US condemns Israeli extremists’ ‘hateful chants’ against Arabs

US condemns Israeli extremists’ ‘hateful chants’ against Arabs
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Israelis wave national flags as they gather at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem during the Israeli 'flags march' to mark "Jerusalem Day", on May 18, 2023. (AFP)
US condemns Israeli extremists’ ‘hateful chants’ against Arabs
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Palestinians wave their national flag during a protest against an Israeli parade through Jerusalem's Old City along the frontier with Israel east of Gaza City, on May 18, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 19 May 2023
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US condemns Israeli extremists’ ‘hateful chants’ against Arabs

US condemns Israeli extremists’ ‘hateful chants’ against Arabs
  • Tensions high as Israel nationalists led by national security minister Ben-Gvir, a terrorism ex-convict, march into east Jerusalem
  • Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem closed their shops to make way for the marchers, some of whom attacked journalists

JERUSALEM  The United States on Thursday condemned Israeli demonstrators’ “racist” chants against Arabs, with AFP reporters saying that many of the marchers had shouted anti-Arab slogans.

“The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form. We condemn the hateful chants such as ‘Death to Arabs’ during today’s marches in Jerusalem,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller wrote on Twitter.

 

 

Tens of thousands of Israeli nationalists marched to Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday in an annual flag-waving march commemorating Israel’s capture of it, as tensions on the Gaza border remained high.
Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem closed their shops and were banned from the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City, a social hub, to make way for the marchers, some of whom attacked journalists with rocks and bottles.
Police said they had made two arrests over the attack, one of an adult and one of a minor.
In Gaza, thousands gathered for a rival flag day on the Israeli border, many of them holding Palestinian flags. Israeli troops fired tear gas toward anyone approaching the border fence.
A Palestinian security source in Gaza said the territory’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, fired a “warning rocket” into the sea, without elaborating.
Ahead of the Israeli march, the militant group said it “condemns the campaign of the Zionist occupation (Israel) against our Palestinian people in occupied Jerusalem.”
Two years ago, after weeks of violence in Jerusalem in which scores of Palestinians were wounded, a war between Hamas and Israel erupted during the march.
Speaking late Thursday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the celebrations were being held in Jerusalem “75 years after it was re-established as the capital of the reborn state of Israel, and 56 years after being reunited.”
Two of his extreme-right cabinet members, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, attended Thursday’s march, one of the events marking what Israelis refer to as Jerusalem Day.
“Today, we say to Hamas who threatened us: ‘Jerusalem is ours,’” Ben-Gvir said in a statement.

Following the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel annexed east Jerusalem and its Old City in a move never recognized by the international community.
Thursday’s rally took place days into a cease-fire that ended deadly cross-border fighting with Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza.
Thirty-three people, including multiple civilians, were killed in the blockaded Palestinian enclave and two in Israel, a citizen and a Gazan laborer.
Some 2,500 police officers secured the march, which began in the western part of the city before passing into east Jerusalem and through the Old City to the Western Wall, where it wrapped up.
Before the march began, Palestinians with shops in the Old City closed up for the day.
Resident Abu Al-Abed, 72, said he wanted “to go home.” The marchers “are harmful, they’re walking and start to hit the doors of the shops and the doors of our houses,” he told AFP.
Scuffles between Jewish and Palestinian youths took place as early marchers arrived in the Old City, with police saying that in some cases forces “were required to act to prevent friction and provocations.”
But the violence was greatly reduced from last year, when at least 79 people were wounded as police clashed with Palestinian counter-protesters outside Damascus Gate.
Officials who manage the holy site estimated that 50,000 people took part in Jewish prayers at the Western Wall in the evening.
Prior to the march, dozens of Jews — including at least three lawmakers from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and a minister from Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power faction — visited Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site.

Jews, who call it the Temple Mount and revere it as their religion’s holiest site, are allowed to visit but not pray.
One of them, Tom Nissani, was sitting at Jaffa Gate with an Israeli flag, awaiting the march.
“It’s our capital city, we have to show it, to enjoy it, to fight for it,” the 34-year-old West Bank settler who works for an organization promoting Jewish presence on the flashpoint site told AFP.
Transport Minister Miri Regev, from Netanyahu’s Likud, was among Israelis waving flags at Damascus Gate hours before the official rally.
A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned Israel “against insisting on organizing the provocative flag march.”
Pushing ahead with the parade “confirms the acquiescence of the Israeli government to Jewish extremists,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Wednesday.
Since last year’s rally, Israel’s leadership has taken a marked shift to the far-right.
Ben-Gvir, the country’s national security minister, was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terrorist group and inciting racism.
Far-right ally Smotrich holds the finance portfolio along with some powers in the occupied West Bank, and also has a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.
 


World Health Organization: child malnutrition ‘particularly extreme’ in north Gaza

World Health Organization: child malnutrition ‘particularly extreme’ in north Gaza
Updated 05 March 2024
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World Health Organization: child malnutrition ‘particularly extreme’ in north Gaza

World Health Organization: child malnutrition ‘particularly extreme’ in north Gaza
  • One-in-six children acutely malnourished in northern Gaza, WHO says
  • Infectious diseases posing an increasing risk among Gaza’s children

GAZA: United Nations organizations said on Tuesday that child malnutrition levels in northern Gaza were “particularly extreme” and about three times higher than in the south of the Palestinian enclave where more aid has been available.
Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative for Gaza and the West Bank, said that one-in-six children under two years of age were acutely malnourished in northern Gaza.
“This was in January. So the situation is likely to be greater today,” Peeperkorn added, referring to when the data was recorded.
UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said malnutrition rates for children under five in northern Gaza, where access to aid has been highly limited since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, were three times higher than those in Rafah in the south
Elder said this showed that “when that trickle of aid can come in, it does make a life saving difference.”
At least 15 children have died over the past few days from malnutrition and dehydration at Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza, the health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday.
Calls for Israel to do more to address the humanitarian crisis have grown louder since the deaths of Palestinians lining up for aid in Gaza last month.
Gaza health authorities said 118 people were killed, attributing the deaths to Israeli fire and calling it a massacre. Israel, which says many people were trampled or run over, has pledged to investigate.
Adding to hunger, there is a growing risk from infectious diseases, with nine-in-10 children under the age of five — around 220,000 — falling sick over the last weeks, according to Elder.
“That becomes the spiral that we are so fearful of: infectious diseases, lack of food, a desperate lack of clean water and ongoing bombardment and incredulously still discussion of an offensive into Rafah, which is a city of children,” Elder told reporters in Geneva, referring to Israel’s stated aim of rooting out Hamas battalions it says are hiding there.
“Rafah has about three quarters of a million children living there,” Elder said.
Israel last month intensified its bombardment of Rafah, where about 1.5 million people are estimated to be crammed, most of them having fled their homes further north to escape Israel’s military onslaught.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that a quarter of the population — 576,000 people — are one step from famine, nearly five months after Israel’s assault on Gaza began.


Gaza ceasefire talks end with no breakthrough as Ramadan deadline looms

Gaza ceasefire talks end with no breakthrough as Ramadan deadline looms
Updated 05 March 2024
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Gaza ceasefire talks end with no breakthrough as Ramadan deadline looms

Gaza ceasefire talks end with no breakthrough as Ramadan deadline looms
  • Israel has declined to comment publicly on the talks in Cairo

CAIRO/RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Ceasefire talks between Hamas and mediators broke up on Tuesday in Cairo with no breakthrough, with just days left to halt fighting in time for the start of Ramadan.
Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters the militant group had presented its proposal for a ceasefire agreement to the mediators during two days of talks, and was now waiting for a response from the Israelis, who stayed away from this round.
“(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu doesn’t want to reach an agreement and the ball now is in the Americans’ court” to press him for a deal, Naim said.
Israel has declined to comment publicly on the talks in Cairo.
A source told Reuters earlier that Israel was staying away because Hamas had rejected its demand to furnish a list of all hostages who are still alive. Naim said this was impossible without a ceasefire first as hostages were scattered across the war zone and held by separate groups.
The Cairo talks had been billed as a final hurdle to reach the war’s first extended ceasefire — a 40-day truce during which dozens of hostages would be freed and aid would be pumped into Gaza to stave off a manmade famine, ahead of Ramadan, which is due to begin at the start of next week.
Egyptian security sources said on Monday they were still in touch with the Israelis to allow the negotiations to continue without an Israeli delegation present.
Washington, which is both Israel’s closest ally and a sponsor of the ceasefire talks, has said an Israeli-approved deal is already on the table and it is up to Hamas to accept it. Hamas disputes this account as an attempt to deflect blame from Israel if the talks collapse with no deal.
The United States has also called on Israel to do more to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, where more than 30,000 people have been killed by Israel’s assault, launched after Hamas attacks that killed 1,200 people in October.
Hunger stalks Gaza
Famine is now gripping the besieged Gaza Strip as aid supplies, already sharply curtailed since the start of the war, have dwindled to barely a trickle over the past month. Whole swathes of the territory are completely cut off from food. Gaza’s few functioning hospitals, already overwhelmed by the wounded, are now filling with children starving to death.

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For more on the famine, read: child malnutrition ‘particularly extreme’ in north Gaza

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Ahmed Cannan, a toddler with sunken eyes and an emaciated face, lay on a bed at Al-Awda clinic in Rafah, wrapped in a yellow cardigan. He had lost half his weight since the start of the war and now weighs just 6 kg (13 pounds).
“His situation worsens each day. God protect us from what is coming,” his aunt, Israa Kalakh, told Reuters.
Nurse Diaa Al-Shaer said such emaciated children were now pouring into the clinic in unprecedented numbers: “We will face a large number of patients who suffer from this, which is malnutrition,” she said.
The situation is worst in the north of Gaza, beyond the reach of aid agencies or news cameras. Gaza health authorities say 15 children have died of malnutrition or dehydration at one hospital.
Israel says it is willing to allow in more aid to Gaza through the two checkpoints on the southern edge of the territory it has permitted to open, and blames UN and other aid agencies for failing to distribute it more widely.
The aid agencies say this has become impossible with a breakdown of law and order, and it is up to Israel, whose troops have stormed Gaza’s towns and patrol them, to provide access and security for food distribution.
“The sense of helplessness and despair among parents and doctors in realizing that lifesaving aid, just a few kilometers away, is being kept out of reach, must be unbearable,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.


Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel
Updated 05 March 2024
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Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

Turkiye detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel
  • Suspects had passed on information to Mossad for money, according to officials

ISTANBUL: Turkiye on Tuesday said it had detained seven people, including a special detective, suspected of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
The operation by Turkiye’s spy agency and Istanbul counter-terror police showed the suspects had passed on information to Mossad for money, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
The raids come after Turkish authorities rounded up 34 people in January suspected of planning abductions and spying for Mossad.
Istanbul prosecutors had then said 12 other suspects remained at large.
Relations between Turkiye and Israel imploded after the outbreak of the war in Gaza nearly five months ago.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned into one of the world’s harshest critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He has compared Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and asked Israel’s Western allies to drop their support for the “state terrorism” being conducted in Gaza.
After the January arrest, Erdogan said the Turkish operation “seriously disturbed” Israel.
“Wait a minute,” he said, referring to the Israeli authorities. “You will get to know Turkiye.”


Iran executed 834 people last year, highest since 2015: rights groups

Iran executed 834 people last year, highest since 2015: rights groups
Updated 05 March 2024
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Iran executed 834 people last year, highest since 2015: rights groups

Iran executed 834 people last year, highest since 2015: rights groups
  • The number of executions, which Iran has carried out by hanging in recent years, was up some 43 percent on 2022

PARIS: Iran executed a “staggering” total of at least 834 people last year, the highest number since 2015 as capital punishment surged in the Islamic republic, two rights groups said Tuesday.
The number of executions, which Iran has carried out by hanging in recent years, was up some 43 percent on 2022.
It marked only the second time in two decades that over 800 executions were recorded in a year, after 972 executions in 2015, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty said in the joint report.
The groups accused Iran of using the death penalty to spread fear throughout society in the wake of the protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini that shook the authorities.
“Instilling societal fear is the regime’s only way to hold on to power, and the death penalty is its most important instrument,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam in the report, which described the figure of 834 as a “staggering total.”
Iran has executed nine men in cases linked to attacks on security forces during the 2022 protests — two in 2022, six in 2023 and one so far in 2024 — according to the rights groups.
But executions have been stepped up on other charges, notably in drug-related cases, which had until recent years seen a fall.
“Of particular concern is the dramatic escalation in the number of drug-related executions in 2023, which rose to 471 people, more than 18 times higher than the figures recorded in 2020,” said the report.
Members of ethnic minorities, notably the Sunni Baluch from the southeast of Iran, are “grossly overrepresented among those executed” on drug-related charges, it said.
At least 167 members of the Baluch minority were executed in total, accounting for 20 percent of the total executions in 2023, even though the minority accounts for only around five percent of Iran’s population.
ECPM director Raphael Chenuil-Hazan said the “lack of reaction” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was sending “the wrong signal to the Iranian authorities.”
Most hangings in Iran are carried out within the confines of prison but the report said that in 2023 the number of hangings carried out in public in Iran tripled from 2022, with seven people hanged in public spaces.
At least 22 women were executed, marking the highest number in the past decade, the report said.
Fifteen of them were hanged on murder charges and NGOs have long warned that women who kill an abusive partner or relative risk being hanged.
In 2023, only 15 percent of the recorded executions were announced by official Iranian media, with IHR confirming the other executions with its own sources.
Amiry-Moghaddam expressed concern that a lack of international outrage at the executions, in particular with attention focused on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, was only encouraging the Islamic republic to carry out more hangings.
“The inconsistency in the international community’s reaction to the executions in Iran is unfortunate and sends the wrong signal to the authorities,” he said.


Ships entering Yemeni waters must obtain permit, Houthi minister says

Ships entering Yemeni waters must obtain permit, Houthi minister says
Updated 05 March 2024
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Ships entering Yemeni waters must obtain permit, Houthi minister says

Ships entering Yemeni waters must obtain permit, Houthi minister says
  • Houthi militants have repeatedly launched drones, missiles against international commercial shipping in Gulf of Aden since mid-November
  • The near-daily attacks have forced firms into long and costly diversions around southern Africa, stoked fears Israel's war can destabilize Middle East

CAIRO: Ships will have to obtain a permit from Yemen’s Houthi-controlled Maritime Affairs Authority before entering Yemeni waters, Houthi Telecommunications Minister Misfer Al-Numair said on Monday.
Houthi militants have repeatedly launched drones and missiles against international commercial shipping in the Gulf of Aden since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
The near-daily attacks have forced firms into long and costly diversions around southern Africa, and stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could destabilize the wider Middle East. The United States and Britain have bombed Houthi targets in response.
“(We) are ready to assist requests for permits and identify ships with the Yemeni Navy, and we confirm this is out of concern for their safety,” Al Masirah TV, the main television news outlet run by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, reported Al-Numair as saying.
The territorial waters affected by the Yemeni order extend halfway out into the 20-km (12-mile) wide Bab Al-Mandab Strait, the narrow mouth of the Red Sea through which around 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic passes on its way to or from the Suez Canal.
In normal times, more than a quarter of global container cargo — including apparel, appliances, auto parts, chemicals and agricultural products like coffee — move via the Suez Canal.
Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said there “is good reason to doubt” that the Iran-allied Houthis would stop their assaults on vessels if a ceasefire ends Israel’s major military operations in Gaza.
“They may decide that they like the idea of controlling the amount of shipping going through the Red Sea, and will continue this for an indefinite period of time,” Gates said at the TPM24 container shipping conference in Long Beach, California.
Elsewhere on Monday, Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications said that at least four underwater communications cables — Asia-Africa-Europe 1, the Europe India Gateway, Seacom and TGN-Gulf — had been damaged last week in the Red Sea, without stating the cause.
It estimated that the damage had affected 25 percent of the data traffic flowing under the Red Sea, and said in a statement that it had devised a plan to reroute traffic.
Al-Numair’s ministry on Saturday blamed US and British attacks for any damage to cables.
In the latest incident, the UK Maritime Trade Operations agency said on Monday it had received a report that a vessel had been damaged by two explosions, 91 nautical miles southeast of Aden, but there were no casualties and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.
Yemen has been mired in conflict since Houthis ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in late 2014. The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in 2015, aiming to restore the government.