Israel Arrests Italians For Painting Palestinian Teen

Palestinian activist and campaigner Ahed Tamimi speaks during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 29, 2018, upon her release from prison after an eight-month sentence. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP


Israeli forces have arrested two Italians for drawing a giant mural of a Palestinian teenager seen as a symbol of resistance on the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, police said.

The roughly four-meter (13 foot) image near Bethlehem in the West Bank depicts Ahed Tamimi, 17, who was released from prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video.

On Saturday, Israeli border police arrested two Italians and a Palestinian “on suspicion of damaging and vandalising the security fence in the Bethlehem area,” a statement said.

The three, whose faces were masked, “illegally drew on the wall, and when border policemen took action to arrest them, they tried to escape in their car, which was stopped by the forces,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, a man drawing the mural had identified himself as Italian street artist Jorit Agoch.

A message was posted to a Facebook page under his name saying he had been arrested and pleading for help.

The Italian foreign ministry said on Sunday it was in contact with Israeli authorities and following the arrests “with great attention”.

The Italian consul and a lawyer visited the two at their place of detention in Jerusalem late Saturday and offered “all possible assistance,” the ministry said.

On Sunday afternoon the three were still being held by Israeli forces.

At the same time, Tamimi and her mother Nariman were taken from the Sharon prison inside Israel to their home village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank after serving their sentences.

Palestinians see Tamimi as a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and she was greeted by a crowd of supporters.

For Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

The separation wall cutting the West Bank off from Israel is filled with graffiti in support of the Palestinian cause.

Secretive British street artist Banksy is among those who have painted on the wall.


Rugby World Cup: Ireland, Argentina Qualify For Quarter Final

rugbyArgentina have secured their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals as they subdued Tonga’s physicality and flair, to claim a 45-16 bonus-point victory in Leicester on Monday.

The win lifts the Pumas above Tonga to second place in Pool C, with the Pacific Islanders yet to play group leaders and defending champions, New Zealand, while Argentina need only beat Namibia to seal their passage to the last eight.

Argentina fly half, Nicolas Sanchez, proved the difference, tormenting Tonga with the boot and ball in hand, weighing in with 25 points from four penalties, four conversions and one of the Pumas’ five tries.

Also, Ireland have secured their place in the finals, but were far from convincing in their first real test of the competition, squeezing past Italy 16-9 to move on to a group decider against France.

After trading early penalties, Keith Earls was slickly put through to become Ireland’s record World Cup try scorer, but the Six Nations Champions were sloppy throughout the half and Tommaso Allan’s boot kept the tireless Italians within four points at the break.

World Cup: Italy Meet Upstart Costa Ricans, France Seek Second Win

italyItaly will not be resting on their laurels when they face surprise Group D leaders, Costa Rica, in Recife on Friday (1600 GMT) after Luis Suarez revived Uruguay’s qualification hopes.

Costa Rica, seen before the tournament as the makeweights in a group with three former champions, have the superior goal difference after their shock 3-1 win over Uruguay in their opening game.

Uruguay moved back into the frame with a 2-1 victory over England in Sao Paulo on Thursday to stand level with Italy.

The Italians would again look to Mario Balotelli, scorer of their second goal against England, to spearhead them to victory before their final group clash with Uruguay.

Former winners, France, meet Switzerland in Salvador (1900) as the top two clash in Group E, which the French lead after a 3-0 win over 10-man Honduras that included a Karim Benzema brace.

The Swiss would provide tougher opposition having shown their resilience to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 win over Ecuador, who go up against the Hondurans in Curitiba (2200).

Ecuador are favorites to beat a Honduras side missing the suspended Wilson Palacios, who was sent off against the Swiss.