UK trade unions back boycotts of Israel over Palestinian oppression

UK trade unions back boycotts of Israel over Palestinian oppression
Palestinians argue with Israeli soldiers during a protest near Hebron, West Bank. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 12 September 2023
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UK trade unions back boycotts of Israel over Palestinian oppression

UK trade unions back boycotts of Israel over Palestinian oppression
  • TUC motion calls for opposition to government ‘anti-boycott’ bill

LONDON: Trade unions in the UK have passed a motion in support of boycotting Israel, condemning its oppression of the Palestinian people. 

The motion, which was proposed by the National Education Union at the Trades Union Congress in Liverpool, called for political opposition to the upcoming Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, which, if passed in Parliament, would make it harder to boycott Israel.

It also called for support for a coalition of more than 70 groups called Right to Boycott, which includes Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Liberty, the Quakers, the Methodist Church, the Muslim Association of Britain, and Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation.

The motion stated that the bill “would undermine ethical investment and procurement by public bodies by restricting the consideration of human and workers’ rights, international law and environmental concerns, linked to the behavior of a foreign state.”

It added: “It damages freedom of speech, local democracy, devolution, and pension scheme members’ rights.”

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said in a statement: “We welcome the passing of this important motion which confirms the enduring support of the British trade union movement for the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and its opposition to the government’s attempts to repress the BDS movement. 

“The motion importantly rejects any attempt to delegitimize the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and companies supporting its oppression and support for that call here in the UK. 

“We urge the Labour Party leadership to pay heed to this overwhelming vote by a body representing millions of British workers, including thousands of Labour Party members.”

The Labour Party said it would oppose the government’s bill but has called suggestions the BDS campaign is solely motivated by opposition to Israeli oppression of Palestinians “problematic.”


Gaza casualty figures in war’s early stage accurate: Study

Gaza casualty figures in war’s early stage accurate: Study
Updated 6 sec ago
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Gaza casualty figures in war’s early stage accurate: Study

Gaza casualty figures in war’s early stage accurate: Study
  • Independent group Airwars says its research backs up death toll compiled by enclave’s Health Ministry in first 17 days
  • ‘We have, per incident, more people dying than we’ve seen in any other campaign’

LONDON: The Gaza Health Ministry’s casualty figures in the first 17 days of Israel’s assault on the enclave were accurate, a new study has found.

British group Airwars said the Hamas-run ministry had identified 7,000 people in the first few weeks of the conflict killed by Israeli strikes.

It added that its own research, which assessed 350 incidents, had identified 3,000 casualties in the period in question, 75 percent of whom were also identified by the ministry, leading it to believe that the authorities’ reporting was likely to be largely accurate.

Airwars, which works to independently verify the effects of conflicts on civilians, said it used a methodology it also deployed to assess figures from conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Libya and elsewhere.

It added that there had been far more than 350 incidents in the period in question, and that it would continue to study the conflict, but said it believed that statistics in Gaza had become less accurate as the war dragged on, with widespread destruction in the territory hampering local authorities’ ability to do their jobs.

Emily Tripp, the group’s director, said the rate at which people had died in the conflict’s preliminary stages had stood out.

“We have, per incident, more people dying than we’ve seen in any other campaign,” she told the New York Times. “The intensity is greater than anything else we’ve documented.”

Numerous other international groups and experts have also said the ministry’s data was initially accurate.

Mike Spagat, a professor at Royal Holloway College, University of London, who reviewed Airwars’ findings, told the NYT that the group’s figures “capture a large fraction of the underlying reality” of what Gaza’s authorities reported in the early days of the war.

A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins in the US also found no evidence that the ministry’s data was significantly wrong up until early November. 

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who analyzed ID numbers from the ministry’s data compiled throughout October, found “no obvious reason” to query it.

But in December, Gaza’s authorities, citing the collapse of infrastructure in the enclave including at hospitals and morgues, announced that they would begin relying on “reliable media sources” for figures on casualties as well as what information could be gleaned on the ground.

The ministry’s most recent figures state that at least 39,000 people have been killed since Israel began its invasion in October. 

Israel has frequently queried the ministry’s figures based on its proximity to Hamas. Doubts have also been echoed by Israeli allies in the West, with US President Joe Biden at one stage saying he had “no confidence in the number (of deaths) that the Palestinians are using.” US officials have subsequently said the data is more accurate than initially believed to be.


Amnesty calls for full Sudan arms embargo

Amnesty calls for full Sudan arms embargo
Updated 25 July 2024
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Amnesty calls for full Sudan arms embargo

Amnesty calls for full Sudan arms embargo
  • “There are hundreds of thousands of weapons, millions of rounds of ammunition going into Sudan,” fueling mass human rights violations, said Brian Castner on Amnesty
  • The UN Security Council must “urgently expand the arms embargo to the rest of Sudan, and also strengthen its monitoring and verification mechanisms,” said Deprose Muchena

PORT SUDAN: Amnesty International called on the United Nations Thursday to extend the arms embargo on Darfur to cover all of Sudan, in a report on weapons flooding the war-torn country.
The 15-month war between Sudan’s regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces “is being fueled by an almost unimpeded supply of weapons into Sudan by states and corporate actors around the world,” the rights watchdog said.
The new report, titled “New Weapons Fuelling the Sudan Conflict,” found recently manufactured or transferred weapons from countries including Russia, Turkiye, Serbia, China and others were being imported and used on the battlefield.
Since it erupted in April last year, the war has killed tens of thousands of people, with some estimating the toll to be as high as 150,000, according to US envoy to Sudan Tom Perriello.
It has also uprooted over 10 million people, creating what the UN calls the world’s worst displacement crisis.
“There are hundreds of thousands of weapons, millions of rounds of ammunition going into Sudan,” fueling mass human rights violations, Brian Castner, Amnesty’s head of crisis research, told AFP.
The existing arms embargo, which since 2004 has applied only to Sudan’s western Darfur region, “is both too narrowly focused” and “too poorly implemented to have any meaningful impact on curbing these weapons flows,” the report found.
The UN Security Council must “urgently expand the arms embargo to the rest of Sudan, and also strengthen its monitoring and verification mechanisms,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s senior director for Regional Human Rights Impact.
Even if the Security Council — whose response to the Sudan war Amnesty has dubbed “woefully inadequate” — does not extend the embargo, “all states and corporate actors must immediately cease supplies of all arms and ammunition to Sudan,” or risk violating arms treaty obligations and international humanitarian law.
Both sides of the conflict have been repeatedly accused of war crimes including deliberately targeting civilians, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and blocking humanitarian aid, while millions of Sudanese suffer on the brink of starvation.
According to Castner, the sheer volume of small arms entering Sudan is cause for significant alarm.
“Most people are killed by small arms. Most violations, including sexual violence and displacement, are facilitated by small arms,” the veteran weapons investigator said.
“It’s individual soldiers with rifles that are removing people from their homes and burning them,” he continued.
On Monday, French medical charity Doctors Without Borders said that of thousands of war-wounded treated at one of its main hospitals in the Sudanese capital, 53 percent suffered gunshot wounds.


Morocco heatwave kills more than 20 people in 24 hours: ministry

Morocco heatwave kills more than 20 people in 24 hours: ministry
Updated 25 July 2024
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Morocco heatwave kills more than 20 people in 24 hours: ministry

Morocco heatwave kills more than 20 people in 24 hours: ministry
  • Soaring temperatures affected much of the North African country from Monday to Wednesday

RABAT: A heatwave in Morocco has killed at least 21 people in a 24-hour period in the central city of Beni Mellal, the health ministry announced on Thursday.
The meteorology department said soaring temperatures affected much of the North African country from Monday to Wednesday, reaching 48 degrees Centigrade (118 Fahrenheit) in some areas.


Jordanian House of Representatives dissolved by royal decree ahead of elections

Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
Updated 25 July 2024
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Jordanian House of Representatives dissolved by royal decree ahead of elections

Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
  • The IEC has set Sept. 10 as the date for parliamentary elections

LONDON: Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree, the Royal Hashemite Court has announced.

King Abdullah ordered elections to be held for the House of Representatives on April 24 and visited the Independent Election Commission to check on preparations to administer and oversee the electoral process on the same day.

The IEC has set Sept. 10 as the date for the parliamentary elections.


Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs

Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs
Updated 25 July 2024
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Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs

Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs
  • The seven were convicted on the capital crime of corruption on earth
  • The rights group said at least 20 people have been executed since Saturday

PARIS: Iranian authorities on Thursday executed Kurdish man Kamran Sheikheh, the last surviving defendant in a case linked to a Muslim cleric’s killing in 2008, rights groups said.
Sheikheh, one of seven men first arrested in the case more than 14 years ago, was put to death in Urmia prison in northwestern Iran, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said in separate statements.
Sheikheh’s six co-defendants, also members of Iran’s Kurdish minority, had all been executed in separate hangings since November 2023.
Amnesty International has said they had been sentenced to death “in a grossly unfair trial” that had been “marred by allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.”
The seven were convicted on the capital crime of corruption on earth.
IHR described Sheikheh as a “political prisoner” who had been sentenced to death “based on torture-tainted confessions in a grossly unfair trial.”
The execution “was unlawful according to international law and the Islamic republic’s own laws, amounting to an extrajudicial killing,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.
HRANA said that the proceedings related to the killing of an imam of a mosque in the northwestern city of Mahabad in September 2008.
Sheikheh and the six others were arrested in connection with the killing in January and February 2010 and sentenced to death in 2018.
Activists say that Iran’s use of the death penalty disproportionately targets members of the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities in western and southeast Iran, who generally adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam rather than the Shiism otherwise dominant in Iran.
In one of the latest cases, rights groups said the Revolutionary Court of Tehran had sentenced Pakhshan Azizi, a Kurdish woman held in the capital’s Evin prison, to death on charges of “rebellion.”
Earlier this month, Iranian authorities have sentenced to death another Kurdish woman, Sharifeh Mohammadi, on the same charges over accusations of links to an outlawed Kurdish organization.
IHR warned that Sheikheh’s execution is part of a new surge in hangings in Iran marking the end of an apparent lull coinciding with snap presidential elections several weeks ago.
The rights group said at least 20 people have been executed since Saturday.