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Hamas leader says group won’t touch Gaza reconstruction aid | Gaza News



Yahya Sinwar’s remarks come after the US pledged aid for Gaza, but stressed that the aid must not benefit Hamas.

Palestinian group Hamas has promised not to touch “a single cent” of international aid to rebuild the besieged Gaza Strip after Israel bombarded the enclave for 11 days.

Yahya Sinwar, the head of the group’s political wing in Gaza, on Wednesday promised the “transparent and impartial” distribution of aid as a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held for a sixth day.

“We welcome any international or Arab effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip,” Sinwar said.

“I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts,” he said. “We have never taken a cent in the past.”

Sinwar’s remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged his country’s help in rebuilding Gaza on Tuesday, but stressed that the aid must not benefit Hamas, which rules the coastal territory.

The US idea is instead to work with the Palestinian Authority (PA), based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, reducing the risk of strengthening Hamas, which is considered a “terrorist organisation” by the United States and the European Union.

Sinwar said Blinken’s remarks were aimed at widening the divide between Hamas and the PA but insisted they would have no effect on relations between the rival Palestinian factions.

“We will never fall for this trick and lash out at each other,” he said.

Separately on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter that the United Kingdom had pledged 3.2 million pounds ($4.5m) in emergency aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to support those in Gaza affected by recent hostilities.

According to health authorities, at least 254 people, including 66 children, were killed in Gaza as Israel bombarded the Palestinian territory from air, land and sea for 11 days. At least 12 people, including two children, were killed in Israel by rocket attacks carried out by Hamas and other armed groups based in Gaza, Israeli authorities said.

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced the European Union was boosting its humanitarian aid to Palestine by eight million euros ($9.8 million).

Hamas, Fatah divide

Abbas’s moderate Fatah party, which dominates the PA, has clashed with Hamas for years; Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza in 2007 after Hamas legitimately won 2006 elections, and the latter has since ruled only the parts of the occupied West Bank that are not administered by Israel.

Blinken is in the region to help cement the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that has so far held since coming into effect on Friday.

The latest flare-up in violence erupted on May 10 when Hamas sent volleys of rocket fire towards Israel after Israeli security forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – a holy site in Jerusalem revered by Muslims and Jews – injuring hundreds of Palestinians.

The violence in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem followed crackdowns by Israeli forces on protesters demonstrating against the potential forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in favour of Jewish settlers.

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News




Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title




Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.

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Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson




Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.

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