Friday, August 8, 2014

Hamas Ends Truce, Resumes Rocket Fire, IDF Strikes Gaza Targets

After Hamas Ends Truce, IDF Strikes Targets Across Gaza

The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Friday, the 32nd day of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas rejected extending a 72-hour ceasefire and opened rocket fire on Israel soon after 8 a.m. Israel began hitting back almost three hours later, and the Israeli delegation left the ceasefire talks in Cairo, with Israel saying it will not negotiate under fire.

BBC, too, questions conclusion that Israel targets civilians

A growing number of international media outlets, including the New York Times and BBC, have started to question civilian casualty figures from Gaza that purport to show that Israel is targeting civilians in the Strip, an act that would constitute a war crime under both international and Israeli law.
The BBC’s head of statistics Anthony Reuben cites figurespublished by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, which found the number of civilian men killed in the fighting (725) outnumbered the number of women (214) by a factor of nearly 3.5 to one. When the 216 confirmed “members of armed groups” are included, the disparity grows even larger.
“If the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate,’ as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women,” Reuben notes.
The question echoes a New York Times analysis earlier this week that “shows that the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll: They are 9 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34 percent of those killed whose ages were provided. At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71 percent of the population and 33 percent of the known-age casualties.”
These analyses do not mean Gazans haven’t suffered, but they do suggest, in Reuben’s words, “that some of the conclusions being drawn from [death toll figures] may be premature.”

“The renewed rocket attacks by terrorists at Israel are unacceptable, intolerable and shortsighted," Lerner added. "Hamas’ bad decision to breach the ceasefire will be pursued by the IDF, we will continue to strike Hamas, its infrastructure, its operatives and restore security for the State of Israel.”
Seconds later, the IDF Spokesperson's Office tweeted a confirmation, adding that it is "targeting terror sites" in Gaza. 

"The IDF remains alert and maintains a high level of preparedness with both defensive capabilities, and striking capabilities in order to address the renewed aggression," the IDF added, in a press release. "The IDF is determined to defend the civilians of the state of Israel."

A military spokeswoman told AFP that no Israeli soldiers entered Gaza to carry out the strikes.
There has been "no change on the ground," she said.

Senior government officials also added that the Israeli delegation to Cairo has been recalled, and already landed in Israel as of 7:00 am Friday morning.

The announcement, if true, surfaces after several ministers called for an end to the negotiations, which Hamas and Islamic Jihad have insisted would continue despite continuing to fire rockets on Israel and despiterejecting an extension of a 72-hour ceasefire. 

Sirens have sounded in Ashkelon, Hof Ashkelon, Sderot, the Eshkol region, and the Gaza Belt area Friday, as a 72-hour ceasefire ended between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza.

Residents of Sderot, Nir Am, Michlelet Sapir, Mifsalim, Gavim, Ashkelon, Ohad, Sohar, Barhiya, Hodaya, Rei'im, Kfar Silver, Mishan, Nir Yisrael, Sde Nitzan, Telmei Eliyahu, Yesha, Mivtahim, Amioz, Hof Ashkelon, Be'er Ganim, Zikim, Holit, Nir Yitzhak, Sufa, Netiv Ha'esreh, Yad Mordehai, Nahal Oz, Alumim, and Carmia, have rushed to shelters.
"Since 8:00 am, over 18 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel," the IDF Spokesperson's Office tweeted, close to 10:00 am. "2 were intercepted above Ashkelon, 14 hit open areas & 2 landed in Gaza." 

"Every rocket fired by Hamas is meant to kill Israeli civilians. Every rocket is a war crime," it added. 

Meanwhile, Hamas has insisted that talks in Cairo to pressure Israel into a permanent agreement will continue - even though the terrorist group rejected the notion of extending the "humanitarian ceasefire."

"All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have agreed not to renew the ceasefire because (Israel) is refusing to accommodate our demands, but negotiations continue in Cairo," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.

Earlier Friday, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders announced that they rejected the possibility of extending the 72-hour ceasefirebrokered in Cairo, citing Israel's failure to accept their laundry list of unprecedented demands.
"We have one position, we refuse to extend the ceasefire, it is a final decision. Israel did not propose anything," said one senior Hamas official after a long meeting with Egyptian mediators.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has called for ethnic cleansing against Jewish Israelis, after an official posted on Facebook to "drive the occupier out from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea." 
Fatah Central Committee Member Tawfiq Tirawi posted a message to his official Facebook page reading"O our free people of resolve and sacrifice in Gaza, you are more honored than us all... We remain committed to the promise: freedom, independence, and driving out the occupier from the entire pure land, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea."
"Long live free Gaza!" he added. The post was translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).  
Tirwai has long been a proponent of violence against Israel, calling on Palestinians to take up arms shortly after the Hamas-Fatah "unity government" was declared in April. 
In recent weeks, Fatah has called for violent "revolution" against Israel, and threatened the Jewish state by telling it to "prepare the body bags."

Liberian medical chiefs warned that their war-shattered health service was being overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak, as reports emerged of residents dumping bodies of suspected victims of the virus in the streets.
Tolbert Nyenswah, the deputy chief medical officer and assistant health minister, said the outbreak had forced a number of hospitals and clinics to close because staff were scared to work in them. He disclosed that some 67 health workers had become infected, and that many of the 6,000-strong work force were reluctant to return to their jobs.
He spoke to The Telegraph on Thursday in Liberia’s seafront capital, Monrovia, from where the government is mounting a desperate fight to stop the disease spreading.
On Wednesday night, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared a state of emergency across the country, and also despatched troops in full combat gear to block people travelling to Liberia’s capital from rural areas hit by Ebola.
In some parts of the country – devastated by civil war during the Nineties – locals had been dumping bodies of family members on the streets rather than taking them to hospitals or morgues, said Liberia’s information minister, Lewis Brown.
Health facilities are sometimes feared to be sources of the virus, while many are scared that if they identify a body as being that of a relation, they will be ostracised in their communities or forced to go into quarantine in government clinics. Such fears increase the risk of people incubating the virus without the authorities detecting it.
On Sunday, health workers turned up in Monrovia's Clara Town district to remove two bodies of possible victims of the Ebola virus, four days after they dropped dead there when nobody would take them to hospital.
Sierra Leone and Liberia are worst affected but there have also been cases in Nigeria and Guinea.
In Sierra Leone, military forces also deployed yesterday as part of “Operation Octopus”, which officials said was aimed at preventing “the unauthorised movement of Ebola-infected persons”. Two towns in the east of the country, Kailahun and Kenema, were put in quarantine, a government spokesman said, as nightclubs and entertainment venues across the country were ordered shut.

The current Ebola crisis in West Africa is on pace to sicken more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined, the health official leading the U.S. response said Thursday.

The next few weeks will be critical, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is sending more workers into the affected countries to help.

"It will be a long and hard fight," Frieden told a congressional committee Thursday.
In his prepared testimony, he estimated it would take at least three to six months to end the outbreak, under what he called a best-case scenario.
Frieden said the outbreak, which began in March, is unprecedented in part because it's in a region of Africa that never has dealt with Ebola before and has particularly weak health systems. He said the outbreak's two main drivers are lack of infection control as both health workers and families care for the sick and risky burial practices.
More than 1,700 people have been sickened in the current outbreak, in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Nearly 1,000 have died, according to the World Health Organization, or WHO.
On Thursday Frieden said there's no way to know exactly how accurate that count is, or whether some cases are going unreported.
"The data coming out is kind of a fog-of-war situation," he said.

"Ebola is out of control in West Africa, and we are starting to see panic now around the world," said Ken Isaacs, vice president at Samaritan's Purse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday ramped up its response to the expanding Ebola outbreak, a move that frees up hundreds of employees and signals the agency sees the health emergency as a potentially long and serious one.
The CDC’s “level 1 activation” is reserved for the most serious public health emergencies, and the agency said the move was appropriate considering the outbreak’s “potential to affect many lives.” The CDC took a similar move in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and again in 2009 during the bird-flu threat.
The Ebola outbreak is believed to have killed 932 people in the African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea. Two American aid workers sickened by the disease were flown back to the U.S. for treatment at a medical facility in Atlanta.
The CDC is deploying additional staff to the four affected countries, and said 50 more disease-control experts should arrive there in the next 30 days. It also issued instructions to airlines that may come into contact with passengers from the affected countries designed to minimize the chance of infection.

I suppose it depends on how quickly world health officials can get a handle on the crisis in West Africa. If the spread of the disease can be slowed relatively quickly, it is much less likely to make it to America.
But from what I've been reading, authorities are nowhere near getting the Ebola outbreak under control, and in fact, the spread of the disease is accelerating. That's why I think the CDC alerrt means they are convinced that eventually, America will have to deal with its own outbreak of the virus.

As the death toll rises in West Africa amid the worst Ebola outbreak on record, a separate threat is compounding the problem: the rainy season and the malaria that comes with it.
In Sierra Leone, with the most Ebola cases in the epidemic, a fearful population is failing to seek medical attention for any diseases, health officials say. If they have malaria, the feeling is they don’t want to go near a hospital with Ebola cases. If it’s Ebola, they don’t believe the hospitals can help them anyway, instead turning to traditional healers.
It’s a widening challenge complicated by the fact that Ebola, malaria and cholera share common symptoms early on, including fever and vomiting, which can cause confusion among patients, said Cyprien Fabre, head of the West Africa office of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department.
“We now have increased mortality for these other diseases” as well, Fabre said by telephone from Freetown, the country’s capital, after visiting Ebola treatment centers in Kenema and Kailahun near the eastern border. “This is a slow-motion disaster.”
The issue threatens to further undermine health and welfare in Sierra Leone, which has the world’s highest rate of child and maternal mortality, Fabre said.

The terror group President Barack Obama threatened to strike in Iraq Thursday evening is itself threatening to strike the American homeland.
“I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established,” Abu Mosa, a spokesman for the terror group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), told VICE Media in a video interview posted online Thursday. “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq.”
“We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House,” he added.
The video is the first of a multipart series on ISIS VICE Media says it plans to release. VICE Media reporter Medyan Dairieh recently spent three weeks in the ISIS-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa, which the terror group has proclaimed the capital of their newly declared Islamic caliphate.

ISIS — which recently began referring to itself simply as the Islamic State — now controls a large swath of territory extending from Syria into Iraq, where it has implemented a harsh form of Islamic law and appears to be committing a genocide against religious minorities who refuse to convert to Islam. 

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