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Geopolitics

Gaza-Israel Ceasefire Brokered By Egypt's Morsi

JERUSALEM POST (Israel), NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR, AFP (France), REUTERS (U.S.), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), AHRAM ONLINE (Egypt), LIBERTÉ ALGÉRIE (Algeria)

Worldcrunch

JERUSALEM - An informal ceasefire brokered by new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was holding in most places Thursday between the Palestinian group Hamas and the Israeli army, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The truce comes after three days of cross-border violence, that included 80 rockets and mortar fire fired from Gaza into southern Israel and Israeli air raids over Gaza. Seven Palestinians, including four fighters, have been killed and 13 women wounded since Monday, while in Israel, six people were hurt within 24 hours.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, but Gaza gets almost all its supplies through Egypt, so the Egyptian government has a large influence there. There is a single passage between Gaza and Israel and it has been blocked because of the violence, stranding dozens of people, especially hospital patients. This weekend is a major Muslim festival, the Aid Al-Adha, which may have helped bring on the pause in hostilities.

“An official close to the talks” said the Hamas leadership gave an oral promise to the Egyptians to observe the ceasefire, Reuters reported, while Israel agreed not to fire into Gaza unless fired upon.

Meanwhile, Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom told Israeli radio that Morsi is tougher toward Hamas than the previous Egyptian government was. “It's good for the public to know that the current leadership is acting against Hamas in a very tough way,” Shalom said.

Morsi also told Palestinian news agency Paltoday that “We will never accept any assault or siege on the Palestinian people,” the Jerusalem Postadded.

AFP reports that Morsi said: “Supporting Palestine does not mean that we will declare war against anybody.” According to Egyptian news site AhramOnline, Morsi has not mentioned Israel by name since becoming president.

Each side had blamed the other for the increased fighting Tuesday and Wednesday. Hamas condemned the “Zionist aggression” that it said was an “attempt to spoil the joy of Palestinians after the historic visit of the emir of Qatar.”

The visit had been the first by a head of state since Hamas took power in 2007. The emir has also met with Israeli leaders in the past. In his visit, he promised $400 million of aid to Gaza. Liberté Algérie points out that this visit strengthened the hand of Hamas, and violated the agreement of the Arab League and the international community not to recognize Hamas.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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