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Media Summary

Beirut port grain silo collapses

The BBCGuardian and Telegraph capture the moment part of Beirut’s port grain silos collapsed, following recent fires and warnings from officials. The buildings were badly damaged in the 2020 port explosion, which killed more than 200 people – with the second anniversary of the disaster approaching next week. An official investigation into the explosion has been suspended twice – leaving families and survivors with no answers.

The BBC also reports that thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish mourners have attended the Jerusalem funeral of Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, a rabbi who opposed military conscription for religious students. Rabbi Weiss died aged 95 on Saturday and was a regarded as a hard-line anti-Zionist religious leader. He headed Eda Haredit, an ultra-Orthodox group, which views the establishment of the state of Israel as a violation of ancient Jewish law.

The Telegraph writes that the UK has been accused of flouting the law by funding IS prisons where children as young as nine are held without trial. An estimated 750 boys as young as nine, including Westerners and at least one British national, are languishing indefinitely in a UK-funded prison system in north-east Syria built for people with alleged links to ISIS. None of them have ever been charged with any crime, let alone tried. For over three years, many of the young prisoners have grown up without sunlight in cells that are sweltering in Syria’s summer and bone-chilling in winter.

The Taliban’s ban on girls studying at high schools will become a de facto ban on university degrees for women if it stays in place, according to a report in the Guardian. Girls will not have the documents needed to enrol in higher education, or the academic capacity to start university courses after nearly a year out of school. Even if practical barriers to women entering higher education are removed in the coming months, authorities are also considering limiting them to degrees in healthcare and education, said a source with Taliban leadership ties.

Reuters reports that Iran’s top nuclear negotiator has confirmed he responded to EU Josep Borrell’s proposal aimed at salvaging the JCPOA nuclear deal. “We shared our proposed ideas, both on substance & form, to pave the way for a swift conclusion of Vienna negotiations,” Ali Bagheri Kani tweeted. Last Tuesday, Borrell said he had proposed “the best deal possible” to Iran.

In the Israeli media, US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut yesterday in what Yediot Ahronot describes as Israeli optimism that the maritime border negotiations with Lebanon might be positively concluded soon. Last week Israel submitted to the US an updated proposal to resolving the issue. According to Yediot, American officials are leery of possible last-moment provocations by Hezbollah, which is trying to chalk up the agreement to its own efforts and have asked Israel to be cautious as a result. The Americans are doing everything in their power to finalise a maritime border agreement, with the goal both of securing a much-needed achievement for the Biden administration ahead of mid-terms later in the year and averting a possible escalation in hostilities. Over the weekend, Hezbollah released a new video, which included video footage of the Karish off-shore gas platform. Meanwhile, the IDF has continued to expand its defences around the platform, including by deploying special sensors that will warn against hostile operations. Israeli military officials said that if the Americans are unable to hammer out a compromise before natural gas from Karish is scheduled to begin to be extracted in September, the security establishment will re-evaluate the situation and will consider raising the state of alert in the northern theatre.

Maariv reports that the security cabinet yesterday approved to deduct NIS 600 million (£160m) from the tax funds that Israel levies on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The sum is reflective of the total amount the PA paid out last year to Palestinian prisoners who are incarcerated by Israel on terrorist offences. The funds will be deducted in 12 installments. Transport Minister Merav Michaeli said at the meeting: “There’s a bigger opportunity here than ever before that the Palestinian Authority might stop payments to terrorists and that’s why it is worthwhile holding political dialogue with the PA on that issue.” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesperson described the Israeli security cabinet decision as the “theft of the Palestinian people’s money,” and said that the rights of the prisoners and their families would be protected.

Israel Hayom notes that the government has embarked on a new initiative to try and entice high-tech companies to invest in the periphery of the country and away from Tel Aviv. It has set a national objective of increasing the rate of people employed in high-tech roles to 15 per cent by 2026. Data recently published by the Israel Innovation Authority showed that Tel Aviv has 2,383 high-tech companies at the expense of peripheral cities in the north and south, struggling to develop in this sector. One of the problems is manpower shortage and the lack of workforce diversity in the high-tech industry.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called for the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Israel (COI) to be disbanded after its members made and defended antisemitic slurs, reported in The Jerusalem Post. In a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday, Lapid said: “Excellency, I call on you today to honour your word in this egregious case, to set the record straight. This cannot stand. Slurs about a ‘Jewish lobby’ that acts to ‘control’ the media, are reminiscent of the darkest days of modern history.” Miloon Kothari, one of the COI’s three members, said during an interview to Mondoweiss that the commission is “very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by – whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs”. In the same interview, Kothari said: “I would go as far as to raise the question of why are they [Israel] even a member of the UN.”

Also reported in the media this morning is the revelation surrounding allegations by IDF veterans who served as prison guards as if they had been deliberately placed by their commanders at the mercy of a Palestinian security prisoner, whom they claim raped and sexually assaulted them. Prime Minister Yair Lapid commented on the matter at the beginning of the cabinet meeting, saying: “It is unthinkable that a [female] IDF soldier should be raped in the course of her service by a terrorist … the incident, which occurred during the previous government’s tenure, is under a gag order. But it needs to be investigated and it will be investigated. We will make sure that the [female] soldiers receive help. We will prosecute the guilty and we will guarantee that this doesn’t happen again.”