World Inside

Israeli 'not celebrating' after family released by Hamas

Publish: 09:56 AM, 25 Nov, 2023


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An Israeli man whose family was kidnapped by Hamas and freed on Friday said he was happy but could not celebrate their return without the release of all those still held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages on the first day of a truce in the Palestinian territory, bringing the total number of captives released to 29 of around 240 taken when the Islamist group launched its deadly October 7 attack on Israel.

Yoni Asher was at home near Tel Aviv that day when his wife Doron Asher Katz, 34, and their two children, aged two and four, where kidnapped while visiting Doron's mother, 69-year-old Efrat Katz, who was killed during the attack.

"I am happy that I received my family back. It's allowed to feel joy and it's allowed to shed a tear. That's a human thing," Asher said in a video released by the Hostage Families Forum on Friday evening.

"But I am not celebrating. I will not celebrate until the last of the hostages returns home," he added.

"Our children, fathers, mothers, sisters are currently hostages. There are people whose hearts are breaking at this time and I want to ensure that each and every hostage returns home."

Doron's brother and her mother's partner were also kidnapped and are still being held hostage in Gaza.

"I am determined to help my family recover from the terrible trauma and loss we went through", Asher said. "Difficult days are still ahead of me."

The renewable agreement that led to their release covers four days during which 50 hostages held in Gaza must be released, as well as 150 Palestinians held in Israel.

On Friday, 39 Palestinian women and children were released from Israeli prisons.

Ten Thai hostages and one Filippino were also released Friday in a separate agreement, according to Qatar, which led the negotiations along with Egypt and the United States.

(BSS)


Israeli   Gaza   War  


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World Inside

PM for doing business with India thro Tk, Rupee

Publish: 08:31 AM, 18 Feb, 2024


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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today stressed the need for expanding business between Bangladesh and India using their own currencies.

"We can do our business through exchanges of Bangladeshi Taka and Indian Rupee. It has already started, but we have to expand it further so that we can increase our businesses," she said while Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar paid a call on the Prime Minister.

The meeting was held at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, the conference venue, here on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, this morning.

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud briefed newsmen about the outcome of the meeting upon its completion.

The Foreign Minister said the Bangladesh Premier and Jaishankar attached importance to doing business between the two friendly countries through their own currencies to reduce dependency on other currencies like the US dollar.

He said Bangladesh and India have excellent bilateral relations and it has elevated to another height under the leadership of the prime ministers of the two countries.

"The relations between the countries are getting stronger day by day," he said, adding that the two leaders discussed the issues during the meeting.

Quoting Jaishankar, Hasan said, "Our relations will further be closer in the days ahead." 

Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and PM's Deputy Press Secretary Md. Noorelahi Mina were present during the briefing.

Bangladesh Prime Minister arrived in Munich on February 15 evening on a three-day official visit to join the Munich Security Conference 2024.

Upon completion of the tour, Sheikh Hasina will leave Munich tomorrow night and is scheduled to reach Dhaka on February 19.


(BSS)



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World Inside

PM calls for stopping Russia-Ukraine war as she talks with Zelenskyy

Publish: 08:27 AM, 18 Feb, 2024


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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon all concerned to find ways to stop Russia-Ukraine war while holding a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy here.

"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina always says we are against all kinds of war. Today, she discussed time and again about how the war can be stopped while holding talks with Zelenskyy," said Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud at a news briefing after the meeting.

The meeting between the two leaders was held at Hotel Bayerischer Hof here on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, this morning.

Hasan also said that they also discussed how the attacks on innocent men and women in Gaza can be stopped.

The Premier reminded all that war can't bring wellbeing for any one.

"Others can be benefitted from the war. But the war cannot bring welfare for the countries  involved in war and their people have to be affected by the war," said Sheikh Hasina.

In this connection, the Prime Minister recollected her memories about the sufferings of  the countrymen and she herself faced during the Great War of Liberation in 1971.

She recalled her inhuman sufferings and the birth of her only son Sajeeb Wazed Joy under the captivity of the Pakistani occupation forces during the War.

"Bangladesh's foreign policy - 'Friendship to all, malice to none’ - prominently came up in the discussion between Prime Minister and Zelenskyy," the foreign minister said.

Replying to a query, Hasan said the friendly relations between Bangladesh and Russia which got foundation during the Liberation war , will not hamper at all.

"Our relationship with Russia is very wonderful. Russia stood beside us during the Liberation War and played a pivotal role in rebuilding Bangladesh after the war," he said.

He said they only discussed how to stop the war.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and PM's Deputy Press Secretary Md. Noorelahi Mina were present during the briefing.

Bangladesh Prime Minister arrived in Munich on February 15 evening on a three-day official visit to join the Munich Security Conference 2024.

Upon completion of the tour, Sheikh Hasina will leave Munich tomorrow night and is scheduled to reach Dhaka on February 19.


(BSS)



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World Inside

Imran picks Ayub Khan's grandson as PM

Publish: 08:19 PM, 16 Feb, 2024


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Imran Khan has named Omar Ayub Khan, the grandson of military dictator Ayub Khan, as his pick for Pakistan's prime minister.

Ayub, one of the former prime minister's party leaders, is currently wanted by police on criminal charges. It doesn't stop him from running, though.

However, despite Khan's independents unexpectedly winning the most seats in last week's election, they do not have enough to form a government.
 
Currently, the two main rivals appear on course to take control, after they formed a coalition - Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
  
A senior leader of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, Asad Qaiser, announced Ayub as his pick for PM after meeting with the former premier in prison.
 
Members of Pakistan's National Assembly will elect the new prime minister and 56-year-old Ayub will face off against the PML-N's Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif's brother.
 
Ayub is on the run from criminal charges over riots sparked by Imran Khan's arrest in May last year. But that does not disqualify him from seeking the PM post.
 
If elected PM, Ayub said his top priority is to free political prisoners. He won last week as an independent backed by PTI.
 
He is the grandson of Mohamed Ayub Khan, a military dictator and Pakistan's president from 1958 to 1969.
  
With the PPP's support, Sharif on Wednesday put forward his brother Shehbaz as the PML-N's PM candidate.
 
The vote for Pakistan's next prime minister will take place after all new members of the National Assembly take their oaths, and the speaker and deputy speaker have been elected.
 
Independent candidates - a majority affiliated with Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - won 93 of the 265 National Assembly seats that were contested in last Thursday's election. The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats.
 
The PTI argues that its allies should have won even more votes and seats, alleging vote fraud and interference - which electoral officials have denied.
 
Earlier this week, a politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami party gave up his seat because he says the vote was rigged in his favour.
  
"We will not allow our mandate to be stolen," Ayub said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
 
"PTI as a party will work for strengthening democratic institutions in Pakistan so that the country's economy can be put on a path of positive trajectory and we can initiate our reforms programme to benefit the people of Pakistan," he said.
 
Ayub was first elected into the nation's National Assembly in 2002 as a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, a breakaway party from the PML-N.
 
He joined PML-N in 2012, and then moved again in 2018 to join PTI. He was a minister in Khan's cabinet from 2018 until the ex-PM's ouster in April 2022. He was appointed PTI's secretary-general since 27 May 2003, shortly after Khan's arrest.
 




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World Inside

Trump asks Supreme Court to stay ruling rejecting his immunity to prosecution

Publish: 11:26 AM, 13 Feb, 2024


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Donald Trump on Monday appealed to the US Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that had denied his claim to immunity for alleged crimes while he was president.

The appeal for the top court to stay the earlier ruling is crucial to deciding whether Trump can be put on trial for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in which he lost to current President Joe Biden.

The appeal puts Trump's fate in the Supreme Court's hands nine months before election day in which the hard-right former president is likely to be the Republican nominee to face Biden for a second time.

Trump is the first major presidential candidate in US history to be running under the cloud of multiple criminal and legal investigations and trials.

He faces 91 counts in four criminal cases over his removal of top-secret documents from the White House when he left, his use of hush money to silence damaging allegations of extramarital sex, and the multi-pronged attempt to overturn Biden's 2020 victory.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court -- the level just below the Supreme Court -- ruled that he could not claim immunity.

Trump's claim that he is immune from criminal liability for actions he took while in the White House is "unsupported by precedent, history or the text and structure of the Constitution," the judges said.

Trump has continued to insist that a president must have full legal immunity to be able to carry out duties without "fear" of "retribution."

However, the Washington appeals court said that putting a president "beyond the reach" of the judiciary and legislature through granting of immunity would "collapse our system of separated powers."

The appeals court put the ruling on hold until Monday to give Trump the opportunity to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

The nine justices there must now decide whether to take the case or potentially decline -- automatically allowing the lower court's ruling to stand.

Trump's trial over the attempts to subvert the 2020 election had originally been meant to start March 4, but was delayed by the appeal.

The timing of the Supreme Court's response will further impact the calendar, with the presidential election rapidly looming.

Trump is accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to obstruct the certification by Congress of Biden'swin on January 6, 2021.

The allegation is related to Trump's organizing of a raucous rally on the day of the certification vote, then telling his supporters to march on the Capitol, where they stormed past overwhelmed police officers and ransacked the building, delaying certification before finally being expelled.

Special Counsel Jack Smith filed the election conspiracy case against Trump in August and had been pushing hard for the March trial start date.

If Trump is able to get the trial delayed until after the election and wins another term, he could potentially order federal cases against him to be dropped.


(BSS)



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World Inside

Hamas warns Israel Rafah push may cause casualties in 'tens of thousands'

Publish: 12:15 PM, 11 Feb, 2024


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Gaza's Hamas rulers warned on Saturday that Israel's planned army operation in overcrowded Rafah could cause "tens of thousands" of casualties in the city, the last refuge for displaced Palestinians.

  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the army to set its sights on Rafah. He told military and security officials late Friday to "submit to the cabinet a combined plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions" of Hamas in the southern city.

  Hamas said in a statement that any military action would have catastrophic repercussion that "may lead to tens of thousands of martyrs and injured if Rafah... is invaded".

  Netanyahu's announcement, coming after US President Joe Biden had issued his strongest criticism of Israel's response to the October 7 attack, sparked concern among world leaders and the United Nations.

  "The Israeli occupation's move threatens security and peace in the region and the world. This is a blatant violation of all red lines," said the office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

  The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borell posted on X, formerly Twitter, Saturday: "I echo the warning by several EU member states that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt.

  "Resuming negotiations to free hostages and suspend hostilities is the only way to avert a bloodshed."

  Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned "another bloodbath in Gaza cannot be allowed", in a post on X.

  British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he was "deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.

  "The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out," he posted.

  - Biden frustration -

  The war in Gaza was sparked by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

  Vowing to eliminate Hamas, Israel launched a massive military offensive in Gaza that the territory's health ministry says has killed at least 28,064 people, mostly women and children.

  Hamas seized 250 hostages, 132 of whom are still in Gaza although 29 are presumed dead, Israel has said.

  The United States is Israel's main international backer, providing it with billions of dollars in military aid.

  The US State Department has said it does not support a ground offensive in Rafah, warning that, if not properly planned, such an operation risks "disaster".

  In a sign of growing frustration, Biden issued his strongest criticism of Israel yet on Thursday, describing the retaliation for Hamas's October 7 attack as "over the top".

  Biden said there are "a lot of innocent people who are starving... in trouble and dying, and it's got to stop."

  But Netanyahu's office said it would be "impossible" to achieve the war's objective of eliminating Hamas while leaving four of its battalions in Rafah.

  - Pressure on UNRWA chief -

  The Israeli military said it had killed two "senior Hamas operatives" in an air strike on Rafah Saturday.

  It was part of a wider bombardment that killed at least 25 people in the city, according to the health ministry.

  Israel's military claimed that troops had uncovered a Hamas tunnel under the evacuated Gaza City headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

  Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called for its head, Philippe Lazzarini, to quit.

  Lazzarini said the agency had not operated from the compound since October 12 when staff evacuated it under instruction from Israeli forces.

  Already under pressure after Israel claimed 12 UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack, he called for an independent investigation into the latest Israeli accusations.

  An AFP photographer was among a number of journalists taken to the compound and tunnel by the Israeli military on Thursday.

  UN premises are considered "inviolable" in international law and immune from "search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference".

  Hamas has repeatedly denied Israeli accusations that it has dug a network of tunnels under schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure as cover for its activities.

  - 'Between life and death' -

  Fears are mounting over the fate of more than one million displaced Palestinians who have taken shelter in Rafah, many of them in plastic tents pushed up against the border with Egypt.

  "We are between life and death," said one of them, Bassel Matar. "We don't know if there will be hope tomorrow for a truce or there will be changes on the ground."

  Rafah is the last major population centre in the Gaza Strip that Israeli troops have yet to enter and also the main point of entry for desperately needed relief supplies.

  Humanitarian organisations have expressed alarm at the prospect of a ground incursion.

  The UN children's fund, UNICEF, warned this week that "thousands more could die in the violence or lack of essential services".

  Netanyahu announced the plan for a ground operation in Rafah only days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel seeking a ceasefire and hostage-prisoner exchange.

  The impact of the war has been felt widely, with violence involving Iran-backed allies of Hamas surging across the Middle East.

  A senior Hamas officer survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Lebanon, Palestinian and Lebanese security sources told AFP, but two other people including a Hezbollah member were killed in the attack.

  And in Syria, Israeli strikes near Damascus killed three people, a war monitor said, adding the targeted neighbourhood hosted villas for top military and civilian officials.

-BSS


Hamas   Israel  


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