Archive for August 10, 2018

Report: One killed, 170 wounded in clashes along Gaza border

August 10, 2018

A journalist was also said to have been wounded by Israeli fire.

By Anna Ahronheim
August 10, 2018 19:40
Palestinian protesters wave their national flag as they gather during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 10, 2018. (photo credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP)

One Palestinian was killed as thousands of Gazans gathered along the Gaza border fence on Friday as violent protests continued along the border fence with Israel after over 200 rockets and mortars were launched from the Hamas run enclave.

According to Palestinian reports a paramedic was shot and killed in the chest while providing medical attention to injured rioters east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and another 110 demonstrators were wounded, including one man in critical condition after being shot in the head near Khan Younis.

A journalist was also said to have been wounded by Israeli fire.

Protesters marking the 20th week of the “Return March” demonstrations rioted along five spots along the border throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires and launching incendiary kites into Israel from the Strip, causing at least six fires.

The IDF spokesperson stated that 9000 rioters gathered along the Gaza border fence and threw stones, Molotov cocktails and other explosives.

It also reported that an attempt was made to cross the fence, but the suspect immediately backtracked back into the Gaza Strip. In response to a grenade thrown at Israeli forces, an IDF tank attacked a Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip. No Israeli soldiers were injured.

The deadly riots came after a 12-hour lull of fighting between Israel and Hamas which saw over 200 rockets and mortars fired from the coastal enclave towards southern Israeli communities and over 150 retaliatory strikes by Israeli jets.

While a ceasefire to end the escalation of violence was said to have been agreed upon by the two sides following Egyptian and UN mediation, Hamas vowed that the Return March demonstrations would continue.

“Every time the Israeli killing machine tries to break the strength and will of our people to continue its struggle, every time it will fail,” said a spokesman for the group.

The protests along the border dubbed have been the greatest threats to Israeli security in the region since operation Protective Edge due to the combination of terror tunnels, riots, attempted infiltrations and the use of incendiary items.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began, one Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper and another officer was moderately wounded after he was shot by a sniper in the Kissufim area in an ambush after troops arrived to disperse a violent demonstration by 20 Palestinian youth close to the border fence.

On Tuesday IDF troops killed two Hamas snipers after the military thought troops came under fire near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF later acknowledged that the shooting did not target the army’s troops.

Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of the army’s Southern Command, concluded the IDF strike was made in error, as the gunmen, part of Hamas’s naval commando unit, were not shooting – as the army believed in real-time – at a border fence patrol by the Rotem Battalion of the Givati infantry brigade but was part of a drill being observed by senior Hamas leaders.

Following the incident the IDF shut Route 25 and several smaller service roads near the Gaza border in light of threats made by Hamas.

“In light of Hamas statements and the evacuation of Hamas outposts, the Southern Command decided to increase readiness and to close a number of roadways in the Gaza periphery,” read the statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Despite the military significant barrage of projectiles on Wednesday and Thursday the army lifted all restrictions on Israeli residents in the south except for the closure of the roads along the Gaza border out of fear that Hamas snipers will target passing vehicles.


Thousands of Gazans protest at border, Palestinian medic said killed

August 10, 2018

Source: Thousands of Gazans protest at border, Palestinian medic said killed | The Times of Israel

Rioters hurl rocks, burn tires, fly incendiary kites at weekly rally, despite announced ceasefire; 84 Gazans said injured; at least 6 fires reported in Israel due to airborne arson

Palestinian protesters at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 3, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Palestinian protesters at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 3, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Several thousand Palestinians were participating in weekly border protests along the Gaza fence Friday evening.

Some protesters were rioting near the fence, throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires to create a smokescreen. Some flew incendiary kites into Israel. Israeli officials said at least six fires had broken out in Israeli territory since the morning due to airborne arson attacks.

The army said around 5,000 people had amassed at the border, and that it was responding to rioters in accordance with open-fire guidelines.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that a Palestinian medic was killed by Israeli fire. It said 84 people were hurt, of which 25 were shot by Israeli troops.

Hamas had earlier said the so-called “March of Return” border demonstrations would continue unimpeded, despite a cessation of hostilities with Israel clinched the night before.

The announcement came after a 12-hour lull in fighting, following two days that saw the heaviest exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and reprisal Israeli airstrikes since the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas said a ceasefire had been reached “on the basis of mutual calm” and went into effect at midnight. It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other regional players. Israel denied there was a truce, but a senior Israeli official told Israel Radio that “quiet would be met with quiet.” There were no instances of violence reported along the border overnight.

For the past four months there have been near-weekly, violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The terror group’s spokesman Hazem Qassim tweeted that demonstrators would continue to “break the siege” on the Gaza Strip.

“Every time the Israeli killing machine attempts to break our people’s will to continue its struggle and marches, it fails to do so,” he wrote. “Today our people will head to the ‘Marches of Return’ to challenge the Israeli war machine.”

“Our Palestinian people has a long-lasting, struggling soul,” the Hamas spokesperson wrote. “It will continue its resistance in all of its forms until it gains its freedom, independence and right to a dignified life.”

Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, the Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

When the peace plan is ready, it will be unveiled

August 10, 2018

State Department spokeswoman rejects reports that Trump administration’s peace has been delayed.

Netanyahu meets Kushner and Greenblatt Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

By Elad Benari, 10/08/18 Arutz Sheva

Source Link: When the peace plan is ready, it will be unveiled

{Trump always walks from a bad deal. So far, Trump has not walked. I say we wait and see what’s in the final details. – LS}

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday rejected reports that the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been delayed.

Nauert was asked during her daily press briefing whether the plan, being prepared by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and his Middle East envoy Jared Kushner, was indeed being pushed back.

“We have not unveiled the peace plan at this time. That will be unveiled by Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt when it is ready. And when it’s ready to be unveiled, they will unveil it,” she promised.

Earlier this week, a source said that the U.S. National Security Council has published a tender to hire experts for a steering committee to be established for the plan. The committee would allegedly be chaired by Middle East special envoy Jason Greenblatt.

According to the source, the administration would not be able to present the final peace plan until 2019.

National Security Spokesperson Garrett Marquis later told Arutz Sheva that the report was false.

“No such committee is being established. Further, the report that we will not release the plan in 2018 is also false. As we have said before, the release of the plan is not related to domestic United States or Israeli politics but when the plan is complete and the timing is right,” said Marquis.

The U.S. peace plan, despite not having been made public yet, has thus far been met with resistance from PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his aides. They have refused to engage with the U.S. in protest over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem of Israel’s capital and his relocating the U.S. embassy to the city.

Trump recently declined to offer a timetable for announcing the proposed peace plan, saying only that “progress” had been made in tackling the complex issue.

“A lot of progress has been made in the Middle East, a lot,” he said in late June after a meeting at the White House with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Erdogan tells Turks to buy free-falling lira as Trump doubles metals tariffs

August 10, 2018

Source: Erdogan tells Turks to buy free-falling lira as Trump doubles metals tariffs

( FINALLY the US is taking on Erdogan… – JW )

Following President Trump’s doubling of tariffs on Turkish metal imports, President Erdogan tells Turks to exchange gold, dollars into lira as investors sell off shares in European banks with large exposure to the Turkish economy; Lira dives more than 18 percent on Friday to hit a new record low after Trump took steps to punish Turkey over the detention of US citizens.
President Tayyip Erdogan told Turks on Friday to exchange gold and dollars into lira, with the country’s currency in free fall after President Donald Trump turned the screws on Ankara by doubling tariffs on metals imports.
The lira has been falling on worries about Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and worsening relations with the United States. That turned into a rout on Friday, with the lira diving more than 18 percent on the day and more than 40 percent this year to a new record low after Trump took steps to punish Turkey in a wide-ranging dispute.Trump said he had authorised higher tariffs on imports from Turkey, imposing a 20 percent duty on aluminium and 50 percent one on steel. The lira, he noted on Twitter, “slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!”

 (Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

“Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” he said in an early morning post.

While Turkey and the United States are at odds over a host of issues, the most pressing disagreement has been over the detention of US citizens in Turkey, notably Christian pastor Andrew Brunson who is on trial on terrorism charges. A delegation of Turkish officials held talks with their counterparts in Washington this week but there was no sign of a breakthrough.Waves from the crisis spread abroad, with investors selling off shares in European banks with large exposure to the Turkish economy.The lira sell-off has deepened concern particularly about whether over-indebted companies will be able to pay back loans taken out in euros and dollars after years of overseas borrowing to fund a construction boom under Erdogan.Erdogan’s characteristic defiance in the face of the crisis has further unnerved investors. The president, who says a shadowy “interest rate lobby” and Western credit ratings agencies are attempting to bring down Turkey’s economy, appealed to Turks’ patriotism.

“If there is anyone who has dollars or gold under their pillows, they should go exchange it for liras at our banks. This is a national, domestic battle,” he told a crowd in the northeastern city of Bayburt. “This will be my people’s response to those who have waged an economic war against us.”

“The dollar cannot block our path. Don’t worry,” Erdogan assured the crowd.

That is unlikely to mollify investors who are also worried by the growing dispute with the United States.

The tensions with Washington have, for investors, underscored Turkey’s authoritarian trajectory under Erdogan.

“The basic reason the exchange rate has gone off the rails is that confidence in the management of the economy has disappeared both domestically and abroad,” said Seyfettin Gursel, a prominent economist and a professor at Turkey’s Bahcesehir University.

“First of all, confidence needs to be regained. It is obvious how it will be done: since the final decision-maker of all policies in the new regime is the president, the responsibility of regaining confidence is on his shoulders.”

Turkey’s sovereign dollar-denominated bonds tumbled with many issues trading at record lows. Hard currency debt issued by Turkish banks suffered similar falls.

Meanwhile the cost of insuring exposure to Turkey’s sovereign debt through five year credit defaults swaps has spiralled to the highest level since March 2009, topping levels seen for serial defaulter Greece , which has three bailouts in the last decade.

 (Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

The lira’s relentless depreciation drives up the cost of imported goods from fuel to food for ordinary Turks.

New Finance Minister Berat Albayrak—Erdogan’s son-in-law—acknowledged that the central bank’s independence was critical for the economy, promising stronger budget discipline and a priority on structural reforms.

Presenting the government’s new economic model, he said the next steps of rebalancing would entail lowering the current account deficit and improving trust. There would be a transformation in the finance ministry with regards to taxation, he said.

This did nothing to revive the currency. “The tweet is mightier than the Turkish sword,” Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities, said in a note to clients. “Albayrak’s plan was uninspiring at best.”

Erdogan, a self-described “enemy of interest rates”, wants cheap credit from banks to fuel growth, but investors fear the economy is overheating and could be set for a hard landing. His comments on interest rates—and his recent appointment of his son-in-law as finance minister—have heightened perceptions that the central bank is not independent.

The central bank raised interest rates to support the lira in an emergency move in May, but it did not tighten at its last meeting.


The Latest: Erdogan, Putin talk economic ties as lira falls

August 10, 2018

Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last April.

By The Associated Press ANKARA, Turkey — Aug 10, 2018, 10:08 AM ET

Source Link: The Latest: Erdogan, Putin talk economic ties as lira falls

{Note: The original article in this post has disappeared from CNBC and it’s affiliates…strange. I guess it was just an update, but the title was changed as well. – LS}

{Turkey runs to Putin for help. Good luck with that. – LS}

The Latest on Turkey’s financial turmoil (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which they discussed economic ties between the two countries.

Officials from Erdogan’s office said the two on Friday “expressed pleasure” that economic and financial ties between their countries were progressing “positively” and of the continued cooperation in the defense industry and energy. The officials provided the information only on condition of anonymity according to protocol.

It was an apparent reference to Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. Russia is also building a nuclear power plant.

The news of the conversation came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had authorized the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs “with respect to Turkey,” causing the Turkish currency to plunge further against the dollar.


4:15 p.m.

In a bid to ease investor concerns about Turkey’s economic policy, the country’s finance minister says the government will safeguard the independence of the central bank.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak on Friday also vowed sustainable and healthy economic growth as well as “strong struggle” against inflation, which currently stands at close to 16 percent.

Albayrak was speaking at a conference where he outlined his ministry’s “new economic policy” as the currency plunged, raising questions about the country’s financial stability.

He said: “One of our principles will be ensuring the full independence of monetary policy.”

Investors are worried about the president’s unorthodox economic policies, pressure exerted on the central bank, and a dispute with the United States that has led to sanctions.


4:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s just authorized the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs “with respect to Turkey.”

Trump says via tweet that the tariff on aluminum imports will be increased to 20 percent and the tariff on steel imports will be raised to 50 percent as the Turkish Lira “slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!”

Trump is also declaring that, “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

The United States slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials earlier this month over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges.

Turkey vowed retaliation “without delay” and warned the move would further harm relations between the two allies.

Trump’s tweet caused a further drop in the Turkish currency, which is now down 13 percent on the day.


3:05 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is appealing for calm as the country’s currency plunges, urging people to change foreign money into local lira.

The lira tumbled about 10 percent on Friday to another record low as investors worry about Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies and U.S. sanctions.

Erdogan said during an address to supporters: “Change the euros, the dollars and the gold that you are keeping beneath your pillows into lira at our banks. This is a domestic and national struggle.”

He appeared to blame foreigners for trying to hurt Turkey, saying: “This will be my people’s response against those waging an economic war against us.”

The lira fell further as Erdogan spoke.


2:15 p.m.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his government “will not lose the economic war.”

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and other media reports quote Erdogan as making the comment to a group of worshippers following traditional Muslim Friday prayers during a visit to the northern city of Bayburt.

On Friday, the Turkish currency plunged to another record low amid concerns over Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies and a diplomatic row with the United States that has led to sanctions.

The lira hit a record low of 6.24 per dollar on Friday, before recovering to 5.96, down more than 7 percent on the day.


12:05 p.m.

An analyst at Berenberg bank in London is downplaying the risks to Europe’s economy from Turkey’s currency turmoil, saying the impact on trade would be small.

European economist Carsten Hesse said Friday that even if the export of goods to Turkey falls 20 percent that would take no more than 0.1 percentage point from annual GDP in the 19 countries that use the euro currency.

He cautioned that a banking crisis in Turkey could have “some negative repercussions” on eurozone banks that loaned money there or own Turkish banks. But he said that the possible losses seem “too small to cause a significant eurozone crisis.”

Hesse noted that business confidence in the eurozone did not suffer after Turkey’s economy contracted in 2016 in the wake of a failed coup there.


11:40 a.m.

The euro sagged to a 13-month low against the dollar amid worries about the impact of financial market turmoil in Turkey.

The 19-country currency fell 0.7 percent to trade at $1.1450 in morning trading in Europe. The dollar, which traders buy in times of financial concern, was up against most other currencies.

The euro’s fall comes as investors try to come to grips with how big a threat the troubles in Turkey might pose for the currency union. Turkey’s currency sagged to an all-time low Friday amid doubts about the country’s economic management and souring ties with the United States.

The Financial Times added to concerns with a report that the European Central Bank was worried about possible losses at eurozone banks operating in Turkey. European officials also rely on a deal with Turkey to restrain migrant flows in return for aid.


11:20 a.m.

The Turkish currency has plunged to an all-time low amid concerns over the president’s economies policies persisted and as a dispute with the United States showed no sign of subsiding.

The lira hit a record low of 6.24 per dollar on Friday, before recovering to 5.94, down 7 percent on the day. The currency has fallen 66 percent since the start of the year.

High level meetings in Washington between U.S. and Turkish officials over a detained American pastor ended this week without an apparent resolution. Washington imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and warned of additional measures.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday portrayed the currency drop as a “campaign” to harm Turkey.

He said: “If they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah.”

‘Return flotilla’ to leave Gaza for Israel

August 10, 2018

Flotilla to launch from Gaza tomorrow aiming to ‘return’ to Israeli territorial waters.

Arutz Sheva Staff, 10/08/18 14:28
boats by Gaza (archive)

Abed Rahim Khatib /Flash90

The first ‘Return Flotilla’ is expected to leave Gaza on Saturday for Israel’s territorial waters in an attempt to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The flotilla is organized by an organization called the National Movement to Break the Siege on Gaza, which takes place simultaneously with the Friday demonstrations held along the Gaza Strip border.

The Hamas political bureau, the supreme body of the Hamas leadership, convened last week in the Gaza Strip to decide to continue the return riots on the Gaza border and the “popular struggle” and “unpopular” against Israel.

Various forms of terrorist activity are included under the heading of “Popular Struggle,” including stone-throwing, stabbing, burning, the launching of incendiary kites and balloons, and other forms of violence.

In February 2010 Hamas sent explosive barrels into Israel’s territorial waters. One of the barrels was swept ashore in Palmachim, 8 miles north of the Gaza Strip.

Analysis: Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan?

August 10, 2018

In testing whether time is right for a rollout, the administration may be releasing both false and genuine trial balloons to gauge a response.

By Michael Wilner
August 9, 2018 21:10
United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley speaks in front of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace may be the most closely guarded policy secret in Washington these days, 18 months in the making and yet still known only to the small handful of men behind it.

Senior administration officials describe the plan as detailed, pragmatic, and essentially complete. All that prevents them from publishing it is their sense that the timing is off.

They are waiting for some ripe moment to present itself – perhaps when the Palestinian leadership decides to give the administration a second chance after writing it off for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year. But such a moment seems unlikely any time soon. The Palestinian Authority, which has not seen the plan, says that Trump’s peace team has given every indication that its contents will reflect bias in favor of Israel by sidestepping explicit references to a two-state solution, dismissing refugee claims, endorsing a permanent Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, allowing Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank and remaining silent on the future placement of a sovereign Palestinian capital.

There are reasons to believe they are right. While the White House insists that its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not predetermine sovereignty over the entire city in an eventual peace agreement, it has never explicitly stated, as it did with Israel in December, that Palestinians have a reciprocal right to a capital in the holy city – or to any capital at all.

They have removed all reference to a two-state solution, to Palestinian independence or Palestinian territories from State Department language, dismissing those terms as “meaningless” without yet spelling out alternatives. And they have defunded the UN Relief and Works Agency, characterizing the Palestinian aid organization as a corrupt and inefficient body perpetuating a false narrative on refugees unhelpful to the pursuit of peace.

“The traditional core issues are essential and we focus on them extensively with a strong appreciation of the historic differences between the two sides,” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser leading the peace effort, told the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper in June. “We are committed to finding a package of solutions that both sides can live with.”

But, he added: “Simply resolving core issues without creating a pathway to a better life will not lead to a durable solution.”

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, have said their plan tackles some of the thorniest issues in the conflict with specificity and ingenuity – a truly novel take on a geopolitical challenge that has, for too long, been mired in stale thinking. But while past efforts have failed, the careful balance American presidents have walked in since 1967 has allowed them to bring both sides around the same table, to the precipice of an agreement multiple times. Trump’s approach thus far has not. The reason the timing has been off may be because the approach is off.

TRUMP’S TEAM says that the PA leadership is prejudging what is in their plan before they see it, and this much is true: Palestinian officials, like the rest of us, have been left to read tea leaves based on the behavior they have seen thus far. If the plan includes revelatory material that defies expectations – as the team claims – then it should not wait for a moment of kindness from the Palestinians to present itself before releasing the plan. That moment will be created by the presentation of the plan.

The peace team seems to be considering this approach, expressing confidence that their work will see the light of day whether or not the Palestinians come around beforehand. They say the plan will include proposals that both parties will love and hate, and lament that they are frequently forced to dismiss rumors on the contents of their plan that scatter news reports.

But in testing whether the time is right for a rollout, the administration may be releasing trial balloons – based both on false as well as genuine tidbits from the plan – to gauge public response, knowing full well it can simply deny whichever ones float too high. Regardless of the strategy, public response has been self-evident as the plan is still under wraps.

Palestinian leaders are skeptical Trump’s team will ever support a policy that disadvantages Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and at some point, it will have to prove them wrong to earn their trust back. And report in Foreign Policy magazine last week, which quoted Kushner from back in January questioning the role of UNRWA, did them no favors. White House officials said it was a stretch to say they were denying the refugee status of millions of Palestinians simply by challenging UNRWA’s mandate, which treats the descendants of refugees from the 1940s the same as their modern-day ancestors. But Palestinian leaders saw Kushner’s comments in an e-mail calling for the “disruption” of UNRWA as further evidence of his plans to erode Palestinian claims to a homeland there.

There is one new sign the administration is working on a rollout with direction and purpose. The Associated Press reported last week that the peace team had begun staffing up, on-loading officials from the State Department and National Security Council to create working groups on the policy dimensions of the plan, the economic components of the plan and the strategic sale of the plan to the public. The formation of these teams would indicate that a release is not imminent – these staffers still need time to get into place and prepared – but that publication could be ready in the coming months.

“You can’t put something out where everybody says, ah, this is dead on arrival,” a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post in June. “You can’t do that. And the same exact document that may be dead on arrival on a Monday might not be dead on arrival on a Thursday. That sounds kind of counterintuitive, but that’s the way this works.”