US Special Counsel Robert MuellerÂ testified on Wednesday before two congressional committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.Â
Mueller’s appearance before two House panels promised to be the TV event of the year in the US House, where politiciansÂ questioned him for more than five hours about the book-length report he released in April.
Democrats hoped that by putting Mueller on television and highlighting the parts of the report that they believe describe Trump’s most egregious behaviour, they would be able to ignite new outrage and renew public interest in their investigations into the president.Â
But Republicans were there too, and defended Trump, who has condemned the probe as a “witch-hunt.”Â
Mueller first appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for three and a half hours. He then appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for about two hours.Â
Here how it played out, starting with the most recent update on July 24:Â
House Intelligence Committee concludes hearing
The House Intelligence panel concluded its hearing with Mueller, ending a day of testimony from the former special counsel on his investigation into Russian interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
Mueller says why he didn’t subpoena Trump
Mueller told Congress his team decided not to exercise its subpoena powers against Trump because it wanted to expedite the end of the investigation and a subpoena could have led to a lengthy legal fight.
“If we did subpoena the president, he would fight the subpoena and we would be in the midst of the investigation for a substantial period of time,” Mueller said. He indicated his office believed it had the authority to subpoena Trump but opted not to do so.
Mueller says he ‘generally’ agrees Trump wasn’t always truthful in answers
Mueller said he “generally” agreed with a characterisation that Trump’s written answers to investigators probing Russian interference in the US election were not always truthful.
“Isn’t it fair to say that the president’s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete because he didn’t answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers showed that he wasn’t always being truthful?” Democrat Val Demings asked as Mueller testified before the House intelligence panel.
“Generally,” Mueller said.Â
Mueller quiet on whether he subpoenaed Trump Jr.
Mueller refused to say whether his team subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr.
Eric Swalwell, a Democrat, asked Mueller if he subpoenaed the president’s eldest son or if he wanted to interview him. Mueller responded: “I’m not going to discuss that.”
Mueller testifies before the House Intelligence Committee during a much-anticipated hearing about Russian interference into the 2016 election, and possible efforts by President Trump to obstruct Mueller’s investigation [Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE]Â
Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation, which was released in April, said Trump Jr had “declined to be voluntarily interviewed” by the special counsel’s office.
There are two lines in the report, following that statement, that are redacted because they contain grand jury information.
Trump Jr was a key figure in a 2016 campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in New York that captured Mueller’s attention.
Mueller raises alarm on continued Russian interference
As the House Intelligence Hearing resumed, Mueller raised raises alarm on continued Russian election interference, telling tells Congress, “They’re doing it as we sit here.”Â
House Intelligence Committee on short break
The House Intelligence Committee is on a short break. That hearing will continue soon.Â
Mueller on Trump praise of WikiLeaks: ‘Problematic is an understatement’
When asked about Trump’s praise of WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mueller said calling it “problematic is an understatement”.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]Â
Mueller clarifies answer on indicting Trump
Mueller has clarified that he did not consider bringing criminal charges against Trump as part of his Russia investigation.
Mueller in his congressional testimony Wednesday morning seemed to agree that he did not charge Trump with obstruction of justice because of Justice Department guidance saying a sitting president can’t be indicted.
Democrats seized on that answer, but when testimony resumed in the afternoon, Mueller clarified. He said “that is not the correct way to say it”.
Mueller said his team “did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime”.
Mueller says Trump-Russia probe not a ‘witch-hunt’
Mueller said his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was “not a witch hunt”.
Trump has repeatedly referred to the Russia investigation as a witch-hunt, including on Wednesday morning when he tweeted the hearings were part of the “Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history.”
Mueller was responding to a question from intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat.
Top Republican: Hearing is ‘political theatre’
The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said a hearing with Mueller is “political theater” and a “Hail Mary” attempt by Democrats to convince Americans that Trump conspired with Russia to win election.
Devin Nunes said there were “red flags” as the Justice Department started investigating Russian contacts with Trump’s campaign in 2016. Republicans have argued that the department conspired against Trump as that probe began.
Mueller, who later took over the investigation, said in his report released in April that there was no evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia. But it detailed many contacts between the two.
Nunes called the Mueller hearing the “last gasp of the Russia collusion conspiracy.”
House intelligence hearing begins
The House intelligence committee chairman said the Mueller report was “methodical and devastating.”
Adam Schiff’s prepared remarks come at the start intelligence panel’s hearing.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and former Deputy Special Counsel Aaron Zebley are sworn in for testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing [Jim Watson/AFP]
Schiff, a Democrat, said the report also tells the story of “disloyalty to country, about greed and about lies”.
Schiff said what is at stake is “our next election, and the one after that, for generations to come.”
White House calls hearing an ’embarrasment’Â
The White House called Mueller’s congressional testimony “an epic embarrassment for the Democrats”.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement as Mueller prepared for a second round of testimony on Capitol Hill about his investigation into Russian election interference and obstruction of justice by Trump.
“The last three hours have been an epic embarrassment for the Democrats. Expect more of the same in the second half,”Â Grisham’s statement said.Â
House Judiciary hearing takeaways
As expected, the first of back-to-back congressional hearings ended without major surprises.Â
In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller stuck with what his office outlined in its 448-page report, which was released in redacted form earlier this year. That reportÂ concluded there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. But Mueller declined to make a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, though the report outlined 10 instances in which Trump tried to impede the investigation.
Mueller made clear that he did not exonerate Trump and that the president could still be charged when he leaves the office.Â
The former special counsel also defended his team and the investigation, despite repeated attempts by Republicans to challenge the probe and, at times, Mueller himself.Â
Democrats chose to highlight the 10 instances the report cited in which Trump might have obstructed justice.
The hearing focused little on Russian interference, which Mueller in his opening statement, said was “among most serious” challenges to American democracy.Â
House Judiciary Committee hearing ends
The House Judiciary hearing has ended. It lasted three and a half hours and included questioning by all members on the committee.Â
According to CBS News,Â there were 110 one-word answers by Mueller.Â
The House Intelligence hearing will be held after a short break.Â
Mueller says he didn’t seek FBI top job under Trump
Mueller again disputed assertions that he had interviewed with President Trump in 2017 to serve as the FBI director a day before he was appointed to oversee the Russia investigation.
“My understanding of it was (I was) not applying for the job, I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job,” Mueller told the US House Judiciary Committee. “I interviewed with the president … it was about the job, but not about me applying for the job.”
Trump tweeted on Wednesday that there are “numerous witnesses”, including Vice President Mike Pence, who could say that Mueller applied and was interviewed for the job and was “turned down” for it.
Mueller defends report against Republican attacks
Mueller pushed back against Republican attacks with a forceful defence of his report on the Trump-Russia investigation.
Mueller said he doesn’t think the politicians have reviewed “a report that is a thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us”.
Trump renews attacks on Mueller probe
With a barrage of morning tweets, Trump renewed his efforts to undermine the credibility of Mueller.Â
Before Mueller even took his seat to testify, the president tweeted nine times about Mueller and his investigation.
And by mid-morning, Trump and his allies were already spinning the moment as a victory for the White House.
The president, in a pair of tweets, quoted Fox News coverage of the hearing, including anchor Chris Wallace, saying, “This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”
Mueller says Trump can be charged when term ends
Mueller affirmed that a president can be charged with crimes after leaving the office.
He said the Department ofÂ Justice (DOJ)Â guidelines prevented him from considering charges against Trump while he is in office.
Because of the longtime DOJÂ guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mueller said, “One of the tools a prosecutor would use is not there.”
Mueller testifies to the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]Â
Trump sons go after Democrats on Mueller hearing
President Trump’s sons and advisers are weighing in on Mueller’s congressional testimony with quips on Twitter targeting Democrats.
Donald Trump Jr called the hearing a “disaster” for Democrats. He said Mueller claims he could not understand the Republicans’ questions, but totally gets the ones from Democrats.
Eric Trump says Republican Jim Jordan’s comments at the hearing were “spot on”. Jordan said Democrats should be investigating what he says are “false accusations” that started the Russia probe.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the hearing shows the Russia probe was run by Democrats wanting to destroy Trump.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted three words: “drop the mic.”
Highlights so far
In case you need to catch up, here are some highlights after more than two hours of Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary panel hearing:Â
“Obstruction of justice strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and to hold wrongdoers accountable,” Mueller said.Â
“Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime. That was our decision then and remains our decision today,” the former special counsel told the panel.Â
Asked whether the report exonerated Trump on the question of obstruction of justice, Mueller said: “That is not what the report said.”
“The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller told members of Congress.Â
Asked if Trump wanted Mueller fired for investigating possible obstruction of justice: “That’s what it says in the report, yes. I stand by the report.”
On Attorney General William Barr’s role:
“I will not comment on the actions of the attorney general or of Congress,” Mueller said.Â
“Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime. That was our decision then and remains our decision today,” the former special counsel said.Â
Nature of the probe
Mueller disagreed with Republican Representative Ken Buck’s assertion that said the list of incidents that could be obstruction of justice in the report was an attempt to throw “a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what would stick”.Â
After a short break, the House Judiciary panel resumed its hearing with Mueller.Â
Mueller disputes Trump claim he wanted FBI job
Mueller disputed Trump’s claim that Mueller was rebuffed in a bid to fill the post of FBI director.
Facing questions from congressional politicians, Mueller said he spoke with Trump about the FBI job before he was named as the special counsel, but “not as a candidate”.
Then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has said that while the White House invited Mueller to speak to the president about the FBI and thought about asking him to become director again, Mueller did not come in looking for a job.
Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee during a much-anticipated hearing about Russian interference into the 2016 election, and possible efforts by President Trump to obstruct Mueller’s investigation [Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE]Â
Trump tweeted on Wednesday that there are “numerous witnesses”, including Vice President Mike Pence, who could say that Mueller applied and interviewed for the job and was “turned down” for it.
Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah told the Associated Press news agency that the vice president “was present in the Oval Office when Robert Mueller interviewed for the job of FBI Director in May of 2017”.
Mueller on Trump’s desire to fire him
Citing his office’s report, Mueller said that Trump wanted to fire him because he was investigating obstruction of justice.Â
Asked at a US House hearing whether Trump wanted Mueller fired for investigating possible obstruction of justice by Trump or his associates, Mueller referred to his report on the investigation and replied, “That’s what it says in the report, yes. I stand by the report.”
As expected, Democrats have so far focused on instances laid out in the Mueller report that highlighted potential way Trump obstructed justice. They have repeatedly said they believe Mueller intended for Congress to continue probing those instances.Â
Republicans, on the other hand,Â have so far focused on Trump’s presumption of innocence. It also appears Republicans are attempting to discredit the probe, and at times Mueller himself.Â
Who is sitting next to Mueller?Â
Who is sitting next to Mueller, seen pointing to specific passages in what appears to be the 448-page report?
That isÂ Mueller’s top aide, Aaron Zebley. The aide was not sworn in before the House Judiciary Committee, and therefore won’t testify. But according to US media, Zebley will likely be sworn in and asked questions during the House Intelligence hearing later on Wednesday. Trump called the Democrats’ decision to allow Zebley to appear “a disgrace”.Â
Mueller testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
Mueller offers limited answers
As expected – and promised – Mueller has so far offered limited responses to committee members’ questions.Â
He has responded to many questions with one-word answers, and referred committee members to his 448-page report.
Remember, in his opening remarks, he said he would limit his testimony to the scope of the report. “As I said on May 29, the report is my testimony,” he said.Â
Mueller says Russia hoped to benefit from Trump
Mueller said the Russians believed they would benefit from Trump winning the 2016 presidential election.Â
The former special counsel was asked if his investigation found the Russian government perceived a benefit if one of the candidates won.
“Yes,” he said.
“And which candidate would that be?” asked Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat.
“It would be Trump,” Mueller said.
Mueller dismisses Trump’s claims of ‘total exoneration’
In answering questions from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Mueller said his report did not conclude Trump did not commit obstruction of justice.Â
Mueller’s report said the investigation did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. But it said investigators did not clear Trump of trying to obstruct the probe.
Mueller: Russian interference ‘among most serious’ challenges
As he wrapped up his opening statement, Mueller said that Russian interference in the 2016 election is “among the most serious” challenges to American democracy.Â
“This deserves the attention of every American,” he added.Â
A name card for former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is placed at a table before he testifies [Saul Loeb/AFP]Â
Mueller: Won’t comment on actions taken by BarrÂ
In his opening statement, Mueller said he would not comment on any actions taken by Attorney General William Barr or Congress.Â
He stayed in line with what his office laid out in its report. “As I said on May 29, the report is my testimony,” he said.Â
Mueller sworn in
Mueller has been sworn in. The former special counsel will now give his opening statement.Â
Nadler: We have a responsibilityÂ
In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, said that Congress has a “responsibility to address the evidence” that Mueller uncovered.Â
“We will follow your example, Director Mueller,” Nadler said. “We will act with integrity.Â We will follow the facts where they lead. Â We will consider all appropriate remedies.Â We will make our recommendation to the House when our work concludes.”
House Judiciary Committee hearing begins
The first of the twoÂ back-to-back hearings has started. The hearing will start with committee chairman Jerrold Nadler giving his opening statement.Â
Former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller arrives to testify before Congress [Saul Loeb/AFP]
Mueller testimony: What to expect
As Mueller gets ready for his day of testimony, here are six things to know before the highly-anticipated hearings.Â
Also get a refresher on some of the key findings of the Mueller report.Â
And a reminder of all the key players.Â Â
Tuesday, July 23
McConnell won’t watch Mueller testimony
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t intend to watch former Special Counsel Robert Mueller give evidence before Congress on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The Republican told reporters on Tuesday the public already has a “pretty full picture” of Mueller’s report.
McConnell said he doesn’t know “how many times we want to see this movie again.” He said the public has “moved on past” it.
Mueller wants aide with him
Mueller has requested that a longtime associate appears alongside him whenÂ he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.
Mueller has asked that Aaron Zebley, his former chief of staff and his top aide on the Russia investigation, accompany him at the witness table during Wednesday’s hearing. That’s according to a person familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.Â
Republicans are opposed to the request.
Representative Doug Collins, the Judiciary panel’s top Republican, called the move an “apparent stunt” by Democrats. He said it “shows the lengths Democrats will go to protect a one-sided narrative from a thorough examination by committee Republicans.” Trump also criticised the move.Â
DOJ tells MuellerÂ to keep to report
The Justice Department has told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller not to stray beyond his report on Russian election interference when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.
The department said in a letter that Mueller should not speak about redacted material from his report – including material pertaining to pending criminal prosecutions, “uncharged third-parties” and “executive privilege,” such as “presidential communications privileges.”
The letter is entirely in line with what Mueller has already said – which is that he doesn’t intend to speak beyond his report’s findings during Wednesday’s congressional hearings. But Democrats are preparing questions to highlight the report’s most damning details.
The department provided the letter on Monday in response to what it said was a request from Mueller about limitations or potential privilege issues affecting his testimony.
Eid gatherings, parties could lead to spike in Covid cases
Globally, virus cases have surged after nationwide celebrations. The UAE is starting to bend the Covid-19 curve, but with Eid Al Fitr coming up, irresponsible get-togethers could easily turn the recovery graph upside down, medical experts have warned. The country’s daily Covid cases dropped to 1,507 on Monday, the second-lowest daily count recorded so far…
Globally, virus cases have surged after nationwide celebrations.
The UAE is starting to bend the Covid-19 curve, but with Eid Al Fitr coming up, irresponsible get-togethers could easily turn the recovery graph upside down, medical experts have warned.
The country’s daily Covid cases dropped to 1,507 on Monday, the second-lowest daily count recorded so far this year after 1,501 cases were reported on January 4. It was a big improvement from the highs of more than 3,000 cases in January, hitting 3,977 on February 3.
Eid gatherings of more than 5 banned; Dh50,000 fine for hosts
However, with anticipated pent-up demand for travel, get-togethers, and camping, medics have urged the public to be responsible. Keep celebrations low-key, scrap gatherings, and avoid hugs and handshakes.
Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, president of the Emirates Oncology Society, underlined that the UAE has managed to reduce the number of new cases but there is a long road ahead.
“This is the second Eid Al Fitr during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, there was a lot of anxiety and fear. Fortunately, now, we have the benefit of knowing how to deal with this dangerous virus. We also have the confidence to keep ourselves safe by taking the vaccine and following safety measures. At the same time, we should continue this fight with utmost care and precautions.
Dr Al Shamsi, who is also consultant for oncology and internal medicine at Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah, reminded community members to refrain from being part of any large gatherings, shaking hands and giving hugs.
Eid Al Fitr in UAE: Covid safety rules announced
“We used to celebrate Eid with grand ceremonies in the years before the pandemic. But this time, we should anticipate the dangers of large gatherings and get-togethers. Early this year, we saw an increase in daily reported infections due to laxity as part of celebrations. Through consistent efforts, the number of cases has been reduced. So, it’s our responsibility to follow all safety protocols.
“We should limit meetings within immediate family members who have been vaccinated. Keep physical distance and wear a mask. Avoid large gatherings and unnecessary outings. When guests arrive, minimise gestures that promote close contact. Don’t shake hands or give hugs, try elbow bumps, wave and verbally greet them.”
Dr Vinu George Abraham, internal medicine specialist at Aster Clinic–Dar Al Shifa, Abu Dhabi, pointed out that globally, caseloads have surged after nationwide celebrations.
“There has been numerous data forwarded by the WHO, which showed a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases just because of large and small social gatherings. There has been a reported ten-fold increase in Covid-19 cases worldwide because of events like New Year celebrations, school breaks, Thanksgiving, etc. In such celebrations, it is arduous for the government healthcare facility to track down the source of infection and provide effective treatment and isolation.”
Dr Abraham urged community members to mark the festival with utmost responsibility by adhering to health and safety measures.
“Although the number of infections is declining in the UAE, there are still people with low immunity, like the elderly with chronic disease and pregnant women. They need continuous care. The virus constantly changes through mutation and new variants are expected to occur over time. Health is wealth, stay home, stay safe and stay blessed.”
Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, internal medicine specialist at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, pointed out that even going to restaurants had been linked to a higher likelihood of infection.
“A large seroprevalence survey from Spain highlighted the greater risk of infection within the household compared with non-household exposures. Although transmission rates are highest in household and congregate settings, frequently reported clusters of cases after social or work gatherings also highlight the risk of transmission through close and non-household social contact. Going to restaurants and other drinking or eating establishments has been associated with a higher likelihood of infection, likely because of the difficulty with wearing masks and maintaining social distancing in such settings.”
I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.
Dubai: JLT tower residents sweat it out without AC
They say they have paid their dues, and hold the company managing the building responsible. Tenants of a high-rise building in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) are fuming as they have been living without air-conditioners for half a year now. Cooling services were cut off at the Preatoni Tower over a dispute about unpaid bills.…
They say they have paid their dues, and hold the company managing the building responsible.
Tenants of a high-rise building in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) are fuming as they have been living without air-conditioners for half a year now.
Cooling services were cut off at the Preatoni Tower over a dispute about unpaid bills. Tenants said most of them were paying their dues on time, but they claimed the firm that used to manage their building failed to remit their payments and could have misappropriated the funds. Now, a new company has taken over and government authorities are investigating the matter.
As they wait for the issue to be resolved, the tower’s 200 residents are left with no choice but to sweat it out in their flats.
NP, who owns a couple of apartments in the tower, said: “Why should the whole building pay the price for those who haven’t paid? It is unfair on the part of the service providers to cut the cooling services of people who have paid their charges. It is Ramadan, many are fasting, we have pregnant women, old people and children in the building who can have severe health issues with the soaring temperatures.”
He said they noticed the AC problem in October last year. “The air-conditioners weren’t as they should, and gradually, the AC power was completely cut off. I have supplied my tenant with portable ACs but it is not enough.”
Besides the cooling issue, several other services were eventually affected — from cleaners to elevators. The residents raised the issue and a new management firm was assigned to take care of the building services.
“Chilled water services were withdrawn and we have to make do with burning hot water from the overhead tanks. In the last six months, we have suffered so much, along with our tenants. A few days ago, even the elevator stopped working and it was crazy as residents who stay on upper floors of our 46-storey tower had to take the stairs!” NP said.
Worse, some agents duped residents into renting a unit without telling them the air-conditioner wasn’t working.
Elsa, a UK national and a working mum, was one of them. “I moved in to the Preatoni Tower with my four-year-old daughter this year as I liked its location. Neither the landlord nor the agent mentioned a word about the AC issue. Since the weather was good when I moved in, I didn’t require the air-conditioner but as days progressed and it got hotter, I tried switching on the AC but it didn’t work.
“This is when my landlord told me about the issue and told me it will get resolved soon. He gave me three portable ACs but nothing seems to work with the heat outside. I have to put a hose outside the window, which leaves a some part of the window open, letting all the heat in.”
Murachelli Pierluigi, an Italian national, never thought he would have to live in a home cooled only by a portable fan.
“The agents fooled me by saying the matter would get resolved next week but their promise had not seen the light of the day. My apartment temperature is 35 degrees and I cannot stop sweating although my portable fan is on 24/7. I hope this issue gets resolved before something serious happens,” he said.
Kami, another resident, moved into the tower just recently but as soon as she realised the AC wasn’t working, she wanted to leave. Unfortunately, they had already paid all the down payments. “The agents have taken cheques for the full year and they are not letting us break the lease, let alone return our deposit and agency fee. To top it all, the agents are extremely rude to us, they ignore our calls and when they pick up, they say that the cooling services will resume in a few days but that hasn’t happened in the last few months since we moved. We are miserable and seek desperate attention from the authorities to help us out before any of us falls sick.”
Elsa added that because of the situation, she and her daughter spend most of their day outdoors. “Things were going from bad to worse as the cleaners stopped coming to our building, leaving it in a very unhygienic condition. We cannot afford to invite more diseases especially when we are already dealing with the pandemic. I am worried for my daughter and it is very frustrating as we do not know who to go to,” she said.
UN says 5 migrants downed; over 700 intercepted off Libya
UN chief urges Israel to exercise restraint as more clashes erupt in East Jerusalem JERUSALEM: Palestinian protesters threw rocks and Israeli police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets in clashes outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Monday as Israel marked the anniversary of its capture of parts of the city in the 1967 Arab-Israeli…
UN chief urges Israel to exercise restraint as more clashes erupt in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM: Palestinian protesters threw rocks and Israeli police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets in clashes outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Monday as Israel marked the anniversary of its capture of parts of the city in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said more than 180 Palestinians were injured in the violence, of whom more than 80, including one person in critical condition, were transferred to hospitals.Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, has been a focal point of violence in Jerusalem throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The clashes have raised international concern.Tensions were particularly high as Israel was marked “Jerusalem Day,” its annual celebration of the capture of East Jerusalem and the walled Old City that is home to Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy places.In an effort to ease the situation, Israeli police said they had banned Jewish groups from paying Jerusalem Day visits to the holy plaza that houses Al-Aqsa, and which Jews revere as the site of biblical Jewish temples.
Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres believes Israel “must exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” a UN spokesman said, as tensions rise around Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest mosque.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
“He urges Israel to cease demolitions and evictions.”
Guterres urged that the status quo at the holy sites be upheld and respected, Dujarric said.
The late-night skirmishes raised the likelihood of further clashes Monday during the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations.
Israeli police gave the go-ahead to the parade Sunday, despite days of unrest and soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a flashpoint holy site and in a nearby Arab neighborhood where Jewish settlers are trying to evict dozens of Palestinians from their homes.
Addressing a special Cabinet meeting ahead of Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel “will not allow any extremists to destabilize the calm in Jerusalem. We will enforce law and order decisively and responsibly.”
“We will continue to maintain freedom of worship for all faiths, but we will not allow violent disturbances,” he said. At the same time, he said, “We emphatically reject the pressures not to build in Jerusalem.”
The United States again expressed its “serious concerns” about the situation in Jerusalem, including clashes between Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s Old City, home to sites sacred by Muslims and Jews, and Israeli police, as well as the expected expulsion of Palestinian families.
Washington made its concerns during a phone call between National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart. Sullivan urged Israel “to pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm during Jerusalem Day commemorations,” according to a statement by National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne.
Jerusalem Day is meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, home to the Old City and its sensitive holy sites, in the 1967 Mideast war. But the annual event is widely perceived as provocative, as hard-line nationalist Israelis, guarded by police, march through the Damascus Gate of the Old City and through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
This year the march coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of heightened religious sensitivities, and follows weeks of clashes. That, combined with Palestinian anger over the eviction plan in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, could set the stage for an especially volatile day.
Amos Gilad, a former senior defense official, told Army Radio that the parade should be canceled or at least kept away from Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and can explode at any time.” Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said the final route of the parade had not yet been decided.
This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)
In recent days, dozens of Palestinians have been wounded in clashes near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City. The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It has been a tinderbox for serious violence in the past.
“The occupier plays with fire, and tampering with Jerusalem is very dangerous,” Saleh Arouri, a top Hamas official, told the militant group’s Al-Aqsa TV station.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.
The violence, along with the planned evictions in east Jerusalem, have drawn condemnations from Israel’s Arab allies and expressions of concern from the United States, Europe and the United Nations.In Sunday night’s clashes, Palestinian protesters shouted at police and pelted them with rocks and bottles, while police fired stun grenades and a water cannon to disperse the crowds. Palestinian medics said at least 14 protesters were injured.The clashes were less intense than the previous two nights. Police said over 20 police officers had been injured in recent days.But there were signs the violence was beginning to spread.Late Sunday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired four rockets toward Israel, setting off air raid sirens in southern city of Ashkelon and nearby areas, the Israeli military said. It said one rocket was intercepted, while two others exploded inside Gaza. Early Monday, Israeli tanks and artillery struck several Hamas posts near the border in retaliation for the rocket fire. There were no reports of injuries.Earlier in the day, Israel carried out an airstrike on a Hamas post in response to another rocket attack. Gazan protesters affiliated with Hamas militant group also launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel during the day, causing dozens of fires.In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Israeli police also clashed with hundreds of Arab students at Israel’s Hebrew University, using stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Police said 15 people were arrested at another protest in the northern city of Haifa.Jordan and Egypt, the first two countries to strike peace deals with Israel, both summoned senior Israeli diplomats to condemn the Israeli actions.Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who acts as custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, condemned what he called “Israeli violations and escalating practices” and urged Israel to halt its “provocations against Jerusalemites.”At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was following the events in Jerusalem with worry and called for an end to the clashes.“Violence only generates violence,” he told the public gathered at St. Peter’s Square.With tensions high, the Israeli Supreme Court postponed a decision on the possible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. The decision had been expected for Monday, but was pushed back by up to 30 days in light of “circumstances,” the court saidPalestinians and international rights groups portray the planned evictions as a part of a campaign by Israel to drive Palestinians from traditionally Arab neighborhoods, especially in the heart of Jerusalem. Israel has cast the evictions case as a real estate dispute.The flare-up in hostilities comes at a crucial point in Israel’s political crisis after longtime leader Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition. His opponents are now working to build an alternate government. If they succeed, Netanyahu would be pushed to the opposition for the first time in 12 years.