Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister

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Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP)
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Prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who was voted out of office in 2021, is working toward cobbling together a governing majority in the 120-seat Knesset. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 25 November 2022

Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister

  • The agreement does not account for a full and final new government in Israel

RAMALLAH: Palestinians are deeply concerned that Israeli far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir is to become police minister in a coalition deal with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party that is set to create the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

Given Ben-Gvir’s ultra-extremist views, more violence and instability are expected in the Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem.

He was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and backing a group considered by Israel and the US to be a terrorist organization.

Ben-Gvir will have an expanded security portfolio that will include responsibility for Border Police in the occupied West Bank.

Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the Palestinian government, told Arab News that the Israelis “should worry more than the Palestinians about the appointment of Ben-Gvir,” who espouses an extremist, racist, settler ideology.

He said: “He will not achieve security or stability for them as he promised, and will not defeat the Palestinian people. His appointment means greater sacrifices for the Palestinians and, in return, less security for the Israelis.”

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, told Arab News: “This is a hazardous development, and it means that the entire new Israeli government is moving toward a fascist policy, as Ben-Gvir will be responsible for Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli police, and the Palestinians inside Israel."

He added that the world must see the “result of its silence on Israel’s successive crimes in recent decades. It is required to impose sanctions and a boycott on the Israeli government and declare the Ben-Gvir party a terrorist party.”

Ben-Gvir has long been a fierce opponent of Palestinian statehood, having been a settler in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war.

He was seen brandishing a gun at Palestinian demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem during the election campaign.

Ben-Gvir also supports Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a flashpoint site holy to both Muslims and Jews. The location has seen repeated clashes between Muslims and Jewish visitors defying rules prohibiting prayer by non-Muslims.

He has also vowed to introduce unprecedented punitive restrictions on Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the deal involving Ben-Gvir would have a “potentially catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and hinder the revival of negotiations between the two sides, which stalled in 2014.

The ministry has again demanded that the international community react to developments and put pressure on the incoming government to ensure that racist policies against Palestinians are not implemented.

Basem Naim, head of the Hamas political department in Gaza, told Arab News: “Appointing Ben-Gvir to this position is like appointing a fugitive criminal as a police governor.

“From our point of view, as Palestinians, the matter will not differ much because the essence of the work of the Zionist security services is racist and is based on oppressing the Palestinians and working to abuse them by all means.”

Retired Col. David Hacham, a former Arab affairs adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, told Arab News that the appointment was an expected step by Netanyahu.

But he added: “We must consider that there may be an expected difference between Ben-Gvir’s prior positions and statements, and his actual behavior after his appointment.”

His arrival in government has prompted the US State Department to say that it expects all officials in the new Israeli administration to share the values of an “open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society.”

Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute shows that 71 percent of Israelis support the execution of Palestinian prisoners who carried out operations that resulted in deaths and injuries, compared to 63 percent in 2018.

Some 55 percent of Israelis are reported to support the execution of operatives in the field, compared to 37 percent in the previous survey.

The findings also reveal that 45.5 percent support heavy shooting toward the Palestinian population in response to any provocation, compared to 27.5 percent four years ago.

Support for the Israeli army ensuring that it does not violate the international laws of war has decreased.

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Commission, told Arab News that Palestinian prisoners “are ready to deal with new repressive measures, and if any of their rights are violated, they will have a response.”

Separately, the extremist Israeli group “Price Tag” burned four Palestinian vehicles at dawn on Friday and wrote racist phrases on walls in the towns of Abu Ghosh and Ein Naquba to the west of Jerusalem.

 


Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

Updated 07 December 2022

Italian far-right activists held for assault on Morocco soccer fans

  • The supporters were revelling in the centre of the northern Italian city on Tuesday evening after Morocco's victory over Spain
  • Fans were attacked by a group of men dressed in black with their faces covered, police said

ROME: Italian police said on Wednesday they had detained 13 far-right activists in Verona for an assault on Moroccan soccer fans who were celebrating their historic qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals.
The supporters were revelling in the center of the northern Italian city on Tuesday evening after Morocco’s victory over Spain when they were attacked by a group of men dressed in black with their faces covered, the police said in a statement.
Those held “were identified by investigators as militants of far-right groups in the city,” it said.
Morocco’s World Cup progress has seen vibrant celebrations by its supporters in cities with large Moroccan immigrant populations around the world, which have sometimes turned violent.
Their victory over Belgium in the group stage sparked riots in Brussels, and on Tuesday evening video footage showed fans lighting flares and throwing furniture and other objects in the center of Milan.
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant League party, tweeted the images of the Milan episodes, saying he hoped those responsible would be identified and made to pay for the damage to property.
He did not comment on the incidents in Verona.


US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

Updated 07 December 2022

US to ban Sudan officials who hold up post-coup transition

  • The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted
  • The State Department did not list who would be affected

WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday it would bar visas to any current or former Sudanese officials who hold up a transition to democracy, hoping to boost a tentative deal between the military and civilians.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced US support for the initial agreement announced Monday, which some pro-democracy protesters see as falling short on specifics and timelines.
“Recognizing the fragility of democratic transitions, the United States will hold to account spoilers — whether military or political actors — who attempt to undermine or delay democratic progress,” Blinken said in a statement.
The ban would also apply to immediate family members of any current or former officials targeted. The State Department did not list who would be affected.
“We once again call on Sudan’s military leaders to cede power to civilians, respect human rights and end violence against protesters,” Blinken said.
“At the same time, we urge representatives of Sudan’s civilian leaders to negotiate in good faith and place the national interest first.”
Longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019 following massive youth-led protests but the army chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in October last year derailed the transition by carrying out a military coup.
The United States following the coup suspended $700 million in aid that was meant to help Sudan cope economically as it moves toward democracy.
The latest US step is an expansion of visa restrictions imposed during the first stage of Sudan’s democratic transition.

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Turkish missiles used in Syria include Europe-produced parts

Updated 06 December 2022

Turkish missiles used in Syria include Europe-produced parts

  • An analysis of the components of the wreckage found that the missiles were manufactured by Roketsan, a Turkish defense manufacturer
  • The missiles included components made by US, Chinese and European companies

BEIRUT: Commercial brakes produced by a Dutch company to be used in ambulances in Turkiye instead ended up in missiles used by Turkiye in attacks in northeastern Syria, a report released Tuesday said.
Between September 2021 and June 2022, field investigators with London-based Conflict Armament Research analyzed the remnants of 17 air-to-surface missiles used in strikes in northeast Syria, the report said. An analysis of the components of the wreckage found that the missiles were manufactured by Roketsan, a Turkish defense manufacturer.
The missiles included components made by US, Chinese and European companies, among them electromagnetic brakes with “markings and characteristics consistent with production by (Netherlands-based company) Kendrion NV,” the report said.
Representatives of Kendrion told researchers that the company had agreed in 2018 to supply 20-25,000 brakes to a Turkish company called FEMSAN, with the stated purpose of using them on blood analysis machines fitted to ambulances, the report said. After being notified that the brakes were being used in military applications, Kendrion said it had cut off its business relationship with the Turkish company, the report noted.
FEMSAN did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while representatives of Roketsan could not be reached for comment.
The research was carried out before the most recent round of Turkish airstrikes in northeast Syria, launched last month in response to a deadly Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul that Ankara blames on Kurdish groups based in Syria — an allegation that the groups deny. Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also threatened a ground incursion.
The report did not allege that the sellers of the components used in the missiles had violated any laws, noting that “while the EU has had an arms embargo related to Syria itself since 2011, (Turkiye) has never been subject to sanctions at the multilateral level.”
It added that the case “highlights both the critical importance and the relative complexity of commercial due diligence for material of these types” which “may serve multiple purposes, some of which the manufacturer may not even be aware, and which may be extremely sensitive.”


Al Jazeera files lawsuit against Israeli forces at ICC over killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

Updated 06 December 2022

Al Jazeera files lawsuit against Israeli forces at ICC over killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

  • Case follows an investigation into journalist’s killing by news network’s legal team
  • Israeli Prime Minister says that no one would be allowed to question Israeli soldiers

DUBAI: Al Jazeera on Tuesday said it has filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court against Israeli forces over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot during an Israeli raid in the West Bank in May.

The lawsuit follows an investigation by the television news network’s legal team, Al Jazeera said on Twitter.

The ICC must identify the individuals who were directly involved in Abu Akleh’s killing, Al Jazeera lawyer Rodney Dixon KC told a news conference in The Hague on Tuesday.

“The rulings of the International Criminal Court stipulate that those responsible be investigated and held accountable. Otherwise, they bear the same responsibility as if they were the ones who opened fire,” Dixon said.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that no one would question Israeli soldiers.

“No one will interrogate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals of combat, certainly not the Al Jazeera network,” Lapid said.


Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

Updated 06 December 2022

Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

  • Another 11 people, including 3 children, were handed lengthy jail terms

TEHRAN: Iran has sentenced to death five people over the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during nationwide protests, the judiciary said Tuesday.
Another 11 people, including three children, were handed lengthy jail terms over the death of Ruhollah Ajamian, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a news conference, adding the sentences could be appealed.
A group of 15 people had been charged with “corruption on earth” over the death of Ajamian on November 3 in Karaj, a city west of Tehran, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported last week.
Prosecutors said Ajamian, 27, was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to a slain protester, Hadis Najafi, during ceremonies marking 40 days since her death.
Najafi was killed during unrest that has gripped Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.
Initially, on November 12, Mizan Online announced charges for 11 people over Ajamian’s killing, including a woman but as the trial opened, it said 15 defendants in the case had been charged.
An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of members of the security forces.
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been arrested, including 40 foreigners and prominent actors, journalists and lawyers.
The latest court rulings bring to 11 the number of people sentenced to death in Iran over the violence sparked by Amini’s death.

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