Thousands rally in London in solidarity with Palestinians

Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters)
Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Demonstrators protest in solidarity with Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in London. (Reuters/AFP)
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Updated 15 October 2023
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Thousands rally in London in solidarity with Palestinians

Thousands rally in London in solidarity with Palestinians
  • Attendees, who gathered near BBC News’ headquarters through the morning, began a march through the British capital
  • Metropolitan Police Service said it would deploy more than 1,000 officers

LONDON: Thousands of people rallied Saturday in central London for a pro-Palestinian protest following police warnings that anyone showing support for the militant group Hamas could face arrest.
Attendees, who gathered near BBC News’ headquarters through the morning, began a march through the British capital ahead of an afternoon rally near parliament and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office and residence.
Some displayed Palestinian flags and placards — bearing slogans including “freedom for Palestine,” “end the massacre” and “sanctions for Israel” — as they made their way toward the end-point for a series of planned speeches.

Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian mission in the UK, told the rally that the war in Gaza is indescribable and the official casualty count is already in the thousands, but expected the real casualty count will be much higher.

“Israel is indiscriminately bombing civilian infrastructure, homes, hospitals, schools, entire neighborhoods, even those fleeing the massacres are being massacred as we speak,” he told supporters.

“Over 70 people yesterday were massacred as they were trying to leave the bombardment. This is a war crime.”

He said Israel has cut food, water, electricity, and fuel supplies to every resident in Gaza, which has a population of over 2 million, and is leaving 1.1 million Palestinian children in the small enclave without power, water, food, medicine, shelter, and nowhere to go. “This a crime against humanity.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Millions of people all over the world were demonstrating yesterday, today, tomorrow, and we will carry on demonstrating as long as it takes to bring about peace, to bring about recognition of the rights of Palestinian people that have been denied for so long.”

The rally comes as Israel intensifies its war to destroy Hamas’ capability, relentlessly pounding the Gaza Strip and deploying tens of thousands of soldiers nearby ahead of an expected ground offensive in the enclave.

Ismail Patel, chairman and founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that “what we are facing is nothing new. 75 years ago Palestinians faced the same crisis: either stay in their homes and die or become refugees.”

He added: “Since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British government has perpetuated Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. 

“We are marching to 10 Downing Street today to firmly convey that we’ve reached a tipping point,” Patel said. “We stand together, in our tens of thousands, demanding that the British government upholds international law and respects Palestinian human rights”.

Shamiul Joarder, FOA’s spokesperson said: “Today we’ve seen 150,000 people on the streets of London in a tremendous show of support for Palestine. The British government must listen to the people now: it needs to uphold international law and impose sanctions on Israel until it stops violating human rights in Gaza”

He added that “people of conscience from across the UK are uniting in London today with a clear message” and “Israel’s relentless oppression of Palestinians, and the British government’s complicity in this, must come to an end.”

Joarder demanded that the British government uphold international law and hold “Israel accountable for its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, persistent breaches of international law and documented war crimes.”

That follows last Saturday’s attack by Hamas, which saw hundreds of its fighters cross the Israeli border to take hostages and kill more than 1,000 civilians on the streets, in their homes or at a rave party.
Ahead of the London protest, the city’s Metropolitan Police Service said it would deploy more than 1,000 officers, as the events thousands of miles away reverberate in Britain and elsewhere.
Police and the government have noted a spike in UK anti-Semitic crime and incidents since the Hamas assault, while officers in Sussex, southeast England, arrested a 22-year-old woman Friday suspected of having made a speech backing Hamas.
A banned terrorist organization in Britain, its members — or those found guilty of inviting support for it — can be jailed for up to 14 years under UK law.
The Met said this week that general expressions of support for Palestinians, including flying the Palestinian flag, were not criminal offenses but reiterated that supporting Hamas is a crime.

Ferouza Namaz, 34, a student from Uzbekistan, joined the London protest, arguing that civilians in Gaza are “absolutely innocent.”
“Just being Palestinian does not give the rights to kill them. These appalling atrocities have been taking place for so many years,” he added.
Israel insists it does not deliberately target civilians in the Gaza Strip or other Palestinian territories.
But Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain, told AFP its response to Hamas’s attack was “dehumanizing Palestinians” and unfairly blaming civilians for terrorism.
He attended the rally to send “a message of solidarity to the Palestinian people, and particularly today to the Palestinian people in Gaza, who are under bombardment, who are under siege with the cutting off of all food.”
Jamal noted that those present were also conveying a message to UK political leaders, who he accused of “giving permission for Israel to commit acts of war crime.”

(With AFP)


Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
Updated 17 April 2024
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Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
  • Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year

TUNIS: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with officials in Tunis Wednesday to discuss what she called a “new approach” to irregular migration and economic cooperation with Tunisia.
The hard-right leader’s visit, the fourth in less than a year to the north African country, came as her government pledged to curb irregular migrant arrivals in Italy.
Meloni met with President Kais Saied, who said after the meeting Tunisia must not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries, according to a statement from his office.
In a video address released after her discussions with Saied, Meloni also said “Tunisia cannot be a country of arrival for migrants” from the rest of Africa.
She vowed to “involve international organizations to work on repatriations” of migrants while insisting on more European investment in African nations.
Ahead of the visit, an Italian official had told AFP that “cooperation on migration remains a central aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”
“It remains essential that Tunisian authorities continue their action to combat human trafficking and contain illegal departures,” the official added.
Meloni’s latest visit to Tunisia came as part of her so-called Mattei Plan, a program aiming to posit Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe.
She said the fight against irregular migration required development for African countries and investments.
“Italy will continue to try to advance this new approach which it is promoting at a European level,” she said.
But critics say the plan would funnel energy north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration.
Three agreements were signed Wednesday: a 50-million-euro ($53-million) aid for energy projects, credit for small- and medium-sized businesses, and a university cooperation agreement.
Meloni also said Italy would encourage regular migration by granting 12,000 residence permits to Tunisians trained in specific fields.
Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year, with Italy as a frontline for their arrivals.
Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy last year, according to Tunisian authorities.
Meloni visited Tunisia three times over the summer of 2023, twice with the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The visits resulted in the European Union’s signing of an agreement in July to provide financial aid to debt-ridden Tunisia in return for its commitment to curb migrant departures.
The agreement provided 105 million euros to curb irregular migration — which the EU has started paying — added to 150 million euros in budgetary support.
European Parliament lawmakers criticized the agreement, citing a deterioration of human rights and freedoms in the north African country.
They also criticized Saied’s increasing authoritarian rule after his sweeping power grab in 2021.
Last month, the EU signed a similar deal with Egypt worth 7.4 billion euros on energy and migration.


Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
Updated 17 April 2024
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Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
  • 'Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,' No Tech For Apartheid group said

LONDON: Several Google employees were arrested on Tuesday for taking part in a 10-hour sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and California.

The protest, organized by members of the No Tech For Apartheid movement, was meant as a challenge to the tech giant’s involvement with the Israeli government. It centered on a $1 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government and military, known as Project Nimbus.

The project involves creating a secure Google cloud setup in Israel to facilitate data analysis, AI training and other computing services, Time magazine reported.

According to leaked documents reported by American news organization Intercept in 2022, the project includes advanced features like AI-enabled facial detection and automated image categorization.

During the sit-in, a livestreamed video captured a security worker telling protesters at Google’s California office that they were on administrative leave and cautioned them about trespassing.

Social media videos showed police removing nine protesters from the premises. Similar actions were recorded at the company’s New York office.

A statement from the No Tech For Apartheid group said: “Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The time is now to rise up against Project Nimbus, in support of Palestinian liberation and join calls to end the Israeli occupation.”

Last month, a Google employee from the group interrupted a talk by the company’s Israel chief, accusing the company of “powering genocide.” He was later fired.

A Google spokesman told the Telegraph: “These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and we will investigate and take action.

“These employees were put on administrative leave and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”


Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
Updated 17 April 2024
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Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
  • Abbkr has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits

LONDON: A man convicted of attempted murder after deliberately setting fire to two elderly men shortly after they left mosques in the UK was on Wednesday handed an indefinite hospital order.
Mohammed Abbkr, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, deliberately set fire to Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, in February and March last year.
Abbkr, originally from Sudan, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder last year at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Judge Melbourne Inman told Abbkr, who has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits: “You threw petrol over your victims and then set them alight — the attacks were horrific.”
“The two victims in this case were, on any rational view, chosen at random,” the judge told Abbkr, who watched the proceedings by video-link from Ashworth high security hospital in northwest England.
“You, however, genuinely believed each of them was one of those trying to take control of you.
“I am wholly satisfied that you committed both of these offenses at a time when you were suffering a severe mental illness.”
Abbkr sprayed petrol on the two men outside or near mosques they had attended and then set them alight. The attacks took place in west London on February 27 and Birmingham on March 20.
Odowa, who was attacked in London, was treated for severe burns to his face and arms. The Birmingham attack left Rayaz hospitalized with severe injuries.


70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
Updated 17 April 2024
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70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
  • Rains between Saturday and Wednesday triggered flash floods in most Afghanistan provinces
  • Fifty-six people injured, over 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed, says Afghan official 

KABUL: Around 70 people have been killed by heavy rains lashing Afghanistan over the past five days, the government’s disaster management department said Wednesday.
Afghanistan was parched by an unusually dry winter which desiccated the earth, exacerbating flash-flooding caused by spring downpours in most provinces.
Disaster management spokesman Janan Sayeq said “approximately 70 people lost their lives” as a result of rains between Saturday and Wednesday.
Fifty-six others have been injured, he said, while more than 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 95,000 acres of farmland wiped away.
Giving a smaller death toll last week, Sayeq said most fatalities at that point had been caused by roof collapses resulting from the deluges. 
Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hammered by spring downpours, with 65 people killed in storm-related incidents as rain falls at nearly twice the historical average rate.
The United Nations last year warned that “Afghanistan is experiencing major swings in extreme weather conditions.”
After four decades of war the country ranks among the nations least prepared to face extreme weather events, which scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.
At least 25 people were killed in a landslide after massive snowfall in eastern Afghanistan in February, while around 60 were killed in a three-week spate of precipitation ending in March.


President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
Updated 17 April 2024
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President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
  • Country has ‘endless’ investment ability, Tim Cook says on visit to Jakarta
  • Tech giant announces opening of new Apple Developer Academy in Bali

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday met the head of tech giant Apple and urged him to open a manufacturing facility in the country.

CEO Tim Cook was in Jakarta following a trip to Hanoi, where the company announced plans to increase spending on suppliers in Vietnam, its most important manufacturing hub outside China.

Before the meeting between Widodo and Cook, Apple announced plans to boost its investment in Indonesia and said it would open a new Apple Developer Academy — facilities designed to nurture local talent in the tech sector — in Bali, its fourth in the country.

“The meeting with Tim Cook focused on exploring strategic plans, including the opportunity of Apple expanding to Indonesia and further integration into the global supply chain,” Widodo said in a statement.

“I invited Apple to establish an innovation hub with potential universities in Indonesia for human resources development. I also urged Apple to develop a manufacturing facility in the country.”

Apple currently does not have a manufacturing facility in Indonesia but opened its first developer academy there in 2018.

The new facility takes the company’s total investment in Indonesia to 1.6 trillion rupiah ($98.4 million), according to Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita.

“After this, the Ministry of Industry will conduct a business-matching program. We already have a list of the components (that Apple needs) and mobile components that are already produced in Indonesia, so perhaps there can be a partnership,” he said.

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, Airpods and Apple Watches in Vietnam, and more recently India, as it explores ways to diversify its supply chains away from China.

Home to more than 270 million people, Indonesia has a young, tech-savvy population with more than 100 million people aged under 30.

According to figures from Statista, as of January, Apple had an 11.5 percent share of Indonesia’s mobile phone market, behind Oppo (18 percent) and Samsung (17 percent).

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country and it’s something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after meeting Widodo.

“I thought we had a great conversation and I really appreciated the time with him. It was a dialogue about how much potential there is in the country and our commitment to the country.”

Cook later met president-elect, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who will take over from Widodo in October.

“I think the investment ability in Indonesia is endless, I think that there’s a lot of great places to invest and we’re investing,” Cook said. “We believe in the country.”