Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35
Fire rages following an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced Palestinians in Rafah , southern Gaza Strip, in this still picture taken from a video on May 26, 2024. (REUTERS/Reuters TV)
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Updated 27 May 2024
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Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35
  • The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah
  • Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 people Sunday and hit tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and “numerous” others were trapped in flaming debris. Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded.

The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population had sought shelter before Israel’s incursion earlier this month. Tens of thousands of people remain in the area while many others have fled.
Footage from the scene of the largest airstrike showed heavy destruction. Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants. It said it was investigating reports that civilians were harmed. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Rafah on Sunday and was briefed on the “deepening of operations” there, his office said.




A Palestinian wounded in an Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip is brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, on May 26, 2024. (AP) 

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll was likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continued in Rafah’s Tal Al-Sultan neighborhood about two kilometers (1.2 miles) northwest of the city center.
The society asserted that the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area.” The neighborhood is not included in areas that Israel’s military ordered evacuated earlier this month.
The airstrike was reported hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive.
There were no reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility. Israel’s military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from Rafah and “a number” were intercepted, and the launcher was destroyed.
Earlier Sunday, dozens of aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. Israel’s military said 126 aid trucks entered via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing.
But it was not immediately clear if humanitarian groups could access the aid — including medical supplies — because of fighting. The crossing has been largely inaccessible because of Israel’s offensive in Rafah. United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid. The World Health Organization last week said an expanded Israeli incursion in Rafah would have “disastrous” impact.”
“With the humanitarian operation near collapse, the secretary-general emphasizes that the Israeli authorities must facilitate the safe pickup and delivery of humanitarian supplies from Egypt entering Kerem Shalom,” the spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count. Israel blames civilian deaths on Hamas because the militants operate in dense, residential areas.
Around 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.
Hamas triggered the war with its Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas still holds some 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve “total victory” over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza.
The war has also heightened tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian authorities on Sunday said Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the southern West Bank town of Saeer. The Israeli army said the Palestinian male was shot dead after trying to stab Israeli forces at Beit Einun Junction.
Southern Gaza largely cut off from aid
Southern Gaza has been largely cut off from aid since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion into Rafah on May 6. Since then over 1 million Palestinians, many already displaced, have fled the city.
Northern Gaza receives aid through two land routes that Israel opened during global outrage after Israeli strikes killed seven aid workers in April.
A few dozen trucks enter Gaza daily through a US-built floating pier, far below the 150 trucks a day that officials hoped for. Aid groups say 600 trucks a day are needed.
Israeli man detained over mutiny threat
Israel’s military said it had detained a suspect over a widely circulated video in which a man dressed as a soldier threatens mutiny. The man says tens of thousands of soldiers were ready to disobey the defense minister over his suggestion that Palestinians should govern Gaza after the war, and pledged loyalty to Netanyahu alone.
Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the man has been removed from reserve duty. It was not clear when or where the video was made. The prime minister’s office released a brief statement condemning all forms of military insubordination.


Azhar Mahmood to pursue legal action against ‘false allegations’ following Pakistan’s T20 WC exit

Azhar Mahmood to pursue legal action against ‘false allegations’ following Pakistan’s T20 WC exit
Updated 23 June 2024
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Azhar Mahmood to pursue legal action against ‘false allegations’ following Pakistan’s T20 WC exit

Azhar Mahmood to pursue legal action against ‘false allegations’ following Pakistan’s T20 WC exit
  • Coach mulling legal options amid widespread allegations families of players, coaching staff traveled to US on PCB expense 
  • Pakistan team and management in line of fire this month as squad failed to qualify for second round of ICC T20 World Cup 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan cricket team’s assistant head coach, Azhar Mahmood, warned on Saturday he would pursue legal action against those levelling “false” allegations against him and his family for traveling to the United States (US) at the expense of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) during the ongoing T20 World Cup series. 

The Pakistan team and management have been in the line of fire this month as the national squad failed to qualify for the second round of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. The criticism has revolved around the team’s performance as well as that the families of players and coaching staff traveled to the US on the PCB’s expense. 

“I will be pursuing legal advice against those responsible for making these false allegations toward me and my family, and strict action will be taken accordingly,” the former cricketer said in a post on X. “We will not be further discussing this matter on social media.”

He called the allegations “baseless and false,” and said the culture of falsely accusing and misleading people was turning “ridiculous and dangerous.”

Pakistani media has also widely reported this week on captain Babar Azam mulling legal action against YouTubers and former players who had accused him of misconduct during the T20 World Cup.

Pakistan fell to the tournament’s biggest upset when the United States, a tier-two member of the game, beat the 2009 champions via Super Over. Defeat by arch-rivals India then left Babar’s side with a mountain to climb to advance.

Babar had stepped down as captain of all three formats after Pakistan failed to make the knockout stage of the 50-overs World Cup in India last year, but was reinstated as white-ball skipper ahead of the 20-overs showpiece in the US and West Indies.


Pakistan army backs new operation against ‘terrorists, anti-state anarchists, religious fanatics’ 

Pakistan army backs new operation against ‘terrorists, anti-state anarchists, religious fanatics’ 
Updated 23 June 2024
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Pakistan army backs new operation against ‘terrorists, anti-state anarchists, religious fanatics’ 

Pakistan army backs new operation against ‘terrorists, anti-state anarchists, religious fanatics’ 
  • Operation Azm-e-Istehkam announced after meeting of National Apex Committee attended by civilian, military leaders
  • Operation being launched amid rise in militancy, after recent incident of a mob lynching tourist over blasphemy accusations 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan army said on Sunday the newly announced Operation “Azm-e-Istehkam” would include actions both against militants as well as “anti-state anarchists and religious fanatics,” as the South Asian nation faces rising cases of militant, political and religious violence. 

Pakistan’s top national security forum on Saturday announced its plan to launch the comprehensive Operation Azm-e-Istehkam, or Resolve for Stability, campaign after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif led a meeting of the country’s top civilian and military leaders to review security challenges. The announcement of the operation comes amid a surge in militant attacks and after a recent incident in which a mob lynched a tourist over accusations of blasphemy in the northwestern Swat district. 

“Indiscriminate actions will be taken against the terrorists. No discrimination will be done, while dealing with the terrorists, whether those are Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi, Kashmiri, Gilgiti or Pathan,” the Pakistan army’s media wing said in a statement shared with reporters, citing various ethnic groups in Pakistan. 

“Similarly, operations will be conducted against anti state anarchists and religious fanatics, irrespective of their sect or religion, especially incidents like Sialkot and Swat will be dealt with sternly,” the statement added, referring to recent cases of mob lynchings over accusations of blasphemy. 

A tourist belonging to Pakistan’s Sialkot city was dragged from a police station by the mob in Swat district on Thursday before being killed and set on fire over accusations he burnt pages of the Qur’an. Such incidents are not uncommon in Pakistan where a mere accusation of blasphemy can lead to mob violence.

“Any person or group, who tries to destabilize the state or takes the law into hands, will be dealt with severely,” the army statement added, saying the apex committee meeting was attended by all political parties who backed the launch of the new operation. 

“Everyone agreed that apart from the issue of terrorism, religious fanaticism is rising in the cities, which also needs to be addressed.”


Number of Pakistani women officers taking combat courses in US up 150 percent in decade — report

Number of Pakistani women officers taking combat courses in US up 150 percent in decade — report
Updated 23 June 2024
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Number of Pakistani women officers taking combat courses in US up 150 percent in decade — report

Number of Pakistani women officers taking combat courses in US up 150 percent in decade — report
  • 55 women attended IMET courses from 2020-2023, which is more than double the 22 women who participated from 2013-2019
  • Over the last two consecutive years, Pakistan led the region in sending female military officers for courses in the United States

ISLAMABAD: The number of Pakistani women officers who received military training in the United States increased by 150 percent in the last decade, according to a report released this month by the US State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Since 2013, the number of Pakistani female military personnel participating in the International Military Education and Training program (IMET) has significantly grown. The State Department-sponsored program is designed to build military-to-military relationships with partner nations by funding international military students to attend American military training and education courses.

“Fifty-five women have attended IMET courses from 2020-2023, which is more than double the 22 women who participated from 2013 to 2019,” the report said. “In addition, over the last two consecutive years, Pakistan has led the region in sending female military officers for courses in the United States.”

The report said Pakistani women officers had been attending specialized courses focused on topics such as anti-terrorism and anti-piracy, military justice, information technology, cyber strategies, public affairs, gender-based violence, and medical-related courses.

Two women attended the US Naval Postgraduate School and completed their MBAs in financial management. Another student from the Judicial Commission returned to Pakistan to take an appointment in a train-the-trainer capacity and was tasked with updating Pakistan’s own curriculum. In addition, two female officers had qualified for Pakistani staff college this year, which would open the opportunity for them to attend staff college in the United States as well.

“With women now in the combat arms ranks in the Pakistani military, female officers are attending professional military education courses and returning to the force to be considered for leadership positions,” the report added. 


Mob lynchings in spotlight in Pakistani parliament as top minister seeks national strategy

Mob lynchings in spotlight in Pakistani parliament as top minister seeks national strategy
Updated 23 June 2024
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Mob lynchings in spotlight in Pakistani parliament as top minister seeks national strategy

Mob lynchings in spotlight in Pakistani parliament as top minister seeks national strategy
  • A mob beat a tourist to death on Thursday night in Swat after accusing him of burning pages of the Qur’an
  • Last month, a Christian man attacked by a mob on charges of burning Qur’an died of injuries in hospital 

ISLAMABAD: The recent mob lynching of a local tourist accused of desecrating the Qur’an resonated in the National Assembly on Saturday as a prominent federal minister urged the house to devise a national strategy to prevent such violence in the future.
A tourist belonging to Pakistan’s Sialkot city was dragged from a police station by the mob in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday before being killed and set on fire. Such incidents are not uncommon in Pakistan where a mere accusation of blasphemy can lead to mob violence.
“If it had been an isolated incident, it might have been overlooked, but this is a series of events,” Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told parliament. “It is my request to you that this assembly should take notice of this incident since our society is on the brink of disaster where street justice through mob lynching is done in the name of religion, trampling the constitution, law and all fundamental principles of the state.”
Iqbal suggested that the National Assembly constitute a special committee to review the causes behind such incidents and create a plan of action.
Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Qur’an and later died of his injuries in eastern Pakistan.
In 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched in one of the highest profile incidents in the country. Six people were sentenced to death for their part in the lynching after the incident sparked global outcry.


Pro-Palestine protest in Islamabad concludes after 40 days following government negotiations

Pro-Palestine protest in Islamabad concludes after 40 days following government negotiations
Updated 22 June 2024
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Pro-Palestine protest in Islamabad concludes after 40 days following government negotiations

Pro-Palestine protest in Islamabad concludes after 40 days following government negotiations
  • ‘Save Gaza Campaign’ wanted Pakistan to formally protest to envoys of the countries supporting Israel
  • Two activists were killed and four others injured when a speeding car had an accident at their protest site

ISLAMABAD: A group of pro-Palestine protesters in Pakistan’s federal capital, Islamabad, decided to call off their sit-in after holding a meeting with Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Saturday.
The activists belonging to the Save Gaza Campaign set up their camps near the high-security Red Zone to express solidarity with the people of Palestine who have been targeted by the Israeli war machine since Oct. 7, 2023.
The protesters stayed in the area for nearly 40 days, asking the Pakistani authorities to take practical steps, such as formally protesting to the envoys of the countries supporting Israel, to help the people of Gaza.
“Every Pakistani feels the same about Palestine as they do in their heart,” the interior minister said while referring to the Save Gaza Campaign activists after successful negotiations with the group. “And what they are saying, definitely, there is nothing in it that we object to. Pakistan is already playing its role [to demand a ceasefire]. But we have also promised them [the activists] that we will act on their suggestions.”
“My request to them, which they have agreed to, is that they are going to end their sit-in,” he added.
Last month, the Save Gaza Campaign activists decided to hold their ground after an accident involving a speeding vehicle killed two of them on the roadside and injured four others.
Naqvi also mentioned the incident while praying for the deceased activists and promising quick justice in the case.
Israel has killed over 37,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them women and children, since the beginning of the war.
While the conflict followed a surprise attack by Hamas, which said it was retaliating to the deteriorating condition of Palestinians under occupation, Israel’s response was widely viewed as disproportionate, bordering on genocide.