Bloody violence sparked by football verdicts jolts Egypt

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Updated 27 January 2013
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Bloody violence sparked by football verdicts jolts Egypt

PORT SAID: Street clashes killed at least 30 people in Egypt’s Port Said yesterday after 21 supporters of a local football club were sentenced to death over a bloody stadium riot in the canal city.
The violence comes a day after nine were killed in protests against President Muhammad Mursi on the second anniversary of Egypt’s uprising against predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
Minutes after a Cairo court handed down the sentences against fans of Port Said side Al-Masry over the deaths of 74 people during post-match violence last February, protesters rampaged through the city, attacking police stations and setting tires alight.
Relatives of those condemned tried to storm the prison in Port Said where they are being held, leading to fierce clashes with security forces.
Unidentified assailants used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said.
At least 30 people died and 312 were wounded, the Health Ministry said, with the Interior Ministry saying two policemen were among those killed. Medics told AFP all the fatalities were from gunfire.
Crowds stormed two police stations as heavy gunfire crackled through the city, where shops and businesses had closed.
Ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals and mosques urged worshippers to donate blood.
The army, which earlier deployed troops to restore calm, managed to control vital public buildings, including the prison, banks and courts, witnesses said. Clashes also erupted in the nearby canal city of Suez, where at least eight people were killed in fighting on Friday.
Amid the spreading unrest, the opposition threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary polls if Mursi does not find a “comprehensive solution” to the unrest.
In Cairo yesterday, both inside and outside the court, there were explosions of joy at the verdict. Women ululated, relatives hugged each other and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).
The court handed its verdict to Egypt’s top cleric for his final opinion, as is customary, and set March 9 for verdicts on another 52 defendants, including police officers.


Netanyahu faces snap election calls after defense minister quits

Updated 15 November 2018
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Netanyahu faces snap election calls after defense minister quits

  • Avigdor Lieberman quit on Wednesday over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy on cross-border violence with Palestinian militants
  • The loss of the five seats of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls on Thursday from his coalition partners to hold an early election, a day after the defense minister’s resignation left the government with a razor-thin majority.
Avigdor Lieberman quit on Wednesday over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy on cross-border violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
The loss of the five seats of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, raising the prospect that a scheduled November 2019 election would be brought forward.
Lieberman’s resignation takes effect 48 hours after being handed in, which he did early on Thursday. Each coalition partner will then have the power to bring down the government.
To avert a crisis, Netanyahu has been holding talks with ministers in an effort to stabilize the government.
Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, said he told Netanyahu in their meeting that the responsible step to take would be to establish a new and stable government.
“The best thing for Israel’s citizens and economy is to hold an election as soon as possible,” Kahlon said in a statement. His call was echoed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas faction.
Adding to the pressure, Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, has demanded the defense brief by given to him.
Both Lieberman and Bennett, who compete with Netanyahu’s Likud for right-wing voters, have spoken in favor of harsh Israeli military action against Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists.
Israel has fought three wars in Gaza since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007.
“I asked the prime minister yesterday to appoint me defense minister to fulfil one goal only — that Israel start winning again,” Bennett said at a conference near Tel Aviv.
Jewish Home said on Wednesday that without the defense brief, there would be no point in keeping the government together.
However Bennett did not repeat this in his remarks on Thursday nor did he render an explicit ultimatum to Netanyahu, with whom he is due to meet on Friday.
It was unclear whether Netanyahu would opt for an early election.
Netanyahu is under investigation for corruption, and speculation has been rife that he may bring the ballot forward in order to win a renewed mandate before Israel’s attorney-general decides whether to indict him.
A poll published on Wednesday by Israel’s Hadashot television news showed Likud falling by one seat from 30 to 29 after months of surveys that have shown it gaining power. Only 17 percent of respondents were happy with Netanyahu’s Gaza policy.