Tunisian police arrest prominent lawyer critical of president

Update Tunisia police stand guard at a checkpoint outside the Interior Ministry during a demonstration against the President in Tunis on January 14, 2023. (AFP)
Tunisia police stand guard at a checkpoint outside the Interior Ministry during a demonstration against the President in Tunis on January 14, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 12 May 2024
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Tunisian police arrest prominent lawyer critical of president

Tunisian police arrest prominent lawyer critical of president
  • Dozens of lawyers took to the streets in protest on Saturday night, carrying banners reading “Our profession will not kneel” and “We will continue the struggle” Saied came to power in free elections in 2019

TUNIS: Tunisian police stormed the building of the Deanship of Lawyers on Saturday and arrested Sonia Dahmani, a lawyer known for her fierce criticism of President Kais Saied, and then arrested two journalists who witnessed the confrontation, a journalists’ syndicate said.

Two IFM radio journalists, Mourad Zghidi and Borhen Bsaiss, were arrested, an official in the country’s main journalists’ syndicate told Reuters. The incident was the latest in a series of arrests and investigations targeting activists, journalists and civil society groups critical of Saied and the government. The move reinforces opponents’ fears of an increasingly authoritarian government ahead of presidential elections expected later this year.

Dahmani was arrested after she said on a television program this week that Tunisia is a country where life is not pleasant. She was commenting on a speech by Saied, who said there was a conspiracy to push thousands of undocumented migrants from Sub-Saharan countries to stay in Tunisia. Dahmani was called before a judge on Wednesday on suspicion of spreading rumors and attacking public security following her comments, but she asked for postponement of the investigation.

The judge rejected her request. Dozens of lawyers took to the streets in protest on Saturday night, carrying banners reading “Our profession will not kneel” and “We will continue the struggle” Saied came to power in free elections in 2019. Two years later he seized additional powers when he shut down the elected parliament and moved to rule by decree before assuming authority over the judiciary.

Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the country has won more press freedoms and is considered one of the more open media environments in the Arab world. Politicians, journalists and unions, however, say that freedom of the press faces a serious threat under the rule of Saied. The president has rejected the accusations and said he will not become a dictator.

It comes after Saied on Friday ordered the national swimming federation dissolved after the country’s flag was covered at a meet in Tunis in response to sanctions by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Images on social media showed the flag covered by a red cloth on Friday during the Tunisian Open Masters championship, organized by the national swimming federation at the Rades Olympic pool.

At the end of April, WADA suspended Tunisia’s National Anti-Doping Agency (ANAD) for non-compliance with its code. Among the punishments, said WADA, “Tunisia’s flag will not be flown at regional, continental or world championships.”

On Friday night, a video released by the president’s office showed Saied visiting the pool, near Tunis, raising the flag and singing the national anthem,

In a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani and other cabinet members, Saied said the country cannot “tolerate this. Tunisia comes before the Olympic Committee and before any other committees.”

An apparently agitated Saied called the flag covering “an act of aggression.”

* With Reuters and AFP


UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

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UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation
Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel
"A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said

THE HAGUE: The UN's top court will next week hand down its view on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, a case in which some 52 countries made submissions.
Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the brutal October 7 Hamas attacks.
"A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague (on July 19) ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said on Friday.
The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following a request from the United Nations late last year.
The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".
Most speakers during the hearings have demanded that Israel end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its "very real security needs" into account.
Speakers also warned a prolonged occupation posed an "extreme danger" to stability in the Middle East and beyond.
Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.
It submitted a written contribution, in which it described the questions the court had been asked as "prejudicial" and "tendentious".
The case before the court is separate from one brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza.
South Africa has gone to the ICJ several times arguing that the dire humanitarian situation means the court should issue further fresh emergency measures.
In an initial ruling on January 26, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent acts of genocide during its military operation in Gaza.
It also called for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Palestinian militant group Hamas during its October 7 assault that sparked the war.

Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report
Updated 12 July 2024
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Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report
  • The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years
  • Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students

JERUSALEM: The Israeli government’s security cabinet has approved a plan to extend compulsory military service for men to 36 months from the current 32 months, Israel’s Ynet news outlet reported on Friday.
The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years, Ynet reported, after a meeting of the security cabinet that took place late on Thursday.
The measure is likely to be submitted to a vote in a meeting of the full cabinet on Sunday, it said.
Israel’s military commanders have said they need to boost manpower so they can sustain the war with the Hamas militant group in Gaza and a confrontation with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia.
In a separate initiative, Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students who were previously exempt from military service.


Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza
Updated 12 July 2024
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Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza
  • A Hamas official told AFP the proposal for a non-partisan government was made “with the mediators.”

Gaza City: Hamas is suggesting during ceasefire negotiations that an independent government of non-partisan figures run post-war Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a member of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s political bureau said Friday.
“We proposed that a non-partisan national competency government manage Gaza and the West Bank after the war,” Hossam Badran said in a statement about the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas with mediation from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
“The administration of Gaza after the war is a Palestinian internal matter without any external interference, and we will not discuss the day after the war in Gaza with any external parties,” Badran added.
A Hamas official told AFP the proposal for a non-partisan government was made “with the mediators.”
The government will “manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the initial phase after the war, paving the way for general elections” said the official, who did not want his name disclosed.
Badran’s remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that Israel retain control of the Philadelphi corridor, Gaza territory along the border with Egypt. This condition conflicts with Hamas’s position that Israel must withdraw from all Gaza territory after a ceasefire.
Netanyahu said on Thursday that control of the Philadelphi corridor is part of efforts to prevent “weapons to be smuggled to Hamas from Egypt.”
The negotiations are occurring in Doha, Qatar and Cairo, Egypt with the aim of bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza as well as the return of hostages still held there by Hamas.
The war began on October 7 with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,345 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.


Gaza talks explore alternative to Israeli troops on Gaza-Egypt border: sources

Gaza talks explore alternative to Israeli troops on Gaza-Egypt border: sources
Updated 12 July 2024
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Gaza talks explore alternative to Israeli troops on Gaza-Egypt border: sources

Gaza talks explore alternative to Israeli troops on Gaza-Egypt border: sources
  • Israel, Egypt discussing hi-tech surveillance on border
  • Surveillance system is part of Gaza ceasefire talks, System addresses Israeli worries about Hamas smuggling

CAIRO: Israeli and Egyptian ceasefire negotiators are in talks about an electronic surveillance system along the border between Gaza and Egypt that could allow Israel to pull back its troops from the area if a ceasefire is agreed, according to two Egyptian sources and a third source familiar with the matter.
The question of whether Israeli forces stay on the border is one of the issues blocking a potential ceasefire deal because both Palestinian militant group Hamas and Egypt, a mediator in the talks, are opposed to Israel keeping its forces there.
Israel is worried that if its troops leave the border zone, referred to by Israel as the Philadelphi corridor, Hamas’ armed wing could smuggle in weapons and supplies from Egypt into Gaza via tunnels that would allow it to re-arm and again threaten Israel.
A surveillance system, if the parties to the negotiations agree on the details, could therefore smooth the path to agreeing a ceasefire — though numerous other stumbling blocks remain.
Discussions around a surveillance system on the border have been reported before, but Reuters is reporting for the first time that Israel is engaging in the discussions as part of the current round of talks, with a view to pulling back forces from the border area.
The source familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the discussions are about “basically sensors that would be built on the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi (corridor).”
“The idea is obviously to detect tunnels, to detect any other ways that they’d be trying to smuggle weapons or people into Gaza. Obviously this would be a significant element in a hostage agreement.”
Asked if this would be significant for a ceasefire deal because it would mean Israeli soldiers would not have to be on the Philadelphi corridor, the source said: “Correct.”
The two Egyptian security sources, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Israeli negotiators had spoken about a high-tech surveillance system.
Egypt was not opposed to that, if it was supported and paid for by the United States, according to the two Egyptian sources. They said though Egypt would not agree to anything that would change border arrangements between Israel and Egypt set out in a prior peace treaty.
At a military event on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he could only agree to a deal that preserved Israeli control of the Gaza-Egypt border, but he did not spell out if that meant having troops physically present there.
Talks are underway in Qatar and Egypt on a deal, backed by Washington, that would allow a pause in the fighting in Gaza, now in its 10th month, and the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Israel started its assault on the Gaza Strip last October after Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and capturing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
Since then, its forces have killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, according to medical authorities in Gaza.
Israeli officials have said during the war that Hamas used tunnels running under the border into Egypt’s Sinai region to smuggle arms. Egypt says it destroyed tunnel networks leading to Gaza years ago and created a buffer zone and border fortifications that prevent smuggling.
Israel’s advance into southern Gaza’s Rafah area in early May led to the closure of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza and a sharp reduction in the amount of international aid entering the Palestinian territory. Egypt says it wants aid deliveries to Gaza to resume, but that a Palestinian presence should be restored at the Rafah crossing for it to reopen.


KSrelief distributes food aid in Turkiye and Sudan

KSrelief distributes food aid in Turkiye and Sudan
Updated 12 July 2024
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KSrelief distributes food aid in Turkiye and Sudan

KSrelief distributes food aid in Turkiye and Sudan
  • KSrelief operates aid programs for vulnerable communities across the world

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief has distributed 2,500 food packages for vulnerable people in Turkiye and Sudan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

There were 2,000 delivered for earthquake victims in Turkiye’s city of Gaziantep.

A further 500 were distributed in Sudan’s Blue Nile State for 3,425 people.

KSrelief operates aid programs for vulnerable communities across the world.