US special envoy to Afghanistan testifies before Senate as staff ordered to leave Kabul

US special envoy to Afghanistan testifies before Senate as staff ordered to leave Kabul
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Updated 28 April 2021

US special envoy to Afghanistan testifies before Senate as staff ordered to leave Kabul

US special envoy to Afghanistan testifies before Senate as staff ordered to leave Kabul

Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan, warns in a Senate hearing that if the Taliban were to seize power militarily from the government in Kabul, they will have little international support.

"They will face isolation, regional opposition, sanctions, and international opprobrium," he says.

The US, earlier on Tuesday, ordered non-essential staff to leave its Kabul embassy, citing increased threats as Washington prepares to end its 20-year war in Afghanistan.
 


Israel under fire for ‘sickening’ rocket emoji tweets

Israel under fire for ‘sickening’ rocket emoji tweets
Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

Israel under fire for ‘sickening’ rocket emoji tweets

Israel under fire for ‘sickening’ rocket emoji tweets
  • The social media account, reportedly managed by the foreign minister, claimed that the posts refer to the number of rockets fired at Israeli citizens by Hamas
  • Critics argued, however, that the posts, which came amid fresh Israeli strikes on Gaza, were insensitive

LONDON: Israel has come under fire for posting hundreds of rocket emojis on the state’s Twitter account on Monday amid its heavy bombardment of Gaza.

The social media account, reportedly managed by the foreign minister, claimed that the posts refer to the number of rockets fired at Israeli citizens by Hamas. 

Israel clarified that the tweets were merely an attempt to give viewers a perspective on the recent airstrikes. 

The tweets were accompanied by a message that read: “Just to give you all some perspective, these (rocket emojis) are the total amount of rockets shot at Israeli civilians. Each one of these rockets is meant to kill. Make no mistake. Every rocket has an address. What would you do if that address was yours?”

Critics argued, however, that the posts, which came amid fresh Israeli strikes on Gaza, were insensitive. 

The Israeli bombing campaign has killed at least 213 Palestinians so far, including 61 children, with more than 1,400 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The tweets were met with heavy criticism online. Louis Fishman, an associate professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, tweeted that “Israel has lost the diplomatic front in this war. It is now left to emojis. Really, this is pathetic.”

Others online called the tweet “sickeningly cruel and vindictive”, “deranged” and “beyond vile.” 

Israel has escalated its violent campaign on Palestine, with more than 52,000 Palestinians displaced and hundreds of buildings destroyed in the Gaza Strip.


Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour to cover fan travel costs to Champions League final

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (L) is to pay the travel costs of the newly crowned English champions’ fans attending the Champions League final in Portugal. (AFP/File Photos)
Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (L) is to pay the travel costs of the newly crowned English champions’ fans attending the Champions League final in Portugal. (AFP/File Photos)
Updated 34 min 2 sec ago

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour to cover fan travel costs to Champions League final

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (L) is to pay the travel costs of the newly crowned English champions’ fans attending the Champions League final in Portugal. (AFP/File Photos)
  • City have received an allocation of 6,000 tickets for the May 29 showpiece against Chelsea in Porto
  • Fans are permitted to stay in the country for just 24 hours

ABU DHABI: Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour is to pay the travel costs of the newly crowned English champions’ fans attending the Champions League final in Portugal later this month the club announced on Tuesday.

City have received an allocation of 6,000 tickets for the May 29 showpiece against Chelsea in Porto and Sheikh Mansour has said all those travelling on the official package will see their costs covered.

Fans are permitted to stay in the country for just 24 hours — subject to furnishing a negative coronavirus test — due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Thousands of City supporters will benefit from the initiative which is designed to ease the financial pressure on fans who have faced — and are still facing — challenging circumstances due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a club statement read.

“The COVID inflated costs, combined with necessary but expensive PCR testing, would have rendered the trip to the final unmanageable for many of those supporters lucky enough to qualify for a ticket.

“Due to the necessary Covid related restrictions in place, the majority of fans wishing to attend the historic first final for the Club, are required to do so within a 24 hour trip, meaning that His Highness’ initiative will fund the transport of several thousand City fans on the official travel package on the day of the final.”

Sheikh Mansour said the gesture was a reward to those fans who had stuck with the club through thick and thin.

“Pep (Guardiola the manager) and the team have had such a remarkable season and their reaching the Champions League Final after a very challenging year represents a truly historic moment for the Club,” he said in a statement.

“It is therefore incredibly important that as many fans as possible have the opportunity to attend this special game.

“Especially those who have supported Manchester City through good and bad times for so many years.”

Sheikh Mansour’s generosity will go down well with fans who were furious when the club signed up to the European Super League last month.

City withdrew like their five fellow Premier League clubs 48 hours later.


Israeli reporters facing physical attacks and online threats

Israeli reporters facing physical attacks and online threats
Updated 34 min 24 sec ago

Israeli reporters facing physical attacks and online threats

Israeli reporters facing physical attacks and online threats
  • The N12 channel provided security details for four of its on-air reporters – Dana Weiss, Guy Peleg, Yonit Levi and Rina Mazliah – after a rise in online threats against them
  • Journalist and presenter Ayala Hasson was part of a TV crew that was assaulted in Lod with rocks last week by people from the far-right group La Familia

LONDON: A rise in physical attacks and online threats against high-profile TV reporters perpetrated by members of far-right Jewish groups has been recorded in Israel and Palestine, with one media outlet providing security for some of its journalists as a result.

The N12 channel provided security details for four of its on-air reporters – Dana Weiss, Guy Peleg, Yonit Levi and Rina Mazliah – after a rise in online threats against them. One suspect has been arrested in connection to the threats made against Weiss.

Reporters from Channel 12, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan News, and Channel 13 were attacked after extremists took to the streets to target Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin in locations including Tel Aviv and Lod. 

Journalist and presenter Ayala Hasson was part of a TV crew that was assaulted in Lod with rocks last week by people from the far-right group La Familia. 

Concern over journalist safety has increased significantly since Israel bombed a Gaza tower block used by Associated Press and Al Jazeera at the weekend.


UAE says it will offer Sinopharm booster shot

UAE says it will offer Sinopharm booster shot
Updated 47 min 57 sec ago

UAE says it will offer Sinopharm booster shot

UAE says it will offer Sinopharm booster shot
  • The move is part of the UAE's "proactive strategy to provide maximum protection for society”
  • The country of some 9 million has vaccinated around 73% of the eligible population

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday it would offer a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s state-owned drug-maker Sinopharm for those who have already received two doses.
The move is part of the UAE’s “proactive strategy to provide maximum protection for society,” the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said, with priority given to those aged above 60 or suffering a chronic disease.
The country of some 9 million has vaccinated around 73 percent of the eligible population, NCEMA said. The UAE is providing four vaccines for free but does not provide a breakdown for each one.
The UAE, a regional business and tourism hub, on Tuesday reported 1,270 new coronavirus infections to take the total to 548,681 cases with 1,637 deaths.
The World Health Organization, which last week approved Sinopharm for emergency use, has said a large Phase III trial of Sinopharm had shown that two doses, administered at an interval of 21 days, have an efficacy of 79 percent against symptomatic infection, 14 or more days after the second dose.
The UAE has started manufacturing the Chinese vaccine under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.


London police officer under investigation for shouting ‘free Palestine’ at rally

London police officer under investigation for shouting ‘free Palestine’ at rally
Updated 18 May 2021

London police officer under investigation for shouting ‘free Palestine’ at rally

London police officer under investigation for shouting ‘free Palestine’ at rally
  • She was filmed accepting a white rose and hugging a protester amid a cheering crowd
  • It came as major cities across the UK have seen massive protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people

LONDON: London’s Metropolitan Police is investigating an on-duty officer who shouted “free Palestine” at a march condemning Israel’s bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip.

The uniformed female officer was captured on video at the demonstration in the capital. In the footage, she is seen accepting a white rose and hugging a protester.

She was heard shouting “free, free Palestine” to a cheering audience. The footage went viral on several social media sites.

It came as major cities across the UK have seen massive protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.