News in Brief: Israel Continues to Hold 600 Activists and More

More than 24 hours after Israeli commandos raided an aid flotilla carrying supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Israel continues to hold more than 600 activists who were aboard the convoy, reported The New York Times. At least ten people died in the raid Monday morning, with countless others injured. The Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin, who was on the ship with her one-year-old baby, arrived back to Turkey Tuesday and told The Guardian UK that Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara.

The international response has been a round of condemnations of the attack, and mounting pressure for Israel to ends its three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Security Council condemned the “acts” in the Israeli raid, and called for an impartial investigation into the event. Egypt temporarily reopened its border with Gaza to allow humanitarian and medical aid for the 1.5 million people living there to come through.


Al-Qaeda’s operational commander in Afghanistan is believed to have been killed in an American drone attack, according to US officials reported the BBC. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, known as al-Qaeda’s number three leader, was killed along with his wife and three children, according to a statement from al-Qaeda. Previous reports of al-Yazid’s death have been mistaken, but al-Qaeda has never before acknowledged the claims.


Tens of thousands of people across the nation took part in a national day of action against Arizona’s restrictive immigration law Saturday, reported Democracy Now!. The largest rally was in Phoenix, with 50,000 people participating. A group of musicians spearheaded by Zack de la Rocha of the group Rage Against the Machine has announced a boycott of Arizona over the law. The “Sound Strike” coalition includes Kanye West, Sonic Youth and Massive Attack.


The BP oil spill, which has so far led to the hospitalization of a number of clean-up workers, is likely to continue gushing until August, reported Democracy Now!, following BP’s failed attempt to plug the leak in the underwater well. Government scientists are saying heavy winds this week could push the oil toward the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, threatening their wildlife, fishing industries and community health.


Iraq’s supreme court has upheld the results of the March election, reported the BBC, clearing the way for further negotiations to form a coalition government among the parties. No party won a clear majority in the 325-seat Parliament in March, but the ruling confirmed that Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiyya Party won by a narrow margin. The current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who heads the State of Law Party, had demanded a partial recount of the election results. His party won two seats fewer than Iraqiyya.

Meanwhile, insurgents have left hundreds dead following a series of shooting and bomb attacks.


The prime minister of Japan is facing mounting pressure to resign after he backtracked on a promise to remove a US Marine base from the island of Okinawa, reported The New York Times. Yukio Hatoyama’s approval ratings have plummeted ahead of elections next months, following his broken campaign promise to move the Marine Air Station Futenma. He has been the country’s leader for only eight months. He instead plans to move the base, which houses more than half the 47,000 US troops in Japan, to the north of the island from the south. The troops are stationed under a bilateral security alliance.