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Israeli fighter jets pound northern Gaza Strip

Israeli fighter jets pound northern Gaza Strip

Israeli fighter jets have carried out a number of aerial attacks in the Gaza Strip in another act of aggression against the Palestinian coastal territory. Israeli warplanes bombarded the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza and a number of areas in southern Gaza late on Friday night.

A security post and several houses were damaged in the Jabaliya neighborhood. Witnesses say the Israeli warplanes also pounded the Abu Jarad district in Gaza.

Israeli media reports claimed that the attacks were conducted in retaliation for rockets fired at Israeli cities earlier in the day.

On Friday, a rocket fired at the southern city of Ashkelon was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile system hours after another rocket hit an open area in the city of Sderot, the reports said, adding that the Sderot rocket caused no injuries and just damaged a bus.

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UN Security Council urges calm and restraint at al-Aqsa

UN Security Council urges calm and restraint at al-Aqsa

The UN Security Council appealed for calm and restraint on Thursday after three days of clashes this week between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslim protesters at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound. In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member panel also expressed its "grave concern" and called for maintaining the rules governing the sensitive site seen as holy by both Muslims and Jews.

"The members of the Security Council called for the exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding unchanged the historic status quo" at the compound "in word and in practice," a statement said.

The third-holiest site in Islam, the compound is also the holiest site in Judaism, which venerates it as the Temple Mount.

It is located in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides see the site as a symbol of religion and nationalism.

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Dozens wounded in clashes over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa entry restrictions

Dozens wounded in clashes over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa entry restrictions

Dozens of people were wounded in clashes Friday over Israel’s entry restrictions on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, as protests against far-right Israelis’ visits to the holy site continued for the sixth day. Earlier Friday, Israel called up about 800 Border Police officers in response to the escalating tensions in Jerusalem, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank held solidarity protests against restrictions on Palestinian worshippers entering the site. Dozens of Palestinians and three Israeli police officers were injured, Haaretz said.

The number of non-Muslims visiting the site increases during Jewish holidays, and hundreds of Israelis — including members of far-right groups who advocate erecting a Jewish temple on the grounds — have visited Al-Aqsa compound this week to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Palestinian protesters fear Israel will seek to change the rules governing the site, giving Jewish groups more access and putting more restrictions on Palestinian access. The site is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Palestinians on Friday organized protests against such restrictions, Palestinian news website Maan News reported.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured when Israeli security forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at protesters in West Bank cities — including Silwad, Ramallah, Kafr Qaddum, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem and Qalqilia — Maan reported.

An Israeli army spokeswoman would not comment on the number of injuries but said clashes were continuing in the West Bank.

Israeli officials said the calling up of security force reservists and newly announced policies against Palestinians who throw stones at Israeli forces would help calm tensions.

“Border Police officers have a great deal of experience and success in dealing with violent enemy activity. Stationing a border patrol company in the capital will help restore order quickly,” Haaretz quoted Tzahi Hanegbi, a member of the Israeli Knesset as saying.

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Muslim teen creates clock, shows teachers, gets arrested

Muslim teen creates clock, shows teachers, gets arrested

When Ahmed Mohamed went to his high school in Irving, Texas, Monday, he was so excited. A teenager with dreams of becoming an engineer, he wanted to show his teacher the digital clock he'd made from a pencil case. The 14-year-old's day ended not with praise, but punishment, after the school called police and he was arrested.

"I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her," Ahmed told reporters Wednesday. "It was really sad that she took the wrong impression of it."

Ahmed talked to the media gathered on his front yard and appeared to wear the same NASA T-shirt he had on in a picture taken as he was being arrested. In the image, he looks confused and upset as he's being led out of school in handcuffs.

"They arrested me and they told me that I committed the crime of a hoax bomb, a fake bomb," the freshman later explained to WFAA after authorities released him.

Irving Police spokesman Officer James McLellan told the station, "We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock."

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Refugees scramble for ways into Europe as Hungary seals borders

Refugees scramble for ways into Europe as Hungary seals borders

For a few fleeting minutes, there was some humanity in the darkness. It had turned midnight on the Serbian side of the Hungarian border, the time that Hungary had said it would close its borders for the final time to refugees. A fortified border fence had finally been finished. At the fence’s weakest point, where refugees had for weeks walked into Hungary along a set of disused railway tracks, police had blocked the way with the carriage of a freight train.

Yet even after the clock struck 12, Hungary seemed to soften, letting a few hundred stragglers enter its territory via a legal foot-crossing that lies in Horgoš, a mile to the west of those train tracks. At 10 minutes past midnight, there were still families running, limping and panting up the road that leads to the border gate. More than 160,000 people had crossed this line so far this year and no one wanted to be the first to be turned away.

“I’m hoping, hoping, hoping,” said Badr, a 47-year-old Syrian engineer, as he neared the final stretch. “We lost everything in Syria – homes, friends, and family. We need to pass through this border.”

So began a day in which Fortress Europe began to pull up the few drawbridges still open. First Hungary blocked its southern border with Serbia, putting into action its much-heralded fence, declaring a state of emergency in two southern counties, and arresting dozens of people for attempting to cross the border under new laws unveiled last week by the prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

Next Hungary announced plans to seal its border with Romania, a move denounced as “not a fair gesture” by the foreign ministry in Bucharest. Then Serbia warned it could not become the dumping ground for Europe’s refugees – or, as its foreign minister put it, “a collection centre”. And finally Austria introduced security checks along its border with Hungary, a measure it said could be extended to those with Slovenia, Italy and Slovakia if needed.

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The human rights victories won by criminals

The human rights victories won by criminals

Terrorists, criminals and prisoners are people too, at least in the eyes of human rights law. Anyone can apply to the European Court of Human Rights for a declaration that their rights have been breached; what they might have done in the past isn’t relevant to whether or not they have a case.

The figure of one third of those successful at the Court being a criminal, terrorist or prisoner comes from the human rights organisation RightsInfo. It says that of the 297 judgments where the Court has found that the British government had violated someone’s rights, 203 haven’t involved anyone of that background.

We make that figure 150—so just under half the cases involved someone convicted or suspected of a criminal offence. But the answer very much depends on what you mean by “criminal”.

Who counts as a criminal?

In the chart below, we define criminals or suspects widely. We’ve included anyone who’s ever been convicted of a criminal offence, according to the Court’s judgment in their human rights case. This includes terrorism suspects with prior convictions, a man hit with financial penalties for non-payment of tax and a woman cautioned for abducting her grandson.

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Government invites regimes with ‘appalling’ human rights records to London arms fair

Government invites regimes with 'appalling' human rights records to London arms fair

Regimes criticised for “appalling” human rights records have been extended official invitations by the Government to attend the world’s largest arms and security fair in London, The Independent can reveal. The list of countries invited by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to attend the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition (DSEI) exhibition next includes countries criticised by campaigners for gross infringements of civil liberties, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Thailand.

The invitation to Azerbaijan has been made despite a rebuke from a Government minister over its draconian imprisonment of a journalist for “questionable allegations”. Foreign Office minister David Lidington said Britain “will take every opportunity to raise concerns over human rights” in the country.

Three countries asked to send a high-level delegation to DSEI - Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Colombia - also feature on the Foreign Office’s own list of “countries of concern” in the implementation of human rights for their citizens.

DSEI, which is held every two years in London’s Docklands, is billed as the largest event of its type in the world. Some 150 foreign government delegations are due to attend the exhibition next week in the ExCel centre, including some 2,800 VIPs ranging from senior generals to defence ministers.

Defence manufacturers from around the world attend the event but it is also a global showcase for British-made military and security hardware with the aiming of boosting exports for the UK’s burgeoning defence sector.

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