23 officers wounded as illegal Israeli settlers go berserk

Israeli security forces remove a caravan belonging to the illegal settlers on Thursday from the former outpost in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
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23 officers wounded as illegal Israeli settlers go berserk

  • The Israeli troops were enforcing a court-ordered evacuation of two homes

AMONA, WEST BANK: Israeli police faced stiff resistance early Thursday as they tried to dismantle mobile homes of settlers who had moved back into an illegal West Bank outpost, with 23 officers lightly injured by stone-throwing settlers.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the Israeli troops were enforcing a court-ordered evacuation of two homes, popularly called caravans, when they were pelted with rocks and stones from some of the 300 protesters in Amona, in the northern West Bank. One officer was stabbed with a sharp object. Police dragged away several protesters with bleeding cuts.

Rosenfeld said police responded with non-lethal means and arrested seven settlers on the scene. Dozens of mattresses remained strewn about the abandoned structures.

The outpost was dismantled two years ago after the Supreme Court ruled that it had been built on private Palestinians land. The Israeli government has promised to build a new settlement to replace it. Amona has become a rallying cry for extreme settlers and a small group returned there recently in protest, amid an outburst of Palestinian violence.

“We will come back here because we love this place and we feel this is our home,” said Oren Amitai, a settler from Amona. “We hope, we pray, that sooner or later the government will agree that we bought this land.”

The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli settlements to be illegal and obstacles to peace. Over 400,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank, in addition to 200,000 in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek both areas, captured by Israel in 1967, as parts of their state.

While Israel’s settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from the Palestinians and Europe, the US administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.

Thursday’s events came amid a highly partisan election campaign, with various camps seizing on the incident to stake out positions.

Hard-line Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett, who this week broke off from the pro-settler Jewish Home party to start a new right-wing movement, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to also demolish the illegally built Palestinian encampment of Khan Al-Ahmar.

“The law is the law is the law,” he said. “The selective enforcement against only Jews in Amona, in the face of the fear of evacuating illegal and unrestrained Arab construction in Khan Al-Ahmar, portrays the Israeli government’s weakness and hesitation.”

Alternatively, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, denounced the assault on law enforcement officers.

“The violence in Amona is a result of the fact that the rioters think they have political backing from within the coalition,” he said. “Whoever acts wildly needs to be evacuated and restrained without hesitation.”


Turkey sentences detained judge who won human rights award to 10 years

Updated 5 min 44 sec ago
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Turkey sentences detained judge who won human rights award to 10 years

  • The Council of Europe human rights body in 2017 gave Arslan, who was detained at the time, the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize
  • The decision prompted Turkey to say it would cut back its funding to the body

ANKARA: A Turkish court sentenced a judge who previously won an award for human rights to 10 years in prison over links to the network Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup in 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday.
Murat Arslan, who has been detained for 22 months, was convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization, after prosecutors charged him with use of the encrypted messaging app ByLock, Anadolu said.
Arslan has denied the charges and said any evidence that he had used the app was “fabricated,” Anadolu said.
The government says the outlawed app was widely used by followers of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it blames for the attempted coup that saw rogue soldiers commandeer tanks and aircraft, attacking parliament and killing some 250 unarmed civilians.
Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has condemned the coup and denied any involvement with it.
The Council of Europe human rights body in 2017 gave Arslan, who was detained at the time, the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, a decision that prompted Turkey to say it would cut back its funding to the body.
Arslan was the former head of Turkey’s Judges and Prosecutors Union, a civil legal association that was shut down by government decree in the wide crackdown that followed the coup attempt.
Since the failed coup, authorities have formally arrested some 77,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 150,000 soldiers, civil servants and more over alleged links to the coup attempt, including alleged users of ByLock.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern over the scale of the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan was using the putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government, however, says the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat it faces from Gulen’s network.