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Hamas: Gaza will not ‘remain silent’ as Israel escalates siege | News

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Gaza City – The threat of a new Gaza war continues to rise as Palestinians demand an end to the devastating 13-year-long blockade and Israel tightens the screws on Gaza’s economy while targeting Hamas positions.

Israeli warplanes and tanks bombed Hamas military sites early on Tuesday in response to the incendiary balloons launched from Gaza towards Israel’s south, according to an Israeli army statement. 

It was the 15th day in a row that Israel launched attacks against Hamas’s infrastructure and agricultural land in the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s military factions did not respond on Tuesday, although they previously launched rockets towards Israel after attacks last week.

No serious injuries were reported on either side.

The current escalation between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel was caused by the launching of incendiary balloons by Palestinians into southern Israel in the past two weeks as a way to pressure Israel to lift its crippling blockade imposed in 2007. The rigged balloons and kites often start blazes on farms in Israel.

Over the past two years, following the momentum of the Great March of Return protests, multiple deals were reached between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel with the mediation of Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, was to provide security along the demarcation dividing the Palestinians and Israelis, in return for Israel’s alleviation of the blockade.

But Palestinian leaders in Gaza accused Israel of continuing to renege on implementing its side of the bargain.

According to local Palestinian media reports, Israel has failed to extend Gaza’s allowed fishing zone to 20 nautical miles, allow the construction of a new power line into the Gaza Strip, permit Gaza’s power plant to operate on natural gas, and facilitate the movement of goods, including the entry of 1,200 trucks a day, through the Karem Abu Salem (known as Kerem Shalom to Israelis) crossing.

In response to the launching of incendiary balloons, Israel has taken punitive measures against Gaza by restricting goods coming through the crossing, fully closing the sea to Gaza’s fishermen, and halting fuel supplies, causing the territory’s sole power plant to shut down with electricity reduced to four hours a day.

“The current escalation is a confrontation between the Palestinian factions who are fighting to lift the blockade on Gaza, and Israel who is fighting twice as hard to keep the blockade in place,” political analyst Husam al-Dajani told Al Jazeera. 

Israeli soldiers gather near the barrier with the Gaza Strip on August 16 [Menahem Kahana/AFP]

“Whenever the Palestinians protest and demand that the blockade be lifted or even alleviated, Israel responds by further tightening the blockade and further exacerbating the crises in Gaza,” he added.

“By doing this, Israel is adding more fuel to the fire and directing the situation towards further escalation and instability. You solve a problem by addressing its cause, not by exacerbating the cause.”

Al-Dajani said the standoff could lead to another full-blown military confrontation.

“And now Israel is threatening Gaza with another military operation, it’s astonishing that Israel wouldn’t even consider easing its blockade on Gaza and would contemplate any other alternative,” he said.

‘Situation exploding’

Hamas official Basem Naim told Al Jazeera despite efforts to “prevent the situation from exploding”, Israel continues to escalate the Gaza siege and evade committing to previous agreements.

“The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are living under unbearably miserable and grim conditions … Gaza’s factions have told the mediators that Gaza will not remain silent under these tragic conditions.” 

Gaza’s armed groups and Israeli forces are now on high alert and gearing up for further confrontation. Hamas officials say this time they will not cooperate until Israel fully lifts its blockade on Gaza.

In preparation for an escalation, the Israeli army on Sunday reinforced the deployment of Iron Dome missile batteries in the south.

Meanwhile, incendiary-balloon units released a statement on Saturday saying: “We will not retreat and will not rest until the demands of our people are met and the blockade is lifted.”

In Gaza, Palestinian factions are united behind the demand for Israel to lift the blockade. 

On Friday, Gaza’s Joint Chamber of the Palestinian Resistance Factions, which includes 13 armed groups, issued a statement. 

“We will not allow the enemy to continue the unjust siege on our people … It is the right of our people to express, by all appropriate means, their rejection of the blockade,” it said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to assassinate Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders if the fire balloons continue, and suggested another war on Gaza is possible.

Economic calamity

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.

The siege has inflicted severe hardship on residents. The poverty rate among Gaza’s population has reached 53 percent, while “extreme poverty” stands at 33.8 percent, according to statistics by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

About 68 percent of families do not have enough to eat, while 80 percent of Gazans are dependent on aid. The area’s unemployment rate stands at 45.1 percent, according to PCBS.

“The Israeli occupation wants to keep the blockade in place on the Gaza Strip,” said Talal Abu Zarifa, senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“Israel wants to enforce calm in Gaza without lifting the siege, and the Palestinians reject that equation.”

Abu Zarifa added: “When the occupation closes the crossings and prevents fishing at sea, these acts constitute collective punishment and this is against international and humanitarian law.”

He noted “the occupation” bears responsibility for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip. 

The international community must pressure Israel to lift the blockade and stop all forms of collective punishment on the Palestinian people, Abu Zarifa added.

Naim said the suffering of Gazans has become “a forgotten issue”.

“In light of that, the Palestinian people and Palestinian factions have no other option other than to take the initiative and raise their voice against this deteriorating humanitarian situation, and say we will not accept that we die in silence,” he said.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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