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.


More than 85 Houthis killed in battles across Yemen

Updated 17 February 2019
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More than 85 Houthis killed in battles across Yemen

  • More than 40 militants were killed in the southern Taiz province, and 18 others were killed on the Damt front in the southern Ad Dali province
  • Scores of militants were wounded, while the army seized military-grade equipment and ammunition.

DUBAI: More than 85 Iran-backed Houthi militants were killed and more wounded in clashes with the Yemeni army supported by the Arab Coalition across the country on Saturday, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.

According to the reports, more than 40 militants were killed in the southern Taiz province, and 18 others were killed on the Damt front in the southern Ad Dali province, while more than 30 were killed in clashes with the Hajour tribe northwest of the country.

Scores of militants were wounded, while the army seized military-grade equipment and ammunition.

Meanwhile, Yemen’ Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Hadrami said that the continued conflict stirred by the Houthis threatens the Swedish peace agreement and any progress in the political process.

In a meeting with UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash on the sidelines of the 55th session of the Munich Conference of Security 2019, Al-Hadrami said that the continued Houthi manipulation represents the failed opportunities for peace in Yemen.

For his part, UAE’s Gargash stressed on the need to combine efforts and send clear messages to the international community revealing the truth behind the militia’s violations on the ground.