Top Israeli journalist lambasts Tel Aviv for ‘brutality’ at Al-Aqsa compound

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Updated 21 April 2022

Top Israeli journalist lambasts Tel Aviv for ‘brutality’ at Al-Aqsa compound

Top Israeli journalist lambasts Tel Aviv for ‘brutality’ at Al-Aqsa compound
  • Haaretz newspaper’s Nir Hasson urges probe into ‘terrible’ actions of police and soldiers against civilians, journalists, women
  • Former PM Netanyahu’s Likud and rightwing seek political gain from violence, says reporter

CHICAGO: A leading Israeli journalist has launched a scathing attack on the Tel Aviv government for the manner in which police and soldiers brutalized civilians and journalists at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Haram Al-Sharif over the past week, and called for a probe into their actions.

Nir Hasson, who covers Jerusalem and the Palestinian community for the liberal English-language publication Haaretz, also said that he believes the violence would not lead to another Intifada.

The manner in which the conflict has been handled also reflected a change in the policies of the current government of Naftali Bennett from those of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said.

Hasson, appearing on The Ray Hanania Radio Show on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, said the violence began when a group of religious Israelis entered the Temple Mount “with political agendas” but did not reach the levels of violence seen in past years.

Hasson acknowledged that in many instances police overstepped their bounds by beating civilians and journalists, and mishandling their response to the protests.

“Last year they did everything wrong. They did a collective punishment to all Palestinians in East Jerusalem day after day,” Hasson said.

“This year, they (police) tried to divide between the majority of the Palestinians who came to the Temple Mount or to Damascus Gate to pray or to celebrate the end of the Feast of Ramadan, and the minority who came to clash and throw stones (at) the police.

“However ... we saw again and again very hard videos of police using clubs hitting people, hitting journalists, women, hitting a man who (stood with) his son.

“It’s terrible. I cannot be more (critical) of the Jerusalem police about it. I think they have to give more answers and they have to open investigations against those officers, not only because it makes no sense to treat … civilians (this way), but also because it puts oil on the fire, on the flames.”

Hasson said some violence was expected during the confluence of the three religious celebrations, but it did not reach the level that it has in the past as it did when former Israeli General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led a battalion of soldiers and police to the Haram Al-Sharif provoking the first Intifada in September 2000.

“It’s not the first time we have seen those clashes and violence rising in Jerusalem. And we know for at least the last five or six years now that every Ramadan there is a lot of tensions, especially focusing on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa compound,” Hasson said.

The clashes of the first Intifada, he said, resulted in an agreement between Israelis and the Palestinians to not inflame tensions. Until 2003, Israel limited the visit of Religious Jews to the Haram Al-Sharif to five at a time. In 2003 it was increased to 10. In 2010 it was increased to 20. And in 2011, under Netanyahu, it was increased to 50 at a time.

Hasson said that part of the difference between last year’s violence which saw more fatalities and injuries and spread throughout the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel, was the result of politics when Netanyahu wanted to use the violence to bolster his re-election hopes.

Netanyahu lost the Israeli elections to Naftali Bennett who Hasson said has not exploited the tensions for political benefit.

“Netanyahu especially last year. If you remember last year, it was still the government, but it was after the election and Netanyahu needed to head a new coalition. And the common political understanding in Israel was Netanyahu had an interest to (intensify) the flame(s) and have like some more violence because it would help him to raise the numbers of the Knesset and to build his coalition.

“Now, I don’t know if Netanyahu really made anything not carefully enough, intentionally. But we saw the police acting brutally without (any) sense. If you remember they blocked the stairs in Damascus Gate not allowing people sitting there without (any) reason. It made no sense, but it made only violence there.”

“Part of the answer is of course, is the government of Naftali Bennett who have vital interests to keep things quiet as possible because whenever there is any violence, any terror attacks they got hit very strong from the rightwing and from the Likud and Netanyahu. They’re saying you cannot trust him (Bennett) they cannot keep Israel safe.”

Hasson said that there are some extremists on both sides who want the conflicts and will exploit any event or time to fuel clashes.

“There (are) some groups, political, religious, mostly NGOs, who are trying to push the Israeli government to change the status quo but they are not the mainstream and they are not in the government and all the security institutions in Israel, the IDF, the police, the Shin Bit, all of them agreed that Israel should be very careful doing any steps in the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa,” Hasson said.

Hasson said that currently tensions have eased since the first clashes last week, despite an attempt Thursday by politically far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir to lead several hundred Israeli flag-waiving radicals into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“Things are pretty much quiet. But we had today a flag march of the rightwings, the radical rightwings in Israel, and a member of the Knesset, Itamar Ben Gvir from the radical rightwing party and they wanted to protest against the violence of the Palestinians and they asked the police to march from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem and to go through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the police would not let them and they blocked them all the way,” Hasson said.

“It also raised the tension and violence in Jerusalem today. There were a few hours of some kinds of clashes between those protestors, those rightwing activists and the police in the middle of Jerusalem. They didn’t let them go into East Jerusalem. But for now, this evening seems to be very quiet.”

Hasson said that the last 10 days of Ramadan the Haram Al-Sharif should be closed for non-Muslims and tensions “should be lower.”

In the meantime, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid in separate telephone calls to refrain from “any actions and rhetoric that escalates tensions.”

Blinken dispatched the State department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Hady Amr to meet with leaders in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan to help calm tensions.

The Ray Hanania Radio Show, hosted by the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, is broadcast each week live on Wednesdays in Detroit, Washington D.C., Ontario and rebroadcast on Thursday in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080 radio.

Listen to the Ray Hanania podcast here.


100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll
Updated 27 September 2022

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

100 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria: new toll

DAMASCUS: Syrian authorities have recovered 100 bodies from a Lebanese migrant boat that sank off Syria last week, state media reported about one of the deadliest recent shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean.
The first bodies were found last Thursday and only 20 people were rescued out of as many as 150 passengers.
“The number of victims of the Lebanese boat has reached 100 people so far after another body was recovered from the sea,” Syria’s official news agency SANA on Monday quoted the head of Syrian ports Samer Kbrasli as saying.
All survivors have been discharged from hospital, SANA said.
Nearly three years of deep economic crisis have turned Lebanon into a launchpad for migrants, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees desperate to flee rising poverty via dangerous sea voyages.
Those aboard the ship that sailed from Lebanon’s impoverished northern city of Tripoli were mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, and included children and elderly people, the United Nations said.
Lebanon hosts more than a million refugees from Syria’s civil war and has been mired in a financial and economic crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern times.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described the shipwreck as a “heart-wrenching tragedy.”
Since 2020, Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of migrants attempting the perilous crossing in jam-packed boats to reach Europe.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said that 10 children appeared to be “among those who lost their lives,” adding that “years of political instability and economic crisis in Lebanon have pushed many children and families into poverty.”


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
Updated 27 September 2022

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, receiving bullets in the face and neck

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.
She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.
At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.


Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
Updated 27 September 2022

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra

Algeria’s UN integration will develop with support, says FM Lamamra
  • Algiers seeks non-permanent seat on Security Council
  • Candidacy endorsed by African, Arab and Islamic bodies

LONDON: Algeria’s development remains on track and will continue with the support of UN member states, the country’s foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra said on Monday.

During his speech at the General Assembly Debate, Lamamra also reaffirmed his country’s push for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“My country is a member of the UN, it celebrates this year the 60th anniversary of independence,” he said. “It resolutely pursues the process of building a new Algeria under the leadership of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.”

He continued: “My country reaffirms its compliance with the values and principles (of the UN) and its determination to revive the role of multilateral action in keeping international peace and security and the achievement of comprehensive, fair, and sustainable development.”

Lamamra outlined Algeria’s commitment to the principles of the UN charter ahead of elections scheduled for next June on membership in the Security Council.

“Algeria is aware of the magnitude of unprecedented challenges that arise at the international and regional levels,” he said.

“Therefore, it has submitted its candidacy for the position of non-permanent member of the Security Council, a candidacy endorsed by the African Union, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Lamamra also confirmed Algeria would host an Arab Summit on Nov. 1 and 2, and that Algiers “aspired to make this event a crucial step in the joint Arab action, for an effective contribution of the Arab world to dealing with the current challenges on the regional and international scenes.”


UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
Updated 27 September 2022

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places

UAE lifts mandatory mask policy in indoor places
  • Masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport
  • The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, waived social distancing between worshipers

DUBAI: UAE residents are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public places, in the country’s biggest ease of restrictions since the outbreak of COVID-19, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced.

However, masks are still mandatory in medical facilities, place of worship, and public transport, officials said.
“Senior citizens and residents and people with chronic diseases are advised to continue wearing masks for their safety,” according to Dr. Saif Al-Dhaheri, NCEMA’s official spokesperson.
The new rules, effective from Sept. 28, also waived social distancing between worshipers, while keeping the mask policy in mosques and other places of worship.
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAE placed a stringent mask policy in indoor and outdoor places, imposing $815 (Dh3,000) fine on violators.
In February, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors.
Face masks will also be optional in schools.
Under the new rules, the isolation period for COVID-19 positive cases has been reduced from 10 days to five. Close contacts are required to take a PCR test only if they display symptoms.


Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death
Updated 27 September 2022

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death

Iranian football legend Ali Karimi under fire for condemning Mahsa Amini’s death
  • Former captain of Iran’s national football team has capitalized on his wide social media following to voice support for protests

DUBAI: Iranian football legend Ali Karimi, known as the Asian Maradona and the Magician, has come under fire for his social media posts condemning the suspicious death of Mahsa Amini after being detained by Tehran’s morality police.

Karimi, former captain of Iran’s national football team, has capitalized on his wide social media following to voice support for demonstrations against the government after Amini’s death.

His critical comments have earned scorn and blame from politicians, and has been accused of being one of the leaders what they describe as “riots” and “sedition,” Radio Farda reported.

“Don’t be afraid of strong women. Maybe the day will come when they are your only army,” to football legend wrote on Twitter for his more than 450,000 followers.

The Dubai-based Karimi has nearly 12 million followers on Instagram, where he also extensively posts support for the protest actions as well as tips about safe virtual private networks for Iranians to use to bypass state Internet restrictions, which have intensified amid the protests.

Meanwhile, Iranian civil rights activist Hossein Ronaghi has claimed he was beaten by guards in Tehran’s Evin prison, in a report from Radio Farda.

Prison officers broke his leg during the beating, while Ronaghi’s mother said her son told her he had been injured by guards, journalist Masoud Kazemi posted in a tweet on September 25.

The arrest comes amid anti-government protests over the death of 22-year-old Amini after she was taken into custody by morality police for the alleged improper wearing of a hijab.