Global concern over West Bank
The White House has expressed concern over the escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank. After clashes in Jenin yesterday, Mai al-Kaila, the Palestinian health minister, claimed that “occupation forces stormed Jenin government hospital and fired tear gas canisters at the paediatric department”. The operation “could have global implications” said the Jerusalem Post, with “all of the major Palestinian groups threatening various responses”. Two rockets were fired from Gaza this morning and Israel responded with airstrikes. It follows a rise in tensions in the region after an unprecedented visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by the Israeli security minister earlier this month.
Taxman questions Zahawi account
The head of HMRC has suggested that Nadhim Zahawi did not make an “innocent error” with his tax affairs, as pressure grows on the Conservative Party chairman. Over the weekend, Zahawi said he had paid a penalty after HMRC had found that he had committed a “careless but not deliberate error” and said he was “confident” he had “acted properly throughout”. However, Jim Harra told MPs that “there are no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs”. Meanwhile, said The Guardian, Zahawi is also being “pressed to reveal the source of about £30m of unsecured loans” made to his wife’s UK property company.
Brexit ‘energises’ Hunt’s plans
Jeremy Hunt will reject the “gloom” about the prospects for the UK economy and promise long-term prosperity in a plan “energised” by Brexit. The chancellor will deliver an “upbeat message” today, reported Sky News, saying the government has a plan to use “British genius and British hard work” to boost economic growth and make the country “the world’s next Silicon Valley”. However, he has also warned that the government must maintain its “disciplined approach” to the public finances to get inflation under control.
Biden calls for ‘peaceful protest’
President Biden has called for “peaceful protest” after five fired Memphis police officers were arrested and accused of beating to death Tyre Nichols. “I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” Biden said in a written statement. Attorneys for the Nichols family said bodycam footage, which is due to be released this evening, will show him being severely beaten. “I’m sickened by what I saw,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director David Rausch, who has seen the footage.
Rapist to be moved from women’s prison
A transgender woman found guilty of raping two women before transitioning has been moved from Scotland’s all-female Cornton Vale prison to a male facility. First minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that Isla Bryson would not be incarcerated in the women’s prison “either short term or long term”. She said she hoped the move “provides assurance to the public” but added that it was important not to suggest “even inadvertently” that transgender women posed an inherent threat to women.
Asteroid ‘zips’ past Earth
An asteroid passed close to the planet earlier this morning. Around the size of a minibus, the space rock, known as 2023 BU, “zipped” over the southern tip of South America, with a closest approach of 2,200 miles, reported CNN. Nasa said there was no risk of the asteroid striking Earth, as it would have transformed into a fireball once it entered the planet’s atmosphere and disintegrated. However, said the BBC, the episode “illustrates how there are still asteroids of significant size lurking near Earth that remain to be detected”. It comes after Nasa successfully collided a spacecraft head-on with an asteroid the size of a football pitch in September last year.
Zelenskyy won’t back Boris Johnson return
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has “delivered a blow” to Boris Johnson’s comeback bid, said The Independent, by saying he could not support him returning as prime minister. Days after the former PM’s latest visit trip to Kyiv, Ukraine’s president was asked on Sky News about his relationship with the former PM, who he described as a “true friend” during his time in office. Zelensky insisted it is “not correct” for him to support any comeback bid, saying he has “good relations” with Rishi Sunak. Rumours that Johnson plans to run again for Downing Street continue to swirl.
Toksvig says Church ‘not in step with society’
The Archbishop of Canterbury told broadcaster Sandi Toksvig that progress on same-sex marriage in the Church of England would be “glacial”. Toksvig, who met with the Most Rev Justin Welby for tea after she expressed distress last year that he had reaffirmed a 1998 declaration that gay sex was a sin, described their conversation as cordial but said that it was “very clear that the state Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step”.
Man found near hospital with ‘bomb’
A man has been charged with a terror offence after he was arrested in the grounds of St James Hospital in Leeds in possession of a firearm and a suspected explosive device. Mohammad Farooq, 27, is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates Court this morning charged with three offences. After he was arrested close to the hospital’s maternity department amid reports that he had been acting suspiciously, part of the hospital had to be evacuated and bomb disposal teams from the British Army were drafted in.
Public asked to count birds
Birds and their songs have a positive impact on wellbeing for more than nine in 10 people, according to a survey. RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is urging people to boost their mental health and help scientists by spending an hour this weekend counting the birds in their garden or neighbourhood park. “Watching the blue tits and bullfinches enjoying the feeders in my garden is a constant source of comfort for me,” said Amir Khan, the president of the RSPB.