In brief: Deaths mar peace in Israel, Palestine
JERUSALEM – Tensions rose Tuesday between Israelis and Palestinians after two separate killings – one by each side – shattered what had been a period of relative calm in recent months.
At a northern West Bank hitchhiking stop, an Israeli settler was stabbed to death by a Palestinian man who stole the settler’s gun and attacked nearby soldiers before being arrested, officials said. It was the first such killing of an Israeli by a Palestinian in the West Bank in 18 months.
Separately, the government said Israel Defense Forces killed a Gaza Strip-based militant accused of participating in rocket attacks, including one earlier this month that struck the Israeli resort city of Eilat from the Sinai Peninsula.
The Israeli airstrike was the first targeted killing of a Gaza militant since a November cease-fire ended eight days of clashes between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza. Under that Egyptian-brokered truce, Hamas agreed to halt all rocket fire from Gaza, and Israel agreed to stop targeted assassinations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Gaza strike.
“We will not accept the sporadic firing of rockets from either Gaza Strip or Sinai,” he said. “We will act, and are acting, in order to defend Israeli citizens.”
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, took responsibility for the attack, calling it revenge for Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Ex-premier’s jailing deemed rights abuse
KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was a politically motivated violation of her rights, Europe’s human rights court ruled Tuesday, dealing a harsh blow to President Viktor Yanukovych, who has insisted that the case against his top opponent was not political.
The prosecution of Tymoshenko, the country’s most vocal opposition leader, has strained the former Soviet state’s ties with the European Union and the United States. Tuesday’s ruling put fresh pressure of Yanukovych to ensure Tymoshenko’s release if he wants to sign a key cooperation agreement with the EU later this year.
There was no immediate comment from the government, other than a promise to closely analyze the ruling.
Tymoshenko, a heroine of Ukraine’s 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution who was instantly recognizable for her blond braid wrapped around her head like a crown, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 after being convicted of exceeding her powers as premier while negotiating a gas contract with Russia.
The West has condemned Tymoshenko’s jailing and other legal cases against her as politically motivated and insisted on her release.