Doctors Without Borders rejects Israeli army claim of ‘terror activity’ at site of deadly attack in Gaza

Doctors Without Borders rejects Israeli army claim of ‘terror activity’ at site of deadly attack in Gaza
Sky News revealed the findings of its investigation into the incident prompting the IDF to initiate its own ‘examination’ into the incident. (Doctors Without Borders))
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Updated 28 March 2024
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Doctors Without Borders rejects Israeli army claim of ‘terror activity’ at site of deadly attack in Gaza

Doctors Without Borders rejects Israeli army claim of ‘terror activity’ at site of deadly attack in Gaza
  • 2 family members of staff member killed and 7 others injured by Israeli forces in February
  • Likely a tank shell ‘fired directly into the building,’ according to a media probe

DUBAI: Israeli forces have been accused of intentionally, and without provocation, attacking a Doctors Without Borders aid shelter housing 64 people in Al-Mawasi, Gaza, on Feb. 20 killing two relatives of a staff member and injuring seven others.

The attack came despite Israeli forces being informed of the precise location of the shelter, Doctors Without Borders, or the MSF, reportedly said. The Israeli army has claimed that there was “terror activity” at the site, which the MSF has rejected.

Sky News revealed the findings of its investigation into the incident on Wednesday, prompting the Israeli Defense Forces to initiate its own “examination” into the incident.

The news organization said it visited the site, and used on-the-ground footage, open-source techniques and interviews with witnesses and weapons experts to understand how the incident unfolded.

Witnesses told Sky News they heard loud noises that seemed to come from a tank track, while some also heard gunshots.

The evidence suggests the attack was initiated by a tank shell that entered through a window. “It’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions merely from imagery however I believe the damage is the result of a tank round being fired directly into the building,” said former British army artillery officer and director of Chiron Resources, Chris Cobb-Smith.

He dispelled any notions about it being an attack by Hamas, saying he was “unaware of any direct fire weapons of this caliber being operated by Hamas” and is “doubtful that anything of this size would have been able to be deployed and fired with the amount of IDF activity in the area.”

Witnesses and MSF members said they also heard gunfire before the building was hit.

Meinie Nicolai, general director of the aid organization, who visited the site soon after the attack, said bullets were fired at the front of the shelter.

The investigation further revealed that on the day of the attack, the Israeli army said on its Telegram channel that its forces were operating in northern, central and southern Gaza Strip and continuing “intensive operations in western Khan Younis,” but it did not mention the immediate area around the shelter.

Moreover, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee published an evacuation map on the same day of two neighborhoods further north in and around Gaza City, which did not cover the area where the shelter is located.

Emergency services arrived at the scene at least two-and-a-half hours after the attack due to security concerns, according to the investigation.

The injured were taken to the International Medical Corps Field hospital in Rafah, said the MSF.

“We are outraged and deeply saddened by these killings,” said Nicolai in February.

“These killings underscore the grim reality that nowhere in Gaza is safe, that promises of safe areas are empty and deconfliction mechanisms unreliable,” she added.

The IDF, which has launched its own investigation, said that it “fired at a building that was identified as a building where terror activity is occurring,” but did not provide any evidence.

The MSF said in a statement on Wednesday it “refutes any allegations of terror activity occurring in MSF-run structures.

“The shelter was used by humanitarian personnel and their family members, identified by an MSF flag, and notified to the Israeli authorities.”

In a statement, the IDF added: “After the incident, reports were received of the death of two uninvolved civilians in the area. The IDF regrets any harm to civilians and does everything in its power to operate in a precise and accurate manner.”

Under international humanitarian law, medical facilities and units must be respected and protected in all circumstances.

Oona Hathaway, an international law professor at Yale Law School, told Sky News that medical facilities are “presumed to be civilian objects and not subject to targeting during armed conflict.”

She added that if the IDF intentionally targets a civilian object, it counts as “potentially a war crime.”

Last week, the IDF launched an operation in and around Al-Shifa, saying senior Hamas operatives were based at the sprawling compound. Days of heavy fighting have followed, with the military reporting about 170 Palestinian militants killed and hundreds more arrested or questioned.


EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation

EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation
Updated 18 May 2024
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EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation

EU bans 4 more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the bloc, citing disinformation
  • The EU has already suspended Russia Today and Sputnik among several other outlets since February 2022

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Friday banned four more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the 27-nation bloc for what it calls the spread of propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine and disinformation as the EU heads into parliamentary elections in three weeks.
The latest batch of broadcasters consists of Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which the EU claims are all under control of the Kremlin. It said in a statement that the four are in particular targeting “European political parties, especially during election periods.”
Belgium already last month opened an investigation into suspected Russian interference in June’s Europe-wide elections, saying its country’s intelligence service has confirmed the existence of a network trying to undermine support for Ukraine.
The Czech government has imposed sanctions on a number of people after a pro-Russian influence operation was uncovered there. They are alleged to have approached members of the European Parliament and offered them money to promote Russian propaganda.
Since the war started in February 2022, the EU has already suspended Russia Today and Sputnik among several other outlets.

 

 


Israeli soldiers post abusive videos despite army’s pledge to act: BBC analysis

Israeli soldiers post abusive videos despite army’s pledge to act: BBC analysis
Updated 17 May 2024
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Israeli soldiers post abusive videos despite army’s pledge to act: BBC analysis

Israeli soldiers post abusive videos despite army’s pledge to act: BBC analysis
  • The BBC analyzed 45 photos and videos posted online by Israeli soldiers that showed Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank being abused and humiliated

LONDON: Israeli soldiers continue to post videos of abuse against Palestinian detainees despite a military pledge to take action against the perpetrators, analysis by the BBC has found.

The broadcaster said it had analyzed 45 photos and videos posted online by Israeli soldiers that showed Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank being abused and humiliated. Some were draped in Israeli flags. 

Experts say the footage and images, which showed Palestinians being stripped, beaten and blindfolded, could breach international law and amount to a war crime.

The Israel Defense Forces said some soldiers had been disciplined or suspended for “unacceptable behavior” but did not comment on the individual cases identified by the BBC.

The most recent investigation into social media misconduct by Israeli soldiers follows a previous inquiry in which BBC Verify confirmed Israeli soldiers had filmed Gazan detainees while beating them and then posted the material on social platforms.

The Israeli military has carried out arbitrary arrests across Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has since risen to more than 7,060 according to the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

Ori Givati, spokesperson for Breaking the Silence, a non-governmental organization for Israeli veterans working to expose wrongdoing in the IDF, told the BBC he was “far from shocked” to hear the misconduct was ongoing.

Blaming “current far-right political rhetoric in the country” for further encouraging the abuse, he added: “There are no repercussions. They [Israeli soldiers] get encouraged and supported by the highest ministers of the government.”

He said this played into a mindset already subscribed to by the military: “The culture in the military, when it comes to Palestinians, is that they are only targets. They are not human beings. This is how the military teaches you to behave.”

The BBC’s analysis found that the videos and photos it examined were posted by 11 soldiers of the Kfir Brigade, the largest infantry brigade in the IDF. None of them hid their identity.

The IDF did not respond when the BBC asked about the actions of the individual soldiers and whether they had been disciplined.

The BBC also attempted to contact the soldiers on social media. The organization was blocked by one, while none of the others responded.

Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, urged an investigation into the incidents shown in the footage and called for the IDF to discipline those involved.

In response to the BBC’s investigation, the IDF said: “The IDF holds its soldiers to a professional standard … and investigates when behavior is not in line with the IDF’s values. In the event of unacceptable behavior, soldiers were disciplined and even suspended from reserve duty.

“Additionally, soldiers are instructed to avoid uploading footage of operational activities to social media networks.”

However, it did not acknowledge its pledge to act on BBC Verify’s earlier findings in Gaza, according to the broadcaster.


4 journalists killed in Gaza as death toll climbs above 100

4 journalists killed in Gaza as death toll climbs above 100
Updated 17 May 2024
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4 journalists killed in Gaza as death toll climbs above 100

4 journalists killed in Gaza as death toll climbs above 100
  • 104 Palestinian media workers reported dead, along with 3 Lebanese and 2 Israelis

LONDON: The Gaza Media Authority on Thursday said that four journalists had been killed in an Israeli airstrike, bringing the total number of journalists killed in the conflict to more than 100.

The victims were identified as Hail Al-Najjar, a video editor at the Al-Aqsa Media Network; Mahmoud Jahjouh, a photojournalist at the Palestine Post website; Moath Mustafa Al-Ghefari, a photojournalist at the Kanaan Land website and Palestinian Media Foundation; and Amina Mahmoud Hameed, a program presenter and editor at several media outlets, according to the Anadolu Agency.

The Gaza Media Office said the four were killed in an Israeli airstrike, but did not provide additional details on the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

A total of 104 Palestinian journalists have been killed since the conflict began on Oct. 7. Two Israeli and three Lebanese media workers also have been killed.

The latest loss adds to the already heavy toll on media workers, with the Committee to Protect Journalists saying the Gaza conflict is the deadliest for journalists and media workers since it began keeping records.

Israel is continuing its offensive on Gaza despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

On Thursday, South Africa, which has brought a case accusing Israel of genocide to the International Court of Justice, urged the court to order Israel to halt its assault on Rafah.

According to Gaza medical authorities, more than 35,200 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and over 79,200 have been injured since early October when Israel launched its offensive following an attack by Hamas.


Russia outlaws SOTA opposition news outlet

Russia outlaws SOTA opposition news outlet
Updated 17 May 2024
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Russia outlaws SOTA opposition news outlet

Russia outlaws SOTA opposition news outlet
  • Authorities said outlet tries to destabilize the socio-political situation in Russia
  • Move could criminalize SOTA content and puts its reporters at risk of arrest

LONDON: Russia declared opposition media outlet SOTA “undesirable” on Thursday, a move that could criminalize the sharing of its content and put its reporters at risk of arrest.
Authorities in Russia have declared dozens of news outlets, think tanks and non-profit organizations “undesirable” since 2015, a label rights groups say is designed to deter dissent.
In a statement, Russia’s Prosecutor General accused SOTA of “frank attempts to destabilize the socio-political situation in Russia” and “create tension and irritation in society.”
“Such activities, obviously encouraged by so-called Western inspirers, have the goal of undermining the spiritual and moral foundations of Russian society,” it said.
It also accused SOTA of co-operating with TV Rain and The Insider, two other independent Russian-language outlets based outside of the country that are linked to the opposition.
SOTA Project, which covers opposition protests and has been fiercely critical of the Kremlin, denied it had anything to do with TV Rain and The Insider and rejected the claims.
But it advised its followers in Russia to “remove reposts and links” to its materials to avoid the risk of prosecution. SOTA’s Telegram channel has around 137,000 subscribers.
“Law enforcement and courts consider publishing online to be a continuing offense. This means that you can be prosecuted for reposts from 2023, 2022, 2021,” it said.
SOTA Project was born out of a split with a separate news outlet called SOTAvision, which still covers the opposition but distanced itself from the prosecutors’ ruling on Thursday.
Since launching its offensive in Ukraine, Moscow has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent that rights groups have likened to Soviet-era mass repression.
Among other organizations labelled as “undesirable” in Russia are the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Transparency International and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.


OpenAI strikes deal to bring Reddit content to ChatGPT

OpenAI strikes deal to bring Reddit content to ChatGPT
Updated 17 May 2024
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OpenAI strikes deal to bring Reddit content to ChatGPT

OpenAI strikes deal to bring Reddit content to ChatGPT
  • Deal underscores Reddit’s attempt to diversify beyond its advertising business
  • Content will be used to train AI models

LONDON: Reddit has partnered with OpenAI to bring its content to popular chatbot ChatGPT, the companies said on Thursday, sending the social media platform’s shares up 12 percent in extended trade.
The deal underscores Reddit’s attempt to diversify beyond its advertising business, and follows its recent partnership with Alphabet to make its content available for training Google’s AI models.
ChatGPT and other OpenAI products will use Reddit’s application programming interface, the means by which Reddit distributes its content, following the new partnership.
OpenAI will also become a Reddit advertising partner, the company said.
Ahead of Reddit’s March IPO, Reuters reported that Reddit struck its deal with Alphabet, worth about $60 million per year.
Investors view selling its data to train AI models as a key source of revenue beyond Reddit’s advertising business.
The social media company earlier this month reported strong revenue growth and improving profitability in the first earnings since its market debut, indicating that its Google deal and its push to grow its ads business were paying off.
Reddit’s shares rose 10.5 percent to $62.31 after the bell. As of Wednesday’s close, the stock is up nearly 12 percent since its market debut in March.