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.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread