What in God’s name is happening in the world? Part II

by Alan Simons

There’s a well-known Yiddish expression. Di velt iz sheyn nor di mentshn makhn zi mies. The world is beautiful but people make it ugly.  This is Part II in a series that sees no end in site. Antisemitism, Holocaust denial, Islamophobia, hate towards the Roma, Nigerian children being kidnapped by perverted terrorist sick-os that go by their adopted name of the “Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad,”  Geert Wilders, the darling of many American Jews, until he announced his intention of joining the far-right bloc in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. He’s now somewhat changed his mind! And then there’s Ukraine, South Sudan and the garbage being spewed from the lips of numerous Fatah officials. Hamas, who on TV have pleasure in enticing their children to kill the Jews and finally Canada, of all places, where many Jews wonder who is actually looking after their interests.  Need I say more?

The world is not only in kerfuffle it is ready to self-implode.  If you have any doubts just take a few minutes to read the following items recently published in various media. Their links are attached:

CANADA

A 6 Year old in Hiding in a Church, in Canada.  The Psuma family are Roma/Jewish. They were chased out of their home in Hungary after being set upon by neo-Nazi thugs. They have been threatened with death if they return. Yet Canada, compassionate understanding Canada under the present government want to do just that, deny their refugee claim for safety and return them to the clutches of racist hooligans.

FRANCE

Jewish mother, baby assaulted in Paris.  A woman assaulted a Jewish mother and her baby in Paris while shouting antisemitic slurs.  In Tuesday’s incident, the assailant shook the stroller belonging to a 27-year-old mother while her 6-month-old baby was inside, according to the Drancy-based National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. The mother described the attacker as being in her 50s with a European complexion and features, BNVCA said. The mother said the attacker shouted, “Dirty Jewess, enough with your children already, you Jews have too many children, screw you.” Identified by BNVCA by her initials, A.M., the mother said the assailant continued to hurl insults at her in front of onlookers at the Faubourg Monmartre bus stop in the 9th arrondissement, a district in central Paris. BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan said the mother has filed a complaint with police and can identify her attacker… He added, “The anti-Semitism which persists despite all the measures taken is causing great distress to many Jewish citizens, who are contemplating their future in our country.”

RUSSIA

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights group, on Monday demanded an apology from the directors of state-owned Russia Today Television for airing anti-Semitic programming that contravened Russia’s membership obligations under the 2004 Berlin Declaration on Anti-Semitism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Known as RT, the outlet has long come under criticism for serving as a Kremlin mouthpiece and for vicious attacks on Israel. “In the very week that the Russian Federation criminalized the denial of the Holocaust and the State of Israel celebrated its 66th Independence Day, your channel apparently decided to trash both Jewish Holocaust victims and Jewish sovereignty…

HUNGARY

Hungary’s far-right party set to come second in EU vote…  Both the European Commission and the European Parliament have taken Budapest to task over questions of rule of law and media freedom. While Fidesz will undoubtedly win the EU elections, far-right party Jobbik is also set to do very well in the 25 May vote. “The surprise would be if they didn’t come in second,” says Csaba Toth of the Republikon Institute. He notes that Jobbik is continuing its push for the political centre, a strategy that already paid off at the polls in April. “Its strategic goal is to become an alternating party to Fidesz,” he adds.

THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders is riding high ahead of this month’s European Parliament The best of Geert Wilderselections, hoping to destroy from within what he calls the ‘monster of Brussels’.  Despite an unprecedented backlash after he called for “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands, his Party for Freedom (PVV) looks set to make gains in the May 22 vote, including extra clout and cash by joining a pan-European populist alliance.  The platinum-haired Wilders in November announced “the start of the liberation of Europe” from the European Union after forming a partnership with French far-right party National Front (FN).  Like the FN’s leader Marine Le Pen, Wilders wants to take his country out of the EU and to abandon the euro. “Wilders is hunting for power in Europe. He wants to be part of a broader movement and wants more influence in the European Parliament,” says Adriaan Schout, senior researcher at the Clingendael Institute for International Relations. The latest Ipsos opinion poll on May 1 ranked Wilders’ PVV third in the Netherlands, just below the ruling coalition partner People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the pro-Europe D66.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Cabinet will not pay for demolition of pig farm in Lety.  Over 1,300 Romanies were interned in Lety during the German Nazi occupation, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died.  A memorial to the Romany Holocaust was set up at the former burial ground of the Lety concentration camp for Romanies. However, it is situated near a pig farm that is at the site now. Romanies and human rights activists have protested against it for years. Relatives of the Romany Holocaust victims along with the U.N. Human Rights Committee have demanded that the pig farm be abolished.

GREECE

Greece’s top court allows far-right party to contest EU vote.  Greece’s Supreme Court on Sunday allowed the far-right Golden Dawn party to run in European elections this month, despite calls to ban it as its leader waits in jail to be tried for membership of a criminal organization. The court routinely permits parties to take part in elections but a private citizen had asked it to exclude Golden Dawn this time because its leadership is under investigation over a string of attacks against immigrants and opponents…  The party is running between third and fifth in opinion polls, and a strong showing would pose a challenge to the fragile coalition government.

CANADA

Canadians more likely to be antisemitic than Americans, poll finds.  A new global poll reveals Canadians are more likely to be antisemitic than Americans.  The survey by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found 14% of Canadians harbour anti-Jewish attitudes, compared with only 9% of Americans…  Although many Canadians want to dismiss anti-Semitism as being a problem of the past, the survey makes it clear it persists. If anything, the modern form of anti-Semitism may be even more dangerous than it was in the past. In Canada, anti-Jewish bullying and abuse take place on campuses, in classrooms and workplaces…

USA

Twitter Is Platform of Choice for Antisemites as Hate Rises on Social Media.  Twitter is the “weapon of choice” for bigots and racists, according to a new report on digital hate and intolerance released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The center surveyed hateful content on over 30,000 websites and found that online hatred rose more than 30% over the past year. The report also graded top social media platforms on their commitment to removing hateful posts and on whether the prevalence of these posts on their sites is increasing or decreasing. “If the world is going to effectively deal with the growing threat from lone wolf terrorists, the leading social media companies, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter must do more,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, assistant dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But Cooper reserved special criticism for Twitter, which received a D grade in the report. He said Twitter has shown little inclination to work with his center or to seriously address hateful speech and even terrorist activity. “There are terrorist groups that use Twitter to communicate,” he said. “Twitter hasn’t shown us they have an institutional grasp or commitment of the issue, and that needs to change.”

SOUTH SUDAN

South Sudan violence leaves trail of bodies, starving children and destruction. Bodies stuffed in wells. Houses burned down. Children playing on military hardware. And infants showing the skeletal outlines of severe hunger. These are the scenes from a remote part of South Sudan – Leer – where Doctors Without Borders has just begun feeding severely malnourished children about three months after the aid group’s hospital was destroyed in violence that has been ripping apart the country since December. One child brought to the clinic by a mother hoping for life-saving aid instead died the next day. That and other scenes of desperation were recently filmed by an Associated Press journalist.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Monday that he visited South Sudan this month in order to “sound the alarm about the violence and the risk of catastrophic famine.” Ban warned that if the fighting continues, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be displaced, starving or dead by year’s end.

FRANCE

JIN France attack on a Jewish man May 17 2014

Click on this image

French Jewish leader: ‘It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews.’ France’s flag has three stripes, and its motto promotes three values: liberty, equality and fraternity. Now, its Jewish community – Europe’s largest — faces three threats, according to Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress. In an appearance at New York’s French consulate, Cukierman laid out the trio of challenges: an increasingly radicalized Muslim immigrant population that scapegoats Jews, the growing popularity of the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen, and widespread anti-Israel sentiment among French leftists. “It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews in this period,” Cukierman said, adding that at a recent anti-government demonstration, “a crowd of 17,000 people was yelling, ‘Jews, France does not belong to you.’” (An audience member disputed his characterization later during a Q&A session, arguing that only about 500 demonstrators joined in the anti-Jewish chants.) Forty percent of violent hate crimes in France target Jews, Cukierman said.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Israel’s creation is “greatest crime known to humanity,” writes official PA daily op-ed.  To coincide with Israel’s Independence Day, the official Palestinian Authority daily published an op-ed describing Israel’s creation – “the occupation of Palestine” – as “the greatest crime known to humanity.” Other terms of demonization used to refer to Israel’s creation were “a monstrosity was born” and “an despicable mission.” Jewish fighting forces in the War of Independence were referred to as “the Zionist gangs.”… Children in the PA are likewise taught in official education to reject Israel’s right to exist. A PA schoolbook uses some of the same terms that appeared in the op-ed when teaching 12th graders about the establishment of Israel. 

 (Text credit: Canada, Psuma family- Bernie Farber. Photo credit: Greece- universityobserver; South Sudan- sam-bronx photo; France- alliancefr)

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This Week in Review: What The Europeans Are Saying

Sephardic Jews in Turkey ‘subject to hostility,’ Spanish minister says

Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: Sephardic Jews are living under threat in Turkey and many will seek Spanish passports due to new legislation that grants returners dual citizenship, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has said. Most of the demands for Spanish passports since the new law passed have come from Turkey and Venezuela, Gallardon told the New York Times on March 19. It is estimated that only 24,000 Sephardic Jews remain in Turkey, mostly concentrated in Istanbul. Historically, they have spoken the now-endangered Ladino language, a Judeo-Spanish dialect that is mostly a derivation of Castellan with a few Turkish intonations.

NATO chief: Crimea invasion could be just the beginning

EUobserver reports: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned Crimea could be the beginning of a wider military campaign, amid Russia’s veiled threats against EU and NATO member Estonia. He told the Brookings Institute, a think tank in Washington, on Wednesday (19 March): “I see Crimea as an element in a greater pattern, in a more long-term Russian, or at least [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin, strategy. So of course our major concern now is whether he will go beyond Crimea.” He added: “This crisis is not just about Ukraine. We see what could be called ‘21st century revisionism’: Attempts to turn back the clock; to draw new dividing lines on the map; to monopolise markets; shuffle populations.” He urged NATO members to increase defence spending.

Austria. SPÖ Youth Leader Lied Over Hitler Salute

Austrian Times reports: The leader of the Social Democrat’s (SPÖ) youth wing in Graz has been convicted of lying and libel after he took a photo of dancing supporters at a far right Freedom party rally which he claimed showed them making a Hitler salute. A court in Graz convicted Sebastian Pay of releasing a photo knowing that it would give the wrong impression, and it gave him a six-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay a 1,400 Euro fine. The picture was widely republished in Austrian media in advance of the recent general election as a sign that the party had a growing number of neo-Nazi supporters, despite the fact that the freedom party (FPÖ) a day later had managed to provide a video showing that the man and the others around him had been dancing to the music and not making Hitler salutes. The video however only received significant coverage after the election by which point, according to the freedom party, the damage had been done. At the 0.25 second mark on the You Tube video published here the dancing man can clearly be seen.

Troops Of 12 Countries To Hold An Exercise in Bulgaria

Sophia News Agency reports: Land troops of 12 countries will take part in the international military exercise at the Novo Selo range in Bulgaria. Saber Guardian, the largest exercise for this year, starts on Friday and will include 700 troops from Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, USA, Belgium, Turkey and Ukraine, according to Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry. The main goal is improving regional strategic partnership and NATO compatibility in international operations for dealing with humanitarian crises, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

Russian jets buzz Norwegian coast

Norway’s News in English reports: As Norwegian politicians try to balance their indignation and concerns over Russia’s territorial takeover in Crimea with their desire to remain good neighbours, Russian fighter jets continue to fly up and down along Norway’s own territorial border off the north west coast. The regular flights seem aimed at asserting Russia’s growing military presence in the important and resource-rich Arctic, while Norwegian leaders seem intent on avoiding provocation.

Transdniestria may become part of Russia

Pravda reports:  The Supreme Council of the unrecognized republic of Transdniestria appealed to the State Duma of Russia to provide for the possibility of entering the region in Russia in the Russian legislation. After the events in the Crimean Republic the country is under siege. Ukraine imposed restrictions on travel for Russians in Transnistria through its territory. The border was closed for cargo as well. The information was confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic for International Cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nina Shtanski. “Russian citizens are not allowed in Transnistria and are not let out. Transnistria is home to nearly 200,000 Russian citizens, and not all of them can travel and leave the country through Moldova. This means that people are locked on both sides,” said Nina Shtanski… Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Tobuh, the chairman of the Republican movement of Transdniestria “Recognition,” member of the Supreme Council of the TMR, believes that Russia has a legal basis to accept Transdniestria to the Federation. Since there is a declaration of independence, the only thing that needs to be done is recognition of that status, as it was done in Crimea.

Jewish and Muslim women finding common ground

The Jewish Chronicle, UK reports: Addressing 130 Jewish and Muslim women at the Foreign Office, Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi said the religions had more in common than circumcision, ritual slaughter and good food. “Jewish and Muslim women feel that the men run all the organisations in their communities,” she said. “Despite the fact that leg-work goes in from women, when it comes to representation and engagement with government, 99 per cent of the people around the table are men.”  Baroness Warsi hoped that faith-based lobby groups would approach politicians with “women representing these communities”. An interfaith mentoring scheme for women would help break down barriers, she added. “For Jewish women to be mentoring young Muslim girls and successful Muslim women to be mentoring young Jewish girls — that relationship [would] create openness that allows you to have difficult conversations. “When men in the Jewish and Muslim communities get together, they talk about two things — circumcision and shechita. Women would like to talk about leadership so that, in years to come, we could stand back and say we have genuine relationships.”

 Yad Vashem marks 70 years since the destruction of Hungarian Jewry

European Jewish Press reports: Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Institute in Jerusalem, hosted Wednesday a march of remembrance with dozens of Holocaust survivors to mark 70 years since the beginning of the mass murder of Hungarian Jewry during the Holocaust.After the march a memorial ceremony took place in the Hall of Remembrance followed by lectures in the Yad Vashem Auditorium and aa symposium commemorating 70 years of the Nazi occupation of Hungary. On April 3, Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research will hold a special symposium focusing on Jewish Hungarians during the Holocaust. The symposium will consist of two sessions: the first one launching the new publication, Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, and the second focusing on special aspects of the Holocaust concerning Hungarian Jewry.

Accuracy and impartiality issues in BBC report on Abbas White House visit

BBC Watch, UK reports:BBC Media Watch, UK reports: On March 17th a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East and US & Canada pages under the title “Obama tells Palestinian leader to take risks for peace“. The messaging in that headline was repeated in the article’s opening lines. “US President Barack Obama has told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he must take ‘risks’ for peace. Mr Obama told reporters at the White House that the search for a two-state solution remained elusive but he hoped to see progress in the coming weeks.” But did Obama in fact tell Abbas that ‘he’ specifically – as claimed by the BBC – ‘must’ take ‘risks for peace’? Not according to the transcript released by the White House which shows that Obama’s remarks were actually much less explicit and referred to a general need by all sides to ‘take some tough political decisions and risks’ rather than being a demand or an instruction directed towards Abbas in person.

France’s Interior Minister calls for resistance against antisemitism

European Jewish Congress reports: French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told a gathering in Paris in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. Speaking at the gathering organized by the CRIF representative organization of French Jews, an EJC affiliate, Valls said, “We have to resist, resist, resist against this antisemitism. Valls said that antisemitism came from the Far Right but “also feeds off anti-Zionism. It is nourished in our popular neighbourhoods on the ambiguities regarding the State of Israel. We must resist, resist, resist this antisemitism.”

Harriet Sherwood reports on latest target of anti-Zionist witch-hunt: Israeli architects 

CiF Watch, UK reports: As Harriet Sherwood’s days as the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent wind down, she’s evidently decided to use her remaining time doing what she does best: legitimizing the most marginal and hypocritical efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israeli Jews. Her latest report focuses on efforts – by some ‘sophisticated’ Brits – to isolate the latest international ‘misfortune’: Israeli architects.

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Mid-Week International News

What Others Are Saying

Germany: Neo-Nazis Attack Children On School Trip

A teenage boy is in intensive care after neo-Nazis attacked a group of pupils on a school trip in east Germany, German’s The Local reported. The 87 pupils from Hamburg were on a trip in rural Saxony, east Germany, when the attack took place, the Welt newspaper reported. A group of the pupils aged 14 to 15 from Goethe Grammar school snuck out of their hostel to go to a nearby village party on Friday night. The fete itself, celebrating the hamlet of Ostrau’s 888th birthday, was advertised around the area and caught the eye of some of the pupils. But the party was a hotbed of far right activity with the number 88 being significant in Nazi circles as H is the eighth number in the alphabet – 88 stands for HH, Heil Hitler. Despite teachers banning them from going, the group, mostly aged around 15, were stopped by 12 men in a car park at around 3am, after enjoying the festivities, the Welt reported. They then followed the schoolchildren through the town, until they had reached the youth hostel where they were staying. According to the teachers, three of the men came into the building with the children. One pupil, who has not been named, told the Welt that he had woken up to use the toilet, when he heard a commotion downstairs. He entered the toilets, where the three men followed him, throwing him into a urinal. One boy, a 15-year-old of Chinese descent, was reportedly beaten so badly that they broke his eye socket and jawbone. He was taken to hospital and has been in intensive care since Sunday. – In Serbia Independent News

Mr Obama, Take Your ‘Brothers’ And Leave!

The United States of America needed more than one month to understand that what happened in Egypt against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood was a civil revolution, not a military coup. During this period, Washington ‘fueled’ the Brotherhood through its indecision. This has prompted the group to take advantage of America’s vague position to carry out their terrorism operations. Due to its position, the American administration has proven, once again, that it has no clear strategy for its relationship with countries in the region; leading to several catastrophes in Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Somalia and Afghanistan. Therefore, we tell this administration: “Leave us alone. Let us pluck out our own thorns. We do not need your scalpel to remove our thorns; because whenever we use your scalpel, it ends up causing more blood spilt. – Arab Times, Kuwait

Syria can deter Israeli aggression without chemical weapons: PM

Syria has other means of inflicting pain on its enemies, especially the Zionist regime of Israel, even without the use of chemical weapons, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi warned on Tuesday. “The fact that the government agreed to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile does not mean that it could not reach a strategic balance in other ways,” said al-Halqi in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper al-Ahd on Tuesday. Al-Halqi added, “If you have means better suited for your purpose than chemical weapons, why is there a need for (chemical) weapons?” According to the prime minister, Syria’s decision to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal, in agreement with the U.S.-Russia brokered deal, in no way damages Syria’s ability to hurt its enemies. He noted that Syria can neutralize any enemy threat with advanced aerial weapons systems and advanced missile systems. When the Russian-U.S. deal on Syria’s chemical weapons was announced Saturday, al-Halqi said the Syrian government accepted the proposal “to spare Syrian blood.” On Monday, UN inspectors said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in an attack last month in Syria that killed hundreds of people — over 1,400 according to the U.S. The findings represent the first official confirmation by scientific experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war, but the report left the key question of who launched the attack unanswered. Syria has strongly rejected the allegations that it used chemical weapons against Takfiri militants, saying the accusations were fabricated to distract the visiting team of UN chemical weapons experts and blamed foreign terrorist for the heinous crime. Tehran Times, Iran

Questions raised over Hungary’s bid to hold football contest as fans celebrate Nazi war criminal

On the heels of yet another antisemitic incident at a football match in Hungary, the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) has announced that it is bidding to host Euro 2020. The announcement on Tuesday came a month after a Hungarian fans displayed a banner paying tribute to a suspected Nazi war criminal, allegedly responsible for helping to deport over 15,000 Jews to concentration camps during the Second World War. László Csatáry — a former Hungarian police officer who topped the Wiesenthal Centre’s list of most wanted war criminals — died aged 98 just days before a banner reading “In memoriam Csatáry László” was displayed by fans of the most popular football club in Hungary, Ferencváros. The opposing team at that match, MTK, is perceived as a Jewish club and comes up against antisemitism on a regular basis. Ferencváros was fined £2,200 over the incident. . . Earlier this month, UEFA ordered a Budapest team to play a match behind closed doors as punishment for “racist behaviour and racist chanting” by fans. In March, the Hungarian national team was also forced to play in an empty stadium after fans shouted racist slogans and displayed offensive symbols during a match against Israel. -The Jewish Chronicle, UK

Lebanese Forces head says dialogue with Hezbollah useless

Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea said Tuesday dialogue with Hezbollah was useless and that Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative would not lead to tangible results. “Our experience with dialogue since 2005 has been a waste of time,” Geagea told reporters after meeting with a delegation from Berri’s bloc,, referring to the speaker’s dialogue initiative. “No one can be against dialogue in principle but we do not support useless talks [using up time] better used for other purposes,” he added… “Dialogue with a party that ties everything to a certain ideology and strategies which extend beyond Lebanon will not lead to anything,” Geagea said, referring to Hezbollah. The Daily Star, Lebanon

Stay out of politics, Rowhani tells Iran Revolutionary Guards

Iran President Hassan Rowhani told the powerful Revolutionary Guards on Monday not to get involved in politics, in a carefully worded speech that sought to avoid antagonizing the elite military force. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which answers directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei rather than to the president, has become more assertive in politics in recent years, with increasing numbers of veterans in parliament. Rowhani’s speech, which included praise for the IRGC’s increasing economic might, could be an attempt to maintain its support, something that might be in doubt if the Guards see their interests threatened by the new president who has pledged more moderation in Iran’s foreign and domestic policies… “The IRGC is above and beyond political currents, not beside them or within them,” Rowhani said, according to the ISNA news agency. “The IRGC has a higher status, which is that of the whole nation.” – Arab News, Saudi Arabia

Nearly 100 Philippine Muslim guerrillas killed or captured

Philippine forces have killed or captured nearly 100 of the Muslim guerrillas who have held scores of hostages for a week in a southern city, as the government pushes ahead with an offensive to retake rebel-held coastal communities, officials said Sunday. Army troops and police special forces have regained rebel-held grounds and are pressing an assault deeper into communities in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga city, where more than 100 Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas are holding hostages, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said. Several hostages have escaped or were freed, but it was unclear how many were still in rebel custody. Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the rebels were still holding up to 40 hostages in one community alone. Zagala said troops taking part in the offensive were calibrating their firepower to avoid harming civilians. “We’re gaining ground, we’re pushing forward,” he said. At least 51 rebels have been killed and 42 others captured, most while trying to escape along the coast after discarding their camouflage uniforms for ordinary clothes, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said, adding that the gunmen would face criminal charges. The bodies of two rebels, a man and a woman, were found Sunday by advancing troops. – Asharaq Al-Awsat, London

Bangladesh: Execution for war crimes convict

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has sentenced a leader of an opposition political party to death for committing crimes against humanity during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. The Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, was found guilty in February and sentenced to life in prison. That sentence was appealed by both the defence and prosecution. On Tuesday, a five-member panel headed by Chief Justice M. Muzammel Hossain ruled that Mollah be put to death. The earlier sentence led to protests across the country as by those who said it was too lenient. Mollah and his supporters say the case against him is politically motivated. Bangladesh says 3 million people were killed and 200,000 women were raped during the 1971 war by Pakistani soldiers aided by local collaborators. – Khaleej Times,  UAE

Hamas prevents Gaza students from entering Egypt

Hamas security forces on Wednesday suppressed a gathering of students hoping to cross the Rafah terminal into Egypt to reach their universities, the official Wafa news agency reported. Around 200 students were waiting at the main gate to cross into Egypt. Hamas security forces assaulted students at the crossing with batons and forcibly dispersed them with police vehicles, Wafa said. Hamas denied the students access to Egypt because they had obtained permission to travel from the PA embassy in Cairo, Wafa said.  On Monday, the Egyptians notified the Palestinian Authority that the crossing would operate four hours a day to allow patients and students to leave. The move came in response to a request by President Mahmoud Abbas, they said. The Rafah crossing has been closed since last Wednesday for security reasons after the Egyptian army started a crackdown against militants in the Sinai peninsula. – Ma’an News Agency, Palestinian Territories

Egypt destroying Gaza tunnels to tighten blockade: Hamas

Gaza rulers Hamas and residents of the Palestinian territory fear Egypt’s destruction of tunnels used to smuggle goods across the border is part of a plan to tighten a blockade of the Strip. “The Egyptian army has destroyed 95% of the tunnels with the aim of setting up a security buffer zone,” Sobhi Ridwan, head of the Palestinian municipality in the border town of Rafah, told AFP. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum echoed the concern. “We have big fears of a buffer zone being set up and the tunnels all being shut down,” Barhum said. Egypt’s army has destroyed many of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of Rafah which are used to smuggle goods, including building material and fuel, into the blockaded Palestinian territory. Egypt says it is part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula who have links to extremists in Gaza. Daily News, Egypt

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