Right-wing Israelis stage BBQ outside prison to taunt Palestinian hunger strikers

Right-wing Israelis stage BBQ outside prison to taunt Palestinian hunger strikers
Activists from an Israeli right-wing movement, Ichud Leumi, have organized a free barbecue outside a military prison in the West Bank where Palestinian inmates are currently on hunger strike.

Members of the youth branch of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party brought outdoor grills to the walls of Israeli-run Ofer military prison on Thursday.

The activists set up tables, brought soft drinks and cooked a variety of meats, serving it for free to everybody.

The organizers of the action said on the internet that the BBQ was aimed solely at taunting the Palestinians during their hunger strike with the smell of delicious food, the local media reported.

The picnic outside the prison walls lasted for a while before the police arrived and ordered the activists to disperse, the Arutz Sheva website reported.

HREAD MORE: Hundreds of Palestinians start massive hunger strike in Israeli prisons – reports

Ofer inmates have stated a hunger strike earlier this week after some of their privileges were slashed by the Israeli authorities.

Around 1,500 Palestinian inmates are currently refusing food, Issa Qaraqe, head of detainees’ affairs for the Palestinian Authority, said.

Ichud Leumi demanded the prison conditions to be made even harsher for the Ofer inmates in order to force the return of the bodies of the two slain IDF soldier from the Palestinian militants.


OPCW’s block of on-site probe shows Western powers now aiming to oust Assad – Lavrov

OPCW’s block of on-site probe shows Western powers now aiming to oust Assad – Lavrov
The attempt by Western countries to derail Russia’s fact-finding initiative in Syria to examine the site of the chemical incident in Idlib province exposes their aim to topple the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

READ MORE: Russia questions Britain’s chemical weapons investigation in Syria

“I believe that it’s a very serious situation, because now it’s obvious that false information about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from implementing Resolution 2254, which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties, and aims to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change,” Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Astana.

UNSC Resolution 2254 calls for an inclusive government in Syria and a peace process that would involve a new constitution and free and fair elections.

According to the minister, the decision displayed “complete incompetence” on the part of his Western colleagues, who, in fact, are “prohibiting the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, as well as to the airfield from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”

“Yesterday [April 20], our proposal that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] visit the sites of the suspected chemical attack in Syria was blocked by Western delegations without any explanations,” Lavrov said.

In the meantime, the UK and France claim their experts have received samples from the site of the incident, Lavrov added.

READ MORE: UN doesn’t send experts to Idlib ‘chemical incident’ site as West & US are blocking it – Assad

“London, Paris, and the OPCW have given no answers to our questions as to where they took these samples, who took them, or when they were delivered,” Lavrov stated.

“I think we are very close to this organization [OPCW] being discredited,” Lavrov added.

On Thursday, the OPCW’s executive council overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from Russia and Iran for a new investigation into the Idlib chemical incident.

The Executive Council has overwhelmingly rejected the Russian and Iranian decision which attempted to undercut the FFM

The proposal had been amended to agree to Western demands that the investigation into the alleged attack be carried out by the existing OPCW fact-finding mission, but was defeated nonetheless.

The draft proposal seen by AFP called on the OPCW “to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhoun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident.”

Both OPCW fact-checking missions tasked with looking into the Idlib incident are being headed by UK citizens, which Lavrov called “a very strange coincidence” that “runs contrary to the principles of an international organization.”

Earlier in April, an incident in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun reportedly killed as many as 100 people and injured several hundred. The US has squarely laid the blame on Damascus, claiming that it hid chemical weapons stockpiles from the OPCW after pledging to hand them over in 2013.

Moscow, however, said a thorough investigation, including an on-site inspection in rebel-held territory, should be carried out before jumping to any conclusions. Russia has cautioned that the incident may have been a false flag operation meant to provoke a US attack against Syrian government forces.


US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks

US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks
Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.

In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Tillerson claimed that Tehran has been fueling various military conflicts in the Middle East, undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

It was the first time that the Congress was informed on how Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), usually referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, under the Trump administration. The State Department must update US senators on the issue every 90 days.

Zarif took to Twitter to respond to Tillerson’s claims, stressing that Washington should “fulfill its own commitments” as part of the deal.

“Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance w/ JCPOA,” the Foreign Minister added as cited by Reuters.

READ MORE: ‘Iran complies with nuclear deal but sponsors terrorism’ – Tillerson on Trump’s review order

Moscow commented on Tillerson’s claim by saying that secretary of state should have separated the allegations of terrorism and the nuclear deal as they “have nothing in common,” according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control.

“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans can’t do this. The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.

Washington blames Tehran for supporting various groups that it views as terrorist organizations, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran has also been backing the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, also sending military advisers and fighters to Iraq to help fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) there.

The Iranian nuclear deal, which took years to negotiate, restricted the nuclear ambitions of Tehran in exchange for lifting financial and oil sanctions.

READ MORE: Russia to build 2 nuclear power plants in Iran

The accord signed between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, the US, plus Germany) and the EU was touted as one of the main foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration.

However, Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign for the White House.

A special inter-agency review of policy towards Iran will now look into if the lifting of sanctions against Tehran was in the interest of the US.


 

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