Protesters throng US cities to demand justice for Palestinians

Thousands of protesters in Washington on Saturday demanded Palestine’s liberation. Smaller protests were held in states including Iowa, Illinois, California. (Twitter)
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Thousands of protesters in Washington on Saturday demanded Palestine’s liberation. Smaller protests were held in states including Iowa, Illinois, California. (Twitter)
Protesters throng US cities to demand justice for Palestinians
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People chant and hold signs while listening to a speaker during a pro-Palestine protest on the steps of City Hall on May 23, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2021

Protesters throng US cities to demand justice for Palestinians

Protesters throng US cities to demand justice for Palestinians
  • Most Americans support Palestinian state and restricting aid to Israel, new poll suggests

PHILADELPHIA: Tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets of US cities on Saturday to demand justice for Palestinians.

The main demonstration took place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, and there were at least 15 smaller protests in states including Iowa, Illinois, California and Texas.

Organizers of the Washington event described it as “a historic march for Palestine.” Protesters said that they “need to increase our pressure right now for Palestinian liberation. It is time for Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and blockade to be dismantled now.”

Nihad Awad, a member of the organizing coalition, told Arab News: “We are rallying in Washington to express our support for the Palestinian people’s legitimate struggle for liberation, and support the Sanction Israel Campaign to demand that our government hold Israel accountable for its war crimes.”

Hanna Hannia, who addressed the protesters on behalf of Palestinian American organizations, told Arab News that efforts must continue for Palestinian rights. “With the progress we have made in the past few months in Congress and with public opinion, we need to continue in this effort until Palestinian people get justice and freedom.”

John Dabeet, director of Americans and Palestinians for Peace based in Iowa, told Arab News that Americans and Palestinians must work together for peace and justice. “We are taking steps and we have an obligation to support our brothers and sisters in Palestine in their struggle against the Israeli occupation and we are urging the US Congress to support Palestinian rights,” he said.

Shifting American attitudes toward the Middle East have been illustrated in a new poll, which suggests a majority of Americans support a Palestinian state, and restricting aid to Israel if it builds settlements in contravention of US policy.

The poll, conducted by the Arab American Institute, indicates that while American attitudes are shifting toward a more balanced view, US Democrats are much more supportive of Palestinian rights than Republicans.

Almost 80 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans said Palestinians and Israelis were equal, and entitled to equal rights. Nearly half of all respondents said an independent Palestinian state should be part of a two-state solution, with only 12 percent disagreeing.

The shift had been building for some time, institute chief James Zogby told Arab News. “American media has been opening up to Palestinians, Congress has been giving space to pro-Palestinian speakers and even the most pro-Israeli Democrats are tempering down their language as a new generation of Americans is leading this change, which has even included young evangelicals who are moving away from the traditional pro-Israeli positions,” he said.

 


Iran arrests 17 over social media horror pranks

Iran arrests 17 over social media horror pranks
Updated 7 sec ago

Iran arrests 17 over social media horror pranks

Iran arrests 17 over social media horror pranks
  • Gags included mock murders and a suicide as well as throwing cakes in the faces of passengers on the escalators of the Tehran metro
TEHRAN: Iranian police have arrested 17 university graduates on suspicion of filming candid camera horror pranks that boosted their social media followings but “sowed panic” in Tehran streets, reports said Tuesday.
Gags included mock murders and a suicide as well as throwing cakes in the faces of passengers on the escalators of the Tehran metro, Iranian newspapers reported.
“Police have arrested some individuals who amused themselves by playing on people’s nerves and the peace and security of the public by filming candid camera footage of horror gags on the streets of the capital,” Tehran police chief General Hossein Rahimi told the Iran newspaper.
“We arrested 17 people who perpetrated these illegal acts.”
The author of the gag filmed on the Tehran metro was open about his motives.
“I wanted to make people happy and increase the number of followers on my Instagram page,” he told the Shahab newspaper.
But the head of Tehran’s cyber police Col. Davoud Moazzami expressed outrage that educated people would scare the public for personal gain in this way.
“They filmed these candid camera videos to attract followers and advertising on Instagram and Twitter,” Moazzami said. “All 17 of those arrested had received university educations and worked for respected companies.”

Kuwait death toll raised to 4 in oil refinery fire

Kuwait death toll raised to 4 in oil refinery fire
Updated 26 January 2022

Kuwait death toll raised to 4 in oil refinery fire

Kuwait death toll raised to 4 in oil refinery fire
  • The fire erupted Jan. 14 during maintenance work at the Mina Al-Ahmadi oil refinery

DUBAI: The death toll from a fire at a major oil refinery in Kuwait has been raised to four after two critically injured workers died of their wounds, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company said in a statement Wednesday.
The fire, which erupted Jan. 14 during maintenance work at the Mina Al-Ahmadi oil refinery, initially killed two Asian workers, whose bodies were found on site, and had left five others in critical condition.
The state-owned company said that two of the critically injured workers have since died in the hospital while receiving treatment, raising the death toll to four.
The company’s top executive issued a statement in the days after the blaze saying such incidents, while “very painful for us,” are “very likely in a complex industry.”
Kuwait’s Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Fares and other top executives of the state-owned oil company visited the refinery immediately after the fire. They were seen fist-bumping members of the fire brigade and standing in front of the site of the blast for photos that were shared by the Kuwait National Petroleum Company’s Twitter account.
It was the second fire in a month at the site. A smaller fire erupted last week at separate petrochemical line run by the company, though no injuries were reported in that blaze.
The Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery was built to handle 25,000 barrels of oil a day to supply Kuwait’s domestic market primarily with gasoline and diesel. The facility recently underwent an expansion to reduce its emissions and boost capacity to 346,000 barrels a day.
Kuwait, a nation home to 4.1 million people, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.


UAE discussing defense upgrade after Houthi attacks- envoy to UN

UAE discussing defense upgrade after Houthi attacks- envoy to UN
Updated 26 January 2022

UAE discussing defense upgrade after Houthi attacks- envoy to UN

UAE discussing defense upgrade after Houthi attacks- envoy to UN
  • Nusseibeh confirmed ongoing security discussions with Washington but declined to provide details
  • The Houthis said they are punishing the UAE for backing forces battling the group in energy-producing regions

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates may upgrade its defensive capabilities after missile attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, while continuing diplomacy with Tehran to reduce regional tensions, a senior UAE diplomat said.
The Emirati envoy to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh, told CNN on Tuesday that UAE intelligence showed the two assaults — the first on the regional commercial and tourism hub — had originated from Yemen, and there was also a need to stem illicit flows of weapons and funds to the group.
A Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, which both Tehran and the group deny.
Monday’s strike, aimed at a base in Abu Dhabi hosting US forces, was thwarted by American-built Patriot interceptors, after a deadly attack a week earlier on the capital.
Nusseibeh confirmed ongoing security discussions with Washington but declined to provide details. The UAE uses the US anti-missile interception system THAAD.
“Our ability to intercept and deflect these attacks is world class,” she said. “There can always be upgrades and improvements and... additional intelligence cooperation and I think these are the fields we’re looking at with our (US) partners.”
She said the UAE, which has urged Washington to reinstate a terrorist designation of the Houthis, was also discussing with partners increasing pressure on the group to engage with stalled UN-led peace efforts.
“That means listing them again on sanctions regimes ... potentially listing additional figures, it means stopping the illicit flow of weapons and finance to them.”
The Houthis said they are punishing the UAE for backing forces battling the group in energy-producing regions, after the UAE in 2019 largely distanced itself from Yemen.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on Saudi Arabia in the war, seen as a proxy conflict between Riyadh and Tehran.
Nusseibeh said the Houthis would not succeed in undermining the UAE’s safe-haven status.
The UAE, which has been engaging with Iran, would continue diplomacy aimed at de-escalation, she said, while reserving the right to defend itself “defensively and offensively” in the Yemen conflict.


Rights group says Lebanese staffer targeted with NSO spyware

Rights group says Lebanese staffer targeted with NSO spyware
Updated 26 January 2022

Rights group says Lebanese staffer targeted with NSO spyware

Rights group says Lebanese staffer targeted with NSO spyware
  • The New York-based rights group said the software was used against Lama Fakih
  • NSO Group has been mired in controversy following revelations against its spyware

BEIRUT: Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that one of its senior staff members was targeted last year with spyware designed by the Israeli hacker-for hire company NSO Group.
The New York-based rights group said the software was used against Lama Fakih, the director of its Beirut office who also oversees its crisis response in several countries, including Syria, Myanmar, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and the United States.
NSO Group has been mired in controversy following revelations its spyware was used in several countries against journalists, activists and even US diplomats. The US barred the firm from accessing American technology last year, saying its tools have been used by repressive regimes, and Facebook and Apple have filed lawsuits against NSO over hacks against their products.
NSO Group does not disclose its clients but says it has safeguards in place to ensure its products are only used to target suspected criminals and terrorists. It says it does not have access to the intelligence its clients gather.
Its Pegasus spyware grants full access to a person’s phone, including photos, emails and real-time communications. The targeted person does not have to take any action, such as clicking a link, and would not be able to detect the breach without a sophisticated technical analysis.
NSO Group issued a statement expressing support for an “international regulatory structure” for cyber intelligence tools, but said any calls to suspend their use until one is established would benefit criminals who evade other forms of surveillance. It did not directly address the hacking reported by Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch said Fakih, a dual US and Lebanese citizen, was targeted on five occasions between April and August. Apple informed her of the breach on Nov. 24, and forensic analysis by Human Rights Watch confirmed the presence of the software, the group said.
“It is no accident that governments are using spyware to target activists and journalists, the very people who uncover their abusive practices,” Fakih said. “They seem to believe that by doing so, they can consolidate power, muzzle dissent, and protect their manipulation of facts.”


Israeli president to make first-ever state visit to UAE

Israeli president to make first-ever state visit to UAE
Updated 26 January 2022

Israeli president to make first-ever state visit to UAE

Israeli president to make first-ever state visit to UAE
  • The visit comes some 16 months after the wealthy UAE broke with decades of Arab consensus and forged diplomatic ties with Israel

JERUSALEM: Israel’s President Isaac Herzog will make a historic visit to the UAE at the end of the month, his office said Tuesday, in the latest high-profile diplomatic trip since the countries normalized ties.
Herzog’s office said the president, who will travel with the first lady, will meet United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during the January 30-31 trip.
“We have the privilege of making history by making the first visit of an Israeli president to the United Arab Emirates,” Herzog said in the statement, adding that the countries were “laying the foundations of a new shared future.”
Herzog is also scheduled to meet with the ruler of Dubai and senior government officials, and visit the Dubai Expo, his office said.
The visit comes some 16 months after the wealthy UAE broke with decades of Arab consensus and forged diplomatic ties with Israel.
The move was part of a series of US-brokered deals known as the Abraham Accords, pacts that have angered the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made history last month when he became the first Israeli head of government to visit UAE, in a trip that partly focused on international talks on Iran’s nuclear program, a top Israeli security priority.
Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, will be the first Israeli head of state to officially visit the UAE.
He vowed “the bold new partnership” between the countries “will transform the Middle East,” with Israel keen to expand the list of Arab nations that sign on to the Abraham Accords.
The deals were negotiated under former US president Donald Trump but endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Bahrain and Morocco have also normalized ties with Israel under the accords.
Sudan has agreed to do so but formal diplomatic relations have not emerged amid roiling instability in Khartoum.