Israeli retaliation amounts to collective punishment illegal under international law, rights groups say

Special Israeli retaliation amounts to collective punishment illegal under international law, rights groups say
A Palestinian man inspects a burnt car, after it was set on fire by Jewish settlers, in the village of Turmusaya, near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. (AP Photo)
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Updated 29 January 2023

Israeli retaliation amounts to collective punishment illegal under international law, rights groups say

Israeli retaliation amounts to collective punishment illegal under international law, rights groups say
  • Settlers continue assaults in West Bank under watch of occupation forces, burning houses and cars 
  • 24-year-old Palestinian injured in Jenin on Thursday dies 

RAMALLAH: Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations have criticized punitive measures taken by the Israeli government against Palestinians as fears grow of escalation after the deadliest unrest for years in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Multiple Palestinians have been arrested after seven people were killed and five others wounded in two separate shootings in Jerusalem on Friday and Saturday.

Various groups said the Israeli action amounted to collective punishment and is illegal under international law.

The Palestinian Authority also condemned Israel’s actions, calling it collective punishment.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the arrests a gross violation of international law and the Geneva Convention, adding that the collective punishment as an extension of the occupation policy aimed at removing the Palestinian presence from Jerusalem.

Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq Palestinian Human Rights organization, told Arab News: “These collective punishments are war crimes that the Israeli government takes against the Palestinians, as it punishes people who have nothing to do with those who carry out attacks against the Israeli occupiers.

“The one who carried out the attack was killed, so why should his family be punished? And why, if a Palestinian act against the Israelis, (will) the entire society will be punished,” he added.

Taysir Khaled, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, held the Israeli government fully responsible for the deterioration of conditions and massacres perpetrated by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He added that the decision of the Israeli Cabinet to distribute more weapons to settlers in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and to call on the occupation police to take up arms, constituted a green light for Jewish terrorist organizations — which take settlements and outposts as safe havens under the protection of the occupation army — to commit more crimes.

Jessica Montel, director of the Israeli HaMoked human rights organization, said that members of Israel’s Cabinet were threatening a range of measures, all of which constituted collective punishment against innocent people solely because they are related to the man who perpetrated the deadly attack on Friday night.

Israel’s new government is actively working to undermine jurists’ authority and the judiciary's independence, Montel told Arab News, further eroding the possibility of defending Palestinians’ human rights. 

In what is believed to be an act of revenge for the recent attacks in Jerusalem, Israeli settlers assaulted Palestinians and their properties on Saturday evening across the occupied territories, official Palestinian sources confirmed on Sunday.

The settlers launched attacks against dozens of Palestinian targets from the north to the south of the West Bank, which resulted in burning a house in the village of Turmusaya, northeast of Ramallah, in addition to nine vehicles, as well cutting down trees, smashing cars, wounding civilians with stones, and spraying them with pepper gas.

Villagers in Turmusaya reported that several settlers closed a street in the town and set fire to a car, which then spread to the nearby house.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity for the Palestinian authorities, said 144 reports of attacks by settlers were recorded from 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 to 2:30 a.m on Jan. 29 across the West Bank.

Daghlas said Israeli settlers destroyed 120 vehicles, burned six cars in Majdal Bani Fadel, and attacked 22 shops in Hawara, as well as several roads and junctions in the West Bank.

He said that what distinguished these attacks from previous attacks was the large number of settlers engaged in them, with some attacking groups consisting of up to 60 people.

Daghlas said the violence on Saturday was characterized by its ferocity, and in one incident, a Palestinian car was set on fire with the owner inside it.

He claimed that the Israel Defense Forces were present near some of the attacks but did not prevent them.

Younes Arar, head of the International Relations Unit of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission of the PA, told Arab News that the pace of settler attacks increased this week after the right-wing Israeli government came to power at the end of December.

According to Moataz Bisharat, the official in charge of settlement affairs in Tubas, a group of settlers closed the Ain Al-Hilweh junction and attacked vehicles with stones.

Settlers also destroyed vegetable stands near the entrance to the villages of Ein Al-Bayda and Bardala in the northern Jordan Valley.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health also announced the death of 24-year-old Omar Al-Saadi on Sunday after he was shot by the IDF last Thursday in Jenin.

Nine citizens, including an elderly woman, were killed last Thursday by IDF fire in Jenin. More than 20 civilians were injured, three of whom were left in serious condition.

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’
Updated 07 June 2023

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’

US vice president Kamala Harris: Israel needs ‘independent judiciary’
  • Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen: Harris was perhaps not fully informed about the details of the judicial changes his government was seeking

WASHINGTON: US vice president Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that Israel’s democracy requires “an independent judiciary,” wading into the controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul that has drawn mass protests in Israel.
“America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship, which includes continuing to strengthen our democracies, which as the (Israeli) ambassador has said, are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and I’ll add: an independent judiciary,” Harris said.
The vice president spoke at a reception celebrating the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding hosted by the country’s embassy in Washington. Her remarks on the judiciary drew applause.
Harris also reiterated the Biden administration’s “ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.”
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen said Harris was perhaps not fully informed about the details of the judicial changes his government was seeking, which were intended, he said, to ensure a strong and independent judiciary which was more balanced.
“If you ask her what troubles her about the reform, she may not be able to cite even one clause that bothers her,” Cohen told Israel’s public broadcaster Kansas “I don’t know whether she read the bill, my estimation is that she has not.”
Weeks of unprecedented street demonstrations followed Netanyahu’s proposed package of reforms of the Supreme Court, which members of his religious-nationalist coalition accuse of overreach and elitism.
Under pressure at home and abroad, including from US President Joe Biden’s administration, Netanyahu has suspended the overhaul to try to negotiate a consensus with the political opposition.
Critics see a threat to independence of the courts by the prime minister, who is on trial on graft charges that he denies.
Top economists and national security veterans have warned of fallout, saying an independent court system is crucial to Israel’s democratic norms and economic strength.
Before Harris spoke, Israeli president Isaac Herzog said in a video address to the crowd that he planned to visit the White House and address a joint session of the US Congress “in the near future.” The trip is expected in July.
Biden has yet to extend a White House invitation to Netanyahu, despite Israel’s status as a key Middle East ally.
The two leaders have had chilly relations since Biden took office. Biden had pressed Netanyahu in recent months to drop the judicial overhaul plan.
Netanyahu, who was prime minister for three years in the 1990s and then from 2009 to 2021, took office again in December to start his sixth term.

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster
Updated 07 June 2023

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster

Turkiye jails teen who added moustache to Erdogan poster
  • He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities on Tuesday seized and jailed a 16-year-old youth for drawing a moustache on an election campaign poster showing re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, media reports said.
Several media close to the opposition, including daily newspapers BirGun, Cumhuriyet and private TV station Halk TV, said the youth from the southeastern town of Mersin was accused of defacing the poster near his home with a pen, scribbling “a Hitler moustache and writing insulting comments.”
He was arrested after being identified by CCTV cameras, media reports said. Authorities interviewed him at his home where he reportedly “admitted drawing the moustache” while denying writing the accompanying comments.
Taken before the public prosecutor he was found to have “insulted the president” and was jailed at a nearby youth facility, according to Halk TV.
Erdogan extended his 20-year rule over Turkiye after winning the May 28 second round of the presidential election to embark on a new five-year term.
According to the justice ministry, “insulting the president” is one of the most common crimes in Turkiye, resulting in 16,753 convictions last year.

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive
Updated 06 June 2023

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive

Short of animals, Gaza Zoo fights to survive
  • Two of Gaza’s zoos have closed

GAZA: Large paintings of a bear, an elephant and a giraffe decorate the outer walls of NAMA Zoo in Gaza City, but none of these wild creatures is represented live among those caged inside.

Six years ago, the lone tiger died, and despite visitors’ frequent demands for a replacement, the owners have not been able to afford to buy or feed a new one.

There were once six zoos in Gaza, a narrow coastal enclave which has been closed off behind security walls since 2007.

But with the economy crippled by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, two of the zoos have closed.

“Because of the lack of resources and capabilities and the high prices of animals it is difficult to replace an animal you lose,” said Mahmoud Al-Sultan, the medical supervisor of the NAMA zoo.

The original animals at the zoo were smuggled through tunnels from Egypt over a decade ago. 

As well as four pairs of lions, each of which goes through 60 kg of meat a week, the zoo has crocodiles, hyenas, foxes, deer and monkeys, as well as a lone ibex and a solitary wolf.

At the lions’ cages, children stand to take pictures from a distance and giggle as they touch the bars on the cages of deer and birds. 

A ticket costs less than $1 because people can’t afford more, Sultan said.

“I come here to have some fun, but I see the same animals every time,” said nine-year-old Fouad Saleh. “I wish I could see an elephant, a giraffe or a tiger.”

For the moment, that appears unlikely. Gaza lacks the medical facilities to treat animals like lions and tigers.

In the past, the Four Paws international animal welfare group has had to rescue animals and find them new homes in Israel, Jordan or as far away as South Africa.

“We struggle to afford the food,” said Sultan. “Sometimes we provide frozen food, chicken, turkeys, and sometimes if a donkey is injured we have it slaughtered and shared out between the lions.”

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag
Updated 06 June 2023

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

UAE to tighten insurance cover for ships flying its flag

DUBAI: The UAE is tightening insurance requirements for vessels registered under its flag, according to a government advisory, amid growing concerns over ships sailing without top tier cover in the event of an oil spill.

Ships typically have protection and indemnity insurance which covers liability claims including environmental damage and injury. Separate hull and machinery policies cover vessels against physical damage.

About 90 percent of the world’s ocean going tonnage is covered by the 12 ship insurers that make up the International Group.

P&I insurers outside of the IG that cover UAE flagged ships will need to meet a number of requirements including providing evidence of membership of a recognized maritime related professional agency or regulatory body, the UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said in a June 2 advisory posted on its website.

Other requirements include providing details of the five largest settled claims or details of claims over $10 million, the advisory said, adding that applications needed to be submitted before June 30.

The advisory, which was also addressed to ship owners, said evidence would need to be shown about so-called blue cards, which cover pollution damage.

The UAE flagged fleet includes dozens of oil tankers — many of which are old — and over 200 offshore vessels typically used in oil related trading, according to shipping data on public database Equasis.

Hundreds of “ghost” tankers, which are not fully regulated, have joined an opaque parallel shipping trade over the past few years, carrying oil from countries hit by Western sanctions and restrictions, including Russia and Iran.

The number of incidents last year, including groundings, collisions and near misses involving these ships reached the highest in years, a Reuters investigation showed.

Ports in China’s Shandong province are demanding more detailed information about oil tankers that are more than 15 years old that call at their terminals, sources with knowledge of the matter said this week.

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
Updated 06 June 2023

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
  • Residents of Tuti island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages

KHARTOUM: Battles raged in Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, witnesses said, and the residents of an island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages.

Eight weeks of fighting have pitted army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

A number of broken ceasefires have offered brief lulls but no respite for residents of the city, where witnesses again reported “the sound of heavy artillery fire” in northern Khartoum.

Witnesses also said there were “clashes with various types of weapons” in south Khartoum, where “the sound of explosions shook our walls.”

In the city center, at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers, the island of Tuti is “under total siege” by RSF forces, resident Mohammed Youssef said.

Paramilitaries have blocked the only bridge to the island and prevented residents from going by boat to other parts of the capital.

“We can’t move anyone who’s sick to hospitals off the island,” Youssef said. “If this continues for days, stores will run out of food.”

Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Al Arabiya channel reported that the warring parties had resumed indirect ceasefire talks in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The UN says that more than a million and a half people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.

For those still in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur — which together have seen the worst of the fighting — the situation is growing increasingly dire.

“We face a massive humanitarian crisis that is only going to get worse with the collapse of the economy, collapse of the health care system,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned.

The danger will increase with “the flood season fast approaching and the looming hunger crisis and disease outbreaks that now are becoming more inevitable.”

Sudan’s annual rainy season begins in June, and medics have repeatedly warned that it threatens to make parts of country inaccessible, raising the risks of malaria, cholera and water-borne diseases.