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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Death Toll Rising in Istanbul Airport Massacre

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The death toll is continuing to rise in Tuesday night’s twin suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

Turkish officials have now confirmed that at least 41 people were killed in the massacre, including 13 foreign nationals; 239 others were injured in the attack.

Three as yet still unidentified terrorists, including at least one armed with an AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, attacked the international departures hall at the busy airport.

The terrorists opened fire at the first security checkpoint at the entrance to the terminal, where baggage undergoes the initial inspection through an X-ray machine, then detonated their explosives vests as police began to return fire.

“The findings … point to the Da’esh organization as the perpetrators of this terror attack,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists in the wee hours of Wednesday morning at the airport.

“But even though indications suggest Da’esh, our investigations are continuing,” Yildirim added.

Ataturk is the third largest airport in Europe and the 11th largest in the world; more than 63.5 million passengers passed through its doors in 2015.

On March 22 two Da’esh terrorists attacked the Zaventem international airport in Brussels, detonating suicide vests and blowing up the departures hall. A third suicide bomber blew himself up at a metro station in Brussels not far from the headquarters of the European Union less than an hour later. At least 32 people were killed in the coordinated attacks and hundreds more were wounded.

No terror group has yet claimed responsibility for the Istanbul airport attack, but Da’esh released an infographic via the group’s Amaq news agency Wednesday claiming to have “covert” units in Turkey. The release marked the two-year anniversary of the so-called establishment of the ISIS “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.

Hana Levi Julian

Connecting East and West, Istanbul Airports Suffer Serious Security Breaches

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Remarkably, despite the severe plunge in tourism Turkey has been experiencing for several years, with millions fewer tourists from Germany, Austria, the UK, Israel and more recently Russia making Turkey their vacation destination, air traffic in and out of Turkey remains massive. This is due to a decision made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to turn Turkey into the world’s international hub. The country’s location, one part in Asia, the other part in Europe, made this a logical and rewarding move.

There are two international airports in Istanbul: Ataturk, which is about fifteen minutes from downtown Istanbul, and Sabiha Gökçen, on the Asian side, which is about half an hour from downtown. Ataturk, with 60 million passengers a year, is the third largest airport in Europe, and the Turks are already working on a third international airport, to help manage the traffic.

Cognizant of the security threats to commercial traffic in the region, Turkey has invested a tremendous amount of resources in securing both international airports, with several security circles, Walla reported Wednesday. The airports are surrounded by security fences, at the main vehicle entrance there is a police check post, and at the entrance to each terminal the suitcases go through an x-ray scan, while each passenger must go through a metal detector. After the check-in the passenger goes through another metal detector and their luggage is x-rayed. On flights to Israel and the US passengers are also checked before entering the plane.

According to Walla, despite what appears like standard security checks which are familiar to anyone flying in the US, Turkish airports share several weak spots. For one thing, modern airport security systems, like the one in Israel, operate three separate circles which are run separate from one another: a circle securing the airport; a circle for the flight security; and a circle for securing the flight path.

In Istanbul airports, those circles are indistinguishable from one another, creating needless lines at the various check points, and compromising both the airport and the individual planes’ security. Also, there are no snipers situated in strategic locations, ready to take out potential attackers.

But the problem begins earlier, at the bus service hauling passengers from downtown Istanbul to the airport. Those buses don’t check their passengers, and they pass through to the terminal doors without an inspection.

Ataturk’s problems are similar to those of the Brussels airport where terrorists managed to blow themselves up with horrendous casualties last March. Both airports concede parts of the terminal to potential terrorists, where passengers move in and out unobserved.

Walla has speculated that one immediate benefit to the Turks from the thaw of their relations with Israel would be to seek Israeli assistance in setting their security systems straight.

David Israel

Report: ISIS Behind Istanbul Airport Terror Attack

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Turkish security personnel say they believe the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group was behind Tuesday night’s suicide bombing on the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.

At least 36 people were killed in the attack and more than 140 others were wounded.

Da’esh also carried out a massive airport suicide bombing attack at the Brussels international airport in March 2016.

The three terrorists armed with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles were stopped at the first security control point, just outside the international departures terminal, where passengers are required to present their bags for inspection and x-ray viewing.

It was at that spot that one terrorist opened fire and then detonated his explosives vest, according to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag. As police returned fire, at least one and possibly two other terrorists detonated explosive vests, setting off massive multiple blasts.

There was a report that gunfire emanated from the direction of a nearby car park; it is believed the shots came from police aiming at the terrorists, but at least one report indicated the gunfire may have come from one of the terrorists.

Police sources quoted by the Dogan News Agency in Turkey said “ISIS is behind the attack” but added it is still too early to confirm those links. No group has yet claimed formal responsibility for the attack.

All arrivals and departures from Ataturk Airport have been rerouted to other airports.

Israeli officials from the Consulate in Istanbul who checked the hospital where victims were taken said none of the wounded foreign nationals were known to be Israelis.

All Israeli diplomats who were at the airport at the time of the attack were accounted for an unharmed, according to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Israeli officials are continuing to check for possible Israeli victims.

Just one day earlier, the U.S. State Department had warned American citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey. “Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations,” the warning read.

A “Worldwide Caution” dated March 3, 2016 had previously warned “throughout Europe extremists have targeted large sporting events, theaters, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems and public venues where people congregate as well as religious sites and high-profile events.

“U.S. citizens are reminded to review personal security plans and remain vigilant at all times,” the warning stated.

Hana Levi Julian

36 Dead, More Than 140 Wounded in Suicide Bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

At least 36 people were confirmed dead and more than 140 were wounded Tuesday night in the wake of a suicide bombing at the third largest airport in Europe, Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

A number of police were among the injured and the dead.

Security personnel opened fire as armed attackers detonated explosive vests and shot AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles at the airport shortly after 10 pm Tuesday night.

Turkish officials met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace late into the night to discuss the developments in the attack.

According to Turkey’s Fox News affiliate NTV, three suicide bombers who attacked the departure hall at the international terminal.

Watch video!

Turkish officials who asked for anonymity told reporters the suicide bombers approached security before going through the x-ray for luggage. The bombers opened fire, triggering a shootout with airport police, then detonated the explosive vests they were wearing as they entered the control point in the airport’s security system.

The “control point” is located at a site at the front of the terminal near the entrance to the building where passengers encounter their first security check, before being allowed to proceed into the terminal.

Ataturk Airport was shut down, with incoming and outgoing flights rerouted to a second airport that operates out of Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen. There was a terror attack on the tarmac at that airport last December as well.


Rize'de Ambulans Kaza Yaptı: 1 Ölü, 5 Yaralı by haberler

At least 61.3 million passengers passed through Ataturk Airport in 2015; it is the third largest airport in Europe, and the 11th largest airport in the world.

More than 200 people have been killed in terror attacks in Turkey since January of last year.

Taxi cabs were pressed into service to ferry the injured to hospitals in Istanbul. More than 112 ambulances were used to rush victims to the hospitals, according to Turkish media.

But despite the dozens of dead and wounded, authorities told news media there had been “no security breakdown” at the airport. All roads leading to the airport were closed, and civilian traffic to the airport has been blocked.

Security personnel had, in fact, acted to neutralize the threat as they were meant to do and contained the threat at the entrance to the building, successfully blocking the terrorists from accessing the terminal.

One heroic police officer reportedly jumped on one of the suicide bombers when he saw him detonate his explosives vest, thus absorbing much of the blast with his own body.

Hana Levi Julian

Day 2: Turkey’s Police Again Targeted in Car Bombing, This Time Near Syrian Border

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

For the second time in 24 hours, Turkish police were targeted Wednesday by terrorists in a car bombing, this time at a police station in a town on the Syrian border.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that three people were killed in the attack, which took place at around 11 am local time, including a police officer and two civilians and more than 30 were wounded in the town of Midyat, in the southeastern province of Mardin, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.

The bomb-laden vehicle arrived at the police headquarters compound from the direction of the southeastern province of Batman carrying 500 kilograms of explosives, authorities said. The driver attempted to enter the headquarters compound but was stopped by police and exploded when police opened fire to block the vehicle, according to the Dogan News Agency.

Surrounding buildings were damaged by the blast and the flames that erupted.

Yildirim bluntly said the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group was behind the attack.

“This has not surprized us. Their circle is slowly tightening. The fight against terrorism is tough and requires determination. There are killers in the guise of humans in front of us and behind us,” Yildirim told reporters in Istanbul.

On Tuesday seven police officers and four civilians were killed in Istanbul and 36 others were injured in an attack targeting a police bus heading for duty at Istanbul University.

No group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for that attack, nor for Wednesday’s car bombing in Midyat.

Hana Levi Julian

11 Killed in Car Bombing Attack Near Istanbul University

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Seven police officers and four civilians were killed and 36 others were wounded in a massive explosion Tuesday morning at the Vezneciler metro station in the Beyazit district in Istanbul. Three of the injured were in critical condition.

The attack took place on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in a nation led by a government that has grown increasingly observant of Islamic cultural mores and restrictions.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon, no Israelis were killed or injured in the terror attack, “according to the information we have from our Consulate.”

A car bomb detonated at around 8:35 am as a police bus passed a police station while heading to Istanbul University for regular duty, according to Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin.

Police evacuated the area and exams scheduled for the day at the nearby university were cancelled.

Security was increased in the Vezneciler neighborhood where the attack took place, and bomb disposal teams were sent to the site. Gunshots were heard immediately following the blast, the Anadolu news agency reported.

There has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the attack. However, Turkey has been a prime target for the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK terror organization, as well as Da’esh (ISIS) in recent months.

Hana Levi Julian

Gaza – A Port is No Panacea for Poverty

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Attributed to Albert Einstein

 Just when you thought that you could not possibly hear anything more preposterous on how to help resolve the  conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs, somehow someone always manages to prove you wrong—and comes out with a policy proposal so glaringly absurd that it transcends what you  mistakenly believed was the pinnacle of imbecility.

 

Harebrained and hazardous

Disturbingly, precisely such a hopelessly hare-brained scheme is now being repeatedly bandied about by Israelis in positions of influence.

This is the idea of providing Gaza with what, in effect, will be a detachable civilian port under Israeli supervision , built on an off-shore artificial island, connected to the mainland by a bridge over 4 kilometers long, which can, according to its proponents, easily be disconnected should the Gazans “misbehave”.

Actually, this nonsensical notion has been around for quite some time. Indeed as early as 2011 the British daily, The Guardian, reported that Yisrael Katz, Israel’s minister for transport, was pursuing the idea, which he estimated would cost $10 billion and take about a decade to complete.

Lately, however, it has been raised with increasing frequency in the media, and publically endorsed by both government ministers and senior IDF brass.

Thus, earlier this year, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant, currently Construction Minister, formerly head of Southern Command expressed his support for the idea in an interview with Bloomberg (March 1).

Just prior to that, Haaretz (February 24) reported that “Senior Israel Defense Forces officers are in favor in principle of a port for the Gaza Strip”, and just last week the Jerusalem Post (May 21) wrote: “High up within the defense establishment, some believe that the time has come for Israel to set up a civilian seaport for the Gaza Strip”.

 

Detachable port? Detached from reality!

Indeed, at a conference held this weekend in New York, Yisrael Katz, who now, in addition to his former transport portfolio, holds the newly created post of intelligence minister, reiterated his previous support for the construction of a port of Gaza on an artificial off-shore island,: “The off-shore project could provide Gaza with an economic and humanitarian gateway to the world without endangering Israeli security.”

This, of course, is demonstrably detached from reality—but more on that a little later.

I confess that the first time I heard of this appallingly absurd idea was in a private conversation several months ago with someone (whom I shall leave nameless) recently designated as a serious contender for the position of head of the Mossad, to replace previous director, Tamir Pardo.

I remember at the time being taken aback by an idea, so clearly ill-conceived and  ill-fated, being promoted by someone so senior – but took (false) comfort in the belief that it was so wildly outlandish that it would never be given serious consideration by those in authority.

As it turns out, I was sadly mistaken—as this perilous proposal continues to enjoy sustained attention in the discourse.

 

Soldiers turned sociologists?

Perhaps most disturbing are the reports of the support the idea received from senior IDF officers – both past and present—and the rationale that this support appears based on.  For typically, it has nothing to do with any military considerations or operational advantage Israel might gain from the provision of such port facilities to the terrorist-controlled enclave—but rather on a (highly questionable) assessment of socio-economic trends in Gaza, the ramifications this may have for the Gazan public, and how a port might allegedly address it.

Thus one well-informed correspondent on military affairs describes reasons that underpin that “rationale” for want of a better word: “Hamas, the argument goes, would be hard pressed to careen down the slope of a new war with Israel, even if it wanted to, if the Gazan economy were to begin to take off, enjoying imports and exports, allowing for jobs and income, and giving the civilian population something to lose. While there is no doubt that Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s dire economic state by insisting on jihad with Israel rather than investing in its people’s welfare, Israeli defense officials still feel that they can and should assist the Gazan people attain a better life.”

While some may find this professed concern for the welfare of enemy civilians both noble and a reflection of “enlightened self-interest”, in truth it portends ominous outcomes for Israel and Israelis.

For it is a position that is so diametrically at odds with past experience, and flies so directly in the face of the facts of recent decades that it is difficult to know what is more disturbing: Whether the supporters of the proposal really believe what they are saying; or whether they are saying it despite the fact that they don’t.

 

Reinforcing the rationale for terror

Of no less concern is that this position echoes the sentiments expressed by both Ministers Katz and Galant  that “The biggest danger to Israel is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza…If Gaza had the ability to bring ships, and goods, without posing a security problem, that is in everybody’s interest.”

For it is a message that strongly reinforces the rationale justifying terror, implying that it is largely economic privation that is the primary cause of the Judeocidal terror emanating from Gaza, and if the residents of that ill-fated strip were afforded greater prosperity, this would operate to stifle the motivation to perpetrate acts of terror.

This is a thesis that is wrong on virtually every level. Firstly, it is risible to believe that Hamas, that has deliberately put its own civilians in harm’s way, gives a hoot about their economic well-being. After all, if it has scant regard for their lives, why should their livelihood be of greater concern?

Indeed, it is far more likely that if the general economic situation were to improve, Hamas would coercively appropriate much of this new found wealth for its own belligerent needs–with prosperity thus making it more potent–not more pacific.

Perversely, perhaps a more effective, but heretically politically-incorrect, suggestion for removing Hamas would be to allow socio-economic conditions to deteriorate so drastically that the general populace would rise up against it, depose it and ensconce a hopefully more amenable regime, with greater sensitivity for its needs.

But I digress.

To suggest that by alleviating economic hardship, Israel could alleviate terror is, in effect, not only inverting the causal relationship between the two, but it also implies that the victim of terror is to blame for his attackers’ aggression against him. Little could be more counterproductive—and misleading for Israel.

 

Port no panacea for poverty

Of course, as I have demonstrated at length elsewhere, the allegedly dire situation in Gaza is not the cause of the terror that emanates from it. It is the consequence of that terror. The onerous measures that Israel is compelled to undertake to ensure the safety of its citizens is not the reason for, but the result of that terror. If the latter were eliminated, there would be no need for the former—and far more rational solutions than a multi-billion dollar artificial island could be found to facilitate the flow of goods and people to and from Gaza.

Indeed, no great analytical acumen should be required to swiftly bring us to the conclusion that a port in Gaza will never be a panacea for the poverty of the population.

Hamas, and its other terrorist cohorts, are not burrowing tunnels because Gaza has no port. They are burrowing them despite the fact it does not have one.

After all, Gaza does have a modern port, under Israeli supervision, at its disposal barely 35 km. north of it, in Ashdod.

Under conditions of peace (or even credible non-belligerency), Ashdod can supply all Gaza’s supervised civilian needs, without squandering billions on a fanciful floating island port.

However, under conditions of on-going belligerency, even under the strictest Israeli supervision, there is no way—short of taking control of Gaza—to ensure that dual purpose material such as cement, fertilizer and steel will not be used for belligerent objectives

.

“Hamas stealing 95% of civilian cement…” The intensity of this problem—and the futility of a Gaza port as a means of solving ,or even alleviating it, was vividly highlighted  by a recent report in the International Business Times (May 26).

It cited the director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dr. Dore Gold, who speaking at the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, revealed that Hamas has been siphoning off 95% of the cement transferred into the Gaza Strip intended to rebuild homes, so that it can use it for military purposes and tunnel construction. Gold told the conference: “From our own investigations we found that out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza strip … only five or six are transferred to civilians.”

So, even if the island port were under tight inspection, how could Israel ensure that the building materials that went to construct the recently discovered tunnels would be used for more benign purposes? How could it ensure that steel was not being used to fabricate missiles and the means to launch them? Or fertilizers being diverted for the manufacture of explosives?

Moreover, one might also ask how, as opposed to the case of Ashdod port,  is Israeli supervision to be maintained, and the safety of the Israeli personnel be ensured in the isolated off-shore port, should they–as is far from implausible–be set upon by a bloodthirsty local mob?

 

Humanitarian solution for humanitarian crisis The grave economic situation that plagues Gaza will not be alleviated by giving Gaza access to port facilities, which it, in principle, already has available to it.

As noted earlier, Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods are not the cause of Arab enmity, but the consequence thereof. The crippling unemployment, reportedly above 40%, will not be alleviated by transferring Israeli supervision from Ashdod and the Gaza border crossings to an off-shore islet.

There is soaring unemployment because any creative energies that might exist, are not channeled by those who rule Gaza toward productive/constructive goals, but into fomenting violence against the hated “Zionist entity.” A port will not change those realities.

Indeed, it is likely to exacerbate them.

The penury of the enclave is not due to lack of resources, but to the preferences and priorities of the brigands who govern it, and as events have shown, the only way Israel can determine who governs Gaza – and who does not – is by governing it itself.

Katz, Galant and IDF senior brass are , of course, right that Israel should defuse the brewing humanitarian crisis in Gaza – which is demonstrably the consequence of the ill-conceived two-state approach and misguided attempts to foist statehood on the Palestinian-Arabs.

But it is a humanitarian crisis that requires a genuine humanitarian solution: Generously funded humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population elsewhere, out of harm’s way, and extension of Israeli sovereignty over the region.

 

“Perhaps now would be a good time…

Indeed, there is no other approach –whether with a port or without it — that can:

• Provide a durable solution to the problem of Gaza;

• Eliminate the threat to Israel continually issuing from Gaza; and

• Preclude the need for Israel to “rule over another people.”

Indeed, as one appraisal of the port proposal in the Jewish Press (March 24)  concluded its critique “Perhaps now would be a good time to put into action one of those programs that advocate paying local Arabs to [e]migrate to better places..”

Indeed, perhaps it is.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/into-the-fray-martin-sherman/gaza-a-port-is-no-panacea-for-poverty/2016/05/28/

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