The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Friday, the 25th day of Operation Protective Edge. Thursday saw 90 rockets fired at Israel, several Israelis hurt by mortar fire, ongoing IDF strikes at Hamas targets in Gaza and tunnel demolitions, and US criticism of an Israeli strike that killed a reported 15 people at a UN school in Gaza on Wednesday. The US and UN announced a 72-hour truce from Friday morning to be followed by negotiations, but the truce quickly collapsed and fighting resumed.
Sirens wail in Gaza periphery
Israel tells UN envoy that truce is over
Heavy fighting reported in Rafah
ISIS just released a video showing what they claim are Iraq’s Army POWs captured by ISIS, driven away in truck loads and then shot them all dead. The video caption stated that there were 1,500 individuals. The video shows their end being shot at point blank in several horrific mass slaughters reminiscent to what we see during Nazi Germany. The young teens begged for their lives as they were made to curse Al-Maliki but to no avail while they were forced to chant “long live the Muslim nation”. Shoebat.com was the first to discover the video:
The voice speaks how they captured soldiers covering their uniforms with civilian cloths. Then they show soldiers pleading cursing Maliki while other chant “long live Islamic Nation”. The last man they slapped as they went down to the river had part of his back showing as his shirt was short and they blurred his skin lest it was sexually arousing. Then they are seen shooting the captives in the head and tossing them in the river under a pool of blood as the narrator from the ISIS stated victoriously:
We will revenge and will return measure with measures … soon the Muslim will walk everywhere dignified with his head high …
Hamas broke the ceasefire agreement with Israel and renewed rocket fire at Israel Friday morning, with at least five rockets and two mortars being fired into Israel since the morning.
Meanwhile, Palestinians have reported massive clashes with the IDF in southern Gaza, and said heavy artillery fire was taking place in the Rafah area; at least 40 people were killed, the Palestinian Interior Ministry said.
Israel accused Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups of violating the US and UN-mediated truce, but did not elaborate, amid Israeli media reports that gunmen had fired at Israeli soldiers in the Rafah area.
Hamas spokesperson Mushir Al-Masri said that "The next few hours will decide where things will go and all the options are open."
According to him, "Our rockets are aimed at Israel if the calm is broken."
Rocket fire from Gaza also continued overnight between Thursday and Friday striking mostly open areas in southern Israel until just moments before the 72-hour ceasefire took effect.
Dutch and Australian forensic teams have reached the Malaysian Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine for the first time, accompanied by OSCE monitors, after almost a week of trying to access the scene.
However, explosions have been heard close to the area, where the delegation is currently located according to the AFP and RIA Novosti news agencies.
There were four experts in the group, who used a new route to get to where the plane was downed. They had been trying daily to get to the crash site, but were unable to due to heavy fighting between Ukrainian troops and anti-government forces.
"The goal is to reach the spot where MH17 crashed and evaluate safety on the route from Donetsk," the Dutch team said in a statement.
Anti-government forces have repeatedly accused Kiev of blocking access to the crash site by fighting in the area.
"Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area," said Sergey Kavtaradze, an aide to anti-government leader Aleksandr Boroday.
"We hope the Ukrainians will adhere to the decisions of the UN and allow observers and experts to reach the crash site and facilitate the security of the place," he said.
Scientists in Australia and New Zealand warn that the vaccine for the deadly outbreak of Ebola won’t come soon enough to stop the current spreading of the virus. Sierra Leone has announced a state of emergency to deal with the threat.
A total of 729 people have died since the beginning of the year, and 1,200 all in all were infected in the country, the World Health Organization says.
The president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, said in a televised address to the nation that the virus is a high-hazard issue for the country.
"Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures. The Ebola virus disease poses an extraordinary challenge to our nation," Koroma said. "Consequently... I hereby proclaim a state of public emergency to enable us to take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak."
Security forces and the army will ensure quarantine in all areas where the disease has occurred, and will provide support to health officers and NGOs following attacks on health workers by local communities, the president said.
The World Health Organization is planning to launch a $100 million response to combat the outbreak. According to the UN, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan will meet in Conakry, Guinea, on Friday with the presidents of affected West African nations to discuss the plan.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone on Thursday. Thomas Frieden, director of the agency, said it will also send an additional 50 health experts to assist with efforts to control the outbreak.
At the beginning, there are flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. Then, external and internal bleeding starts.
In the UK, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Mark Walport, told The Daily Telegraph that such diseases are a "potential major threat to Britain."
“We are living in a completely interconnected world where disruptions in countries far away will have major impacts,” he said. “We have to do the best horizon scanning. We have to think about risk and managing risk appropriately.”
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General released a memo on Thursday confirming the problem of communicable diseases that are being spread throughout detention centers.
IG office stressed the problem of communicable diseases that are being spread at the detention centers.
“Many UAC and family units require treatment for communicable diseases, including respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, chicken pox, and scabies,” the IG report said. “UAC and family unit illnesses and unfamiliarity with bathroom facilities resulted in unsanitary conditions and exposure to human waste in some holding facilities.” The report continued:
CBP personnel reported contracting scabies, lice, and chicken pox. Two CBP Officers reported that their children were diagnosed with chicken pox within days of the CBP Officers’ contact with a UAC who had chicken pox. In addition, USBP personnel at the Clint Station and Santa Teresa Station reported that they were potentially exposed to tuberculosis.
Only in an alternate universe does an American administration have even indirect diplomatic contact with such terrorists, or with its state sponsors and funders, let alone pressure a loyal and valuable ally into offering concessions to a common enemy, an outlaw that scorns the international laws of war, willingly sacrifices its own children and wives, and has made it clear that it does not ever want any accommodation with Israel, only its destruction. Only in an alternate universe does a liberal democracy ruled by law send $47 million to a gang of murderers, and indulge a cowardly moral equivalence that does not discriminate between genocidal terrorists and a legitimate state exercising its right to defense. Only in an alternate universe does a president who sends drones thousands of miles to kill terrorists and everybody around them, including 250 civilians by some estimates, criticize Israel’s “disproportionate response” when it seeks to destroy terrorists who live next door and rain rockets down on its people, and unlike Obama, it tells civilians the attack is on the way.
We also had this past weak another surreal spectacle at the laughably denominated U.N. Human Rights Council. It issued a resolution titled “Ensuring Respect for International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” which alone is replete with Orwellian distortions of reality, since Gaza is not “occupied” by the Israelis. They turned it over to the Palestinians in 2005, after dismantling 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza and 4 in Judea and Samaria. What they got in return has been over 11,000 rockets fired against their citizens.
Civilians are dying in Gaza because Hamas deliberately and flagrantly uses them as shields, places its ammo dumps, rockets, and fighters in and under mosques, residences, hospitals, and schools, and prevents Gazans from heeding Israel’s many and varied warnings that a site is going to be destroyed, even beating them when they try to flee. As for violations of “international law,” Andrew McCarthy details specifically how everything Israel has done in its defence is consistent with international law, and everything the “unlawful combatants” of Hamas has done is in deliberate and flagrant violation of it.
But despite the clear and unambiguous truth that Israel is waging a legal defensive war, in the alternate universe of the U.N., the Human Rights Council votes “to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” and “to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures.”
A foreign policy based on illusion leaves our country vulnerable to various global autocrats, thugs, and terrorists. Those shrewd, hard men (see Putin, Vladimir) know how to manipulate our delusions and exploit our weaknesses, particularly our leaders’ penchant for substituting diplomatic words for military deeds to serve their short-term political needs. This illusion of action creates complacency of the sort we experienced in the 90s, when we lived in an alternate reality where al Qaeda’s declarations of war and terrorist attacks were treated as criminal matters rather than acts of war. And we all remember how gruesomely we were reintroduced to reality.