Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told hundreds of armed militants at a campaign rally in Gaza yesterday that he would never abandon them, but would fight to protect them from Israeli raids. \nAbbas' comments were his latest gesture to Palestinian gunmen -- viewed as resistance heroes by Palestinians and as terrorists by Israel -- whose support he has courted during his campaign to replace Yasser Arafat in the Jan. 9 elections. \nMeanwhile, Israeli troops pulled out of Khan Younis in southern Gaza early yesterday, ending a three-day operation to target militants who fired homemade rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli settlements. \nThe army said it killed 13 armed Palestinians during the three-day operation. Palestinian security officials put the number of dead at 11 and said nine of them were armed. \nAlso yesterday, Palestinians in northern Gaza fired two mortar rounds at a factory in the Erez industrial zone on the border between Gaza and Israel, wounding two Israeli civilians, one seriously, rescue services said. \nA homemade rocket fired from Gaza lightly wounded a woman in the Israeli town of Sderot earlier yesterday. \nSoon after, about 40 Israeli tanks and armored cars rumbled into agricultural areas outside the northern Gaza towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya. The army said the operation was meant to stop rocket attacks into Israel. \nThe raids came as candidates campaigned in Gaza just days before the Palestinian elections. \nThough Abbas is the overwhelming favorite to win the vote, he lacks Arafat's charisma and street credentials. \nEven if he posts a strong victory, he will need to consolidate his support among the population and get militants to back his new government. \nIsrael has demanded a crackdown on violent groups, which Abbas has repeatedly rejected. \nIn an interview Saturday, Abbas said Palestinians owe the gunmen a debt for their resistance against the Israeli occupation and they have a duty to protect them from Israeli attacks. \nAt a rally yesterday in a basketball stadium in the central Gaza town of Deir el-Balah, Abbas told thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of gunmen, he would not abandon them. \n"We say to our fighting brothers that are wanted by Israel, we will not rest until you can enjoy a life of security, peace, and dignity, so you can live in your country with total freedom," he said. \nAbbas also promised to follow in Arafat's footsteps, saying he would not rest until an independent Palestinian state is established, Israeli settlements are dismantled and Palestinian refugees get their rights. \n"The principles of Yasser Arafat, and his sayings, are his will and it is our duty to implement it," Abbas said. \nMahmoud Mashabat, head of the Jenin Martyrs' Brigades, a small, local militant group, embraced Abbas and kissed him. \nAfter Abbas left, the gunmen began shooting in the air. \nOn Saturday, Abbas was warmly welcomed by dozens of Palestinian gunmen in the Rafah refugee camp, a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. During that rally, he praised Palestinian fugitives wanted by Israel as heroes.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
IN PROTEST: The US’ top diplomat said the WHA had been deprived of Taiwan’s scientific expertise, while Tsai said political factors should not be put above health US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan. Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year. Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA,
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 401 people from among the nation’s 440 confirmed cases have been removed from isolation. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. “As our local communities have gradually become safe, we should not become careless,” Chen said. “We should continue to take personal protective measures