For the first time, New Zealand’s rising political star opens up about her fractured family background and overcoming depression.
Gaza City – For a decade, Belal, 45, has been receiving a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority on one condition: that he stay home and not work under the administration of the rival Hamas movement.
With enough money, plenty of time and few options for entertainment in Gaza under the crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Belal began using Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been taking the drug as a way to escape the pressures of daily life in the besieged coastal enclave, doctors estimate.
“It starts just for fun, but then you cannot do without [the drug] until you ruin your life,” Belal told Al Jazeera from a room in Gaza’s only drug rehabilitation centre, where he has been seeking treatment.
Narcotics, including cannabis, have flooded Gaza in unprecedented quantities in recent months, according to Ahmed Kidra, the head of the local police anti-drug unit. The amounts seized in January alone equalled the total seized in all of 2016, he said, citing nearly $2m in seized hashish bars, Tramadol and ecstasy pills.
For the second time in a week, a military man was killed by a white extremist. On Friday, 53-year-old Ricky Best, a retired Army veteran, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche were fatally stabbed, with a third man critically injured, as they tried to defend two teenage girls against an attack by a man going on an anti-Muslim rant. The two young women, one of whom wore a Muslim hijab, were riding a commuter train when, according to witnesses, Jeremy Joseph Christian started shouting ethnic and religious slurs. Police arrested Christian, a convicted felon, soon after the attack. “In many ways, I think his rhetoric has more to do with the campaign and the ideas unleashed in the campaign over the last 16, 18 months by the Trump folks than it does with hardcore neo-Nazism. Or at least it’s a mix of the two sets of ideas,” says our guest Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Donald Trump has escalated a row between the US and Germany in an early morning tweet accusing Berlin of unfair trade relations and not paying its way in the Nato alliance.
Trump’s tweet, declaring German policies “very bad” for the US and vowing to change the situation, came a few hours after the German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, declared that the administration’s “short-sighted policies” were weakening the west.
The discord between the Trump administration and Berlin is just the sorest point in increasingly troubled transatlantic relations, aggravated by the president’s European trip last week. Since then, simmering tensions have boiled over in a public spat.
ON APRIL 24, a group of Syrian women bundled themselves and their children into a car and attempted to flee the small town of Tabqa, outside of Raqqa. In recent months the sleepy principality had become the site of raging battles between Islamic State militants and U.S.-backed proxy forces, waging a campaign to drive ISIS from the country. Packed into the fleeing car were 11 people, including eight members of the al-Aish family: three women between the ages of 23 and 40, and five children, the youngest one just 6 months old.
The al-Aish family’s flight from a warzone was similar to millions of other desperate journeys made by Syrian civilians over the past six years. But they would not make it to safety. As they fled Tabqa, their car was hit by an airstrike, reportedly carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All 11 people were killed in the strike, in what local reports described as a “massacre.”
“A U.S.-led coalition warplane targeted heavy machine guns at civilians trying to flee the city of Al-Tabaqa, which is witnessing heavy clashes between gunmen,” reported the local anti-ISIS activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. The air raid led to “the death of a whole family.” Following the attack, photos of the young children from the al-Aish family circulated widely on social media and local news sites, including pictures of 3-year-old Abdul Salam and 6-month-old Ali.