(GAZA STRIP) LATEST: At least 181 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 52 children and 31 women, with 1,225 wounded. Eight Israelis have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier as airstrikes continues on Sunday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers nearly a week ago:

Israeli strikes kill 26, topple buildings in Gaza City: An additional 50 people were wounded from the attack: Israel appears to have stepped up strikes in recent days to inflict as much damage as possible on Hamas as international mediators try to broker a cease-fire. But targeting the group’s leaders could hinder those efforts. A U.S. diplomat is in the region to try to de-escalate tensions, and the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Sunday: : 25: mins ago

Israeli tanks pound Gaza as violence escalates
Israel Attacks

The Gaza Health Ministry said 10 women and eight children were among those killed, with another 50 people wounded in the attack. A rescuer could be seen shouting into a hole in the rubble. “Can you hear me?” he called out. “Are you OK?” Minutes later, first responders managed to pull a survivor out and carried him off on an orange stretcher.

Earlier, the Israeli military said it destroyed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yahiyeh Sinwar, in a separate strike in the southern town of Khan Younis. It was the third such attack in the last two days on the homes of senior Hamas leaders, who have gone underground.

The latest outbreak of violence began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews. Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Palestinian rescuers pull the body of a woman from under the rubble of a destroyed residential building following deadly Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City that flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people, in Gaza City, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.

At least 181 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 52 children and 31 women, with 1,225 wounded. Eight Israelis have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.

The military said Sunday it struck Sinwar’s home and that of his brother Muhammad, another senior Hamas member. On Saturday it destroyed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch.

Hamas’ upper echelon has gone into hiding in Gaza, and it is unlikely any were at home at the time of the strikes. Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, divides his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which provide political support to the group.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have acknowledged 20 fighters killed since the fighting broke out Monday. Israel says the real number is far higher and has released the names and photos of two dozen alleged operatives it says were “eliminated.”

An Egyptian diplomat said Israel’s targeting of Hamas political leaders would complicate cease-fire efforts. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door negotiations, said Cairo is working to broker an end to the fighting. A U.S. diplomat has also been dispatched to the region and the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Sunday.

The Egyptian diplomat said the destruction of Hamas’ rocket capabilities would require a ground invasion that would “inflame the whole region.” Egypt, which made peace with Israel decades ago, has threatened to “suspend” cooperation in various fields, the official said, without elaborating.

Hamas and other militant groups have fired some 2,900 rockets into Israel. The military said 450 of the rockets had fallen short or misfired, while Israeli air defenses intercepted 1,150.

Workers clear the rubble of a building that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on Saturday, that housed The Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlets, in Gaza City, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

‘FREE PALESTINE’ DEMONSTRATES BLOCK TRAFFIC IN LOS ANGLGES: ‘LOVE LIVE INTIFADA

The interception rate appeared to have significantly dropped since the start of the conflict, when Israel said 90% were intercepted. The military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel has meanwhile carried out hundreds of airstrikes across impoverished Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they contain Hamas military infrastructure. On Saturday, Israel bombed the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, where the office of The Associated Press was located. The building also housed the TV network Al-Jazeera and other media outlets, along with several floors of apartments.

“The campaign will continue as long as it is required,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. He alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building.

Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also has accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to back up the claims.

The AP has operated from the building for 15 years, including through three previous wars between Israel and Hamas. During those conflicts as well as the current one, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surroundings.

“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

In the afternoon, the military called the building’s owner and warned a strike would come within an hour. AP staffers and other occupants evacuated safely. Soon after, three missiles hit the building and destroyed it, bringing it crashing down in a giant cloud of dust.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt said. “We are shocked and horrified.”

He said the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the U.S. State Department to learn more.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later spoke by phone with Pruitt, offering his support for independent journalists and media organizations, and the White House said it had communicated directly with Israel to urge safety for journalists.

The Biden administration has affirmed its support for Israel while working to de-escalate the crisis. U.S. diplomat Hady Amr is in the region as part of efforts to broker a truce.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.16: 2021:

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#gaza, #israel, #palestinians

(LONDON) JUST IN: The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced it is investigating SA Whyalla Steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta’s company, Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: Greensill, owned by Australian businessman Lex Greensill, was a major lender to Mr Gupta’s business and collapsed last month:

UK fraud agency investigating Whyalla Steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta over Greensill dealings: ‘The office says it will look into suspected fraudulent trading and money laundering, including financial arrangements with failed company Greensill Capital’ and said it would not provide any further comment on its probe as it is an ongoing matter’

Posted 1d ago

Sanjeev Gupta smiles.
Sanjeev Gupta’s companies employ thousands of workers around the world, including in Australia.(ABC News: Nick Harmsen)

Mr Gupta’s companies were among the main clients of Greensill before its collapse in March and their reliance on Greensill stoked concerns over their financial health when it went under.

Gupta’s Liberty Steel, which employs thousands of people around the world, including in Australia, has sought a bailout from the UK government in the wake of Greensill’s collapse.

Steel
Sanjeev Gupta with South Australian Premier Steven Marshall (right) in Whyalla in 2018.(Twitter: Steven Marshall)

A GFG Alliance spokesperson said the company would “cooperate fully with the investigation”.

“GFG Alliance continues to serve its customers around the world and is making progress in the refinancing of its operations which are benefiting from the operational improvements it has made and the very strong steel, aluminium and iron ore markets,” the spokesperson said.

The relationship between Mr Gupta’s companies and Greensill has been in the spotlight over the past few weeks.

Former British prime minister David Cameron, who acted as an adviser to Greensill that involved him lobbying his contacts in government and in the civil service, has been caught up in the fallout of the firm’s bankruptcy.

On Thursday, Mr Cameron testified before politicians on his activities for Greensill, which he insisted was motivated by a desire to help support British workers and businesses “in the economic turmoil caused by COVID” and not financial gain from his Greensill shares.

Opposition parties are calling for tougher rules on contacts between business representatives and government officials, saying Britain’s laxly enforced lobbying regulations leave the door open to corruption.

The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s financial regulatory body, has already announced a formal investigation into Greensill’s collapse after receiving allegations that it said were “potentially criminal in nature.”

Whyalla is ‘battle-hardened’ and won’t stop steel production, local MP

A wide shot of the Whyalla Steelworks
Local state MP Eddie Hughes says Whyalla will prosper regardless of how the investigation proceeds.(ABC News: Matt Coleman)

Eddie Hughes, the South Australian member for Giles, which encompasses Whyalla, said the community and the steel industry in the area would “get through this”.

“It’s concerning but obviously that’s got a long way to go,” he said of the SFO’s announcement.

“The thing that Australia should never lose sight of is that Australia can produce steel.

“We’ve got hundreds of millions of tonnes of magnetite on the doorstep here in Whyalla; we can make steel for generations to come, we can make money for generations to come, we can provide jobs for generations to come.

“Whether it’s going to be Gupta, whether it’s going to be someone else, whether we even look at an interim nationalisation as the British conservatives are, we will have a future here in Whyalla.

“Obviously it’s not positive news, but we are a battle-hardened community here in Whyalla, we’ve been through a lot and we’ll get through this.”

He said he thought Mr Gupta’s “dealings here in Australia have been far less complicated” than those in the UK and said he was eager to see the outcome of the probe.

AP/ABC

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#greensill-capital, #london, #sfo

(GAZA STRIP) WAFA REPORT: A Palestinian mother and her three children were among the ten latest victims of the ongoing Israeli aggression and their use of Iron Dome #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: A barrage of Israeli airstrikes at dawn Friday destroyed several homes in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the north of the Strip, resulting in the killing of a mother and her three children from the al-Attar family:

GAZA STRIP: A mother and her three children among 10 Palestinians killed in latest Israeli strikes leading to four deaths were identified in the preliminary inspection of the mass damage, while the mother and her three children, together with two other bodies, were pulled out from the debris sometime later’

WAFA REPORT;

WAFA correspondent said Israeli fighter jets carried out a crazy barrage of about 160 airstrikes concurrently, which coincided with bombing by the Israeli artillery and navy that mainly targeted civilian facilities in the northern Gaza district.

The Ministry of Health said the latest figure bring up the number of Palestinians killed by the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza to 119, including 31 children, in addition to 830 injuries, including 139 children.

M.N

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#gaza, #israeli, #palestinian, #wafa

(LANCASHIRE, U.K) JUST IN: A child has died and four adults injured in a massive fire in Heysham with 10-firefighting crews are fighting the blaze that has collapsed buildings #AceNewsDesk report

HEYSHAM: Child dies and four adults injured in Lancashire explosion: Firefighters, police and ambulances were sent to Mallowdale Avenue in the town in the early hours of Sunday’

Firefighters Working With Blaze

7 minutes ago Firefightets are still searching the scene

Two houses collapsed and serious damage was done to a third property, Lancashire Police said.

A young child died in the blast, which happened at 02:40 BST, and the force said two men and two women had been taken to hospital with injuries.

“We can now confirm that sadly a young child has died as a result of the incident. The family have been informed and our thoughts remain with them at this distressing time,” the force said.Firefighters and ambulances were sent to the scene in the early hours

Two of the people hurt had serious injuries, assistant chief constable Jo Edwards said at a press conference at the scene earlier.

The other two are being assessed in hospital.

She said the search and rescue operation is still ongoing but “we believe we have got everybody out”. 

Lancashire Fire said a major incident was declared after it was reported that there has been an explosion at a property on Mallowdale Avenue.One house had collapsed and nearby houses had roof damage

About 30-40 people were evacuated from their homes. Most went to stay with friends and family but the Salt Ayre Leisure Centre is welcoming anyone needing support.

Lancaster City Council leader Erica Lewis said councils would give housing support to those affected and had opened a helpline.

She said it was “important we understand how this happened” and the investigation “runs its course”.

One neighbour said it “sounded like a bomb going off”.

“It literally shook the whole bed. We felt like we were going through the floor. 

“We jumped out of bed and we just ran to see what was going on. It’s just awful,” she said.

Dave GuestNeighbours said the explosion “sounded like a bomb going off”

Susan Faulkner, 74, who lives further down the avenue, said she was still “shaken” by the incident.

“I woke up with this huge bang and I thought someone was breaking into my house… I’m still quite shaken by it. I’ve never experienced that before.

Ms Faulkner said that her own property and others close by had been damaged.

“It was quite a blast, I live quite way down there and part of my side door was blown in, my next door neighbour’s plates were smashed,” she said.

“I’ve been very lucky. When I see what those poor souls have had happen to them, it’s devastating. I’m really sad for those people, it’s such a sad thing to happen to them.”Cars and houses were damaged by bricks and debris from the blast

Dan Knowles, who lives four streets away from the explosion, said he thought there had been an earthquake.

“We immediately checked on our kids and got back in bed. We then heard sirens and my wife checked Facebook.

“We stayed indoors and switched everything off at the source and then sat up all night worrying.”

Another neighbour said he had been helping out “making brews” since being woken by the blast.

Matt House, from North West Ambulance Service, said he had not seen an explosion like this in the UK during his 20 years of service.

Ben Norman, assistant chief fire officer, said there would be “untold” impact on fire officers working at the scene.

He said at its peak, 80 fire officers were at the scene with two engines pulled in from Cumbria and emergency service workers “took great risks”.

He added: “Some of those are staff that respond from home or a workplace. They’re on-call firefighters so they go back into this community.

“They live within it, they work within it, their families are within it.”

Local MP David Morris, who represents Morecambe and Lunesdale, thanked the emergency services on Twitter and said: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of the families on Mallowdale Avenue”.

Police said they were working with gas service engineers to make the area safe and they advised people to stay away. 

Electricity North West, which supplies electricity across the north west of England, said on Twitter that engineers were removing supplies for safety.

The company could not confirm how many properties would be affected, or for how long.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#fire, #firefighters, #heysham, #lancashire, #u-k

(LONDON) Isleworth Court Report: Four men have been jailed for more than 71 years after being found guilty of raping a woman in Ealing #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: All four were sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday, 12 May after being found guilty of rape at the same court the day before:

LONDON: ‘Four men jailed for raping woman in Ealing: The group subjected the victim to a prolonged and repeated attack after meeting her at a nightclub in August 2017’

[Left to right: Lupu, Ceban, Rotaru, Cimbir]

[Left to right: Lupu, Ceban, Rotaru, Cimbir]

Detective Constable Angie Meadows, who worked on the investigation, said: “Over the course of my career this is one of the worst assaults I have ever dealt with and they deserve such lengthy prison sentences.”

Octavian Lupu, 31 (03.07.90), of Coldharbour Lane, Hayes, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. 

Andrei Rotaru, 25 (09.12.95), of Clun Road, Littlehampton, was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment. 

Alexandru Cimbir, 40 (14.07.80), of Rabournmead Drive, Northolt, was sentenced to 18-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. 

Dmitri Ceban, 28 (27.10.92), of Princes Park, Hayes, was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. 

The court heard that the four men were together at a nightclub in Ealing on the evening of 12 August 2017. Lupu was seen on CCTV approaching several women before dancing with the victim and buying her drinks. 

She had planned to get a taxi home, however her mobile phone wasn’t working and left the club with Lupu who had offered to help organise a taxi home. 

The victim then remembers being put into the back of a car with four men who drove her to an address in Northolt where she was taken inside and repeatedly raped by all four men. The attack lasted approximately 90 minutes. 

Following the assault, the suspects returned the victim’s clothes and arranged for a taxi to take her home. She managed to get to hospital where she contacted police who attended the hospital and began an investigation. 

Officers were able to use CCTV from inside the nightclub and the venue’s I.D. entry system to identify the four men who were then arrested and interviewed. They all denied the allegations and gave varying accounts of what had happened that evening. 

Detective Constable Meadows, added: “The victim was on a night out with her friends when she was subjected to a horrific ordeal by these men who have expressed no remorse for their actions throughout the course of the investigation: “ I hope that the conclusion of the case gives the victim some closure that she can begin moving forward with her life. She has shown great courage and bravery in standing up to her attackers and supporting the investigation: “ Women’s safety remains a top priority for the Met and we would encourage anyone who has been a victim or witnessed a sexual assault to contact police. You will be supported by our specially trained officers who will give advice and take all allegations seriously.”

If you need to report a crime, you can do so by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency. 

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#ealing, #jailed, #london

(GAZA STRIP) New Reality Dawns: Up until Monday, the mood was festive, despite the #coronavirus #pandemic, as the end of Ramadan drew nearer then all hell hit the residents #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: We were cleaning our houses, buying new clothes for the small ones for the Eid. But things have changed, ” says Mariam Sersawi on the phone from Gaza on the eve of the three-day feast of Eid al-Fitr:

Gaza and Israel residents struggle through a new reality: Hostilities broke out between Hamas and Israel less only days ago. Swift escalations have since left civilians on both sides trying to come to terms with the maddening unpredictability. Tania Krämer reports from Israel.

A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home
GAZA/ISRAEL REPORT:

Mariam is a 25-year-old content writer living in Shejaieh, a neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. Neither she nor others predicted what was yet to come later in the day. The beginning of this new conflict and the quick and wide scale destruction reminded her of the devastation her neighborhood saw during the war of 2014. “I am panicked. The sound of bombing is terrible. It’s constant bombing,” she says, fighting back tears as she speaks. “I am exhausted.”

Days later, people shed their disbelief as they realized that this has turned into a fierce and very serious conflict. As hostilities intensified, ordinary Gazans took to social media to describe how intense Israel’s air bombardments were and how dreadful they felt.

Old memories, new fears

According to the Israeli army, 160 fighter jets were in the air during Thursday night to strike the coastal enclave. To Gazans, the three previous wars and several shorter military escalations are deeply engrained in their memory. Now, they quickly had to again adapt their skills to hunker down at home and only venture out to get some basic food items quickly. Gaza has no shelters or air raid sirens. Two million people live in the blockaded territory which is ruled by the militant group Hamas.

DW correspondent Tania Krämer on Israel-Gaza violence

Abed Shokry, a senior lecturer at the Islamic University in Gaza paces from one room to another to find some sense of safety, he says on the phone from Gaza-City, saying that the house was shaking from the bombardments. “The strikes are stronger, more dangerous and more powerful than in 2014. I don’t know what to say, I feel powerless, helpless. We can’t do anything, there is no safe place. We don’t have any safe room or shelter. There is nowhere safe to go,” he says. Shoukry lived in Germany for over a decade before returning to Gaza in 2007, just as the closure around the small enclave was tightened by Israel and partly by Egypt after Hamas seized power.

On Monday he was working on a lecture in at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, when he realized what was happening. “Just tell me: What do the Israelis want from us?” he asks.

By Friday, he was writing from Gaza on Whatsapp that people in the neighboring high-rise building have been called by the Israeli military to vacate their house. “If they bomb and destroy it, it means we will also be affected. I am just trying to calm down our children.”

Heavy smoke and fire rise from Al-Sharouk tower as it collapses after being hit by an Israeli air strike

Heavy smoke and fire rise from a tower as it collapses after being hit by an Israeli air strike

Forced evictions and protests

There was a sense beforehand that the events in Jerusalem in recent weeks might have an impact on developments, Shoukri says. But still the outbreak of the fighting surprised most people in Gaza.

For weeks, there were confrontations in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood between Palestinian residents and Israeli police. Provocative visits by far-right Israeli politicians and demonstrations of Israeli right-wings extremists had further created tensions and violence.

In this Palestinian neighborhood, four families have been struggling to fight off a pending eviction order in favor of an extremist Israeli settler organization. Violent confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians on the Harem Al Sharif, or what is known as Temple Mount to Jewish people, and inside the Al Aqsa Mosque had let Hamas to set an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw their forces from the holy compound and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. At 6 p.m. local time, Hamas launched several rockets towards Jerusalem.

  • A picture taken on May 13, 2021 shows a ball of fire engulfing the Al-Walid building which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza city early in the morningIn pictures: Israel-Gaza conflict intensifies with rockets, airstrikesRetaliatory strikesThe wave of destruction continued on Thursday. Israeli fighter planes bombed the southern Gaza Strip, in attacks targeting facilities the Israeli army said housed members Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.

Up until Friday, Israel has reportedly carried out more than 600 air strikes in Gaza. Palestinian militants fired over 1,600 rockets towards Southern Israel and into the center of the country.

While the intensive fighting has prompted international concern that the situation could spiral out of control, prospects of a ceasefire appear to be slim at this point.

“I said that we would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. We are doing so, and we will continue to do so with great force,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening. “The last word has not been said and this operation will continue as long as necessary in order to restore quiet and security to the State of Israel.”

But he also said that Israel was fighting on “two fronts” — referring to recent violent street clashes between Jewish and Arab-Israeli or Palestinian Israeli citizens inside Israel. Many “mixed” Israeli cities have seen an unprecedented outbreak of rioting, destruction of property and violent attacks on individuals — by far-right Israeli and by Arab-Israeli individuals and groups. The violence led to a curfew being imposed in the city of Lod in central Israel.

Smoke rises from a building hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip

In the southern Israeli city of Sderot, smoke rises from a building hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip

Ashkelon — coastal city hit hard by rocket fire

In the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon which lies just north of the Gaza Strip, air raid sirens wailed again and people in a neighborhood shopping center rushed to the underground parking lot. Once there, several loud booms echo in the basement. It’s the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense systemintercepting rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. A day earlier, one rocket landed in the street in front of the shops, damaging houses and cars. “It’s very stressful”, says Shula Elimelech, “But we follow the regulations, we trust in the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) — and so God willing, it will be ok.”

Ashkelon has seen many missile barrages in the past days. Upstairs, baker Shmaayah Sassporta is preparing the traditional Challah bread for Shabbat. “It has been going on for many years now. And I don’t expect it to end any time soon,” says Sassporta. He shrugs, hardened by the previous as well as the present constant threat of rockets launched from Gaza towards the coastal town.

Further south in a small moshav, in very close proximity to the border fence that separates Gaza from Israel, Anat Partoush, a yoga teacher, talks to us via video call from a safe room — a fortified room.

She finds herself confined to her home again, just as she has been getting used to going back to work after the Corona-pandemic. When air-raid sirens go off in the area, there are less than a few seconds left to seek shelter before a possible rocket or mortar impact. “I am not too afraid, I just experience frustration. We have a shelter, and the Iron Dome also gives you some psychological help. It’s not nice to hear all the noises of the rockets. But I know it’s temporary also.”

Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip

Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system, which intercepts rockets, has only partly eased fears

Background of political uncertainty

This DW reporter met with her just before the last Israeli election in March. The Likud-supporter is glad that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still at the helm. “There is no magic stick. I see people blaming Netanyahu, and everybody is so clever, it’s so complicated and I am happy that Bibi Netanyahu is not going crazy.”

Netanyahu had failed to form a coalition government. His rivals Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Naftali Bennett (Yamina) had been trying to build a broad coalition. However, on Thursday, Israeli media reported that Bennett had signaled that such an alternative government was off the table, and that he would renew talks with Netanyahu’s Likud to form a right wing-nationalist-religious government after all.

Partoush hopes that Arab countries, like the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain — with whom Israel has very recently normalized relations — could help restore calm and find a longer-term solution. But she is also sure that as long as Hamas rules Gaza and no political solution is in sight, there won’t be any prospect of quiet, let alone peace.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: May.16: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#gaza, #hamas, #israel

(GAZA CITY) JUST IN: Palestinian Territories: Israeli air strikes hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political wing in the Gaza Strip, the army said Sunday, but without saying if he was killed #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: Both residences served as military infrastructure for the Hamas terror organization.” Witnesses confirmed to AFP a strike had hit Sinwar’s house:

Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza Strip: “Among the targets struck are the residences of Yahya Sinwar, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau in Gaza, as well as of his brother, Muhammad Sinwar, Head of Logistics and Manpower for Hamas,” Israel’s army said in a statement, releasing a video showing plumes of smoke and intense damage’

IDF Hit Hamas House Arab News

May 16, 2021 06:22

IDF: Telegram Report: Israel Defense Forces, [May 16, 2021 at 10:32 AM] A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military assets in the intelligence headquarters of the Hamas terror organization in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas intelligence operatives work in the building to provide operational assessments for the terror organisation: https://t.me/idfofficial/1066

IDF: The department was located adjacent to a kindergarten, proving once again how the Hamas terror organization deliberately endangers civilians by placing its military assets in the heart of densely populated civilian areas: The IDF takes all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians during its operational activities. Prior to the strike, the IDF provided advance warning to civilians in the building and allowed sufficient time for them to evacuate the site: This strike significantly harms central terror infrastructure belonging to Hamas.

Attached is a video of the strike: https://bit.ly/3omzscU
In addition, please find attached an aerial photo of the structure: https://IDFANC.activetrail.biz/ANC1605202101

The army said it had also carried out strikes targeting Hamas tunnel systems.
As of 07:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) Sunday, Israel’s army said that Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired some 2,900 rockets toward Israel.
The army said 450 rockets fell short inside Gaza, while Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system has intercepted approximately 1,150 rockets.

Sinwar, a former commander of Hamas’s military branch, served more than two decades in an Israeli jail before he was released in 2011 as a part of a prisoner exchange:

First elected as the head of Hamas’s political wing in Gaza in 2017, he was re-elected in March, extending his tenure as the Islamist movement’s de facto leader in the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave.
Hamas overall chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently based in Qatar:

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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(PARIS, France.) JUST IN: A group of serving French soldiers has published a new open letter in a conservative magazine, warning President Macron that the “survival” that the country is at stake after he made “concessions” to Islamism #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, a close ally of Macron, slammed the letter as a “crude manoeuvre” and accused its anonymous signatories of lacking “courage”

FRANCE: The letter posted on the Valeurs Actuelles website late on Sunday echoes the tone of a similar letter published by the same magazine last month, which also warned that a civil conflict was brewing: Civil war is brewing’: In second letter, French soldiers accuse Macron of according ‘concessions to Islamism’

May 15, 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron is pictured at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. — Reuters/File
French President Emmanuel Macron is pictured at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. — Reuters/File

French generals spark backlash with warning of ‘civil war’

The previous letter, signed by a handful of officers and some 20 semi-retired generals, sparked a furore in France, with the prime minister calling it an unacceptable interference and France’s top general vowing that those behind it would be punished.

It is not clear how many people are behind the current letter or what their ranks are.

In contrast to the previous letter, it is also open to be signed by the public, with Valeurs Actuelles saying more than 93,000 had done so by Monday morning.

“We are not talking about extending your mandates or conquering others. We are talking about the survival of our country, the survival of your country,” said the letter, which was addressed to Macron and his cabinet.

The authors described themselves as active-duty soldiers from the younger generation of the military, a so-called “generation of fire” that had seen active service.

“They have offered up their lives to destroy the Islamism that you have made concessions to on our soil.” 

They claimed also to have served in the Sentinelle security operation within France launched after a wave of jihadist attacks in 2015.

They observed that for some religious communities “France means nothing but an object of sarcasm, contempt or even hatred”.

It added: “If a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil […] civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well.” 

‘Is this courage?

The letter comes in a febrile political atmosphere ahead of the 2022 elections when Macron’s main challenger is expected to again be the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Analysts say Macron has tacked to the right in recent months to prevent Le Pen from exploiting a series of attacks in late 2020 blamed on Islamist extremists who recently immigrated to France.

“I believe that when you are in the military you don’t do this kind of thing in hiding,” Darmanin told BFM television. “These people are anonymous. Is this courage? To be anonymous?” 

Former president Francois Hollande weighed in on the debate, expressing bewilderment that such sentiments could be expressed by serving soldiers.

“How can we suggest that the army today could have such feelings and a desire to question the very principles of the Republic?” he told France Inter radio.

Prime Minister Jean Castex had labelled the rare intervention in politics by military figures in last month’s letter “an initiative against all of our republican principles, of honour and the duty of the army”.

France’s armed forces chief of staff, General Francois Lecointre, said those who signed it would face punishments ranging from forced full retirement to disciplinary action.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.16: 2021:

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#civil-war, #france, #macron, #paris

(BURKINA FASO, Africa.) Jihadists Report: #IslamicState & al – #Qaeda during the last seven days at least 17,500 displaced and 45-people killed in attacks #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: The crisis continues in Africa, while the woke world shows little concern. In a little over one week in Burkina Faso, over 17,500 people “have been forcefully displaced from their homes” and 45 people murdered by expanding Islamic State and al-Qaeda jihadists:

Burkina Faso: At least 45 people murdered, over 17,500 displaced in jihad onslaught from #IslamicState and al- #Qaeda While the focus on the West remains curbing “Islamophobia,” “the security situation in the Sahel region is fueling one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world.” ‘And it’s all about the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the region and ultimately the spread of Sharia globally’

“UN says armed attacks in Burkina Faso displace over 17,500 in past 10 days,” Reuters, May 7, 2021:

More than 17,500 people in Burkina Faso have been forcefully displaced from their homes in the past 10 days due to a series of attacks by unidentified armed groups that have killed 45 people, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

Attacks by jihadist armed groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the West African Sahel region have been rising sharply since the start of the year, particularly in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, with civilians bearing the brunt.

The UNHCR report said gunmen had carried out a series of attacks in three separate regions, burning down houses and shooting civilians dead. The assailants also ransacked health centres and damaged homes and shops.

“Clearly one of the reasons is to cause mayhem and to torment civilians,” UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told a briefing in Geneva.

The security situation in the Sahel region is fuelling one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world, he said.

Security sources told Reuters on Monday that armed assailants had killed around 30 people in an attack on a village in eastern Burkina Faso. read more

Last week, two Spanish journalists and an Irish citizen were killed in an armed ambush by suspected militants during an anti-poaching patrol near a nature reserve in eastern Burkina Faso. read more

“The trends we see only point to more violence to come,” Cheshirkov said.

The violence in Burkina Faso has displaced more than 1.14 million people in just over two years….

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#africa, #al-qaeda, #burkina-faso, #islamic-state, #jihadists

(NEW YORK) JUST IN: NYPD REPORT: Investigators are trying to identify three people caught on camera and accused of breaking into a Bronx home while impersonating police officers #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: According to police, the three male suspects were armed and got in by forcing their way through a back door:

NEW YORK: Armed Suspects Impersonated Police, Handcuffed Women During Alleged Bronx Home Invasion, NYPD Says: ‘It happened near Gabriel Drive and Mace Avenue just after midnight on April 27, but police just released surveillance video of the suspects inside the home below’

May, 15, 2021 at 1:01 pm

CBS NEW YORK

(credit: NYPD)

Once inside, they allegedly identified themselves as police, waved their guns and handcuffed two women.

The video shows the suspects were wearing vests marked “POLICE.” They were also wearing police hats, according to the NYPD.

The three demanded money from the women, 32 and 53, and ransacked the home, police said. They got away with a victim’s cellphone.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477 or for Spanish, 1-888-577-4782. Tips can also be sent to the NYPDTips Twitter account or submitted online at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.16: 2021:

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#bronx, #home-invasion, #new-york, #nypd

(GAZA STRIP) An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a high-rise building that housed the offices of The Associated Press (AP) and Al-Jazeera #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.16: Al-Jazeera broadcast footage showing the building collapsing to the ground after the Israeli airstrike, sending up a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debris:

GAZA STRIP UPDATE: Israel destroys building housing AP, Al-Jazeera offices: ‘The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building: AP said its staffers and residents of the building fled in a panic after being told of the warning Ace News Services said a 13–storey building was hit causing a plume of smoke to rise from the building

by Agencies

A ball of fire erupts from the Jala Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Palestine, May 15, 2021. (AFP Photo)

Israel destroys media building according to Arab News report

Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, said an Israeli intelligence officer warned him he had just one hour to ensure the evacuation of the building.

In a phone call with the officer, he was heard begging for an extra 10 minutes to allow journalists to retrieve their equipment before leaving.

“Give us 10 extra minutes,” he urged, but the officer on the other end of the line refused.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said he was “shocked and horrified” by an “incredibly disturbing” Israeli attack on the building.

Wael al-Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza told Agence France-Presse (AFP), “It’s terrible, very sad, to target the Al-Jazeera and other press bureaux.”

The White House said Saturday it has cautioned Israel about the importance of protecting independent media after the airstrike.

“We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

Israel alleged its “fighter jets attacked a high-rise building which hosted military assets belonging to the military intelligence” of Hamas.

Israeli air and artillery strikes on Gaza since Monday have killed more than 140 people, including over 40 children, and wounded 1,000 more, health officials in the coastal Palestinian enclave say.

Last Update: May 15, 2021 6:28 pm

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.16: 2021:

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#airstrike, #al-jazeera, #ap, #gaza, #israeli

(VIENNA) JCPOA REPORT: Iran & China Meeting was held in the residence of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi’s residence discuss Nuclear Deal #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: Meetings and consultations among the Iranian and the G4+1 countries in the framework of trilateral, bilateral and multilateral meetings continue in Vienna aimed at contributing to the faster resolving of the issue:

TEHRAN: May 14, IRNA – Head of the Iranian and Chinese delegations to Vienna reviewed important issues regarding Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): Earlier, heads of diplomatic delegations of Iran, Russia and China to the JCPOA Joint Commission held a trilateral meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.

Iran, China discuss JCPOA in Vienna
JCPOA REPORT:

May 14, 2021

On Tuesday, the head of the Iranian delegation Abbas Araghchi had a meeting with Enrique Mora, the deputy secretary general of the EU foreign relations office and the heads of the three EU delegations in the negotiations.

9376**2050

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.15: 2021:

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#russia, #china, #iran, #jcpoa, #vienna

(FRANCE) LATEST: French authorities are investigating after a police officer was stabbed by a woman in Bordeaux on Monday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: France’s national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has been notified but “at this stage of the investigations, has not taken up” the case, the Bordeaux prosecutor’s office said.

FRANCE: French anti-terror investigators notified over police stabbing: Prosecutors say the woman “threw herself” at the official while “armed with knives” at her home: She later stabbed the officer in the leg, while shouting “Allah Akbar” multiple times during the incident, prosecutors added: The woman was shot and seriously injured by another police officer after the stabbing.

A French police officer
Anti-Terror Report:

A French police officer   –   Copyright  Credit: AP

An investigation into “aggravated violence with a weapon and against a person in authority” remains ongoing.

The woman remains “in a very serious condition” in hospital, Bordeaux prosecutor Frederique Porterie told AFP.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.15: 2021;

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#bordeaux, #france, #police, #stabbing

(NEW YORK) #Cyberattack Report: A major US fuel pipeline has reportedly paid cyber-criminal gang DarkSide nearly $5m (£3.6m) in ransom, following a cyber-attack #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: Colonial said on Thursday that it would not comment on the issue: On Friday, Japanese consumer tech giant Toshiba said its European division in France had been hit by the same cyber-criminal gang:

US fuel pipeline ‘paid hackers $5m in ransom’ Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware cyber-attack over the weekendand took its service down for five days, causing supplies to tighten across the US: CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal all reported a ransom was paid, citing sources.

22 hours ago

The Colonial Pipeline in Georgia
Colonial Pipeline

Price impact

Following the cyber-attack, Colonial announced it would resume operations on Wednesday evening, but warned that it could take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal.

The 5,500-mile (8,900km) pipeline usually carries 2.5 million barrels a day on the East Coast.

The closure saw supplies of diesel, petrol and jet fuel tighten across the US, with prices rising, an emergency waiver passed on Monday and a number of states declaring an emergency.

The average price per gallon hit $3.008 (£2.14) – the highest level seen since October 2014, according to the Automobile Association of America.

US President Joe Biden reassured motorists on Thursday that fuel supplies should start returning to normal this weekend, even as more filling stations ran out of gasoline across the Southeast.

According to reports, Colonial had said initially it would not be paying the ransom demanded by the hackers.

Toshiba cyber-attack

Toshiba Tec France Imaging System, which is part of Toshiba, said it was hit by a similar cyber-attack by DarkSide on 4 May.

However, the firm emphasised that no leaks of data had been detected and that only a minimal amount of work data was lost during the event.

It said it had put protective measures in place immediately after the attack.

In light of a sharp increase in ransomware cyber-attacks during the pandemic, on Thursday President Biden signed an executive order to improve US cyber-defences.

Earlier in the week, he said that although there was no evidence that the Kremlin was involved, there was evidence to suggest that the DarkSide gang of hackers was based in Russia. 

The news that Colonial Pipeline paid these criminals is a major blow to President Biden.

Only this week he signed a long-awaited executive order to beef up federal cyber-security and, in turn, make the US more secure from future attacks.

These efforts have, in the view of some in the cyber-security world, been completely undermined.

How can the Biden administration encourage corporations to spend millions securing their computer networks from attack when they’ve just witnessed Colonial, under the glare of the public eye, cave in to criminal demands and pay their way out of trouble?

The news will swell the ranks of those in the security world who want ransomware payments banned.

But with companies, jobs and sometimes lives put at risk when ransomware hits, it is a tough call for policymakers.

The potential silver-lining in this case comes from reports that even after Colonial paid the hackers, the criminals were so slow to help the company that pipeline staff got to work on recovery themselves.

The DarkSide hacker crew can no longer claim that they can restore victims services quickly and this may make others question whether or not to give in to their demands.

‘Our goal is to make money’

Cyber-security firms told the BBC that DarkSide operates by infiltrating an organisation’s computer network and stealing sensitive data.

Typically, a day later the hackers will make themselves known, announcing that they have encrypted all the data in the network and are prepared to leak it onto the internet and delete it, if they are not paid a ransom by a certain deadline.

DarkSide operates by making the software used to execute this attack and then training affiliates to use it, who then give the gang a cut of the ransoms they take. 

Following concerns the Colonial cyber-attack was caused by nation-state hackers with a political motive, DarkSide posted on its website: “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.”

The group also indicated it had not been aware that Colonial was being targeted by one of its affiliates and intended to “introduce moderation and check each company” its partners want to encrypt, “to avoid social consequences in the future”.

On Friday, Reuters reported that DarkSide’s website on the dark web was no longer accessible.

Colonial Pipeline’s website also continues to be offline. 

#AceNewsDesk report ……..Published: May.15: 2021:

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#cyberattack, #new-york, #ransomeware

(CALIFORNIA) Justice Court Report: Deputy U.S. Marshal Charged with Cyberstalking and Perjury that was solicitied and lured men through ‘Craigslist’ #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: According to the indictment, Ian R. Diaz, 43, of Brea, California, who serves as a Deputy U.S. Marshal with the U.S. Marshals Service, along with his former wife, who is alleged to be an unindicted co-conspirator, agreed to and did pose as a person with whom Diaz was formerly in a relationship (Jane Doe) and, in that guise, sent to themselves harassing and threatening electronic communications that contained apparent threats to harm Diaz’s former wife:

CALIFORNIA: ‘A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday charging a Deputy U.S. Marshal with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking, and perjury that was solicited and lured men found through Craigslist “personal” advertisements to engage in so-called “rape fantasies” in an attempt to stage a purported sexual assault on Diaz’s former wife; and staged one or more hoax sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults on Diaz’s former wife. Diaz and his then-wife then reported this conduct to local law enforcement, falsely claiming that Jane Doe posed a genuine and serious threat to Diaz and his then-wife, and thereby caused local law enforcement to arrest, charge, and ultimately detain Jane Doe in jail for nearly three months for conduct for which they framed her and in fact perpetrated themselves’

According to the indictment, Diaz and his former wife also allegedly took steps to conceal their conduct, including using falsely registered email accounts, using virtual private networks to access the internet anonymously, and communicating with each another using encrypted messaging services.

Diaz is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking, one count of cyberstalking, and one count of perjury for his false testimony in a deposition in connection with a federal civil lawsuit brought by Jane Doe. The defendant was arrested Thursday and made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. McCormick of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each of the counts. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Cyber Investigations Office made the announcement.

The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General is investigating the case.

Senior Litigation Counsel Marco A. Palmieri and Trial Attorney Rebecca G. Ross of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.15: 2021:

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#california, #craigslist, #cyberstalking, #doj

(MANHATTAN) Justice Court Report: Switzerland’s Largest Insurance Company and Three Subsidiaries Admit to Conspiring with U.S. Taxpayers to Hide Assets and Income in Offshore Accounts #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: The Department of Justice today filed a criminal information charging Swiss Life Holding AG (Swiss Life Holding), Swiss Life (Liechtenstein) AG (Swiss Life Liechtenstein), Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Swiss Life Singapore), and Swiss Life (Luxembourg) S.A. (Swiss Life Luxembourg), collectively, the “Swiss Life Entities,” with conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and others to conceal from the IRS more than $1.452 billion in offshore insurance policies, including more than 1,600 insurance wrapper policies, and related policy investment accounts in banks around the world and the income generated in these accounts.

MANHATTAN: ‘Swiss Life Holding AG, Swiss Life (Liechtenstein) AG, Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., and Swiss Life (Luxembourg) S.A. Enter into Deferred Prosecution Agreement for Criminal Misconduct; Agree to Collectively Pay More than $77 Million’

The Justice Department also announced a deferred prosecution agreement with the Swiss Life Entities (“the Agreement”) under which they agreed to accept responsibility for their criminal conduct by stipulating to the accuracy of the Statement of Facts attached to the Agreement. The Agreement requires the Swiss Life Entities to refrain from all future criminal conduct, enhance remedial measures, and continue to cooperate fully with further investigations into hidden insurance policies and related policy investment accounts. Further, as part of today’s resolution, the Swiss Life Entities agreed to pay approximately $77.3 million to the U.S. Treasury, which includes restitution, forfeiture of all gross fees, and a penalty component. If the Swiss Life Entities abide by all of the terms of the Agreement, the government will defer prosecution on the information for three years and then seek to dismiss the charge.

“Swiss Life today is held responsible for creating and marketing specially designed insurance products to U.S. tax evaders seeking a new way to hide their offshore assets, in light of heightened Justice Department and IRS tax enforcement efforts,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Financial enablers here and abroad – and the taxpayers seeking their services – should know that we will continue to identify and unmask such schemes.”

“As they admit, Swiss Life and its subsidiaries sought out and offered their services to U.S. taxpayers to help them become U.S. tax evaders,” said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York. “The Swiss Life Entities offered private placement life insurance policies and related investment accounts to U.S. customers, and provided services that concealed the policies and other assets from the IRS. Indeed, the Swiss Life Entities saw U.S. authorities’ stepped-up offshore tax enforcement as an opportunity to pitch themselves to tax-evading U.S. customers as an alternative to Swiss banks. Under the terms of today’s agreement, Swiss Life will turn over more than $77 million and be required to continue to cooperate with the United States in identifying U.S. tax evaders.”

“The successful resolution of this investigation is an important victory for the American taxpayer for two primary reasons,” said Chief James C. Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation. “First, the recovery of more $77 million owed to the U.S. government sends an unequivocal message that offshore evasion is still a high priority of IRS Criminal Investigation. Secondly, this agreement further requires Swiss Life Entities to continue to cooperate with the government and does not shield them from future civil or criminal sanctions, which should put every entity engaged in offshore evasion on notice.”

According to documents filed today in Manhattan federal court:

Swiss Life Holding is the ultimate parent company of the Swiss Life group of companies (Swiss Life), a Switzerland-based provider of comprehensive life insurance and pension products for individuals and corporations, as well as asset management and financial planning services. From 2005 to 2014, Swiss Life through affiliated insurance carriers in Liechtenstein (Swiss Life Liechtenstein), Luxembourg (Swiss Life Luxembourg), and Singapore (Swiss Life Singapore), (collectively, the PPLI Carriers) maintained approximately 1,608 Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI) policies. The PPLI Carriers’ issuance and administration of those policies (colloquially known as “insurance wrappers”) and the related investment accounts were often done in a manner to assist U.S. taxpayers in evading U.S. taxes and reporting requirements and concealing the ownership of offshore assets.

Moreover, beginning as early as the summer of 2008, the PPLI Carriers were aware that UBS and other Swiss banks were terminating or reevaluating their business relationships with U.S. clients in response to increasing offshore tax enforcement efforts by U.S. authorities. Certain management and sales personnel within the Swiss Life PPLI Business Unit viewed these developments as a business opportunity to expand the PPLI Business by onboarding U.S. clients who were fleeing UBS and other Swiss banks. Such clients with undeclared assets were typically referred within Swiss Life as “non-comprehensive advice seeking,” which was frequently abbreviated to “NCAS.” Because Swiss Life would be identified as the owner of the policy investment accounts, rather than the U.S. policyholder and/or ultimate beneficial owner of the assets, the insurance wrapper policies could be and were used by unscrupulous U.S. taxpayers to hide undeclared assets and income and to evade taxes. In turn, Swiss Life grew its PPLI business and earned fees on those policies. Members of management of the PPLI Business Unit knew about and authorized the onboarding of U.S. clients without regard to whether they were declared or undeclared.

Swiss Life engaged in other misconduct with respect to U.S.-related policies:

  • U.S.-related PPLI Policies were funded or terminated through asset transfers from/to an account maintained by a third party associated with the policyholder, such as an offshore law firm or intermediary.
  • Swiss Life PPLI personnel assisted U.S. taxpayers in establishing and maintaining Swiss Life PPLI policies in the name of a foreign relative with the effect of obscuring the U.S. nexus of the assets used to fund the policy or to repatriate the U.S. taxpayer’s undeclared assets through a sham death payout.
  • Certain U.S.-related PPLI Policies issued by Swiss Life Liechtenstein involved transfers of physical gold, other precious metals, or precious gemstones into or out of the policy investment account, presumably for the purpose of avoiding detection by U.S. authorities.
  • The PPLI Carriers allowed policyholders to designate an authorized recipient – typically the policyholder’s asset manager or other foreign representative – to receive policy documents and custodian investment account statements, rather than having those documents sent directly to the policyholder.
  • Certain Swiss Life Liechtenstein personnel promoted the use of Swiss Life products to turn U.S. taxpayers’ undeclared or so-called “black” money into so-called “white” money by parking the funds in a Swiss Life insurance policy until the clock had run on the perceived statute of limitations for tax offenses.
  • Corporate premium bank accounts were also misused as a transitory account to help conceal the movement of U.S. clients’ funds.

Under today’s resolution, the Swiss Life Entities are required to continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations and affirmatively disclose any information they may later uncover regarding U.S.-related insurance policies and related policy investment accounts. The Swiss Life Entities are also required to disclose information consistent with the Department of Justice’s Swiss Bank Program relating to accounts closed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2019. The Agreement provides no protection from criminal or civil prosecution for any individuals.   

Swiss Life Holding will pay a total of $77,374,337, which has three parts. First, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to pay $16,345,454 in restitution to the IRS, which represents the approximate unpaid taxes resulting from the Swiss Life Entities’ participation in the conspiracy. Second, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to forfeit $35,782,375 to the United States, which represents the approximate gross fees (not profits) that the Swiss Life Entities earned on the penalized insurance policies and related policy investment accounts between 2002 and 2014. Finally, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to pay a penalty of $25,246,508.

The penalty amount takes into consideration that Swiss Life conducted a robust internal investigation, supplied client-related data, facilitated the acquisition by the Justice Department of information relating to custodian banks, asset managers, and other entities and individuals related to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Singapore, and otherwise meaningfully assisted the department’s cross-border tax enforcement efforts. In addition, Swiss Life conducted extensive outreach to current and former U.S. clients to confirm historical tax compliance, and to encourage disclosure to the IRS when policyholders’ historical tax compliance issues had not yet been resolved. Swiss Life further implemented remedial measures to protect against the use of its services for tax evasion in the future.

The IRS Criminal Investigation is investigating this case.

This prosecution is being handled by the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette Davis and Trial Attorney Jack Morgan of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Folly and Olga I. Zverovich of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution.    

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.15: 2021:

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#doj, #insurance, #manhattan, #switzerland

(LONDON) Southwark Crown Court Report: Members of an organised crime group which intercepted rival drug gang couriers to seize hundreds of thousands of pounds have been jailed for more than 64 years #AceNewsDesk report

Organised crime group jailed for intercepting drug courier cash: ‘Six people – including a former Metropolitan Police officer – were sentenced on Thursday, 13 May at Southwark Crown Court after admitting a range of offences following an investigation by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards’ Anti-Corruption Command’ in a covert investigation that began on 30 March 2020: The matter was also immediately referred to the IOPC who directed the MPS to carry out the investigation.

[Six defendants who were sentenced]

[Six defendants who were sentenced]

Kashif Mahmood, 32 – a PC based at Central East until his dismissal without notice in November – had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to acquire criminal property and misconduct in public office. He was jailed for eight years.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid, Directorate of Professionalism, said: “Mahmood may have been a police constable in name, but he was nothing more than a criminal who abused his position to look after the interests of organised crime. His motive, we have to assume, was money; he was paid handsomely for his endeavours: “ This investigation was undertaken by the Met’s Anti-Corruption Command, within the Directorate of Professional Standards, and directed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. (IOPC) Fortunately cases as serious as Mahmood’s are rare, but they highlight how crucial the work of our Anti-Corruption Command is. There is absolutely no place for any corrupt officer within the Metropolitan Police Service and we have the largest dedicated counter corruption unit within UK law enforcement: “ Investigating corruption can be incredibly challenging. Corrupt operators tend to have extensive knowledge of police tactics and some know how to use the judicial system to their advantage. It is testament to the dedication and professionalism of the Anti-Corruption Command that all defendants in this case pleaded guilty, in response to the weight and quality of evidence gathered: “ The fight against corruption is always present and we appeal for everyone to play their part, by remaining vigilant and reporting concerns to the police, the IOPC or Crimestoppers.”

MET CASE NOTES: Officers identified that Moshin Khan, 35, and his twin brothers Shabaz and Shazad, 32, were involved in moving class A drugs, mainly heroin and cocaine, and the laundering of criminal cash. Maria Shah, 34, Moshin’s partner, helped move and conceal proceeds: The court heard he used police vehicles and resources to take cash from the couriers in carefully planned operations led by a contact orchestrating events through an encrypted communications network:

Mahmood, a close friend of the Khan brothers, used police vehicles to travel while in uniform to seize money from criminal couriers. He was twice helped by Ioan Gherghel, 34, who was not a police officer but pretended to be.

The conspiracy was orchestrated by a man based in Dubai who used EncroChat, an encrypted communications platform, to communicate. Moshin Khan was the main point of contact.

In July 2019 and January 2020 Mahmood looked up police records to source intelligence about the EncroChat contact, who appeared concerned what police knew about him.

The court heard there were seven occasions between 20 November 2019 and 25 March 2020 when Mahmood booked out a police vehicle from Stoke Newington police station.

He used these vehicles to intercept couriers and seize or attempt to seize up to £450,000 at a time.

On one occasion, on 8 March 2020, Mahmood and Gherghel were travelling in a police vehicle to intercept a courier of criminal property in Chingford, E4.

They searched his car and took a bag, which it is claimed contained a large amount of cash, and a further £2,000. They did not arrest the man.

Unknown to them, the suspected courier was under surveillance by the Met’s proactive money-laundering team. These officers subsequently stopped Mahmood to investigate why he had searched the car.

Mahmood said there were concerns of drug dealing in the area and agreed to complete an intelligence report. However, the proactive money laundering team were suspicious and later shared their observations with anti-corruption colleagues.

On 28 April 2020, Mahmood was arrested at his home in Harlow and Gherghel in Stratford. A search of Gherghel’s address revealed a Met stab vest and £11,385 in cash.

Despite the arrests of Mahmood and Gherghel, the Khans and Maria Shah continued their activities. Shazad Khan searched the internet for how to buy police vests and there followed several further transfers of large sums of criminal cash in Ilford.

On 7 July, officers from the Met’s DPS and Territorial Support Group executed a number of search warrants. They arrested the Khan brothers and Maria Shah. Evidence seized included £39,525 in cash, more than 20kg of cannabis, paraphernalia for packaging drugs and a box for an encrypted mobile phone. At addresses linked to Shabaz Khan was found around £101,500 in cash.

Mahmood was arrested the same day for further offences and three Rolex watches recovered, including one he had bought on 14 March for £7,696, paying £6,000 in cash. Investigators discovered more than £40,000 paid into Mahmood or family bank accounts between October 2019 and 30 May 2020.

Gherghel was also arrested for further offences.

All the defendants were subsequently charged and later offered guilty pleas.

A misconduct hearing was held for Mahmood on Thursday, 26 November to answer allegations his conduct amounted to a breach of the standards of professional behaviour in respect of discreditable conduct, honesty and integrity and duties and responsibilities.

All allegations were proven and he was dismissed without notice. He has been placed on the College of Policing’s barred list.

+ Anyone who has concerns about the activities of any police officer can contact police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the IOPC directly. The Met has several internal mechanisms to enable staff to report wrongdoing in confidence.

The defendants:

Then PC Kashif Mahmood, 32 (20.11.88) of Harlow, Essex, previously attached to the Central East Command Unit, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, 5 August to conspiracy to acquire criminal property and misconduct in public office. He was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to eight years’ imprisonment.

Ioan Gherghel, 34 (09.06.86), of Stratford, E15, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 18 September to conspiracy to acquire criminal property. He was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to six years’ imprisonment.

Moshin Khan, 36 (27.03.85), of Babbacombe Gardens, IG4, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 18 September to conspiracy to acquire criminal property, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and being concerned in the supply of class B drugs. An offence of perverting the course of justice was taken into consideration in relation to a traffic offence. He was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to 16 years’ imprisonment.

Shabaz Khan, 33 (21.02.88), of Lime Grove, IG6, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 18 September to conspiracy to acquire criminal property, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and possession of class B drugs with intent to supply. He was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Shazad Khan, 33 (21.02.88), of Babbacombe Gardens, IG4, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, 20 October to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and conspiracy to acquire criminal property. He was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Maria Shah, 35 (14.12.85) of Babbacombe Gardens, IG4, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, 20 October to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to transfer criminal property. Charges of conspiracy to acquire criminal property and being concerned in the supply of class B drugs were left to lie on file. An offence of perverting the course of justice was taken into consideration in relation to a traffic offence. She was sentenced on Thursday, 13 May to five years and four months’ imprisonment.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.15: 2021:

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#iopc, #london, #met, #organised-crime-group

(GRT MANCESTER) GM Police Report: An investigation is underway after a 13yr-old-teenage-girl was alleedgedly sexually assaulted and robbed in the Lower Broughton area of Salford on Wednesday morning #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: The victim – a 13-year-old girl – was making her way to school when she was approached by a man who initiated conversation before assaulting her:

SALFORD: GM Detectives are investigating a sexual assault of teenage girl: Police were called between 8.15am and 8.30am yesterday (Wednesday 12 May) to a report and robbery at Peel Park the offender also stole her mobile phone and then ran from the scene towards Chapel Street’

He is described as a white man in his 20s or 30s, with short ginger/blonde light coloured hair and a short crop fringe, a lightly-coloured faint moustache, and is 6ft tall with a skinny build.

He is believed to have been wearing a plain blue-hooded top with a large front pocket and matching dark blue/black or black Adidas joggers with distinctive white stripes on the sides. He was also said to be wearing running shoes which were white with some blue and red on them and a grey Puma backpack.

The girl wasn’t injured but was left understandably shaken and is being supported by specialist officers and partner agencies.

No arrests have been made and investigators are appealing to anyone with information to contact them.

Detective Inspector Chris Horsfield, of GMP’s Swinton CID, said: “This is a deeply concerning incident where a young girl has been randomly approached in broad daylight and subjected the victim to a horrific ordeal by an unknown man clearly with sinister intentions: “ Our dedicated team of officers will be investigating a number of lines of enquiry which will seek to identify this man, and we are working with specialist partners to support the victim: “ In the interest of public safety, there will be an increase in patrols in the area and are working with local authority to keep the public safe.

“We are asking for information to help us identify the offender, so that we can speak to him in connection with this sexual assault and robbery: “ If anyone has any information at all about the identity of this man, please speak to police. Even the smallest piece of information could help us to advance our investigation, find justice for the victim, and take this man off our streets.”

Anyone with any information about this assault should contact police on 0161 856 2079 quoting incident number 746 of 12/05/2021. Information can also be passed on anonymously by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: May.15: 2021:

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#gmp, #grt-manchester, #salford

(LONDON) MET REPORT: Officers have made extensive enquiries to establish the circumstances of the alleged abduction attempts since receiving the first report on 30 April #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: At this time the cases are not thought to be linked, and so far we have not found any corroborating evidence that these were attempted abductions as reported. Officers continue with their investigations:

MET Update: Police investigation into alleged abduction attempts in Bromley: This includes speaking to the children and families affected, checking CCTV, knocking on doors and speaking to witnesses and schools.

Superintendent Andy Brittain, from the local policing team in south London, said: “ I understand the concerns of parents in light of these reports and the subsequent discussion and rumour on social media. We always advise parents to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of young children, however there is nothing to suggest there is a specific risk at this time: “ You will continue to see officers out and about across Bromley and I would encourage the public to speak with them about any concerns they have.

I would also suggest those living in the area follow the @MPSBromley account on Twitter, which is used by officers to engage with the community: Any alleged abduction attempt is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated, but thankfully, child kidnappings or abductions are incredibly rare.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.15: 2021:

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#london, #met, #police

(BELFAST, N.I) Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Terrorism Investigation Unit Report: Detectives have charged a 52 year old man with terrorism offences #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewssReport – May.15: The charges are in connection with the discovery of improvised explosive devices at Ballyquin Road, Dungiven on 19th April 2021 and Skeoge Road, Londonderry on 9th July 2016, and the discovery of an improvised mortar bomb device at Church View, Strabane on 7th September 2019:

PSNI REPORT: 52 Year Old Man Charged With Terrorism Offences: ‘He has been charged with 5 offences, including preparatory acts of terrorism, possession of articles for use in terrorism as well as three separate charges of possession of explosive devices with intent to endanger life. The man is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on Friday 14th May. As is normal procedure all charges are reviewed by the PPS’

PSNI REPORT:

He was arrested in Derry/Londonderry on Wednesday in connection with the attempted murder of a female member of police staff, who is also a part time police officer, following the discovery of a viable explosive device beside the young mother’s car in Ballyquin Road, Dungiven on Monday 19th April and as part of Op Ledging, targeting the New IRA’s bomb making activities as well as the group’s storage of explosive devices and equipment.

Two other men, aged 23 and 62, arrested in Derry/Londonderry on Wednesday in connection with the attempted murder of a female member of police staff, who is also a part time police officer in Dungiven have been released following questioning as the investigation continues.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.15: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#belfast, #psni