Palestinians hand bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to US

Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin camp in the West Bank. (File/Al Jazeera/AFP)
Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin camp in the West Bank. (File/Al Jazeera/AFP)
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Updated 02 July 2022

Palestinians hand bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to US

Palestinians hand bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to US
  • Palestinian attorney general says authorities agreed to allow the US side to conduct ballistic works on the bullet
  • Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank

RAMALLAH/JERUSALEM: The Palestinian Authority handed the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to US forensic experts on Saturday as it seeks to prove conclusively that it was fired by an Israel soldier.
The announcement came just over a week before President Joe Biden is to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It signaled that both sides may be working to find a solution to the deadlock.
The Palestinian Authority was assured that no modifications would be made to the bullet that killed Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, and that it would be returned as soon as the assessment was complete, Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib told AFP.
The Palestinian Authority gave the green light to hand over the bullet to the United States, the Palestinians’ official Wafa news agency reported.
Israel says it has identified the rifle that may have shot her, but that it cannot draw any conclusions unless it is compared to the bullet. The Palestinians have refused to turn over the bullet, saying they don’t trust Israel. Rights groups say Israel has a poor record investigating shootings of Palestinians by its troops, with probes languishing for months or years before they are quietly closed.
Al-Khatib reiterated the Palestinian refusal to share the bullet with the Israelis but said the Palestinians welcome the participation of any international bodies to “help us confirm the truth.”
“We are confident and certain of our investigations and the results we have reached,” he said.
It was not immediately clear what the American experts could discover without also studying the Israeli weapon. It also was not clear whether Israel would turn over the rifle to the Americans. The Israeli military declined comment, and US Embassy’s Office of Palestinian Affairs said it had “no new information to offer.”
The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet, was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin camp in the northern West Bank.
The official Palestinian investigation found that the Qatar-based television channel’s star reporter was killed after being hit by a bullet just below her helmet.
It found that Abu Akleh was killed with a 5.56 millimeter armor-piercing round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had promised last month to pursue accountability over the killing of Abu Akleh wherever the facts might lead.
“We are looking for an independent, credible investigation. When that investigation happens, we will follow the facts, wherever they lead. It’s as straightforward as that,” said Blinken.
A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a diplomatic matter, said the issue was raised in a phone call between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and that both sides hope to resolve the issue before Biden’s arrival on July 13.
Investigations by the UN, as well as several journalistic probes, have found that the shot that killed Abu Akleh was fired by Israeli forces.
“We find that the shots that killed Abu Akleh came from Israeli security forces,” UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
“It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation,” she said.
The UN rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
The probe examined submissions from the Israeli army and the Palestinian attorney general.
However, the Israeli army branded the UN’s findings unfounded, insisting it was “not possible” to determine how Abu Akleh was killed.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Force) investigation clearly concludes that Ms. Abu Akleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately... or inadvertently by an IDF soldier,” the military said.
Israel has repeatedly called on the Palestinian Authority to give it the bullet but the Palestinians have refused to do so and have rejected any collaboration with Israel in the investigation.
Abu Akleh, who was 51, was a widely known and respected on-air correspondent who rose to fame two decades ago during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israeli rule. She documented the harsh realities of life under Israeli military rule — now well into its sixth decade with no end in sight — for viewers across the Arab world.
(With AFP and AP)


Morocco: 13 migrants sent to prison for Spain crossing bid

Morocco: 13 migrants sent to prison for Spain crossing bid
Updated 8 sec ago

Morocco: 13 migrants sent to prison for Spain crossing bid

Morocco: 13 migrants sent to prison for Spain crossing bid
RABAT, Morocco: A Moroccan court has sentenced 13 migrants, mostly from Sudan, to 2 and a half years in prison over a mass attempt to scale the border fence separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
The decision Wednesday in the northern Moroccan city of Nador was the latest — and toughest — ruling handed down after dozens of people were arrested for the June 24 crossing attempt. At least 23 died that day in what Moroccan authorities called a stampede, as hundreds of people stormed the fence in a desperate bid to reach Europe.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights described Wednesday’s ruling as a “very harsh verdict which shows how the judiciary was mobilized in the service of migration policies at the expense of asylum-seeking migrants.”
The 13 were convicted of various charges including illegal entry into Moroccan territory, violence against public officials, armed gathering, disobedience and joining a gang to organize and facilitate clandestine immigration abroad and arson. The court also ordered each of the defendants to pay 1,000 dirham (nearly $100).
Most of the 13 were from Sudan, and others were from Chad and South Sudan, according to activists who followed the case.
Last month, another Nador court sentenced 33 people to 11 months in prison over the June 24 crossing attempt. That court also sentenced 14 people earlier this month to eight months in prison in the same case.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say
Updated 18 August 2022

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say
  • Witnesses said the clashes erupted when Israeli forces arrived to guard Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb
  • Palestine Red Crescent: Four Palestinians were shot and one of them was killed

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces killed a Palestinian in predawn clashes in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, Palestinian medics said. The Israeli army said he was armed and shooting at soldiers, something the Palestinians denied.
Witnesses said the clashes erupted when Israeli forces arrived to guard Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish shrine that has been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Four Palestinians were shot and one of them, an 18-year-old, was killed, the Palestine Red Crescent said. At least 30 Palestinians were wounded in all.
Later in the day, in a separate development, Israeli security forces raided seven non-governmental organizations in the West Bank, confiscating computers and equipment before sealing off the entrances, Palestinian witnesses and officials said.
This followed a decision by Israel to designate the groups as terrorist organizations, accusing them of funneling donor aid to Palestinian militants, a move that has drawn criticism from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs. The designation was ratified on Wednesday.
Nine European Union states have said they would continue working with the groups, citing a lack of evidence for the Israeli accusation.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated Israel’s position that the organizations had operated undercover to serve the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has carried out deadly attacks on Israelis and is on US and EU terrorism blacklists.
“They also assist in raising funds for the terrorist organization via a variety of methods that include forgery and fraud,” Gantz said.
Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, said on Twitter that the “storming of civil work institutions ... is a dangerous escalation and is an attempt to silence the voice of truth and justice.”
“We will appeal to all official international bodies and human rights institutions to intervene immediately to condemn this occupier behavior and place pressure on them to reopen the institutions and to be able to exercise their activities freely,” Sheikh said.


Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 
A few days after the video was shared, Rashno disappeared. (Social Media)
Updated 18 August 2022

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 
  • The video expresses their solidarity to Sepideh Rashno, the 28-year-old Iranian writer and artist who was arrested for refusing to wear a headscarf

A video posted online by a group of Iranian female activists supporting a woman, who was arrested for violating Iran’s mandatory hijab rule, has gone viral days after she was seen confessing to the crime allegedly under duress, Radio Farda reported on Wednesday. 

Prominent Iranian activist Masih Alinejad shared a video online on Aug. 16, in which she and other female activists recited a poem entitled ‘The Confession’ by an anonymous poet. 

 

The poem expresses their solidarity to Sepideh Rashno, the 28-year-old Iranian writer and artist who was arrested on June 15 after a video of her arguing with another woman over her refusal to wear a headscarf was posted online. 

Mooniter, the pseudonym of one of the female activists who participated in the video to support Rashno, said the poem was aimed at “raising the voices of women like Sepideh” and “women and people who have been taken hostage in Iran,” according to Radio Farda. 

Rashno was riding a bus in Tehran without a hijab when a stranger took a video of her and threatened to send it to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Radio Farda reported.  

A few days after the video was shared, Rashno disappeared. Iranian state television then aired a clip of Rashno’s “confession” on July 30 where she appeared to be in a poor physical state, the report added.

The 28-year-old had allegedly been beaten prior to appearing on TV and was later hospitalized immediately after confessing to breaking the hijab law, according to reports.


Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results
Updated 18 August 2022

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

DUBAI:  Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD) warned individuals against firing guns indiscriminately in celebration of exam results, state news agency Petra has reported.

The celebratory practice of discharging firearms, so-called ‘festive gunfire,’ is a persistent problem in Jordan and has led to serious injury and even fatalities as gravity causes the bullets fired in the air to descend at the same speed, hitting unsuspecting bystanders.

King Abdullah even described the tribal tradition as a “clear violation of the law and an act against the health and safety of society” in his Twitter account.

Estimates show that from 2013 to 2018, between 1,500 and 1,869 people were killed by stray bullets fired in celebration, while the injury rate was far higher.

Authorities have pledged “stricter control over celebratory gunfire and stated that anyone engaging in such conduct will be arrested,” state news agency Petra reported.

Warnings have also been issued against those engaging in serious traffic violations such as unlawful motorcades, hanging out of car windows and sunroofs and reckless driving to celebrate the release of the Tawjihi results.

Tawjihi is the country’s general secondary national examination for all students who plan to continue studying for their undergraduate and graduate degrees in Jordan. Students who pass are awarded the Tawjihi – Jordanian General Secondary School Certificate.

It’s when the exam results are issued that young people celebrate by driving with people leaning out of the windows and people firing guns.

In response the US embassy in Jordan has issued a safety alert highlighting these practices.

“As part of the celebrations expect congested traffic, more aggressive drivers, and celebratory gunfire. The results of the Tawjihi exams are often published with little or no warning.  Last year the results were published in the early morning,” its alert noted.

“US government personnel are advised to exercise caution and to take cover and move away from the area if they observe gunfire,” it added.

The diplomatic post also issued reminders to avoid public gatherings and festivities, increase awareness, review personal security protocols, or contact police authorities in face of immediate danger or threats.


Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison
Updated 18 August 2022

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison
  • Iran has had the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with 7,488,493 confirmed cases and 143,093 deaths so far, according to data from John Hopkins University

Several Iranian activists who had plans to sue government officials for its poor handling of the COVID-19 outbreak have been jailed, an appeals court in Iran’s capital city has confirmed. 

Known as “health defenders,” the activists were seeking to file legal charges against the government and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines’ rollout, Radio Farda reported on Wednesday. 

Iran has had the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with 7,488,493 confirmed cases and 143,093 deaths so far, according to data from John Hopkins University. 

Many Iranians also saw Khamenei’s ban on the import of vaccines from the US and Britain as a solely political move that led to thousands of preventable deaths, Radio Farda said. 

Security officers arrested five people in August 2021 for refusing to sign a letter pledging they would not sue Khamenei or other officials over the COVID-19 response, Radio Farda reported. 

Activist Mostafa Nili said the court had confirmed sentences against him and other activists before the group could file a suit against the government. 

The report added that Mehdi Mahmudian was jailed for four years and sentenced to two years of deprivation of media activity, while Arash KEykhosro was facing a jail term of two years and a one-year ban from advocacy and media activities. 

Mohammed Reza Faghihi was sentenced to six-months in prison and Maryam Afrafaraz was given a 995-day jail term. 

During a closed trial, the group was convicted of “colluding to commit crimes against national security,” Radio Farda said.