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A European idea to help end the devastating
conflict in Gaza is gaining traction: Develop
Gaza’s port to reopen the besieged territory
to the rest of the world through a Cypriot
port, with international monitors assuring
that no weapons get through.
Across Europe, governments are warming
to the proposal to give the 43km strip on
Israel’s southern border such an economic
lifeline. After all, Gaza was a thriving port in
From Berlin to London to the European
Union headquarters in Brussels, a blueprint
for a post-war Gaza centres both on meeting
Israeli security needs and on developing Gaza
to improve living conditions there. The latter
implies that borders with neighbours Israel
and Egypt and the sea be as transparent as
“It’s very important that the blockage of
Gaza is lifted so that there can be movement of
necessary goods, materials,” EU Commission
spokesman Peter Stano said. “ That means
all the blocked border crossings need to be
opened so that Gaza can really develop.”
Hamas has demanded the lifting of an
Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed on
the coastal territory after the Islamic militant
group seized power in 2007. Israel has said
the militants must disarm first. The two
demands are currently on the table in indirect
Israel-Hamas talks in Cairo on a permanent
ceasefire deal for Gaza.
The talks are also meant to prepare the
ground for sustainable calm on the Gaza-
Israel border, following a month of fighting
that claimed the lives of nearly 1900
Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
Germany and France have already proposed
to re-activate the EU border mission in Rafah
with Egypt but there is also an emerging
consensus in Europe that the development of
the Gaza port should be an integral part of
the reconstruction effort, officials in several
EU capitals said. They spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the precarious nature
of the current ceasefire and the uncertainty of
the peace process.
“If you want to take seriously the idea
of reconstruction, that is one major idea
to pursue,” Daniel Levy of the European
Council on Foreign Relations think tank said
of developing Gaza’s port. “ This gives Gaza
a direct entry and access point to the world.”
As part of EU proposals, the international
community should help build a Gaza seaport
for goods and passengers, with international
inspection points both in Gaza and in a
transit harbour in Larnaca, Cyprus, to make
sure weapons do not get smuggled in, said
a source with access to deliberations of
European diplomats in the region.
The Cyprus government has said it could
be used as “a repository” destined for Gaza.
Germany said that a port for Gaza would
certainly be welcome and make economic
sense, even if such plans were premature
at this stage. A British Parliamentary
report on Wednesday recommended that
the government “should also support the
implementation of existing plans to open
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt
tweeted last week that “Gaza must become
the window of Palestine to the Mediterranean
and its port to the world.”
Even though it is still unclear if the
current ceasefire will hold, Nor way has
already announced a donor conference
for reconstruction, tentatively set for the
beginning of September. Finding funds for
the buildup of the port could be important.
In the past the EU has been the biggest
contributor to Gaza redevelopment and
has complained bitterly when EU-funded
projects were destroyed in subsequent military
operations. “Of course, we are concerned
every time the EU projects are affected. We
are concerned every time the United Nations
premises are affected,” Stano said.
The blockade has not only affected seafaring
trade but also kept Gaza fishermen within a
6.4km coastal zone, unable to hunt in waters
beyond for risk of being shot at by Israeli
In 2010, nine activists on a Turkish boat
died in an Israeli raid on a protest flotilla
trying to circumvent the Israeli restrictions,
with each side accusing the other of starting
Once, Gaza city was at the center of
regional trade and travel, an important stop
on the Incense Road of trade between the
Mediterranean and the East from the 7th
century BC. Until World War One, Gaza
seaport was a main hub for import and export
trade to southern Palestine and its hinterland,
including Jordan and Iraq.
Since 1967, Israel has exercised full control
of Gaza’s coastline and territorial waters,
blocking ships from reaching the city. Gaza
seaport remains the only Mediterranean port
closed to shipping.
As part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the
Netherlands and France governments
committed $42.8 million to the reconstruction
of the Gaza seaport and to the training of
port personnel. All construction was halted
due to the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising
against Israeli occupation in 2000. Two years
later, the Israeli navy attacked the Palestinian
naval police base and patrol boats in Gaza,
causing extensive damage to the harbour.
Reopening the port would offer a breath of
fresh air reconstruction funds alone could not
buy, Levy said. “ Money is an issue, but is not
the main issue. The main issue is getting stuff
in and ultimately getting stuff out. ” — AP
Europe pushes Gaza port plan
Staring straight into the camera, lips
pulled back into a grin — it could be
regarded as a perfect selfie.
The series of “self-portraits” of a
crested black macaque monkey were
shared around the world over the
internet and on social media.
But the now famous images are at the
centre of a bizarre dispute over who
owns the pictures.
David Slater, the British nature
photographer whose camera captured
the picture, has asked Wikimedia, the
organisation behind Wikipedia, to
remove the image.
He claims its inclusion in a media
library that allows other websites to
use it free of charge is harming his
ability to make a living.
But Wikimedia has rejected his
request, claiming the macaque that
pressed the shutter on the camera
owns the copyright of the image, not
Mr Slater, who now faces a legal bill
estimated at £10,000 ($19,900) to take
the matter to court.
He said: “If the monkey took it, it
owns copyright, not me; that ’s their
basic argument. What they don’t
realise is that it needs a court to decide
“I ’ve told them it’s not public domain,
they ’ve got no right to say that it’s
public domain. A monkey pressed the
button, but I did all the setting up.”
Mr Slater obtained the image
while he was in Indonesia in 2011
attempting to get the perfect picture of
a crested black macaque.
One of the animals came to
investigate his equipment, then
hijacked a camera and took hundreds
“He must have taken hundreds of
pictures by the time I got my camera
back, but not very many were in focus.
He obviously hadn’t worked that out
After the image appeared around
the world, it was added to Wikimedia
Commons, a collection of more than
22 million images and videos that are
free to use on-line. — AP
Cheeky monkey ruining me: photographer
The crested black macaque monkey’s selfies.
A South African prosecutor
has branded Oscar Pistorius
“deceitful” and insisted the
Paralympian cannot avoid a
conviction for murdering his
girlfriend, as the State closed its
case against him.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel overnight
said that even if the court accepts
Pistorius’s claim he killed Reeva
Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day
last year believing she was an
intruder, “ he cannot escape” a
conviction for murdering with
Ending the first of two days
of concluding arguments in the
gripping five-month murder
trial, Nel said Pistorius’s efforts
to concoct an alibi had led to a
“snowball effect ” of lies requiring
more lies to back them up.
“In an attempt to tailor his
version to support his plea
explanation, he tangled himself
in a web,” Nel said.
In a meticulous review of
evidence presented by almost 40
witnesses, Nel said Pistorius, 27,
was guilty of “a baker’s dozen” of
He also pointed to State
Steenkamp had food in her
stomach when she died and
that neighbours heard a woman
screaming to show the star
sprinter was lying.
But, he said, even if Judge
Thokozile Masipa believes
Pistorius’s claim the accidentally
shot at an intruder, he must be
“ We argue that even in the
event of the court accepting
the accused’s evidence that he
thought there was an intruder
in the toilet, he cannot escape a
conviction on murder with dolus
directus (direct intent). ”
Pistorius, a double-amputee
star sprinter, has denied the
charge during the trial in which
he has at times sat weeping and
vomiting in the dock as grisly
details of Steenkamp’s death
His legal team — led by top
defence lawyer Barry Roux —
has sought to convince Masipa
that Pistorius shot his girlfriend
by accident, and portray him as
a “highly-vulnerable individual”
obsessed with safety.
During the trial Pistorius
under went psychiatric evaluation
and an ensuing report said he
was suffering post-traumatic
stress disorder, but was not
suffering any mental illness that
could prevent him being held
criminally responsible for his
actions. — AFP
Boko Haram takes
An Austrian woman has been
charged after she allegedly
sneaked into a village church and
filmed herself performing sexual
Police spokeswoman Simone
Mayr said the woman, who has
not been named, could face up to
six months in jail for “vilification
of religious doctrines”.
“The woman has confessed and
has apologised,” Mayr said. “ It
is now up to state prosecutors
to decide whether this will go
to court. She could also be fined
instead of jail.”
published the videos on-line of
herself performing solo sexual
acts on one of the pews of the
church, wearing a crucifix.
After the videos did the
rounds on the internet, local
youths informed the pastor of
Hoersching in central Austria,
Bernhard Pauer, who went to the
police in June.
“The church does not have to
be reconsecrated. The presence of
God cannot be driven out by sin,”
Pauer saidy. — AFP
Woman makes porn
film in church
Fighters from Nigeria’s Boko
Haram militant group seized the
north-eastern town of Gwoza,
over whelming soldiers based
in the area before attacking
civilians, security officials and a
witness said overnight.
The whereabouts of the new
Emir of Gwoza, Muhammed
Idrissa Timta, were unknown
approaching his residence during
the attack on Wednesday, the
resident said. Timta succeeded
his father who was killed by
Boko Haram in May.
“I have attempted talking to the
Emir on phone it was not going
through, I do pray and hope he is
alive,” Muhammed Ali Ndume, a
senator from Gwoza representing
Southern Borno, which includes
the town, told journalists by
Residents have fled to
mountainous areas near the
town. A resident said gunmen
who attacked Gwoza were
dressed in military fatigues and
rode vehicles painted in the same
colours. The resident spoke on
condition of anonymity out of
fear for his safety.
Two security officials confirmed
the attack, but could not be
named because they were not
authorised to speak to media.
“ I could communicate now
because most of us are up in the
mountains, many may have been
killed, but from top of the hills
here we still could see the Boko
Haram gunmen moving around
in some armoured tanks with
metal wheels,” the resident said.
A friend of his was shot dead
from behind as they were fleeing.
“ We can’t tell what will happen
to us by night; the entire town is
now taken over by the terrorists,”
the resident said.
Boko Haram has been waging a
violent campaign since 2009, and
has intensified its attacks against
civilians this year. More than
4000 people mostly civilians have
been killed this year alone “ by all
sides” of the conflict, according to
Amnesty International. — AP
British police raided an English
country pub this week in search of a
stolen wooden relic believed by some to
be the Holy Grail — a cup from which,
according to the Bible, Jesus is said
to have drunk at his final meal before
The Grail has captivated religious
experts for centuries, spawning myriad
theories about its location and inspiring
numerous fictional accounts from the
Middle Ages onwards.
The object of the police search, which
was unsuccessful, was a frail wooden
bowl known as the Nanteos Cup that
has been attributed with healing powers
since the 19th century, attracting
pilgrims and others who believe it may
be the Holy Grail itself.
After receiving a tip-off, a team of
eight officers and a police dog arrived
on Sunday morning at the Crown Inn,
a village pub in the rural English county
“They turned the place upside down.
They came with fibre optic cameras to
look in all the corners and nooks and
crannies, and under the floorboards.
They were clearly serious about it,” the
pub’s landlady, Di Franklyn, said.
Police said the relic, a dark wooden cup
kept inside a blue velvet bag, had been
stolen from a house in the area about a
month ago. Photographs available on-
line show a bowl-shaped vessel with
around half its side missing.
“ We get a few rogues and scallywags
in the pub, but no one who’s quite on
the level of stealing a priceless ancient
artefact,” Franklyn said.
The cup takes its name from Nanteos
Mansion, a country house in Wales
where the vessel is reported to have been
stored until 1952 after 16th-century
monks fleeing King Henry VIII’s
dissolution of England’s monasteries
sought refuge there.
The cup was said to have been
brought to Britain after Jesus’s death
by Joseph of Arimathea, the Biblical
figure who provided Christ with a
tomb and, according to legend, brought
Christianity to Britain.
Scientists who have examined the cup
have said it almost certainly dates from
many centuries after the crucifixion, and
is not made of the olive wood that might
have been expected for a Middle Eastern
drinking vessel. — Reuters
Police raid country pub
in search for Holy Grail
The Nanteos Cup
Reward posted to
catch squirrel kicker
An animal rights group offered
a reward of nearly $17,000 for
information leading to the arrest
and conviction of a man who
apparently kicked a squirrel
into Arizona’s Grand Canyon
in a video that went viral on the
Appealing to members of the
public to help catch the “heartless
thug,” the British branch of
People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals urged anyone with
details about the “infamous” case
to contact the Grand Canyon’s
In the video, a shirtless man
is seen apparently feeding the
squirrel before booting it off
the edge of a cliff and into the
crimson-hued canyon. It has
since been removed by You Tube.
Park rangers have been
investigating since they were
alerted to the existence of the
video earlier this week, and they
believe it was filmed within
Grand Canyon National Park.
Few other details are clear,
park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn
Shedlowski said, including when
and exactly where the recording
might have been made.
If caught, the person responsible
could face a charge of wildlife
harassment, which carries a
penalty of up to six months in
jail and a $5000 fine, Shedlowski
said. — Reuters
A zoo in the Black Sea peninsula of
Crimea has welcomed its latest arrival — a
“z ebroid”, or “zonkey ”, which was born
after a lonesome zebra got intimate with a
Named Telegraph by keepers at the
Taigan zoo park in southern Crimea, the
foal’s head and body are the solid brown of
a donkey but his legs have the characteristic
black stripes of a zebra.
Born last week, “ Telegraph is very popular
with visitors” who can watch him romping
around with his mother, according to zoo
director Oleg Zubkov.
Cross-breeding between zebras and
other members of the equine family is not
unheard of, although it is rare that the
zebra is the mother.
But the breeding of zonkeys or other
hybrids is normally frowned upon by the
“Such things don’t happen in civilised
zoos, but can occur at private zoos or on
farms,” Moscow Zoo spokeswoman Anna
This sort of marketing is not justified
or scientific. Zoos are for preser ving wild
species, that is one of their most important
Zubkov said Telegraph’s mother, who
had not had a mate for a long time, was
lonely and uncomfortable in her enclosure
at the private zoo founded two years ago
about 30km from Crimea’s main city
“So on the advice of a zoologist we moved
her in with several other hoofed animals
and she really liked the donkey. As a result
of their affection for one another we’ve got
Telegraph,” Zubkov said.
Telegraph was named after a local
newspaper which recently celebrated its
Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula of
Crimea in March in a move hotly contested
by Kiev and the international community.
Zonkey surprises Crimean zoo
Telegraph the zonkey, at right, with its mother zebra.
Fugitive American intelligence operative
Edward Snowden has been granted a three-
year residence permit in Russia, his Russian
“The request was accepted and accordingly
Edward Snowden was given a three-year
residence permit ” which allows him to
move about freely and travel abroad, lawyer
Anatoly Kucherena told journalists.
“In the future Edward will have to decide
whether to continue to live in Russia and
become a citizen or to return to the United
States,” Kucherena added.
The 31-year-old fugitive is being sought
by the American government for alleged
He was granted leave to stay in Russia a
year ago after spending weeks in the transit
area of Moscow ’s Sheremetyevo airport when
his passport was revoked on his way to South
The leaks by the former National Security
Agency contractor last year sparked a massive
row over the data sweeps conducted by the
US domestically and in allied nations,
including of their leaders.
Snowden has led a reclusive life in Moscow,
giving only a handful of inter views and
making no public appearances, although
several sightings in Moscow have been
reported by Russian media.
Snowden is “working within his profession,”
Kucherena said, but has also been helping as
a rights defender.
Kucherena denied that Snowden is
chaperoned by Russia’s security ser vices,
saying he only has a private security detail.
“All security questions Edward decides
himself,” Kucherena said.
On Tuesday pro-Kremlin website Life News
ran a close-up picture of a smiling Snowden
wearing a suit and sitting near a gilded pillar,
saying it was taken at the historic Bolshoi
theatre during an opera in July. — AFP
Russia grants Snowden three-year residency
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