Saturday, December 16, 2017

Palestinians, Israelis Clash as Jerusalem Fallout Continues

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP — 
Clashes broke out amid a fresh wave of violence across the West Bank and along Gaza’s border on Friday as the fallout continued over President Donald Trump’s announcement last week recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, killing three Palestinians and wounding dozens of other protesters and one Israeli officer.
Protests in response to Trump’s announcement, which departed from decades of U.S. policy that the fate of Jerusalem should be decided through negotiations, have yet to relent across various Arab and Muslim countries in the region.
Following Friday prayers, Palestinians in the West Bank and along the Gaza border set fire to tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and live fire.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said two Palestinians were killed from gunshots to the head. He identified one of the men as Ibrahim Abu Thraya, 29, a disabled man who had both legs amputated.

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Husband Of Jailed Iranian-British Aid Worker Sees ‘Positive Steps’

The husband of jailed Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says there have been “positive steps” toward her release following British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to Tehran last week.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held by Iranian authorities since April 2016 for allegedly plotting against Iran’s government, which she denies.
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife’s treatment has improved in Tehran and he remained optimistic that she would be released.
“I spoke to her yesterday and she was much more positive because the conditions were improving and just because she’s hopeful that after, you know, 20 months, she can be finally be reunited with her daughter and her husband,” Ratcliffe said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on December 15.
Ratcliffe said his wife has been allowed to call him every day and she has been granted extra family visits since Johnson’s visit to Iran from December 9-10.

Iraqi Shi’ite Paramilitary Chief Seeks to Put Troops Under National Army

BAGHDAD — 
The commander of Iraq’s biggest Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary group told its fighters on Thursday to take their orders from the national military and cut their ties with the group’s political wing.
Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Iran-backed Badr Organization, also called on the group’s fighters to withdraw from the cities under their control.
The move paves the way for Amiri to stand in parliamentary elections on May 12.
Participation in the election by members of Iraq’s Iran-backed Shi’ite paramilitaries, collectively known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), has been hotly debated in Iraq. PMF members cannot run for office unless they formally resign their posts.
Amiri is the second commander to issue such a call in as many days. He called on those in charge of his armed wing to cut their ties with the group’s political party, which holds 22 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

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Iraq Hangs 38 Members of IS, Qaida for ‘Terrorism’

NASIRIYAH, IRAQ — 
Iraq hanged 38 jihadists belonging to the Islamic State group or Al-Qaida for terrorism offences on Thursday in the southern city of Nasiriyah, provincial authorities said.
It was the largest number of executions in Iraq on a single day since September 25 when 42 people were put to death in the same prison.
“The prison administration executed on Thursday in the presence of Justice Minister Haidar al-Zameli, in Nasiriyah prison, 38 death row prisoners belonging to Al-Qaida or Daesh (IS) accused of terrorist activities,” said Dakhel Kazem, a senior official in the provincial council.
They were all Iraqis but one also had Swedish citizenship, a prison source said.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday declared victory against IS after a three-year campaign by government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition to retake territory seized by the jihadists.

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Gaza Eatery Offers Discounts to North Koreans but No Takers

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP — 
A Gaza eatery is offering massive discounts to North Korean diners but there is just one problem — there are no North Koreans in Gaza.
Ibrahim Raba, manager of a shawarma restaurant in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, says he is offering the 80 percent discounts to show his appreciation for North Korea’s rejection of President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He has also placed a large photo of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the glass door entrance to his restaurant.
A new Kim fan, Raba likes to quote the North Korean leader, saying: “Trump proved he is mentally deranged.”
And though Raba knows there are no North Koreans in Gaza, he hopes they will come someday, perhaps after joining other foreign aid workers.
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Egypt Activist Sentenced to 3 Years for Government Criticism

CAIRO — 
Egyptian lawyers say a prominent activist and opposition figure has been sentenced to three years over his criticism of the government’s decision to transfer control over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
Defense lawyers Zyad el-Elaimy and Ahmed Fawzy said in Facebook posts on Wednesday that Islam Marei had been held in pre-trial detention since his June arrest. Charges against him included “funding terrorism” and inciting violence.
They say the sentence was passed on Tuesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if Marei, who is a member of the small opposition Social Democratic Party, will appeal his three-year sentence.
The 2016 Egyptian-Saudi accord to hand the Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia has drawn wide public criticism and triggered rare protests in Egypt.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi ratified the accord in June.
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Turkish Coast Guard in Dramatic Rescue of Stranded Migrants

ISTANBUL — 
Turkey’s coast guard launched a dramatic rescue operation Thursday to evacuate migrants stranded on rocks in the Aegean Sea.
The coast guard said in a statement that 51 migrants attempted to illegally cross to Greece on a rubber dinghy from the western province of Izmir. Authorities intervened after receiving an emergency call at 01:12 local time (1012 GMT).
Video showed a helicopter lifting a person off the rocks using a rope. The statement said five children and a woman were rescued in this way while the rest were transferred to coast guard boats with the assistance of fishermen in the area.
The coast guard said the rescue operation could only begin in daylight due to the rocky area and bad sea conditions. Helicopters dropped food and blankets in the night.
There was no information on the migrants’ nationalities — among them 15 children — but more than 3.3 million Syrians live in Turkey.

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Hamas Marks 30th Anniversary at Low Point of Gaza Rule

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP — 
Many thousands of Palestinians have gathered in Gaza City to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates the territory.
Buses brought in men, women and children brandishing Hamas’ green flags or sporting green scarves to the al-Katiba Square for Thursday’s rally.
The anniversary comes at a low point for Hamas.
A decade after seizing Gaza by force, it has been compelled to seek reconciliation with its Fatah rival, led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
Hamas blames an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, lack of support from Arab and Islamic nations and Abbas’ alleged attempts to undermine the group for the hardships in Gaza. This includes 43 percent unemployment and crippling blackouts.
Implementation of an Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal has been slow.
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US to Highlight What it Calls ‘Iran’s Ongoing Destabilizing Activities’

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations says Ambassador Nikki Haley will use a news conference Thursday to “outline Iran’s ongoing destabilizing activities in the Middle East” and elsewhere in the world.
Haley will be discussing a U.N. report on the implementation of the nuclear agreement Iran struck with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany, which also calls on Iran to not carry out ballistic missile activity that could carry nuclear warheads.
An advisory issued ahead of Haley’s remarks said she would give “irrefutable evidence” that Iran has not lived up to its international obligations and has tried to cover up its actions.
U.S. President Donald Trump has objected to the nuclear deal, which his predecessor Barack Obama championed as the best way to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

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Turkey Summit Condemns Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

Turkey on Wednesday hosted an emergency summit of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Coordination, delivering a scathing rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The summit has also called for the recognition of a Palestinian State. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

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