Palestinian boy killed by Israeli fire after alleged attack

Palestinian boy killed by Israeli fire after alleged attack
A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 23 February 2022

Palestinian boy killed by Israeli fire after alleged attack

Palestinian boy killed by Israeli fire after alleged attack
  • The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire after spotting three suspects throwing firebombs at passing traffic

JERUSALEM: A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said, allegedly after throwing firebombs at passing Israeli vehicles.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Mohammed Shehadeh was killed in Al-Khader, a town near Bethlehem. It gave no further details.
The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire after spotting three suspects throwing firebombs at passing traffic. It confirmed that troops fatally shot one of the suspects.
According to the army, the soldiers were in the area because there had been seven firebombing attacks over the past month.
The Israeli military considers stone throwing and firebombing to be life-threatening threats in which live fire is justified. Human rights groups accuse the army of often using excessive force.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has established dozens of settlements where more than 500,000 settlers live.
Palestinians seek the territory — along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — as part of their future state and view the settlements as a major obstacle to resolving the conflict.


British government lobbying Iraq for archaeologist’s release: FM Liz Truss

British government lobbying Iraq for archaeologist’s release: FM Liz Truss
Updated 52 min 31 sec ago

British government lobbying Iraq for archaeologist’s release: FM Liz Truss

British government lobbying Iraq for archaeologist’s release: FM Liz Truss
  • Fitton’s family has criticized the British government for what it calls a poor response to the case

LONDON: The UK government is lobbying for the release of a British archaeologist imprisoned in Iraq, it was revealed on Thursday.

Jim Fitton was sentenced to 15 years in prison in June for attempting to smuggle artifacts out of the country, a crime that can also carry the death sentence.

Fitton’s family has criticized the British government for what it calls a poor response to the case, however UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told ITV News that work was being carried out to convince the Iraqi government to release the archaeologist.

“I know our ambassador is working on that, as is our ministerial team,” she said. “Ultimately this is a decision for the Iraqi authorities, but we’re doing all we can to secure this release.”

Fitton was found by Iraqi officials with a dozen small stones and bits of pottery from the desert on March 20, and was arrested as he tried to leave the country.

He asserted in his defense that he believed the items to be worthless and was merely taking them as a memento of his trip to Iraq. 

In court, he was charged and convicted — but another man also on trial with him, German national Volker Waldmann, was found not guilty.

Fitton has appealed in a bid to reduce his sentence or have his conviction quashed completely.

Fitton’s local member of parliament, Wera Hobhouse, said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should have taken a stronger stance with Iraq to ensure his release.

“It seems that German officials took a much tougher stance and intervened a lot earlier, and were much more visible in their opposition, versus the Foreign Office (who) took the approach of softly, softly,” she told ITV.

“We have got two outcomes: One prisoner is now free, and Jim Fitton, our British citizen, is not free.

“So there’s quite a clear contrast, which makes one wonder whether the Foreign Office approach has been correct,” she added.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are providing consular assistance to a British national in Iraq, and continue to support his family. We are in contact with the local authorities.”


Australian PM Albanese raises case of jailed engineer with Iraqi counterpart Al-Kadhimi

Australian PM Albanese raises case of jailed engineer with Iraqi counterpart Al-Kadhimi
Updated 01 July 2022

Australian PM Albanese raises case of jailed engineer with Iraqi counterpart Al-Kadhimi

Australian PM Albanese raises case of jailed engineer with Iraqi counterpart Al-Kadhimi
  • Robert Pether reportedly gravely ill and rapidly deteriorating
  • UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says fraud conviction unlawful, also seeks release of Egyptian colleague Khalid Radwan

LONDON: The prime minister of Australia has raised with his Iraqi counterpart the case of an engineer jailed in Baghdad, whose health is worsening in detention, it was reported on Friday.

Anthony Albanese spoke with Mustafa Al-Kadhimi about Robert Pether’s condition, which is “rapidly deteriorating” due to the engineer being “gravely ill,” according to a Guardian report.

Australian Pether has been held in a Baghdad prison for more than 14 months over a deal-gone-wrong between his engineering firm and the central bank of Iraq to build its new headquarters in the capital. According to his family, Pether is not guilty of a crime and his trial was “unfair.”

According to the Guardian report, Pether has been made aware of Albanese’s quizzing of Al-Kadhimi and plans to write a letter of thanks to the Australian premier.

“He is afraid to be ‘hopeful,’” Pether’s wife Desree told the Guardian Australia. “But he is immensely grateful to Anthony Albanese and (foreign minister) Penny Wong for stepping up and taking action pretty much straight away.”

She continued: “Robert is gravely ill, he is completely grey. He is 47 and looks 74. He is also still suffering from dizziness and low blood pressure. He is declining rapidly.”

Al-Kadhimi’s office confirmed a discussion was held with Albanese, but made no reference to the Pether case, only saying the two leaders covered “bilateral relations between the two countries and stressed the importance of strengthening joint cooperation.”

Pether, and Egyptian colleague Khalid Radwan, were arrested on their return to Iraq in April 2021 when they were attempting to resolve a dispute between their firm, CME Consulting, and the Iraqi government.

After their trial, which rights groups have deemed “deeply compromised,” both men were found guilty of fraud, sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay back $12 million they were alleged to have misspent instead of paying architects and subcontractors.

Amid allegations of mistreatment in their Baghdad prison, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in a report released in March that both Pether and Radwan’s detention was “arbitrary” and a breach of international law. The group has demanded both men be immediately released.


Iranian man who shot daughter in honor killing claims it was a mistake

Iranian man who shot daughter in honor killing claims it was a mistake
Updated 01 July 2022

Iranian man who shot daughter in honor killing claims it was a mistake

Iranian man who shot daughter in honor killing claims it was a mistake
  • Mohammad Kazem Lashkari killed 15-year-old with a shotgun after seeing her with an unknown man
  • Relative claims Tehran is suppressing details of the story in a country where 62 percent of murdered women are killed by relatives

LONDON: An Iranian man killed his daughter in a suspected honor killing before claiming it was a tragic accident, in an incident a relative claims is being hushed up by the regime in Tehran. 

Mohammad Kazem Lashkari, 43, reportedly killed his teenage daughter Ariana, 15, with a shotgun after seeing her in a park with an unknown man.

He was arrested by police in the Iranian city of Nurabad on June 27, telling them: “After an argument, Ariana went to my mother’s house and I could not control my anger.

“I went there with my shotgun to scare her. I really did not mean to kill my daughter. I fired involuntarily.”

However, Lashkari’s story has been called into question, with one relative telling human rights activist Masih Alinejad: “Ariana was a girl who didn’t enjoy being oppressed by her father.”

The relative added: “She wanted to choose her own lifestyle and have a free mind. Accepting her views was hard for her father.

“Ariana was a quiet girl who went to school every day full of hopes. This girl was very kind and caring. All of her friends and classmates adored her. I’m still in shock. It’s unbelievable that Ariana is gone.”

A neighbor suggested that Lashkari had been addicted to drugs, and had previously threatened Ariana, as well as his other daughter.

The unnamed relative also suggested that the Iranian government was pushing for details of the story to be suppressed. 

“The regime is trying hard for this tragedy not to get published in the media,” he said.

“I hope this innocent girl’s blood is not going to be trampled on like many other girls who have been murdered in this way.”

In Iran the murder of a child or grandchild by a father or paternal grandfather carries a maximum sentence of just 10 years, and is considered different to other murders, for which the penalty is usually death. 

Up to 62 percent of all women murdered in Iran are killed by relatives, and between 15-18 percent of murders in the country are considered honor killings. 

The investigation into Ariana’s death continues.


Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
Updated 01 July 2022

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
  • Ice cream brand said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company

JERUSALEM: Unilever this week sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, aiming to smooth over a potentially damaging diplomatic row over the company’s political stance.
The deal comes after the US ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values. Under the new arrangement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Ben & Jerry’s has said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company.
The episode highlighted the challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 reversed its decision to delist Israeli settlements.
The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law in its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel says such boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge victory.”
“We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
Last year, Israel condemned the sales boycott as “morally wrong” and said Unilever would face “severe consequences.” The consumer goods giant defended Ben & Jerry’s autonomy, but said it was “fully committed” to Israel and would find a solution by the end of this year.
Unilever had said previously it did not support the BDS movement, and reiterated that stance in a statement on Wednesday.
The new owner is the brand’s long-time Israeli ice cream licensee Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products. Zinger had sued Ben & Jerry’s after its decision in the West Bank, saying the company illegally severed their 34-year relationship.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
A representative for the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s said the company does not agree with Unilever’s announcement and will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.
“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the representative told Reuters.
Pension officials in at least six US states had restricted or sold Unilever stock or bonds to protest the Ben & Jerry’s decision, among them New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Representatives for all three told Reuters on Wednesday they would review Unilever’s move.
Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is joining the board of Unilever next month, was involved in the discussions to bring about the resolution, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that supported the deal. Peltz is the chairman of the center’s board of governors.
Peltz met with Unilever CEO Alan Jope in September before Trian Partners, the investment fund Peltz runs, bought any shares, to discuss the situation, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trian Partners commended the new arrangement in a statement, saying that “respect and tolerance have prevailed.”
Ben & Jerry’s and its independent board maintained the right to decide on its social mission when it was bought by Unilever in 2000. But Unilever said it “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.”
Israel captured the West Bank, part of the territory Palestinians want for an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
“The return of Ben and Jerry’s to Israeli settlements, which were built on Palestinian land, exposes it to international legal accountability and its name will be on the United Nations blacklist of companies operating in settlements,” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Wasel Abu Yussef told Reuters.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the deal sought to undermine the “principled decision” to stop selling the ice cream in Israeli settlements.
“What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” he said in a statement.
Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, no longer manage the brand but are well known for their commitment to social justice. The company has recently expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.


Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
Updated 01 July 2022

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty

Turkey’s Erdogan says ready to back reinstating death penalty
  • Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would approve possibly reinstating the death penalty if parliament were to send a bill on the matter to him, broadcaster NTV cited him as saying on Friday.
Erdogan’s justice minister said at the weekend Turkey would consider turning back the 2004 abolishment of capital punishment after the president earlier raised the issue in connection with the cause of wildfires. His nationalist ally Devlet Bahceli has backed the idea and said the penalty should extend to terrorism, rape, and the murder of women.
“If necessary, this should be brought back on the agenda and made into a debate. We should see what comes of this debate,” Erdogan was cited as saying.
“I said it before, if parliament makes such a decision as a result of our justice ministry’s work, I will approve this decision,” he added. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)