GAZA: NO TRUCE, BANNED BROADCAST, SEEN FROM SPACE
37 Palestinians were killed this morning in Gaza, taking the death toll after 17 days of the Israeli operation to 734, with more than 4,000 injured, Ma’an news agency reports. Hamas meanwhile claimed to have killed 8 Israeli soldiers early this morning, as Tel Aviv was targeted by more rockets. This comes as the FAA lifted its ban on U.S.-Israel flights to and from the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called yesterday for a temporary truce to allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, although he repeated that there would be no lasting ceasefire until full negotiations and the end of Israel’s blockade on Gaza. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon however said that the army was “preparing the next stages of the fighting,” telling troops "You need to be ready for more important steps in Gaza,” according to The Daily Telegraph. This came as the United Nations Human Rights Council said it would launch an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.
Israeli daily Haaretz is reporting that human rights organization B’Tselem’s broadcast mentioning the names of dead Palestinian children had been banned by the country’s media watchdog for being “politically controversial.”
The Washington Post reports the doubts of Gazans that the U.S. can broker a peace agreement given its financial ties with Israel.
From the International Space Station, German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this bleak photo on social media, calling it his “saddest photo yet.”
ACCUSATIONS WIDEN OVER MH17
One week since the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the question of responsibility still burns. A report by Reuters yesterday quotes Alexander Khodakovsky, a rebel leader from eastern Ukraine, as saying that his group had BUK missiles, the type that Washington believes was used to shoot down MH17. But that account was contradicted by BBC journalist Gabriel Gatehouse, who reports that Khodakovsky himself later denied “all the details in the Reuters story” and claimed he had been “misunderstood.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Minister challenged Washington to publish the evidence it claims to have, and accused the U.S. of “manufacturing” the facts.
Writing on the possibility presented by U.S. intelligence officials that a Ukrainian army “defector” might have fired the missile, investigative journalist Robert Parry claims that another explanation might be that the man was indeed working for the military.
60 DEAD AFTER ATTACK ON IRAQI PRISONER CONVOY
At least 60 people were killed after a prisoner convoy in Iraq was hit by roadside bombs and came under heavy gunfire, AP reports. Among the dead are 8 soldiers, the 52 others being prisoners. The attack began with an assault on an army base, with forced officials to leave, raising the possibility that the move was intended to provoke a jailbreak. The extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) has carried such attacks in the past. Today’s violence came as the Iraqi Parliament was preparing to elect the country’s new President, having already postponed the vote yesterday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also expected in Baghdad today for a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
BAD WEATHER CAUSED TAIWAN PLANE CRASH
Taiwanese officials defended the flight clearance given to the TransAsia Airways flight that crashed yesterday, killing at least 48 people. Despite severe weather conditions due to the presence of a typhoon, leading to the plane crashing into buildings after a failed landing attempt, the Transport Minister said that “the meteorology data showed that it met the aviation safety requirements.” Read more from the South China Morning Post.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines' flight MH17 may change Putin's hand in eastern Ukraine, but a weak and divided Europe is still no match for the well-armed Russian poker player, according to Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza’s Andrzej Lubowski: “Future conflicts and misfortunes will soon overshadow the MH17 tragedy. Matters will get back on old tracks. U.S. sanctions will only be a pinch to the Russian economy, as long as the European Union continues dragging its feet. If even a brutal aggression doesn't stop France from supplying Russia with modern weapons; if the CEO of Siemens can't restrain himself from visiting Vladimir Putin's dacha, doesn't it mean that Europe lacks character, political will and imagination? Russia's ruler is laughing out loud at the European impotence.”
Read the full story, What Europe Still Doesn’t Understand About Vladimir Putin.
ALGERIAN PLANE GOES MISSING
A Spanish private airline Company, Swiftair, said it had lost contact with one of its planes, operated by Air Algérie. The flight, which took off from Burkina Faso with 116 people on board, never reached Algiers, its intended destination. Developing
POLAND COLLABORATION WITH CIA ILLEGAL
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland broke the European human rights convention when it helped the CIA render two terror suspects in 2002-2003 who have since been transferred to Guantanamo. According to the BBC, the Polish government must pay $135,000 in damages to each man.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
CEASEFIRE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Fighting groups and representatives from the Central African Republic’s interim government have signed a ceasefire, in what could be a first step towards the end of a months-long conflict between Muslim and Christian groups. France 24 however warns that there has been no agreement yet on disarmament or on the country’s political future.
DEATH PENALTY, ANYTHING BUT SWIFT
A lethal injection execution in Arizona took close to two hours, in what appears to be another botched application of the death penalty.
ETERNAL WINTER IS COMING
Russian President Vladimir Putin is switching Russia to wintertime permanently, a move that is expected to increase the general health and mood of Russians.
EBONY AND IRONY
A pine tree planted in memory of George Harrison has been killed ... by beetles.