Israel stops flotilla seeking to break Gaza blockade

Updated 30 June 2015

Israel stops flotilla seeking to break Gaza blockade

ASHDOD, Israel: Israel’s navy on Monday halted a flotilla seeking to defy its blockade of Gaza without the deadly force that marred a similar attempt in 2010 and was escorting one of the vessels to shore. Among the passengers on the commandeered ship were Tunisia’s former President Moncef Marzouki and Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas.
A flotilla of four boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists had been seeking to reach Gaza to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory that they called “inhumane and illegal.” Three of the boats were said to have turned back while a fourth, the Marianne of Gothenburg, was boarded by the Israeli navy and was being escorted to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The activists’ campaign came as Israel faced heavy international pressure over its actions in Gaza, with a UN report last week saying both the Jewish state and Palestinian fighters may have committed war crimes during a 50-day conflict in the besieged coastal enclave last summer.
The reconstruction of thousands of homes in Gaza destroyed during the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the territory’s de facto rulers, is yet to begin, and both Israel’s blockade and a lack of support from international donors have been blamed.
After the overnight operation to stop the flotilla, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the navy’s actions and insisted his government was right to take action against Hamas.


Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 35 min 58 sec ago

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.