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Ceasefire between Israel, Palestinian militants comes into force

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An Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant organisation has come into force after three days of fighting.

The ceasefire, which both sides had confirmed, came into force at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, and followed a targeted Israeli military operation that killed several high-ranking PIJ members in the Gaza Strip, including military chief Taisir al-Jabari and Islamic Jihad’s southern commander, Khaled Mansour, reports dpa news agency.

The PIJ said it was insisting on its right “to respond to any Israeli aggression”, while the Jewish state also stressed that it “maintains the right to respond strongly” if the ceasefire is violated.

The Times of Israel reported that the country’s Iron Dome defence system intercepted a projectile launched from Gaza minutes after the ceasefire came into force.

The newspaper also cited the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) as announcing shortly after 11.30 p.m. a raid on a Palestinian village to destroy the homes of two suspected terrorists accused of carrying out a deadly terror attack earlier this year.

The ceasefire, however, initially appeared to hold after a shaky start, the paper reported.

A high-ranking delegation from Egypt arrived in Gaza on Sunday evening to negotiate the deal, dpa has learned from security sources.

Both sides said they were welcoming Egyptian efforts to mediate.

Last year, Cairo successfully brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, ending 11 days of fighting.

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland welcomed the truce and thanked Egypt “for its crucial role in establishing the ceasefire” on Twitter.

“The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the ceasefire,” he added.

Wennesland also said that the UN “has been intensively engaged and closely working with Egypt on mediating a restoration of calm”, pledging to “continue to work with all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation urgently”.

The Israeli military had launched a large-scale operation dubbed “Breaking Dawn” against the PIJ on August 5. Al-Jabari, Mansour and other PIJ members were killed.

The group, which is closely linked to Iran, is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.

On August 6, the army attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip. Israeli border towns on the edge of the besieged enclave were again on rocket alert on Sunday morning.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 44 people were killed and 360 injured in the attacks, including 15 children and four women.

Israel blames Islamic Jihad for the deaths of five children and one adult in the Jabalia refugee camp. According to the military, they were killed by a misguided jihadi rocket.

For the first time since the beginning of the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, rocket alarm was also sounded in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Residents reported explosions. In Tel Aviv, people rushed to shelters.

Since August 5, more than 900 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

The Palestinian Health Ministry warned that medical supplies in the Gaza Strip would be cut off within 48 hours due to the shutdown of the only power plant in the enclave.

The emergency generators of the hospitals were already almost empty in view of the continuing blockade of the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Israel halted the import of fuel into the territory on August 1, citing fears of attacks following the arrest of the Islamic Jihad leader.

Israel tightened a blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007, which has since been joined by Egypt.

Both countries justify the measure with security considerations.

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Floods in Haiti kill 42, displace thousands

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At least 42 people have died and 13,000 others displaced after heavy floods triggered by torrential rain inundated homes across Haiti, according to a statement issued by the countrys Civil Protection Agency.

The statement issued on Monday said that 85 people were injured, while 11 others remain unaccounted for after intense rainfall over the weekend caused several rivers throughout Haiti to overflow, which in turn sparked flash floods, flooding, rockslides and landslides, reports CNN.

The displaced and mission persons were reported from five of Haiti’s 10 departments: West, Nippes, South-East, North-West, and the Center.

“My government, in concert with national and international institutions, is taking urgent measures in order to meet the demands of the hour,” Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted on Monday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Monday that flooding could resume with more rain in coming days.

“In the event of another heavy rainfall, the waterlogged soils will be unable to prevent further flooding, rockslides and landslides, and the provisional death toll could rise even higher,” quoted the Office as saying.

The danger is expected to continue through hurricane season, which began on June 1.

Meanwhile, emergency response teams and aid organisations have been mobilised.

“We’ll start providing hot meals to displaced people in the coming hours & are mobilising ready-to-eat rations & dry food,” the World Food Programme said in a tweet.

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Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia announces output cuts

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Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices, the media reported on Monday.

Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and OPEC+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024, reports.

OPEC+ accounts for around 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.

In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4 per cent before settling at around $77 a barrel.

The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.

Total production cuts, which OPEC+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the reported.

OPEC+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2 per cent of global demand.

“The result of the discussions was the extension of the deal until the end of 2024,” Novak said.

In April, it also agreed a surprise voluntary cut of 1.6 million bpd which took effect in May, a move that briefly saw an increase in prices but failed to bring about a lasting recovery.

On Sunday, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the cut of one million bpd could be extended beyond July if needed, the BBC reported.

“This is a Saudi lollipop,” he said, in what is seen as a bid to stabilise the market.

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Bill to allow Sikhs to ride without bike helmets in California

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 Senators in California voted in favour of a bill that exempts Sikhs from wearing a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle.

The Senate Bill 847, authored by Senator Brian Dahle cleared the state senate this week with a 21-8 vote margin, and will now move to the Assembly.

“Freedom of religion is a core foundation of this country. We, as Americans, have the right to freely express our religion and I believe that right should equally extend to everyone. Any law that limits the ability to express one’s religion, goes against what this country is all about,” Dahle said in a statement after presenting the bill on the senate floor.

“Exempting those who wear turbans or patkas from wearing helmets is a simple way to ensure that everyone’s religious freedoms are protected,” he added.

According to 2021 American Community Survey estimates, 211,000 Sikhs live in California, which is nearly half of all Sikhs living in the US.

The State Senate was told that as of now, no helmet exists in the market that will accommodate a turban or a patka, but according to members of the Sikh community, a turban is a good enough protection.

Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C. have a universal helmet law for all riders. 29 states require helmets for specified riders, generally riders under a certain age (usually 18 or 21).

Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no motorcycle helmet laws.

“Although other countries and our own military make accommodations for Sikhs’ deep beliefs, out of the US states that require helmets, none has exemptions for Sikhs or any other group based on religious practice,” a statement from Dahle’s office read.

This question of helmets for Sikhs has also been debated and considered in other countries, like Canada and the UK.

In Canada, Sikhs are exempt from motorcycle helmet laws in several provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Among the supporters of the bill were the Legendary Sikh Riders, the Sikh Legends of America and the Sikh Saints Motorcycle Club.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 5,500 motorcyclists died in 2020, and more than 180,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries.

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