Palestinians hail UN condemnation of Israeli detention

Special Palestinians hail UN condemnation of Israeli detention
Protesters stage a demonstration in support of prisoners in Israeli jails outside the office of the International Committee of the red Cross in Ramallah. (AFP)
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Updated 22 October 2022

Palestinians hail UN condemnation of Israeli detention

Palestinians hail UN condemnation of Israeli detention
  • Almost 800 Palestinians detained without trial through policy

RAMALLAH: Officials in Palestine have welcomed the UN’s appeal to Israel to end the administrative detention of Palestinian detainees.

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Commission, lauded the UN move.

He told Arab News that the Palestinian Authority has made similar appeals for several years and has repeatedly urged international organizations and allied countries to pressure Israel into ending the detention practice.

Israel uses administrative detention — imprisoning a person without trial for a period of six months — to clamp down on Palestinian activism, Abu Bakr said.

He lamented that some prisoners had spent almost eight years in administrative detention without trial because detention orders were renewed every six months.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said in a press conference that the UN had repeatedly called on Israel to end the practice of administrative detention, either by releasing or prosecuting detainees.

Dujarric added that the UN was following up on the case of Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian lawyer held by Israel without charge under administrative detention.

The spokesman’s remarks came after independent experts had called on Israel to immediately release Hammouri, who recently ended a 19-day hunger strike in objection to the systematic policy of administrative detention.

Dujarric added: “We are closely following the situation of Mr. Hammouri and other Palestinian administrative detainees held by Israel.

“We are aware that there are about 30 detainees, including him, who recently ended their hunger strike, which had been going on since September. And obviously, we have repeatedly called for Israel to end the practice by either releasing people or charging them when there are grounds to do so.”

Israeli retaliatory measures against Hammouri escalated after following his work with the Conscience Foundation for Prisoner Care and Human Rights.

UN experts also expressed their deep concern about the widespread misuse of administrative and criminal law procedures by Israel, and its use of confidential information against Palestinians, including Hammouri.

Abu Bakr said that there are 780 Palestinian administrative detainees, including at least six minors and two female prisoners. Most of the detainees are held in the Negev and Ofer prisons.

Since 2015, Israeli authorities have issued more than 9,500 administrative detention orders.

Since the beginning of this year, authorities have issued about 1,365 administrative detention orders, including 272 in August alone.

Since late 2011, prisoners in Israel have carried out more than 400 individual strikes.

Abu Bakr said that the prisoners have repeatedly demanded that Israeli authorities bring them to trial.

In a separate development, Israel reportedly intends to allow the Palestinian Authority — for the first time since 2001 — to acquire two civilian helicopters for high-level flights in a move aimed at enhancing President Mahmoud Abbas’ position.

Haaretz reported that Israeli security leaders had objected to such proposals for years on the grounds that the helicopters would be used for smuggling purposes, as happened under former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat.

According to the report, Israeli security officials recommended that the government accept the request of President Abbas as part of steps to strengthen his position within the Palestinian Authority.

According to the plan’s draft, Israel intends to allow the Palestinian Authority to buy two helicopters with money donated by Gulf states.

The two helicopters would be stationed in Jordan, and will remain on standby to transport senior officials from the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority will be required to request a flight permit when traveling through Israeli airspace, which includes the occupied West Bank.

PA officials currently rent helicopters belonging to the Royal Jordanian Air Force to transport themselves and diplomatic guests between Ramallah and Amman.

Each flight costs them about $100,000, though President Abbas owns a private jet stationed in Amman for his trips around the world.

Israel allowed the late president Arafat to acquire three Soviet-made Mil Mi-8 helicopters following the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1993.

However, then-Israeli PM Ariel Sharon ordered the helicopters to be destroyed during the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 after they were allegedly used to smuggle weapons and wanted criminals.

The helicopter pads in both Ramallah and Gaza were destroyed.


Netanyahu in Paris to press Macron on Iran

Netanyahu in Paris to press Macron on Iran
Updated 10 sec ago

Netanyahu in Paris to press Macron on Iran

Netanyahu in Paris to press Macron on Iran
PARIS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday, hoping to gain support against Iran’s nuclear program but shadowed by an upsurge of violence in the region.
Israel’s Paris embassy said the pair would discuss “the international effort to stop the Iranian nuclear program.”
Netanyahu hopes that Iran’s role supplying drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine as well as the crackdown on protests at home will prompt Western allies to drop any pursuit of a revival of the 2015 deal over its atomic drive.
The prime minister has also said Israel is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, apparently dropping its previously more neutral stance over the conflict.
France agrees that “firmness” is needed in dealings with Iran, a diplomatic source told AFP, calling its nuclear program “dangerous” and highlighting its role in the Ukraine war.
Tehran also holds several foreign nationals who Western governments see as political hostages.
But Macron’s office said the French leader would “reiterate (to Netanyahu) the need for all sides to avoid measures likely to feed the cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians — while offering “France’s solidarity with Israel in the face of terrorism.”
Netanyahu visits as Israelis and Palestinians exchanged rockets and missiles over Gaza, the latest violent episode as the conflict intensifies.
A week ago, seven were killed in a mass shooting by a Palestinian at a synagogue in annexed east Jerusalem — one day after an Israeli raid in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.
No press conference is planned around the Macron-Netanyahu dinner starting at 1900 GMT at the French president’s Elysee Palace office.
In France until Saturday, Netanyahu is also set to meet French business chiefs and leaders of the country’s Jewish community, the Israeli embassy said.

Iran says IAEA stance on nuclear work “incorrect” — Mizan

Iran says IAEA stance on nuclear work “incorrect” — Mizan
Updated 02 February 2023

Iran says IAEA stance on nuclear work “incorrect” — Mizan

Iran says IAEA stance on nuclear work “incorrect” — Mizan
  • Fordow is so sensitive that the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers banned enrichment there

DUBAI: Iran’s said on Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest position on Tehran’s nuclear work was not correct, according to Mizan news agency.
The UN nuclear watchdog criticized Iran on Wednesday for making an undeclared change to the interconnection between the two clusters of advanced machines enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to weapons grade, at its Fordow plant.
“The IAEA inspector’s interpretation was incorrect but he reported it to the agency ... We immediately provided the explanation to the IAEA on the same day,” Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said.
In a confidential report to member states seen by Reuters, the IAEA did not say how the interconnection between the two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges had been changed except that “they were interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran (to the IAEA).”
Fordow is so sensitive that the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers banned enrichment there. Since the United States pulled out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions against Iran, the Islamic Republic has breached many of the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear activities.
Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive the pact have stalled since September.


France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen

France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen
Updated 02 February 2023

France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen

France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen
  • Announcement comes as Iran faces increasing Western pressure over its shipment of drones to arm Russia

YEMEN: French naval forces seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman coming from Iran heading to Yemen’s Houthi militia, officials said Thursday, the latest such interdiction amid the Mideast nation’s long-running war.
While Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure, images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command showed them to be similar to others captured by American forces in other shipments tied back to Tehran.
The announcement comes as Iran faces increasing Western pressure over its shipment of drones to arm Russia during its war on Ukraine, as well as for its violent monthslong crackdown targeting protesters. Regional tensions also have heightened after a suspected Israeli drone attack on a military workshop in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. Previous cycles of violence since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers have seen the Islamic Republic launch retaliatory attacks at sea.
The seizure occurred Jan. 15 in the Gulf of Oman, a body of water that stretches from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, through to the Arabian Sea and onto the Indian Ocean. US Central Command described the interdiction as happening “along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully from Iran to Yemen.”
A United Nations resolution bans arms transfers to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi militia, who took the country’s capital in late 2014 and have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the country's internationally recognized government since March 2015.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the seizure, identifying the forces involved as elite French special forces. A regional official with knowledge of the interdiction, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to not having permission to speak publicly on the operation’s details, similarly identified the French as carrying out the seizure.
The French military did not respond to requests for comment about capturing the weapons. US Central Command did not immediately respond to questions about the seizure, nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations. While France maintains a naval base in Abu Dhabi, it typically takes a quieter approach in the region while maintaining a diplomatic presence in Iran.
Iran long has denied arming the Houthis, though Western nations, UN experts and others have traced weaponry ranging from night-vision scopes, rifles and missiles back to Tehran. In November, the US Navy said it found 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer aboard a ship bound to Yemen from Iran. Houthi ballistic missile fire has targeted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the past.
Images taken Wednesday by US Central Command, analyzed by the AP, showed a variety of weapons on board an unidentified ship apparently docked at a port. The weapons appeared to include Chinese-made Type 56 rifles, Russian-made Molot AKS20Us and PKM-pattern machine guns. All have appeared in other seizures of weapons attributed to Iran.
Central Command said the seizure included more than 3,000 rifles and 578,000 rounds of ammunition. The released images also showed 23 container-launched anti-tank missiles, which also have turned up in other shipments tied to Iran.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen during the fighting, including over 14,500 civilians.


Jordan takes down a drug ring in capital

Jordan takes down a drug ring in capital
Updated 02 February 2023

Jordan takes down a drug ring in capital

Jordan takes down a drug ring in capital
  • 13,000 narcotic pills and 68 packages of cannabis were seized

Dubai:  Jordanian police busted a drugs supply ring in the capital Amman, state news agency PETRA reported.

In the raid 13,000 narcotic pills and 68 packages of cannabis were seized, and four people were arrested, the report added, citing a public security department spokesman.

During the raid one of the suspects opened fire on police, who managed to arrest him with three others.

One other suspect remains at large, the spokesman added.

Three weeks ago Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi in a meeting with Russian President's Special Envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev stressed Jordan focused efforts to prevent the smuggling of drugs from Syria into Jordan, and to bring down drug rings.

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Iran blames Israel for Isfahan drone attack, vows revenge

Iran blames Israel for Isfahan drone attack, vows revenge
Updated 02 February 2023

Iran blames Israel for Isfahan drone attack, vows revenge

Iran blames Israel for Isfahan drone attack, vows revenge
  • Primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible for the attack, says Iran's UN envoy
  • Attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity

DUBAI: Iran blamed Israel for a drone attack on a military factory near the central city of Isfahan, the semi-official ISNA news agency said on Thursday, vowing revenge for what appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war.
The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms — including long-range “suicide drones” — for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
In a letter to the UN chief, Iran’s UN envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani, said “primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible” for Saturday night’s attack, which Tehran had said caused no casualties or serious damage.
“Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right to defend its national security and firmly respond to any threat or wrongdoing of the Zionist regime (Israel) wherever and whenever it deems necessary,” Iravani said in the letter.
“This action undertaken by the Zionist regime (Israel) goes against international law.”
Arch-foe Israel has long said it is willing to strike Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but does not comment on specific incidents.
Talks between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since September. Under the pact, abandoned by Washington in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Tehran agreed to limit nuclear work in return for easing of sanctions.
Iran has accused Israel in the past of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory.
In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team of Kurdish militants working for Israel who planned to blow up a “sensitive” defense industry center in Isfahan.
“The equipment and explosives used in the Isfahan attack were transferred into Iran with the help of anti-revolutionary groups based in Iraq’s Kurdistan region under orders by a foreign security service,” Iran’s Nournews said on Wednesday.
Several nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, the centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a number of explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial sites in recent years.