Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Diplomats Urge Jerusalem Not To Cooperate WIth UN Gaza Probe, Gaza War Opens Politicized UN Relief Efforts To Global Security

Diplomats Urge Jerusalem Not To Cooperate With UN Gaza Probe

The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Wednesday, the 30th day since the start of Operation Protective Edge and the second day of a truce intended to lead to a long-term ceasefire. An Israeli delegation is in Cairo to discuss the terms of a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into force on Tuesday morning, and Hamas fired a salvo of rockets minutes before, and then fell quiet. Israeli military chiefs said they had delivered a “serious blow” to Hamas, including destroying all its known cross-border tunnels, and would restart military action if needed.

No cooperation with UN Gaza probe, Foreign Ministry urges

The Foreign Ministry has crafted a recommendation to the government saying Israel should not cooperate with an investigation by the UN Human Rights Council looking into Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip, Ynet reports.
“The committee decided on by the Council will be formed and will write a report, but if a committee is formed relying on the automatic anti-Israel majority, then we need to ask if Israel needs to cooperate,” says a ministry source. “We didn’t cooperate with Goldstone [after Cast Lead] and it disappeared from the world.”

Gaza starts to reopen

Life in the battered Gaza Strip begins returning to normal Wednesday as a ceasefire holds for a second day and Egyptian mediators engage in shuttle diplomacy on extending the truce.
Shops, banks and markets reopen around the devastated Strip where residents seem more confident that the 72-hour ceasefire, which began Tuesday, would hold after a month of fighting killed 1,875 Palestinians, according to Gazan sources, and 67 on the Israeli side.
Many small businesses open for the first time in days and dozens of fishermen also head back out to sea, an AFP correspondent said.

Anger at Hamas, shock among Rafah residents

Residents of Rafah returning to their homes express shock at the damage, and some not-so-concealed frustration at Hamas, according to an AP report.
Asmahan Ismail Abu al-Rous started wondering a year ago about the cause of the cracks on the walls of her Gaza home. When she asked some of her more savvy neighbors, they told her: Militants were digging an attack tunnel not far away.

“I did not think much about it then. I thought that was the resistance’s business, not mine,” the widowed mother of four says, standing amid the ruins of her two-story home in the Shawkah district, an eastern section of Rafah near Gaza’s border with Egypt.

Barely 50 meters (yards) away, according to villagers, is an entrance of the tunnel where Hamas fighters emerged Friday to attack Israeli soldiers. Two Israelis were killed and a third was initially believed to be captured by the militants.

The current fighting in Gaza has cast an international spotlight on the controversial work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Critics call UNRWA a pawn of terrorists, while defenders claim they are doing their best to reform the agency and cooperate with Israel.

While UNRWA’s humanitarian work has drawn praise, many observers denounce the agency as a heavily politicized advocacy group for Palestinians. They note that terrorists use UNRWA facilities to store weapons and conceal their fighters from Israeli forces. They argue that UNRWA should not be providing educational services for well-off Palestinians who can afford to pay their own way, and they question why the agency should be providing services to many of the estimated two million “refugees” who are citizens of Jordan.

Critics say that the United States and other Western governments – UNRWA’s top contributors – need to press the agency for reforms. Those would include steps such as preventing its facilities from being used by armed militant groups, ending school programs that glorify jihad, and encouraging residents to integrate into the countries they live in instead of deluding themselves into thinking they can “return” to Israel, a land that many of them have never set foot in.

UNRWA defenders have said they are already taking steps to reform the agency, and that they cooperate with Israel and move swiftly against staffers found to engage in radical activities. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he has told the government to retaliate against Western sanctions.
“I have already prepared such instructions today,” the president said during a working trip to the Central Russian Voronezh Region.
“Of course, it should be done very carefully, so that domestic manufacturers are supported without detriment to consumers,” he added.
Putin said that the use of political instruments to put pressure on the Russian economy is “against all norms and rules.”
“Political instruments for putting pressure on the economy are inadmissible, this is against all norms and rules. In this respect, the Russian government has already come forward with an array of retaliatory measures to the so-called sanctions imposed by certain states,” he said.
The Russian leader said producers in various countries should be in an equal environment and this meets the national security interests and also the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In July, the United States and the European Union announced new economic sanctions against Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has repeatedly called such measures counterproductive and stressed that Russia was not one of the sides of Ukrainian conflict.

Islamic militants in Iraq are battling to seize two of the country’s largest dams as a breakaway al-Qaeda group seeks to consolidate control over the territory it took this year.
Fighting between militants from the so-called Islamic State and Kurdish security forces raged for a third day near the Mosul dam, Iraq’s largest, Hisham al-Brefkani, member of the Nineveh provincial council, said in a phone interview.

The Islamic State, which was previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), has grabbed territory throughout Iraq and Syria and declared its own self-styled caliphate, highlighting the central government’s inability to ensure security under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Strengthened with weapons seized from the Iraqi army, the group this week took two oil fields and predominantly Kurdish towns in the north, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

The Mosul dam, about 50 kilometrs northwest of the city that the militants captured in June, is a major supplier of electricity and water. Germany’s Hochtief AG helped build the dam on the Tigris River in the 1980s. If it was sabotaged, it could flood Mosul and surrounding villages.
Foreign Policy observed that if the dam fails, “Mosul could be completely flooded within hours and a 15-foot wall of water could crash into Baghdad.”

On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO revived its propaganda against Moscow in order “to justify the alleged need to 'rally its ranks' in the face of an imaginary external threat to NATO, to increase military expenditure and to boost the demand for the alliance in the 21st century." The ministry also sharply criticized NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for his ungrounded confrontational rhetoric against Russia that resembles ‘Cold War’ propaganda clich├ęs.
In a Sunday interview with French newspaper Midi Libre, Rasmussen said the alliance would draw up new defense plans in the face of alleged "Russia's aggression" against Ukraine, and again encouraged NATO countries to increase their defense spending.
The West has repeatedly accused Russia of building up its forces on its border with eastern Ukraine and supplying Ukrainian independence supporters with weapons. The West has failed to provide any proof so far.
Moscow has rejected these claims. The Russian Defense Ministry said on July 27 that in the past four months 18 international inspection teams visited the areas in Russia bordering Ukraine under the Vienna Document of 2011 and the Treaty on Open Skies and found “no violations or undeclared military activity.” Russian President Vladimir Putin said that before accusing Russia one has to show real evidence.

The deadly Ebola epidemic engulfing three West African countries is “out of control,” health experts at the Council on Foreign Relations said Tuesday.
The virus, which has claimed almost 900 lives since March, hasn’t “ever been in control” since Ebola was first discovered in 1976, said Laurie Garrett, CFR’s senior fellow for global health.
Garrett spoke on a conference call with reporters as the second American infected with Ebola in Africa arrived in Atlanta for treatment under strict quarantine, and a day after a patient in New York City was tested for the disease. City health authorities concluded the patient is unlikely to have Ebola.
“There is no strategic plan of how we’re going to bring this under control,” Garrett said. “What will be the global strategy if this disease shows up elsewhere?”

Three of the world's leading Ebola specialists have called for experimental drugs and vaccines to be offered to people in West Africa affected by an outbreak of the deadly virus.
Noting that American aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia were given an unapproved medicine before being evacuated to the US, the specialists - including Peter Piot, who co-discovered Ebola in 1976 - said Africans affected by the same outbreak should get the same chance.
Dr Piot, David Heymann and Jeremy Farrar - all influential infectious disease professors - said there were several antiviral drugs, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines under study for possible use against Ebola.
"African governments should be allowed to make informed decisions about whether or not to use these products - for example to protect and treat healthcare workers who run especially high risks of infection," they wrote in a joint statement.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), "the only body with the necessary international authority" to allow such experimental treatments, "must take on this greater leadership role", they said.
"These dire circumstances call for a more robust international response," they added.
Almost 900 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been killed by Ebola and more than 1,600 infected since the virus started spreading in Guinea in February.

In the Liberian capital of Monrovia, relatives of Ebola victims defied government quarantine orders by dumping infected bodies in the streets, officials said.
Information minister Lewis Brown said some people may be alarmed by regulations imposing the decontamination of victims' homes and the tracking of their friends and relatives.
With less than half of those infected surviving the disease, many Africans regard Ebola isolation wards as death traps.
"They are therefore removing the bodies from their homes and are putting them out in the street. They're exposing themselves to the risk of being contaminated," Mr Brown said.
"We're asking people to please leave the bodies in their homes and we'll pick them up."
In Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the outbreak is now spreading fastest, authorities have deployed troops to quarantine the border areas where 70 per cent of cases have been detected.
A presidential aide from Sierra Leone said the soldiers would "deter relatives and friends of suspected and Ebola patients from forcefully taking them from hospitals without medical consent".

Also see:


hartdawg said...

I don't know if you heard this definition before but here it is:
Ceasefire: n. The situation in which Israel is defeating hamas so obama comes to the rescue of hamas

Scott said...

Hart glad to see you hope you are doing well!