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Israel denies its troops buried Palestinians in mass grave in Gaza

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Geneva/Tel Aviv, April 24 (IANS/DPA) The bodies discovered in a mass grave in the Gaza Strip were not buried by Israeli soldiers but by Palestinians, according to Israel’s embassy in Geneva.

“The claim that the (Israel Defense Forces) buried Palestinian bodies is baseless and unfounded,” said an embassy statement released on Tuesday evening.

Soldiers only examined the bodies in the grave in search of Israeli hostages, the dignity of the deceased was respected, and the bodies of Palestinians were returned to the same place, it added.

“The examination was conducted in a careful manner and exclusively in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages,” the embassy said.

Palestinian civil defence teams in Gaza reported on Monday that a mass grave with 283 bodies was located near the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis.

According to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, which cited the civil defence, some bodies had bound hands.

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Turk on Tuesday said he was “horrified” at the reported discovery of mass graves near hospitals in Gaza and called for an independent investigation into the causes of the deaths.

There have also been reports in recent weeks of bodies found at the Al-Shifa medical complex in Gaza City.

Under international humanitarian law, hospitals are entitled to special protection.

In his remarks, Turk noted that “the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat (out of action due to injury) is a war crime”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also criticised the recent attacks by Israeli forces in Rafah in the Gaza Strip due to the high death toll among women and children.

“The latest images of a premature child taken from the womb of her dying mother, of the adjacent two houses where 15 children and five women were killed — this is beyond warfare,” said Turk, warning of possible war crimes.

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The pregnant woman was fatally injured in an Israeli attack on a residential building a few days ago, according to a UNHCR spokeswoman.

Rescue workers had taken her to a hospital where the baby had survived after a caesarean section on its dying mother and was now fighting for its life.

The UN office documented three military strikes in Rafah since April 19, in which at least 30 women and children were killed.

The UNHCR now estimates that there are still 1.2 million displaced persons in Rafah. This is down from the earlier estimate of 1.7 million due to many people leaving Rafah for fear of the offensive to the north announced by Israel.

Such an offensive could lead to further violations of international law, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity, UNHCR said.

According to Palestinian authorities, more than 34,000 people died since Israel launched a military operation in retaliation for the massive terrorist attack in the south of the country on October 7 that killed nearly 1,200 people.

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Turk also demanded the immediate release of the remaining hostages taken from Israel during last year’s attack.

Meanwhile, southern Israeli border areas came under renewed rocket fire from Gaza early Tuesday.

Four rockets were intercepted by Israel’s missile defence system, local media said, with one warehouse in the border town of Sderot being hit by fragments and setting on fire. There were no reports of casualties.

According to Israeli figures, more than 16,000 rockets have been fired at Israel by the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas and other groups since October 7.

–IANS/DPA

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Child among four injured in London shooting

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London, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Three adults and a child have been injured in a shooting near a restaurant in the London neighbourhood of Hackney.

London’s Metropolitan Police said the child is in a serious condition and that they are awaiting updates on the condition of the adults after the shooting on Kingsland High Street.

The four were taken to an east London hospital with “gunshot injuries.”

Police said they were called to the scene at around 9.20 pm (1820 GMT) on Wednesday with specialist firearms officers attending.

The force said no arrests have yet been made.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said: “We know Londoners will be shocked by what has taken place tonight.

“Our thoughts go to all those affected.

“Fast-moving inquiries are underway and we will update as soon as we can. If anyone has any information, please contact us.”

–IANS/DPA

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Fourteen Hong Kong activists convicted under national security law

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Shenzhen, China, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Fourteen Hong Kong opposition figures were convicted on Thursday under Beijing’s controversial national security law, the South China Morning Post reported.

Meanwhile, former district councilors Lawrence Lau and Lee Yue-shun were acquitted, becoming the first to do so after trial since the legislation was implemented in June, 2020.

The 16 pro-democracy activists were among 47 people charged with subversion in relation to an unofficial primary election for Hong Kong’s 2020 Legislative Council (LegCo).

The 16, which include former lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Helena Wong, had contested the charge while the remaining 31 pleaded guilty before the start of the four-month trial, the Post reported. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The landmark case saw the highest number of activists ever charged under the national security law at one time since it was imposed in response to mass pro-democracy protests.

The national security law has made it easier for the Chinese authorities to crack down on activists for behaviour they class as secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with a foreign power.

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–IANS/DPA

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Thousands protest in New Zealand as government reveals budget

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Wellington, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets on Thursday in a nationwide protest ahead of the new government’s first budget.

Te Pati Maori (the Maori Party) alongside the Toitu Te Tiriti (Honour the Treaty) called for the protests to demonstrate a unified response to “the Government’s assault” on Maori and New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Pati Maori called for the establishment of a Maori Parliament after the protests.

“Up and down the country, near 100-thousand people have taken part in activation rallies and we have saturated social media networks. We have mobilised our people in a matter of days in a beautiful harmonious activation against this Government,” it said in a statement.

“Seeing Tangata Tiriti (non-Maori) and Tangata Whenua (Maori) as one, which is the true intent of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is exactly what scares the bejesus out of this government.”

“We now begin the process of establishing our own Parliament. Our people will design what this looks like for us, nobody else.”

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Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Johnson said officers were monitoring multiple gatherings across the country.

“While there has been disruption to travel in some locations, the participants have been well-behaved overall.”

Johnson said in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, hundreds of vehicles had clogged roads.

Groups were converging in Auckland central, on Parliament Grounds in Wellington, and in many other cities and towns.

“Police are in attendance and are focused on maintaining public safety while recognising the right to peaceful protest,” Johnson said.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis revealed her first budget on Thursday afternoon in Wellington.

“This year’s Budget is the clean-up job New Zealand needs after six years of economic mismanagement,” she said.

“We are welcoming in a new era of careful government spending, lower taxes for hard-working New Zealanders and a strong focus on rebuilding the economy.”

The protests were a follow-up of Te Pati Maori’s Day of National Action in December, in response to the policies of the coalition government.

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Since the new government was formed in November, it has overturned some of the anti-tobacco laws introduced by the previous left-wing government, axed the country’s Maori Health Authority and encouraged its ministries to roll back the use of the Maori language.

–IANS/DPA

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Mayoral candidate killed during campaign appearance in Mexico

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Mexico City, May 30 (IANS/DPA) An aspiring mayor was killed in Mexico, the latest in a string of attacks in the Latin American country ahead of elections.

Alfredo Cabrera, a candidate for the mayoral position in Mexico’s Coyuca de Benitez, in the southern state of Guerrero, was shot during a campaign rally on Wednesday.

Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado condemned the “cowardly crime.”

Salgado had asked the state prosecutor’s office to bring “the full weight of the law against the person or persons responsible,” she wrote on social media platform X.

Prosecutors said that they started the investigation into the homicide. They added that the alleged assailant was killed at the scene.

At least 20 people running for office have been killed since September, according to local media.

Presidential, parliamentary and regional elections are due to be held in Mexico on Sunday.

–IANS/DPA

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IDF takes control of key Gaza-Egypt border road, discovers 20 tunnels

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Tel Aviv, May 30 (IANS) The Israeli military has said that it has taken operational control of the entire route along the Gaza-Egypt border, known as the Philadelphi area, and discovered 20 tunnels that were used for cross-border smuggling.

This was announced by the spokesperson of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Rear Admiral Daniel Hageri on Wednesday night.

He said several rocket launchers were discovered on the border.

The IDF spokesman said that the newly captured strip of land runs 14 km along the Gaza-Egypt border and is considered Hamas’s Oxygen Pipeline for smuggling weapons.

Hageri said that of the 20 tunnels discovered, some were known to the Israeli Army but others were discovered for the first time.

The spokesperson said that 82 tunnel shafts leading into the tunnels have been located in the newly captured border area.

The IDF said its troops are physically controlling most of the corridor but a small section is controlled by aerial surveillance. The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson in the statement also said that Hamas terrorists positioned the rocket launchers near the Egypt border believing that Israel won’t shoot fearing that it would reach into Egyptian territory.

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“Hamas took advantage of the Philadelphi area, and built its infrastructure just dozens of metres from the border with Egypt so that we can’t strike there,” Hageri said

–IANS

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