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Israel pursues Rafah offensive despite UN court ruling

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Tel Aviv, May 25 (IANS/DPA) Israel’s armed forces were active in the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, despite a call by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an immediate end to the military operation in Rafah.

Israeli soldiers killed several Palestinian gunmen who had previously fired at the Israelis, the army said. Further weapons caches and tunnel shafts were found in Rafah.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that one civilian was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the city, which borders Egypt.

None of the information could be independently verified.

On Friday, the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately end the military operation in Rafah, as part of a case brought by South Africa.

According to the judges, the humanitarian situation in Rafah is now “disastrous.” Further measures are necessary to prevent further harm to the civilian population, they said.

Israel rejected the ruling, saying it has a “right to defend its territory and its citizens, consistent with its moral values and in compliance with international law.”

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The war in Gaza was triggered by the unprecedented massacre of more than 1,200 people by terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group and other militants on October 7.

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive. The criticism of Israel has grown as the death toll among Palestinians has increased. It currently stands at over 35,000 people dead, according to Hamas authorities in Gaza.

As in previous days, the fighting in Gaza on Saturday centred on the refugee settlement of Jabalia in the north of the coastal strip.

According to the army, Israeli soldiers killed dozens of enemy fighters in the last 24 hours, partly in close combat and partly through targeted airstrikes.

–IANS

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German exports to non-EU countries down 2.6 per cent in June

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German exports to non-EU countries down 2.6 per cent in June

German exports to non-EU countries down 2.6 per cent in June

Berlin, July 22 (IANS) German exports to countries outside the European Union (EU) continued to fall in June, declining by 2.6 per cent month-on-month to 58 billion euros (63.2 billion US dollars), according to the country’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Monday.

Compared with a year ago, the decrease in June reached 4.5 per cent, Destatis reported. Exports to Germany’s most important trading partners, including the United States and China, recorded sharp declines of 6.2 per cent and 9.9 percent year-on-year, respectively.

These figures reflect a recent survey among businesses conducted by the IFO Institute for Economic Research, which indicated that sentiment in the German export industry deteriorated slightly in June, with expectations turning negative once again.

“No clear direction is currently emerging,” said IFO expert Klaus Wohlrabe, adding that the country’s export economy still needs significant improvement, Xinhua news agency reported.

Dirk Jandura, president of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), remarked earlier this month that the weakness of German foreign trade is “largely home-made.” He urged Germany to take a leading role in promoting free trade, warning that without such action, “nothing will happen here in the future.”

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Jandura also cautioned against the European Commission’s tariffs on electric cars imported from China, saying that these measures are not in Germany’s or Europe’s interests. “We must accept international competition rather than isolate ourselves from it,” he added.

–IANS

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25 bodies recovered, 34 missing from two buses hit by landslides in Nepal

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25 bodies recovered, 34 missing from two buses hit by landslides in Nepal

25 bodies recovered, 34 missing from two buses hit by landslides in Nepal

Kathmandu, July 22 (IANS) Twenty-five bodies of the passengers have been recovered while 37 others have remained missing since their buses were swept away into a river by landslides on July 12, a local official said on Monday.

The number of people traveling on the buses was first put at 65, but revised to 62 after verification.

“While three passengers managed to swim out of the river, the dead bodies of 25 have been recovered,” said Indradev Yadav, chief district officer of Chitwan, Xinhua news agency reported.

The whereabouts of the other people and the two buses are still unknown, Yadav told Xinhua, adding that Nepali security forces and a 12-member Indian team are continuing the search operation.

Around 130 people have been killed in rain-triggered incidents in Nepal since the monsoon season started on June 10, according to Nepal Police.

–IANS

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Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

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Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

Jakarta, July 22 (IANS) Indonesia has welcomed a new baby Sumatran orangutan, born at Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Jantho Nature Reserve in the Aceh province.

“The yet-to-be-named female baby was born to Mama Wenda and is in good health,” head of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, Ujang Wisnu Barata, said on Monday.

The baby orangutan is believed to be about two weeks old, Xinhua news agency reported.

Jantho Nature Reserve, home to a variety of wildlife, has seen its seventh orangutan birth since the reintroduction program began in 2011. ■

–IANS

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Hanoi, July 22 (IANS) Vietnam’s cargo output through seaports is expected to reach 1.2-1.4 billion tons by 2030, according to the country’s detailed planning of seaports, harbours and water areas towards 2050 submitted by the Ministry of Transport.

It is forecast that the number of domestic and international passengers passing through the seaports by 2030 will be 17 to 19 million, Vietnam News Agency reported Monday.

The investment capital need for the seaport system by 2030 will be about 351.5 billion Vietnamese dong (13.8 million US dollars), including 72.8 billion dong (2.8 million dollars) for public maritime infrastructure and 278.7 billion dong (11 million dollars) for ports, Xinhua news agency reported.

The country’s cargo output through seaports in the first five months of this year was estimated at over 346 million tonnes, increasing by 17 per cent year on year, said Vietnam Maritime Administration.

–IANS

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Kampala, July 22 (IANS) Ugandan security agencies have had heavy deployment ahead of an anti-corruption protest in the capital city of Kampala, a police spokesperson said here Monday.

Luke Owoyesigire, deputy spokesperson of Kampala Metropolitan Police, told Xinhua by telephone that various security agencies had already deployed their personnel as a precautionary move.

“They (security officers) are already around. They will be around today, tomorrow, and throughout the week,” Owoyesigire said.

The spokesperson said different groups had engaged in continuous mobilization on social media calling upon people to join in the Tuesday march, which the police decided to stop, saying it would attract criminal activities.

“People have other intentions of destabilizing public peace,” Owoyesigire said, before confirming that a message had been sent out to various sector commanders to deploy in their areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the police, mass occupation of streets would likely result in “significant traffic congestion, disruption of trade, and disturbances to public order.”

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The commanders were ordered to “utilise intelligence, be firm and professional.” They were also ordered to be vigilant, not to allow destruction of property or abuse to human lives.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, in a live televised address Saturday to the nation, accused the opposition of working with foreign elements to cause chaos in the country through riots, illegal demonstrations and inconsiderate processions.

“These people are unfair and inconsiderate, and they should check themselves, or we will have no alternative but to check them,” Museveni said.

–IANS

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