, the third between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008.
Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.