Removal of residents from West Bank settlement termed a ‘media stunt’

Israeli youths supporters of settlements argue with Israeli border guards in the settlement of Ofra in the occupied West Bank, during an operation by Israeli police to evict settlers' houses, on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 01 March 2017

Removal of residents from West Bank settlement termed a ‘media stunt’

OFRA, Palestinian Territories: Israeli police began removing residents and protesters on Tuesday from nine West Bank settler homes set to be demolished under a Supreme Court ruling.
The homes in the Ofra settlement — a symbol of Jewish settler defiance to international concerns — were found to have been built on private Palestinian land and ordered razed by March 5.
Police cleared protesters from the houses one at a time over several hours, an AFP reporter said.
They had cleared eight of the nine houses but dozens of predominantly young protesters were crammed into the final home with others on the roof.
Two people were arrested for attacking officers, a police statement said, and eight officers were lightly injured, including by being bitten.
Eight families had agreed to leave their homes ahead of time, police said.
Leaders of the Ofra community said they were intent on preventing major clashes like those during the eviction of the nearby Amona settlement three weeks ago, where youths barricaded themselves in a synagogue and attacked security forces.
Amona residents announced they would begin a hunger strike on Wednesday until the government kept its commitment to build them a new settlement.
The Palestinian Information Ministry denounced what it said was a media stunt.
“Nine houses are destroyed in exchange for thousands of others built,” it said.
Since the Jan. 20 inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has pledged to lead the most pro-Israel administration in history, the Israeli government has rapidly increased its settlement activities.
After Trump took over, Israel announced more than 5,000 new homes in settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The government also backed a bill passed by Parliament earlier this month legalizing dozens of other settlements that even Israel previously considered illegal. The UN said the law crossed a “red line” toward the annexation of the West Bank, but the US chose not to condemn the move.
More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. Most of the international community sees settlements as a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”