Turkish tourist charged with aiding Hamas

Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, who was arrested at an Israeli airport last month, is brought to an Israeli military court. (Reuters)
Updated 08 July 2018
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Turkish tourist charged with aiding Hamas

  • Ebru Ozkan, 27, has been held since last month
  • Turkey threatens to 'retaliate'

JERUSALEM: Israel charged a detained Turkish tourist on Sunday with helping smuggle money and packages to militant group Hamas, in a case that has angered Ankara, which has vowed to retaliate.
Ebru Ozkan, 27, has been held since last month when she was detained trying to board a flight in Tel Aviv. One of the charges she faces is for smuggling five bottles of perfume, which her lawyer ridiculed as trivial, saying she should be released.
The case has further strained relations between Israel and Turkey, who once enjoyed friendly ties but have seen them become acrimonious in recent years as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has solidified his power in Turkey.
Ozkan was led, manacled, to the dock in an Israeli military court on the boundary with the occupied West Bank, where she was indicted on two counts of acting in the service of a proscribed group, one count of transferring money for enemy agents, and one count of threatening public order.
If convicted, she could face several years in jail.
Though she is accused of having also brought other items, prosecutors put at the top of the list her smuggling of five bottles of perfume to be sold to raise funds for Hamas.
In response to that charge, her lawyer Omara Khamaisi told Reuters outside the court: “Come on, really?“
“I think that in this the case the decision will ultimately be a brave one — to release her, I hope.”
Khamaisi said Ozkan had been denied access to legal counsel for most of her detention and had not been interrogated in Turkish, leading to distortions in the way her answers to questions were recorded.
The indictment did not give specifics on where the alleged offenses took place. Khamaisi said Ozkan had spent three days in Jerusalem during her stay.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip under de facto Israeli blockade. Hamas is classified as a terrorist group by Israel and the West, but not by NATO-member Turkey.
Asked about Ozkan’s case on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu referred to her as “our sister” and accused Israel of “taking deterrent measures against our citizens traveling to Jerusalem.”
“However, we will retaliate against this. Our relations will normalize when Israel stops its inhumane policies,” he said without elaborating.
Turkey and Israel once had a bedrock security partnership. But the relationship has deteriorated over the last decade, with Ankara condemning three Israeli wars in Gaza. Ties were ruptured after Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish aid flotilla trying to reach Gaza in 2010, killing nine activists.
Muslims account for just a small percentage of incoming tourists to Israel. In 2016, most of them, around 100,000, came from Turkey.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 8 min 20 sec ago
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.