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Prosecutors: German angered by immigration attacked refugees



Prosecutors in southwest Germany say a man who attacked and wounded three migrants with a knife apparently acted because he was angry about the government’s refugee policy.

The 70-year-old, who has German and Russian citizenship, seriously wounded a 17-year-old Afghan in the attack Saturday near a church in the city of Heilbronn. A 25-year-old Iraqi and a 19-year-old Syrian were also lightly injured.

Bettina Joerg, spokeswoman for Heilbronn prosecutors, said Tuesday that the suspect was drunk and wanted to send a signal “about the current refugee policy.”

Germany has seen a rise in anti-migrant violence following the arrival of over a million refugees in recent years.

Joerg said the suspect is being investigated for dangerous bodily harm rather than attempted homicide “because the assumption is he didn’t intend to kill.”

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Checkpoint shooting investigation raises questions over Israeli authorities’ version of events | World News



An investigation into the fatal shooting of a Palestinian man whose car hit a checkpoint has raised questions about the Israeli authorities’ version of events and put renewed focus on Israel’s tactics and procedures in the occupied West Bank.

Ahmad Erekat, 26, a cousin of Palestinian diplomat and negotiator Saeb Erekat, was shot by border police seconds after his car hit an Israeli checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on 23 June 2020.

Security camera footage, released at the time by the Israeli authorities, showed his car approaching the checkpoint before veering abruptly to the right. It hit a group of police officers. Remarkably, only one officer was lightly wounded.

The video showed him exiting the car and walking backwards with his arms raised as he is shot several times.

Ahmad Erekat's distance to nearest Israeli officer. Source: Twitter Israeli Police, 23 June 2020. (Forensic Architecture, 2021)
Ahmad Erekat’s distance to nearest Israeli officer. Pic: Forensic Architecture

The investigation by Forensic Architecture, a London-based research agency specialising in human rights violations, has concluded that Mr Erekat:

  • Was shot while posing no immediate threat
  • Was not given any first aid treatment by the Israeli authorities after the shooting despite showing clear signs of life
  • Was treated in an “inhumane, degrading manner”
  • Did not accelerate towards the police officers but showed signs of braking before impact
  • Did not approach the police officers as the military claims

To date, the Israeli authorities have not handed over Mr Erekat’s body for burial and have not released details of their own investigation.

The car's speed did not exceed 15 km/hr, according to the probe.
The car’s speed did not exceed 15 km/hr, according to the probe. Pic: Forensic Architecture

Mr Erekat’s family have always insisted he was running errands ahead of his sister’s wedding that was to take place later the same day and that he lost control of the car.

The authorities say the incident was an intentional ramming attack which are quite regular at checkpoints across the West Bank.

Just one CCTV video of the incident was released, but investigators at Forensic Architecture gathered numerous other videos from witnesses.

With the help of a forensic collision expert, they concluded that, contrary to the authorities’ assertion the vehicle accelerated into the checkpoint, it maintained a constant speed until just before the impact.

Their video analysis from different camera angles showed evidence suggesting that Mr Erekat might have braked at the last moment.

The 65-year-old had been a spokesman for the Palestinians for more than three decades
Ahmad Erekat was the cousin of Palestinian diplomat and negotiator Saeb Erekat (pictured)

Mr Erekat was shot after he exited the car and backed away with his hands in the air. The military maintains the context of regular ramming attacks and his behaviour as he exited the car gave the border police reason to believe they were in immediate life threatening danger.

Through further video analysis, the investigators were able to conclude that no first aid was provided to Mr Erekat despite clear signs that he was still alive.

A Palestinian ambulance which arrived at the scene was denied access.

An hour-and-a-half after he was shot, Mr Erekat’s body, which had been stripped naked, was removed by the authorities.

The investigators said: “His body was treated in an inhuman and degrading manner and later seized by the army to deny him a proper burial-an act of collective punishment. To date, the Israeli army has not opened an investigation into Erekat’s crash and continues to withhold most of the evidence.”

Mr Erekat’s body is one of more than 50 currently being held by the Israeli authorities. All are Palestinians killed over recent years while allegedly committing acts of terror.

Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, led a very public call for the release of his cousin’s body until his own death from coronavirus in November.

The Forensic Architecture investigation was supported by Al Haq, a Palestinian Human Rights group. Israel claims that its director, Shawan Jabarin, has links to the PFLP, internationally recognised as terrorist organisation.

Sky News put the conclusions of the Forensic Architecture investigation to the Israeli authorities.

In a joint statement, the Israeli Defence Forces and the police said: “From the evidence collected, it was established beyond doubt that those present at the scene were certain that they were in immediate life-threatening danger, and that this was an assailant who had carried out a deliberate attack.”

“Contrary to allegations, Erekat was examined at the scene of the incident by medical personnel a few minutes following the attack, and was found to have no pulse or breathing, and therefore no resuscitation procedures were performed on the spot, and his death was pronounced accordingly. During the entire incident there was no degrading treatment or infringement of the dignity of the deceased.”

“The issue of holding the terrorist’s body is in legal proceedings in the High Court, so we will not be able to elaborate further at this time.”

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US Capitol riots: Ex-police chief says he did not see FBI report warning of ‘war’ in Washington | US News



The former US Capitol Police chief says he only found out this week that his officers were warned just hours before the 6 January riots that extremists could commit “war” in Washington that day.

Steven Sund was giving evidence to Congress in the first public hearing over the last month’s siege that saw dozens of Donald Trump supporters storm the Capitol building to disrupt confirmation of his presidential election defeat to Joe Biden.

The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the 5 January warning from the Virginia office, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the joint terrorism taskforce, including the Capitol Police.

Mr Sund said an officer on the joint terrorism taskforce received the FBI’s memo and forwarded it to a sergeant working on intelligence for the Capitol Police, but the information was not put forward to any other supervisors.

Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is sworn in before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs & Senate Rules and Administration joint hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S., February 23, 2021, to examine the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Steven Sund is sworn in before the hearing on Capitol Hill

Mr Sund said he was not aware of the report, but added he did see an intelligence report created within the Capitol Police force warning that Congress could be targeted on 6 January.

That report warned extremists were likely to attend and there were calls for people to travel to Washington armed.

Also, a senior security official said he was “stunned” over the delayed response to a request for National Guard help during the mob riot at the Capitol.

More from Us Capitol Riots

Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III told the joint Senate hearing the former police chief was “pleading” with army officials to deploy Guard troops as the violence rapidly escalated.

The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police officers had joined to help US Capitol Police during the attack.

Mr Contee said officers “were out there literally fighting for their lives” but the officials on the call appeared to be going through a “check the boxes” exercise.

He said there “was not an immediate response”.

Mr Sund, and a number of other senior officers, resigned in the wake of the violence which prompted Mr Trump’s second impeachment trial.

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COVID-19: Ireland to keep strictest level of restrictions until at least 5 April | World News



Ireland’s prime minister Micheal Martin has confirmed the country will continue at the highest level of coronavirus restrictions until at least 5 April.

The Taoiseach said there will be a difference in the current Level 5 restrictions, with the phased reopening of schools from 1 March.

The government’s revised Living With COVID plan will also see the reopening of childcare start from 8 March and some non-COVID related health services will also resume.

Mr Martin said the situation will be reviewed on 5 April.

He said Ireland is “driving down the levels of infection”, but the emergence of the UK variant has made the situation very different to what it was several months ago.

The B117 variant – or the “Kent variant” – now accounts for 90% of new infections in Ireland, the Irish PM said.

“The truth is that it has changed the dynamic significantly and we need to be very careful as we take the next steps forward,” he added.

Mr Martin said it is “critically important” that people do not let their guard down.

“When we open things, we want them to stay open, that is why I cannot overemphasise the importance of continued observance of Level 5 restrictions.”

All those working from home have been told they must continue to do so.

“We want to reopen society as soon and as safely as possible, so if we can maintain downward pressure on the disease and keep our numbers low we will then move into the next phase,” he said.

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