OIC condemns Israeli forces’ strip-search of Palestinian women as UN urges probe

News Network
September 7, 2023


The United Nations has called for an investigation into the forced stripping of five Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers during a raid on their home in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil as the move also draws condemnation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

The regime forces broke into the Ajluni family’s house in the early morning of July 10. Two female troops took the 53-year-old mother, her 17-year-old daughter and the mother’s three daughters-in-law, all in their 20s, into the children’s room, where they were forced to undress. 

Carrying rifles and an attack dog, the occupation soldiers also threatened to unleash the dog if the Palestinian women did not comply with the order to strip nude. This is while the soldiers conducted body searches of the men while they were clothed. 

Asked about the assault, Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said, “We would stand against any form of collective punishment.”

“Obviously, this reported incident needs to be looked at and investigated thoroughly,” he told a press briefing on Wednesday.

Additionally, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that such incidents are “absolutely appalling,” noting, “This relentless assault on people and rights must end.”

Amal Ajluni, one of those strip searched, told the Israeli rights group B'Tselem, “I can’t forget what happened. The search and the humiliation I went through in front of the [female] soldiers, and the helplessness and shame I felt in front of my children. They are now afraid to sleep in their room at night and come to our bed. They don’t sleep well and wet the bed, and when they wake up, they are scared to go to the bathroom.” 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the assault and urged international bodies to put pressure on Israel to end its daily breaches of human rights in Palestine.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also denounced the outrageous violation against the Ajluni family.

"Violating the sanctity of our homes and harming our women is a provocative, disgraceful, and terrible act, which is practiced only by those who are stripped of morals and human values," he said.

Meanwhile, the human rights committee of the Palestinian parliament said in a statement that the strip search demonstrated “the extent of the ugliness and fascism of the occupation before the world,” urging the formation of an international investigation committee.

The Hamas resistance movement also vowed revenge, saying that the incident represented a “dangerous escalation that the Palestinian people and their resistance will not ignore.”

The “violations committed by the fascist occupation […] will fall in the face of our steadfastness […] until the last soldier and settler are uprooted from our occupied land,” the Gaza-based group added.

Tarik Salami, a spokesperson of the Islamic Jihad resistance movement, called on Palestinians in al-Khalil and other West Bank cities to “escalate their confrontations with the occupation” and “avenge” the assault.


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September 20,2023


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s shocking allegations that India orchestrated the murder of a separatist leader leaves President Joe Biden caught between one of the US’s closest allies and an increasingly important partner in countering China.

Narendra Modi’s government on Tuesday denied that it had anything to do with the slaying of a prominent Sikh leader in Canada, calling the allegation “absurd.” Both nations expelled one of the other’s diplomats, and that’s before Canada has made any evidence public.

The White House reacted cautiously, with National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson saying the administration was “deeply concerned” and called on India to cooperate with the Canadian investigation. A US official acknowledged the allegations pose a problem for Biden, who just left India with relations seemingly on track.

Now the episode threatens to upend the US’s effort to court India as a counterweight to China, which was on display at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month. The US and its allies had hailed Modi’s success in reaching a compromise on a joint communique, accepting softer language on Russia’s war in Ukraine to align itself more broadly with India in the battle with China for influence among major emerging economies.

“The Biden administration is in a no-win situation with this latest bombshell,” said Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation. “If it sides with Ottawa, then New Delhi will be up in arms and, once again, question the loyalty of Washington. If it sides with New Delhi, then the US is contradicting a NATO ally.”

The US frequently finds itself torn between its efforts to defend human rights around the world and the pragmatic need to partner with government accused of regular abuses to protect its geopolitical interests. That leads to periodic tensions, such as when agents from Saudi Arabia murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Trudeau told lawmakers on Monday there were “credible allegations” that agents of the Indian government were behind the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia in June. Nijjar, 45 at the time and the temple’s president, was outspoken in both his advocacy for the creation of an independent Khalistan in the northwest and his criticism of human rights violations in India.

“The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness,” Trudeau said on Tuesday morning. Canada is going to “remain calm, we’re going to remain grounded in our democratic principles and values, and we’re going to follow the evidence and make sure that the work is done to hold people to account,” he added.

India has denied any involvement and blasted Canada for failing to take action against Sikh separatism. India had declared Nijjar a wanted terrorist and accused him of conspiring to murder a Hindu priest, among other allegations.

Without a resolution, the dispute threatens everything from pending talks to expand the modest $11 billion India-Canada trade relationship to communications between the two countries’ militaries, something that could create a headache for Biden as he seeks greater cohesion from partner nations.

Modi’s government sees Trudeau as politically beholden to the Sikh community, and expects relations with Canada to deteriorate, according to an Indian official with knowledge of the situation. At the same time, the person said, India-US security cooperation is on a strong footing and is unlikely to affected by Canada’s allegations.

“There is this evergreen challenge that the US and some of its allies face with India, concerns about what they regard as democratic backsliding,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center. “But at the same time they want to ensure they don’t risk imperiling relations with a country that they view as strategically critical. Honestly, I think Washington will just stay quiet.”

The historical issue of Sikh separatism has troubled Canada-India relations for years, and politicians in both countries have tapped into the issue to win votes. Canada has the largest Sikh population outside of Punjab after many left following riots in 1984. They have also become an important political group, including within Trudeau’s administration. Modi’s party, meanwhile, has pushed policies appealing to voters who see India as a Hindu nation.

India has been historically prickly about public criticism from the US and its allies, and the US has said that it tries to voice concerns behind close doors. Speaking in Vietnam after his G-20 visit to India this month, Biden said he had raised rights issues in his recent meeting with Modi, though it’s unclear if they discussed Nijjar’s killing.

For its part, Canada pledged in a recently published strategy for the Indo-Pacific region to grow ties with India across a range of areas, while also acknowledging its growing strategic importance. The two sides had also previously expected to agree to a trade pact by end of this year but that was put on hold ahead of the G-20 summit. Canada last week postponed a trade mission to India that had been set for October.

As the India-Canada relationship worsens, the US will face a tough balancing act, according to Vivek Mishra, senior fellow at New Delhi based Observer Research Foundation.

“I expect there will certainly be back-channel discussion between the US and India on how to proceed further,” he said. “With Canada being a NATO ally and India being a strategic partner ally, the US will have to do the tightrope walk.”


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News Network
September 9,2023


A powerful earthquake in Morocco has killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds more, the country's deadliest tremor in more than six decades, toppling houses in remote mountain villages where rescuers dug through rubble for survivors.

The Moroccan government says death toll in earthquake near Marrakech has reached 1,037, with more than 1,200 injured.

The magnitude 7.2 quake struck in Morocco's High Atlas mountains late on Friday night. Most of the fatalities are in mountainous areas outside Marrakech, the nearest city to the epicentre, its updated toll showed.

Residents of Marrakech, the nearest big city to the epicentre, said some buildings had collapsed in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and local television showed pictures of a fallen mosque minaret with rubble lying on smashed cars.

The Interior Ministry, in its televised statement on the death toll, urged calm and said the quake had hit the provinces of Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant.

Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicentre, said most houses there were damaged. "Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village," he said.

Further west, near Taroudant, teacher Hamid Afkar said he had fled his home and there had been aftershocks following the initial quake.

"The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor," he said.

Morocco's geophysical centre said the quake struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2. The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 6.8 and said it was at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5km.

Ighil, a mountainous area with small farming villages, is about 70km southwest of Marrakech. The quake struck just after 11pm (3am UAE time).

The earthquake is Morocco's deadliest since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains which killed over 600 people.


World leaders react

Leaders worldwide have expressed their condolences and offered to help in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Morocco, which claimed the lives of at least 600 people. The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72 kilometres southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

European leaders offered condolences, as did Russian President Vladimir Putin and Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, along with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “devastated" by the earthquake in Morocco. “We are all devastated after the terrible earthquake in Morocco," Macron said on X, formerly known as Twitter, while onboard a flight to the G20 summit in India. “France stands ready to help with first aid."

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel which established diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2020, ordered “any necessary assistance." Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered solidarity and support to the people of Morocco in the wake of this terrible earthquake. “Spain is with the victims of this tragedy and its families," he wrote on X.


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News Network
September 21,2023


Bengaluru, Sept 21: JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy on Thursday left for New Delhi to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national President J P Nadda to discuss the alliance between the two parties in Karnataka for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The former Chief Minister said his father and JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda also may hold talks on this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if required.

Gowda, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, is in Delhi.

"This evening there is a meeting, once we have the outcome of the meeting, tomorrow I will share everything openly with your Delhi correspondents", Kumarswamy said before leaving for the national capital.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, there has been no discussion on seat sharing between both parties till now.

"Neither have we thought about it (seats) so far, nor have they (BJP) proposed anything in this regard. When we discuss in the evening, we will discuss in detail about the current situation in all 28 (Lok Sabha) seats, what was the situation in the earlier election and what is the situation after the 2023 Assembly polls", added.

Asked whether the alliance will be finalised today, Kumaraswamy said, "Let's see". To a question as to whom he will be meeting in Delhi, he said, "Discussion is with their (BJP) decision makers like Amit Shah (Home Minister) and their President J P Nadda. If required Narendra Modi and Deve Gowda will talk".

Talks on alliance between the two parties have been in the limelight ever since veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa, who is also a parliamentary board member of the party, had earlier this month said his party will have an understanding with JD(S) for the Lok Sabha elections, and the regional outfit will contest in four LS seats in Karnataka, which has a total of 28 constituencies.

However, Yediyurappa subsequently said discussions in this regard have not reached finality yet, and Modi and Shah, who are busy with other responsibilities, may discuss and decide on the issue in a few days.

The BJP had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, winning 25 seats, while an independent (Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya) backed by it won one seat. The Congress and JD(S) won one seat each.

In the elections to the 224-member Assembly held in May this year, the Congress bagged 135 seats, while the BJP secured 66 and the JD(S) 19.

Following the Assembly poll results, there were reports that JD(S) would enter into an alliance with the BJP to fight the Lok Sabha polls. It was also said that the JD(S) leaders had met BJP central leadership in Delhi in this regard.

However, Deve Gowda had subsequently indicated the party will contest the Lok Sabha polls alone.
JD(S) had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Congress, as both parties were then running an coalition government under the Chief Ministership of Kumaraswamy.

Following the Assembly poll debacle, BJP, wary of its performance in the Lok Sabha elections, seems to be open for an alliance with JD(S), aimed at regaining maximum number of seats, sources from both parties said, adding, it hopes JD(S) votes may get transferred to it, especially in the old Mysuru region where the regional party has significant presence.

For JD(S), it is a matter of survival, and the party hopes to better its prospects by forging an alliance with BJP in the backdrop of the Congress reported attempts to weaken it by wooing its leaders, they said.

JD(S) had earlier formed governments in coalition with both BJP and Congress respectively for 20 months from January 2006, and for 14 months from May 2018, with Kumaraswamy as the chief minister.


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