Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen at Gaza protest

Relatives and friends of a Palestinian teenager who was killed near the border fence react as they mourn outside a hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 29, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen at Gaza protest

  • At least 348 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since weekly protests began in March 2018

GAZA CITY: Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager near the border fence with the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to Palestinian officials.

Israel’s military said soldiers had been fending off Palestinians who had approached and tried to sabotage its security fence. The military also said the demonstrators threw a number of explosive devices.

Residents in Gaza said a few dozen Palestinians had approached the border fence, an area in which Israel’s military, citing security concerns, enforces a “no go” zone. 

Some in the crowd hurled stones at the barrier, residents said. One 16-year-old was killed and four other people were wounded by live fire, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.

An Israeli army spokesman said soldiers had “identified a number of attempts to approach the fence as well as a number of attempts to sabotage it.”

“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and 0.22 caliber rounds,” the spokesman said. “A report regarding the death of a Palestinian is being looked into.”

Israeli soldiers have been confronted by frequent Palestinian protests that often turn violent along the Gaza border. They have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators who the military said hurled rocks or petrol bombs at them.

The organizers of those protests said they had called off this week’s mass-demonstration, but a smaller crowd still gathered.

Egypt, Qatar and the UN have been working to keep the border calm. “We are looking into information about the death of a Palestinian,” an Israeli army spokesman told AFP. 

At least 348 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since weekly protests began in March 2018, more than half of them during demonstrations. Others have been killed in airstrikes or by tank fire.

The often violent protests are demanding that Israel ease its blockade of the Strip and that Palestinians be allowed to return to their ancestral homes now inside Israel.

Israel accuses Hamas of orchestrating the protests. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Israel accuses the coastal enclave’s Islamist rulers Hamas of orchestrating the protests and using them as cover to carry out attacks.


Turkish earthquake triggers many unanswered questions

Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed building, after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 in Elazig, Turkey, on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2020

Turkish earthquake triggers many unanswered questions

  • Special taxes following the 1999 earthquake became a permanent tax in 2004

JEDDAH: Rescue operations continue amidst mountains of debris in eastern Turkey, following the deadly earthquake that hit the region on Friday with a magnitude of 6.8.

The quake, which followed two others in the western city of Manisa and the capital Ankara, has killed 33 people so far in Elazig province, and four in the neighboring Malatya province, with over 1,600 injured.
The country remains poised for further trouble, with a large quake in or around Istanbul feared possible in the coming days. “We’re expecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul,” Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu warned in a live broadcast.
Turkey, which has a history of powerful earthquakes, faced a 7.6 magnitude quake in August 1999 in the western city of Izmit, which killed over 17,000 people, while another in 2011 in eastern city of Van killed more than 500.
However, not all lessons have been learned. Now, as then, authorities have been quick to criticize people who have questioned spending of funds raised by special earthquake taxes, meant to make vulnerable areas more resistant.
Turkish prosecutors were quick to launch an investigation against Turkish actress Berna Lacin, after she shared her views on earthquake taxes on social media platform Twitter, asking: “Where are they spending all the quake taxes that have been collected so far?”
About 63 billion lira ($10.598 billion) was collected in special taxes following the 1999 earthquake, which became a permanent tax in 2004.
Turkish politician Mahmut Tanal criticized the lack of transparency over the collection and allocation of funds, saying: “The taxes are not used as promised, but they are still being collected although humanitarian assistance … is not conducted anymore.”
He suggested that funds meant for earthquake relief and damage mitigation were being channeled toward other government budgets.
Burak Bilgehan Ozpek, a political scientist at TOBB University in Ankara, was also critical of the use of earthquake funds.

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33 - people killed so far by the earthquake that rocked Elazig province and four in the neighboring Malatya province, with over 1,600 injured.

“Elazig’s reconstruction … has not been planned well by the municipality, and the result has been a disorganized city. That is the real danger. The fight against earthquakes should start first by the construction policies of municipalities,” he said.
Award-winning scientist Naci Gorur criticized Turkey’s lack of policies concerning preparation for potential earthquakes.
Gorur, who has conducted extensive research on fault lines in the country, had alerted authorities of the possibility of an earthquake in Elazig, where he is from, three months before the Jan. 24 quake struck.
Meanwhile, the natural disaster has served as a point of contention in ongoing political hostilities between the Turkish government and separatist Kurdish factions.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, claiming it had attempted to send aid to the region to assist beleaguered residents, released an official statement on Sunday, saying: “Delivery of two aid trucks … for Elazig earthquake victims has been obstructed by the Interior Ministry.
“There can be no explanation for blocking humanitarian aid to people in need. We call on the government to stop such practices at once.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, visited Malatya in the aftermath of the earthquake on Saturday.