UN experts slam Israel’s ‘harassment’ in West Bank

An aerial view of the Palestinian Gharib family’s house as an enclave in between Israeli army barriers, at the Jewish settlement of Givon Hahadasha north of Jerusalem, bordering the Palestinian village of Beit Ijza, in July. (AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2022

UN experts slam Israel’s ‘harassment’ in West Bank

  • The special rapporteurs insisted such harassment must stop, and said residents continue to be threatened by the risk of forcible transfer
  • The case of Masafer Yatta -- or Firing Zone 918 -- an agricultural area near Hebron, has been one of Israel's longest running legal battles

GENEVA: UN experts on Tuesday condemned Israel’s “harassment” of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers in the occupied West Bank’s Masafer Yatta villages, where Israel has a military zone.
The special rapporteurs insisted such harassment must stop, and said residents continue to be threatened by the risk of forcible transfer, including mass forced evictions and arbitrary displacement.
“Israeli authorities’ hubris is proving without limits. They are even harassing human rights defenders and humanitarian workers seeking to support and protect people facing grave human rights violations in Masafer Yatta,” the four experts said in a joint statement.
“This is a direct assault on the core of human rights and international humanitarian law... this also confirms that impunity over abuse of power fosters power to abuse.”
The case of Masafer Yatta — or Firing Zone 918 — an agricultural area near Hebron, has been one of Israel’s longest running legal battles.
In the early 1980s, the army declared the 30-square-kilometer (12-square-mile) territory a restricted military area and claimed it was uninhabited.
Residents of eight villages had been in court for around 20 years fighting Israeli government efforts to evict them.
But in May this year, Israel’s High Court approved the eviction of Palestinian villagers to make way for a military training zone.
“The tragic implications of that decision are now before our eyes: roughly 1,200 Palestinian residents in Masafer Yatta are left defenseless in front of the threat of forced eviction and arbitrary displacement,” said the experts, who do not speak for the United Nations but are mandated to report their findings to it.
The statement was penned by a special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as rapporteurs on internally displaced persons, adequate housing, and the situation of human rights defenders.
They voiced dismay at reports that human rights defenders and humanitarian workers have been harassed by the Israeli military in Masafer Yatta.
“They have been stopped and detained for several hours at checkpoints and had their identification documents or cars confiscated, often on grounds that they had entered a closed military site without permission,” their statement said.
The experts expressed particular concern for Sami Hureini, a prominent human rights defender and member of the “Youth of Sumud” activist group “engaged in peaceful resistance against illegal settlements in the southern Hebron hills.”
On June 28, he was reportedly arrested at a checkpoint in Masafer Yatta and detained by the military for several hours, the experts said.
“He is currently being tried in the Ofer Military Court for allegedly obstructing and assaulting a soldier and entering a closed military zone, following his participation in a peaceful demonstration on 8 January 2021,” they said.
Hureini’s attorney, Riham Nasra, said her legal team has presented “hundreds of photos and videos” to disprove the allegations against her client.
“Five activists who were near Sami during the protest testified that at no point did Sami resort to violence,” Nasra told AFP in a statement.
The Israeli military and the country’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the remarks by the UN experts.
The Israeli army told AFP that Hureini had been “charged for his participation in a violent demonstration against soldiers and inciting other demonstrators to violence against the security forces.”


Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

Updated 59 min 40 sec ago

Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

  • Statement: Alaa Zaghal ‘died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) army’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian was shot dead and at least two others injured Wednesday by Israeli forces during an operation near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Alaa Zaghal, 21 “died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) army in Deir Al-Hatab, east of Nablus,” a statement read.


Syria reports 39 dead in cholera outbreak

Updated 05 October 2022

Syria reports 39 dead in cholera outbreak

DAMASCUS: Syria’s health ministry has recorded 39 deaths from cholera and nearly 600 cases in an outbreak spreading in the war-ravaged country that the United Nations warned is “evolving alarmingly.”
A total of 594 cases have been recorded across 11 of its 14 provinces since late last month, the health ministry said late Tuesday.
“The situation is evolving alarmingly in affected governorates and expanding to new areas,” the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.
Most of those who have died are in the northern province of Aleppo, and it was not immediately clear if the dead were included in the overall case tally.
It is the first major outbreak of cholera in Syria in over a decade.
The extremely virulent disease is generally contracted from contaminated food or water, and causes diarrhea and vomiting.
It can spread in residential areas that lack proper sewerage networks or mains drinking water.
The disease is making its first major comeback since 2009 in Syria, where nearly two-thirds of water treatment plants, half of pumping stations and one-third of water towers have been damaged by more than a decade of war, according to the United Nations.
The source of the latest outbreak is believed to be the Euphrates River which has been contaminated by sewage pollution.
Reduced water flow due to drought, rising temperatures and dams built by Turkey have compounded the pollution problem.
Despite the contamination, over five million of Syria’s about 18 million people rely on the Euphrates for their drinking water, according to the UN.
The latest outbreak is especially alarming for overcrowded displacement camps that have little access to clean water and sanitary products.
Cholera can kill within hours if left untreated, according to the WHO, but many of those infected will have no or mild symptoms.
It can be easily treated with oral rehydration solution, but more severe cases may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics, according to the WHO.
Worldwide, the disease affects between 1.3 million and four million people each year, killing between 21,000 and 143,000 people.


Iran judiciary opens probe into death of teenage girl

Updated 05 October 2022

Iran judiciary opens probe into death of teenage girl

  • The street violence has led to the deaths of dozens of people

TEHRAN: Iran’s judiciary has opened an investigation into the death of a teenage girl, who was reportedly killed during protests over the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since Amini died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly failing to observe the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
The street violence has led to the deaths of dozens of people — mostly protesters but also members of the security forces.
“A case has been filed in the criminal court to investigate the cause of Nika Shakrami’s death,” Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency late Tuesday.
“An order to investigate the case has been issued and necessary measures are being taken in this regard,” he added.
Earlier, the prosecutor said 400 protesters were released from prison “on condition of not repeating their actions.”
He stressed, however, that those “who acted against national security” will be dealt with “decisively, seriously and without leniency.”


Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Updated 05 October 2022

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

  • Britain’s foreign ministry had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires over crackdown on protests

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in reaction to “interventionist comments” from the British foreign ministry, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Wednesday.
“The British side, by issuing unilateral statements, shows that it has a role in the belligerent scenarios of terrorists active against the Islamic Republic,” the director general of Western Europe at Iran’s foreign ministry added, after saying that London’s remarks on Iran’s internal affairs were “based on fake and provocative interpretations.”
Britain’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
The British envoy in Tehran was summoned on Tuesday.
The Iranian official added Tehran will consider possible options in response to any unusual actions from Britain.
A 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire.”

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Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel

Updated 05 October 2022

Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel

BEIRUT: Lebanon has submitted to the US a list of changes it would like to see in a proposal on how to delineate a contested maritime border with Israel, a top Lebanese official said on Tuesday.
US envoy Amos Hochstein has shuttled between Lebanon and Israel since 2020 to seal a deal that would pave the way for offshore energy exploration and defuse a potential source of conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Hochstein sent a draft proposal to Beirut last week. It was discussed on Monday by President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Deputy speaker of parliament Elias Bou Saab said he had earlier that day submitted to the US ambassador in Lebanon the amendments Beirut would like to see, without providing details.


SPOTLIGHT

Will maritime-border settlement imply Lebanon’s indirect recognition of Israel?


He said he does not think the proposed changes would derail the deal and that, while the response did not signify approval of the draft, talks were so advanced that “we are done negotiating.”
Speaking to local broadcaster LBCI, he said the draft deal had been produced by thinking “outside of the box.”
“We started to talk about it as a business deal,” Bou Saab said.
The 10-page draft appears to float an arrangement whereby gas would be produced by a company under a Lebanese license in the disputed Qana prospect, with Israel receiving a share of revenues.

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While that company has been officially named, Lebanese officials have publicly suggested a role for TotalEnergies SE . A top Israeli official was meeting company representatives in Paris on Monday, according to a source briefed on the matter.
Bou Saab on Tuesday said that, according to the draft deal, Lebanon had secured all of the maritime blocs it considered its own.
He added that Lebanon will not pay one cent from its share of Qana to Israel.

 

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