In violation of international law, Iranian state TV broadcasts images of American sailors in tears

 

In another attempt to humiliate the US, Iran on Wednesday released photos and video of American sailors appearing to cry while being detained by Iran last month. Tehran had previously released photos of the American sailors kneeling on the deck of their boat, with their hands behind their heads, as well as a video of one sailor apologizing to Iran. Naval and legal experts have criticized Iran’s seizure of US boats and its treatment of the sailors, arguing that Iran violated multiple international laws. According to US Navy Captain Sean Liedman, Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the broadcasting of photos and video for propaganda purposes violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which bans degrading treatment and mandates respect for the inherent dignity of detainees. The transmission of the footage may have also violated the Geneva Convention, which protects prisoners of war “against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.”

Also on Wednesday, Iran’s defense minister announced that Iran will unveil an upgrade of the ballistic missile it tested last October in open defiance of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231, the resolution that authorized the nuclear deal with Iran. The long-range missile, Emad, can carry a nuclear warhead and reach Israel. At a Senate hearing yesterday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that Iran’s missile launches were “a deliberate message of defiance.” He also warned that Iran views the nuclear deal as “a means to remove sanctions while preserving some of its nuclear capabilities, as well as the option to eventually expand its nuclear infrastructure.”

Iran has declared that it will purchase fighter jets from Russia. According to UNSC Resolution 2231, the sale of any major arms, such as combat aircraft, to Iran must be approved by the UN Security Council. The US and its allies are thus likely to veto a Russian attempt to sell fighter jets to Iran. However, this safeguard will expire in 5 years, possibly earlier. At the Senate hearing, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vincent Stewart, stated that "within the next two to five years, we can expect Iran to invest in some of those weapons technology that's being displayed on the Syrian battlefield by the Russians today.”

 

Bipartisan bills have been introduced into both houses of Congress that would protect the rights of state and local governments to withdraw their business from companies or entities that engage in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The bill, known as the Combating BDS Act of 2016, is sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.). A preliminary version of the House version of the bill is available here. The bill was first reported on by Liel Leibovitz of Tablet.The bill comes after a wave of governors and state legislatures passing laws disassociating themselves from the BDS movement. Illinois passed a law last year prohibiting the state’s pension funds from investing in any entity that boycotts Israel. A month later, South Carolina passed a law prohibiting the state from doing business with any entity or individual that boycotts Israel. Tennessee passed a law last year condemning the BDS movement.Already this year, the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution prohibiting the state from commercial dealings with any business or person that boycotts Israel. “Similar bills have already been introduced in Ohio and California, with momentum in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, as well,” Tablet reported. An activist involved with the effort to fight anti-Israel boycotts told Leibovitz that he expects the number of such states to reach double digits by the summer.

“With efforts to wage economic warfare on the Jewish state gaining serious traction on American college campuses and elsewhere, the newly proposed act is important because it empowers states to follow the conscience of their citizens, most of whom overwhelmingly support Israel, according to a recent Gallup poll, and categorically reject the BDS movement’s effort to single out Israel alone for opprobrium,” Leibovitz wrote.

“Drawing on a 2010 federal law targeting companies engaged in business with Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime, this bipartisan bill would authorize state and local governments in the United States to follow Illinois’s lead and divest from companies engaged in boycotts and other forms of economic warfare against Israel,” Kirk told Tablet. “With this bill, Congress underscores the critical role that state and local governments and their communities have to play in the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism worldwide.” (via TheTower.org)

 

With the death toll still rising in the wake of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID has sent a team of three experts to Taiwan to assess needs in the country, and offer psychosocial support to quake victims still looking for family members. The earthquake struck Taiwan on Saturday, killing an estimated 41 people and injuring over 500. Worst hit was the city of Tainan, where a high-rise apartment block built using shoddy materials including tin cans, collapsed with hundreds of people inside it. One hundred people are still thought to be trapped in the rubble. After carrying out a rapid needs assessment in Tainan, IsraAID has “joined Taiwanese professionals and assisted them in their relief efforts to support the families affected by the quake,” says IsraAID Director Shachar Zahavi. “IsraAID’s psychosocial team met with the families of those who are still unaccounted for as they struggle between hope and despair, all the while the death toll continues to rise.” Zahavi told ISRAEL21c that Taiwanese government officials and local agencies have expressed “a strong interest in learning from IsraAID and receiving long-term training and supervision in the field of trauma care.” There are now plans for IsraAID to launch a long-term initiative in Taiwan to support the families affected by the disaster and help local government agencies “mitigate the current disaster, as well as to prepare them for future crises.” (via Israel21c)


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