Israel says will coordinate with Egypt before Rafah offensive

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz delivers his speech during the 60th Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich on Feb. 16, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2024
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Israel says will coordinate with Egypt before Rafah offensive

  • “Egypt is our ally, we have peace agreements with Egypt, and we will operate in a way that does not hurt the Egyptian interests,” Katz said
  • Katz underlined that US President Joe Biden would also be briefed on any military offensive

MUNICH: Israel will coordinate with Egypt before launching any military offensive in the southern Gazan border city Rafah, the Israeli foreign minister pledged Friday.
“We will operate in Rafah after we coordinate with Egypt,” Israel Katz told journalists on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, where 180 dignitaries have gathered to discuss conflicts around the globe.
“Egypt is our ally, we have peace agreements with Egypt, and we will operate in a way that does not hurt the Egyptian interests,” he said.
Fears had been growing for the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the north of Gaza to Rafah as Israeli troops advanced into the territory to wage war on Hamas.
But Israel is now planning a major operation in the overcrowded city. With the border to Egypt closed, nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are essentially trapped there.
Katz underlined that US President Joe Biden would also be briefed on any military offensive, as he stressed his country’s determination to push ahead with the operation to root out Hamas fighters.
“If Sinwar and the Hamas murderers think that they can find protection in Rafah, it will not happen,” he said, referring to Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar.
“That’s why we will offer the civilians safe areas they can go to, and we will then deal with Hamas.”
According to the Wall Street Journal and an Egyptian NGO, Cairo is constructing a walled camp in the Sinai Peninsula to receive displaced Palestinian civilians from the Gaza Strip, according to a media report and an Egyptian human rights monitor.
The compound, part of “contingency plans” if ceasefire talks in Cairo failed, could accommodate more than 100,000 people, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, an Egyptian NGO, also released a report this week that it said showed construction of the compound to receive Palestinian refugees “in the case of a mass exodus.”
Israel, which is waging a four-month-old war against Hamas militants in the territory, has said it had no plans to move civilians there.
Israel has besieged the Gaza Strip since October 7, when Hamas fighters launched a deadly assault on border communities in southern Israel.
Some 1,160 died, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures, while about 250 were taken hostage. Israel estimates that some 130 are still in Gaza but 30 may be dead.
According to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, at least 28,775 people have been killed in the territory since the start of the war.


India court grants top Modi opponent bail

Updated 8 sec ago
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India court grants top Modi opponent bail

  • Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, was first detained over long-running corruption probe in March 
  • PM Modi’s party lost its overall parliamentary majority in the polls and now leads a coalition government

New Delhi: An Indian court granted bail Thursday to one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chief opponents, who was first detained over a long-running corruption probe in March.

Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and the leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi party, denies the charges as a “political conspiracy” by Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He was released from detention to campaign partway through the country’s weeks-long national election but returned to jail after voting ended earlier this month.

Modi’s BJP lost its overall parliamentary majority in the poll and now leads a coalition government.

“Truth alone triumphs,” Atishi, a minister in Kejriwal’s regional government, posted on X after the court ruling.

Kejriwal is expected to walk out of jail on Friday, days before a new parliamentary session starts Monday.\

The Delhi chief minister is a key member of the opposition INDIA bloc, led by the main opposition Congress party, which defied all polls and observers’ expectations to significantly improve its national tally.

“When power becomes dictatorship, then jail becomes a responsibility,” Kejriwal said before surrendering himself to authorities earlier this month.

He is one of several opposition leaders in India under criminal investigation over various corruption-related probes, which Modi’s opponents say are being used by the premier to weaken any potential challengers.\

Kejriwal, 55, has been chief minister of Delhi, the region which includes the capital New Delhi, for nearly a decade and first came to office as a staunch anti-corruption crusader.

His government was itself accused of corruption when it liberalized liquor sales in 2021 and gave up a lucrative government stake in the sector.

The policy was withdrawn the following year but a resulting probe into the allegedly corrupt allocation of licenses has since led to the jailing of two top Kejriwal allies.


Treason trial of Russian American woman opens as tensions rise between Washington and Moscow

Updated 20 June 2024
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Treason trial of Russian American woman opens as tensions rise between Washington and Moscow

  • The defendant was identified by Russian authorities as Los Angeles resident Ksenia Karelina
  • Russia's main domestic security agency, the Federal Security Service, charges that Karelina raised money for a Ukrainian organization

MOSCOW: The trial of a Russian American dual citizen whom Russia accuses of treason opened on Thursday as tensions rise between Washington and Moscow, including over the arrests of two American journalists.
The trial is being held behind closed doors in Yekaterinburg, in the same court that next week is to begin hearing the case of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in March 2023 and charged with espionage.
The defendant was identified by Russian authorities as Los Angeles resident Ksenia Karelina, although U.S. media reports frequently use the surname Khavana, the name of her ex-husband.
Karelina was born in Yekaterinburg and was arrested in February while visiting her family.
Russia's main domestic security agency, the Federal Security Service, charges that Karelina raised money for a Ukrainian organization that was providing weapons, ammunition and other supplies to the Ukrainian military. Her boyfriend has said she made a single donation of about $50 to a Ukrainian organization, according to media reports.
Karelina faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Almost all Russian criminal cases that make it to court end in convictions. The trial was adjourned in the afternoon and the next session was set for Aug. 7, Russian news agencies said.
Gershkovich, the highest-profile American behind bars in Russia, is accused of gathering secret information from a tank factory in Nizhny Tagil, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Yekaterinburg. His employers deny the allegation, and the U.S. State Department has declared him to be wrongfully detained.
Gershkovich's trial, also closed, is to begin next Wednesday.
A journalist for U.S.-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe with U.S. and Russian dual citizenship has been held since October on charges of gathering military information and failing to register as a foreign agent.
Since sending troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has sharply cracked down on dissent and has passed laws that criminalize criticism of the operation in Ukraine and remarks considered to discredit the Russian military. Concern has risen since then that Russia could be targeting U.S. nationals for arrest.


WHO issues warnings on fake diabetes and weight-loss drugs

Updated 20 June 2024
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WHO issues warnings on fake diabetes and weight-loss drugs

  • WHO has also noted increased demand for these medicines
  • Falsified products could be harmful

DUBAI: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday issued warnings on falsified semaglutides used in diabetes and weight-loss drugs in light of three altered batches of products detected in Brazil, the UK and the United States.
Semaglutide is the active ingredient used in Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss treatment Wegovy.
The WHO has been observing increased reports of falsified semaglutide products in Brazil, the UK and the United States since 2022, it said, though Thursday’s was the first official notice issued by the agency after confirmation of some reports.
It has also noted increased demand for these medicines.
Falsified products could be harmful and if they do not have the necessary raw components, they can lead to health complications resulting from unmanaged blood glucose levels or weight, the WHO said.


Russian attack kills three, injures four in Ukraine’s eastern region

Updated 20 June 2024
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Russian attack kills three, injures four in Ukraine’s eastern region

  • The village of Rozkishne, about 25 km from the front line, was targeted by the strike

KYIV: Russia attacked a village in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, killing three people and injuring four more, including a child, prosecutors said.
The village of Rozkishne, about 25 km from the front line, was targeted by the strike, regional prosecutors said on Telegram.
According to preliminary data, Russian troops used the Smerch system to launch cluster munitions, prosecutors said.
Among the injured was a 14-year-old boy who was hospitalized. Four households, cars, and a gas pipeline were damaged in the attack, prosecutors added.


Cruise ship rescues 68 migrants heading for Spain’s Canaries, five dead

Updated 20 June 2024
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Cruise ship rescues 68 migrants heading for Spain’s Canaries, five dead

  • Bulk carrier Philipp Oldendorff sighted the boat adrift 440 nautical miles (815 km) south of the island of Tenerife
  • Insignia cruise ship was diverted to the area to pick up the survivors, the Coast Guard said

MADRID: A luxury cruise ship has rescued dozens of migrants who were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands in a fishing boat that had stalled in rough seas killing five people, Spanish authorities and the cruise operator said on Thursday.
The archipelago has become the main point of entry to Spain for illegal migrants from Africa in recent years, and the route is also the deadliest. Migration rights group Walking Borders said last week that nearly 5,000 migrants died at sea on that route in the first five months of 2024.
Bulk carrier Philipp Oldendorff sighted the boat adrift 440 nautical miles (815 km) south of the island of Tenerife on Wednesday and provided first assistance to the migrants, while the Insignia cruise ship was diverted to the area to pick up the survivors, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Insignia, which is owned by Miami-based Oceania Cruises, also managed to recover three bodies from the boat, but bad weather prevented the recovery of another two bodies so the ship left a locating device to facilitate the search.
The small luxury cruise ship with a 670-passenger capacity is undertaking a 180— day trip around the world that started in January. It was expected to reach Tenerife at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Friday.
“Safety of life at sea is of paramount importance for all seafarers,” said a spokesperson for Oceania Cruises, which is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“We can confirm that the Insignia rescued 68 people from a vessel in distress between Cape Verde and Tenerife, brought them onboard for medical assistance and provided food, drinks, clothing and a safe place to rest,” the spokesperson added.
A Spanish coast guard vessel was en route from the Canary Islands on Thursday to meet the Insignia and then locate the shipwreck.