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February 9, 2016 / 30 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Updated: 10 Dead as Explosion Rocks Central Istanbul, No Israelis Present

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

A popular tourist site in the heart of Istanbul was turned into a scene of horror Tuesday morning when a massive explosion sent bodies flying in Sultanahmet Square.

At least 10 people were killed and 15 more are wounded, according to the Istanbul governor’s office.

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachson told JewishPress.com that “as far as he knows” no Israelis were present at the time of the blast.

Officials believe the explosion may have been caused by a suicide bomber, according to numerous reports. A Turkish official told AFP on condition of anonymity that terrorist links are suspected. The Istanbul governor’s office said authorities are investigating the type of explosives used in the blast.

Three of the injured foreigners are from Germany. Two are from Norway, according to Dogan News Agency. There was a group of German tourists on the square at the time of the blast, Reuters reported.

Shortly after the explosion, Turkish authorities banned coverage by media, Anadolu news agency reported.

The blast occurred near the obelisk of Theodosius in Istanbul’s Fatih district, not far from the famed Blue Mosque. Some of the wounded, including tourists, were evacuated to the Haseki Research and Training Hospital.

One eyewitness told news reporters the explosion was instantaneous, like “a ball of flame.”

There have been two major bombing attacks within the past 12 month in Turkey, both by Da’esh (ISIS). More than 30 people died in July in an ISIS suicide bombing in the border town of Suruc, near Syria. The second attack was a twin bombing by a local ISIS cell outside a main train station in Ankara last October killed more than 100 demonstrators at a peace rally.

Senior Hamas Official Salah al-Arouri Quits Istanbul

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Senior Hamas official Salah al-Arouri has “voluntarily” left Istanbul as part of a deal to rebuild ties between Turkey and Israel. It is believed he is heading either to Qatar or Lebanon. However, his departure has not yet completely clarified the status between Israel and Turkey, sources for both sides said.

Al-Arouri was one of the founders of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military wing of Hamas. He served 15 years in Israeli prison before he was expelled to Syria; in 2012, he fled to Turkey when the Syrian office of Hamas shut down.

The Hamas operative was also the main player responsible for the abduction and murder by Hamas terrorists of three Israeli yeshiva teens in Gush Etzion in June 2014. That attack ignited a series of conflicts that led to the launch of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s counter-terrorism war with Hamas.

The departure of al-Arouri from Turkey was agreed upon between Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a meeting on Saturday.

Erdogan is deeply loyal to Hamas, as he is to the Muslim Brotherhood which spawned the terrorist group.

Incoming Mossad director Yossi Cohen met last Thursday in Zurich together with Israeli and Turkish contacts to firm up normalization of ties between the two countries. During those talks it was reportedly agreed ambassadors for the two nations would return to their respective offices. In addition, it was allegedly agreed that Israel would establish a compensation fund for the families of those who were killed in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident; in return, Turkey would abandon any and all other claims regarding the case.

But in a statement that followed the meeting, the prime minister’s office stressed that the “understandings” still remained to be signed. A spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling (AK) Justice and Development Party said much the same thing in a statement on Sunday. He noted that although the “people of Turkey and the people of Israel certainly are friends,” nevertheless there remains much to do.

One of the unfinished issues between the two sides is Turkey’s loyalty to Hamas, and Erdogan’s unwillingness to close the offices of the terrorist group. Another is the unwillingness of Israel to remove its blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. The group is generously funded and equipped by Iran, which smuggles funds and weaponry to Gaza however possible.

Israeli Arab Hospital Worker Convicted of Joining ISIS

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

An Israeli Arab Health Ministry employee who worked at Eitanim Hospital was convicted Wednesday on charges of joining Da’esh (ISIS).

Most Israeli Arabs who have been caught trying to join the terrorist organization have not been employees of the Israeli government.

Halil Halil was convicted by Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz in a plea bargain deal on a single charge of joining a terror group.

To cross into Syria to join ISIS, Halil purchased tickets in November 2014 for flights to Athens, Istanbul and Edna – a city on Turkey’s border with Syria – using his government benefits.

After successfully making contact with Da’esh, Halil conducted several different activities to prepare for a border crossing on foot with other new recruits to the terrorist group. He and the others were caught by a Turkish border patrol in January 2015, however.

Halil was deported to Israel and arrested upon his arrival. He was indicted in March 2015 on charges of joining a terror organization, attempting contact with a foreign agent and leaving the country illegally.

ISIS Tells Turkish Muslims to Rebel Against ‘Infidel’ Erdogan

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

A new jihadist video entitled “A Message to Turkey” has appeared on the Internet, in a video that emerged late Monday, allegedly produced by the “Raqqa State Media Office.”

Two months ago Da’esh (ISIS) launched a Turkish-language magazine with a cover story entitled “The Conquest of Constantinople.” The group urged a new Islamic conquest of Turkey’s largest city – Istanbul.

The messenger in the video released Monday is a Turkish fighter who proclaims allegiance to Da’esh (ISIS) and urges Turks to rebel against “infidel” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The greying, bearded fighter, who wears glasses, speaks on the film in an accent-free Turkish, exhorting his fellow Turks to help him conquer Istanbul.

He accuses the Muslim president – himself a fundamentalist – of “selling the country to Crusaders” and giving the United States access to Turkish air bases “just to keep his post.”

Two younger, bearded men, each wearing a scarf tied as a makeshift turban and armed with a gun, are seated on either side of him – appearing almost as students or acolytes – but remain silent throughout the footage. The video is shot among barren desert hills.

“Turkish people: Fight against the friends of the devil. There is no doubt that [the] devil’s order is weak…

“Let us all embrace God’s way… Altogether and under the orders of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi … let’s conquer Istanbul, which the traitor Erdogan works day and night to hand over to crusaders,” the fighter chides, sitting with a rifle propped against his body.

The authenticity of the video could not be verified, but the SITE Intelligence Group described it as a call by a Turkish ISIS fighter for support from Muslims in Turkey.

No specific threats of attacks were made in the video.

Temple Mount Activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick Talks Peace in Turkey

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

While Palestinian Authority Arabs have been working hard to keep Jews and others off the Temple Mount with violence and riots, a U.S.-born Israeli rabbi and Israeli Druze Likud member have just returned from a trip abroad to discuss peaceful co-existence.

Temple Mount activist and Heritage Foundation head Rabbi Yehudah Glick traveled to Turkey last week to talk about peace. Glick, who traveled to Istanbul with Likud party Druze member Mendi Safadi, met for discussions with Islamic officials and those of several other faiths.

The two men were hosted by Islamic scholar and peace activist Adnan Oktar, who has long been the quiet “matchmaker” for numerous other such meetings with other Jewish and non-Jewish officials.

Among others, Glick and Safadi met with state official Aydin Yigman, Mufti of the Beyoglu District on the European side in Istanbul. During their conversation, Yigman firmly condemned the assassination attempt that nearly cost Glick his life after a speaking engagement in Jerusalem last year.

“Any religion would condemn this attack,” the mufti stated. “It’s unacceptable.”

Local sources told JewishPress.com the conversation between Glick and the mufti was “very friendly” and described the atmosphere as “cordial.” Glick’s views on peace, particularly important during Ramadan in an Islamic nation whose bond with Israel has faltered in recent years, were “well received,” the source said.

The two Israelis also joined Oktar and others at a large festive Iftar meal to break the daily Ramadan fast on Thursday evening, held annually by Turkey’s A9TV, which is owned by Oktar’s organization. In addition to Islamic clerics and adherents, other participants included representatives from the Protestant, Assyrian, Armenian and Mormon churches as well as politicians, artists, academics and sports figures from Turkey.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick and Likud member Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druze citizen, join two associates of their host, Islamic scholar and peace activist Adnan Oktar in Istanbul prior to an Iftar meal to break the daily Ramadan fast.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick and Likud member Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druze citizen, join two associates of their host, Islamic scholar and peace activist Adnan Oktar in Istanbul prior to an Iftar meal to break the daily Ramadan fast.

In an interview with Glick on A9TV earlier in the week, Oktar recounted for his viewers in Turkish the tale of Glick’s brush with death last October and his miraculous survival, describing his role in fighting for Jewish access to the Temple Mount.

(The entire interview with English-language subtitles may be accessed by clicking here.)

During the interview, Glick remarked in English, “The worst thing about terrorism and violence is when people do it in the name of God… This makes it ten times worse… In a civilized society when two people are arguing and one gets up and beats the other one up, it does not mean he is right. It means he needs help and this help is calling to God’s name peace, Islam, Shalom – this is God’s name.

“They tried to kill me because I represent the people of Israel coming to Israel,” Glick added. “And this they tried to harm. And the situation today is, I am alive and he (the assassin) is dead. So we have to thank God for this.”

In response, Oktar commented, “It is the most despicable, lowest, outrageous thing to shoot a person who works for God’s pleasure all the time…

“According to Islam [R. Glick] is a person of the People of the Book and he is a very religious person… insha’Allah (God willing), God will show this beautiful person the King Moshiach – in other words, the Mahdi (Messiah) – and we will rebuild the masjid (ed. – mosque) of the Prophet Solomon, pbuh (peace be upon him), and the palace of Prophet Solmon, pbuh, and God will show him very beautiful days.

2 Cops Hurt, 1 Female Attacker Killed Outside Istanbul Police HQ

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Two police officers were wounded and a female terrorist carrying a bomb was killed in a shootout Wednesday outside Istanbul’s police headquarters.

Turkish police special forces were deployed to the site, according to Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, who spoke with the BBC. A second gunman who opened fire was wounded by special forces and then taken captive.

The identity of the attackers is not yet clear.

One day earlier, two members of the banned DHKP-C (Revolutionary Liberation Party Front), a Marxist group stormed the largest courthouse in Istanbul and took prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage.

The DHKP-C is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Both the attackers and their hostage, the prosecutor later died in a shootout with police. On Wednesday morning hundreds of people attended Kiraz’s funeral at the courthouse where he was shot and killed before proceeding to the city’s Eyup Sultan mosque.

Turkish Foreign Minister Targets Jews, Warns of ‘Treason’

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Red flags are going up for Jews in Turkey again for the second time in less than a week.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took aim at Turkish Jewry Sunday  in a thinly-disguised reference to the “Jewish lobby” on Sunday during a speech to local lawmakers, linking such a “lobby” to part of a “parallel structure” (U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen’s supporters) accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being in cahoots with Israeli Mossad intelligence agents.

On January 31, Erdogan had told a meeting of business leaders in Istanbul, “The sincere people backing this parallel structure should see this structure is cooperating with… Shame on them if they still cannot see that this structure is cooperating with the Mossad.” (Erdogan has accused Gulen’s followers of illegal wiretapping and a coup attempt that began with a corruption probe in December 2013. Four former ministers and their sons were investigated at the time; all were later acquitted on all charges.)

“I announce it from here: We have not and will not succumb to the Jewish lobby, the Armenian lobby or the Turkish-Greek minority’s lobbies,” Davutoglu said in his own speech on Feb. 8, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported. Speaking at a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development party’s (AKP) in Istanbul, Davutoglu added, “I call out to the parallel lobby and send them a message: We will stand before you with dignity no matter where you are; you will be despicable for the treason you have done to this nation.”

It’s not the first time in the past week that local Jews have been targeted by the current Turkish government.

On Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a snide comment about Jewish prayers while accepting an award from the Roma community in Bursa. As he started to condemn racism, Islamophobia and discrimination, Erdogan suddenly aimed at Judaism itself, specifically the Jewish morning blessings.

“I am addressing to those who talk about women’s rights. Why don’t you raise your voice against the Jews who thank G-d in their prayers that they were not created as women? Was there any other understanding, a logic as demeaning for women as this one?” he said.

The remark is a deliberate misinterpretation of one of the morning blessings recited by Jewish men and women each day, albeit with different versions for each. Jewish men do indeed thank God in one of the numerous blessings they recite in the morning that they were not created as women. The women’s version offers praise to God for being created as women (the literal translation of the prayer is, “as He desires”, in recognition of women’s different roles and responsibilities in Jewish life.)

Istanbul’s largest and most prominent synagogue, Neve Shalom, has become a virtual fortress under constant protection by Turkish security personnel. One must surrender one’s passport in order to enter the magnificent house of worship that once was filled to capacity in a former bustling Jewish neighborhood.

The synagogue was attacked several times by radical Islamic terrorists, leaving wounded, death and destruction in their wake. Turkish security is particularly selective about who is allowed to enter the synagogue; every person who attempts to do so is carefully scrutinized and required to walk through a metal detector prior to entry. The entrance itself is subtly hidden towards the back of the building, which must be accessed through a nondescript side gate.

Today the area around the synagogue is a shopping district and the lovely building with its stained glass windows and wooden seats polished to a sheen echoes with the memories of past festivities, empty but for the handful of Jews who dare to enter for prayers on High Holy Days and other important Jewish holidays.

Observant Jews who have remained in Turkey maintain a very low profile. Kosher food is not to be had in any general supermarket or local grocery store; one needs to know where to go in order to find it. There do not appear to be any local kosher supervision agencies — at least no symbols of any on foods available in public stores. Other members of the Jewish community are the descendants of those who arrived as refugees from Spain in 1492, fleeing the Inquisition, business people, and others who as tourists fell in love and married locals.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/turkish-foreign-minister-targets-jews-warns-of-treason/2015/02/09/

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