Israel detains armed Palestinians from Gaza: Army officials

Israeli soldiers on Tuesday detained three Palestinians who slipped across the border with the Gaza Strip in possession of knives and grenades. (AP)
Updated 27 March 2018

Israel detains armed Palestinians from Gaza: Army officials

JERUSALEM: Israeli soldiers on Tuesday detained three Palestinians who slipped across the border with the Gaza Strip in possession of knives and grenades, officials said, as tensions rise along the volatile frontier.
The military said the trio were apprehended some 20 kilometers (12 miles) inside Israel near an army base, while police distributed pictures of hand grenades, knives and wire cutters found on them.
“We don’t know who sent them and what their purpose was,” an army spokeswoman told AFP.
The detentions come as Israel braces for the annual Palestinian Land Day protests, commemorating the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976, set to begin on Friday in Gaza and the West Bank.
This year’s demonstrations appear especially combustible as Palestinian anger is already high over US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Gazans are being called to march en masse toward the Israeli border fence that seals off the coastal territory from the Jewish state.
There have already been several incidents along the border in recent days.
A number of Palestinians on Saturday breached the frontier and tried to torch heavy equipment, following which Israeli jets attacked positions of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.
A day later gunfire from Gaza set off Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and in response an army tank fired at a Hamas position.
The growing Palestinian ire saw Israeli construction minister Yoav Gallant, a member of the security cabinet, warn against attempts to breach the southern border as part of the Land Day events.
“The temperature is literally rising,” he said. “The motivation is greater than in the past.”
“If they want to behave peacefully inside the Gaza Strip, this is their own business,” Gallant said.
“But if we see the motivation to cross the border, we will not act only in the last second when thousands of people are destroying the fence.”


Former PM calls for overhaul of Turkey in challenge to Erdogan

Updated 17 min 30 sec ago

Former PM calls for overhaul of Turkey in challenge to Erdogan

  • Davutoglu said Turkey’s judiciary had turned into a mechanism “feared rather than trusted” and that its economy was in “deep crisis”
  • Without naming Erdogan, he sharply criticized the concentration of power around a leader who has ruled Turkey since early 2003

ANKARA: Turkey’s ex-premier Ahmet Davutoglu took aim at his former boss Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, saying the country was being held back by a concentration of power, economic crisis and an atmosphere of fear as he called for an overhaul of the political system.
“Those ruling Turkey have no agenda other than staying in power,” Davutoglu said as he announced his new party, which could further erode support for Erdogan after his ruling AKP suffered election setbacks in local elections earlier this year.
A day after applying to establish the breakaway Future Party, Davutoglu said Turkey’s judiciary had turned into a mechanism “feared rather than trusted” and that its economy was in “deep crisis.”
Davutoglu, 60, announced his resignation from the Islamist-rooted AKP in September, saying the party which has dominated Turkish politics for 17 years was no longer able to solve the country’s problems and was stifling internal debate.
“Despite all the pressure and the atmosphere of fear which they have tried to create...we have come together to set out a democratic and prosperous future for our country,” he said.
Davutoglu served as prime minister from 2014 to 2016, before falling out with the president and being replaced by another Erdogan loyalist as Turkey moved to a presidential system.
Without naming Erdogan, he sharply criticized the concentration of power around a leader who has ruled Turkey since early 2003, first as prime minister and then as president.
“The presidential system was constructed with the thought of transferring as much power as possible to the executive and increasing influence over the legislative and judiciary,” he said.
He said it was essential to fight corruption and guarantee the separation of powers, adding that efforts to control the judiciary must be seen as “the greatest of crimes.”
“We defend a democratic parliamentary system,” he added, calling for a new constitution.
Davutoglu resigned two months after former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan also left the AKP, citing deep differences. Babacan will announce his own rival political party within weeks, a source close to him said.
Polls show support for the new parties and their leaders in single percentage point figures, meaning they could pose little challenge to Erdogan and the AKP on their own.
However, after defeat in mayoral elections in Ankara and Istanbul this year, and with economic difficulties eroding his voter base, any loss of support could hit efforts to extend Erdogan’s rule. Elections are not scheduled until 2023.