Week ending 10 June 2018

ISRAEL: 10,000 Palestinians gathered and burned tires in five locations along the Israel-Gaza border fence Friday afternoon, according to the IDF spokesperson’s unit. The riots this week revolve around what many Palestinians call Naksa Day, or Day of the Setback. It marks Israel’s conquest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War of 1967.

UK/NORTHERN IRELAND: Yesterday (7 June 2018) human rights campaigners have lost a Supreme Court appeal over the legality of Northern Ireland’s abortion law. The court dismissed an appeal brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). But a majority of judges said the existing law was incompatible with human rights law in cases of fatal fetal abnormality and sexual crime.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to NI. Currently, a termination is only permitted if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

The challenge was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). The court will decide whether the current law breaches legislation by banning abortion in cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.

The commission lost on the issue of whether they had the required standing to bring the case, and analysts suggest the defeat came because of a technical legal point.

The situation seems contradictory. On the one hand, the case was dismissed while, on the other, a majority of Supreme Court judges said that Northern Ireland’s abortion law is not compatible with human rights.

Last month, the Republic of Ireland voted decisively in a referendum to reform the country’s strict abortion laws, which had effectively banned all terminations. The vote has brought widespread attention to Northern Ireland’s current [pro-life] abortion laws.


TURKEY: According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute, antisemitism in Turkey has increased under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party, the AKP. The report notes that there have been attacks on synagogues and antisemitic depictions of Jews on television programming on the Turkish state-owned TV network TRT.

The report documents how Turkish antisemitic content has spread to social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, and President Erdoğan and other AKP politicians have been depicting Jews and Israel as foes and using them as scapegoats in order to rally voters ahead of the general elections set for June 24, 2018.

GUATEMALA: A powerful explosion sparked a mass evacuation Tuesday of areas already devastated near Guatemala’s Fuego volcano since it first erupted over the weekend. It has killed at least 99 people as of Thursday. Around 200 people are also reported to be missing.

GAZA: (MEMRI) In the London-based Al-Arab daily, Palestinian journalist Suha Al-Jundi criticized the behavior of Hamas, though without calling it by name, and added that protests against the U.S. embassy move need not have involved Gazans coming close to the border:

“…Gaza is miserable because it has adopted a failed path of struggle: every day, a child or young person dies pointlessly. They could have protested and held a demonstration of millions marching in the streets of Gaza chanting [slogans] against the embassy’s move, and there was no need for these young people to come near the fence at the Israeli border in order to die and leave behind relatives to weep over them…”

GERMANY: Bayer, the German pharmaceutical and life sciences company, will wrap up the $62.5 billion (46.76 billion pounds) takeover of Monsanto on Thursday this week. The name Monsanto will no longer be used after the merger. Both companies face heavy criticism from organic farmers for their agricultural chemicals and biotechnology products.