World News in Brief
The demonstration took place on Monday as the council reached agenda item 7, the only permanent agenda item, which is devoted solely to condemning Israel.
The council discussed seven separate reports alleging Israeli war crimes and other human rights offences, the most against any country. Chief among them was one which found that Israel had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Gaza border protests last year. An independent UN commission released its conclusions last month.
The report called on countries around the world to arrest Israeli soldiers and reservists, and to sanction them with travel bans and asset freezes. The report also noted that the council keeps dossiers on Israeli officials involved in what it considers war crimes.
The pro-Israel watchdog group NGO Monitor said the report ignores the stated goal of Hamas officials to use the demonstrations as camouflage for terror activities, and that it relies on 350 unverifiable and anonymous interviews.
The United States ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told the rally that agenda item 7 “speaks to the fundamental flaws of the Human Rights Council that it singles out Israel on a permanent basis”.
“This is not just a form of bigotry. It is a sign of intellectual and moral decay,” he said.
Last year, the US dropped out of the Human Rights Council, citing its treatment of Israel. Israel joined the US in leaving. Neither could speak during Monday’s meeting.
Israeli spacecraft conducts final major manoeuvre on way to moon
The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet successfully conducted its final major manoeuvre as it continues on its journey to the moon.
The spacecraft burned its engine for 60 seconds as it moved to an elliptical orbit around the Earth that will intersect the moon’s orbit and be captured in it. The rendezvous is scheduled for 4 April at 404 499km from earth, SpaceIL said in a statement.
The lunar lander is expected to land on the moon’s surface on 11 April.
The spacecraft continues to communicate with the Israel Aerospace Industries and SpaceIL control room in Yehud in central Israel.
UN slams Hamas’ use of force against Gaza protesters
The United Nations (UN) has condemned Hamas for using force to squelch protests by Gaza Palestinians over new taxes, unemployment, and electricity shortages in the coastal strip.
Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007, has arrested dozens of protesters and journalists.
Youth movements and groups that reject the militant group’s rule over Gaza have organised the demonstrations.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, criticised Hamas’s tactics.
“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” he wrote. “I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights and the raiding of homes. The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation, and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip. It is their right to protest without fear of reprisal.”
French Jewish students report anti-Semitism
Nearly 90% of French Jewish students say they have experienced anti-Semitic abuse on campus, a poll has found.
Nearly 20% of the 405 respondents in the Ifop survey said they have suffered an anti-Semitic physical assault at least once on campus. Of those, more than half reported suffering violence more than once.
More than half of the students who reported experiencing anti-Semitic incidents on campus said they did nothing about it. Only 8% complained to faculty. Nearly 20% said they did not report the incident or incidents for fear of reprisals, according to the report.
The Ifop survey, which was commissioned by the Union of Jewish Students in France, came on the heels of an earlier Ifop poll conducted last month about anti-Semitism. That survey of 1 008 French adults showed a decrease in the prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiment compared with a similar poll with other respondents in 2016.
Hungary opens embassy branch in Jerusalem is recognising city as Israel’s capital next?
Hungary opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem, which is considered a branch of the Hungarian Embassy located in Tel Aviv.
During a visit to Jerusalem in February, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had announced that his government would open a trade office with “diplomatic status. So we will have an official presence in Jerusalem as well.”
The opening of an official branch of the Hungarian Embassy in Jerusalem puts the country on a path toward recognising the city as Israel’s capital, as United States President Donald Trump did in December 2017. The European Union (EU) does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital, and its officials have rejected the US recognition. Hungary is one of only two EU countries to have an official diplomatic mission in Jerusalem. (The Czech Republic opened its culture office there a few weeks ago.)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said three Hungarian diplomats will be assigned to the office for trade purposes.
“That’s important for trade, for diplomacy, and for the move that Hungary is leading right now to change the attitude in Europe towards Jerusalem,” he said.