2 more Palestinians killed in Gaza

Palestinian protesters throw back teargas canisters toward Israeli security forces during clashes in Bethlehem on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2017
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2 more Palestinians killed in Gaza

GAZA CITY: Two Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday with authorities in the Hamas-run territory blaming an Israeli strike, but Israel’s military immediately denying the claim.
The circumstances of the incident, which occurred near Gaza’s northern border with Israel, were initially unclear.
Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra told AFP the two men were killed “in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza after an Israeli strike targeted a motorcycle.”
The Israeli army immediately denied this, saying in a statement “contrary to Palestinian reports earlier today, the (army) did not attack in the northern Gaza Strip.”
Qudra named the two men as Hussein Ghazi Nasrallah and Mustafa Al-Sultan, both in their 20s.
Family members at the hospital where the bodies were taken told AFP the two men were members of Islamic Jihad, a militant group that fought alongside Hamas in the last war with Israel in 2014.
The deaths came amid tensions between Palestinians and Israeli forces following US President Donald Trump’s announcement he would move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
Four Gazans, including two Hamas militants, have died since the announcement last Wednesday. Two were killed in clashes, while two others died in Israeli airstrikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza.
Meanwhile, protests in the Middle East continued over Trump’s decision.
While tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Lebanon on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met EU foreign ministers in Brussels, declaring that the move he has lauded as historic “makes peace possible.”
He also said he expected “all or most” European countries would follow the US — but the 28-nation bloc’s foreign policy head Federica Mogherini gave him a stern rebuff, telling him to “keep his expectations for others.”
In Cairo, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced Trump’s decision as “destabilising” while calling for a resumption of long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks.
And after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara later Monday, Putin said the Trump declaration could “derail” peace efforts.
At a joint press conference, Erdogan said he and Putin had taken a similar approach on the issue, while accusing Israel of continuing to “add fuel to the flames.”
Erdogan has been perhaps the most outspoken of global leaders in warning about the consequences of Trump’s move.
Earlier Monday, he said in a speech in Ankara that Washington was a “partner to bloodshed.”
Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, organized a massive demonstration in Beirut.
In Tehran, hundreds of Iranian conservatives rallied against Israel and said Trump had hastened its demise by his decision.
In Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, dozens of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
“We came here against Trump’s decision and we want to send a message that Jerusalem is and will stay our capital, and we will stay to defend it,” one protester in a black ski mask told AFP.
There were also low-level clashes in Hebron and the Gaza Strip.
About 27 Palestinians were wounded by live fire or rubber bullets throughout the day, the Red Crescent said.
Palestinian demonstrations have declined in number and intensity since reaching a peak on Friday, but there are concerns they will again increase later this week.
Late Monday, at least two rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, with one intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system.
In response, Israel’s army said it hit Hamas military positions in the strip with tank and aircraft fire.
There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.
Palestinian leaders are outraged by Trump’s move, but they also face difficult choices in how to respond since they rely on US aid and would like to salvage the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
President Mahmud Abbas will refuse to meet US Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region later this month, Palestinian officials say, a move that led Washington to accuse Abbas of “walking away” from a chance to discuss peace.
Abbas on Monday met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, a key US ally in the region, ahead of a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said El-Sisi reaffirmed Cairo’s “firm” position on the need to maintain the legal and historical status of Jerusalem and support for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Netanyahu, who has been dogged by corruption investigations against him at home, has lauded Trump’s declaration.


Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe

Updated 34 min 9 sec ago
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Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe

  • Al-Ghufran tribe hand a letter of protest to the game’s world governing body, FIFA
  • The tribe claim that land used for World Cup stadiums was taken from them by force

ZURICH: Qatar was accused on Monday of building stadiums for the 2022 football World Cup on land stolen from a tribe it has persecuted for more than 20 years. 

A delegation from the Al-Ghufran tribe handed a letter of protest to the game’s world governing body, FIFA, and demanded that Qatar be stripped of the right to hold the tournament unless the tribe receives justice. 

“The World Cup is a gathering of people who come together for the love of the game, honest competition, brotherhood and love and respect among nations; how will Qatar play the role of supplying this when it is so unfair to its own citizens?” a spokesman for the tribe said. 

“The FIFA system states that the country where the World Cup is held must respect and preserve human rights, but this is a country that harms its own citizens and strips them of their rights, and then talks about freedom and democracy.”

The tribe claim that land used for World Cup stadiums was taken from them by force, and that sports facilities were built illegally and illegitimately after the owners were thrown off the land and stripped of their citizenship.

“The state resorted to every illegitimate method in dealing with the Al-Ghufran tribe, from deprivation to expulsion from the country, withdrawal of their official documents and denial of education and health care,” the spokesman said.

The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.

About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.

A delegation from the tribe has been in Switzerland for the past week, presenting their case to UN human rights officials in Geneva. 

They have asked the UN to stop Qatari authorities’ continuous and systematic discrimination against them, to protect the tribe’s members and restore their lost rights, and to punish the Qatari regime for human-rights violations.

A delegation from the tribe organized a demonstration on Monday at the Broken Chair, a monumental wooden sculpture opposite the Palace of Nations in Geneva that symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs.

“The international community must stop turning a blind eye to the human rights violations committed against the Al-Ghufran tribe by the Qatari regime,” said Mohamed Saleh Al-Ghafzani, a member of the delegation.

“We are talking to everyone who comes in and out of the United Nations building about our crisis and our stolen rights; after Qatar took our nationality away, there is nothing else we can lose.”