Clashes at Al-Aqsa draw regional, international condemnation

Israeli security forces patrol the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, following clashes with Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem’s Old City April 15, 2022. (Reuters)
Israeli security forces patrol the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, following clashes with Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem’s Old City April 15, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 April 2022

Clashes at Al-Aqsa draw regional, international condemnation

Clashes at Al-Aqsa draw regional, international condemnation
  • The UN and EU said they were ‘deeply concerned’ by the recent upsurge in violence
  • Germany, France, Italy, Spain and regional countries and organizations condemned the violence in East Jerusalem

LONDON: The international community on Friday expressed deep concern over a recent upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
At least 152 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli riot police and 400 worshipers have been arrested inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday, the latest outbreak in a recent upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.
The UN said it was “deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem during these holy days,” adding that the provocations must stop.
“I call on political, religious, and community leaders on all sides to help calm the situation. Allowing tensions to spiral further only risks another escalation,” Ton Wennesland, UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement.
He said the UN was in close contact with key regional partners to calm the crisis and also urged Israeli and Palestinian authorities to “immediately deescalate the situation and prevent any further provocations by radical actors.”

The clashes come at a particularly sensitive time. Ramadan this year coincides with Passover, a major weeklong Jewish holiday beginning Friday at sundown, and Christian holy week, which culminates on Easter Sunday. The holidays are expected to bring tens of thousands of faithful into Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major sites sacred to all three religions.
The UAE, an Arab nation which has diplomatic ties with Israel, strongly condemned the actions at the holy site, and underscored the need for self-restraint and protection for worshipers.

The European Union also said it was following the situation with deep concern and called for violence to stop immediately.
“Further civilian casualties must be prevented as a priority,” said Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s external affairs. “The status quo of the holy sites must be fully respected (and) Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation is essential.”
Stano reiterated the EU’s call on all parties to engage in de-escalatory efforts, and said all leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists.
The foreign ministries of Germany, France, Italy and Spain condemn the violence on Friday in East Jerusalem in a joint statement.
“We call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint as well as to refrain from violence and from all forms of provocation,” spokespersons for the ministries said in their statement.
Neighboring Jordan, which has custodianship over the holy site, and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement accusing Israel of “a dangerous and condemnable escalation that threatens to explode the situation.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it “holds Israel fully and directly responsible for this crime and its consequences.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the international community should intervene immediately to “stop Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa mosque and prevent things from going out of control.”
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned against igniting the situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and blamed the Israeli occupation forces, saying they were committing serious aggression against the Palestinians and their right to perform rituals inside Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Israeli attacks on worshipers represent a continuation of the series of Israeli transgressions and provocations that aim to divide Al-Aqsa spatially and temporally,” he said, expressing solidarity with Jerusalemites and Palestinians.
Secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council condemned Israeli police and special forces for storming the mosque compound and urged Israel to respect the historical and legal status quo in occupied Jerusalem and its sanctities and to stop all illegal measures.
Nayef Al-Hajjraf also called on the international community to assume its responsibilities to preserve the safety of Al-Aqsa Mosque and worshipers, and the need for Israel to abide by its obligations as an occupying power in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said it holds Israel “fully responsible” considers this dangerous escalation an attack on sacred sites of the entire Islamic nation, and a flagrant violation of international resolutions.
It also called on the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to put an end to these repeated violations, and to provide protection for the Palestinian people and the holy sites.
Egypt also condemned the Israeli raid.
(With Reuters and AP)

 


Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
Updated 07 December 2022

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
  • ‘Freedom trampled under pretext of protecting security,’ says Mohammad Khatami
  • Former leader calls on regime to meet protesters’ demands ‘before it is too late’

LONDON: Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami has praised anti-regime protests and urged authorities to meet protesters’ demands “before it is too late,” the BBC reported.

The two-term reformist president, who served between 1997 and 2005, described “woman, life, freedom” as a “beautiful slogan,” and said that it showed Iranian society was moving toward a better future.

Khatami also criticized the security forces’ crackdown and arrest of students.

“It should not be allowed that freedom and security are placed in opposition to one another, and that as a result freedom is trampled under the pretext of maintaining security, or that security is ignored in the name of freedom,” he said.

“I advise officials to appreciate this presence and instead of dealing with it unjustly, extend a helping hand to them and, with their help, recognize the wrong aspects of governance and move toward good governance before it is too late.”

Khatami’s comments came in a statement to mark Student Day on Wednesday, with students having been at the forefront of the wave of protests that are now into their fourth month.

Protests were sparked by the September murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police.

Her death ignited pent-up frustrations over falling living standards, and discrimination against women and minorities.

Protests have spread to more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 of Iran’s provinces, and are now considered the most serious challenge to the regime since it took power in the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s leadership has sought to portray the protests as “riots” instigated by “foreign enemies.”

Despite the brutal crackdown by security forces, which have led to the deaths of 473 protesters and the detention of more than 18,000 people, demonstrations show little sign of abating, with Khatami describing student involvement as “perhaps unprecedented.”

Iran’s judiciary also sentenced five protesters to death on charges of “corruption of the Earth” on Tuesday, with 11 others, including three children” handed long prison sentences.

Director of Iran Human Rights Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP News: “These people are sentenced after unfair processes and without due process. The aim is to spread fear and make people stop protesting.”

A total of 11 protesters have now been sentenced to death, with the country’s judiciary chief saying on Monday that executions will be carried out “soon.”


Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
Updated 07 December 2022

Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
  • Over 500 people killed, says rights body
  • ‘Crackdown led by President Ebrahim Raisa’

LONDON: Iranian authorities have executed more than 500 people this year, according to data released by Iran Human Rights.

Up more than 50 percent on 2021’s figure of 333, the spike in executions marks a dramatic shift following years of decline, with numbers only likely to climb amidst the government’s brutal response to protests in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

Five further death sentences were handed out to protesters yesterday, for killing a member of the security forces, bringing to 11 the total number arising from the protests.

Meanwhile nine people have been charged over the killing of Iran’s nuclear weapons chief, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November 2020. Israel’s security agency, Mossad, has been blamed for Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Newly elected president and former prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, played a central role in the 1980s killing spree that resulted in the execution of thousands of opposition supporters.

His election last year, combined with the surging number of death sentences, are considered reflective of the increasing dominance of hardliners over Iranian politics.


New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
Updated 07 December 2022

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
  • Initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks

DUBAI: The UAE’s moon rover is set to blast off “no earlier than Dec. 11” after a series of tests were conducted on the SpaceX rocket.

In a statement, ispace inc., the Japanese firm that built HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander carrying the UAE’s Rashid rover, said the initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks on the rocket.

The Emirati-made Rashid rover will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, at 7:38 a.m. GMT on Dec. 11, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon in the Arab world’s first lunar mission.

 

 

“ispace’s Mission 1 lunar lander was integrated into the SpaceX Falcon 9 fairing and battery charging operations for the lander will continue,” said the firm.

“No issues with the lander itself have been identified. As of today, no major operational changes are planned, with lunar landing scheduled for the end of April 2023.”

If the rover lands successfully, the UAE will be the fourth country to reach the moon.


Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country
Updated 07 December 2022

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country
  • Abdul Shakour’s comments were made on the sidelines of a conference held on Wednesday at the Arab League headquarters

DUBAI: Abdul Rahman Abdul Shakour, Somalia’s special envoy for the President for Humanitarian Affairs and Drought, praised the UAE on Wednesday for its relief efforts in the drought-stricken country. 
“The UAE is a pioneer in providing the necessary support to Somalia in this crisis, as it was the first country to respond to the appeal launched by the Somali government to provide urgent relief to those affected by drought,” said Abdul Shakour.
He noted that the UAE fulfilled the needs of approximately 2.5 million people after it airlifted supplies and sent a ship carrying more than 1,000 tons of food and relief items to Somalia. 
Abdul Shakour’s comments were made on the sidelines of a conference held on Wednesday at the Arab League headquarters, which was jointly sponsored by the Arab League and United Nations.
The conference included several of senior officials from Arab philanthropic organizations and UN humanitarian bodies that aim to coordinate actions plans that will help address the worsening food situation in the African nation.


UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense
Updated 07 December 2022

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum met with Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense during his official visit to the country.

The leaders discussed bilateral ties and areas of potential cooperation with Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob in two separate meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, reported state news agency (WAM).

They also reviewed issues of mutual interest.