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U.S. Anti-ISIS Strategy, Cost Of Gaza War, Darth Rumor

A group of Yazidis Kurds, mostly women and children, arrive at a village in Sirnak, Turkey.
A group of Yazidis Kurds, mostly women and children, arrive at a village in Sirnak, Turkey.

Friday, August 22, 2014

After a week that saw an escalation in the horror from ISIS, Pentagon officials are trying to develop a strategy to contain and defeat what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described as “an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision.” According to The New York Times, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey seemed to suggest that the U.S. would have to strike the jihadist organization in northern Syria, where it is engaged in fights against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former British foreign secretary and chairman of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, went further by saying that the U.S. and its allies should develop a relationship with Assad and join forces against ISIS in Syria.

The jihadist group has launched an offensive against an army-held military airport in northern Syria, but at least 70 ISIS fighters have been killed by the Syrian army. Read more from Al Arabiya.

About 2,500 Yazidis — a religious minority persecuted by ISIS, now known as the Islamic State — are thought to have crossed into Turkey since the offensive of the jihadist terrorists started in northern Iraq.

Israel’s ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip is costing Israel as much as $60 million per day, meaning that the total spending has already surpassed $2.5 billion, Haaretz reports. “The army’s spending demands are so big that treasury officials fear that the budgets over the next three years will be subjugated to military needs at the expense of civilian spending,” the newspaper writes. The Guardian, meanwhile, reports that more than 360 factories in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged by Israeli airstrikes, 10% of all factories in the enclave, and explains that it will take years for Gaza’s economy to recover.

An unnamed Gaza security official told AP that Hamas executed 11 Palestinians found guilty by a Gaza court of being informants for Israel. Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV reported this morning that 18 suspected informants were executed.

A UNICEF senior official said yesterday that 469 Palestinian children have been killed since the beginning of the offensive and that 370,000 are in need of “psycho-social first aid.”

Through April, at least 191,369 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war since it began. The figure is more than double the number documented a year ago and is probably conservative, the United Nations' human rights office told Reuters.

The first trucks in a Russian humanitarian aid convoy, which had been held for days on the border, have crossed into Ukraine following an order from Moscow’s Foreign Ministry, RT reports. The convoy is first heading towards the city of Luhansk, where the Ukrainian army has been battling for weeks to regain rebel-held areas. In a statement, the Ministry accused Kiev of “consciously putting the humanitarian aid delivery on hold to arrive at a situation where there’ll be just no one left to get it.” The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was not escorting the convoy, explainingthat they hadn’t received “sufficient security guarantees from the fighting parties,” adding that their team in Luhansk had reported “heavy shelling.”

A national day of mourning has been declared in Malaysia, as the first remains of 20 of the 43 Malaysian nationals killed in the shooting of flight MH17 over Ukraine returned home.

South Africa and Senegal have imposed new travel restrictions with Ebola-hit countries in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading. Senegal announced it was closing its border with Guinea and barring all ships and planes from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. South Africa, meanwhile, will allow its citizens returning from those countries to enter but not other African nationals. Read more from the BBC.

American Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in West Africa, was released from Emory University Hospital yesterday. “Today is a miraculous day," he said.

AsDie Welt writes, India and Pakistan are arch enemies whose ongoing Kashmir conflict shows no signs of ending. So will the film kiss between a beloved Pakistani actress and an India heartthrob be censored? “Humaima Malick, a model and actress from Quetta in western Pakistan, seems a little worried about how audiences in her hometown are going to react when the crime comedy Raja Natwarlal opens on Aug. 29,” journalist Sophie Muhlmann writes. “Her role as a bar dancer alongside Indian heartthrob Emraan Hashmi marks Humaima's debut in Bollywood.”
Read the full article, The Bollywood Kiss Heard "Round The World.


The search for survivors in Western Japan’s Hiroshima, where 51 people are still missing after massive landslides earlier this week, was interrupted as more heavy rains raised fears of new landslides, AFP reports. The confirmed death toll stands at 39, but authorities fear it may rise significantly. Four thousand people were ordered to evacuate their homes. More to the west, near Fukuoka, more heavy rains have led the authorities to issue an evacuation order for 100,000 residents. Read more from The Japan Times.

As Slate promises, “Now you, too, can spread dubious rumors about Episode VII!” Go here “to spawn more baseless speculation.”

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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