Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

Palestinian relatives mourn over the death of 29-years-old Yussef al-Fassih during his funeral after he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers the day before, in Khan Yunis on June 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018

Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

  • At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30
  • The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency meeting next Wednesday at 3 p.m. 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 US 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.
There are no vetoes in the 193-member world body, but while Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not.
“We will work next week to get the maximum number of votes,” a diplomat from a country that supported the measure told AFP.
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.

December resolution
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.
A diplomatic source said the emergency meeting had been pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League.
Several European countries have tried to dissuade Palestinians and Arab countries from demanding a vote in the General Assembly after last week’s US veto.
“Everyone told them not to do it,” said a diplomat on condition of anonymity, arguing the resolution could be counterproductive if it doesn’t receive at least as many votes as the one obtained in December on Jerusalem.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, condemned the planned resolution.
“It is unfortunate that instead of condemning the terrorists of Hamas, some countries are looking to satisfy their domestic political needs by bashing Israel at the United Nations,” Danon said in a statement.
It is not entirely clear what form of protection the Palestinians of Gaza are seeking, from observers to a full blown peacekeeping force.
Arab states have recently turned to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals on this matter. But according to a diplomat who asked for anonymity, he said he needed a mandate from the Security Council to look further into the issue.
On Friday, four Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers near the border fence during new clash-ridden protests in the blockaded enclave.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30. There have been no Israeli casualties.
Protests peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in protests to coincide with the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem

Crippling blockade
The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Critics say it amount to collective punishment of the territory’s two million residents.
The resolution expected to be put to a vote also demands that Israel refrain from the use of excessive force and “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas.” It calls for an immediate cease-fire.
The Palestinians are also strongly backing an investigation into events in Gaza by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and a separate General Assembly investigation, said Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour.
“We are mobilizing all of our efforts with as many as we can reach from groups and member states to receive the largest number of votes possible to support us,” Mansour said.


Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

Updated 24 January 2020

Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

  • Al-Imam is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel
  • The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison

NEW YORK: A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Libyan militant to more than 19 years in prison for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.
A jury convicted Mustafa Al-Imam last year of conspiring to support the extremist militia that launched the fiery assaults on the US compounds but deadlocked on 15 other counts.
The attacks, aimed at killing American personnel, prompted a political fracas in which Republicans accused the Obama administration of a bungled response.
Al-Imam was sentenced to a total of 236 months behind bars. He is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications specialist Sean Smith and security officers Tyrone Snowden Woods and Glen Anthony Doherty.
The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Khattala was accused of driving to the diplomatic mission on Sept. 11, 2012, and breaching the main gate with militants who attacked with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons.
The initial attack killed Stevens and Smith and set the mission ablaze. Woods and Doherty were later killed at a CIA annex.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Washington asked US District Judge Christopher Cooper to send a message to others contemplating attacks on Americans overseas, saying Al-Imam deserved the maximum 35-year sentence.
“In the current geopolitical environment, terrorists must understand that there are harsh consequences for attacking diplomatic posts and harming US personnel — particularly a US ambassador,” Assistant US Attorney John Cummings wrote in a court filing.
Defense attorneys said Al-Imam made a “tremendous mistake” by damaging and looting US property after the attacks. But they insisted there was no evidence he intended to harm any Americans, noting jurors could not reach a verdict on the murder charges Al-Imam faced.
“Mustafa Al-Imam is a frail, uneducated and simple man,” they wrote in a court filing. “He is not a fighter, an ideologue or a terrorist. He is a former convenience store clerk whose main loves in life are soccer and family.”
Al-Imam was tried in a civilian court despite the Trump administration’s earlier contention that such suspects are better sent to Guantanamo Bay. His arrest, five years after the attack, was the first publicly known operation since President Donald Trump took office targeting those accused of involvement in Benghazi.
Prosecutors acknowledged there was no evidence that Al-Imam “directly caused” the killings at the US compounds. But they said he aligned himself with Khattala and acted as his “eyes and ears” at the height of the attacks.
During a four-week trial in Washington, prosecutors pointed to phone records that showed Al-Imam was in the vicinity of the mission and placed an 18-minute call to Khattala during a “pivotal moment” of the attacks.
Al-Imam also entered the US compound, prosecutors said, and took sensitive material that identified the location of the CIA annex about a mile away from the mission as the evacuation point for Department of State personnel.
In interviews with law enforcement following his 2017 capture in Misrata, Libya, he admitted stealing a phone and map from the US mission.