20 Palestinians hurt in border clashes, says Gaza ministry

Palestinian medics help evacuate a wounded protester during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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20 Palestinians hurt in border clashes, says Gaza ministry

  • Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its decade-long blockade of the enclave

GAZA: Palestinian medical officials said that 20 Gazans were wounded on Friday by Israeli fire during weekly clashes on the border, while Israeli police said one officer was hurt by an explosive device.
“Twenty injuries by the Israeli occupation forces with live ammunition,” the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement.
The Israeli army said that 11,000 “rioters and demonstrators” gathered at several points along the border barrier, with people throwing rocks at soldiers and the fence, as well as “several explosive devices and grenades” aimed at the troops.
“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.
Israeli police said an officer operating at the border was lightly wounded by shrapnel in his leg.
Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its decade-long blockade of the enclave. At least 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, the majority shot during clashes, though others have been hit by tank fire or air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations and attacks, which it accuses Hamas of seeking to orchestrate. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

Palestinians killed
Israeli troops on Jan. 25 fatally shot a Palestinian and wounded another as they threw stones at Israeli motorists in the occupied West Bank, the army said.
Soldiers “responded by firing at the suspects, who received medical treatment. One of the suspects later died of his wounds and another was injured,” a statement said. Residents of the dead youth’s village of Silwad, near Ramallah, named him as Ayman Hamed, 17.
A Palestinian was also shot dead the same day by Israeli fire during fresh clashes along the Gaza border.


Turkish civil society leaders on trial over 2013 protests

Updated 24 June 2019
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Turkish civil society leaders on trial over 2013 protests

  • The 657-page indictment seeks to paint the protests as a foreign-directed conspiracy with links to the Arab Spring
  • There has been a renewed crackdown on dissidents since a coup attempt in 2016

SILIVRI, Turkey: Sixteen leading Turkish civil society leaders went on trial Monday, accused of seeking to overthrow the government during the “Gezi Park” protests of 2013 — charges dubbed an absurd sham by critics.
The group includes renowned businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, whose detention since November 2017 has made him a symbol of what his supporters say is a crackdown on civil society.
Kavala rejected the “irrational claims which lack evidence” in his opening statement, shortly after the trial began under high security in the prison and court complex of Silivri on the outskirts of Istanbul.
He is accused of orchestrating and financing the protests which began over government plans to build over Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces left in Istanbul.
The rallies snowballed into a nationwide movement that marked the first serious challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brand of Islamic conservatism and grandiose development projects.
The 657-page indictment seeks to paint the protests as a foreign-directed conspiracy with links to the Arab Spring, which, ironically, the Turkish government supported.
“None of these actions were coincidental... they were supported from the outside as an operation to bring the Turkish Republic to its knees,” the indictment says.
Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner said the trial “speaks volumes about the deeply flawed judiciary that has allowed this political witch-hunt to take place.
“It is absurdly attempting to portray routine civil society activities as crimes,” he said.
“The idea that Osman Kavala led the conspiracy is utterly outlandish and unsupported by any credible evidence,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), told AFP.
One of the allegations is the claim that a map on Kavala’s phone showing bee species actually depicted his plans to redraw Turkey’s borders.
There has been a renewed crackdown on dissidents since a coup attempt in 2016, blamed by the government on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, with thousands arrested and tens of thousands sacked from public sector, media and military jobs.
A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which seeks to bridge ethnic and regional divides through art, including with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties.
“I was involved in projects contributing to peace and reconciliation. There is not a single piece of evidence or proof in the indictment that I prepared the ground for a military coup,” Kavala told the court.
Think tank researcher Yigit Aksakoglu was also in pre-trial detention — since November — while six of the rest are being tried in absentia after fleeing Turkey, including actor Memet Ali Alabora and dissident journalist Can Dundar.
The case against Alabora focuses on his appearance in a play featuring a revolt against the ruler of a fictional country.
Others, including architect Mucella Yapici, have already been tried and acquitted for their role in the Gezi Park protests in 2015.
“I am on trial for the second time on the same charges. Peaceful protests cannot be banned. They are a right,” Yapici told the court on Monday.
Erdogan has linked Kavala to US billionaire George Soros, whose efforts to promote democracy around the world have made him a target for several authoritarian leaders.
Last year, Erdogan said Kavala was the representative in Turkey of the “famous Hungarian Jew Soros” whom he accused of trying to “divide and tear up nations.”
Soros’s Open Society Foundation, which ceased activities in Turkey last year, called Monday’s trial a “political sham.”
“At some earlier stage in Turkey’s descent into authoritarian rule, one might have described this trial as a test of judicial independence... but such exams have already been held, and the failing grades were handed down long ago,” wrote Freedom House, a US-based rights group, this week.
“The point of the coming show trial is quite simply to intimidate Turkish citizens and deter them from exercising their rights,” it added.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday.