Saied Blasts Foreign 'Interference' in Tunisian Affairs

A march to demand the release of imprisoned journalists, activists and opposition figures and to set a date for holding fair presidential elections in Tunisia (Reuters)
A march to demand the release of imprisoned journalists, activists and opposition figures and to set a date for holding fair presidential elections in Tunisia (Reuters)
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Saied Blasts Foreign 'Interference' in Tunisian Affairs

A march to demand the release of imprisoned journalists, activists and opposition figures and to set a date for holding fair presidential elections in Tunisia (Reuters)
A march to demand the release of imprisoned journalists, activists and opposition figures and to set a date for holding fair presidential elections in Tunisia (Reuters)

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Thursday denounced foreign "interference" following international criticism of a recent arrests of political commentators, lawyers and journalists in the North African country.

Saied, who in 2021 orchestrated a sweeping power grab, ordered the foreign ministry to summon diplomats and "inform them that Tunisia is an independent state".

Speaking during a televised meeting, the president told Mounir Ben Rjiba, state secretary to the foreign ministry, to "summon as soon as possible the ambassadors of a number of countries", without specifying which ones.

Ben Rjiba was asked to "strongly object to them that what they are doing is a blatant interference in our internal affairs".

"Inform them that Tunisia is an independent state that adheres to its sovereignty," Saied added, AFP reported.

"We didn't interfere in their affairs when they arrested protesters... who denounced the war of genocide against the Palestinian people," he added, referring to demonstrations on university campuses in the United States and elsewhere over the Israel-Hamas war.

The European Union on Tuesday expressed concern that Tunisian authorities were cracking down on dissenting voices.

France denounced "arrests, in particular of journalists and members of (non-governmental) associations", while the United States said they were "in contradiction" with "the universal rights explicitly guaranteed by the Tunisian Constitution".

The media union said Wednesday that Decree 54 was "a deliberate attack on the essence of press freedom and a vain attempt to intimidate journalists and media employees and sabotage public debate".



Israeli Tanks at Edge of Rafah's Mawasi Refuge Zone

A man walks across  fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024.  (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A man walks across fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
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Israeli Tanks at Edge of Rafah's Mawasi Refuge Zone

A man walks across  fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024.  (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A man walks across fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of the Mawasi displaced persons' camp in the northwest of the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Sunday in fierce fighting with Hamas-led fighters, residents said.
Images of two Israeli tanks stationed on a hilltop overlooking the coastal area went viral on social media, but Reuters could not independently verify them.

"The fighting with the resistance has been intense. The occupation forces are overlooking the Mawasi area now, which forced families there to head for Khan Younis," said one resident, who asked not to be named, on a chat app.

More than eight months into Israel's war in the Hamas-administered Palestinian enclave, its advance is focused on the two areas its forces have yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern tip and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center.

Residents said Israeli tanks had pushed deeper into western and northern Rafah in recent days, blowing up dozens of houses.

The Israeli military said it was continuing "intelligence-based, targeted operations" in the Rafah area and had located weapons stores and tunnel shafts, and killed Palestinian gunmen.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement said their fighters had attacked Israeli forces in Rafah with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs and pre-planted explosive devices.

Elsewhere, an Israeli airstrike killed eight Palestinians in Sabra, a suburb of Gaza City in the north, and another strike killed two people in Nuseirat in central Gaza.

The military said it had struck dozens of targets throughout the Strip.

On Saturday, Palestinian health officials said at least 40 Palestinians had been killed in separate Israeli strikes in some northern Gaza districts, where the Israeli army said it had attacked Hamas's military infrastructure. Hamas said the targets were the civilian population.

In Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, health officials at Kamal Adwan Hospital said a baby had died of malnutrition, taking the number of children dead of malnutrition or dehydration since Oct. 7 to at least 30, a number that health officials say reflects under-recording.