Turkey slams Israeli PM Netanyahu’s ‘blatant racism’

Critics say Benjamin Netanyahu, above, demonized Arabs in his campaign for the upcoming elections. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 March 2019

Turkey slams Israeli PM Netanyahu’s ‘blatant racism’

  • Israel passed a controversial law on citizenship last year
  • Israeli-Arabs constitute around 17.5 percent of the population in Israel

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Tuesday denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “blatant racism” after he called Israel the nation-state of “the Jewish people” only, not all its citizens.
Turkey and Israel often have tense relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, a vocal critic of Israeli policies.
“I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on his official Twitter account both in Turkish and English.
“1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel. Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?” he asked.
In campaign mode before April 9 elections, Netanyahu said all citizens including Arabs had equal rights but referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” Netanyahu wrote in response to comments from an Israeli actress.
“According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it,” he said, in comments that made waves in Israel.
Israel and Turkey in 2016 ended a rift triggered by the Israeli storming of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
Netanyahu has been accused by critics of demonizing Israeli Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of the population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for April polls.
He is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.


Iraqi officials raise Friday’s toll to 25 protesters killed

Updated 07 December 2019

Iraqi officials raise Friday’s toll to 25 protesters killed

  • The attack on Friday was among the deadliest since October 1
  • Security forces regularly use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials raised on Saturday the death toll to 25 protesters killed and over 130 wounded, after a bloody night of attacks by unknown gunmen that targeted anti-government demonstrators in the capital city.
The health and security officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The attack on Friday was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. Security forces regularly use live rounds and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations, leading to heavy casualties.
The gunfire continued until the early hours of Saturday morning. The assailants first unleashed the deadly assault on Baghdad’s Khilani Square and Sinak Bridge, driving through the areas that are the epicenter of the popular uprising. Protesters said the electricity in the square was cut, creating chaos as they ran from the bullets and took cover in nearby mosques and streets.
The attack led to the burning of a car park that demonstrators had converted into a base for their sit-in, while surrounding buildings in the square were pockmarked with bullet holes. On Saturday, protesters raised a bloodied white flag as they sought to return to the scene.
One protester was seen collecting the spent cartridges and held out at least a dozen.
Anti-government activists have sought to blame supporters of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, which have staged similar attacks against protester sit-ins in the capital and the country’s southern cities.
A string of mysterious knife attacks against anti-government protesters also occurred on Thursday in the square, after supporters of the Iran-backed militias attempted their own rival demonstration before withdrawing.
Friday’s deadly attacks came hours after Washington slapped sanctions on the head of Asaib Al-Haq, a powerful Iran-backed militia accused of being behind deadly sniping attacks on protesters. The US Treasury sanctioned leader Qais Al-Khazali, his brother Laith Al-Khazali, who is a commander in the group, and Husain Falih Aziz Al-Lami.
Iraqi security forces were deployed to streets leading to the square by the early morning.