ISRAEL
Rockets fired from Gaza despite truce

Four rockets launched from the Gaza Strip struck Israel on Thursday despite an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire announced by the Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad after the most intense cross-border violence since 2012.

No one was hurt by the evening salvo, the Israeli army said. With winter rains keeping people indoors and Iron Dome interceptors shooting down some rockets, the two-day flare-up has been relatively free of casualties.

Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed faction that has sometimes operated independently of Gaza’s Hamas government, began the barrage Wednesday after Israeli forces killed three of its fighters a day earlier. Islamic Jihad fired 60 rockets Wednesday, and Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad’s Khalid al-Batsh announced that the truce ending the eight-day war of November 2012 between Israel and Gaza militants would resume if the Israelis complied.

— Reuters

TURKEY
2 dead in clashes after teen’s funeral

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized protests over the death of a teenager who was wounded by police as an attempt to create chaos and influence elections.

Berkin Elvan, 15, died Tuesday, nine months after being hit by a police tear gas canister during anti-government protests and slipping into a coma. He was hit on his way to buy bread and was not part of the protests.

On Wednesday, clashes broke out in Istanbul and other cities after tens of thousands joined a funeral procession in Istanbul for Elvan. Officials said at least two people died in the clashes.

“These people are fakes. They have nothing to do with democracy or freedom,” Erdogan said of the protesters in a speech in Mersin. “They foresee the result of the elections and think, ‘Can we get results through chaos?’ ”

Turkey will hold local elections March 30, and Erdogan has acknowledged that they will be a referendum on his rule.

— Associated Press

VENEZUELA
President calls for stepped-up security

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is calling on the national guard to search the central city of Valencia for those responsible for a day of violence that left three dead.

Communications Minister Delcy Rodríguez sent a tweet Thursday saying that Maduro had decided during a meeting with his security cabinet to step up security actions in areas where violence has erupted.

A university student, a man painting his home and a national guard captain were fatally shot Wednesday in Valencia.

Mayor Miguel Cocchiola, an opposition politician, aid there are “videos, proof” that support witness accounts that pro-government groups, or “colectivos,” were involved in the shootings.

— Associated Press

Liberal candidate challenges Toronto’s Rob Ford: A left-leaning politician popular in liberal downtown Toronto kicked off her campaign to replace Rob Ford, setting up a showdown with the conservative mayor
who vows that he will win despite the drug scandal engulfing him. Olivia Chow, who resigned from her Parliament seat this week ahead of her campaign launch, made no mention during her speech of the drug use, drunkenness and erratic behavior that have given Ford international notoriety. But she said the mayor has disappointed his city.

More than 100 killed in Nigeria land dispute: Dozens of gunmen have killed more than 100 villagers in a conflict over land in northern Nigeria, survivors said Thursday. The attacks, which began Tuesday night, left scores fleeing on foot from the four targeted villages about 110 miles south of Katsina city. The chief imam of Maigora village said two policemen answering calls for help were among the dead. He said two men in military uniforms were among the attackers.

Syrian toll exceeds 146,000, group says: More than 146,000 people, more than a third of them civilians, have been killed in Syria’s civil war, which enters its fourth year this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The last U.N. figures, released in July, said at least 100,000 had died, but the United Nations said in January that it would stop updating the toll as conditions on the ground made accurate estimates impossible. Reuters could not verify the toll of 146,065 published by the Observatory, an opposition group that uses sources across Syria to monitor violence.

— From news services