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Geopolitics

Israel Weighs Ground Offensive As Gaza Rockets Increase

JERUSALEM POST, HAARETZ, IDF (Israel), AL-AYYAM(Palestinian Territory), CNN (USA)

Worldcrunch

Israeli politicians were divided on Monday over the possibility of military ground operations in the Gaza Strip, as rockets rained down on Israel for the third day in a row, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich told Army Radio she was against intensive military action: "We are on the eve of elections, and operations beyond air attacks or targeted strikes require stability and national consensus at home."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz disagreed, saying that over time, rocket fire would hit closer and closer to Israel's center, and said Israel "cannot simply adjust and shield itself."

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to intensify its response: “The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit idly by in the face of attempts to attack us.”

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets at southern Israel on Monday, despite Egyptian efforts to mediate between Israel and Hamas to reach a cease-fire agreement, reported Haaretz.

According to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), more than 114 rockets have hit southern Israel since Saturday.

How did your day begin? Here in #Israel, a rocket fired from #Gaza hit a house. twitter.com/IDFSpokesperso…

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 12, 2012

Israeli airstrikes hit Palestinian targets in Gaza overnight, scoring direct hits on a "terror tunnel" and a weapons storage facility, reported CNN.

"The Israeli Defense Forces will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will operate against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel," said an Israel Defense Forces statement on Monday.

In the southern Israeli city of Netivot, classes were canceled in all schools that are not fortified against rockets, said Haaretz.

Since Saturday, the violence has left six Palestinians dead, including four civilians, and 40 wounded, including four Israeli soldiers.

Meanwhile, on Monday Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam quoted on its front page President Mahmoud Abbas as saying "We will go to New York despite the enormous pressure to abandon."

On Sunday, Abbas announced that he was going to the U.N. this month to ask the General Assembly to recognize an independent Palestine. "Some powers are trying to tell us that the two-state solution doesn't come from the U.N. but through negotiations," he said. "Negotiations are crucial. But to get U.N. recognition is also key."

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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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