Israeli communications minister orders return of seized camera equipment to AP

In this image from video, Israeli officials seize AP video equipment from an apartment block in Sderot, Southern Israel, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 22 May 2024

Israeli communications minister orders return of seized camera equipment to AP

  • Israeli officials seized the equipment after accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera
  • The Biden administration, journalism organizations and an Israeli opposition leader put pressure on Netanyahu

JERUSALEM: Israel’s communications minister ordered the government to return seized camera equipment to The Associated Press after blocking its live video of Gaza earlier Tuesday.
Israeli officials seized the equipment after accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera.
Israeli officials used the new law on May 5 to close down the offices of Qatar-based Al Jazeera, confiscating its equipment, banning its broadcasts and blocking its websites.
The Biden administration, journalism organizations and an Israeli opposition leader put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after officials seizing the AP equipment.
Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, is one of thousands of AP customers, and it receives live video from AP and other news organizations.
“The Associated Press decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government to shut down our longstanding live feed showing a view into Gaza and seize AP equipment,” said Lauren Easton, vice president of corporate communications at the news organization. “The shutdown was not based on the content of the feed but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law.”
Officials from the Communications Ministry arrived at the AP location in the southern town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon and seized the equipment. They handed the AP a piece of paper, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, alleging it was violating the country’s foreign broadcaster law.
Karhi is the minister who later ordered the equipment to be returned.
Shortly before its equipment was seized on Tuesday, AP was broadcasting a general view of northern Gaza. The AP complies with Israel’s military censorship rules, which prohibit broadcasts of details like troop movements that could endanger soldiers. The live video has generally shown smoke rising over the territory.
The AP had been ordered verbally last Thursday to cease the live transmission, which it refused to do.
Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid called the move against AP “an act of madness.”
“This is not Al Jazeera. This is an American news outlet,” he said. “This government acts as if it has decided to make sure at any cost that Israel will be shunned all over the world.”
Karhi responded to Lapid that the law passed unanimously by the government states that any device used to deliver Al Jazeera content could be seized.
“We will continue to act decisively against anyone who tries to harm our soldiers and the security of the state, even if you don’t like it,” he wrote to Lapid on X.
When Israel closed down Al Jazeera’s offices earlier this month, media groups warned of the serious implications for press freedom in the country. The law gives Karhi, part of the hard-right flank of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, wide leeway to enforce it against other media.
“Israel’s move today is a slippery slope,” the Foreign Press Association said in a statement, warning that the law “could allow Israel to block media coverage of virtually any news event on vague security grounds.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US was “looking into” what happened and that it was “essential” for journalists to be allowed to do their jobs.
Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias against the country, and Netanyahu has called it a “terror channel” that spreads incitement.
Al Jazeera is one of the few international news outlets that has remained in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting scenes of airstrikes and overcrowded hospitals and accusing Israel of massacres. AP is also in Gaza.
During the previous Israel-Hamas war in 2021, the army destroyed the building housing AP’s Gaza office, claiming Hamas had used the building for military purposes. The AP denied any knowledge of a Hamas presence, and the army never provided any evidence to back up its claim.
The war in Gaza began with a Hamas attack in Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed since then, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count.

Saudi Arabia concludes participation at Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris

Updated 2 min 8 sec ago

Saudi Arabia concludes participation at Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia concluded its participation in the global defense and security exhibition Eurosatory 2024 in Paris on Friday, where officials sought to boost partnerships with France, the state news agency SPA reported.

The Saudi pavilion participating in the exhibition, which started on Monday, saw wide interaction and a large presence to view the latest achievements, products and developments of the military industries sector in the Kingdom, SPA reported.

The pavilion, organized by the General Authority for Military Industries, sought to welcome investors from all over the world looking to invest in the military industries sector, and the efforts made to develop research and innovation in the sector.

It also reviewed the most prominent policies, legislation and incentives in Saudi Arabia that contributed to stimulating the process of localization and empowerment of the sector, enhancing supply chains and investment opportunities, and the importance of concerted efforts to achieve the military industries sector strategy.

On the sidelines of Eurosatory 2024, the governor of GAMI, Ahmed Al-Ohali, took part in the activities of a Saudi-French Day, where he spoke about building industrial and defense partnerships between Saudi Arabia and France, while the deputy governor of the authority’s empowerment sector, Saleh Al-Aqili, touched on the regulatory framework and organization of local content policy in the Kingdom.

Several meetings were also held at the pavilion with other entities participating in the exhibition, where a number of initiatives and partnerships were instigated.

Many parties from the public and private sectors joined forces to showcase at the pavilion, including the Ministry of Investment, represented by the Invest in Saudi Arabia platform (Invest Saudi), the General Authority for Defense Development, and a number of Saudi national institutions and companies specializing in the field of military industries.

They included the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Saudia Technic, Life Shield, Scopa, the Arabian International Company, the Saudi Leather Industries Company, the Al-Esnad Military Industries Group, KRMC, and the World Defense Show.

The Kingdom’s military industries are localizing and empowering the sector in “attracting qualitative investments that will effectively contribute to building a prosperous economy and a sustainable industry,” SPA reported.

Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report

Updated 23 min 5 sec ago

Boeing may avoid criminal charges over violations: report

  • After substantial internal debate, Justice officials “appear to have concluded that prosecuting Boeing would be too legally risky,” the NY Times reported

NEW YORK: The US Department of Justice is considering a deal with Boeing that would avoid criminal prosecution of the aerospace giant but may appoint a federal supervisor to oversee company progress on safety improvements, The New York Times reported Friday.
People familiar with the discussions told the daily that the terms of the possible alternative settlement, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, or DPA, are still subject to change.
A DOJ official involved in the case, Glenn Leon, chief of the fraud section criminal division, said in an email to a civil party lawyer seen by AFP that the department “has not made a decision” on the path it will take with respect to Boeing.
The DOJ is determining its next steps after concluding in May that Boeing could be prosecuted for violating a criminal settlement following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 which claimed 346 lives.
But the Times, citing sources familiar with the discussions, reported that after substantial internal debate, Justice officials “appear to have concluded that prosecuting Boeing would be too legally risky.”
Officials also reportedly believe that the appointment of a watchdog would be “a quicker, more efficient way” to ensure safety and quality control improvements are made, the newspaper said.
Last month, the DOJ told the judge in the case it would give its decision no later than July 7.
The DOJ’s Leon emailed Paul Cassell, a lawyer for families in the criminal case against Boeing, saying the Times reporting “was simply not correct.”
Boeing did not respond to AFP requests for reaction.

The troubled planemaker had contested the department’s conclusions in mid-June, but has recognized the gravity of the safety crisis and CEO Dave Calhoun told Congress that Boeing is “taking action and making progress.”
In January 2021, Justice announced an initial DPA in which Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle fraud charges over certification of the 737 MAX.
But since early 2023, the manufacturer has experienced multiple production and quality control problems on its commercial aircraft, as well as mid-flight incidents including in January when a door plug panel flew off an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.
The DOJ says Boeing’s violation of several provisions of the initial agreement, including measures requiring it to bolster its internal controls to detect and deter fraud, opened the company to prosecution.
Victims’ families have called for the criminal prosecution of Boeing and its executives, and are seeking a nearly $25 billion fine.
A new DPA would allow the US government to resolve Boeing’s violations without a trial.
That could serve as a victory of sorts for Boeing, a company seen as critical to the US aviation industry as well as national security.
Cassell, the families’ lawyer, warned against sealing an agreement avoiding trial.
“We hope that the Department is not using its claim to have not yet made a ‘final decision’ as a ploy to gain additional time to hammer out a DPA deal with Boeing,” Cassell said in a statement.
“The first DPA deal failed. There is no reason to think a second one would be any better,” he said, adding it’s time for “moving forward with a trial and obtaining a guilty verdict against Boeing.”
Such lawsuits in the past have forced companies into filing for bankruptcy, the Times reported, and a conviction could potentially prevent Boeing from receiving government contracts.
Boeing’s defense, space and security segment generated $25 billion in 2023, nearly a third of the company’s sales.

Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

Updated 32 min 56 sec ago

Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

  • The Kingdom’s representative to the UN says this is particularly important given the role of cybersecurity in protecting vital national interests and security
  • He tells the UN Security Council the sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, and helped to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally

LONDON: The need for a safe and reliable cyberspace that can help enable growth and prosperity is more urgent than ever, Saudi Arabia said as it urged all nations to prioritize efforts to strengthen cybersecurity.

Abdulaziz Al-Wasel, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, said it was time for the international community to adopt a serious and practical approach, in collaboration with the UN, to unifying international efforts to combat threats. This is particularly important given the role cybersecurity plays in protecting the vital interests of countries and national security, he explained.

His comments came on Thursday during a UN Security Council debate about evolving cyberspace threats under the heading “maintenance of international peace and security,” the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

Al-Wasel highlighted the work and rapid progress of the Kingdom’s cybersecurity sector, which he said was established as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan for national development and diversification. The sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, he added, helping to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally.

The Kingdom began its transformative journey by developing a model for cybersecurity that is based on centralized governance and decentralized operability, he said, and falls under the responsibility of national authorities. The model is distinguished by its comprehensive framework for dealing with all aspects related to cybersecurity, whether legislative, security-focused, economic or developmental.

In 2017, Saudi authorities established the National Institute for Cybersecurity, and the Kingdom’s efforts in the field have resulted in several international achievements, one of the most most notable of which was earning second place globally, and first in the Arab world, the Middle East and Asia, in the International Telecommunication Union’s 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index.

And this week Saudi Arabia topped the global cybersecurity rankings in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2024, which is compiled by the World Competitiveness Center of the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. In the overall World Competitiveness Index for 2024, the country climbed to 16th place, having ranked 24th in 2022 and 17th last year.

Al-Wasel also noted the launch in 2020 of the Global Cybersecurity Forum in the Kingdom, an international platform that brings together decision-makers from around the world to discuss strategic issues related to cybersecurity. More than 120 countries attended the forum last year, during which the International Cybersecurity Forum Foundation was established, with its headquarters in Riyadh, to aid the enhancement of cybersecurity at an international level.

“The Kingdom is keen to unify regional efforts to cooperate in enhancing regional cybersecurity, which resulted in the establishment of a specialized ministerial committee for cybersecurity under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based on a proposal from the Kingdom,” Al-Wasel said.

Another proposal by the Kingdom led to the establishment in September last year of the Council of Arab Cybersecurity Ministers, under the aegis of the Arab League, with its general secretariat and executive offices in Riyadh.

The UN welcomed the work of the Kingdom in the sector and said: “Saudi Arabia also provides capacity-building exercises worldwide, with over 40 states and organizations participating in such training.”

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

Updated 36 min 19 sec ago

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

  • It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties”

GENEVA: The International Committee of the Red Cross said its Gaza office was ‘damaged’ by in a shell attack Friday that killed at least 22 people who had taken shelter around the compound.
The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy calibre projectiles” but in a statement on the X platform said they “damaged the structure of the ICRC office,” which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced persons living in tents.
It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties.”
“Heavy-calibre projectiles landed within meters of the office and residences of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon,” the statement said.
“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures, of whose locations the parties to the conflict are aware and which are clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, puts the lives of civilians and Red Cross staff at risk,” said the body.
“This grave security incident is one of several in recent days,” it added.
“Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures. We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”


Conor McGregor says a broken toe forced him to withdraw from UFC 303

Updated 21 min 6 sec ago

Conor McGregor says a broken toe forced him to withdraw from UFC 303

LAS VEGAS: Conor McGregor posted on Instagram on Friday that a broken toe was the reason he had to pull out of his headline UFC 303 bout against Michael Chandler after previously not specifying the injury.
“We had a lapse in concentration and engaged in a training session without wearing the full protective gear and I hit the toe off the elbow and broke the toe clean,” McGregor posted. “It needs a few weeks that’s it. I couldn’t justify to my team, or fans, that I make the walk hindered again. That walk has been seen. This next walk has got to be, and it will be, 100 percent Conor McGregor. The fans deserve it and we are getting close.”
Light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira will face top-ranked challenger Jiri Prochazka in the June 29 main event in Las Vegas in place of the McGregor-Chandler match.
McGregor said he would return to the octagon “Chandler or not.”
He took the X, formerly known as Twitter, to say that Chandler is getting paid 10 times the amount he would have received if he had fought someone else.
“For those saying he could have fought 2 or 3 times by now etc.,” McGregor posted, “He’d need 10 to break even with this cheque.”