Killing of West Bank toddler condemned as ‘state terrorism’

An Israeli soldier shoots rubber bullets at Palestinians in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 05 June 2023

Killing of West Bank toddler condemned as ‘state terrorism’

  • Mohammed Al-Tamimi was shot in the head near his village of Nebi Saleh
  • The Israeli military has opened an investigation into the incident

RAMALLAH: Two-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed Al-Tamimi, who was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank last Thursday, died of his wounds, health officials said on Monday.

The toddler was shot in the head in the village of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah.

Basem Naim, the head of the political department of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, described the killing of Al-Tamimi as state terrorism.

Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, said that the killing of Al-Tamimi is an example of hundreds of crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces against hundreds of Palestinian children.

He said Israeli violence must be deterred by sanctions and boycotts and and called for the soldiers and officers who committed the crimes to stand trial.

The shooting was the latest bloodshed in a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Also on Monday, the Palestinians commemorated the 56th anniversary of the June 1967 Naksa when Israel seized the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in a six-day war.

Nineteen years earlier, in 1948, the state of Israel came into being in a violent process. 

On the 56th anniversary of the Naksa, Palestinian experts reiterated their beliefs that the two-state solution is not possible anymore and that only a one-state solution is the future.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, the former representative of Palestine to the UN, told Arab News that the Palestinians had failed to achieve their national goals.

“We are far from achieving our national goals and have failed at all levels,” he said.

Ahmed Majdalani, minister of social development in the Palestinian Authority, disagreed with Al-Kidwa.

Majdalani told Arab News that the “resistance, sacrifices, and steadfastness of the Palestinian people had thwarted the Israeli occupation project to impose the Israeli vision on the Palestinian people, achieve the dream of Greater Israel, and achieve demographic change in the West Bank,” pointing out that Israel was forced to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

He claimed that the Palestinian struggle had made a series of achievements since the setback in 1967.

He pointed to recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, establishment of the Palestinian Authority on Palestinian lands, and 147 countries in the world recognizing Palestine as an observer state at the UN.

Ghassan al-Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst, told Arab News that Israel had not managed to swallow the West Bank 56 years after the setback, “and we have not succeeded in ending the occupation.”

Al-Khatib said that the Israeli goals were not achieved because the Palestinians had clung to their land and many did not migrate.

But Al-Khatib believes that the Palestinians are far from achieving their goal of establishing an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Our goal is to prevent the success of the Zionist project in the rest of the Palestinian territories, to fight against the apartheid project, and to call for one state instead of the two-state solution, which is no longer possible to achieve,” he said.

“Despite the absence of allies and supporters for the Palestinians, they succeeded in preventing the Israelis from achieving their strategic goals in the West Bank.”

Ahmed Ghuneim, a prominent leader in the Fatah movement, told Arab News that Israel has not achieved any decisive military victory since 1967.

“As Palestinians, 56 years after the setback, we did not win, but we were not defeated because there are still about 7 million Palestinians living on the Palestinian lands, which thwarted the Zionist project’s claim that Palestine is a land without a people for a people without a land,” Ghuneim told Arab News.

He pointed out that the Palestinians did not leave despite 56 years of racist laws and ethnic cleansing by Israel, but that did not mean that the Palestinians had not suffered the consequences of the setback or continue to pay the price for it.

“Israel wants to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians by enacting racist laws to achieve what it did not seek to resolve militarily,” he told Arab News.

Japan is committed to supporting COP28, Kishida tells UAE Special Envoy

Special Envoy of the UAE to Japan, Sultan Al-Jaber, meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday.
Updated 25 September 2023

Japan is committed to supporting COP28, Kishida tells UAE Special Envoy

  • Japanese PM asks Al-Jaber for UAE’s help in stabilizing the crude oil market and increasing production

TOKYO: Sultan Al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy of the United Arab Emirates to Japan, met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday and expressed his expectations for Japan’s contributions to the COP28 conference on the environment.

Al-Jaber is also the President-Designate of COP28, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates from November 30 to December 12.

The prime minister stated that Japan is fully committed to making efforts to contribute to the success of COP28. Both sides confirmed that they will work closely towards making COP28 a success, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

Kishida expressed his appreciation for the UAE’s stable supply of crude oil to Japan and working with Japanese companies in the same field. He asked Al-Jaber for UAE’s help in stabilizing the crude oil market and increasing production.

Both sides exchanged views on cooperation between Japan and the UAE towards overall stabilization of the international oil market. They also discussed the “Japan-UAE Innovation Partnership” and the “Global Green Energy Hub” concept covered during Kishida’s July visit to the UAE.

Kishida welcomed the convening of the First Ministerial Level Meeting of the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative (CSPI)” held between Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Al-Jaber and stated that Japan attaches great importance to the strategic partnership with the UAE.

Kishida said he looks forward to further cooperation with the UAE in various fields, and Al-Jaber expressed his renewed hopes for strengthening bilateral relations with Japan.

One dead, four injured in incident at Iran’s Bandar Abbas refinery -state news

Updated 25 September 2023

One dead, four injured in incident at Iran’s Bandar Abbas refinery -state news

  • The incident did not impact production at the refinery, which is one of Iran’s largest

DUBAI: One person has died and four others were injured in an incident at Iran’s southern refinery of Bandar Abbas last week, Iranian state media reported on Monday.
The Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news agency said the incident occurred late on Sept. 22 during emergency repairs, adding that five maintenance workers were hurt, with one worker since dying of their injuries.
“During the emergency repair operation in one of the process units of this refinery, five people were injured, and one of the injured died on Monday,” an official from Bandar Abbas refinery told state media.
The incident did not impact production at the refinery, which is one of Iran’s largest, Shana added.

Egypt to hold presidential election Dec 10-12

Updated 25 September 2023

Egypt to hold presidential election Dec 10-12

  • President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi widely expected to win reelection

CAIRO: Egypt will hold a presidential vote on December 10-12, election officials said Monday, at a time the Arab world’s most populous country is mired in a painful economic crisis.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, a former army chief in power for nearly a decade, has yet to formally announce his candidacy, but state-aligned media has already published messages of support from pro-government entities.
El-Sisi, 68, was first elected in 2014 and then won a 2018 vote.
Only two other candidates have so far declared their intention to run this time, including opposition politician Ahmed Al-Tantawi.

Farid Zahran, president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, has also announced his intention to run.
The election had initially been expected in the spring of 2024.
The vote will be held “on December 10, 11 and 12,” said National Election Authority chairman Judge Walid Hassan Hamza.
Hopefuls can apply from October, with the candidate list to be finalized by November 9. The campaign period runs until November 29 and the winner will be announced on December 18.
Egypt has battled its worst-ever economic crisis since early last year.
The currency has lost half its value since March 2022 in a series of devaluations that have sent up consumer prices in the import-dependent economy.
Last year, the International Monetary Fund approved a $3 billion loan for Egypt conditioned on “a permanent shift to a flexible exchange rate regime.”
The government has kept the exchange rate pegged at around 31 Egyptian pounds to the dollar since January.
But prices have continued to skyrocket as a parallel currency market surged amid a severe foreign exchange shortage.
Annual inflation reached an all-time high for the third month in a row in August, hitting 39.7 percent.
El-Sisi’s government has announced a series of social protection measures and raises to the minimum wage in attempts to cushion the economic blow.

Iraqi torture victims still waiting for US compensation, two decades after invasion

Updated 25 September 2023

Iraqi torture victims still waiting for US compensation, two decades after invasion

  • No evidence found that the US government paid any compensation or other redress to victims of detainee abuse in Iraq, nor issued any individual apologies

LONDON: The US government has apparently failed to compensate Iraqis who were tortured or abused two decades after evidence surfaced that US forces mistreated inmates at prisons they ran in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

About 100,000 Iraqis were detained by the US and its coalition allies between 2003 and 2009 after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

HRW and other organzations documented torture and other abuse by US forces in Iraq. Survivors of abuse have given accounts of the treatment they suffered, but have received little recognition from the US government and no compensation.

“Twenty years on, Iraqis who were tortured by US personnel still have no clear path for filing a claim or receiving any kind of redress or recognition from the US government,” said the Washington director at HRW, Sarah Yager.

“US officials have indicated that they prefer to leave torture in the past, but the long-term effects of torture are still a daily reality for many Iraqis and their families,” Yager said. 

Between April and July 2023, HRW interviewed a former detainee at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison called Taleb Al-Majli and three anonymous people with knowledge of his detention, and condition after his release.

He claims to be one of the men in a photograph that was circulated widely showing a group of naked, hooded prisoners on top of one another in a human pyramid, while two US soldiers smiled behind them.

“Two American soldiers, one male and one female, ordered us to strip naked. They piled us prisoners on top of each other. I was one of them,” Al-Majli said.

Al-Majli said that US forces detained him while he was visiting relatives in Anbar province in 2003 during a round-up of old men and boys in the village he was staying in. 

After being held for a few days at Habbaniya military base and at an unknown location in Iraq, US forces moved Al-Majli to Abu Ghraib prison. 

“It was then the torture started. They took away our clothes. They mocked us constantly while we were blindfolded with hoods over our heads. We were completely powerless. I was tortured by police dogs, sound bombs, live fire and water hoses,” he said.

HRW said his story of detention at Abu Ghraib is credible and that Al-Majli presented corroborating evidence, including a prisoner identity card with his full name, inmate number and cell block, which he said US forces issued him at Abu Ghraib after taking his photo, iris scan and fingerprints. 

Al-Majli also showed the organization a letter he obtained in 2013 from the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, a governmental body with the mandate to protect and promote human rights in Iraq, confirming his detention at Abu Ghraib prison, including his date of arrest, and listing the same inmate number as his prisoner identity card.

For two decades, he has sought compensation and an apology for the abuse he was subjected to. He sought help from the Iraqi Bar Association and the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights but they could not assist. He said that he did not know how to contact the US military and raise a claim.

HRW wrote to the US Department of Defense in June 2023 outlining Al-Majli’s case and requesting information on compensation for survivors of torture in Iraq. No response was received. 

“The US secretary of defense and attorney general should investigate allegations of torture and other abuse of people detained by the US abroad during counterinsurgency operations linked to its ‘Global War on Terrorism,’” Yager said. 

“US authorities should initiate appropriate prosecutions against anyone implicated, whatever their rank or position. The US should provide compensation, recognition and official apologies to survivors of abuse and their families,” she said.

The organization has found no evidence that the US government has paid any compensation or other redress to victims of detainee abuse in Iraq, nor has the US issued any individual apologies or made other amends.

Latest talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over mega dam on the Nile end without breakthrough

Updated 25 September 2023

Latest talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over mega dam on the Nile end without breakthrough

  • Egypt’s water ministry blamed Ethiopia for the failure to make a breakthrough, alleging that Addis Ababa was “opposed to any compromise”
  • Talks resumed in August after a long hiatus, with Ethiopia and Egypt hoping to reach a deal by November

ADDIS ABABA: The latest talks over the mega dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary have broken up without an agreement.
The two-day talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ended on Sunday night in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Ethiopia’s chief negotiator, Seleshi Bekele, said the countries had “exchanged constructive ideas on various outstanding issues” and added that his country remains committed to continuing the negotiations.
Egypt’s water ministry blamed Ethiopia for the failure to make a breakthrough, alleging that Addis Ababa was “opposed to any compromise.” It expressed concern and said an agreement was needed to protect Egypt’s water security and national interests.
Talks have rumbled on for years over the controversial $4.6 billion project, whose construction started in 2011. It is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity — double Ethiopia’s current output and enough to make it a net energy exporter.
Ethiopia sees the dam as essential to its development but downstream Egypt — the Arab world’s most populous country — fears it will restrict its share of the Nile water, critical for its huge population of 100 million people.
About 85 percent of the river’s flow originates from the Blue Nile in Ethiopia though Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era.
Sudan, also downstream from the Blue Nile where the dam is located, wants a deal to regulate the amount of water Ethiopia will release in the event of a major drought.
Talks resumed in August after a long hiatus, with Ethiopia and Egypt hoping to reach a deal by November. Earlier this month Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the final phase in filling the dam’s reservoir had been completed.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country is already facing serious water scarcity issues and criticized Ethiopia for having embarked on the dam’s construction without consulting fellow Nile states.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen told the UN body on Saturday that the dam represented the “legitimate development aspirations of Ethiopians,” and asserted that it would help increase regional integration and prosperity.
On Monday, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said Egyptian and Sudanese concerns were also “legitimate” but added that its rights need to be protected.