News Roundup and Notes: July 22, 2014

Israel-Palestine

Senior Israeli officials have today rejected the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire, saying it is “not on our agenda right now”. The IDF hit more than 70 targets in Gaza overnight, killing at least 7 Palestinians, bringing the death toll in Gaza to more than 607 [Al Jazeera].

A rocket fired this morning by Hamas directly hit a house in the central Israeli town of Yehud, the first Gazan rocket to hit a building in the center of the country [Haartez]. An Israeli soldier has been reported missing in Gaza and is presumed dead [Al Jazeera].

Al Jazeera has reported that shots were fired today into their offices in Gaza. The Israeli military has confirmed that warning shots were fired at the building, which also holds the Associated Press offices and many residential apartments.

President Obama, in a statement yesterday, reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself but said “we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinians civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”

Speaking in Cairo yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “we are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself,” and urged Hamas to comply with ceasefire initiatives, hopeful that “[Hamas] will make the right decision.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Israel shortly to push forward ceasefire efforts [Haaretz]. Yesterday, the Secretary General urged efforts to end the two-week conflict in Gaza and Israel, saying that “Palestinians and Israelis deserve freedom – freedom from siege, rockets, missiles, artillery, and rockets” [UN News Centre].

The Associated Press reports that today Egypt’s foreign minister called for a restart of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as part of negotiating a ceasefire.

The Wall Street Journal (Tamer El-Ghobashy and Nicholas Casey) reports that over 100,000 Gazans have fled their homes since the conflict began two weeks ago, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees saying that the number fleeing has increased six-fold since Thursday.

Anne Barnard [New York Times] reports on the mounting concern surrounding the Israeli military strategy as the civilian death toll in Palestine increases steeply.

Isabel Kershner [New York Times] writes on the widespread support apparent throughout the Israeli population for the recent conflict with Hamas, despite the mounting casualties on both sides.

Tom Kutsch [Al Jazeera America] considers whether there is an appropriate state who could successfully mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Michael R. Gordon [New York Times] posits that in order for the U.S. to succeed in brokering a ceasefire in Gaza, the U.S. must be willing to rely heavily on Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey to exert their influence and “play intermediary.”

David Ignatius [Washington Post] suggests what approach should be taken to loosen Hamas’ “stranglehold” on Gaza.

The editorial board at the Guardian calls the war in Gaza “futile” and a “terrible little war” that is “largely pointless.”

The New York Times opinion pages publishes letters to the editor expressing the varied perspectives on the recent conflict.

Be sure to follow Haaretz for live updates of the crisis in the region.

Russia and Ukraine

The New York Times (Sabrina Tavernise and David M. Herszenhorn) reports that Ukraine has stepped up its fight against the rebels in eastern Ukraine, firing on areas of the northwest of Donetsk. The Daily Beast (Anna Nemptsova) discusses the details of the clashes.

The BBC reports that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine handed over two “black boxes” to Malaysian authorities last night that, according to the head of the Malaysian delegation at the handover in Donetsk, were in “good condition.” The Washington Post (Andrew Higgins) reports that the train carrying the bodies of those on the downed plane have arrived at Kharkiv, Ukraine, following a 17-hour journey out of the rebel controlled eastern region.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” the downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine and called for the pro-Russian rebels to give unfettered access to the crash site [UN News Centre].

The Associated Press reports that protestors in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia, marched yesterday on the Russian embassy demanding justice for the victims of downed Flight MH17.

The New York Times (C.J. Chivers) reports that a piece of jet wreckage from MH17 has signs of impact from small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel, indicating the use of a supersonic missile.

The Wall Street Journal (Olga Razumovskaya) reports that Russia has provided its first official report of the downing of Flight MH17. The report dismisses accusations of pro-Russian separatist involvement and instead implies the possibility of Ukrainian government involvement.

In a statement made yesterday, President Obama said that the rebel actions at the crash site “is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations” and that the “burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence…” lest Russia “further isolate itself from the international community.”

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko compared the downing of the Malaysian airlines flight to 9/11 and the Lockerbie bombing, saying “at every tragedy we should demonstrate the same way of reaction: this is a danger for the whole world…” [Politico’s Lucy McCalmont].

Hilary Clinton has called for stricter sanctions on Russia [The Hill’s Mario Trujilli]. While in an interview with the New Yorker (Evan Osnos), Vice President Biden claims to have said to Russian President Vladamir Putin that he didn’t think Putin has a soul.

The New York Times [Arnon Grunberg] discusses the problems related to collective grief and the “sober” response of the Dutch to the loss of their citizens.

The Wall Street Journal (Gerald F. Seib) discusses why Putin is willing to take so many risks in Ukraine.

The New York Times’ editorial board argues for a strong European response to the disaster, saying “[a]fter the downing of Flight MH17 and the brutish handling of the victims, it is time for Europe to hold Mr. Putin to his words.”

The Washington Post’s editorial board discusses “Russia’s barbarism” and describes Putin’s Russia as “a dangerous outlaw regime that needs to be contained.”

Roger Cohen [New York Times] discusses “Europe’s passivity” or “the Srebrenica syndrome” in its response to the Flight MH17 tragedy.

Iraq and Syria

Kristina Wong [The Hill] reports that the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. said on Monday that if the American government does not provide military assistance to the country the vacuum would be filled by “others,” implying that the Iranians may fill the void.

Reuters (Maggie Fick and Isra’ Al-Rubei’i) describes the approach of the Islamic State as “crush[ing] and coerc[ing]” as they move toward Baghdad, saying that the group is employing both psychological means and extreme violence in their attempt to take over more of the Iraqi state.

The Daily Beast (Jacob Siegel and Christopher Dickey) writes that Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, the former liaison of Saddam Hussein, is allied with the so-called Caliph Ibrahim, the leader of the Islamic State.

A local official said today that two Turkish soldiers were killed late on Monday, in an attack by suspected smugglers close to the Syrian border [Reuters].

Other Developments

A suicide bomb near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan has killed three foreign advisors, the nationalities of whom are not yet clear [Reuters’ Mirwais Harooni and Maria Golovnina].

Azam Ahmed [New York Times] reports that the American Special Forces teams in Afghanistan are preparing to withdraw and leave the Afghani forces to manage alone.

A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber was found guilty by a U.S. jury on Monday of obstructing the investigation of the 2013 bombing [Al Jazeera America].

Former members of the 9/11 Commission have warned of growing terrorist threats but expressed their concern that Americans are complacent and do not take the risk seriously [Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman].

The Guardian (Spencer Ackerman) writes that according to a report released Monday by Human Rights Watch, almost all of the most high-profile domestic terror plots in the U.S. since 9/11 have had some “direct involvement” of government agencies or informants. In an op-ed for Politico Magazine, Andrea J. Prasow writes on the “flawed approach” of the FBI to counterterrorism, describing it as a “phony war on terror.”

Catherine Herridge [Fox News] reports that the Norwegian who trained with an expert bomb maker in Yemen has been linked to the recent increased security measures on flights entering the U.S.

A large scale assault by the militant group Boko Haram in the northeast Nigerian town of Damboa, which began last Thursday, has displaced more than 15,000 people according to an official [Al Jazeera].

Police officials have said that three people were killed on the Kenyan coast yesterday. 94 people have died in the area so far this month in attacks claimed by al-Qaida-linked groups [Associated Press]. 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security