People’s joy at reopened mosques in Gaza ‘a blessing’ – imam

Worshippers perform the Dhuhr (noon) prayers in Al-Abbas mosque in Gaza City on June 3, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 June 2020

People’s joy at reopened mosques in Gaza ‘a blessing’ – imam

  • Muslim religious authorities in the territory have allowed Friday prayers in mosques, after a two-month closure

GAZA: Mosques reopened for daily prayers and children returned to nursery schools on Wednesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas -run enclave, whose borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt, has recorded 61 confirmed infection cases, all in quarantine facilities, and one death during the health crisis. Two million Palestinians live in Gaza.
In the past week, Muslim religious authorities in the territory have allowed Friday prayers in mosques, after a two-month closure.
They will now be open to worshippers every day. Abdel-Hadi Al-Agha, director of the Hamas-led Waqf and Religious Affairs ministry, said he instructed mosque leaders to keep sermons and prayers brief as a health precaution.
Ahmed Al-Safadi, a Gaza City imam, said dozens of people attended dawn prayers at his mosque.
“People’s pleasure at returning to God’s house is a great blessing,” he said.
Precautionary measures were in place, he added, with worshippers having to wear face masks, bring their own prayer mats and maintain social distancing.
Gaza authorities also ordered the reopening of pre-schools, for children between the ages of two and five.
“A big percentage of families are employees and since they have resumed their jobs in offices, they have brought their children back to our nursery school,” said Hind Assousi, principal of the Beautiful Smile kindergarten in Gaza City.
The education system in Gaza and the West Bank was shut down in March to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The school year for elementary and secondary school in Gaza and the West Bank has officially ended, with the exception of final exams that began on Saturday for high school students.

Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

Updated 04 August 2020

Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

  • Explosive courtroom transcript says Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was killed because he knew too much about Turkish general's murky dealings in Syria
  • Turkish officials accused of embezzling money sent from Qatar to arm Syrian militants

LONDON: A Turkish general killed during a failed coup was executed after he found out Qatar was funneling money to extremist groups in Syria through Turkey, according to explosive courtroom claims.

Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was shot dead in July 2016 during an attempt by some military officers to overthrow the government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The alleged plotters were accused of being followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

According to a courtroom transcript obtained by the anti-Erdogan Nordic Monitor website, Terzi’s killing was ordered by Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, the then head of Turkey’s Special Forces Command.

The website claims the testimony came from Col. Firat Alakus, who worked in the intelligence section of the Special Forces Command, during a hearing at the 17th High Criminal Court in Ankara in March, 2019.

Alakus said Terzi had discovered that Aksakalli was working secretly with the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) in running illegal operations in Syria for personal gain.

“[Terzi] knew how much of the funding delivered [to Turkey] by Qatar for the purpose of purchasing weapons and ammunition for the opposition was actually used for that and how much of it was actually used by public officials, how much was embezzled,” Alakus said. 

He added that Terzi’s knowledge of Aksakalli’s murky dealings was the real reason Aksakalli ordered his execution.

Terzi was killed after Aksakalli ordered him back to Ankara from a border province as the failed coup attempt unfolded, Alakus said.

Other accounts say Terzi was one of the main coup plotters and was killed leading an attempt to capture the special forces headquarters in the capital.

Along with the Qatari claim, Alakus said Terzi also knew the details of Turkey’s involvement in oil smuggling from Syria and how government officials aided extremist militant commanders.

He also objected to Turkish intelligence supplying weapons and training to extremist Syrian factions who were passed off as moderate opposition fighters.

“[Terzi’s murder] had to do with a trap devised by Zekai Aksakalli, who did not want such facts to come out into the open,” Alakus said.

Alakus was jailed for life in June 2019 after being convicted for taking part in the coup.