Taiwan warns of China military’s ‘sudden entry’ close to island

Taiwan warns of China military’s ‘sudden entry’ close to island
A Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province on Aug. 4, 2022 ahead of massive military drills off Taiwan. (AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2023
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Taiwan warns of China military’s ‘sudden entry’ close to island

Taiwan warns of China military’s ‘sudden entry’ close to island
  • China has stepped up its military activities around Taiwan in recent years
  • Beijing last year staged unprecedented military exercises around Taiwan

TAIPEI: Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned on Monday the island has to be on alert this year for a “sudden entry” by the Chinese military into areas close to its territory amid the rising military tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
China has stepped up its military activities around Taiwan in recent years, including almost daily Air Force incursions into the island’s air defense identification zone.
However, Taiwan has not yet reported any incident of Chinese forces entering its contiguous zone, which is 24 nautical miles (44.4 km) from its coastline. But it has shot down a civilian drone that entered its airspace near an islet off the Chinese coast last year.
Answering questions from lawmakers in parliament, Chiu said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might find excuses to enter areas close to Taiwan’s territorial air and sea space as the island steps up its military exchanges with the United States, to Beijing’s ire.
He said the PLA might make a “sudden entry” into Taiwan’s contiguous zone and get close to its territorial space, which the island defines as 12 nautical miles from its coastlines.
“(I) specifically make these comments this year, meaning they are making such preparations,” Chiu said. “Looking forward, they would use force if they really have to.”
Taiwan has vowed to exercise its right to self-defense and counter-attack if Chinese armed forces entered its territory.
China last year staged unprecedented military exercises around Taiwan in reaction to a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Chiu said China is looking to “make trouble under a certain pretext,” adding that might include visits to the island made by foreign senior government officials or Taiwan’s frequent military contacts with other countries.
He said the PLA sends about 10 planes or ships to areas near Taiwan a day. Some of them cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer, on an almost daily basis, he added.
Chiu said since China has destroyed a tacit agreement on military movements in the Strait, Taiwan has made preparations to “fire the first shot” if Chinese entities, including drones or balloons, enter its territorial space.
China claims self-governed Taiwan as its own and has not renounced the use of force to bring the island under Chinese control, if needed. Taiwan strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide their future.


Father of British student killed by IDF urges Israel to change ‘inhuman’ military tactics

Father of British student killed by IDF urges Israel to change ‘inhuman’ military tactics
Updated 29 November 2023
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Father of British student killed by IDF urges Israel to change ‘inhuman’ military tactics

Father of British student killed by IDF urges Israel to change ‘inhuman’ military tactics
  • Tom Hurndall was shot by an IDF sniper while assisting Palestinian children caught in the crossfire in Gaza

LONDON: A British barrister whose son was killed by the Israel Defense Forces says that Israel will lose Western support if it continues its “fundamentally unethical and inhuman attitudes,” The Times reported on Wednesday.

Anthony Hurndall shared information about his son’s shooting, showcasing how Israeli military tactics are responsible for killing innocent people.

Tom Hurndall was a photography student, International Solidarity Movement volunteer and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

In April 2003, the 22-year-old was shot by IDF sniper Taysir Hayb while assisting Palestinian children caught in the crossfire in Gaza. He was left in a coma and died nine months later.

An investigation revealed that Soroka Hospital’s medical staff removed bullet fragments from Tom’s brain. Initially, the hospital claimed that his injuries were caused by a baseball bat. When that was refuted, the Israeli government claimed he was carrying a weapon and was a gunman.

Hayb was later sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter after it was revealed that he thought he was following standard military procedure.

“The investigation further revealed that, as standard practice, the IDF routinely falsely misrepresent civilians and children as militants, or as armed, and fabricate accounts of events as a pretext for their killing,” Hurndall, who is director of the Center for Justice, told The Times.

“These claims appear similar to the claims that the IDF are currently making to justify their bombing, missile and other attacks on civilian targets and hospitals in Gaza. It was the view of those in diplomatic circles, expressed to us at the time, that the IDF appeared to consider themselves immune from accountability and free to misrepresent innocent civilians as legitimate military targets and to target them, as a form of intimidation or collective punishment.”

Hurndall acknowledges the “unrelenting pressure of the UK government and press” for unearthing the mechanisms responsible for his son’s death.

“Unfortunately, Palestinian civilians do not have the resources or support to protect themselves in this way. Western governments and media appear overly willing to accept Israeli accounts and narratives and repeat them,” he said. “In doing so they actively encourage the killing of women and children and are, in my view, themselves complicit in, or at least condoning, the deliberate killing of civilians and war crimes.”

He added: “I have over the years found myself questioning my own support for Israel and find myself increasingly appalled by the accounts of the treatment of Palestinians, and the actions of the IDF and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and by the failure of those in the West to question this.

“The narrative portrayed in turn by the media and Western governments appears one-sided and to ignore the facts. My worry is that if Israel does not change fundamentally unethical and inhuman attitudes and policies and stop committing war crimes, it will build up even greater resistance from the Palestinian people and lose the sympathy and support of the West.”

“I wish Israel a happy, secure and prosperous future but it needs to abandon policies which destroy the very prospects of such a future. It will not achieve security through repression and an aggressive use of arms, but make this ever less likely.”
 


Kremlin warns of tensions if Poland sends troops to Finnish-Russian border

Kremlin warns of tensions if Poland sends troops to Finnish-Russian border
Updated 29 November 2023
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Kremlin warns of tensions if Poland sends troops to Finnish-Russian border

Kremlin warns of tensions if Poland sends troops to Finnish-Russian border
  • The head of the Polish National Security Bureau said in a post on social media X late on Tuesday that Poland would send military advisers to its NATO ally Finland
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an absolutely redundant measure to ensure border security because there is no threat there”

MOSCOW/HELSINKI: Any decision by Finland to allow a “concentration” of troops on its border with Russia would be viewed by Moscow as a threat, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, after Poland offered to send military advisers to help Helsinki police the frontier.
The head of the Polish National Security Bureau, Jacek Siewiera, said in a post on social media X late on Tuesday that Poland would send military advisers to its NATO ally Finland, in response to “an official request for allied support in the face of a hybrid attack on the Finnish border.”
“A team of military advisers will provide on-site knowledge on border security, also in operational terms,” he said.
Finland said on Wednesday it was unaware of the Polish offer. It has closed its entire 1,340 km (833 mile) border with Russia for two weeks in a bid to halt an unusually large flow of asylum seekers that Helsinki says amounts to a “hybrid attack” orchestrated by Moscow, a charge the Kremlin denies.
Asked about the Polish offer to Finland during a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an absolutely redundant measure to ensure border security because there is no threat there.”
“The Finns must be clearly aware that this will pose a threat to us — an increase in the concentration of military units on our borders.”
Any planned deployment would be unprovoked and unjustified, said Peskov.
Finland’s Border Guard and the interior ministry both said they were unaware of any plan to bring Polish military advisers to Finland’s eastern border.
The Finnish foreign and defense ministries and its defense forces did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto held talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Warsaw last week but they did not discuss military cooperation on the Finnish border with Russia, Niinisto’s office said in a statement to Reuters.
Finland infuriated Russia earlier this year when it joined NATO, ending decades of military non-alignment, due to the war in Ukraine.


Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif in graft case

Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif in graft case
Updated 17 min 33 sec ago
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Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif in graft case

Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif in graft case
  • Sharif is currently on bail appealing several convictions for corruption in an attempt to clear his name ahead of elections scheduled in February
  • “I had left all the matters to Allah and Allah has honored me today,” Sharif told reporters outside the Islamabad High Court

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan high court on Wednesday quashed a graft conviction against three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from self-imposed exile last month to launch a political comeback.
Sharif is currently on bail appealing several convictions for corruption in an attempt to clear his name ahead of elections scheduled in February, with his primary opponent Imran Khan in jail.
“I had left all the matters to Allah and Allah has honored me today,” Sharif told reporters outside the Islamabad High Court.
An official of the Islamabad high court confirmed the acquittal in one case, and Sharif is still appealing a second conviction over investments in steel companies.
Sharif was jailed for 10 years in 2018 for corrupt practices linked to his family’s purchase of upscale London flats.
He was ousted and barred from politics for life in 2017 for failing to declare parts of his income.
Sharif, who has been prime minister three times but has never completed a full term, has always maintained that the charges were politically motivated.
His political fortunes have risen and fallen on his relationship with Pakistan’s military establishment — the country’s true kingmakers who have ruled directly for more than half of its history and continue to enjoy immense power.
“Now everything is moving in favor of Nawaz Sharif,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.
“This appears to be a political game managed by powerful personalities and institutions,” he told AFP.
Sharif’s fortunes changed when Khan had a spectacular falling out with the military.
The former cricketing superstar was later jailed in connection with several cases he says are designed to keep him from contesting elections next year.
Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz came to power in a coalition that ousted Khan.
That government oversaw a change to the law limiting the disqualification of lawmakers from contesting elections to five years — paving the way for his return.


Indian trade unions stand with Palestine, reject sending workers to Israel

Indian trade unions stand with Palestine, reject sending workers to Israel
Updated 29 November 2023
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Indian trade unions stand with Palestine, reject sending workers to Israel

Indian trade unions stand with Palestine, reject sending workers to Israel
  • Indian workers rally on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
  • Unionists denounce plans for 90,000 Indians to replace Palestinian workers

NEW DELHI: India’s main trade unions urged the government on Wednesday to uphold its historical support for Palestinian statehood and scrap plans to send tens of thousands of workers to Israel.

Representing some 100 million workers, Indian trade union organizations said earlier this month that the government was considering manpower exports to Israel, which would see some 90,000 Indian construction workers replace their Palestinian counterparts.

As plans to facilitate their replacement with Indians began to emerge, 10 prominent trade unions issued a statement saying the Israeli occupation of Palestine had decimated its economy, making Palestinians dependent on Israel for employment. Facilitating it would “amount to complicity on India’s part with Israel’s ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians,” said the statement.

The unions repeated their call as they observed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Nov. 29.

“(The) Indian working class cannot be party to this genocidal initiative by Israel and marching orders to Palestinian workers working on Israeli soil is a part of that overall genocidal attack. Workers cannot be a party to the heinous exercise,” Tapan Kumar Sen, secretary-general of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, told Arab News.

Members of the CITU, as well as of the All India Trade Union Congress and other Indian members of the World Federation of Trade Unions, wore black badges to work on Wednesday and took part in sit-ins, marches and site protests.

“This is an observation in support of solidarity with Palestinians and demanding that the Indian government play (a role) instead of being soft on Israel,” Sen said.

“We demand that Israel must vacate all the occupied territory of the Palestinian areas identified as Palestinian homeland with Jerusalem as capital.”

In Tamil Nadu, in India’s south, workers in more than half the state’s districts organized rallies.

“This protest is in response to the call given by the World Federation of Trade Unions to observe Nov. 29 as a solidarity day,” Vahidha Nizam, a member of AITUC in the state, told Arab News.

“About 20 districts in Tamil Nadu are holding protest marches in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

In Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern state of Orrissa, six trade unions and activists held a joint protest against Israeli military and settler violence and the support it receives from the West.

“The way the Israel-America axis attacks Palestine ... they are snatching their homeland, they are snatching their rights,” Ramkrushna Panda, AITUC state secretary, told Arab News.

“Trade unions have jointly organized the protest ... Though the Indian government has taken a stand in a different way, our foreign policy has always been in favor of Palestine. The people of the country stand with Palestine, in solidarity with Palestine.”

Support for Palestine was an important part of India’s foreign policy even before independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s freedom movement and one of the fathers of the independent country, had opposed the formation of a Jewish nation-state in Palestine, deeming it inhumane.

“Indian citizens and Indian workers have always stood with the rights of Palestinians to have their own homeland,” said Amarjeet Kaur, secretary-general of the All India Trade Union Congress.

“The Indian government deciding to have a treaty with Israel to send Indian workers there to replace Palestinians goes against the Indian ethos.”


UN calls for ‘irreversible’ move toward two-state solution to Israel crisis

UN calls for ‘irreversible’ move toward two-state solution to Israel crisis
Updated 29 November 2023
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UN calls for ‘irreversible’ move toward two-state solution to Israel crisis

UN calls for ‘irreversible’ move toward two-state solution to Israel crisis
  • ‘It is long past time to move in a determined, irreversible way toward a two-state solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law’

GENEVA: The United Nations on Wednesday called for the international community to move toward a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying Jerusalem should serve as the capital of both states.
“It is long past time to move in a determined, irreversible way toward a two-state solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law,” said Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the UN office in Geneva, delivering a speech authored by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
She added this would mean “Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.”
The comments coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which it observes annually. It marks the United Nations General Assembly’s approval of a plan to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states and for international rule over Jerusalem.
Calls for a two-state solution have grown in the wake of attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 in which Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages. The assault prompted an Israeli bombardment and ground offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza that has killed more than 15,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities in the densely-populated enclave.
A two-state agreement would create a state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel. Israel has said a Palestinian state must be demilitarized so as not to threaten its security.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City’s sites sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, to be the capital of their state. Israel says Jerusalem should remain its “indivisible and eternal” capital.
Ibrahim Khraishi, Palestinian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the current conflict had served as a wake-up call for the international community to support the two-state solution.
“The two-state solution is difficult after the (Israeli) settlement and shrinking (of territory), but still possible if there is a will,” he said. “Now is the moment. And it’s good for Israel by the way. If they don’t accept the idea, it will be too late for them, not for us.”