Connect with us

News

Egyptian mediators try to build on Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Published

 on

Egyptian mediators sought to reinforce a day-old ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants on Saturday, and aid officials appealed for a period of calm to start tackling a humanitarian crisis in Gaza after 11 days of fighting.

The ceasefire, which began before dawn on Friday, was still holding on Saturday evening, enabling officials to start assessing the scale of the damage.

Despite confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a Jerusalem holy site on Friday, there were no reports of Hamas rocket launches from Gaza or Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave overnight or on Saturday.

Rockets fired by Hamas and other Islamist militant groups paralysed towns in southern Israel during the hostilities, and caused widespread panic, but did much less damage than the bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials put reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars in Gaza, where medical officials said 248 people were killed in the fighting.

A senior U.N. official who toured the densely populated coastal enclave on Saturday warned of increased health risks and widespread despair after homes, roads and other vital infrastructure including hospitals were damaged or destroyed.

“Everybody just needs to stand down and not to engage in any provocative moves,” Lynn Hastings, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said in a rubble-strewn area of Gaza City where she spoke to survivors.

Economists said Israel’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could be curbed by the hostilities and medics said rocket attacks had killed 13 people in Israel before the ceasefire.

After mediating the ceasefire with U.S. support, Egypt sent a delegation to Israel on Friday to discuss ways of firming up the truce, including with aid for Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas officials told Reuters.

The delegates have since been shuttling between Israel and Gaza, and on Saturday met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, an aide to the Palestinian leader said.

A source familiar with planning said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit Israel and the West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday, hoping to build on the ceasefire. Mahmoud, however, has little influence in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Washington would work with the United Nations on bringing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Gaza, with safeguards against funds being used to arm Hamas, which the West deems a terrorist group.

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday called for “the full adherence” to the ceasefire and stressed the immediate need for humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians.

The 15-member council issued a statement, which had to be agreed by consensus, after being unable to speak during the 11-day conflict due to opposition by the United States.

Israel’s foreign ministry said in response it was “very unfortunate” that the Security Council “ignored the launching of over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians from populated areas in Gaza”.

Seeking to build on the truce, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Saturday urged Israel and the Palestinians to return to meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution, which have been deadlocked for years.

“The EU cannot be expected to finance yet again the re-building of Gaza without a meaningful prospect of actually solving the underlying conflict,” Borrell wrote in a blog post.

HUMANITARIAN CONCERN

After her tour in Gaza, the U.N.’s Hastings voiced confidence that existing aid mechanisms in Gaza would “make sure that assistance does not fall into the hands that is not intended to be directed towards”.

Gaza has for years been subjected to an Israeli blockade that restricts the passage of people and goods, as well as restrictions by Egypt.

Both countries cite concerns about weapons reaching Hamas. Palestinians say the restrictions amount to collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million population.

Hastings said she was worried by people being crammed together into crowded accommodation more than ever following the destruction of many residential buildings.

“During COVID it was bad enough here, there was a massive spike in cases right before the escalation. Now people are sheltering together,” she said.

Israel says its air strikes were a response to Hamas firing rockets at Israeli cities on May 10, following Israeli police raids on a holy compound in East Jerusalem and clashes with Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“If we come out of this operation with an extended period of peace and quiet, that’s good for Israel’s civilians and that’s good for Palestinians in Gaza too,” said Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said later on Saturday he would meet soon with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, after they spoke on Friday.

“I emphasized to him that any future arrangement would have to include guarantees regarding security issues and policy principles,” Ashkenazi said on his Twitter page, adding that these included “stopping Hamas’ armament”.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York, Sabine Siebold in Berlin and Jonathan Saul in Jerusalem, Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Nick Macfie)

Continue Reading

News

Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school

Published

 on

An indigenous group in Saskatchewan on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar, smaller discovery rocked the country.

The latest discovery, the biggest to date, is a grim reminder of the years of abuse and discrimination indigenous communities have suffered in Canada even as they continue to fight for justice and better living conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina. He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters, adding that oral stories mentioned adults being buried at the site.

Delorme later told Reuters some of the graves belong to non-indigenous people who may have belonged to the church. He said the First Nation hopes to find the gravestones that once marked these graves, after which they may involve police.

Delorme said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools, mostly Catholic, run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. “This is just the beginning.”

OLD WOUNDS

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

The local Catholic archdiocese gave Cowessess First Nation C$70,000 ($56,813) in 2019 to help restore the site and identify unmarked graves, said spokesperson Eric Gurash. He said the archdiocese gave Cowessess all its death records for the period Catholic parties were running the school.

In a letter to Delorme on Thursday, Archbishop Don Bolen reiterated an earlier apology for the “failures and sins of Church leaders and staff” and pledged to help identify the remains.

Heather Bear, who went to Marieval as a day student in the 1970s and is also vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, recalled a small cemetery at the school but not of the size revealed on Thursday.

“You just didn’t want to be walking around alone in (the school),” she recalled. There was a “sadness that moves. And I think every residential school has that sadness looming.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country. Radar at Marieval found 751 “hits” as of Wednesday with a 10% margin of error, meaning at least 600 graves on the site.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Thursday was a difficult day, Delorme told Reuters. But he wants his young children to know “we will get the reconciliation one day with action like today.”

($1 = 1.2321 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

Continue Reading

News

Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

Published

 on

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Continue Reading

News

Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

Published

 on

Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

Continue Reading

Trending