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Resources updated between Monday, April 30, 2018 and Sunday, May 06, 2018

May 6, 2018

A Kuwaiti representative in the Security Council (File photo)

"Kuwait blocked the U.N. Security Council on Friday from issuing a U.S.-sponsored statement sharply criticizing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for what Washington called 'vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories.'

Kuwait is the Arab representative on the 15-member council and two diplomats said it opposed the press statement on grounds that it was not comprehensive. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because consultations were private.
...
The proposed statement, obtained by The Associated Press, would have expressed the Security Council's 'firm and unequivocal rejection of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial' and called on Abbas 'to refrain from anti-Semitic comments.'

The draft would also have recalled 'that anti-Semitism has historically contributed to threats to international peace and security, mass atrocities, and widespread violations of human rights.'

The U.S. circulated the statement Friday as several thousand Palestinians staged a sixth weekly protest on the Gaza-Israel border..."

Kuwait blocks U.N. statement criticizing Palestinian leader Article

"Disgusting anti-Semitic statements from the Palestinian leadership obviously undermine the prospects for Middle East peace. When the Security Council cannot reach consensus on denouncing such actions, it only further undermines the UN's credibility in addressing this critical issue."

Statement by Ambassador Haley on the Failure of the Security Council to Adopt a Press Statement Condemning Anti-Semitic Comments by the Palestinian Leadership Development

May 4, 2018

The Interpol logo

"The Palestinian Authority will use its recently-granted membership of Interpol - the global association of national police forces headquartered in the French city of Lyon - to both pursue its political war against Israel and harass domestic opponents of its policies, the author of a new report on the issue warned on Friday.

The decision at Interpol's General Assembly in September 2017 to grant membership to the PA was a 'serious error,' Ted R. Bromund - a senior research fellow at the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation - told The Algemeiner.

Earlier this week, Bromund published his extensive report on the implications of Interpol's decision to admit the PA - itself indicative, he wrote, of 'a diplomatic defeat for the United States' stemming from 'the US failure to recognize that Interpol, founded as an apolitical association of police organizations, is becoming a body through which other nations pursue political agendas.'

'The PA sought Interpol membership as part of its broader political war with Israel,' Bromund said. 'Palestinian spokesmen have also made it clear that they intended to abuse Interpol by using it to harass their Palestinian opponents.'..."

At Interpol, Palestinian Authority Will Pursue Political Warfare Against Israel, Domestic Opponents Article

Journalists rally in Pakistan for World Press Freedom Day, May 2, 2018

On World Press Freedom Day, U.N. Censors Criticism of States that Target Journalists Article

May 3, 2018

The Iranian victim can be seen being manhandled into the back of an unmarked car as she screams out for help

This is the horrifying moment a woman in Iran is dragged off the street by the country's fierce 'morality police'.

In the clip, the woman can be seen grappling with an officer on the street in one of Tehran's student areas.

As the pair struggle, other police officers rush to assist their colleague, who is wearing a traditional hijab, before hauling the student off the street.

They shove her into the back of their unmarked car as she screams out for help from passers-by. 

The person who shot the harrowing footage late said: 'I'm a student on Amir Kabir University. This street is close to our university. The area itself is popular hangout place between girls and boys to socialise and to smoke.

'On my way back from university, I realised that the morality police was dealing heavy-handedly with boys and girls.

'When ordinary passers-by were drawing closer to the car of these policemen and policewomen, they faced threats of arrest and were told to mind their own business.'  

This is by no means the only case of brutal treatment by Iran's so-called 'morality police officers' however.

A young woman was recently assaulted by a gang of female police officers who deemed her headscarf 'insufficient' because it only loosely covered her hair.

Terrifying video showing her being savagely beaten was broadcast widely on social media - provoking an outpouring of public sympathy. 

In response to the violent attack, a brave woman posed next to a police car without her hijab while a whole family removed their headscarves in solidarity.

A growing number of Iranian woman have taken to the streets without the mandatory hijab in recent days after the video surfaced.

The video has reignited a public debate on the decades-long requirement for women in the Islamic Republic to wear hijabs.

Officials of all ranks up to President Hassan Rouhani have weighed in on the incident as women question being forced to wear the hijab in public.   

On Tuesday, advocacy group My Stealthy Freedom shared a picture of a young woman leaning against a police car without her hair covered.

'Welcome to the 46th week of #WhiteWednesdays!' the caption said.

My Stealthy Freedom, an online group campaigning against the forced hijab, highlights instances of abuse of women who choose not to wear it.

The group's founder Masih Alinejad launched the social media hashtag White Wednesdays, encouraging women to flout regulations posting pictures and videos of themselves without the hijabs online.

She also shared a clip sent to her from a family who posed with their backs to the camera, but with their hair uncovered.

Female morality police in Iran drag a woman off the street and into their car Document

Fire that destroyed 350 dunams of land caused by a Molotov cocktail attached to a kite flown from Gaza, May 2, 2018

'Kite Terrorism': Massive Fire After Kite With Molotov Cocktail Attached Sent From Gaza Explodes Document

May 2, 2018

Iranian protester (File photo)

Hundreds of Iranians have defied a ban on protests to mark International Labor Day, with police detaining at least six people.

The semi-official ILNA news agency said the six were arrested outside the gates to parliament on Tuesday, when protesters gathered there and at another location in the capital, Tehran.

The workers who attended the rallies demanded higher wages, better conditions and more protection after retirement.

Iranians took to the streets in December and January to protest against economic hardship and corruption, with some protests escalating into calls for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Some 25 people were killed in the unrest and more than 5,000 arrested.

Iran continues to struggle with high unemployment despite the lifting of international sanctions under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran arrests 6 as Labor Day demonstrators defy protest ban Document

May 1, 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, April 30, 2018

Abbas says Jews' behavior, not anti-Semitism, caused the Holocaust Article

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu giving a speech on files obtained by Israel proving Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program, April 30, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Iran lied about nuclear program Article

April 30, 2018

The five female fans posing

Female football fans who donned fake beards and wigs to attend a major match in Iran in defiance of a ban on women spectators were hailed as fearless by activists on Monday.

Photos and video of the fans sitting in Tehran's Azadi Stadium disguised as men as they watched their team Persepolis crowned champions on Friday have gone viral on social media.

The Islamic Republic has long barred women from attending male soccer matches and other sports fixtures, based at least partly on the theory that women should not hear fans swear.

"I am very proud of them and impressed that they can be so fearless, because it is a huge risk that they do that," Melody Safavi, Iranian women's rights activist and singer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York.

Safavi is in the Iranian reggae band Abjeez, whose song "Stadium" calls on Iranian men to support women in their fight to be allowed into sports fixtures. She lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.

"They are trying to break a lot of lines and taboos," said Shadi Amin, an Iranian women's and LGBT rights activist.

"For other people it is a small step, but for us it is a big step, because the cost of this action is not small. They risk being arrested," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from London.

The Iranian group OpenStadiums, which is campaigning for the right of women to attend sports fixtures in the Islamic Republic, said that some women were arrested near Azadi stadium in March during the Esteghlal-Persepolis match.

"Fearless" Iranian women defy stadium ban with fake beards and wigs Document

Students protesting in front of entrance to Tehran University.

"About 100 indictments" have been issued in connection with protests that took place in late December 2017 and early January 2018, the Prosecutor of Tehran Province, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, announced in an interview with Mizan, the Iranian Judiciary's official news agency, on April 26. 

Some of the accused have been charged with "crimes against national security," he said.

The judicial official did not specify if these indictments were issued nationwide or were only related to cases in Tehran. Nor did he explain on what basis demonstrations against such problems as high prices and unemployment had been deemed to be crimes against national security.

  Following an inspection of Evin Prison in January 2018, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Judicial and Legal Affairs, Allahyar Malekshahi, said more than 4,500 individuals had been arrested nationwide during the protests, of which 438 were still behind bars. 

In February, more than 20 university student organizations expressed concern that dozens of students faced national security charges that could send them to jail for many years simply for participating in peaceful protests in late December 2017.

"Unfortunately, the criminalization of student activities is a problem that persists at full strength despite being criticized by student activists for many years," said the statement.

"All the detained students have been released on bail but in recent days a considerable number of them have been summoned to court and informed of serious charges," the statement added.

Tehran University officials have not pressed any charges and have tried to distance themselves from the prosecutions.

On February 8, Tehran University Chancellor Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi said several students were still in detention "even though they were not involved in any political activities on campus."  

"We didn't have any problems with these students and they didn't have any problem with the university. We don't know why they have been detained. I have asked my colleagues to urgently follow up on the cases concerning these student detainees but the security officials are not providing us with all the information," Ahmadabadi told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

Indictments Issued Against Dozens in Connection With December 2017 Unrest in Iran Document

A scene from the Kabul attack

A coordinated double suicide bombing by the Islamic State group hit central Kabul on Monday morning, killing at least 25 people, including nine Afghan journalists, officials said.

An AFP photographer, a cameraman for the local Tolo TV station and several reporters for the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe were among the fatalities, police said.

At least 45 people were wounded in the twin attacks, according to Kabul police spokesman, Hashmat Stanekzai, who also said four policemen were among those killed.

The attack was the latest in a relentless string of deadly large-scale bombings and assaults that have struck Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan so far this year. And even as the Afghan capital reeled from Monday's assault, a suicide car bombing a few hours later in the southern province of Kandahar killed 11 children, a police spokesman said. Eight Romanian NATO soldiers were wounded in that bombing.

In a statement posted on an IS-affiliated website, the Islamic State group said two of its martyrdom seekers carried out the Kabul bombings, targeting the headquarters of the "renegade" Afghan intelligence services.

The blasts took place in the central Shash Darak area, home to NATO headquarters and a number of embassies and foreign offices - as well as the Afghan intelligence service.

Stanekzai, the police spokesman, said the first suicide bomber was on a motor bike while the second explosion meant to hit those scrambling to get to the scene to help the victims of the first blast.

The second attacker was on foot, in a crowd of reporters rushing to the site of the first attack, pretending to be one of the media, the spokesman said. The bomber then detonated his explosives while still among the reporters, Stanekzai said, intentionally targeting journalists.

Agence France-Presse said the news agency's chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was among those killed. AFP said Marai died in a blast that struck journalists who had rushed to the scene of the earlier attack.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said along with the nine journalists killed, six were wounded. However, Sediqullah Tawhidi, an official with the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, sad only five journalists wounded. Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the immediate aftermath of big attacks.

The Paris-based group named the journalists, working for media organizations from multiple countries, adding that Monday's attack was the deadliest targeting reporters since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The group, also known by its French acronym RSF, said 36 media workers have been killed in Afghanistan in attacks by IS or the Taliban since 2016.

RSF urged the Afghan government to do more to protect journalists.

Survivors and witnesses recounted scenes of mayhem.

Jawed Ghulam Sakhi, a 28-year-old a taxi driver said "when the explosion happened, everywhere was covered with dust and fire, it was such a horrific scene" with bodies and body parts "thrown about on the street and the pavement."

"I saw journalists covered with blood, this time they targeted the media," Sakhi added.

Masouda, a young woman who was with her husband nearby, assailed the authorities. Her husband was wounded and was taken to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital.

"I don't know who is responsible for all these attacks, every day we lose our loved ones and no one in this government is taking responsibility for the killing of these innocent people," she said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks. The presidential palace released a statement saying that attacks targeting innocent civilians, worshippers inside the mosques, national and democratic processes, reporters and freedom of speech all are war crimes.

The U.S. Embassy also condemned the "savage bombings" in Kabul and reiterated its support for the Afghan people and Ghani's government in their fight against terrorism."

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of all the victims, including a number of brave journalists among the dead and injured," it said, adding that "where media are in danger, all other human rights are under greater threat."

Kabul chief of police Dawood Amin said the area hit was quickly sealed off and authorities were investigating. Mohammad Mousa Zahir, director of Wazir Akbarkhan Hospital, said several people suffering injuries from the blasts were being treated at his hospital.

In its claim of responsibility, the Afghan affiliate of IS, known as Khorasan Province, said the first martyrdom seeker detonated his explosive vest near the intelligence service in central Kabul, forcing officers to head to the area of the explosion. The statement said the second attacker detonated his explosives vest after that. The statement, which exaggerated the overall death toll as militant claims often do, did not say journalists were specifically targeted.

In the Kandahar attack, an Afghan official said a suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy in the district of Daman but killed 11 children from a religious school nearby. The children had gathered around the NATO convoy for fun when the bomber struck, said Abdul Rahim Ayubi, a lawmaker from Kandahar.

Matiullah Helal, deputy spokesman for the provincial police chief, said 16 people were also wounded in that attack, including NATO soldiers, civilians and policemen.

Romania' defense minister, Mihai Fifor, said eight Romanian troops with the "Carpathian Eagles" were among the wounded. NATO said the wounded service members, who are all in stable condition, were taken to Kandahar Airfield's hospital for treatment.

Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission, said in a statement that "if the enemies of Afghanistan think their cowardly actions will deter the commitment of the brave Afghan forces and our Resolute Support advisers, or the call by the Afghan people for peace, they are sorely mistaken."

In other violence Monday, at least four Afghan policemen were killed in northern Balkh province, said Sher Mohammad Abu-Tariq, the district chief in Nahri Shahi. The insurgents ambushed the police vehicle and fired RPGs.

Also, an Afghan police officer was killed and four people were wounded in an explosion in eastern Nangarhar province, said Attuhullah Khogynai, spokesman for the provincial governor. He said the slain officer was the chief of the criminal investigations unit for Behsud district.

No one claimed responsibility for the other attacks. The IS affiliate in Afghanistan first emerged in Nangarhar a few years ago, then expanded its footprint to elsewhere across the country.

IS and the more firmly established Taliban carry out regular attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the Afghan government and security forces and IS targeting members of the country's the Shiite minority, whom the affiliate perceives as apostates.

The relentless assaults underscore the struggles that Afghan security forces have faced to reign in the militant groups since the United States and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. Both groups want to establish strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan.

Last week, an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a voter registration center in Kabul, killing 60 people and wounding at least 130 others. There were 22 women and eight children among the fatalities.

And the month before, an IS suicide bomber targeted a Shiite shrine in Kabul where people had gathered celebrating the Persian new year. That attack killed 31 people and wounded 65 others.

Double Kabul suicide bombing kills 25, including 9 reporters - Islamic State claims responsibility Document