Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the country’s military campaign against the militant group Hamas will continue despite increasing international calls for a ceasefire.
Sunday also marked the deadliest attack in the latest round of violence, with at least 42 people killed in Gaza, including 10 children, according to the Associated Press.
Netanyahu appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and was asked how long the recent bout of attacks will continue.
“Well, we hope that it doesn’t continue very long, but we were attacked by Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “Thousands of rockets and missiles on our cities and I think any country has to defend itself and has a natural right of self-defense. We’ll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet.”
He continued: “We’re trying to degrade Hamas’s terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So it will take some time. I hope it won’t take long but it’s not immediate.”
Earlier reports indicated Israel could be headed towards a ceasefire, but during a televised address Netanyahu said the attacks would continue at “full-force,” AP reported.
Hamas attacks have also continued, as more rockets were launched from civilian areas of Gaza on Sunday with one hitting a synagogue.
Calls from the international community to end the violence have intensified. United Nations Secretary-General Antonie Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire during a UN security council meeting on Sunday, CNBC reported.
“This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace,” Guterres said.
President Joe Biden has not called for an immediate ceasefire, prompting criticism from some Democrats, but his ambassador to the UN said during the Security Council meeting that the US is “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to end the attacks, AP reported.
In a joint statement Sunday, a group of 28 US senators, led by Democrat Sen. Jon Ossoff, urged an immediate ceasefire “to prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories.”
AP reported that the latest round of attacks by Hamas and Israel have killed 188 people in Gaza, including 55 children, and eight people in Israel, including one child, as of Sunday.
Myanmar is on the verge of a “full-blown conflict,” a top United Nations official warned Tuesday, urging the world community not to repeat the passive observation that allowed the conflict in Syria to grow into the bloodiest of the 21st century.
“There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.
“There too we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessary and clearly disproportionate force,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile, noting that the absence of an international response led the repression to both persist and grow worse, leading to “some individuals taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding spiral of violence.”
In February, Myanmar’s long-dominant military overthrew the country’s tenuous democracy, making false claims of voter fraud to evict de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party from power. In the weeks since, the military has repeatedly opened fire on protesters, killing over 700 people, including 82 in one city last Friday.
In March, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was “deeply concerned” by the violence in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“We, of course, continue to work with our allies and partners and like-minded institutions as we condemn the actions of the military, call for the immediate restoration of democracy, and hold those who seize power accountable,” Psaki said.
But in her remarks Tuesday, Bachelet said the world was not doing nearly enough to actually stop the bloodshed.
“Statements of condemnation, and limited targeted sanctions, are clearly not enough,” she said. “States with influence need to urgently apply concerted pressure on the military in Myanmar to halt the commission of grave human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity.”
Myanmar’s envoy to the UN, appointed by the last democratically elected government, has urged the international community to impose an arms embargo on the country as well as a no-fly zone, which would entail forcing the military junta’s aircraft out of the skies.
While much attention has been focused on the military’s response to pro-democracy rallies, it has also been launching airstrikes against armed groups in Karen state, along the border with Thailand. Locals have claimed the strikes have exacted a civilian toll, causing thousands to flee and prompting fears of an all-out civil war.
The parallels to Syria are glaring. In early 2011, thousands of people inspired by the Arab Spring took to the streets to demand reform in an authoritarian dictatorship led by Bashar al-Assad. The crackdown was swift and brutal: snipers took shots at activists, thousands of whom disappeared in torture chambers (the UN would later declare the government guilty of “extermination”).
At first, Western leaders offered only tepid criticism. “What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities [and] police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”
Many members of Congress, she added, believe Assad is a “reformer.” Indeed, the US had collaborated with Assad’s government during the War on Terror, the Bush administration sent detainees there who were later tortured. (The US, likewise, helped train Myanmar’s military, suspending that assistance in 2017 amid the Rohingya genocide.) And the Obama administration had recently reopened the US embassy in Damascus, hoping to see a formal peace agreement between Israel and Assad’s government.
It would take months more for President Barack Obama to demand Assad step down – time that allowed massacres to continue and armed groups, including extremists, to fill the vacuum left by the seeming indifference of the world’s democracies.
“The military seems intent on intensifying its pitiless policy of violence against the people of Myanmar, using military-grade and indiscriminate weaponry,” she observed.
But it is not just the US and its allies that she called out. At the UN, Russia and China, as with Syria before, have blocked the UN from even condemning the coup in Myanmar.
“The UN High Commissioner has sounded the alarm bell,” Sherine Tadros, deputy director of advocacy at Amnesty International, told Insider. “It’s now up to members of the Security Council to act and impose a comprehensive, global arms embargo and targeted sanctions on senior officials before the situation worsens further.”
As an activist, writer, and UN youth ambassador, her days are filled with researching social issues and implementing strategies to help solve the political tensions ever-plaguing the world. She ran her first petition at 13, became a Youth Ambassador for the United Nations Youth Assembly at 19, and is currently a Young Innovator for UN Global Compact. Last year, Grewal won the Diana Award for her humanitarianism, which inspired her to start her own volunteer organization, United Women.
During the day, however, Grewal works for the billion-dollar beauty company Deciem where she helps create and run its corporate activism initiatives. Deciem is known for its cult-favorite brand The Ordinary and Grewal started working there in February.
To Insider, Grewal maps out her typical day, including smoothie lunch breaks, meetings with Deciem CEO, and late-night United Women Slack meetings. “I’ve learned that routine is important,” she said. “But it’s okay to have every day look different and become comfortable with imperfection.”
Her first alarm goes off at 7 a.m.
Grewal’s first alarm goes off at 7 a.m., but if she’s too tired, she’ll press the snooze button and stay in bed for another two minutes. “I open my blinds and window to get some fresh air first thing in the morning,” she said. “It always makes me feel refreshed, light, and ready for the day.”
Moving back home during the pandemic was “hard” she said, but there have been perks. “Waking up to the warmth of the sun, sounds of birds chirping, and smelling spiced chai (tea) is refreshing,” she continued. “Finding gratitude in the small things is always important.”
Around 7:30 a.m., she starts her skincare routine
She always starts her day with a skincare routine. She became a “skincare lover” when she was just 13 after discovering Korean skincare routines. “Over the years, I would always tell my friends and family to take care of their skin because it’s a form of self-care,” Grewal said.
She starts off with a gentle cleanser before putting mist on damp skin. She follows up with a rosewater toner, before, of course, using The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% as a serum. After that, she puts an eye contour serum to cover hereditary dark circles.
“And as every good skincare routine ends, I use a moisturizer to lock in my skin and soothe,” she said. “I also spritz some perfume on because it’s a habit that’s comforting and helps normalize working from home for me.”
At 8:00 a.m., she starts to journal
Shortly before the workday begins, she journals her thoughts, “whether it be poetry, emotions, memories, or things to be grateful for,” Grewal said.
She’s been a writer and poet since she was a child and has been spending more time [during the pandemic] writing new work. She recently launched an Instagram page to showcase some of her writing. “Many people don’t know that I used to be a child actor, loved the theatre, started writing by the age of seven, and by the time I graduated high school I was a published playwright and won the provincial Young Authors Award,” she told Insider.
“Writing and poetry is a hobby I try to make time for because it is a true passion of mine and I believe everyone needs to make time for what makes the heart and mind content.”
The work day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
The Deciem office was previously featured in Vogue, highlighting its 70,000 square foot office in Toronto, Canada. Sadly, since the pandemic, Grewal has been working from home and has only been able to go into the office a few times.
“A colleague has the cutest black lab mix, Matthew, who greets us at the door and provides the best company someone could ask for,” she said.
On this day, she reviewed the social impact and activism strategies and campaigns to prepare for an internal listening session she was co-moderating. The company is prepping to kick off its “We Are Eight” unconference, which is a participate-driven meeting without a set agenda.
She starts her day with a new hire call with executives including the CEO and COO. “We got to personally introduce ourselves and learn more about the senior leadership team,” she said. Each week, she connects with the company’s director of sustainability and social impact Jacquelyn Kankam, to whom she reports.
“She has a unique, inclusive, and liberating leadership style that I am thankful for because I am constantly learning as well as executing,” Grewal said.
Grewal contacted Jackie last summer on LinkedIn for a virtual coffee after noticing her extensive sustainability experience as a fellow woman of color. “I found her inspiring because she paved her own path and career,” Grewal added. “When we spoke during our initial meeting, she mentioned opening a Social Impact, Activism role one day but wasn’t sure when this role would open or the details.”
After that meeting, Grewal said she made it her goal to become Deciem’s top pick and created a 13-page visual proposal outlining ideas she had for the role if it ever opened up. Four months later, Grewal found herself interviewing for the role and she was hired.
“When Harjas contacted me, I could tell her passion and dedication to activism and social impact was unmatched,” Jacquelyn Kankam told Insider. “One of our goals at Deciem is to build growth to power good, we needed someone who is agile, smart, and creative and Harjas fit the bill to a tee.”
“This role meant I had achieved a goal to make my passion for social impact and activism into a career,” Grewal added. “Moments like that prove that resiliency opens doors. “
Lunch is usually from 12 to 1 p.m.
She aims to eat a quick meal and has her daily fruit smooth for a boost of energy. Every day she picks up a book to read, and typically alternates between two at once.
“Currently, I am reading ‘Faith, Gender, and Activism in The Punjab Conflict’ by Mallika Kaur to learn more about the events leading up to the violence against Sikhs in Punjab in the 1980-90s,” she said. “I have written about Partition of India, conflicts in Punjab, and violence against Sikhs extensively throughout my undergraduate degree, and as a Sikh, I am constantly pursuing knowledge about my community and history.”
She is also reading “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey, the first book she picked up to read for “pleasure” after University ended. “My favorite quote from Greenlights, which is now my lock screen on my phone is: ‘Less impressed, More involved,'” she said.
At the end of the workday, she takes a walk with her family
After her workday, she makes sure to spend time with her family before starting her work with United Women, the organization she founded. “My younger brother, Jujhar, is rocking a t-shirt in support of the farmers protesting at the Delhi border in India right now in this photo,” she said, referencing the picture below. “My entire family is passionate about social justice and we often talk at length about world issues, philosophy, and activism.”
Around 6 p.m., she logs in to work at her nonprofit
After a break, she logs into Slack and starts working on United Women, her platform seeking to amplify young BIPOC voices, provide mentorship to youth in women’s shelters and community housing, and platform human rights issues. She is managing a team of about 17 volunteers, alongside her co-founder Aimée Lister, who is based in the United Kingdom.
“We just wrapped up a human rights campaign and are working on expanding our partnerships, finalizing the mentorship program, and responding to the youth who are interested in joining the organization to make an impact,” Grewal said.
She also attended the United Nations Generation Equality Forum last week on behalf of United Women to create an alignment with the 17 SDGs, which include eradicating poverty, combatting climate change, and fighting for quality education.
Around 11 p.m., it’s bedtime
After she’s done working on United Women, she takes the time to wind down and turns on some old Bollywood music. Right before bed, she might even FaceTime her friends. “My friends are the best support system I could ask for.”
Then, she goes to sleep and does it all over again the next day.
Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, speaking for the country’s elected civilian government ousted in a military coup on February 1, appealed to the UN on Friday “to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military” to restore democracy to the Southeast Asian country.
He addressed the 193-member U.N. General Assembly after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, warned that no country should recognize or legitimize the Myanmar junta and all efforts must be made to restore democracy.
“We need further strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people, to return the state power to the people and to restore the democracy,” Kyaw Moe Tun said to applause and praise from Western and Islamic counterparts.
Schraner Burgener pushed for a collective “clear signal in support of democracy” as she sounded the alarm over the coup, urging “influential” countries to push the military to allow an independent assessment of the situation.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party after the military complained of fraud in a November election.
“Regrettably, the current regime has so far asked me to postpone any visit. It seems they want to continue making large-scale arrests and have been coercing people to testify against the NLD Government. This is cruel and inhumane,” Schraner Burgener said.
The country has been largely paralyzed by weeks of protests and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the military. While military chief General Min Aung Hlaing says authorities are using minimal force during the protests, three protesters and one policeman have been killed.
“If there is any escalation in terms of military crackdown – and sadly as we have seen this before in Myanmar – against people exercising their basic rights, let us act swiftly and collectively,” Schraner Burgener said.
‘Make sure that this coup fails’
The army has promised an election, but has not given a date. It has imposed a one-year state of emergency.
The question of an election is at the center of a diplomatic effort by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member. Indonesia has taken the lead, but coup opponents fear the efforts will confer legitimacy on the junta.
“It is important the international community does not lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime,” Schraner Burgener said. “The result of the election of November 2020 was clear with 82 percent of the votes for the NLD.”
Guterres has pledged to mobilize enough international pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.” The Security Council has voiced concern over the state of emergency, but stopped short of condemning the coup.
Schraner Burgener expressed concern for the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.
A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State sent more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into Bangladesh, where they are still stranded. Guterres and Western states have accused the Myanmar army of ethnic cleansing, which it denies.
“We must ask, how can we rely on a military regime when the very same led the security operations leading to the human rights violations and forced displacement of Rohingya people and others from their homes?” Schraner Burgener said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday ripped into climate change deniers, stating that it’s “complete ignorance” to suggest severe winters prove the planet isn’t warming.
“This is total lack of scientific knowledge, this is complete ignorance,” Guterres said in comments to reporters, per Reuters.
“If you look at hurricanes, if you look at storms, but also if you look at heat waves and cold waves, they are becoming more extreme because of climate change,” Guterres said. “Climate change amplifies.”
In response to whether climate change is to blame for the intense winter weather in the US, the UN chief said global warming could make “all storms, all oscillations … more extreme.”
Guterres’ comments come as Texas and neighboring states contend with a fatal winter storm that left millions without power, heat, and potable water.
Republican leaders and climate change skeptics have falsely blamed the outages on renewable energy sources and the Green New Deal, a Democratic plan to address climate change that hasn’t actually been implemented. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s power grid, said that most of the outages have been “primarily due to issues on the natural gas system.”
The UN on Thursday released a new, dire report on environmental crises threatening humanity, zeroing in on climate change, biodiversity depletion, and pollution. It offers a blueprint for how the world can approach this trio of crises.
“Without nature’s help, we will not thrive or even survive. For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature,” Guterres said in remarks on the report during a virtual press briefing on Thursday. “Human well-being lies in protecting the health of the planet. It’s time to re-evaluate and reset our relationship with nature.”
In his remarks, Guterres praised President Joe Biden’s move to return the US to the Paris climate accord, a landmark agreement between almost 200 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“President Biden’s commitment to net zero emissions means that countries producing now two-thirds of global carbon pollution are pursuing the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” Guterres said. “But we need to make this coalition truly global and transformative … We cannot delay.”
The Myanmar police, which operates under the military, charged Suu Kyi with breaching import laws and using illegal communication devices – walkie-talkies – on Wednesday, the BBC reported. The police also charged Win Myint with violating COVID-19 rules, per the BBC.
However, the council was unable to issue that statement as UN ambassadors from China and Russia said they would need the respective blessings of Beijing and Moscow before agreeing, the Associated Press reported.
As permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia are able to veto or delay the body’s activities.
Issuing a joint statement is the first step to enforcing sanctions and Sherine Tadros, the deputy director of advocacy at Amnesty International, told the AP the council needs to act.
“The Security Council must also impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar, and crucially, refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court,” Tadros said, adding that the council should freeze Min Aung Hlaing’s assets.
That same month, China said that it “firmly supports Myanmar’s efforts to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and national dignity in the international arena,” AFP reported.
Russia and China have blocked UN actions regarding Myanmar in the past, having in 2007 vetoed a UN draft resolution that called on the country’s military regime at the time to release political prisoners and stop violating human rights.