A COURT in Turkey has sentenced a journalist working for Syria’s official news agency, SANA, to more than four years in prison for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but indeed exposing the Ankara government’s support for foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists operating inside Syria.
The Istanbul Criminal Court passed the ruling on Hosni Mahali after he was found guilty of ‘insulting Erdogan over his policies and blaming his government for letting terrorists cross into Syria’. The court also charged Mahali, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), with ‘offending senior Turkish officials’ after he filed reports about Erdogan’s policies that have resulted in domestic crises as well as internal and external problems for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Mahali has reacted to the court ruling, saying: ‘All political leaders, ministers, former diplomats and even US former Vice President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, have stated that the Turkish regime supports terrorism in Syria… and as a journalist, I refer to the statements of those officials.’
Turkey stands accused of supporting militant groups fighting to topple the Damascus government since March 2011. A screen grab from a video published on the website of the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily on May 29, 2015 shows mortar shells in boxes intercepted on a truck destined for Syria.
Back in May 2015, Turkey’s centre-left and opposition daily newspaper Cumhuriyet posted on its website footage showing Turkish security forces in early 2014 intercepting a convoy of trucks carrying arms for the militants in Syria. The paper said the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.
Ankara denied the allegation and claimed that the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria. However, lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party Enis Berberoglu defended the video, saying it was genuine.
A Turkish court has ordered the release of opposition lawmaker Enis Berberoglu from jail.
The leaked footage triggered a huge controversy in Turkey, with many bashing the government for explicitly supporting terrorism in neighbouring Syria. Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dundar and the daily’s Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were among other defendants in the case. Dundar and Gul were sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail for ‘leaking secret information of the state’.
Dundar moved to Germany in June 2016, and stepped down from his position in August that year. An arrest warrant in absentia was issued in Turkey for Dundar on October 31st, 2016.
An Istanbul court has acquitted a Turkish journalist accused of espionage in a case about trucks smuggling weapons to militants in Syria. On July 16 this year, Istanbul’s 14th Heavy Penal Court dropped espionage charges against Gul, who used to serve as the Ankara representative of Cumhuriyet. Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
• Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian during clashes with protesters participating in anti-occupation rallies along the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied territories. A spokesman from the Gaza Ministry of Health said in a statement on Thursday that the shooting took place east of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. The ministry named the victim as Alaa Abu Sherbin, a teenage boy.
Witnesses and local residents said that three others also sustained injuries as heavily-armed Israeli soldiers used live ammunition to disperse the peaceful protesters. On Wednesday evening, a Palestinian youth succumbed to the injuries he had sustained when Israeli military forces opened fire on an anti-occupation protest near the fence separating Gaza from the Israeli-occupied territories.
Ahmed Khaled al-Najjar, 21, from the Gazan city of Khan Younis died at the Ahli hospital in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron). Tensions have been running high near the fence since March 30th, which marked the start of a series of protests dubbed ‘The Great March of Return.’ Palestinian protesters demand the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
At least 219 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since late March. Nearly 22,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries. A Palestinian youth has succumbed to wounds he sustained from Israeli army fire during an anti-occupation protest in the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14th, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds. Israel’s crackdown in Gaza left over 60 protesters dead in the impoverished coastal enclave on that day alone.
Angered by Trump’s move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted his administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an international mechanism should be devised to replace the US in the so-called peace process.
The situation is volatile near the Gaza fence where protesters have gathered ahead of the inauguration of US embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
The Israeli regime denies about 1.8 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education. In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip. The 50-day military aggression, which ended on August 26th, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also wounded in the war.
• The killing of a Palestinian protester by Israeli gunfire during protests along the besieged Gaza Strip’s border dominated the front page headlines in Palestinian Arabic dailies on Friday. The dailies reported that Israeli snipers killed a Palestinian young man, east of al-Maghazi refugee camp, in the central besieged coastal enclave.
Mohammad Abusharbin, 20, was reportedly killed during protests. The spate of house demolitions across the West Bank also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.
The dailies reported that Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian-owned residential building, consisting of several floors, in al-Zaayim village, east of Jerusalem.
Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida also reported that Israeli forces demolished a memorial for a young Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in Abu Dis town, east of Jerusalem. The memorial reportedly had been built to commemorate Mohammad Lafi, 17, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in July 2017 while participating in a protest in his town against Israeli occupation.
According to al-Hayat al-Jadida, Israeli forces delivered a stop-construction order for a Palestinian house in the southern West Bank village of Ta’mir, south east of Bethlehem.
Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida added in this regard that Israeli bulldozers razed an agricultural road connecting Aqraba and Khirbet Yanoun, south of Nablus. Highlighting other military and settlers’ attacks against Palestinians, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said that Israeli Jewish settlers opened fire in the vicinity of a Palestinian school in Beit Ta’mir village.
Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that two Palestinians were injured with Israeli live ammunition during confrontations triggered by an Israeli military raid into Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Spotlighting the situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, al-Quds said that Israeli Jewish settlers has escalated their intrusions and provocations at the holy site.
Also in Jerusalem, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said that Israeli occupation authorities have issued an order banning Jerusalem Governor Adnan Gheith entry to the West Bank for six months. Regarding the situation in Gaza, al-Quds reported an Israeli source noting that the $15 million Qatari funds were entered to Gaza with agreement of all stakeholders.
Elaborating on this issue in particular, al-Ayyam reported the Qatari Committee for Gaza Reconstruction announcing that the funds would be used to pay the salaries of Hamas employees under the supervision of UN observers. Additionally, al-Quds reported that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi affirmed his country’s commitment to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation before a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Al-Sisi reportedly made these remarks to President Mahmoud Abbas during their recent meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh. Highlighting his meeting with the Board of Governors, the dailies said that Abbas stressed the need to pay attention to Palestinian citizens’ concerns and living conditions. Yet, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said that six Palestinians out of 12 cases of Swine Flu (H1N1) have died in Gaza.
The dailies covered the meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Director of the PLO’s Political Department Anwar Abdul-Hadi in Moscow.
Bogdanov reportedly stressed his country’s support for Abbas’ initiative to convene an international peace conference. In addition, al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Palestine’s ambassador to Belgium and the European Union (EU) Abdul Rahim al-Farra stating that the Belgian government has promised to consider the recognition of the State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.