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MaltaToday 10 May 2023 MIDWEEK

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14 WORLD maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 10 MAY 2023 Erdogan raises public worker salaries by 45% days before Turkey votes THE Turkish government is raising its workers' salaries by 45%, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said five days before Turks vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. Polls show Erdogan in a tight race with the main opposition presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The pay rise comes as the Turkish economy struggles with inflation and the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes in February that left thousands dead and many more homeless. Erdogan announced the pay rise on Tuesday at a meeting in Ankara that discussed the eco- nomic and social rights of pub- lic workers. "We are increasing wages by 45%, including the welfare share," he said, according to a statement on the government's website. "Thus, we are raising the lowest public worker wage to TL15,000 [€702 per month]." Erdogan added that he would continue to work on raising the wages and pensions of civil servants. "In July, we have preparations based on the inflation differ- ence and welfare share," he said. Turkey's economy is a key is- sue heading into Sunday's elec- tions. Unorthodox interest rate cuts sought by Erdogan sparked a devaluation of the Turkish li- ra in late 2021 and sent infla- tion to a 24-year peak of 85.5% last year. The country's struggling economy, also reeling after the country's devastating double earthquakes in February, has been a major blow to Erdogan's campaign for re-election. His government's response to February's devastating earth- quakes in the southeast of Tur- key, which killed more than 46,000 people and left hun- dreds of thousands living in tents or temporary accommo- dation, has also been criticised, although Erdogan has defended the government's actions. The president, who has led Turkey for 20 years, is cam- paigning on a promise of low- ered interest rates as a way to tackle the economic crisis. He has also promised to slash infla- tion to single digits and boost economic growth. The elections could be the country's most significant vote in decades, with Erdogan's two-decade rule of Turkey at risk. The opposition has united around Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the second-biggest party in parliament, the Repub- lican People's Party (CHP). Kilicdaroglu has made inroads among the electorate but Erdo- gan still retains significant sup- port, and could yet emerge on top, alongside his AK Party. Israel bombs Gaza, killing three militant commanders and several other civilians ISRAEL carried out a series of strikes on Gaza, killing at least 13 people, including three mem- bers of the Palestinian Islamic Ji- had (PIJ) movement. The Palestinian authorities said women and four children were among the dead and at least 20 others were injured in the pre-dawn strikes. More than 40 Israeli warplanes carried out attacks for nearly two hours starting at 2am on Tuesday. Explosions targeting residen- tial apartments were heard in different parts of Gaza and most of the civilian victims were fam- ily members of the PIJ com- manders. PIJ said three of its command- ers were killed in the air at- tacks and pledged to "avenge" the deaths. The deceased were identified as Jihad al-Ghannam, Khalil al-Bahtini, and Tariq Izz al-Deen. The three were killed along with their wives and several chil- dren, the group said in a state- ment which did not give details on the number of women and children killed or their ages. Witnesses said an explosion hit the top floor of an apart- ment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. The Israeli army said the air attacks, codenamed Opera- tion Shield and Arrow, target- ed three PIJ members who it claimed were responsible for re- cent rockets fired towards Israel. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that "as- sassinating the leadership in a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but instead greater re-sistance". The Gaza-based group's spokesman, Hazem Qassem, warned that Israel "bears re- sponsibil-ity for the repercus- sions of this escalation". In anticipation of Palestini- an rockets being launched in response to the air attacks on Tues-day, Israel's military is- sued instructions advising Is- raeli residents of communities within 40km (25 miles) of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters. COGAT, a unit in the Israeli defence ministry that coordi- nates civilian affairs with Pal- estini-an authorities, said two crossings with Gaza have been closed for entry and exit of peo- ple and goods until further no- tice. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on Tuesday its medics treated 145 injuries in Nablus after an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town. A dozen people were shot with live fire and many others suffered tear gas inhalation, ac- cording to the Red Crescent So- ciety.

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