UK’s foreign secretary supported arms sales to Israel days after British aid workers killed in Israeli strike

A World Central Kitchen vehicle destroyed in the Israeli airstrike in April 2024. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 02 May 2024

UK’s foreign secretary supported arms sales to Israel days after British aid workers killed in Israeli strike

  • Attack on World Central Kitchen convoy killed 7 people in total

LONDON: Britain’s foreign secretary recommended that the UK continue selling arms to Israel just days after an Israeli strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy killed three British aid workers.

David Cameron supported the continuation of arms sales two days after the strike on April 1, and the Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch approved the decision on April 8, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

Cameron said earlier this week that the strike that killed the Britons, in addition to four aid workers of other nationalities, revealed systemic and personal failures by members of the Israel Defense Forces.

Cameron’s decision seems to have been based on an assessment of Israeli compliance with humanitarian law that did not cover the deaths of the aid workers due to a time lag in the government’s process for deciding if British arms exports were at risk of being used to commit war crimes.

There was a possibility that the business department’s assessment did not cover any incidents after Jan. 28.

An update on the handling of arms export licenses that took into consideration events up until the end of February was prepared, but the British Foreign Office has declined to say if that was included in the advice given to ministers.

Opposition Labour MPs claim the time delay means there is a possibility that no comprehensive ministerial-level assessment of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza has been made in the last three months.

Lawyers and campaigners who have examined the evidence provided by the Foreign Office have come to the same conclusion.

World Central Kitchen said on Monday it would resume operations in the Gaza Strip, a month after the Israeli airstrike.

Prior to halting operations, WCK had distributed more than 43 million meals in Gaza since October, representing by its own accounts 62 percent of all international nongovernmental aid.

Trump attack gunman searched online about JFK shooting: FBI chief

Updated 7 sec ago

Trump attack gunman searched online about JFK shooting: FBI chief

WASHINGTON: The gunman who attempted to assassinate Donald Trump at a campaign rally searched online for details about the November 1963 shooting of US president John F. Kennedy in the days before the attack, the FBI director said Wednesday.

FBI chief Christopher Wray, testifying before a congressional committee, said the gunman flew a drone over the venue where the former president was scheduled to speak about two hours before he took the stage in Butler, Pennsylvania, on July 13.

Wray told members of the House Judiciary Committee that investigators have not established a motive for the shooting but “we are digging hard because this is one of the central questions for us.”

Trump survived the assassination bid, suffering a wound to his right ear, and a Secret Service sniper shot dead the suspected gunman — named as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks — less than 30 seconds after he had fired eight shots.

“With respect to former president Trump, there’s some question about whether or not it’s a bullet or shrapnel that, you know, that hit his ear,” FBI chief Wray said.

Two rally attendees were seriously injured and a 50-year-old Pennsylvania firefighter was shot dead.

Wray said Crooks “appears to have done a lot of searches of public figures, in general” but that there was no clear pattern to the research.

“A lot of the usual repositories of information have not yielded anything notable in terms of motive or ideology,” he said.

“Starting somewhere around July 6 or so, he became very focused on former president Trump and this rally,” the FBI chief said, and he registered that same day to attend the campaign event in Butler, Pennsylvania.

“On July 6, he did a Google search for, quote, ‘How far away was Oswald from Kennedy?’” he said, a reference to Kennedy’s assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald.

“That obviously is significant in terms of his state of mind.”

The FBI director said no evidence has emerged so far that Crooks had any accomplices or co-conspirators and he seems to have been a “loner.”

Crooks was perched on the roof of a nearby building and opened fire on Trump with an AR-style assault rifle shortly after 6:00 pm, as the Republican White House candidate was addressing the rally in Butler.

US Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle resigned on Tuesday, a day after acknowledging the agency had failed in its mission to prevent the assassination attempt.

Wray said Crooks flew a drone over the rally area for around 11 minutes — sometime between 3:50 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. — on the day of the attack.

He said it was not flown directly over the stage but about 200 yards (meters) away.

The drone and its controller were recovered in the gunman’s car along with two “relatively crude” explosive devices, Wray said.

Another explosive device was found in Crooks’s residence.

Wray said the gunman purchased a ladder on the day of the shooting but appears not to have used it. Instead, he climbed onto the roof using some mechanical equipment on the ground and vertical piping.

Wray also said Crooks’s AR-style gun had a collapsible stock which may explain why he was not seen by rally-goers or members of law enforcement with the weapon before the shooting.

He said Crooks visited the rally site on at least three occasions: about a week before the shooting, for about 70 minutes on the morning of the rally and again that afternoon.

He purchased 50 rounds of ammunition on the day of the attack and visited a shooting range the previous day.

Child killed in Colombia’s first lethal drone attack

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

Child killed in Colombia’s first lethal drone attack

BOGOTA: A ten-year-old boy died Wednesday in a drone attack targeting soldiers in Colombia, the first death of its kind in the country which has struggled to rein in guerrilla violence.

The defense ministry’s press office said it was the first drone death in Colombia and blamed the attack on a group of dissident guerrillas who broke away from the FARC armed group when it signed a peace deal with the government years ago.

“Young Dylan, age 10, was killed following the launching of grenades by drones targeting” soldiers in the restive southwest department of Cauca, the regional military commander, General Federico Mejia, said in a video on the social network X.

The grenade fell on a soccer field in the town of El Plateado, a stronghold of the Central General Staff (EMC) rebel group which broke away from FARC.

The explosion also left six wounded, according to the Army.

Colombia’s leftist guerrillas are increasingly relying on drones to drop explosives on rivals.

Unlike the sophisticated payloads mounted on drones by soldiers in Ukraine, for example, the guerrillas mainly use commercially available drones to drop homemade explosives or fireworks.

In June, the army reported having recorded 17 drone attacks in six weeks, without any deaths, a new turn in Colombia’s six decades of internal armed conflict.

Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez expressed solidarity with the boy’s family on X, saying he was killed “during a terrorist attack carried out by the Carlos Patino Front.”

That group, which is involved in drug trafficking, is a hard-line faction of the EMC.

“We are reinforcing the military offensive to protect the population and capture those responsible for the attack,” added Velasquez.

The army said on X it had deployed “more than 800 soldiers” in the Cauca department, with a “clear and forceful” mission: to capture and neutralize the rebel leaders.”

A leader of the Carlos Patino Front denied responsibility when contacted by AFP and blamed the army for the attack.

“The community of El Plateado knows the truth,” said Kevin Arcos, a commander with the group.

The Micay Canyon, where El Plateado is located, is a mountainous region blanketed by bright green coca plantations — the main ingredient of cocaine.

The regional military commander Mejia said rebels were waging an offensive in El Plateado in retaliation for military operations against the guerrillas “who are at the top of these mountains trying to generate control of illicit economies.”

Brazil’s Lula seeks to bolster support for global alliance against hunger

Updated 13 min 23 sec ago

Brazil’s Lula seeks to bolster support for global alliance against hunger

  • Hunger is something that requires a political decision,” Lula said during a ministerial meeting to establish the global alliance

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva unveiled a global alliance against hunger and poverty in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, an initiative he described as one of Brazil’s top priorities for its current presidency of the Group of 20 nations.
“Hunger is not something natural. Hunger is something that requires a political decision,” Lula said during a ministerial meeting to establish the global alliance. The leftist leader slammed the perpetuation of hunger across the world despite sufficient production.
Lula was seeking to bolster support ahead of the formal establishment of the alliance later this year, when world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the Nov. 18-19 summit of the leading 20 rich and developing nations.
The alliance aims to implement a mechanism to mobilize funds and knowledge to support the expansion of policies and programs to combat inequality and poverty, according to a statement from Brazil’s G20 press office on Tuesday. It will be managed from a secretariat located at the Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome and Brasilia until 2030, with half of its costs covered by Brazil, Lula said in his speech.
A former trade unionist who governed between 2003 and 2010, Lula returned to the presidency for a third, non-consecutive term in 2023 after thwarting the reelection bid of former president Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula, who was born to a poor family in Brazil’s northeastern Pernambuco state, has long sought to tackle hunger both at home and abroad.
Food security issues and poverty are present across Brazil, from the Amazon to large urban centers, which means the country can bring expertise to the global discussion, said Marcelo Cândido da Silva, a history professor at the University of Sao Paulo and vice-coordinator of an international research project against hunger.
Brazil is also one of the world’s top exporters of food, sending abroad large quantities of corn, soja, coffee, sugar, beef and chicken.
Ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030 are part of the UN’s sustainable development goals, adopted in 2015, but progress has been lagging.
Around 733 million people faced hunger in 2023, equivalent to one in eleven people globally and one in five in Africa, according to the annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, released in Rio on Wednesday.
There was a sharp upturn in people facing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and since then numbers have remained stubbornly high despite progress in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a statement accompanying the launch of the report.
“A future free from hunger is possible if we can rally the resources and the political will needed to invest in proven long-term solutions,” said World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain in the statement.
As well as spotlighting hunger and poverty, Brazilian diplomats are using the presidency of the G20 to push for the reform of global governance institutions and advocate for a sustainable energy transition.
Those efforts are part of Lula’s bid to pitch his nation – and himself — as leader for the Global South.
The alliance against hunger and poverty “allows Brazil to position itself as a leader because it is bringing an issue dear to the world’s poorest countries to a forum where they are not represented, the G20,” said Eduardo Mello, a professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation think tank and university.
But there is a lack of political will because of ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, Mello said.

Gaza ceasefire deal in ‘closing stages’: US official

Updated 14 min ago

Gaza ceasefire deal in ‘closing stages’: US official

  • The official played down a fiery speech to Congress by Netanyahu in which he pledged ‘total victory’
  • He added that the talks with Biden Thursday would be more focused on the mechanics of a deal

WASHINGTON: Negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal are in their “closing stages,” a US official said Wednesday, ahead of talks between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden will try to close some “final gaps” in his talks with Netanyahu at the White House on Thursday but key elements including the fate of the hostages remain in Hamas’s court, the senior administration official said.

“We believe it’s in the closing stages and a deal is closeable,” the US official said on condition of anonymity in a call previewing Netanyahu’s visit.

There would be a “lot of activity in the coming week” toward reaching a long-sought deal, said the official, adding that an agreement was “not only possible, it’s essential and necessary.”

The US official played down a fiery speech to Congress by Netanyahu on Wednesday in which he pledged “total victory,” saying that the talks with Biden would be more focused on the mechanics of a deal.

A possible truce now hinges on a handful of issues about how a deal would come into effect, with Hamas having eased its demand for a full Israeli pull-out, the official said.

“I don’t expect the meeting (with Netanyahu) to be a yes or no, it’s a kind of like ‘how do we close these final gaps?’ And there are some things we need from the Israeli side, no question,” the official said.

“But there’s also some key things that are only in the hands of Hamas because the hostages are in the hands of Hamas.”

A Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,197 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Out of 251 people taken hostage that day, 114 are still being held inside the Gaza Strip, including 42 who the military says are dead.

More than 39,100 Palestinians, also mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war broke out, according to data provided by the health ministry of Hamas-run Gaza.

Three dead in shooting among Ukrainian troops

Updated 22 min 39 sec ago

Three dead in shooting among Ukrainian troops

  • No further details were provided and the army did not say who was responsible, saying only that weaponry had been used for ‘personal’ rather than military reasons

KYIV:  A shooting incident among Ukrainian soldiers stationed in the northeastern Kharkiv region has left three soldiers dead and four others seriously wounded, the Ukrainian army said Wednesday.

No further details were provided and the army did not say who was responsible, saying only that weaponry had been used for “personal” rather than military reasons.

“In one of the units, soldiers used firearms on the basis of personal relationships. As a result of the shooting, three soldiers were killed and four others were injured,” the “Khortytsia” regional grouping of the Ukrainian army said.

The wounded suffered “serious” injuries and law enforcement officials were at the scene, it said.

“Management is taking all necessary measures to prevent such incidents in the future,” it added.

Violence among fellow soldiers is a sensitive issue in both Russia and Ukraine, but mass shootings are rare.

In January 2022, weeks before Russia invaded, a 21-year-old Ukrainian national guard conscript killed four fellow soldiers and a civilian with an assault rifle at an aerospace factory.

In May 2024, a 57-year-old Russian soldier recruited from a penal colony was reported to have shot dead six of his fellow troops in the eastern Donetsk region.