updated 8:38 AM MDT, Mar 29, 2017
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US Air strikes launched on Syria

 

 

An F/A-18E Super Hornet landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), in the Persian Gulf.
Reuters

An F/A-18E Super Hornet landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), in the Persian Gulf.

In a dramatic expansion of the US-led war on Islamist jihadis, manned and unmanned American and Arab fighter aircraft launched their first air strikes on Syria early Tuesday, dumping cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs on Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State's headquarters, and on the Syria-Iraq border which cuts through the jihadis' turf.

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Israelis, Palestinians begin new talks to end Gaza war

 

 

By NIDAL AL-MUGHRABI and ORI LEWIS, Reuters
 
GAZA/ - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt on Monday on ending a month-old Gaza war, Egypt's state news agency said, after a new 72-hour truce appeared to be holding.

The Israeli military said one rocket was launched at the Tel Aviv area, in Israel's commercial heartland, before the ceasefire began at 2100 GMT on Sunday and may have landed in the sea. Gaza's dominant Hamas group said it fired the missile.

A senior Israeli government official had said on Sunday Israeli negotiators, who had left Cairo on Friday hours before a previous three-day ceasefire expired, would return to Egypt to resume the talks only if the new truce held.

Hamas is demanding an end to Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip and the opening of a seaport in the enclave - a project Israel says should be dealt with only in any future talks on a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians.

A month of war has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza, and Egypt's Foreign Ministry has urged both sides to work towards "a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement".

Gaza hospital officials say the Palestinian death toll has been mainly civilian since the July 8 launch of Israel's military campaign to quell Gaza rocket fire.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, while heavy losses among civilians and the destruction of thousands of homes in Gaza have drawn international condemnation.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the new negotiations would be "the last chance" for an agreement. Israeli representatives are not meeting face-to-face with the Palestinian delegation because it includes Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist organization.

Long-term truce

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a radio interview on Monday that disarming Gaza militants was crucial to sustain a long-term truce and he hoped this could be done by diplomacy rather than force.

"I certainly hope that there will be a diplomatic solution. If there will not be a diplomatic solution, I am convinced that sooner or later we will have to opt for a military solution of taking temporary control of Gaza to demilitarize it again," he told Israel Radio.

Another sticking points in the Cairo talks has been Israel's demand for guarantees that Hamas would not use any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza to build tunnels of the sort Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.

Hamas has demanded an end to the economically stifling blockade of the enclave imposed by both Israel and Egypt, which also sees the Islamist movement as a security threat.

Israel has resisted easing access to Gaza, suspecting Hamas could then restock with weapons from abroad.

According to the United Nations, at least 425,000 displaced people in the Gaza Strip are in emergency shelters or staying with host families. Nearly 12,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks.

In Gaza, shops began to open and traffic was normal as some displaced families returned to the homes they had been forced to abandon during Israeli attacks, expressing hopes that this truce would last after a series of failed ceasefires.

"God knows if it is permanent," said Abu Salama, a resident of Gaza's Shejaia district, as he and his family headed home on a donkey cart. "A truce, no truce, it is becoming like Tom and Jerry. We want a solution," he said.

Turkish ships

The new three-day ceasefire won praise from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who hoped it might lead to a durable ceasefire.

Israeli air strikes and shelling on Sunday killed nine Palestinians in Gaza, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting since the last truce ended.

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Report ; Israel tapped John Kerry's phone- Der Spiegel.

 Several sources in the intelligence community confirm to 'Der Spiegel' that Israel listened to US Secretary of State's unencrypted calls.
John Kerry
John Kerry arrives in Israel, July 23 Photo: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV

Israeli intelligence intercepted phone calls of US Secretary of State John Kerry while he was trying to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority earlier this year, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

The report was confirmed by several sources in the intelligence community, according to Der Spiegel.

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Israel kills at least 10 in strike on UN school in Gaza




At least 10 people have been killed in a strike on a UN-run school housing Palestinians displaced by the Gaza conflict, medics say.

Thousands of Palestinians were believed to be sheltering in the facility in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military has not commented but has been carrying out renewed strikes in Gaza.

Gaza health officials say 30 people have died on Sunday, while militants continue to fire rockets into Israel.

The latest exchanges came after Israel's military said that an officer it feared had been captured had now been confirmed dead. Hadar Goldin went missing on Friday near Rafah.

Confirmation of 2nd Lt Goldin's death means 66 Israelis have now died in the fighting, all but two of them soldiers. A Thai worker in Israel also died.


The latest official figures from Gaza's health ministry say that 1,740 Palestinians have been killed and 9,080 injured since the conflict began more than three weeks ago.

The UN warned that a "health disaster of widespread proportions" is unfolding in Gaza, with medical services facing collapse.
Forces redeployed

The Israeli shelling of the Jabaliya UN shelter last week, which killed 16 people, drew widespread international condemnation.

In the latest attack, eyewitnesses said a missile struck near the entrance to the school.

At least 30 people were also injured, Palestinian officials said.
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"Death and destruction": The BBC's Ian Pannell reports from inside Rafah

On Sunday, Israel said its forces were withdrawing from some areas of Gaza to a "temporary security strip" to reassess operations.

Reports said the military was close to completing its main aim of destroying tunnels used by militants to infiltrate Israel.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner told Agence France-Presse: "We are redeploying within the Gaza Strip and taking out other different positions... so it won't be the same type of ground operation... It's changing gear but it's still ongoing."

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israel will continue its offensive.
Damaged house in Rafah after Israeli strike, 3 Aug A separate strike on Rafah killed several members of the same family, Gaza officials say
Sister Ayelet and fiancee Edna of Lt Hadar Goldin attend a news conference after his death was confirmed, 2 Aug Sister Ayelet and fiancee Edna of Lt Hadar Goldin attend a news conference after his death was confirmed

"Hamas again mistakenly believes that the people of Israel do not have the will and determination to fight them and Hamas again will learn the hard way that Israel will do whatever it must do to protect its people," he said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum dismissed Mr Netanyahu's comments as "confused" and said the group would "continue to resist until we achieve our goals".

A delegation from Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian and US officials over a possible truce.

Hamas is demanding the removal of Israeli troops and the ending of an economic blockade.

However, Israel has said it will not attend the talks.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told the Ynet website: "You want to talk about lifting the blockade? Not with us, and not now."
Funeral

Chris Gunness, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), told the BBC that a "health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding in Gaza, with medical services on

Hadar Goldin, 23, went missing after clashes between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters in southern Gaza

He said: "Critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted and the damage and destruction of power supplies has left hospitals dependent on unreliable generators."

Mr Gunness warned that there was a serious risk of an outbreak of waterborne and communicable diseases because of a lack of adequate water and poor sanitation.

Separately overnight, Israel said DNA evidence confirmed that Lt Goldin had died.

Israel's defence minister and the chief military rabbi met the soldier's family at their home in the town of Kfar Saba on Saturday night.

Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered outside their home and there was an outpouring of grief when the military's announcement was made public.

The funeral is expected to take place in Kfar Saba on Sunday afternoon

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