Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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Politics

Bedford fire: At least one dead after gas explosion ‘inferno’ at flat

At least one person has died and three others have been rushed to hospital after a gas explosion caused an “inferno” to tear through a block of flats in Bedford, police said. It is possible more deaths will be discovered in the coming days as emergency services continue to search the scene, Bedfordshire Police chief superintendent John Murphy warned. Two people were seriously injured, while a firefighter suffered smoke inhalation after the fire at the block of flats in Redwood Grove.East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) also said there had been three hospital admissions, one of whom was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with leg injuries.“Very sadly we know that at least one person has passed away in the explosion today,” Mr Murphy said.“There is a possibility that there will be more fatalities discovered in the coming days as we continue to search through the scene and a number of people, as my colleague from the fire services has identified, were injured as well today.”

Head of office for Thai pilgrims’ affairs praises Saudi Hajj efforts

RIYADH: The head of the office of Thai pilgrims affairs praised services provided by the Saudi government to pilgrims, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday. Zaki Takei also praised the efforts exerted by all Hajj and pilgrim agencies and the Motawifs Pilgrims for South East Asian Countries Company to serve pilgrims. Following a visit to the company on Monday, he said that the Kingdom has spared no effort in providing support to facilitate pilgrims and allow them to perform their rituals in peace.

Pressure to enforce death penalty mounts in Jordan after brutal murders

AMMAN: Public anger in Jordan over a series of murders described as “stomach-churning” has led to growing calls for the enforcement of the death penalty. There are 219 convicts on death row in Jordan, including 22 women. In February 2019, Jordanian MPs passed an amnesty law, the third of its kind since King Abdullah II took office in 1999. Under the law, about 8,000 prisoners were pardoned, including people convicted of crimes ranging from slander, abuse, cybercrimes and tax evasion. The crimes of murder, espionage and formation of illegal entities were not included in the law. In response to an inquiry by veteran MP Saleh Armouti, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya said that the longest serving death row inmate was convicted of murder in June 1976. He added that if a complaint against a prisoner convicted of murder is withdrawn, their sentence is reduced to 15 years’ imprisonment. His statement came days after Jordanian university student Iman Ersheid, 18, was reportedly shot dead on campus in a crime that has shaken Jordanian society. Many Jordanians took to the social media after Ersheid’s killing last Thursday, demanding that the young nursing student’s killer receive the maximum punishment. However, the killer, identified as Oday Khaled Abdallah Hassan, shot himself after being surrounded by police. Before Hassan’s death came to light, some members of the public demanded that he be hanged in public. Armouti, in his inquiry, accused the government of interfering in the judiciary by failing to execute death penalty court orders. The veteran MP, who is also an established lawyer and former president of the Jordanian Bar Association, said that families and associates of murder victims have “all the right to see justice fully served and criminals receive the punishment for their heinous crimes.” He added that Jordan should not listen to demands to end capital punishment, but should “act with complete sovereignty to protect security.” Armouti said: “Ending the death penalty is a crime that has severe consequences on national security.” Since March 2017, Jordan has not carried out any executions but has continued to hand down death sentences. In 2017, authorities hanged 15 convicts on charges related to murder and terrorism. Jordan previously imposed an eight-year moratorium on capital punishment in 2008. But the policy ended in 2015 when 11 convicts were executed for murder. Mohammed Eliyyan, a professor of Shariah, echoed Armouti’s remarks on the dangers of ending capital punishment. He said: “Such punishment is not an end but a moral lesson and warning to people. Knowing that death is the inevitable punishment, one would think ten times before committing a murder.” Khaled Qudah, a journalist and human rights activist, said that he supported the “gradual abolishment of the death penalty.” He added: “I believe that capital punishment needs to be abolished, but gradually. And until it is completely ended, we need to adopt the ‘strategic litigation’ that examines the motives of the crimes and not their punishment. “No one is born criminal. A human is good by nature but maybe the circumstances make him a criminal.” But Qudah warned that ending capital punishment abruptly would lead to “heinous crimes again innocent people.”  

Iran bought illicit German tech that apparently violated nuke deal

The city-state of Hamburg in northern Germany on Monday published its annual security report, declaring that the Islamic Republic of Iran purchased illegal technology from a German-Iranian man totaling nearly 1 million euros.A September 2021 analysis of the case involving the German-Iranian Alexander J. by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security confirmed the dangerous findings outlined by the Hamburg intelligence agency in its new report.According to the institute's study, “This case [of Alexander J.] highlights the continued effort of Iran to break trade control laws and sanctions of other nations to procure items for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Additionally, Iran continues to actively recruit sympathetic or persuadable individuals to acquire commodities for its sensitive programs. Some of these exports appear to violate the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” var _isHostNameDev_body1 = window.location.hostname == "devdesktopcore.jpost.com";var _isHostNameStg_body1 = window.location.hostname == "stgdesktopcore.jpost.com";if(_isHostNameDev_body1 || _isHostNameStg_body1){console.log("Body1. HostName isDev or isStg");if(catID == 2){cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b' }).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });}}else{console.log("Body1. Production");cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b'}).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });}console.log("BODY. CatId is:"+catID);var _isHostNameDev_body2 = window.location.hostname == "devdesktopcore.jpost.com";var _isHostNameStg_body2 = window.location.hostname == "stgdesktopcore.jpost.com";if(_isHostNameDev_body2 || _isHostNameStg_body2){console.log("Body2. HostName isDev or isStg");if(catID == 69){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";}else if(catID==120){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js'; script.setAttribute('pubname','jpostcom'); script.setAttribute('widgetname','0011r00001lcD1i_12258'); document.getElementsByClassName('divAnyClip')[0].appendChild(script);}else if(catID!=69 && catID!=2){ document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none"; var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://static.vidazoo.com/basev/vwpt.js'; script.setAttribute('data-widget-id','60fd6becf6393400049e6535'); document.getElementsByClassName('divVidazoo')[0].appendChild(script); }}else{console.log("Body2. Production");if(catID==120){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js'; script.setAttribute('pubname','jpostcom'); script.setAttribute('widgetname','0011r00001lcD1i_12258'); document.getElementsByClassName('divAnyClip')[0].appendChild(script);}else if(catID!=69 && catID!=2){ document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none"; var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://static.vidazoo.com/basev/vwpt.js'; script.setAttribute('data-widget-id','60fd6becf6393400049e6535'); document.getElementsByClassName('divVidazoo')[0].appendChild(script); }}The JCPOA is the formal name of the Iran nuclear deal that seeks to provide economic sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for temporary restrictions on its atomic program. Israel, Arab Sunni states, and many western countries believe Iran’s regime is desperately seeking to build a nuclear weapons device. The theocratic state in Tehran denies it seeks atomic weapons.The German Federal Prosecutors Office said, Alexander J. illegally exported a multitude of complex laboratory equipment, including four spectrometers. During the period 2018-2020, Alexander J. sold, in two cases, laboratory equipment to EU-sanctioned companies in Iran used to secure technology for the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.Flag of Germany (credit: FDECOMITE/FLICKR)Due to German privacy concerns, the judicial system and the media frequently do not list the last name of the criminal defendant.A third case took place in January 2020, in which Alexander J. furnished a new Iranian business person with two spectrometers without the required export license.The Hamburg intelligence agency said that two accused accomplices are being sought for their role in the case of  Alexander J. Iran's regime is mentioned 82 times in the 194-page Hamburg report that focuses on a wide range of security threats to  Hamburg's democracy.German intelligence reportsIn June, The Jerusalem Post reported the federal German intelligence agency report said "The German domestic intelligence agencies were able to identify a significant increase in the indications of proliferation-related procurement attempts by Iran for its nuclear program.""The German domestic intelligence agencies were able to identify a significant increase in the indications of proliferation-related procurement attempts by Iran for its nuclear program."Federal German intelligence agency reportAlexander J.'s case was listed under the "Proliferation" section in the Hamburg intelligence report. The intelligence report defines proliferation as "The procurement of products for the production of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and the corresponding carrier technology (rocket technology), including the know-how required for this."The institute study, jointly authored by Spencer Faragasso and Sarah Burkhard, noted that the case of Alexander J. ”highlights the continued effort of Iran to break trade control laws and sanctions of other nations to procure items for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Additionally, Iran continues to actively recruit sympathetic or persuadable individuals to acquire commodities for its sensitive programs. Some of these exports appear to violate the JCPOA. Future discussions with Iran should address the illicit activities being undertaken by Iran’s government in defiance of international and national laws and regulations.”The institute report added that “This also highlights that Iran continues to lack the domestic capability to produce certain sophisticated measuring equipment and analytical instruments, such as spectrometry systems essential for a uranium enrichment program, and thus, is forced to seek these items elsewhere.”Veteran Iran watchers have long noted that Germany is a freewheeling market for Iran’s regime to secure technology and material for its illicit nuclear and missile programs. Germany’s lax enforcement sanctions laws against Iran’s regime have played a role, as well as Germany’s regulatory agency greenlighting many trade deals that are considered dual-use (that can be used for military and civilian purposes).In 2018, the German news website T-Online wrote based on German intelligence findings  that “Germany has been the mullah regime's largest and perhaps most important supermarket worldwide when it comes to the illegal purchase of parts for weapons of mass destruction and their technologies.”The institute report said “Iran continues to go to extensive lengths to acquire the necessary components for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and utilizes front companies and other schemes to deceive legitimate businesses and individuals”The Hamburg intelligence agency said Hezbollah – the main Iranian regime strategic partner – has 1,250 supporters in Germany as of the end of 2021. Germany banned Hezbollah in within the territory of the federal republic in 2020. Critics say that Germany is not enforcing its ban of Hezbollah activities.According to the Hamburg report, there are 30 cultural and mosque associations in Germany that aligned with Hezbollah.

Shireen Abu Akleh's family 'incredulous' after US concludes Israeli gunfire 'likely' killed journalist

The family of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has said "we are incredulous" after the US State Department said that Israeli gunfire was "likely responsible" for her death - and that forensic analysis "could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet".The bullet, which was handed to the Americans by the Palestinian Authority over the weekend, was badly damaged, thereby preventing "a clear conclusion". A statement released by the US State Department on Monday afternoon said Israeli soldiers were probably to blame, although they found no reason to conclude her killing was intentional."After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the US Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion," it read."In addition to the forensic and ballistic analysis, the USSC was granted full access to both Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian Authority investigations over the last several weeks. By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh." Advertisement In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms Abu Akleh's family said they would "continue to call for justice and accountability", adding: "The focus on the bullet has always been misplaced and was an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in its favor." The family added that "the notion that the American investigators believe the bullet "likely came from Israeli positions" is cold comfort".The conclusions come just over a week before US President Joe Biden is due to land in Israel for his first visit to the Middle East since entering the White House.Ms Abu Akleh, a Palestinian journalist with US citizenship, was killed whilst reporting from the West Bank town of Jenin in May - she was wearing a flak jacket and ballistic helmet clearly marked "Press".Hours after her death, the Israeli government strongly rebutted any suggestion IDF forces were to blame, but investigations by a number of international news organisations, including Sky News, and witness statements from the scene, suggested Israeli forces might be to blame.In recent weeks, Israeli forces started to concede one of their soldiers could be to blame but refused to carry out a criminal investigation.Read more: US forensic experts to analyse bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player 0:36 Violence at journalist's funeral Days after the killing, Israeli police beat pallbearers at Ms Abu Akleh's funeral in Jerusalem in scenes broadcast around the world.Ms Abu Akleh is not the first journalist to be killed by Israeli forces - the Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Borders claims that more than 30 journalists, including one Briton, have been killed by the IDF since 2000.

IRGC official behind Iranian air defense deployment in Syria revealed

Brig.-Gen. Fereydoun Mohammadi Saghaei has been identified as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official in charge of deploying advanced Iranian air-defense systems in Syria and Lebanon, according to an independent Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, who runs the Intelli Times blog.הבלוג "אינטלי טיימס" חושף לראשונה את תא"ל פרידון מוחמדי סוקאי - כבכיר האחראי מטעם זרוע האוויר של משמרות המהפכה על התיאום המבצעי מול צבא סוריה, לפריסת מערכות הגנה אווירית, ל"א וכלים משוטטים אחרים, במטרה לאיים על פעילות חיל האוויר הישראלי במרחב. pic.twitter.com/n0B5FqUdL6— אינטלי טיימס - Intelli Times (@IntelliTimes) July 4, 2022 var _isHostNameDev_body1 = window.location.hostname == "devdesktopcore.jpost.com";var _isHostNameStg_body1 = window.location.hostname == "stgdesktopcore.jpost.com";if(_isHostNameDev_body1 || _isHostNameStg_body1){console.log("Body1. HostName isDev or isStg");if(catID == 2){cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b' }).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });}}else{console.log("Body1. Production");cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b'}).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });}console.log("BODY. CatId is:"+catID);var _isHostNameDev_body2 = window.location.hostname == "devdesktopcore.jpost.com";var _isHostNameStg_body2 = window.location.hostname == "stgdesktopcore.jpost.com";if(_isHostNameDev_body2 || _isHostNameStg_body2){console.log("Body2. HostName isDev or isStg");if(catID == 69){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";}else if(catID==120){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js'; script.setAttribute('pubname','jpostcom'); script.setAttribute('widgetname','0011r00001lcD1i_12258'); document.getElementsByClassName('divAnyClip')[0].appendChild(script);}else if(catID!=69 && catID!=2){ document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none"; var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://static.vidazoo.com/basev/vwpt.js'; script.setAttribute('data-widget-id','60fd6becf6393400049e6535'); document.getElementsByClassName('divVidazoo')[0].appendChild(script); }}else{console.log("Body2. Production");if(catID==120){document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none";var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js'; script.setAttribute('pubname','jpostcom'); script.setAttribute('widgetname','0011r00001lcD1i_12258'); document.getElementsByClassName('divAnyClip')[0].appendChild(script);}else if(catID!=69 && catID!=2){ document.getElementsByClassName("divConnatix")[0].style.display ="none"; var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'https://static.vidazoo.com/basev/vwpt.js'; script.setAttribute('data-widget-id','60fd6becf6393400049e6535'); document.getElementsByClassName('divVidazoo')[0].appendChild(script); }}Saghaei serves as the deputy coordinator of the IRGC's Aerospace Force. His identification as the IRGC official in charge of deploying Iran air defenses in Syria was first hinted at in a report by al-Arabiya on Friday, although Solomon clarified that the name they reported at the time (Faird Muhammad Thaqa'i) was slightly incorrect.Solomon says he was able to confirm the report and the correct name of the IRGC official with Western intelligence sources.According to the al-Arabiya report from Friday, Saghaei had visited Damascus several times in the past in order to promote efforts to bring Iranian air defenses to the country. Western intelligence sources told al-Arabiya that Israel is aware of the project and is determined to prevent the formation of an Iranian air defense network in Syria. IRGC air-defense system (credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)In an interview in 2020, Saghaei stated during an air-defense drill that the IRGC's Aerospace Force has a "series of surprising capabilities to deal with the enemy," adding that "the enemies will see our surprising power when they need it."Recent alleged Israeli airstrike targeted Iranian air-defense systemsArabic-language media reported over the weekend that an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting sites south of Tartus on Saturday morning was aimed at hitting Iranian air-defense systems that had been deployed in the area, just a day after the al-Arabiya report was published. The area hit is located just north of the border between Lebanon and Syria.Syrian state media reported that the airstrike only hit poultry farms in the area, injuring two civilians.In March, The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran had used advanced air-defense batteries it had deployed in Syria against Israeli planes conducting airstrikes in the country. The systems were deployed to Syria last year.In 2020, Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub and Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Bagheri signed a military cooperation agreement, including a commitment by Iran to strengthen Syrian air defense systems.

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