Turkey rejects Israel claim of military help for Hamas

Members of the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, take part in a military parade in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Israel has accused Turkey of helping Hamas to gain in military strength. (Anadolu Agency)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Turkey rejects Israel claim of military help for Hamas

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday blasted as “incompatible with reality” accusations by Israel it had helped the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas to gain in military strength, following the arrest and deportation of a Turkish citizen.
According to the Israeli authorities, Turkish national Cemil Tekeli was arrested in January on suspicion of aiding Hamas through business platforms that launder funds and later deported.
The Shin Bet intelligence agency said the investigation into Tekeli had shown that Turkey contributes to the military strengthening of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
But the Turkish foreign ministry said it rejected the allegations, describing the claim as “incompatible with reality and lacking in seriousness.”
Alluding to the Israeli investigation into Tekeli, it said that Israel made the claims based on “statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances.”
It added: “It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardize the security of another country.”
Shin Bet said that Hamas had laundered millions of dollars through Turkey.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, which said that Tekeli was a lecturer at Medeniyet University in Istanbul, reported he had now returned to Turkey after being freed by Israel on February 11.
Shin Bet said his alleged accomplice, Dharam Jabarin, an Arab Israeli, had also been arrested and is to be put on trial.
Turkey and Israel in 2016 ended a rift triggered by Israel’s deadly storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship. But relations remain tense with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still bitterly critical of Israeli policy.
Turkey delivers humanitarian aid to Gaza and this month bitterly denounced a US decision to put the head of Hamas Ismail Haniya on its terror blacklist.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Updated 18 August 2018
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.