Palestinians dismiss Daesh claim of Israel policewoman’s killing

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian during clashes in the West Bank village of Deir Abu Mash'al near Ramallah, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2017
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Palestinians dismiss Daesh claim of Israel policewoman’s killing

JERUSALEM: Palestinian militant factions on Saturday dismissed a claim by Daesh that it was behind the fatal stabbing of an Israeli policewoman in Jerusalem saying the assailants came from their ranks.
The Israeli security services also raised doubts about the veracity of the Daesh claim — its first for an attack in Jerusalem — which came with the militants facing defeat in their Iraq and Syria bastions.
Three Palestinians attacked officers just outside the walled Old City in annexed east Jerusalem late on Friday before being shot dead by security forces, Israeli police said.
In an online statement, Daesh said militant had targeted a “gathering of Jews,” warning that “this attack will not be the last.”
But Hamas that runs the Gaza Strip dismissed the claim, saying the attackers had come from among its own ranks and those of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The assault took place as tens of thousands of Palestinians held night prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, on the third Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
According to police, two assailants opened fire on a group of officers who returned fire and a third stabbed the border policewoman a short distance away before being shot.
Policewoman Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old staff sergeant major, was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died of her wounds.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Daesh claim was an attempt to “muddy the waters,” adding that the attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the PFLP and a third from Hamas.”
The killing was “a natural response to the crimes of the occupier,” he said, echoing the language used by Hamas after other recent attacks against Israelis.
A spokesman for Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency told AFP it was “impossible to corroborate (the Daesh claim) at this point.”
The Israeli army said the assailants appeared to have acted independently, like many of the attackers in a wave of unrest that has rocked Israel and the occupied territories since October 2015, violence Israel has dubbed “popular terrorism.”
“A preliminary army intelligence evaluation found no evidence of them belonging to any group, rather they appear to have been a typical popular terror squad,” an army spokeswoman said.
Hamas and the PFLP identified the three assailants as Bara Ata, 18, Osama Ata, 19, and Adel Ankush, 18, all from the village of Deir Abu Mashal near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Shin Bet said they had been implicated in previous “popular terror activity.”
The PFLP said Bara and Osama had recently been released from several months in Israeli prison.
A family member of one of the three flatly rejected any connection to Daesh, angrily telling AFP the militant group’s claim was a “lie” that did not deserve mention.
The army sealed off the assailants’ home village while troops went house to house, arresting two youths before leaving after a number of hours.
Israel had eased restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to Jerusalem and Israel from the West Bank for Ramadan.
Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to cancel permission for Palestinians to visit family members in Jerusalem and Israel, police said.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — the Israeli Defense Ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories — said the 250,000 family visit permits were canceled in response to “encouragement to terrorism” by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.
In a Facebook post in Arabic, Mordechai charged that Fatah had congratulated the attackers and “alleged they were innocent and blameless, and executed without reason.”
UN Middle East peace process coordinator Nickolay Mladenov said that “terrorist acts” like Friday’s “must be clearly condemned by all.”
“I am appalled that once again some find it appropriate to justify such attacks as ‘heroic,’” he said in a statement. “They are unacceptable and seek to drag everyone into a new cycle of violence.”
The unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 272 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.
Saturday was the first time Daesh had claimed an attack inside Israel or annexed east Jerusalem.
The militant group has a major presence across Israel’s southern border in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, from where it has claimed several rocket attacks into Israel.


Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters as he leaves his residence in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 min 9 sec ago
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Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

  • Erdogan has just under 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), was on 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count
  • The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was polling 11 percent, well over the 10 percent minimum threshold needed to win 46 seats, which would make it the second largest opposition party in the new chamber

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election, extending his 15-year grip on power in the face of a revitalized opposition.
Turkish voters had for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president is the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.
Erdogan was on course to defeat his nearest rival Muharrem Ince with more than half the vote without needing a second round, initial results showed.
“The unofficial results of the elections have become clear. According to these... I have been entrusted by the nation with the task and duties of the presidency,” Erdogan said at his Istanbul residence.
He added that the alliance led by the AKP had won the majority in parliament.
Erdogan has just under 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), was on 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count.
The figures could yet change as final ballot boxes are opened.
But celebrations were already beginning outside Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul and AKP headquarters in Ankara, with crowds of flag-waving supporters, AFP correspondents said.
Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven percent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with almost eight percent.
A count of almost over 95 percent for the parliamentary election also showed that Erdogan’s AKP — along with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies — were well ahead and set for an overall majority.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was polling 11 percent, well over the 10 percent minimum threshold needed to win 46 seats, which would make it the second largest opposition party in the new chamber.
Turnout in the presidential election was almost 88 percent, according to the figures published by Anadolu.

Erdoogan had faced an energetic campaign by Ince, who has rivalled the incumbent’s charisma and crowd-pulling on the campaign trail, as well as a strong opposition alliance in the legislative poll.
Ince vowed to spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey’s election authority in Ankara to ensure a fair count and urged supporters to stay in polling stations until the final vote was counted.
The CHP said it had recorded violations in particular in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, although Erdogan insisted, after voting himself, there was no major problem.
“I will protect your rights. All we want is a fair competition. Have no fear and don’t believe in demoralizing reports,” Ince said after polls closed.
Several world leaders supportive of Erdogan, including Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called to congratulate him on his “victory,” the presidency said.

Erdogan has overseen historic change in Turkey since his Islamic-rooted ruling party first came to power in 2002 after years of secular domination. But critics accuse the Turkish strongman, 64, of trampling on civil liberties and autocratic behavior.
Although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
The president has for the last two years ruled under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the 2016 failed coup, with tens of thousands arrested in an unprecedented crackdown which cranked up tensions with the West.
Erdogan, whose mastery of political rhetoric is acknowledged even by critics, has won a dozen elections but campaigned against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.
Inflation has zoomed well into double digits — with popular concern over sharp rises in staples like potatoes and onions — while the Turkish lira has lost some 25 percent in value against the US dollar this year.
But the opposition has lambasted the uneven nature of the poll, which saw state-controlled television ignore Ince’s giant rally in Istanbul on the eve of the election.
And in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP’s Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.
After casting his ballot in his jail in the northwestern region of Edirne, Demirtas wrote on Twitter: “I wish that everyone uses their vote for the sake of the future and democracy of the country.”