UN votes to send war-crimes investigators to Gaza

Agencies
May 19, 2018

Gaza/London, May 19: The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday voted to send a team of international war crimes investigators to Gaza to investigate the violent protests that have left more than 100 people dead. 

An international commission of inquiry is the UNHRC’s highest level of investigation.

But if the intention was to give hope to Palestinians after six weeks of violent confrontation along the border between Gaza and Israel, it has not entirely succeeded. In a heated tirade, Manuel Hassassian, Palestine’s envoy to Britain, dismissed the UNHRC resolution as “PR and propaganda with no kind of political weight.”

Speaking to Arab News from the West Bank, a clearly emotional Hassassian said: “All these resolutions from all the international organizations but there is nothing concrete ever on the ground. There is no implementation whatsoever.”

Even if the UN did send war crimes investigators, their movements and access would be controlled by the Israelis because they are in charge of the borders, Hassassian said. 

“The Israelis are not going to let them be mobile enough to get around all the areas where there was naked aggression. I am really depressed. I am in the West Bank and what I am seeing with my own eyes is total apartheid. And in Gaza, there are two million people living in subhuman conditions. 

“Israel and the United States seem to be above international law, but when there is any violation by the Arab world, immediately there are sanctions imposed. If this is the model of democracy that you want, then stop preaching to us about the rule of law.”

Only two of the council’s 47 members, the US and Australia, voted against the resolution, while 29 voted in favor and 14 abstained, including Britain, Switzerland and Germany.

The resolution calls for a probe into all alleged violations and abuses “including those that may amount to war crimes.” 

The violence has claimed more than 100 Gazan lives. Sixty Palestinians were killed and thousands injured on Monday alone. That was the day that the US embassy transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and also the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were ejected from their homes and lands as the state of Israel came into being.

The UN vote was welcomed by Palestinian officials and campaigners.

Issam Younis, director of the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, said: “This decision is very important, especially after the UN Security Council failed to issue a condemnation of the occupation because there must be accountability. These were repeated assaults on civilians. The road to justice is long and not achieved by knockout, but by total points.”

Opening the session on Friday, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein slammed the “wholly disproportionate” use of force by Israeli troops, insisting that many of those injured and killed on Monday were “completely unarmed’ yet were “shot in the back, in the chest, in the head and limbs with live ammunition.” 

He added: “Some of the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used slingshots to throw stones, flew burning kites into Israel and attempted to use wire-cutters against the two fences between Gaza and Israel. 

But these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force.” Yet there was “little evidence” of any attempt by the Israelis to minimize casualties, he said.

It has also emerged that Kuwait circulated a draft resolution to members of the UN Security Council calling for an “international protection mission” to be sent to protect Palestinian civilians.

According to AFP, which obtained a copy of the draft, it does not specify what form such a mission should take. 

Israel immediately condemned the UNHRC’s decision. A statement from the foreign ministry said it “proves once again that it is an anti-Israeli body dominated by hypocrisy and absurdity.”

Gazans began queuing at dawn on Friday after Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi declared the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt would be opened during Ramadan, in a move widely thought to be part of a deal to persuade Gazans to tone down their protests. Hamas leader Ismail Hanuyeh visited Egypt on Sunday but Hamas denies it has come under pressure from Cairo.

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News Network
November 18,2022

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Riyadh, Nov 18: Indian nationals will no longer need to submit police clearance certificates in order to gain a visa to Saudi Arabia, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in New Delhi said in a statement on Thursday.

The Saudi government move to do away with the PCC will mean faster processing of applications, easier management by tour firms, and one less document for travelers to provide.

“In view of the strong relations and strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of India, the Kingdom has decided to exempt Indian nationals from submitting a police clearance certificate,” the Saudi Embassy said in a tweet. 

“This decision has been taken as part of the efforts of the two countries to further strengthen their relations.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

N. Ram Prasad, charge d’affaires at the embassy, said: “We are very happy with the decision. This will strengthen our bilateral relations and further enhance our strategic partnership.”

He said that the move will benefit the 2 million members of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia. 

“The Embassy of India thanks the Saudi government wholeheartedly for this welcome step.” 

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News Network
November 15,2022

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Dubai, Nov 15: Emirates is now offering international travellers the opportunity to speed up their airport experience by consenting to the use of biometric data.

Biometric recognition technology will help travellers breeze through Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 check-in, lounges, boarding and immigration at high-speed as the AI systems recognise their unique facial features and will link to their passport for instant identity verification.

A privilege previously only enjoyed by UAE residents and GCC nationals, international passengers will be able to avail of the service in 2023 by providing official consent in a couple of clicks through the Emirates app, at its self check-in kiosks, or in person at the check-in desks.

The first agreement of its kind globally, the strategic partnership between GDRFA and Emirates is a cooperative effort to further improve the innovative and digitally focused travel experience of Dubai visitors.

The agreement was signed by Lieutenant General Mohamed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of GDRFA in Dubai, and Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, in the presence of several senior officials from both sides.

It improves passenger traffic procedures inside Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 and ensures a faster and more efficient airport experience for travellers transferring to connecting flights, as well as those who arrive in Dubai as their final destination.

Commenting on how the agreement will develop best-in-class services for travellers, Lieutenant General Mohammed Al Marri said: "Dubai is one of the world’s most aspirational destinations, and 2022 has already seen more than 8 million tourists arrive to the city. We continue to support our key partners with best-in-class services as we strive for excellence, and innovation in positioning Dubai as the world’s leading business hub and tourism destination."

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News Network
November 17,2022

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The Israeli military is set to confiscate thousands of square meters of Palestinian-owned land in the southern West Bank to expand illegal settlements in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions which condemn the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation policies in the occupied territories.

Hasan Brijiyeh, a local anti-settlement and anti-apartheid activist, told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that Israeli officials had issued a military order aimed at confiscation of 230 dunams (230,000 square meters) of private Palestinian land in al-Khader town and the villages of Nahalin and Artas, in order to expand the nearby illegal settlements of Daniel, Eliezer and Efrat.

Brijiyeh noted that the order will come into effect within 30 days from the date of the decision.

Last month, Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian activist who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli officials were planning to grab some 616 dunams (616,000 square meters) of Palestinian-owned land in the villages of Qaryout and al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, and as-Sawiya town to make room for the expansion of Eli settlement.

Emboldened by former US president Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Much of the international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.

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