Tuesday, April 18, 2017
SCIENCE HELPS VERIFY AN UNBELIEVABLE HOLOCAUST ESCAPE ACCOUNT.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE
NYT slammed for whitewashing Barghouti’s terrorist past in Op-ed-Israeli politician accuses paper of ‘intentional deception’; IDF says jailed Fatah leader ‘is a murderer of Israeli civilians’-By Times of Israel staff April 17, 2017, 6:12 pm
Israeli and US Jewish groups on Monday slammed The New York Times for failing to note in an opinion piece it published by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti that the writer is a terror chief who is serving multiple life terms for the murder of Israelis.The op-ed published Sunday describes Barghouti, who wrote the article to explain the mass hunger strike he launched Monday by Palestinian security prisoners, as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian” at the bottom of the piece.Barghouti is the former leader of the Tanzim armed wing of Fatah and the founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Fatah terror group. He was convicted in an Israeli civilian court in 2004 on five counts of murder and one attempted murder, and was implicated in and held responsible for four other terror attacks. He is serving five life terms for the murders, and an additional 40 years for attempted murder.In an op-ed published in The Times of Israel, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid decried what he called The New York Times’ “intentional deception” of its readers by omitting any mention of Barghouti’s past.“Anyone who reads the column without prior knowledge of the facts will come to the conclusion that Barghouti is a freedom fighter imprisoned for his views. Nothing is further from the truth. The missing part of the column is that Marwan Barghouti is a murderer,” he wrote.Lapid said The New York Times had been being exploited by Barghouti. “The attempt by The New York Times ‘to be balanced’ amuses Barghouti. He understands that this sacred attempt at balance creates equal standing between murderer and murdered, terrorist and victim, lie and truth,” added Lapid.Former Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren called the op-ed “a journalistic terror attack” and called on Israel to take steps against the New York Times. “We need to defend ourselves” he told Army Radio.Oren note the op-ed was published on a Jewish holiday, which meant that the Israeli government could not respond to the article, which he said “was full of lies.”The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which manages day-to-day relations between the IDF and the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also attacked the newspaper for omitting Barghouti’s history.A post on COGAT’s Facebook page read: “By referring to him only as a political figure, the Times failed to point out that after a fair trial in 2004, Barghouti was convicted of murder and carrying out terrorist acts and was therefore sentenced to five life sentences and an additional 40 years in prison.”“Barghouti is a murderer of Israeli civilians,” it added.Criticism also came from American Jewish groups. The American Jewish Committee tweeted that the paper “must have forgotten to mention that Marwan Barghouti is a convicted terrorist, responsible for the murder of innocent civilians.”.@nytimes must have forgotten to mention that Marwan Barghouti is a convicted terrorist, responsible for the murder of innocent civilians pic.twitter.com/QZBOSNbTxP— AJC (@AJCGlobal) April 17, 2017-Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro also took the paper to task, tweeting: “It’s debatable if Marwan Barghouti has a political future. Pals & Israelis debate it. But NYT was wrong not cite his terrorism conviction.”It's debatable if Marwan Barghouti has a political future. Pals & Israelis debate it. But NYT was wrong not cite his terrorism conviction.— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) April 17, 2017-On Monday over 1,000 prisoners began a mass hunger strike called by Barghouti. The strike was scheduled to coincide with Palestinian “Prisoners Day,” an annual event held in solidarity with the more than 6,000 Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails.Barghouti began to call for a strike after talks between prisoners’ representatives and the Israel Prison Service on improving prison conditions reached an impasse. Those talks began more than a year and a half ago.Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands include more television channels being available in cells and cell phones in security wings.Barghouti has remained politically active from behind bars, and is often touted as one of a few likely successors to the 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.Many Palestinians see Barghouti’s move as chiefly an internal power play in an attempt to send a message specifically to the Fatah leadership and to Abbas, who excluded Barghouti’s loyalists from a recent Central Committee meeting and did npt give Barghouti the anticipated position of deputy head of the PA.
The escape tunnel at Ponar is witness to 'the victory of hope over desperation'-Science helps verify an unbelievable Holocaust escape account-The story of a band of Lithuanian Jews who dug their way to freedom was met with widespread skepticism over the years. A new TV program sheds light on their incredible tale-By Tom Tugend April 15, 2017, 8:38 am-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
LOS ANGELES (JTA) – A one-hour TV program airing next week on PBS links brings advanced scientific techniques to bear on an incredible Holocaust escape story.“Holocaust Escape Tunnel,” a “Nova” production to be shown April 19, sheds new light on the attempt by 80 imprisoned men and women — mostly Lithuanian Jews — to make a break for freedom in the face of Nazi bullets. The show documents the application of scientific methods to verify what would otherwise be a nearly unbelievable story.The documentary is set in and around Vilna, the Yiddish and Hebrew designation for Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. At its peak, before World War II and the Holocaust, the city boasted a Jewish population of some 77,000, had 105 synagogues, the largest Jewish library in the world and six daily Jewish newspapers.The vigorous Jewish life in Vilna started to decline in 1940, when the Soviet Union absorbed Lithuania. It was almost completely destroyed after German armies attacked Russia in 1941, quickly conquering Lithuania.Within a year Nazis shot and killed – in the days before Auschwitz-type gas chambers – most of the Jews and tossed their corpses into huge pits in the nearby Ponar Forest, initially dug by the Soviets to store fuel and ammunition. One pit alone held 20,000 to 25,000 corpses.In late 1943, with Russian armies advancing from the east and partisans attacking German supply lines in surrounding forests, Hitler’s headquarters in Berlin decided to cover up the monumental massacre by ordering that all the bodies be cremated.The Germans ordered the region’s surviving Jews, along with some Russian prisoners of war, to first chop down large trees in the forests, cut them into planks, form huge layers of wood, spread the bodies between the layers and then set them aflame. Methodically, the Germans formed 10 “burning brigades,” each consisting of 80 prisoners, mainly Jewish.After a day’s work, the “burners” were held in pits and their feet shackled. One such unit, consisting of 76 men and four women, decided it was duty bound to pass on the truth to the world and future generations.The prisoners freed their legs by cutting the shackles with a smuggled-in file and, for the next 76 days, using only spoons and their hands, carved out a 2-by-2-foot-wide tunnel extending 130 feet.April 15, 1944, the last day of Passover, was set for the escape. As the first prisoners left the tunnel, guards opened fire and killed almost the entire group. But 12 made it out and cut through the wire fence. They joined a detachment of partisans commanded by the legendary Abba Kovner.At the end of the war, all but one of the escapees were still alive and eventually settled elsewhere, mainly in pre-state Israel and the United States.Among the thousands, if not millions, of post-Holocaust remembrances, the story of the Vilna escapees was met with widespread skepticism even by the future wives and children of the 11 survivors, said historian Richard Freund, who is prominently featured in the documentary.The skepticism was fueled by the absence of any physical evidence of the alleged tunnel. Lithuania — already beleaguered by charges of its wartime collaboration with the Germans — showed little enthusiasm for further investigations.In recent years, however, with a change of attitude by a new generation of Lithuanians, their government was ready to seek the truth about the Holocaust and invite outside experts to participate in the endeavor.An initial contact was Jon Seligman, a leading researcher with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Freund, of the University of Hartford, also was interested — he had directed archaeological projects at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, as well as at six ancient sites in Israel. In 2014, the two scholars decided to cooperate on the project, spurred by their similar ancestral descent from Vilna Jews. A third member of the documentary team with Jewish roots in Eastern Europe was Paula Apsell, the senior producer for “Nova.”Seligman and Freund had initially set their sights on exploring the fate of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, once the center of Jewish worship and scholarship, which had been destroyed by the Germans. The Soviets later razed the remains and built a school there.The two scholars — backed by other experts and teams of young volunteers — made some dramatic discoveries at the Great Synagogue site, but also were intrigued by reports on the escape tunnel.In approaching the latter, the project leaders ruled out using the traditional method of digging into an archaeological site with spades and machines.“Traditional archaeology uses a highly destructive method,” Freund told JTA. “You only have one chance to get it right and you can’t repeat an experiment. Additionally, in our case, we were determined not to desecrate the site and victimize the dead a second time.”Instead, the teams used two noninvasive techniques that are widely employed in gas and oil explorations. One approach was through Ground Penetrating Radar, or GPR, which uses radar pulses to return images of objects found beneath the earth’s surface. The results were analyzed in Los Angeles by geophysicist Dean Goodman, who developed the GPR software.In the second approach, called Electrical Resistivity Tomography, or ETR, scientists investigate sub-surface materials through their electrical properties. The same technique is widely used in medical imaging of the human body.Thanks to these techniques, in 2016 the investigators were able to scientifically confirm the existence and dimensions of a wartime escape tunnel, as JTA reported at the time. The New York Times listed the feat as one of the top science stories of the year.One of the successful tunnel escapees was Shlomo Gol, whose son Abraham (Abe) was born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany. The elder Gol died in 1986 at the age of 77, and his son will be 68 in July. The family initially immigrated to Israel, then moved to the United States.Abe Gol, who lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida, told JTA that friends recalled his father as a young man full of life and as a natural leader. However, the father young Abe knew “withdrew within himself” and did not speak of his experiences.The little he learned of his father’s past came in two ways: One was the annual reunion, on the last day of Passover, held by escapees who had settled in Israel. At dinner, when shots of vodka loosened tongues, the men talked of the past, paying no attention to the boy listening in.In later years, Gol discovered that his father had kept a written record of his past, which the son translated into English. One small recollection from the diary: the persistent stink from the combination of kerosene and tar the prisoners had to pour on the wood pyres to fan the flames.At the time of the tunnel’s discovery, Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority wrote, “As an Israeli whose family originated in Lithuania, I was reduced to tears on the discovery of the escape tunnel at Ponar. This discovery is a heartwarming witness to the victory of hope over desperation. The exposure of this tunnel enables us to present not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but also the yearning for life.”With the deaths of the last eyewitnesses of the Holocaust, Freund said, historians will have to rely increasingly on yet unknown scientific and technological advances to preserve and enlarge our knowledge of the great tragedy of the 20th century.“Holocaust Escape Tunnel” will air April 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times; 8 p.m. Central time. Check your local PBS station for details.
12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.(WORLDWIDE WAR)(TURKEY-IRAQ-SYRIA)(EUPHRATES RIVER CONSISTS OF 760 MILES IN TURKEY,440 MILES IN SYRIA AND 660 MILES IN IRAQ)
15 And the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels were loosed,(WORLDWIDE WAR) which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.(1/3 Earths Population die in WW 3 2ND WAVE-2 billion)
16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand:(200 MILLION MAN ARMY FROM CHINA AND THE KINGS OF THE EAST) and I heard the number of them.
17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)
18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)
US said preparing strike to ‘utterly destroy’ N. Korean nuclear program-VP Pence jets into Seoul as Korea tensions ratchet up; British officials are told Washington is considering a preemptive attack-By Times of Israel staff and AFP April 16, 2017, 3:14 am
US Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Seoul Sunday, flying into a geopolitical maelstrom amid a possible North Korean nuclear test and harsh US warnings about a military response.Pence’s first visit to South Korea — part of an Asia swing that also includes stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia — was conceived months ago, but could hardly come at a time of higher tension.On Sunday, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that top military advisers to US President Donald Trump have told their British counterparts that Washington was considering a preemptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear program, and believed it had the firepower to neutralize it.Citing “senior sources” in the British government, the paper said the US believed it would be able to “utterly destroy” the key installations required to remove the threat the program posed to North Korea’s neighbors and the US.According to the paper, US Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed a US strike on North Korea with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, some two weeks ago, and similar conversations have been held between British officials and Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.“They’ll do anything it takes. Nothing is off the table. They think they’ve got the capabilities to target things and utterly destroy them. They are confident they know where everything is and can target it efficiently,” one British official was quoted as saying.Another source told The Sunday Times that US officials “are getting to the point where they think they may have to take out the facilities preemptively…. They are much closer to taking military action than they were a year ago.”In the last week, geo-spatial imaging showed North Korea possibly preparing a nuclear test to coincide with the 105th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il-Sung.Trump has warned that North Korea will be dealt with and officials have confirmed that military action is being considered, although it has not been approved.That issue will be top of the agenda when Pence begins talks with South Korea’s interim Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn on Monday, and in Tokyo during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Both Japan and South Korea are firmly in the firing line and will want to caution against any US military action that could prompt a broader conflagration.Away from immediate security matters, Pence will try to reassure allies concerned about Trump’s commitment to decades-old security guarantees and protectionist rhetoric.US officials acknowledge Trump’s message of “America first” has at times been read by allies as meaning “everyone else last.”Pence’s message will be that America’s security and economic commitments are enduring and “ironclad,” according to a senior White House foreign policy adviser.That commitment, aides say, will be underscored by Pence’s very personal ties to South Korea.Sixty-four years ago to the day, his father, Lieutenant Edward Pence, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in the Korean War.In Seoul, Pence will try to steer clear of South Korea’s tumultuous domestic politics ahead of elections next month. He is not expected to sit down with opposition leaders who could take the reins next month.But he will no doubt address worries in Washington that any new government may slow-walk the deployment of THAAD — a system designed to shoot down missiles from North Korea or elsewhere.The United States has almost 30,000 troops in South Korea and is keen to see the project fully deployed.The issue has been complicated by China’s furious opposition to the prospect of having a high-tech radar system on its doorstep, fearing it could partially neutralize its nuclear deterrent.Beijing has responded though diplomatic pressure and economic coercion, souring relations with Seoul.But Pence, whose public message at times seems at odds with Trump’s, will have plenty of work to do to reassure South Korea that the United States is a reliable partner.Trump has repeatedly complained that the United States shoulders too much of the burden for other countries’ defense and has suffered under bilateral and regional trade agreements.An agreement on who pays for US troops in South Korea is due to expire next year, and South Korea — where anti-US sentiment is high — could be asked to pay more.Trump has also called for a review of all bilateral trade agreements, including the five-year-old US-South Korea deal — or KORUS.The new US president’s relentless focus on trade deficits has some of the deal’s supporters dismayed.“There is not a valid reason to be concerned about KORUS,” former US diplomat and trade negotiator Wendy Cuttler, who helped negotiate the deal, told a Korea Society event this week.“I don’t think it’s correct to judge the success of a trade agreement on the basis of a bilateral trade deficit.”According to Cuttler, the deficit has more to do with steady US economic growth that has raised demands for Korean imports.Others point to tens of billions of dollars worth of South Korean investment into the United States, which is estimated to have created some 50,000 American jobs.
Russia warns US against unilateral strike on North Korea-Moscow says it does not accept Pyongyang’s ‘reckless nuclear actions’ but states Washington must not ‘break international law’-By AFP and Times of Israel staff April 17, 2017, 2:02 pm
MOSCOW — Russia on Monday warned Washington against launching a unilateral strike on North Korea, after US Vice President Mike Pence said the era of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over.“This is a very risky path,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.“We do not accept the reckless nuclear missile actions of Pyongyang that breach UN resolutions, but that does not mean that you can break international law,” he said.“I hope that there will not be any unilateral actions like the one we saw recently in Syria.”Pence on Monday warned North Korea not to test President Donald Trump’s resolve, declaring that “all options are on the table” for curbing its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.Defying international pressure, the North on Sunday tried to test-fire another missile in an attempt that failed, but which fuelled fears that it may be preparing for its sixth atomic weapons test.Pence said that the era of US “strategic patience” in dealing with the North was over, after more than two decades.“In the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence said.“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve, or the strength of the armed forces of the United States.”Pence, visiting the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas Monday, said that while Washington wants to achieve security “through peaceable means, through negotiations. But all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea.”The latest launch — which failed when the missile blew up seconds after blast off — came a day after the North held a defiant massive military parade in Pyongyang showcasing nearly 60 missiles — including a suspected new intercontinental ballistic missile.The North has a habit of test-firing missiles to mark major dates such as Saturday’s 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder Kim Il-Sung, or as gestures of defiance when top US officials visit the region.South Korea’s foreign ministry said that by conducting the latest test just a day after displaying a series of missiles, “North Korea has threatened the whole world.”
Clashes erupt between tribes and IS group in Sinai-Egyptian officials say three people injured as terror group launches RPG attacks in response to kidnapping of three of its members-By Agencies April 17, 2017, 2:32 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
EL-ARISH, Egypt — Egyptian security officials say three people have been injured in clashes between militants and local tribes in the Sinai peninsula.The officials told The Associated Press Monday that members of the Islamic State group launched RPG attacks Sunday in response to the kidnapping of three of its members by local tribes.According to tribal sources, the unrest started when IS militants shot at a truck smuggling cigarettes into the area, where they impose a strict version of Islamic law that prohibits the sale of tobacco. The area around the city of Rafah is at the heart of an ongoing battle between militants and security forces.The official sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the media. The tribal sources requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Abbas: World must intervene to ‘save’ hunger-striking prisoners-PA president backs Palestinian detainees protesting their conditions, says Israel must agree to ‘humanitarian’ demands-By Times of Israel staff April 17, 2017, 3:12 pm
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on the international community to “intervene quickly to save the lives” of the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who earlier in the day launched a mass hunger strike to protest their conditions of imprisonment.At a rally marking the annual Palestinian “Prisoner’s Day” in the West Bank, Abbas sent his support to the hunger-strikers and said Israel was being “stubborn” for refusing to “accept the just humanitarian demands of the prisoners.”According to the Ynet news website, Abbas made no mention of the strike’s initiator and leader Marwan Barghouti.Some Palestinian officials have attribute Barghouti’s call for the strike to an attempt to send a message to the Fatah leadership and Abbas, who excluded Barghouti’s people from a recent Central Committee meeting and didn’t give Barghouti the position of deputy chair to the PA.Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands include more television channels being available in cells and cell phones in security wings.Elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Monday, thousands of Palestinians participated in rallies showing solidarity with the prisoners.Palestinian officials said 1,300 Palestinians launched the mass hunger strike to protest the conditions in Israeli prisons. Israeli prison service spokesman Assaf Librati put the number at around 1,100.Barghouti is serving five life sentences for his role in murderous terror attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. He is a popular figure, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency.
United Nations say Mosul op has displaced nearly half a million-UN humanitarian coordinator says the number of civilians fleeing effort to free city from Islamic State is ‘staggering’-By AFP April 17, 2017, 4:52 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
BAGHDAD, Iraq — six-month-old operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group has forced around half a million people to flee their homes, the United Nations said Monday.Iraqi forces began the country’s biggest military operation in years exactly six months ago and recaptured the east side of the city in January.But an assault launched the following month on the part of Mosul that lies west of the Tigris river has seen a sharp rise in displacement.“The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said in a statement.“Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul. Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving almost everything behind,” she said.Iraqi forces have been making significant gains in west Mosul over the past two months but the toughest battles could yet lie ahead, with die-hard jihadists hunkering down in the treacherous streets of the Old City.The UN estimated that another half million civilians were still in IS-controlled areas of west Mosul.“Mosul has pushed us to our operational limits,” said Grande.UN chief Antonio Guterres said on March 31 during a visit to a displacement camp near Mosul that the aid effort was woefully underfunded and called for greater international solidarity.
Turkey’s Erdogan hails ‘historic’ referendum win as opposition claims fraud-Constitutional changes include replacing parliamentary system with presidential one, granting sweeping executive powers to president; opponents to challenge vote-By Elena Becatoros, Suzan Fraser and ZEYNEP BILGINSOY April 16, 2017, 11:10 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in Sunday’s referendum that will grant sweeping powers to the presidency, hailing the result as a “historic decision.”Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Erdogan said unofficial results showed the “yes” side had won by a margin of 1.3 million votes.The president struck a conciliatory tone, thanking all voters regardless of how they cast their ballots and describing the referendum as a “historic decision.”“April 16 is the victory of all who said yes or no, of the whole 80 million, of the whole of Turkey of 780,000-square kilometers,” Erdogan said.Returns carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed that with nearly 99 percent of the vote counted, the “yes” vote had about 51.3 percent compared to 48.7 percent for the “no” vote.Turkey’s main opposition party vowed to challenge the results reported by Anadolu agency, saying they were skewed.Erdogan has long sought to broaden his powers, but a previous attempt failed after the governing party that he co-founded fell short of enough votes to pass the reforms without holding a referendum.Opponents argued the plan concentrate too much power in the hands of a man they allege has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.The outcome is expected to have a huge effect on Turkey’s long-term political future and its international relations. Although the result, if officially confirmed, would fall short of the sweeping victory Erdogan had sought, but nevertheless cements his hold on the country’s governance.Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, whose position will be eliminated under the presidential system of government called for in the referendum, also welcomed the results and extended a hand to the opposition.“We are all equal citizens of the Republic of Turkey,” he said. “Both the ones who said ‘no’ and the ones who said ‘yes’ are one and are equally valuable.”“There are no losers of this referendum. Turkey won, the beloved people won,” Yildirim said, adding that “a new page has opened in our democratic history with this vote. Be sure that we will use this result for our people’s welfare and peace in the best way.”Erdogan supporters gathered outside the AK Party headquarters in Istanbul to celebrate, sending fireworks into the night sky.But the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, or CHP, cast doubt on the results. CHP vice chairman Erdal Aksunger said they would challenge 37 percent of the ballot boxes.“Our data indicates a manipulation in the range of 3 to 4 percent,” the party said on its Twitter account.The country’s pro-Kurdish opposition party, which also opposed the constitutional changes, said it plans to object to two-thirds of the ballots.An unprecedented decision by Turkey’s Supreme Election board to accept as valid ballot papers that don’t have the official stamp also drew the ire of the CHP, with the party’s deputy chairman, Bulent Tezcan, saying the decision had left the referendum “with a serious legitimacy problem.”The board made the announcement after many voters complained about being given ballot papers without the official stamp, saying ballots would be considered invalid only if proven to have been fraudulently cast.Sunday’s vote approved 18 constitutional changes that will replace Turkey’s parliamentary system of government with a presidential one, abolishing the office of the prime minister and granting sweeping executive powers to the president. The changes will come into effect with the next general election, scheduled for 2019.The reforms allow the president to appoint ministers, senior government officials and half the members of Turkey’s highest judicial body, as well as to issue decrees and declare states of emergency. They set a limit of two five-year terms for presidents and also allow the president to remain at the helm of a political party.Erdogan and his supporters had argued the “Turkish-style” presidential system would bring stability and prosperity in a country rattled by a failed coup last year that left more than 200 people dead, and a series of devastating attacks by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants.But opponents fear the changes will lead to autocratic one-man rule, ensuring that the 63-year-old Erdogan, who has been accused of repressing rights and freedoms, could govern until 2029 with few checks and balances.The ballots themselves did not include the referendum question — it was assumed to be understood. Voters used an official stamp to select between “yes” and “no.”At one Istanbul polling station, eager voters lined up outside before it opened at 8 a.m.“I don’t want to get on a bus with no brake system. A one-man system is like that,” said Istanbul resident Husnu Yahsi, 61, who said he was voting “no.”In another Istanbul neighborhood, a “yes” voter expressed full support for Erdogan.“Yes, yes, yes! Our leader is the gift of God to us,” said Mualla Sengul. “We will always support him. He’s governing so well.”Erdogan first came to power in 2003 as prime minister and served in that role until becoming Turkey’s first directly elected president in 2014.The referendum campaign was divisive and heavily one-sided, with the “yes” side dominating the airwaves and billboards across the country. Supporters of the “no” vote have complained of intimidation, including beatings, detentions and threats.The vote comes as Turkey has been buffeted by problems. Erdogan survived a coup attempt last July, which he has blamed on his former ally and current nemesis Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in the United States. Gulen has denied knowledge of the coup attempt.Still, a widespread government crackdown has targeted followers of Gulen and other government opponents, branding them terrorists and a state of emergency has been imposed.Roughly 100,000 people — including judges, teachers, academics, doctors, journalists, military officials and police — have lost their jobs in the government crackdown, and more than 40,000 have been arrested. Hundreds of media outlets and non-governmental organizations have been shut down.Turkey has also suffered renewed violence between Kurdish militants and security forces in the country’s volatile southeast, as well as a string of bombings, some attributed to the Islamic State group, which is active across the border in Syria.The war in Syria has led to some 3 million refugees crossing the border into Turkey. Turkey has sent troops into Syria to help opposition Syrian forces clear a border area from the threat posed by Islamic State militants.Meanwhile, Turkey’s relations with Europe have been increasingly tense, particularly after Erdogan branded Germany and the Netherlands as Nazis for not allowing Turkish ministers to campaign for the “yes” vote among expatriate Turks.
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