UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of ‘genocide’ in Gaza

Palestinians walk past destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip February 22, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Palestinians walk past destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip February 22, 2024. (REUTERS)
UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of ‘genocide’ in Gaza
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Palestinians mourn over the covered bodies of relatives, killed in overnight Israeli bombardment, at the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 25, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of ‘genocide’ in Gaza
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Israeli forces shot dead 104 people when a crowd rushed towards aid trucks on February 29, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said. (AFP)
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Updated 26 March 2024
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UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of ‘genocide’ in Gaza

UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of ‘genocide’ in Gaza
  • Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza has since killed more than 32,300 people, mainly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory
  • In Albanese’s report, which she is due to present to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, she maintained that Israel’s “genocidal acts” followed “statements of genocidal intent”

GENEVA: A UN rights expert on Monday said there were “reasonable grounds” to determine that Israel has committed several acts of “genocide” in its war in Gaza, also evoking “ethnic cleansing.”
Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, said there were clear indications that Israel had violated three of the five acts listed under the UN Genocide Convention.
“The overwhelming nature and scale of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the destructive conditions of life it has inflicted reveal an intent to physically destroy Palestinians as a group,” she said in a report, which was immediately rejected by Israel as an “obscene inversion of reality.”
Albanese, an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations, said she had found “reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of... acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met.”
The report, entitled “Anatomy of a Genocide,” listed those acts as: “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to the group’s members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said the country “utterly rejects the report,” describing it as “simply an extension of a campaign seeking to undermine the very establishment of the Jewish State.”
“Israel’s war is against Hamas, not against Palestinian civilians,” it said in a statement, slamming Albanese’s “outrageous accusations.”
Israel has long been harshly critical of Albanese and her mandate.
Last month it slapped a visa ban on her after she made comments denying that Hamas’s October 7 attack, which sparked the war in Gaza, was anti-Semitic.
That attack resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.
Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza has since killed more than 32,300 people, mainly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.
South Africa has already filed a complaint against Israel before the International Court of Justice, alleging its assault on Gaza amounts to a violation of the genocide convention.
The court has yet to rule on the underlying issue, but earlier this year ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent genocidal acts during its campaign and also to allow in humanitarian aid.

In Albanese’s report, which she is due to present to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, she maintained that Israel’s “genocidal acts” followed “statements of genocidal intent.”
Statements by some senior Israeli officials spelling out an intent to forcibly displace Palestinians and replace them with Israeli settlers, she said, indicated that “evacuation orders and safe zones have been used as genocidal tools to achieve ethnic cleansing.”
The report also found that Israel was treating all Palestinians and their infrastructure “as ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-supporting’, thus transforming everything and everyone into either a target or collateral damage.”
“In this way, no Palestinian in Gaza is safe by definition,” it said.
“This has had devastating, intentional effects, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians.”
The report also stressed that Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians had not begun on October 7.
“Israel’s genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a longstanding settler colonial process of erasure,” it said.
 

 


Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
Updated 21 May 2024
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Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says
  • Statement stated that Asma would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate

DUBAI: Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad, has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Syrian presidency said on Tuesday, almost five years after she announced she had fully recovered from breast cancer.
The statement said Asma, 48, would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.
In August 2019, Asma said she had fully recovered from breast cancer that she said had been discovered early.
Since Syria plunged into war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of killed soldiers, but has also become hated by the opposition.
She runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organization for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.
Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Assad ,on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. She met Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as a public signal of her growing role in public affairs.


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
Updated 21 May 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
  • The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Yahya Saree said the drone was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile and that videos to support the claim would be released.

The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb.

The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.


Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi

Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi
Updated 21 May 2024
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Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi

Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi
  • Mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz
  • Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declares five days of national mourning

TEHRAN: Tens of thousands of Iranians gathered Tuesday to mourn president Ebrahim Raisi and seven members of his entourage who were killed in a helicopter crash on a fog-shrouded mountainside in the northwest.

Waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president, mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where Raisi was headed when his helicopter crashed on Sunday.

They walked behind a lorry carrying the coffins of Raisi and his seven aides.

Their helicopter lost communications while it was on its way back to Tabriz after Raisi attended the inauguration of a joint dam project on the Aras river, which forms part of the border with Azerbaijan, in a ceremony with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched on Sunday when two other helicopters flying alongside Raisi’s lost contact with his aircraft in bad weather.

State television announced his death in a report early on Monday, saying “the servant of the Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom,” showing pictures of him as a voice recited the Qur’an.

Killed alongside the Iranian president were Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, provincial officials and members of his security team.

Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri ordered an investigation into the cause of the crash as Iranians in cities nationwide gathered to mourn Raisi and his entourage.

Tens of thousands gathered in the capital’s Valiasr Square on Monday.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority in Iran, declared five days of national mourning and assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president until a presidential election can be held.

State media later announced that the election would will be held on June 28.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, who served as deputy to Amir-Abdollahian, was named acting foreign minister.

From Tabriz, Raisi’s body will be flown to the Shiite clerical center of Qom on Tuesday before being moved to Tehran that evening.

Processions will be held in in the capital on Wednesday morning before Khamenei leads prayers at a farewell ceremony.

Raisi’s body will then be flown to his home city of Mashhad, in the northeast, where he will be buried on Thursday evening after funeral rites.

Raisi, 63, had been in office since 2021. The ultra-conservative’s time in office saw mass protests, a deepening economic crisis and unprecedented armed exchanges with arch-enemy Israel.

Raisi succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Condolence messages flooded in from Iran’s allies around the region, including the Syrian government, Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

It was an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the devastating war in Gaza, now in its eighth month, and soaring tensions between Israel and the “resistance axis” led by Iran.

Israel’s killing of seven Revolutionary Guards in a drone strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1 triggered Iran’s first ever direct attack on Israel, involving hundreds of missiles and drones.

In a speech hours before his death, Raisi underlined Iran’s support for the Palestinians, a centerpiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Palestinian flags were raised alongside Iranian flags at ceremonies held for the late president.


Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
Updated 21 May 2024
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Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
  • Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said

JENIN: Israeli forces raided Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an operation that the Palestinian health ministry said killed seven Palestinians, including a doctor, and left nine others wounded.
The army said it was an operation against militants and that a number of Palestinian gunmen were shot. There was no immediate word of any Israeli casualties.
The health ministry account of the casualties was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said. He was killed in the vicinity of the hospital, the director said.
The West Bank is among territories Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want it to be the core of an independent Palestinian state. US-sponsored talks on a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict broke down in 2014.


Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
Updated 21 May 2024
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Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
  • Dubai airport welcomed around 23 million passengers in January-March period, operator says 
  • India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were top three countries by passenger volumes in first quarter

DUBAI: Dubai’s main airport expects to handle a record passenger traffic this year after an 8.4% rise in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.

Dubai International Airport (DXB), a major global travel hub, welcomed around 23 million passengers in the January-March period, the operator said in a statement, noting that the uptick was partly driven by increased destination offers by flagship carrier Emirates and its sister low-cost airline Flydubai.

“With a strong start to Q2 and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year, we have revised our forecast for the year to 91 million guests, surpassing our previous annual traffic record of 89.1 million in 2018,” CEO Paul Griffiths said in the statement.

Dubai is the biggest tourism and trade hub in the Middle East, attracting a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors last year.

Its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum last month approved a new passenger terminal in Al Maktoum International airport worth 128 billion dirhams ($34.85 billion).

The Al Maktoum International Airport will be the largest in the world with a capacity of up to 260 million passengers, and five times the size of DXB, he said, adding all operations at Dubai airport would be transferred to Al Maktoum in the coming years.

DXB is connected to 256 destinations across 102 countries. In the first quarter, India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were the top three countries by passenger numbers, Dubai Airports added. ($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham)