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Concerns grow as condition of Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike turns ‘critical’

A Palestinian prisoner languishing in hospital after an extensive hunger strike teetered close to death on Sunday, sparking international concern and Palestinian demands that Israel release him from detention without charges.

Hisham Abu Hawash, a 40-year-old member of the Islamic Jihad militant movement, began refusing food in August to protest Israel holding him without charges or trial.

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The married father of five from Dura in the south of the Israeli-occupied West Bank was being held under administrative detention, a practice of arresting suspects for renewable six-month terms without allowing them to view the charges or evidence against them.
“His condition is difficult and complex,” Liad Aviel, spokesman of the Shamir Medical Centre in central Israel where Abu Hawash is being held, told AFP.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said medical teams that visited Abu Hawash had found him “in critical condition requiring expert clinical monitoring.”

According to the ICRC, Abu Hawash has been refusing food for around 140 days.

It issued a statement warning of “potentially irreversible health consequences and possible tragic loss of life.”

His wife, Aisha Hrebat, told AFP on Sunday he was in a “very dangerous” situation, adding that “since yesterday he can’t talk at all and doesn’t know what’s going on around him.”

“Even after he ends his strike, he will have difficult problems,” she said, adding their lawyer was submitting an urgent appeal against his detention to Israel’s supreme court.

An Israeli security source described Abu Hawash as “an Islamic Jihad operative, who was arrested due to involvement in terror activity.”

Israel says the protocol prevents crimes while authorities continue to gather evidence, though Palestinians say it denies them of their rights.

“The way Israel has used administrative detention is arbitrary,” said Shawan Jabarin, head of the Al-Haq rights group based in Ramallah on the West Bank.

He said Abu Hawash was one of about 550 Palestinians held by Israel in administrative detention.

Abu Hawash’s plight has ignited Palestinian support.

Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh called on Israel via Twitter to “release Abu Hawash immediately,” with his appeal echoed by protesters who gathered over the weekend in Ramallah.

At a rally in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, an official with the Hamas group that rules the enclave, said Israel must understand that prisoners constitute a “red line” for the Palestinians.
The Islamic Jihad, the second largest militant group in Gaza, said it holds “the Israeli occupation fully responsible for the deteriorating health” of Abu Hawash, threatening revenge if he dies.

Read more: Rockets fired from Hamas-ruled Gaza land off central Israel’s coast

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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