Ramallah, occupied West Bank – A day after US President Donald Trump announced his Middle East plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calls for mobilisation by various Palestinian factions have gone mostly unheeded.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed popular mobilisations against the deal, as groups including the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hamas, which has governed the occupied Gaza Strip since 2007, called for mass protests.
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But while Palestinians were angered by Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, with some referring to it as “a new Balfour Declaration”, many brushed off the US-Israeli announcement as “nothing new”.
“The announcement brought us a lot of anger and disappointment,” said Maan Musatafa, a 39-year-old taxi driver in the occupied West Bank.
“But the reality is, we have been living under this deal and under de facto Israeli occupation for decades. So, the announcement wasn’t new or shocking,” he told Al Jazeera.
Seif Abdo, a 27-year-old student from East Jerusalem, agreed: “Nothing is new. Nothing has changed. It’s already our reality.”
“Trump has already recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy there, and implemented Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights,” he added.
Trump’s plan calls for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict and for a four-year freeze in new Israeli settlement construction, during which details of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated.
It suggests Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel, while promising the Palestinians a state of their own and a new capital in eastern Jerusalem. This proposal had been rejected by Palestinians in the past.
For many Palestinians, the four-year window meant the plan had no immediate effect, one of the reasons why the protests on Wednesday saw a low turnout.
“Going to the streets won’t change much. We aren’t taking this deal seriously especially that it won’t take effect immediately,” said Sami Fawzi, a 55-year-old business owner in Ramallah.
“We still have four years. Who knows what will happen?”
Despite his apparent sense of apathy, Fawzi vowed that Palestinians will fight against the plan. “Palestine is not for sale. Especially when it comes to Jerusalem. That’s a red line.”
Despite a low turnout across Palestinian cities amid heavy Israeli security presence, sporadic protests erupted across the occupied West Bank.
Raising Palestinian flags, dozens of people gathered in the city of Tubas in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.
A large contingent of Israeli security forces, deployed in the area since Tuesday, responded with tear gas to disperse the crowd, witnesses told Al Jazeera
Israeli forces also closed off roads leading to the Jordan Valley and stopped buses carrying demonstrators from across the West Bank headed towards the area, said witnesses.
In Bayt Lahm, a small group of Palestinians gathered in the streets in the early afternoon to denounce the plan, with some burning the flag of the United States and photos of Trump.
Another small protest was held by school students in the Palestinian city of Tulkarm.
At least 41 people were wounded in small-scale clashes after the Israeli forces used rubber bullets and tear gas in the Jordan Valley, the Al-Orub refugee camp and Tulkarm, said the Red Cross in a statement.
Palestinian students protest against Trump’s Middle East plan in occupied Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa [Reuters]
‘No trust in Palestinian leadership’
Palestinian academic Khalil al-Tafakji told Al Jazeera the low turnout on the streets was due to a lack of trust between the Palestinian people and their leadership.
“There is no trust between the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership,” said Tafakji. “They feel that even if they protest, their leadership might sell them out and agree to the deal in a few weeks.”
According to Yara Hawari, senior fellow at the Palestinian policy network, Al-Shabaka, the lack of mobilisation was due to the US-Israeli announcement being “merely an articulation of a policy that has already been ongoing”.
She said political mobilisation has often proved to be costly for Palestinians, with a fear of Israeli repercussions being another cause behind the low turnout.
“We have seen in Gaza what happens when masses of Palestinians demand their rights in line with international law. They are met with brutal violence,” said Hawari.
Still, the Palestinian Authority has vowed to act, calling for an emergency Arab League summit which the PA said will be held in Cairo on Saturday, while another meeting with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is scheduled on Monday.
The PA also said it will be meeting the Hamas leadership in Gaza next week to discuss a joint plan for opposing the deal.
“The deal has no touch with reality or with international law. We have called on the Arab League and the European Union to support us,” said Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to the Palestinian president.
“We are hoping for popular action on the street but it will take time. It’s a long-term battle. And people won’t mobilise until we (politicians) do our part,” said Shaath.
Anger in South Africa as disabled teen dies after police shooting |NationalTribune.com
Johannesburg, South Africa – Residents in the South African capital are angry after a disabled 16-year-old boy was allegedly shot dead by the police. Nathaniel Julius, who had Down’s syndrome, died in a hospital in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, hours after he was shot by the police metres away from his home in the city’s Eldorado Park suburb.…
Johannesburg, South Africa – Residents in the South African capital are angry after a disabled 16-year-old boy was allegedly shot dead by the police.
Nathaniel Julius, who had Down’s syndrome, died in a hospital in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, hours after he was shot by the police metres away from his home in the city’s Eldorado Park suburb.
The killing occurred after residents in the neighbourhood – ravaged by drugs and crime – took to the streets to protest the lack of housing in the area.
In recent months, the South African police have faced allegations of brutality during the enforcement of coronavirus restrictions.
Police claimed Julius was wounded in a shoot-out between gang members and police officers when a stray bullet hit him. But the family and the community rejected the claim.
According to the family, the teenager was shot in the chest when he was unable to answer questions from the police.
Witnesses said Julius was holding a biscuit in his hand when police began questioning him, but he was not able to answer properly due to his condition.
Witnesses alleged that police officers bundled Julius into a van after the shooting and took him to hospital several miles away, where he died.
‘Justice for Nathaniel’
“Police should be trained to minimise the possibility that bystanders will be killed. The facts are not clear here, but a shoot-out does not in itself constitute justification for the death,” David Bruce, an independent expert on policing in South Africa, told Al Jazeera.
During the protest on the day of Julius’ death, Eldorado Park residents hurled rocks at the police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.
A provincial government official, Faith Mazibuko, visited the teen’s family on Thursday and announced that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IDIP) will probe the case.
Addressing the reporters later, Mazibuko said the police officers deployed in Eldorado Park during the incident have been removed while the case is being investigated.
Meanwhile, more violence followed on Thursday, with residents calling for an overhaul of the police force in the area.
Residents of Eldorado Park protesting the death of the teenage boy allegedly shot by the police [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
In a statement on Wednesday, IDIP spokesperson Ndileka Cola said it was difficult to reach the scene of the incident “as the situation had been volatile” and that it was difficult to conduct interviews “as the community was violent”.
On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele was confronted by an angry crowd chanting “Police are corrupt!” and “Justice for Nathaniel!” as he visited Julius’s parents in Eldorado Park.
According to the boy’s family, the police are trying to “cover up” the “cold-blooded” killing.
The shooting is reminiscent of other instances of recent police brutality in South Africa during the coronavirus lockdown that started on March 27.
Bruce compared the boy’s shooting to the killing of Tyrone Moeng, 19, who was fatally shot by the police on April 13.
Themba Masuku of the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum said, “The killing of a defenceless young man by the police demonstrates serious problems in our policing”.
“It is highly unlikely that this young person posed any threat that warranted lethal force. The culture of impunity and lack of respect for life is worrisome because everyone especially children must feel safe around the police. Force should be used as a last resort,” Masuku told Al Jazeera.
“We have a moral duty and that is to demand the truth. We must demand answers and expect to get only the truth,” said Yasmin Sooka, executive director at Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights.
Anger rises in Lebanon as investigation probes Beirut explosion |NationalTribune.com
Beirut, Lebanon – A government-led investigation is under way in Lebanon to probe the cause of the massive explosion that ripped through the capital, Beirut. The government announced on Wednesday that those responsible for guarding and storage at Beirut’s port – the epicentre of the blast – would be placed under house arrest “as soon…
Beirut, Lebanon – A government-led investigation is under way in Lebanon to probe the cause of the massive explosion that ripped through the capital, Beirut.
The government announced on Wednesday that those responsible for guarding and storage at Beirut’s port – the epicentre of the blast – would be placed under house arrest “as soon as possible,” after the disaster left at least 137 dead and 5,000 wounded.
Damages from the explosion, which officials have linked to some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port, may be worth up to $15bn, Beirut Governor Marwan About said.
As the debris is cleared, anger has turned to rage after revelations that officials knew the highly volatile material had been stashed at Beirut’s port for more than six years.
A top-trending hashtag in Lebanon on Wednesday was #علقوا_المشانق, or “hang up the nooses”.
Ramez al-Qadi, a prominent TV anchor, tweeted: “Either they keep killing us or we kill them.”
As heat rises around the country’s decision-makers, some have sought to deflect blame onto other branches of the state – including Lebanon’s judiciary.
Aftermath of the explosion at a port in Beirut on Tuesday [Timour Azhari/Al Jazeera]
Public Works Minister Michel Najjar told Al Jazeera that he had only found out about the presence of the explosive material stashed in Beirut’s port 11 days before the explosion, through a report given to him by the country’s Supreme Defense Council. He had taken over the post six months earlier.
“No minister knows what’s in the hangars or containers, and it’s not my job to know,” Najjar said.
The minister said he followed up on the matter, but in late July, Lebanon’s government imposed a new lockdown amid a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases. Najjar eventually spoke the general manager of the port, Hasan Koraytem, on Monday.
He said he asked Koraytem to send him all the relevant documentation, so that he could “look into this matter.”
That request came too late. The next day, just after 6pm (15:00 GMT), a warehouse at the port exploded, gutting the harbour and wrecking large parts of Beirut.
Najjar said he learned on Wednesday that his ministry had sent at least 18 letters to the Beirut urgent matters judge since 2014, asking for the goods to be disposed of. Najjar declined to provide the documents to Al Jazeera, citing a continuing investigation into the cause of the explosion.
“The judiciary didn’t do anything,” he said. “It’s negligence.”
But Nizar Saghieh, a leading Lebanese legal expert and founder of NGO Legal Agenda, said the “primary legal responsibility here is on those tasked with overseeing the port – the port authority and the public works ministry, as well as Lebanese Customs.”
“It is certainly not up to a judge to find the safe place to house these goods,” he told Al Jazeera.
Many angry Lebanese are demanding accountability and answers as to how and why 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive material was stored near residential Beirut for more than six years.
Management of the port has been split between a range of authorities. The port authority runs the operation of the port, and its work is overseen by the public works and transport ministry.
Lebanon’s customs agency nominally controls all goods that enter and exit the country, while the Lebanese security agencies all have bases at the port.
Few Lebanese feel confident they will see justice for this latest disaster in the country’s history, pointing to the lack of official accountability for the period of rampant corruption and mismanagement in the years after the country’s civil war.
People inspect their car that was damaged in Tuesday’s enormous explosion in Beirut [Bilal Hussein/AP]
Prime Minister Hassan Diab has promised this time will be different.
He is heading an investigation committee that includes the justice, interior and defence ministers and the head of Lebanon’s top four security agencies: the Army, General Security, Internal Security Forces and State Security.
The committee has been tasked with reporting its findings to Cabinet within five days, and Cabinet, in turn, will refer those findings to the judiciary.
In the meantime, officials in the executive authority, including Najjar, a minister in Diab’s government, have attempted to cast suspicion on Lebanon’s judiciary.
The case against the judiciary
The ammonium nitrate that blew up on Monday arrived in Beirut, reportedly by chance, on board a vessel facing technical issues in September 2013.
By 2014, the cargo had been unloaded and stored at Hangar 12 at Beirut’s port – now a deep crater filled with turquoise seawater.
Public documents verified by Al Jazeera show that Lebanese Customs sent six letters to the Beirut Urgent Matters Judge between 2014 and 2017, urging the judge to get rid of the “dangerous” material by either exporting it, re-selling it or handing it to the Army.
How will Lebanon deal with devastating blast? | Inside Story (24:32)
Badri Daher, the director-general of Lebanese Customs, said on Wednesday that the judiciary did not act, and blamed the institution and the port authority for failing to get rid of the goods.
Najjar echoed Daher, saying it was the judiciary, the port authority and, perhaps, security forces who were to blame.
“There is no negligence from the public works ministry,” he said of the portfolio that has been held by the Marada Movement since 2016.
“I’m surprised that they (the judiciary, port authority and security forces) didn’t find a way to deal with this for almost seven years. It was an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
Muddying the waters
Melhem Khalaf, the independently elected head of the Beirut Bar Association, said officials were undertaking a “pre-emptive attack to vilify the judiciary and muddy the waters on this case”.
“Since when are officials the ones who lay down verdicts?” Khalaf told Al Jazeera.
He said the government’s response to the disaster – forming a committee headed by establishment-backed politicians, and security forces who ultimately answer to those same politicians – is no way to find justice.
A man pushes his belongings along a street as he evacuates his damaged house [Aziz Taher/Reuters]
Lebanon’s Judges Club, a body independent of establishment political parties, also said justice should remain firmly in the courts.
Investigating the Beirut explosion is “not within the powers of any committee, no matter what it may be”, the club said in an implicit criticism of the government’s investigative committee.
On Tuesday, Khalaf filed a complaint with the highest judge in the land, Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, calling for him to seek the expertise of local and international experts – including engineers, explosives and chemicals experts – to assess the cause of the Beirut explosion.
“The time has come for officials to stop misleading the Lebanese people – there are dead and injured and missing, and the country has been burned,” Khalaf said.
“After all they have done, they are now coming to us and determining who’s responsible?”
Anger as Ugandan activist cropped out of photo with white peers
Following the backlash, AP removed the photo and replaced it with one showing all the activists [Markus Schreiber/AP] Social media users have come out in support of Ugandan climate advocate Vanessa Nakate after she was cropped out of a photograph taken with her white peers in Davos. Nakate accused the media of racism after The…
Following the backlash, AP removed the photo and replaced it with one showing all the activists [Markus Schreiber/AP]
Social media users have come out in support of Ugandan climate advocate Vanessa Nakate after she was cropped out of a photograph taken with her white peers in Davos.
Nakate accused the media of racism after The Associated Press news agency removed her from a photograph taken with fellow activists Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson.
The image was taken on Friday after the young campaigners gave a press conference in the Swiss resort, where they had been invited by the organisers of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) whose agenda this year focused heavily on environmental issues.
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Nakate appeared shocked to find out that she had been removed from the photograph.
“I was cropped out of this photo! Why?” Nakate asked on her Twitter account on Friday.
“You didn’t just erase a photo. You erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever,” said the 23-year-old, who posted an almost 11-minute-long video on the social media platform.
Share if you can What it means to be removed from a photo! https://t.co/1dmcbyneYV
— Vanessa Nakate (@vanessa_vash) January 24, 2020
Following her post, Twitter users expressed their anger at the news agency’s move and urged it to remove the cropped photograph and share one of all the activists.
Outrageous. Full public statement and retraction needed. Stay strong @vanessa_vash 🙏
— Adam Lethbridge (@AdamLethbridge) January 24, 2020
AP showed their true colours. They don’t control the world. Go forward with your heart intact and your head held high.
— Libby Gowrie (@LibbySavant) January 24, 2020
Fellow activist Thunberg called the decision to crop her peer from the photo “unacceptable”.
This is completely unacceptable. Period. https://t.co/gefmJ11b6C
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 24, 2020
Following the backlash, AP removed the photo and replaced it with one showing all the activists.
“We regret publishing a photo this morning that cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the only person of color in the photo,” Sally Buzbee, the agency’s executive editor, said in a statement.
“We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgment,” the statement added.
The controversy even created a wider debate about how Western media covers climate activists of colour.
Climate Activists of color are here, but the media portrayal of the movement often misrepresents this The climate crisis affects communities of color the most— and that side of our struggle can’t be overlooked You are so strong @vanessa_vash, and we’re all here with you ❤️ https://t.co/w7Gk4TceTW
— Xiye Bastida (@xiyebastida) January 24, 2020
Twitter uses meanwhile also pointed out that other agencies misidentified Nakate as Zambian activist Natasha Mwansa.
And on top of that, @Reuters / @Welt did include her, but they name Vanessa as @TashaWangMwansa, an activist from Zambia, in their caption. So, so bad. pic.twitter.com/IXECTjbQcN
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) January 24, 2020
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