Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli missile strike yesterday, the second day of an army raid aimed at stopping Palestinian rocket fire from a refugee camp at nearby Jewish settlements. \nIn all, 12 Palestinians were killed in fighting in the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza since Thursday, officials said. \nThe Israeli military said the two Palestinians hit by the missile yesterday were militants. The army said the air force had spotted two armed Palestinians planting explosive devices near an Israeli military position and opened fire, hitting both. \nAlso yesterday, a 16-year-old Palestinian died of wounds sustained on Thursday, hospital officials said. \nThe Israeli military says its operation in Khan Younis is aimed at preventing militants from attacking nearby Jewish settlements. Earlier this month, a Thai worker died when a Palestinian mortar round hit the Jewish settlement of Ganei Tal. \nMortar Fire \nIn recent weeks, Palestinian militants have intensified mortar fire on Jewish settlements, ahead of Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer. \nPalestinian militant groups are jockeying for power in the post-Israel era and want to portray the Israeli pullback as retreat under fire. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has warned that he is determined to stop the mortar attacks. \nPalestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned the Kahn Younis raid. \n"I believe that this escalation, one week before the presidential election is seriously undermining this election," Erekat said. \nThe election is set for Jan. 9. \nGunman \nIn the West Bank, meanwhile, Palestinian presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas rode on the shoulders of the West Bank's most famous gunman during a campaign stop on Thursday, prompting questions of whether Abbas is playing campaign politics or identifying with violent groups. \nZakaria Zubeidi, the local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Bri-gades, a violent group with ties to Abbas' ruling Fatah party, took center stage when Abbas came to visit the battered Jenin refugee camp. \nAssault rifle slung over his shoulder, Zubeidi and other gunmen hoisted Abbas onto their shoulders, and the candidate smiled and waved. \nIsrael has been quietly backing Abbas, the front-runner in the presidential election. Abbas, who has called attacks against Israelis a mistake, is seen as a moderate. \nIsraelis contrast him with late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, whom they had shunned, charging that he had been involved in acts of terrorism. \nHowever, with the election less than two weeks away, and Abbas repeatedly referring to Arafat as his guide and associating with militants like Zubeidi, some Israelis are having second thoughts. \nZubeidi is idolized in the camp for his swagger and wanted by Israel for organizing attacks and sending suicide bombers into Israeli cities. Jenin was the scene of heavy fighting during an Israeli incursion in 2002 that followed one of the bombings. \nAbbas won Zubeidi's ringing endorsement. After Abbas left the stage, Zubeidi, with gunmen firing in the air, warned that he would deal with anyone who attempted to challenge the elected Palestinian leadership. Then Zubeidi escorted Abbas' car out of the camp. \nBacking \nPalestinian analysts say Abbas needs to win the election in a landslide to capture even a part of the emotional backing that Arafat had, possibly explaining his trip to the camp and embrace of Zubeidi. \nIn his address, Abbas referred to the 2002 battle, in which 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed, recalling that Yasser Arafat called the camp "Jeningrad." \nThe crowd responded with a healthy cheer. \n"When we demand security," Abbas said, "we demand it for all our citizens, including our wanted brothers who also deserve a life of security and safety," he said, in a reference to Zubeidi and his group, evoking another big cheer.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are