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Man jailed in UK for removing condom without lady’s consent

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Man jailed in UK for removing condom without lady’s consent

A UK court on Thursday jailed a man for removing without consent a condom that he was wearing during sex, in what London’s Metropolitan Police called a “milestone” legal case.

Guy Mukendi, 39, of South London, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison after being convicted in April, the London force said.

He had been arrested in May last year following a report of sexual assault made by a young woman in Brixton, south London.

The Met, as the capital’s police force is known, said the woman had consented to have sex with Mukendi on condition that a condom was used.

But during sex, he removed the condom without the victim’s knowledge.

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Non-consensual condom removal — sometimes referred to as “stealthing” — is classified as rape in England and Wales.

The Met said such prosecutions are “very rare” due to under-reporting but that they are dedicated to pursuing “justice” for victims.

“This milestone case comes as the Met continues its pledge to be more suspect-focused in their approach to crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls,” the force said in a statement detailing the prosecution.

Mukendi was found guilty on April 2 at Inner London Crown Court and was sentenced at the same court on Thursday.

“Throughout this investigation, Mukendi denied any wrongdoing — but our officers built a compelling case against him to leave no doubt in the jury’s mind,” said Detective Constable Jack Earl, who led the investigation.

“We were dedicated to securing justice for the victim and will continue to raise awareness that this crime is a form of rape.”

Man jailed in UK for removing condom without lady’s consent

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Netanyahu faces delicate balancing act in US after Biden exits race

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu faces delicate balancing act in US after Biden exits race

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the US this week under pressure to end the Gaza war, from both Israelis and the US administration. How might the political turbulence in Washington shape the trip and future relations?

Mr Netanyahu is set to meet Joe Biden – if the president has recovered from Covid-19 – and address a joint session of Congress, the only foreign leader to do so for a fourth time.

The trip offers him a platform for a reset with Washington after months of tensions over his hardline approach to the war, and an opportunity to try and convince Israelis that he hasn’t undermined relations with their most important ally.

But it is overshadowed by President Biden’s decision not to seek re-election, highlighting political uncertainties about Israel’s next partner in the White House and possibly eclipsing some of the attention on Mr Netanyahu’s visit.

The prime minister got a lot of unwelcome attention in Israel until the moment he boarded the plane.

A drumbeat of protests demanded that he stay home and focus on a ceasefire deal with Hamas to free Israeli hostages.

“Until he has signed the deal that’s on the table, I do not see how he picks up and flies across the Atlantic to address the American political chaos,” said Lee Siegel, one of the family members who has come out to demonstrate. His 65-year-old brother Keith is a captive in Gaza.

The trip is a political move, he added, unless Mr Netanyahu stops being a “hurdle” and signs the ceasefire agreement.

Mr Siegel reflected a widespread view that Mr Netanyahu is slow-rolling the process for his own political reasons, roiling his negotiators when he recently threw new conditions into talks that seemed to be making progress.

The prime minister has been accused of bowing to pressure from two far-right cabinet ministers who’ve threatened to bring down his government if he makes concessions to Hamas.

These perceptions have added to frustrations in the White House, which announced the latest formula for talks and had been expressing optimism an agreement could be achieved.

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Mr Biden remains one of the most pro-Israel presidents to sit in the Oval Office, a self-declared Zionist who’s been lauded by Israelis for his support and empathy, cemented by his flight to Israel just days after the Hamas attacks on 7 October.

But since then, he’s grown alarmed at the cost of Mr Netanyahu’s demand for a “total victory” against Hamas in Gaza.

The administration is frustrated with the Israeli prime minister for rejecting a post war solution that involves pursuing a Palestinian state.

It’s angry with him for resisting appeals to do more to protect Palestinian civilians and increase the flow of aid to them. It’s facing a domestic backlash over the mounting death toll in Gaza. And it’s worried that the conflict is spreading to the region.

As Joe Biden’s presidency weakened in the swirl of controversy over his abilities, analysts said there might be less room for him to keep up the pressure on the Israeli prime minister.

But Mr Biden’s decision to drop out of the race could actually have strengthened his hand, says Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister and a critic of Mr Netanyahu.

“He is not a lame duck in regard to foreign policy, in a way he’s more independent (because) he doesn’t have to take into account any impact on the voters,” Mr Barak told the BBC.

“With regard to Israel probably he feels more of a free hand to do what really needs to be done.”

Mr Barak believes it was a mistake for Congress to invite Mr Netanyahu to speak, saying that many Israelis blame him for policy failures that allowed the Hamas attack to happen, and three out of four want him to resign.

“The man does not represent Israel,” he said. “He lost the trust of Israelis…And it kind of sends a wrong signal to Israelis, probably a wrong signal to Netanyahu himself, when the American Congress invites him to appear as if he is saving us.”

Whatever politics he may be playing, Mr Netanyahu insists military pressure must continue because it has significantly weakened Hamas after a series of strikes against the military leadership.

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In comments before departing Israel, he suggested that would be the tone of his meeting with President Biden.

“It will also be an opportunity to discuss with him how to advance in the months ahead the goals that are important for both our countries,” he said, “achieving the release of all our hostages, defeating Hamas, confronting the terror axis of Iran and its proxies and ensuring that all Israel’s citizens return safely to their homes in the north and in the south.”

He’s expected to bring the same message to congress, “seeking to anchor the bipartisan support that is so important to Israel”.

The reality is that Mr Netanyahu’s polices have fractured that bipartisan support. The Republicans are rallying around him, but criticism from Democrats has grown.

The Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer caused a small earthquake in Washington recently when he stood up in the chambers and said Mr Netanyahu was one of the obstacles standing in the way of a lasting peace with Palestinians.

“I hope the prime minister understands the anxiety of many members in congress and addresses them,” the former US ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, told the BBC at the weekend. He’d been addressing one of the many rallies demanding a hostage release.

That includes “on humanitarian issues and to articulate that this fight isn’t with the Palestinian people, it’s with Hamas.”

It’s a message that Kamala Harris would repeat if she were to become the Democratic nominee. There’d be no change in US policy: a commitment to Israel’s security while pushing for an end to the Gaza conflict and a plan for the Day After embedded in a regional peace with Arab states.

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But there might be a difference in tone.

Ms Harris does not share Mr Biden’s long history with and emotional ties to Israel. She’s from a different generation and “could more closely align with the sentiments of younger elements of the Democratic party,” says Mick Mulroy, a former deputy assistant secretary of defence for the Middle East.

“That’s a stance more likely to include restrictions on weapons, on munitions from the United States for use in Gaza,” he said.

Mr Netanyahu could very well use the visit to steer the conversation from the controversy over Gaza to the threat from Iran, a topic with which he’s far more comfortable, especially after the recent escalation with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

But his main audience will be domestic, says Tal Shalev, the diplomatic correspondent at Israel’s Walla News.

He wants to revive his image as “Mr America,” she says, the man who can best present Israel to the US, and to restore his image which was shattered by the October 7 attacks.

“When he goes to the US and speaks in front of Congress and [has] a meeting in the White House, for his electoral base, it’s the old Bibi is back again,” she says, referring to the prime minister by his nickname. “This is not the failed Bibi who was responsible for the seventh of October. This is the old Bibi who goes to the Congress and gets the standing ovations.”

It also gives him an opportunity to pursue connections with the former President Donald Trump at a time of great political flux in Washington.

“Netanyahu wants President Trump to win,” she says, “And he wants to make sure that he and President Trump are on good terms before the election.”

There is a widespread view that Mr. Netanyahu is playing for time, hoping for a Trump win that might ease some of the pressure he’s been facing from the Biden administration.

“There is a near-universal perception that Netanyahu is eager for a Trump victory, under the assumption that he will then be able to do whatever he wants,” writes Michael Koplow of Israel’s Policy Forum.

“No Biden pressuring him on a ceasefire or on West Bank settlements and settler violence… There are many reasons to doubt this reading of the landscape under a Trump restoration, but Netanyahu likely subscribes to it.”

The question is whether that pressure from Biden will ease as he steps away from the presidential race, or whether he will in fact use his remaining months in office to focus on achieving an end to the Gaza war.

Netanyahu faces delicate balancing act in US after Biden exits race

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Biden’s legacy is Gaza genocide, Palestinian rights advocates say

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Children cry after the Israeli bombardment in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 6 [Eyad Baba/AFP]

Biden’s legacy is Gaza genocide, Palestinian rights advocates say

Democratic politicians and commentators in the United States have heaped praise on President Joe Biden since he dropped out of the 2024 presidential race on Sunday.

Representative Maxine Waters, for instance, called Biden a “kind and decent man”. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, extolled his “vision, values and leadership”.

But while political leaders showered Biden with compliments, bombs continued to rain down on Gaza, killing dozens and sparking another wave of mass displacement in Khan Younis.

For many Palestinian rights advocates, the carnage and abuses in Gaza will define Biden’s place in the history books, as the US remains steadfast in its support of Israel’s war in the Palestinian territory.

“He’ll be remembered for the hundreds of thousands killed, injured and displaced in Gaza,” said Abed Ayoub, the executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).

“There is no way around it. ‘Genocide Joe’ is what he’s going to be remembered as.”

Since Israel’s war on Gaza started on October 7, Biden has offered the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unconditional military and diplomatic support.

Only once did Biden withhold a shipment of bombs to Israel over humanitarian concerns — and even then, he released part of that cargo a couple months later, amid pressure from Netanyahu.

Israel’s war, meanwhile, has killed nearly 39,000 Palestinians, displaced hundreds of thousands, fuelled a man-made hunger crisis and destroyed large parts of the territory. United Nations experts and other observers have warned of a “risk of genocide” in Gaza.

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Ayoub told Al Jazeera that, despite Biden’s domestic achievements, the president will rank among the worst in US history due to his unconditional support for Israel.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) echoed that comment. “Nothing will erase the fact that Biden’s legacy is — and always will be — genocide,” the group said in a statement.

Netanyahu ‘bear hug’

The US president has been a stalwart supporter of Israel throughout his decades-long political career.

He frequently calls himself a Zionist and argues that Jews across the world would not be safe without Israel.

He put that worldview into policy during his presidency, as he pushed on with Former President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel doctrine. Biden kept the US embassy in Jerusalem and refused to reverse the Trump-era decision to recognise Israel’s claims to the occupied Golan Heights in Syria.

He also aggressively pursued formal ties between Israel and Arab states, a goal Trump advanced with the 2020 Abraham Accords.

That push for normalisation, however, came without progress towards the recognition of an independent Palestinian state or the dismantling of systemic anti-Palestinian discrimination.

The outbreak of the war in Gaza further underscored Biden’s pro-Israel policies.

Weeks after the conflict started, Biden travelled to Israel and publicly embraced Netanyahu in what many critics have described as a “bear hug”.

That sign of friendliness was widely understood to be an endorsement of Netanyahu’s response in Gaza, after the Palestinian group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7.

Even early in the conflict, human rights groups accused Israel of horrific violations rising to the level of genocide — a push to destroy the Palestinian people.

Within the first week alone, the Israeli military said it had unleashed 2,000 strikes across Gaza — a strip of land roughly the size of Las Vegas.

Biden has since authorised continuous arms transfers and more than $14bn in additional aid to sustain Israel’s Gaza offensive. Moreover, his administration has vetoed three United Nations Security Council proposals that would have called for a ceasefire.

Hatem Abudayyeh, the chair of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), said Biden will be remembered above all for enabling Israel’s “crimes against humanity”.

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“He could’ve turned the tap of money and weapons off in October, but he allowed this genocide to happen. He is complicit, and that’s what will be written on his tombstone,” Abudayyeh told Al Jazeera.

Biden and Palestinians

Following his entry into politics in 1970, Biden quickly rose from local to national prominence, mounting a successful dark-horse campaign to represent Delaware in the US Senate in 1972.

After nearly four decades in Congress, he became vice president under Barack Obama, and in 2021, he won the presidency himself.

The president does not hail from a political dynasty, and he is not an exceptional orator. His success in politics is often credited to his interpersonal skills and ability to project empathy.

That sense of compassion, however, never extended to Palestinians, activists say.

“For nine and a half months, President Biden has funded and armed the brutal Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, making the US government directly complicit in the killing of at least 39,000 people, including over 15,000 children,” Jewish Voice for Peace Action said in a statement on Sunday.

“Americans have watched in horror and outrage as Biden sent the Israeli government the weapons it used to wipe out entire generations of Palestinian families, to destroy hospitals, bakeries, schools, mosques, churches, universities, refugee camps, homes and Gaza’s entire health care system and electricity and water grids.”

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Beyond policy, Biden’s rhetoric at times seemed dismissive of Israeli atrocities and Palestinian suffering.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war,” the US president said in October.

But that stance caused Biden troubles both domestically and abroad.

Even before Biden delivered a disastrous debate performance on June 27, the 81-year-old had started to trail his Republican rival Trump in public opinion polls.

Parts of the Democratic base — including young people, progressives, Arabs and Muslims — voiced frustration and anger with his support for Israel.

Groups like the USCPR argued that Biden’s age and debate performance were only one factor in the pressure that forced him from the presidential race.

“It was not Biden’s failed debate that showed he is unfit to lead,” USCPR said. “It was the tens of thousands of bombs he sent to kill Palestinian families. It was his callous, dystopian disregard for Palestinian lives.”

Other commentators likewise argued that Biden failed to show enough concern for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

Aaron David Miller, a veteran former US official, described the situation bluntly in an interview with the New Yorker in April.

“Do I think that Joe Biden has the same depth of feeling and empathy for the Palestinians of Gaza as he does for the Israelis? No, he doesn’t, nor does he convey it. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” he said.

 

Biden’s legacy is Gaza genocide, Palestinian rights advocates say

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Dozens killed as Palestinians flee Israel’s new offensive on Khan Younis

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A relative of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli strike at Nasser Medical Complex [Hatem Khaled/Reuters]

Dozens killed as Palestinians flee Israel’s new offensive on Khan Younis

At least 70 Palestinians have been killed and more than 200 wounded in Israel’s latest assault on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza as Palestinians fleeing Israeli tank shelling and air strikes have described the situation as “doomsday”.

“Due to the Israeli occupation’s attacks and massacres in Khan Yunis governorate from the early hours of this morning until now, 70 people have been martyred and more than 200 wounded,” Gaza’s Ministry of Health said in a statement on Monday, adding that the dead included women and children.

Residents of the densely built-up area of southern Gaza said the tanks advanced for more than 2km (1.2 miles) into Bani Suheila on the eastern edge of Khan Younis, forcing residents to flee under fire. Israel’s third assault on the southern city began shortly after Palestinians were ordered to leave the area, which has been designated as “safe zone”, giving little time for people to find safety.

Palestinians were killed by Israeli tank salvoes in Bani Suheila and other towns just east of Khan Younis, and the area was also bombarded by air, according to medics.

“It is like doomsday,” one resident who identified himself only as Abu Khaled told the news agency Reuters via a chat app. “People are fleeing under fire. Many are dead and wounded on the roads.”

The Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis has been overwhelmed with patients, and the wounded are being treated on the floor. Medics at the medical facility said the situation was “out of control”.

Palestinians displaced

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military ordered Palestinians in al-Mawasi, which is located along the Gaza coast between the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, to leave.

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Israel justified its new operation there, saying Palestinian fighters have been using the area to launch attacks on Israeli forces. In a statement, it urged people to relocate from eastern Khan Younis to the west of the “adjusted humanitarian area of al-Mawasi”.

However, many Palestinians are hesitant to join the swelling tent camps in al-Mawasi, declared a humanitarian zone in May, after a recent attack on the area killed at least 92 people and wounded more than 300, according to figures from the Health Ministry. That attack caused global outrage.

Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Deir el-Balah in Central Gaza, said the situation is “deteriorating in the eastern areas of Khan Younis city”, where the population “has returned to live in the remnants of their destroyed houses – and, again, the military has announced that they are starting a new incursion”.

“But that happened in a very short period of time, and they started to bombard residential houses. People were inside. Later, the military started to drop leaflets [to order an evacuation] in the eastern areas of Khan Younis,” he said.

Some families fled on donkey carts and others on foot, carrying mattresses and other belongings.

Palestinians, the United Nations and international relief agencies have said there is no safe place left in Gaza.

Hospitals overwhelmed

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said two of its clinics located in eastern Khan Younis had been knocked out of operation because of the new Israeli offensive.

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At Nasser Medical Complex, some people stood outside the morgue to bid farewell to dead relatives.

“We are tired. We are tired in Gaza. Every day our children are martyred – every day, every moment,” Ahmed Sammour, who lost several relatives in bombings of eastern Khan Younis, told Reuters.

“No one told us to evacuate. They brought four floors crashing down on civilians, … and the bodies they could reach, they brought to the refrigerator [morgue],” Sammour added.

Hamas denounced the attack, stating that it would not deter Palestinians from remaining “steadfast in their land”.

“We call upon the international community and the United Nations to urgently intervene to stop the systematic Zionist killing of our people, who are facing a genocide,” the group said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

At least 39,006 people have been killed and 89,818 injured since Israel launched its war on Gaza in October.

The death toll in Israel from Hamas-led attacks on October 7 is estimated at 1,139, and dozens of people are still being held captive in Gaza.

Dozens killed as Palestinians flee Israel’s new offensive on Khan Younis

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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