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55 dead in Gaza protests as Israel fetes US Embassy move

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GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP: In a jarring contrast, Israeli forces shot and killed at least 55 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,200 during mass protests Monday along the Gaza border, while just a few miles away Israel and the US held a festive inauguration ceremony for the new American Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

It was by far the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, and further dimmed the already bleak prospects for President Donald Trump’s hoped-for peace plan.

Throughout the day, Gaza protesters set tires ablaze, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli military, which has come under international criticism for using excessive force against unarmed protesters, said Hamas tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence.

Monday’s protests culminated more than a month of weekly demonstrations aimed at breaking a crippling Israeli-Egyptian border blockade. But the US Embassy move, bitterly opposed by the Palestinians, added further fuel.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire near the Gaza border has reached 37. (May 14)

There was barely any mention of the Gaza violence at Monday’s lavish inauguration ceremony for the new embassy, an upgraded consular building located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials joined an American delegation of Trump administration officials and Republican and evangelical Christian supporters.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief Mideast adviser, headlined the US delegation with his wife and fellow White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and four Republican senators. Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson was also present, and evangelical pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee delivered blessings.

“A great day for Israel!” Trump tweeted earlier Monday.

In a videotaped address, Trump said the embassy move, a key campaign promise, recognizes the “plain reality” that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Yet he added the United States “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.”

But Monday’s steadily climbing death toll and wall-to-wall condemnation of the embassy move in the Arab world raised new doubts about Trump’s ambitions to broker what he called the “deal of the century.” More than a year after taking office, Trump’s Mideast team has yet to produce a long-promised peace plan.

Trump says recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital acknowledges the reality that Israel’s government is located there as well as the ancient Jewish connection to the city. He insists the decision has no impact on future negotiations on the city’s final borders.

But to both Israel and the Palestinians, the American gesture is widely seen as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in their longstanding conflict.

“What a glorious day. Remember this moment. This is history,” Netanyahu told the inauguration ceremony.

“You can only build peace on truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state,” he added.

The Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as their capital, have cut off ties with the Trump administration and say the US is unfit to serve as a mediator. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, furious over the embassy ceremony, said he “will not accept” any peace deal proposed by the Trump administration.

The Palestinian president also urged the international community to condemn what he said were “massacres” carried out by Israeli troops in Gaza, and officials said the Palestinians would file a war crimes complaint against Israel in the International Criminal Court over settlement construction.

By nightfall, at least 55 Palestinians, including a young girl and four other minors, were killed, the Gaza Health Ministry said. It said 1,204 Palestinians were wounded by gunfire, including 116 who were in serious or critical condition.

Egypt, an important Israeli ally, condemned the killings of Palestinian protesters, while the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, decried the “shocking killing of dozens.”

Turkey said it was recalling its ambassador to the United States over the US Embassy move, saying it “disregarded the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and would “not serve peace, security and stability in the region.” It also recalled its ambassador to Israel following what it called a “massacre” of Palestinians on the Gaza border.

South Africa, a fervent supporter of the Palestinians, also recalled its ambassador for consultations, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, called on Israel to respect the “principle of proportionality in the use of force” and show restraint, while also urging Hamas to ensure any protests remain peaceful. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a similar appeal.

At the US Embassy ceremony in Jerusalem, Kushner placed the blame on the Gaza protesters.

“As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he said.

Israel says the blockade of Gaza, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas overran the territory in 2007, is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities. But it has decimated Gaza’s economy, sending unemployment skyrocketing to over 40 percent and leaving the territory with just a few hours of electricity a day.

The Israeli military estimated a turnout of about 40,000 at Monday’s protest, saying it fell short of what Hamas had hoped for. But officials described what they called “unprecedented violence” unseen in previous weeks.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said hundreds of protesters carried out “concerted, coordinated” attacks on the border fence.

Although the crowd did not manage to break through, he said they caused “significant damage.” The army released video showing demonstrators setting a cargo crossing on fire and appearing to climb on the fence as they lobbed flaming objects into the Israeli side.

Conricus also said Hamas militants disguised as protesters tried to infiltrate, and there were at least three instances of armed Hamas gunmen trying to carry out attacks. Israeli aircraft and tanks struck seven Hamas positions.

Monday marked the biggest showdown in years between Israel’s military and Gaza’s Hamas rulers along the volatile border. The sides have largely observed a cease-fire since the 2014 war — their third in a decade.

Since the protests began on March 30, 105 Palestinians have been killed, most of them protesters. Israel said it killed three militants trying to plant a bomb along the fence, and Palestinian security officials said several Hamas militants were also killed by Israeli shelling in northern Gaza.

Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas figure, said the mass border protests would continue “until the rights of the Palestinian people are achieved.”

Throughout the day, sirens wailed as the wounded were carried to ambulances. Groups of young activists repeatedly approached the fence, but were quickly scattered by gunfire and tear gas.

The timing of Monday’s events was deeply symbolic to Israel and the Palestinians.

The US said it chose the date to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

But Tuesday also marks the anniversary of what Palestinians call their “nakba,” or catastrophe, a reference to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. A day of mourning and mass funerals was planned Tuesday.

A majority of Gaza’s 2 million people are descendants of refugees, and the protests have been billed as the “Great March of Return” to long-lost homes in what is now Israel.

The new embassy will temporarily operate from an upgraded, existing US consulate building, until a decision is made on a permanent location. Even the current location is sensitive, located partially in an area designated “no-man’s land” in a 1949 armistice agreement. The UN considers that land to be occupied territory, though the US says in practice the area has been in continuous Israeli use since 1949.

Originally posted in The Himalayan Times.

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National News

Nepal imports more than half of its electricity from India

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According the news published in Nepali Times, Nepal imported 653MW electricity from India last Friday, the biggest amount so far since the country ended powercuts three years ago. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had to import because the total demand for electricity reached 1,243MW last week because of winter peak load and falling production from run-of-river schemes due to low water volume in rivers.

According to NEA, the import is necessary to fulfill immediate needs and to prevent the economic cost of resuming power cuts. “If we compare the cost of importing 500MW electricity to the loss that Nepal’s industries would incur without that electricity, then the loss is much higher,” said Ghising. “It will take many years for us to construct 500MW hydropower plants. But the power is immediately available for import, which is economically more beneficial for us.”

Last year Nepal spent Rs20 billion importing electricity from India, on top of the Rs90 billion in petroleum imports. 

 


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National News

Gangster-turned-politician Manange released from jail

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Rajiv Gurung aka Deepak Manange has been released from Dillibazar-based prison on Friday afternoon. Supreme Court has given him a permission to fight the case from outside the prison.

Earlier in January, the Supreme Court (SC) had convicted Manange in an attempted murder case and sentenced him to five years in prison. He had been put in Dillibazar jail since his arrest by the Metropolitan Police Range Kathmandu in April 18, 2018 for the charge of ‘attempt to murder’ and was ordered to be arrested and jailed for 5 years by the apex court.

Manangewas was elected as an independent candidate to a provincial assembly seat from Manang district; however, soon after the election result, SC convicted him for the attempted murder and he had been on run.  Fearing arrest, Manange did not take the oath of office and secrecy as PA member and had been absconding.  Nevertheless, he got arrested later in April 18th from Swayambu.

Case history

According to Kathmandu Post:

A gang of Manange had lanched a sword attack on the gang of Milan Gurung aka ‘Chakre’ in 2005. His left hand was chopped into two pieces in the attack. Though his hand was prevented from being cut off after the treatment, it did not return to its previous condition.

Following the attack, Chakre’s wife, Indira Gurung, filed an attempted murder case against Manange and his accomplices at the Kathmandu District Court.

But the Kathmandu District Court had ruled out the attempted murder charge and ordered a two-year jail sentence to Manange in aggravated assault conviction. The court had also acquitted four of Manange’s accomplices, including gangster turned politician Ganesh Lama, Umesh Lama, Rewat Karki and Ramesh Sunuwar.

Dissatisfied by the court’s ruling, the government lawyers had knocked the door of the Patan Appellate Court, seeking punishment against the defendants.

The Patan Appellate Court in 2012 ruled the incident as an attempted murder case and ordered five years jail sentence to Manange, but upheld the Kathmandu District Court’s decision to acquit Manange’s four accomplices.

The Attorney General’s Office in May 2013 had moved the SC, seeking punishment to four of Manange’s accomplices as well.

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Knowledge & Infos

Canada plans to take in more than 1 million new immigrants in the next 3 years

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If you are dreaming to live and work in Canada, that dream could become a reality now as the government has announced plans to accept more than a million immigrants in the next three years.

The country’s immigration minister Ahmed Hussen revealed plans, in his 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, to admit as many as 1,080,000 new permanent residents between 2019 and 2021, with the upper target for 2021 being 370,000. Introducing the report, Hussen, who originally came to Canada as a Somali refugee, said: “Immigrants and their descendants have made immeasurable contributions to Canada, and our future success depends on continuing to ensure they are welcomed and well-integrated.”

Immigration is seen as key to helping strengthen the Canadian economy. With the average immigrant being young, it can help to tackle the challenges of an ageing population. The report says the worker-to-retiree ratio is predicted to reach 2:1 by 2036, compared to 4.2:1 in 2012.

Just under half (48%) of the highest target of admissions for 2021 will come under Economic Programs – to fill skills gaps in the labour market.

“With an ageing population and low fertility rates, immigration plays an important role in ensuring that Canada’s population and labour force continue to grow.

“Growing immigration levels, particularly in the Economic Class, will help us sustain our labour force, support economic growth and spur innovation.”

DID YOU KNOW

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The article was originally published in weforum.org

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