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Gazan medical student: No, I wasn’t arrested by the IDF and fake claims hurt our cause

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Gazan medical student: No, I wasn’t arrested by the IDF and fake claims hurt our cause

Social media users widely relayed a rumour that a Gazan medical student was amongst 70 men arrested by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on December 14 near Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahya, in the north of the Gaza Strip. The student in question, Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun, finally spoke out, saying that he wasn’t one of the people in the photos published by the IDF. Our team spoke to Al-Madhoun, who said people should be careful to “verify information” before sharing it because “sharing fake information doesn’t help our cause at all.”

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The IDF carried out a raid on December 12 on the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahya, the only health centre still operating in the north of the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF, the hospital was also serving as a command centre for Hamas and, as a result, it has since been razed. 

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, announced on December 14 on his X account the arrests of 70 Hamas “terrorists”, near the hospital. His post also featured videos and photos that were said to show the people who had been arrested. 

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One of the photos shows four men apparently surrendering. Their chests are bare and they hold their arms, and their rifles, above their heads. According to social media users, human rights organisations and several Palestinian media outlets, the third man from the left in the photo was identified as a Gazan medical student named Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun. They also reported that he was volunteering at Kamal Adwan Hospital when he was arrested. 

“In this picture published by Israel arguing they were fighters, we have identified the medical doctor Naser Imad Almadhoun, and a nurse working in Kamal Edwan Hospital,” wrote Ramy Abdul, the chairman of the NGO Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, in a post in English, which garnered more than 300,000 views.

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Translation: “After the army of occupation published this photo claiming that it showed Hamas fighters being arrested… the head of Euro-Med Rights said: ‘in this photo, we identified the medical intern Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun and a nurse working at Kamal Adwan’. © @qudsn

A post in Arabic, which garnered nearly 200,000 views, reads: “The medical intern (in this photo) was forced to pose with a weapon and pretend to be a Hamas fighter surrendering to the Israeli Army. Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun was at Kamal Adwan Hospital when the Israeli forces sieged the hospital and kidnapped the medical staff. They are so stupid that they didn’t even think we might be able to recognise people.”

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Translation: “This is Dr Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun, a fourth-year medical student and a member of the medical staff at Kamal Adwan Hospital! The Israeli [occupation] continues to try to mislead and deceive…” reads this post that garnered more than 200,000 views. © @KhaledSafi

However, on December 18, Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun himself posted a message on his X account. He began the post with a quote from the prophet Mohammed, which translates roughly as “For a person to be called a liar, all he has to do is pass on everything that he has heard.” He then added, “That’s true of the many activists who share information without verifying it.” 

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“My name is Nasr, my family and I are doing well. The photo below, on the right, is not mine and I never studied or worked in that hospital. I wasn’t able to refute the fake information immediately because of an internet blackout.”

This is a tweet by Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun. © Twitter / @PalNasr
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Sharing fake information doesn’t help our cause at all’

Our team spoke to Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun, who confirmed that he did indeed write that tweet. He shared a photo of his identity card, issued by the Palestinian Authority. He told us that he had contacted several accounts that published the false information and some of them erased it. He also forwarded us a written statement that we’ve published here. 

I am Nasr Imad Al-Madhoun, a fifth-year medical student at the Islamic University. I refute the claims that I was arrested and that I was in training or volunteering at Kamal Adwan Hospital.

I only found out the news after it had been circulating for three days because of internet blackouts in the area where I have been displaced. This news caused my friends and family a lot of stress, especially because of the breakdown in the network and the fact that they couldn’t reach me. 

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In closing, I advise all activists to be careful when they see any news and to verify it, especially if it concerns a specific person. Sharing false information doesn’t help our cause at all and opens the door to suspicion towards real news about people’s suffering.

Nasr Al Madhoun shared this message with the FRANCE 24 Observers. © Observers
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He also explained more in a post on X

I am speaking out about this fake news so that the true identity of this oppressed person – whose identity remains unknown – will be known and that the support and solidarity are aimed in the right direction, towards the right person. 

In response to this post, some people have attacked me for refuting the news and that proves that their authors [like what is] ‘trending’, even if it is an error, [they think that this is] more important than supporting truly oppressed people.

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As for the people arrested on December 14 near Kamal Adwan Hospital, and who appear in the images, the spokesperson for the Israeli Army said on X that they were taken for questioning. 

Massive arrests since early December 

The IDF arrested several dozen Palestinians who they claimed were “terrorists” on December 7 in Beit Lahya in the north of Gaza. Images of them naked, on their knees, with blindfolds on were widely shared on social media by pro-Israeli accounts. 

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Read moreGaza: What do we know about these images of Palestinians arrested by the IDF?

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Russia bars pro-peace candidate from presidential poll

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Russia bars pro-peace candidate from presidential poll

A Russian politician calling for peace in Ukraine hit a roadblock in her campaign Saturday, when Russia’s Central Election Commission refused to accept her initial nomination by a group of supporters, citing errors in the documents submitted.

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Former legislator Yekaterina Duntsova is calling for peace in Ukraine and hopes to challenge President Vladimir Putin, promoting her vision of a “humane” Russia “that’s peaceful, friendly and ready to cooperate with everyone on the principle of respect.”

“On Dec. 23, the Central Election Commission refused to register my initiative group,” Duntsova wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

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According to a Telegram channel close to Duntsova’s campaign, the commission found 100 errors in her nomination papers, including mistakes in the spelling of names.

“You are a young woman, you still have everything ahead of you. Any minus can always be turned into a plus,” the head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said at the commission meeting, addressing Duntsova.

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Duntsova said that she would appeal the decision in Russia’s Supreme Court, and appealed to the leaders of the Yabloko (Apple) political party to nominate her as a candidate, as she said she would be unable to convene a second meeting of supporters.

Also on Saturday, Russian state media said that Yabloko party founder and leader Grigory Yavlinsky would not run for the presidency, citing the party’s press service. Speaking in a live interview on YouTube, once Duntsova’s appeal to Yabloko became known, Yavlinsky said that he “didn’t know” whether the party would consider her application.

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Duntsova took her first steps toward candidate status Sunday, when her run was endorsed by 500 supporters as required by Russian election law, and presented documents Wednesday to Russia’s Central Election Commission to register her nomination.

Communist Party supports Putin nomination

A number of Russian parties also announced which candidates they would be backing in the presidential election next March – which incumbent President Vladimir Putin is all but certain to win.

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The Russian Communist Party, the second largest party in the lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, announced after a secret ballot that it would support the nomination of Duma deputy Nikolai Kharitonov. As party leader Sergei Mironov previously said it would do, the Just Russia – For Truth party formally announced that it was supporting Putin’s nomination for the presidency.

Parties represented in the Duma do put forward candidates to run against Putin, but they represent only token opposition and are generally sympathetic to his agenda.

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The Civic Initiative party – which is not represented in the Duma – is expected to back the nomination of independent candidate Boris Nadezhdin, who is known for campaigning against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He has the support of a contingent of soldiers’ wives, unhappy with their husbands’ long deployments.

Meanwhile, Russian state media reported that volunteers from Putin’s campaign headquarters, together with branches of the United Russia party and a political coalition called the People’s Front, began collecting signatures in support of his candidacy as an independent.

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Putin submitted his nomination papers to the Central Election Commission on Monday. Under Russian law, independent candidates must be nominated by at least 500 supporters, and must also gather at least 300,000 signatures of support from 40 regions or more.

Pamfilova said Saturday that there were 29 applicants for candidacy in the election.

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Though it is normal for an opposition candidate to run against Putin – broadcaster Ksenia Sobchak, for example, was a liberal challenger in the 2018 presidential election – the tight control that he has established during 24 years in power makes his reelection in March all but assured. Prominent critics who could challenge him are either in prison or living abroad, and most independent media have been banned.

Earlier this month, the Duma set March 15-17 as the dates for the 2024 presidential election, moving Putin a step closer to a fifth term in office.

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(AP)

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Argentinian protest organisers will have to cover security costs, government says

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Argentinian protest organisers will have to cover security costs, government says

The organizers of the first protest against Argentine President Javier Milei’s government will have to cough up tens of thousands of dollars to cover the cost of security forces deployed to the demonstration, the government’s spokesman said Friday.

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Thousands turned out for the march on Wednesday to oppose Milei’s austerity measures and commemorate the deadly 2001 protests that followed the country’s economic meltdown.

Spokesman Manuel Adorni said a heavy deployment of police, paramilitary officers and anti-riot forces, cost 60 million pesos ($73,000 at the official exchange rate).

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“The bill will be sent to the social movements” who will “bear the responsibility of the cost which should not fall on citizens.”

Organizers had criticized the heavy show of security as an attempt at provocation.

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“This reminds me of the dictatorship” of 1976 to 1983, said Eduardo Belliboni, leader of the leftist movement Polo Obrero.

The security operation was supervised from police headquarters by the right-wing president’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, televised images showed.

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Milei’s government has sought to clamp down on hundreds of annual traffic-clogging demonstrations in the capital, also threatening to withdraw social assistance from those who block roads.

(AFP)

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Two held after France grounds Nicaragua-bound plane over suspected ‘human trafficking’

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Two held after France grounds Nicaragua-bound plane over suspected ‘human trafficking’

French police were questioning two men Friday a day after officials grounded a Nicaragua-bound plane carrying more than 300 Indian passengers over suspected “human trafficking,” prosecutors said.

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The Airbus A340 had flown in from the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, landing at Vatry airport in eastern France for a technical stopover.

It was held by French authorities after an anonymous tip-off that it was carrying passengers “likely to be victims of human trafficking,” the Paris prosecutors office told AFP. The two men in custody were among the passengers.

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“Identity checks are being carried on the 303 passengers and on the cabin crew,” said the prosecutor’s office. They were also checking the conditions in which the passengers were being transported and the purpose of their journey.

A source close to the case said that minors were among the passengers.

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The national anti-organised crime unit JUNALCO is leading the investigation, said prosecutors.

According to a source familiar with the case, the passengers might have planned to travel to Central America in order to attempt illegal entry into the United States or Canada.

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After landing in France, they were first kept on the aircraft, but then let out and given individual beds in the terminal building.

They were set to remain at the airport overnight Friday, local authorities said.

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The Indian embassy in France said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that the authorities in Paris had informed them of the situation.

French authorities informed us of a plane w/ 303 people, mostly Indian origin, from Dubai to Nicaragua detained on a technical halt at a French airport. Embassy team has reached & obtained consular access. We are investigating the situation, also ensuring wellbeing of passengers.

— India in France (@IndiaembFrance) December 22, 2023

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“Embassy team has reached & obtained consular access,” it added. “We are investigating the situation, also ensuring wellbeing of passengers.”

On Friday, police and gendarmes cordoned off the entire airport and white tarpaulin sheets covered the bay windows of the airport’s arrivals hall, an AFP journalist at the scene noted.

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Airline ‘has done nothing wrong’ 

The prefecture in the north-eastern department of Marne said the A340, operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines, “remained grounded on the tarmac at Vatry airport following its landing” on Thursday.

Legend Air has a small fleet of four aircraft, according to the Flightradar website.

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The plane had been due to refuel and was carrying 303 Indian nationals who had probably been working in the UAE, it said.

Liliana Bakayoko, who said she was a lawyer for the airline, told AFP the company believed it had done nothing wrong, had committed no offence “and is at the disposal of the French authorities”.

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But the airline would take legal action if the prosecutors file charges, she added.

The Vatry airport, located 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of Paris, serves mostly budget airlines.

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Border police can initially hold a foreign national for up to four days if they land in France and are prevented from travelling on to their intended destination.

French law allows for that period to be extended to eight days if a judge approves it, then another eight days in exceptional circumstances, up to a maximum of 26 days.

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Human trafficking carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in France.

(AFP)

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