Speaking before the World Jewish Congress in New York April 23, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated: "A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist. As secretary-general of the United Nations, I can say that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules." He said this "does not mean I will always be in agreement with all the decisions made by any government position taken by any government that sits in Israel," but that he supports "the absolutely undeniable right of Israel to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbors."
Egypt's Court of Cassation on Nov. 22 overturned the life sentences of former president Mohamed Morsi and 16 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi had been convicted of conspiring with the Palestinian Hamas and other foreign militant groups. The court ordered a retrial in the matter, though a new hearing date is yet to be scheduled. The court also performed the same for Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badei and fellow members accused of spying for Hamas and Iran. Last week the court had overturned Morsi's death sentence in the matter of his prison break during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. Morsi still faces numerous other sentences including 20 years for violence against protestors and 40 years for leaking state secrets to Qatar.
The Israeli army shelled a site allegedly used by Palestinian militant groups in the central Gaza Strip on Oct. 6, after a rocket fired from the Strip hit an open area in southern Israel. Israeli military vehicles stationed along the border between Gaza and Israel reportedly shelled an area east of the Maghazi refugee camp, without causing any injuries. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an News Agency that they were looking into the reports. Earlier in the day, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that a rocket fired from the Strip hit an open area in the Eshkol regional council, causing no injuries.
The Palestinian high court in Ramallah on Oct. 3 amended a previous ruling, holding that municipal elections can take place, but only in West Bank and not in the Gaza Strip. The court had previously held that the election, once scheduled for Oct. 8, would not proceed after Hamas disputed party lists drawn by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. In adjusting its previously holding, the court said that it would "implement the cabinet's decision to hold elections in all local councils except in the Gaza Strip," adding that Gaza did not have the necessary "guarantees" to hold the polls. The new election date must be decided within four weeks. Hamas has been quick to criticize the decision as politically motivated. Had the court allowed elections to take place in the Gaza Strip it would have been the first election between Hamas and Fatah since 2006. Hamas won a majority of the seats in the legislative polls in 2006, sparking a tumultuous rift in Palestinian politics, culminating in Hamas seizing the Strip from Abbas-loyal forces in 2007. No Palestinian presidential election has taken place since 2005 and Abbas has retained office since, despite expiration of his term.
Israel is preparing to deploy fully autonomous unmanned vehicles along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to a report published by Fox News. While currently unarmed, the Israeli military plans to add machine guns to the so-called Border Protector Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) by "the beginning of next year." An unnamed Israeli military official told the Fox: "This is the future—the border is a very dangerous place… Sending unmanned vehicles to do these patrols means that troops’ lives are not at risk." According to the report, the Israeli army has worked with defense giant Elbit Systems to convert Ford pick-up trucks into UGVs by adding "specialised remote driving technology," along with "four driving cameras and a 360-degree observation camera."
Palestinians on Aug. 21 commemorated the 47th anniversary of an arson attack on al-Aqsa Mosque, with Palestinian officials emphasizing that the Muslim holy site is still under threat today. On Aug. 21, 1969, an Australian Christian fundamentalist set fire to a pulpit in al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, aiming to bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ. In a press conference, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein said that Israeli violations, which include detaining and killing Palestinians in al-Aqsa compound, allowing Israeli extremists to storm al-Aqsa, and demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, were "another type of fire which keeps burning the al-Aqsa mosque and the city of Jerusalem, and has been burning for 47 years."
ISIS is reported to have claimed responsibility for today's triple bomb and shooting attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport that left at least 36 dead and some 150 wounded. (BiaNet) The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) explicitly disavowed the attack, and stated their belief that it was carried out by "Daesh terrorists," using the popular pejorative for ISIS in the Middle East. (Sputnik) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was constrained by these twin statements from explicitly blaming the Kurds in the attack, but still said: "I hope that the Ataturk Airport attack, especially in Western countries...will be a milestone for the joint fight against terrorist organizations, a turning point." (RT) This was a barely veiled criticism of US support for the PKK's sibling organization, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its military arm the People's Protection Units (YPG), in the fight against ISIS in northern Syria.