A picture taken from a position in southern Israel on the border with the Gaza Strip on February 15, 2024, shows Israeli soldiers holding up a national flag as they move along the border, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The International Court of Justice commenced hearings today, February 19th, to deliberate on the legal ramifications of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories. Amnesty International has called for an immediate cessation of Israel's "brutal occupation" of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, which has persisted since 1967.

The process, initiated by a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2022, seeks an advisory opinion from the court on the legality of Israel's policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territories and their effects on other states and the UN itself.

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Roger Waters

Roger Waters, co-founder of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd, has stepped into the political arena by publicly backing the German political party MERA25, a member of the broader DiEM25 movement. Known for his outspoken criticism of Israel's policies towards Palestinians and advocacy for human rights, Waters has made headlines once again, this time for his political endorsement in the lead-up to the European Union elections.

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A Palestininan elderly woman crosses a street which has been bulldozed by the Israeli forces during a raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on January 29, 2024. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Amnesty International has highlighted an alarming increase in violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over the last four months. The human rights organization has documented numerous instances of what it describes as unlawful killings and excessive use of force during protests and raids. Moreover, it accuses Israeli forces of preventing injured Palestinians from receiving critical medical care.

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Demonstrators stage a protest during a hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability of House Foreign Affairs Committee at the U.S. Capitol on January 30, 2024 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee held a hearing titled "UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency's Mission and Failures.ö Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images North America / LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a significant humanitarian appeal, Amnesty International has urged Finland and other nations to reconsider their decisions to suspend funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), labeling the move as a harsh blow to over two million refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip. The suspension comes in the wake of allegations involving UNRWA staff in attacks orchestrated by Hamas on October 7, 2023, leading to an immediate termination of nine employees and the initiation of a comprehensive investigation by the agency.

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The trial for Finland's first so-called street gang case began in the Helsinki Court of Appeal on January 15, 2024. According to the prosecutor, the events of 2021 involved a feud between a street gang from Espoo and one from Helsinki, which led to violence. LEHTIKUVA

In a revealing study, Stockholm has emerged with a notably higher rate of youth gang involvement compared to its Nordic counterparts, including Helsinki and Turku. Approximately one in six young individuals in Stockholm is associated with a gang, a proportion that significantly exceeds the less than ten percent observed in Helsinki and Turku. This distinction places Stockholm in a unique position among other Nordic cities surveyed, including Næstved, Randers, Gävle, Oslo, Reykjavik, and areas outside Reykjavik in Iceland.

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 In 2023, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) encountered its most challenging year in a decade, marked by a staggering number of humanitarian emergencies. According to their "Emergency Preparedness and Response in 2023" report, the UNHCR issued 43 emergency declarations and mobilized support across 29 countries, a testament to the escalating global crises. This response entailed the dispatch of 7.4 million relief items from its seven global stockpiles, valued at $53.5 million, to aid up to 16.7 million people worldwide.

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Father, mother and child. LEHTIKUVA

In a significant shift in post-divorce family dynamics, shared child custody, where children spend almost equal time with each parent, has become increasingly prevalent in Europe over the past two decades. However, a study led by researchers from the University of Turku's INVEST Research Center and flagship has revealed notable variations in the prevalence of this arrangement across different European countries.

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Gonzalo Lira, a Chilean-American war commentator known for his critical views on the Zelensky regime and Russia-Ukraine conflict, passed away on January 11, 2024, in a hospital in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Lira's death followed an eight-month imprisonment on charges of ”justifying Russia's military actions in Ukraine”, sparking international controversy and raising questions about freedom of speech and human rights during wartime. 

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A doll amid rubble of a damaged building in Gaza Photo: Bisan Owda / Save the Children

The ongoing crisis in Gaza has reached a grim milestone, with over 10,000 children killed due to Israeli airstrikes and ground operations, as reported by the Ministry of Health in Gaza. The war, which began on October 7 following an attack on Israel, is nearing its 100th day, leaving a devastating impact on the young population of Gaza.

This dire situation has been highlighted by Save the Children, an organization dedicated to aiding children in the world's most challenging environments.

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Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Photo: Israeli Army / AFP / LEHTIKUVA

The International Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Finland, in collaboration with the Sumud - Finnish Palestine Network, has issued an urgent appeal to Finland's UN Ambassador and national leadership. The appeal, pertaining to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing scheduled for January 11–12 in The Hague, urges Finland to promptly submit an intervention declaration in the lawsuit initiated by South Africa against alleged war crimes in Gaza.

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A picture taken from Rafah on January 6, 2024 shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Photo: AFP / LEHTIKUVA

Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf has strongly urged the UK Government to leverage its influential position as a key ally of Israel to demand an immediate halt to the ongoing "indiscriminate attacks" in Gaza. Yousaf condemned the UK Government's persistent refusal to call for a ceasefire as "shameful," especially in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis that has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, including children.

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