Gazans bury their dead after bloody clashes, West Bank closes to mourn

Palestinian men march on Mar. 31, 2018 in the Israeli occupied West Bank city of Nablus in a symbolic funeral in solidarity with those who were killed a day earlier in the Gaza Strip during clashes with Israeli forces on Land Day. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2018
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Gazans bury their dead after bloody clashes, West Bank closes to mourn

GAZA CITY:  Israeli troops fired warning shots towards Palestinian youths gathered at the Gaza-Israel border on Saturday, wounding 35 people, health officials said.
Tension remained high in the area a day after deadly violence broke out in one of the biggest Palestinian demonstrations there in years.
Gazans buried their dead on Saturday with calls for “revenge” a day after a major demonstration led to clashes that saw Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.
But while anger seethed over Friday’s events, only several hundred protesters had returned to tents erected at different sites near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel by mid-afternoon to resume demonstrations planned to last six weeks in the blockaded enclave.
Thousands attended funerals for 14 of those killed — two were buried on Friday -with mourners holding Palestinian flags and some chanting “revenge” and firing into the air.
A general strike was also being held in both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.
Minor clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians broke out in Hebron, while a small protest was held in Nablus, both in the West Bank.
Israel defended its soldiers’ actions on Friday, when troops opened fire on Palestinians who strayed from the main tent city protest — attended by tens of thousands — and approached the heavily fortified fence cutting off the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military says it opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tires at soldiers.
It also said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no casualties.
Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, while human rights groups questioned Israel’s use of live fire.
Unverified videos were being shared online, including one appearing to show a protester being shot while running with a tyre.
In addition to the 16 killed, more than 1,400 were wounded, 758 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, according to the Gazan health ministry.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.
His spokesman on Saturday called on the United States at the UN Security Council to not provide “cover for Israel to continue its aggression against the Palestinian people.”


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.”