World Inside

Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 10, including senior militant

Publish: 09:53 AM, 06 Aug, 2022


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Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes Friday on Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including a senior militant, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it targeted the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the recent arrest of another senior militant.

Hours later, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets as air-raid sirens wailed in Israel and the two sides drew closer to another all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.

Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building. Video released by Israel’s military showed the strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.

In a nationally televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attacks based on “concrete threats.”

“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza towards Israeli territory,” Lapid said. “Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians.”

He added that “Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza but will not shy away from one either.”

The violence poses an early test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker prime minister ahead of elections in November, when he hopes to keep the position. He has experience in diplomacy, having served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but his security credentials are thin.

Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join a new battle barely a year after the last war caused widespread devastation. There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50%.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in Gaza, without differentiating between civilian and militant casualties. The Israeli military said early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed. Dozens of people were wounded.

Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among the dead. He had succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.

An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and had been responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.

Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.

Israeli media showed the skies above southern and central Israel lighting up with rockets and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. An explosion was heard in Tel Aviv.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many rockets were launched, and there was no immediate word on any casualties on the Israeli side.

Israel continued to strike other targets Friday, including weapon-production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.

The U.N. special envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned.”

“The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation,” he said.

Following the initial Israeli strikes, a few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some went in to identify loved ones and emerged later in tears.

“May God take revenge against spies,” shouted one, referring to Palestinian informants who cooperate with Israel.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved an order to call up 25,000 reserve soldiers if needed while the military announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and limits placed on activities in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.

Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a revenge attack after Monday’s arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader, in a military raid in the occupied West Bank. A teenage member of the group was killed in a gunbattle between the Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.

Hamas seized power in the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Its most recent war with Israel was in May 2021, and tensions soared again earlier this year following a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran, said “fighters of the Palestinian resistance have to stand together to confront this aggression.” He said there would be “no red lines” and blamed the violence on Israel. 

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, which started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.”

Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups are opposed to Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years, including the firing of rockets into Israel. It’s unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the territory since the Hamas takeover. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.

Mohammed Abu Selmia, director of the Shifa hospital, said hospitals faced shortages after Israel imposed a full closure on Gaza earlier this week. He said there were enough supplies and essential drugs to sustain hospitals for five days in normal times, but that with a new round of fighting underway, “they may run out at any moment.”

Israel called off an expected fuel delivery for Gaza’s sole power plant, which was expected to shut down early Saturday if the fuel did not enter the territory. Even when the plant is running at full capacity, Gazans still endure daily power outages that last several hours.

Earlier Friday, a couple of hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip to demand the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who along with Oron Shaul was killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains, as well as two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ill, hoping to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Israel says there can be no major moves toward lifting the blockade until the soldiers’ remains and captive civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have held numerous rounds of Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible swap.

– AP/UNB


Gaza   Israeli strikes  


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World Inside

Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to 6 years prison in corruption cases

Publish: 04:21 PM, 15 Aug, 2022


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A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to six years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty in four corruption cases, a source with knowledge of the proceedings said.

Suu Kyi, 77, was convicted of misusing funds from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation - an organisation she founded promoting health and education - to build a home, and leasing government-owned land at a discounted rate.

- Reuters



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World Inside

Russian forces pound Ukraine's Donetsk region

Publish: 10:07 AM, 15 Aug, 2022


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Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk that have become a key focus of the near six-month war, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.

The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front - particularly the Kherson region, mainly controlled by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.

Much attention has been focused on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine amid fears of a catastrophe over renewed shelling in recent days that Russia and Ukraine blame on each other.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe's largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a "special target" of Ukrainian forces.

The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have come under intense bombardment from the Russian-held side.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which seeks to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless the fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant's spent fuel pools or reactors.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine had many times proposed different formats to the Russian leadership for peace talks, without progress.

"So we have to defend ourselves, we have to answer every form of terror, every instance of shelling - the fierce shelling which does not let up for a single day," he said in video remarks late on Sunday.

Fighting in east, south

Kyiv has said for weeks it is planning a counteroffensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighbouring Kherson province, the largest part of the territory Russia seized after its Feb 24 invasion and still holds.

Ukraine's military command said early on Sunday that Russian soldiers had continued unsuccessfully to attack Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka, which, since 2014, has become one of the outposts of Ukrainian forces near Donetsk. 

Ukrainian Military Expert Oleg Zhdanov said the situation was particularly difficult in Avdiivka and nearby towns, such as Pisky.

"We have insufficient artillery power in place and our forces are asking for more support to defend Pisky. But the town is basically under Ukrainian control," he said in a video posted online.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" its smaller neighbour. The war has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to a low point, with Russia warning it may sever ties.

While Russia has been largely isolated on the global diplomatic stage, North Korean state media on Monday said Russian President Vladimir Putin told leader Kim Jong Un the two countries would expand "comprehensive and constructive" ties. 

In July, North Korea recognized as independent states the Russian-backed breakaway "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk, and officials raised the prospect of its workers being sent there to help in construction and other labour.

Ukraine immediately severed ties with Pyongyang over the move.

Grain ships

Amid the fighting, more ships carrying Ukrainian grain left or prepared to do so as part of a late July deal to ease a global food crisis.

An Ethiopia-bound cargo, the first since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was getting ready to leave in the next few days, while sources said the first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a UN deal was nearing Syria. 

"The world needs the food of Ukraine," Marianne Ward, the deputy country director of the World Food Program, told reporters. "This is the beginning of what we hope are normal operations for the hungry people of the world," she added.

The relief agency bought more than 800,000 tons of grain in Ukraine last year.

- Reuters



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World Inside

More US lawmakers visit Taiwan 12 days after Pelosi trip

Publish: 09:27 AM, 15 Aug, 2022


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A delegation of American lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, just 12 days after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that prompted China to launch days of threatening military drills around the self-governing island that Beijing says must come under its control.

The five-member delegation, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials, as well as members of the private sector, to discuss shared interests including reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and investments in semiconductors.

China responded to Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit by sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan for several days afterward. The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments, particularly with a high-ranking congressional leader like Pelosi.

A Taiwanese broadcaster showed video of a U.S. government plane landing about 7 p.m. Sunday at Songshan Airport in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. Four members of the delegation were on the plane.

Markey met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol earlier Sunday in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan on a separate flight at Taoyuan International Airport, which also serves Taipei. Markey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, and members of the delegation will reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan.

The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democratic House members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

Chinese warplanes have continued crossing the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis even after the conclusion of the military exercises last Wednesday, with at least 10 doing so on Sunday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.

The 10 fighter jets were among 22 Chinese military aircraft and six naval ships detected in the area around Taiwan by 5 p.m. on Sunday, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said late last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region.

“China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, said on a call with reporters.

“It has sought to disregard the centerline between the P.R.C. and Taiwan, which has been respected by both sides for more than 60 years as a stabilizing feature,” he said, using the acronym for the country’s full name, the People’s Republic of China.

China accuses the U.S. of encouraging independence forces in Taiwan through its sale of military equipment to the island and engaging with its officials. The U.S. says it does not support independence for Taiwan but that its differences with China should be resolved by peaceful means.

China’s ruling Communist Party has long said that it favors Taiwan joining China peacefully but that it will not rule out force if necessary. The two split in 1949 during a civil war in which the Communists took control of China and the losing Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan.

Campbell, speaking on Friday, said the U.S. would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan that he said the U.S. intends to announce in the coming days.

- AP/UNB



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World Inside

Salman Rushdie on ventilator, may lose eye

Publish: 03:27 PM, 13 Aug, 2022


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Booker-winning author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed on stage during a lecture, has been put on ventilator support. He is unable speak.

Salman Rushdie's official Andrew Wylie said in a statement that his health condition is not very well and Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, may lose an eye.

Earlier, Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the US. He was speaking at an event at the Shitokoya Institute in New York on Friday (August 12). An attacker stabbed him in the neck during his speech. He was later rushed to the hospital by air ambulance. The local police arrested a suspect named Hadi Matar (24) in connection with the stabbing.

Police say the assailant climbed onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and his interviewer. Rushdie was stabbed several times in the neck. Later, the police caught the attacker and took them into custody.

Andrew Wylie said, 'Salman may lose an eye. The nerve in his arm was severed and his stomach was damaged.'

The then supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, issued a death warrant in the name of this novelist on February 14, 1989 for writing the book 'The Satanic Verses'. He had to stay in hiding for 9 years for this book.

Rushdie was attacked in Milan, Italy in the 1990s because of the same book. Not only that, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of 'The Satanic Verses', was stabbed to death in a university in Tokyo.

The Indian-origin novelist rose to fame with Midnight's Children in 1981. It sold over a million copies in the UK alone.


Salman Rushdie   Author   Attack   The Satanic Verse  


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World Inside

FBI recovers ‘top secret’ documents from Trump’s house

Publish: 02:26 PM, 13 Aug, 2022


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The FBI has seized 11 sets of documents that were labeled as ‘top-secret’ documents after raiding former US president Donald Trump's Florida home.

Regarding the seizure of documents, the former president said he did not commit any crime. There is nothing hidden in the documents. He would have willingly given anything if they asked him.

The documents were recovered during a search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach on Friday (August 12). A list of documents is provided.

A federal judge released the seven-page document Friday afternoon. Then the list of documents was published.

Earlier on Thursday (August 4), the United States Department of Justice requested the judge to disclose the contents of the search warrant. Based on that warrant, the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago last Monday (August 8).

The media said that the operation of the FBI in the house of a former president in the United States is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, sees this search operation as political revenge. In a statement on his Truth social platform, he said the recovered items were "all declassified" and stored safely.


Donald Trump   Search   Secret Documents   FBI   US  


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