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US investigators visit homes of two Palestinian-American teens killed in the West Bank

US investigators visit homes of two Palestinian-American teens killed in the West Bank

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US investigators visit homes of two Palestinian-American teens killed in the West Bank

The families of two Palestinian-American teenagers killed in separate but eerily similar incidents in the West Bank say investigators from the American Embassy have visited their homes to look into the shootings.

Launching American probes into the killings of Mohammad Khdour and Tawfic Abdel Jabbar reflects what appears to be a lack of confidence in the Israeli justice system to properly investigate the cases. Rights groups have long said that Israeli investigations into killings of Palestinians rarely lead to prosecutions, and the State Department has previously called for an “expeditious” and “thorough” Israeli investigation into Abdel Jabbar’s killing.

Both shootings happened as the Biden administration signals a desire to crack down on settler violence in the volatile territory.

Khdour, who was born in Hollywood, Florida, was shot last Saturday while driving with a cousin on a hillside in Biddu, the town just outside of Jerusalem where Khdour had lived since the age of 2, relatives said.

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Seeking some fresh air after studying, Khdour joined the cousin on a drive to the forested hillside where villagers often barbecued, his brother Hamed Khdour said.

In videos and photos taken before the shooting and seen by The Associated Press, the boys joked around, taking photos of each other for social media and eating chocolate-covered waffles.

The boys were returning to the village, Hamed said, when they heard gunfire. At least one shot came through the car window, hitting Mohammad squarely in the head.

Hamed said his cousin told the family that the shots came from a white Mitsubishi with an Israeli license plate parked on a road below the hill, a vehicle that villagers said they had seen before. Hamed said the car was across the security fence separating Biddu from Israeli territory. The cousin then managed to escape and run back to the village.

A video taken directly after the incident and seen by The Associated Press showed a group of men pulling a body out of the car, littered with shattered glass and stained with blood. Hamed said Mohammad was pronounced dead at a Ramallah hospital late Saturday night.

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Ahmad Khdour, Mohammad’s father, said he did not know if Israel had begun investigating the case and had heard nothing from Israeli officials.

The Israeli military referred questions to the Shin Bet internal security service, which did not respond to requests for comment.

But U.S. Embassy officials visited the home and the scene of the shooting Thursday, taking pictures of the car Khdour was driving and the scene around it, Mohammad’s father said. He said the officials told the family they are preparing a report on the incident.

The U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that it was “devastated” by the killing and called for “a quick, thorough, and transparent investigation, including full accountability.”

Khdour lived in Biddu with his mother and four brothers. He hoped to go back to the U.S. to study law once he finished his final year of high school, Hamed said.

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“Mohammad was a simple kid, like any other kid. He had dreams. He loved cars,” said Hamed. “He never fought with anyone. Everyone liked him.”

The shooting came nearly a month after the killing of Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, also a 17-year-old Palestinian-American shot while driving down a dirt road close to his village in the northern West Bank.

The sole passenger in the vehicle said the shooting was unprovoked, describing apparent Israeli fire hitting the back of the vehicle before it overturned several times. The incident prompted an expression of concern from the White House and an uncommonly quick pledge from the Israeli police to investigate.

But Israeli police have still not released any new findings in the case.

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM's removal over minister's appointment

Thailand’s Constitutional Court accepted a complaint on Thursday seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin over his cabinet appointment of a lawyer who served jail time, in a new legal setback for the government.

The decision comes after three ministers quit in recent weeks as the government battles to jumpstart an underperforming economy and find funds to deliver on a delayed election promise of cash handouts for 50 million people.

The court chose not to suspend Srettha from duty pending a verdict, as was sought by 40 senators who had complained Pichit Chuenban fell short of moral and ethical standards for ministers set out in the constitution.

Srettha has 15 days to file his defence in court. “The prime minister is focused and determined, this will not affect his work,” said government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke.

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Pichit’s qualifications prior to becoming a minister in the prime minister’s office had been carefully vetted and the appointment was in line with the law, he added.

For decades a close aide of the politically influential Shinawatra family, Pichit resigned on Tuesday in an effort to insulate Srettha from the court case.

He had been jailed for six months in 2008 for contempt of court after being accused of a bid to bribe court officials with 2 million baht ($55,218) placed in a grocery paper bag, which he denied. His law license was suspended for five years.

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As a lawyer, Pichit fought, and lost, big court cases against former premiers Yingluck Shinawatra and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been a towering figure in Thailand for more than two decades.

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Thaksin is a close ally of Srettha and founder of his ruling Pheu Thai party, which together with its predecessors has won all but one Thai election since 2001.

The court gave no timeframe for a decision in the case.

If it dismisses Srettha, a new government must be formed and Pheu Thai would need to put forward a new candidate for premier to be voted on by a parliament in which it is not the biggest party.

VReal estate mogul Srettha was elected by the legislature in August last year after weeks of political deadlock, following a deal with parties and lawmakers allied with the royalist military, which staged coups against Shinawatra-backed governments in 2006 and 2014.

Government critics say Pichit got the job thanks to his close ties with Thaksin. The tycoon still holds significant sway in politics, despite officially being retired and having spent 15 years in self-imposed exile until his return last year.

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The government has said Pichit was picked because he was suitable.

Thaksin, who was convicted of conflicts of interest and abuse of power and was released from detention on parole in February, will learn next week if he is to be prosecuted for an alleged insult to the powerful monarchy.

He has denied wrongdoing in the case over comments made in an interview a decade ago.

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

 Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold wide-ranging talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Thursday and Friday, the Kremlin said.

Russia and Belarus are close allies, with Minsk set to take part in exercises aimed at simulating preparations for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons this month.

Belarus has offered Russia logistical support during its conflict with Ukraine, with Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarusian territory during their initial offensive against Kyiv in February 2022.

Separately, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported on Thursday that Lukashenko had appointed Pavel Muraveyko as the new chief of the Belarusian army’s general staff. 

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Twenty people who were aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing on Tuesday remain in intensive care, a hospital official said on Thursday.

Of the 40 people on the flight still under treatment, 22 patients have spinal cord injuries and six have brain and skull injuries, Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital told reporters.

Adinun had said 41 people were still under treatment, but later said one person had been discharged. One passenger died of a suspected heart attack and dozens were injured after Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered what the airline described as sudden, extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar on Tuesday. 

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