Israeli planes raid Gaza after explosion

Israeli F-15 I fighter jets. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018
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Israeli planes raid Gaza after explosion

JERUSALEM: Israeli military aircraft carried out a raid against a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip overnight after an explosive device detonated near the border with Israel, the military said Sunday.
“The Hamas terror organization is held accountable for all occurrences in and from the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
Hamas is the main Palestinian Islamist movement controlling the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF will continue to operate for the safety of Israeli civilians, by all means at its disposal,” the Israeli military said, without giving further details.
According to Palestinian sources, the raid did not cause any casualties.
An explosive device went off late Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip near Israel’s border fence, the army said in an earlier statement, with no casualties reported.
Israel had already retaliated, with tanks targeting a Hamas observation post.
According to Palestinian sources, the retaliatory fire slightly injured one person.
Two explosive devices were detonated Thursday along the border, which had already provoked Israeli attacks on Hamas positions.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Israel held Hamas responsible as the de facto power in the Palestinian enclave.
Israel, Hamas and its allies are observing a cease-fire since the 2014 war, the third in the enclave in six years.
The truce is regularly shaken, particularly by fire from the enclave into Israel, which systematically retaliates by targeting Hamas positions, even if the attacks are carried out by other groups.
On February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.
Israel warplanes attacked 18 “terror targets belonging to Hamas” in Gaza in response to the blast, which severely wounded two of the soldiers, and a subsequent Palestinian rocket attack on southern Israel.


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 18 February 2019
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”