Tuesday News: UN Gaza Report, US Hostage Policy, Working Women In Saudi Arabia

The United Nations has examined events that occurred during Summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas has determined that war crimes were committed by both sides,  However, much of its criticism is directed at Israel, noting the “unprecedented” destruction in Gaza, including the fact that 65 percent of the 2,252 Palestinian deaths were civilians, and that Israeli policies to prevent civilian casualties were ineffective.

The Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict announced it had received “credible allegations” that both sides had committed war crimes during the conflict, which killed more than 2,140 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” Justice Mary McGowan Davis, the chair of the commission, told a press briefing held earlier today at the UN Office at Geneva. “There is also ongoing fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.”

A anonymous PLO official said the report reaffirms Palestinian efforts to pursue war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court. The Israeli government, which did not participate in the investigation, condemned the report for being “biased,” according to a Fox News report.

“The Palestinians have moved the battlefield to the United Nations,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said yesterday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is conducting its own preliminary investigation into accusations of war crimes in the war and in the situation in the Palestinian territories in general.

This year, Palestine was accepted as a member state by the ICC, a move which allows Palestinians to submit lawsuits, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Changes May Be Coming To US Hostage Policy
On Tuesday, the White House will hold a series of meetings with families of Americans taken hostage overseas, ahead of a Wednesday rollout of a new major new hostage policy, reports Foreign Policy magazine’s Yochi Dreazen and Lara Jakes.

While the Obama administration is not likely to stray from longstanding US opposition to paying ransom to terrorists, there will be some significant changes.

“In the most far-reaching shift, the White House will also reassure families of American hostages that they shouldn’t fear prosecution under federal terrorist financing laws if they pay ransoms to the Islamic State or other militant groups to win the release of their loved ones. That’s been a hot-button issue politically since last September, when the Foley family publicly accused the administration of sending senior officials to threaten them with possible criminal charges if they raised and relayed money to their son’s captors,” reports the magazine.

On Wednesday, the White House will announce the creation of a new fusion center and a series of other bureaucratic changes designed to better coordinate the government’s hostage recovery efforts, including the creation of a special envoy at the State Department for hostage affairs to lead all diplomatic efforts with foreign governments tied to freeing American captives and detainees who are held overseas.

Saudi Arabia: A Look Behind The Veil
Der Spiegel examines the impact of a growing number of women in the workforce in the Gulf nation and the many obstacles these women face.

In 2012, women have been able to work only in lingerie stores, but gradually, women were also granted the right to sell abayas, make-up, handbags and shoes.

“These days, women can check travelers’ passports at the airport, work as lawyers filing complaints in court, sit on executive boards and enter the diplomatic corps. Female entrepreneurs are running successful catering services, developing apps and designing abayas they then sell via Instagram.

“For the last two years, 30 of the 150 members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, the Shura Council, have been women handpicked by the former King. At the end of the year, women will be able to vote for their local council for the first time and also to run as candidates.,” reports Juliane von Mittelstaedt.



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