News / Middle East

    UN's Ban: Mideast ‘Cannot Afford Another Full-blown War’

    • Palestinians run following what police said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City, July 9, 2014.
    • Smoke and debris rise after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip seen from the Israeli side of the Israel Gaza Border, July 9, 2014.
    • Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians during their funeral in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
    • Israelis run towards a bomb shelter as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets in the southern city of Ashkelon, July 9, 2014.
    • An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
    • An Israeli border police officer surveys the damaged caused to a structure after it was hit by a rocket, near the border with the Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
    • Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Gaza, July 8, 2014.
    • A police officer gestures as Palestinians inspect the remains of a car which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
    • Palestinians gather around the remains of a car which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
    • Palestinians search through the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
    • Palestinians try to salvage what they can from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
    Images from Gaza
    VOA News

    With dozens of people reported killed, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling the latest surge of violence between Israel and the Palestinians one of the most critical tests the Middle East has faced in years, and warned against any further escalation of hostilities in and around the Gaza Strip.

    “The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war,” said Ban.

    Israeli jets bombarded Palestinian targets across Gaza Wednesday, while Hamas militants fired rockets into the Jewish state's heartland.

    Palestinian officials say at least 44 people have been killed in Gaza this week, including women and children. Israel reported no deaths.

    The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday to discuss the situation.

    The  U.N. chief said he spent much of the day on the telephone with world leaders, including Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, looking for ways to contain the crisis.

    “Regional leaders have a vital role to play and I urged President Sissi and others to help facilitate a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,'' Ban said.

    Ban also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the king of Saudi Arabia and the emir of Qatar.

    Ban condemned as “unacceptable” the multiple rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israel, but also called on the Jewish state to “exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians.”

    Situation on the ground

    Explosions rocked Gaza, as Israel launched more than 200 air strikes against the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions. The Israeli military said targets include the homes of Hamas leaders, smuggling tunnels and weapons depots.

    Pillars of black smoke from the bombing targets filled the skies over densely populated Gaza. Palestinian rescue and medical officials sifted through the wreckage at the 560 sites Israel said its warplanes had hit since the operation began early Tuesday -- aimed at stopping a wave of Palestinian rocket attacks.

    Israel's Strategic Affair Minister Yuval Steinitz said there is much more to come.

    "This offensive will not be short," Steinitz told Israel Radio, "because we are determined to restore peace and quiet to the citizens of Israel." He said the army would impose a severe blow on the military capabilities of Hamas.
     
    Steinitz said Israel also is preparing for a possible ground offensive, after the government authorized the army to call up 40,000 reservists.

    Israeli soldiers work on their tanks at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Border, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.Israeli soldiers work on their tanks at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Border, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
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    Israeli soldiers work on their tanks at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Border, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
    Israeli soldiers work on their tanks at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Border, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

    Hamas strikes deep
     
    Hamas is not backing down. It continues to fire rockets deeper into Israel. Many of the rockets have been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.

    Israel reported no deaths, but air raid sirens could be heard in the key Israeli business center of Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem and beyond as Hamas fired rockets deeper into Israel than ever before.

    Israeli media reported that two rockets landed in the Mediterranean Sea near the northern port city of Haifa, 165 kilometers from Gaza, and the government said Hamas has dozens of longer-range rockets.

    Hamas official Mushir Al Masri was speaking to reporters in Gaza as a bomb struck nearby. He said if Israel thinks "it can empty Hamas' weapons arsenals in days, weeks or months, it is gravely mistaken. He said Hamas has endurance and it is prepared to fight for a long time.

    Israel, Gaza, West Bank mapIsrael, Gaza, West Bank map
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    Israel, Gaza, West Bank map
    Israel, Gaza, West Bank map

    Intense fighting

    Israeli military mission, "Operation Protective Edge," is aimed at blocking Hamas from firing rockets at Israel. The offensive, however, has set off the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas since an eight-day battle in late 2012.

    Israeli public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich vowed to continue the assault on Gaza.

    "We will not stop. They'll first receive a hard blow, from both the air and the sea," said Aharonovich. "And if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion. All options are open, but we need to restore calm."

    Pillars of black smoke from the bombing targets filled the skies in densely populated Gaza. Palestinian rescue and medical officials sifted through the wreckage at the 430 sites Israel said its warplanes had hit since the operation began early Tuesday.

    Hundreds of mourners carried the bodies of those killed in raucous funeral processions through Gaza streets.

    Obama urges peace

    U.S. President Barack Obama said in a column published Wednesday in Germany that "everyone involved" should act in a sensible and measured way, rather than seek revenge or retaliation. His words were published in the German newspaper Die Zeit. He reiterated U.S. support for a two-state, Israeli-Palestinian solution and added that "both sides must be prepared to accept risks for peace."

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Netanyahu Wednesday and was also to call Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The State Department provided no details of the phone call, but said Washington urges all sides to de-escalate the situation.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a televised statement late Tuesday in which he called on international bodies such as the Mideast Quartet and the United Nations Security Council to "take responsibility to guarantee the safety" of the Palestinian people. He asked Palestinians to be "united and patient" and promised the government would do its best to fulfill their needs.

    Israel's defense chief, Moshe Ya'alon, said Tuesday the country is prepared for a campaign "which will not end within days."

    Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles were seen massing near the Gaza border, and a military spokesman said the army was recruiting reserve troops for a potential ground mission.

    The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinian youth have helped to further escalate tensions in the past week. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas have condemned the acts and vowed to punish those responsible.

    Israeli investigators said this week that three of six Jewish suspects accused of killing 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir have confessed to the crime and re-enacted it for authorities. It is believed the Palestinian was killed as revenge for the deaths of the Israeli teens.

    Israel blames Hamas for the killing of the Israeli youths. Hamas has denied responsibility.

    Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations; Robert Berger from Jerusalem. Some information was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    by: Robert Fantina from: Canada
    July 10, 2014 9:58 AM
    Israel has occupied Palestine for decades, in violation of numerous international laws. The goal of Israel, as proven by its genocidal practices, is the eradication of the entire nation of Palestine, its people and culture. Palestinians have every right to resist Israel's barbaric cruelties.

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 10, 2014 12:46 AM
    Israel has the right to the claimed of that land. There are historical evidence to proved that the land belongs to the Jewish people.The first kingdom was established in the 11 BCE, There are Biblical evidence to proved that the land belongs to the Jews. And if you are a Christian and you denied that the land is not for Israel, you have made our holy scripture to be a lied. Cuz from genesis to revelation, the scripture speaks of the children of Israel, Israel, and the Jews. Example, Abraham was a Hebrew, Moses Hebrew, David Hebrew and our Lord Jesus Christ Hebrew, etc etc.
    The most important thing is there are Koranic evidence that clearly states that Allah give the land to the children of Israel. Sura 7:7,Sura 5:20-21, Sura 17:100-104, Sura 26:59, and the most shocking part in the Koran, it states that Allah favor the Jews over all the people of the earth, including so call Palestinians. and Arabs. Sura 2:40-47,
    Allah made a Covenant with the children of Israel and favor them, Sura 2:62-65, Sura 2:122, When ever there are Koranic reference about the land, Muslims Holy Koran points to the Children of Israel, the Jews.Not Arabs. If you are a Muslim, it is time for you obey Allah and his Prophet.
    The Koran has agree with Us who believed that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and Muslims must obey their Scripture. The Koran has agree with us that there a land called Israel, and a people called Jews.
    According to history, In AD 633, Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem, Israel from the Jews, not Arabs. It didn't say Palestine, it said Israel.
    The word Palestine came into existence during the emperor Hadrian, In AD 133-135 Hadrian the Roman emperor renamed the land from Israel to Palestine. And also renamed Jerusalem to Jupiter Capitolinus, which brought about the revolt of Simon Bar Kokhba, The so call Palestinians has never owned that land. God Bless Israel
    In Response

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 10, 2014 12:55 PM
    I don't do my study from Wikipedia, check out my google profile then you will know me. Secondly you talked Zionism , Zion is another name for Israel. It was King David that name Israel Zion. A Hebrew King. There is no were in the Koran speaks of Palestine. If you find it, please show it to me, I will denounce Jesus Christ and come Muslim. It is your Challenge. But I can show all throughout the Koran speak of the Children of Israel, Israel and Jews. Even their Koran and their Prophet recognized Israel and the Jews. Prophet Mohammed spoke of Israel in the Koran more than 800 times in the Koran and Hadith, the Prophet never spoke of Palestine.

    There is no where in the Koran the Prophet spoke of Palestine. I just told you where your got that word from Palestine. It was the Roman General Hadrian renamed that land Palestine. Muslims are in disobedience to their Koran and it's Prophet. Hahaha, Muslims need to respect what their Koran and their Prophet say. I have lot of Muslim friends, they say to me, Leroy we know the truth, but we cannot accept it. We discussed this topic all the time, listen kid, I got to go, do your study more, and be a man, stand for the truth, stand for what is right, that what makes you a real man. In spite what people say, stand for the truth. god bless Israel, and God bless the Jews
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 10, 2014 8:32 AM
    God bless Israel??? You mean, God bless everyone! There I go with my Christian values again. Oh the goyim, when will we ever learn? To begin with, the current State of Israel is no Jews, it is Zionist. Orthodox Jews do not recognize Israel, and do not invest in Israel. You should know this already. So speak the truth!!!! What the Palestinians/Arab are doing is not against Jews, it's against Zionists! Even if Israel was established by the messiah as prophetized, the Plaestinians/Arabs would still want to destroy it, of course. But let's call this what it is, OK?

    Since you seem to have an in-depth historical knowledge of Israel (wikipedia, hehe), then you must know that the current Israel was the dream of the Zionists who gained strength in the late 1800's. Zionists even worked with Hitler, haha, they have the proof! Zionists abandoned the prophesies, and took the matter into their own hands, thus, not being true Jews!!!!! According to prophesy, Israel was to be founded by the messiah, who hasn't come forward yet. (maybe Jon Stewart, hehe). The Messiah would conquer the enemies of Israel, expel all out of Israel, and establish the nation! Zionists abandoned their prophets!!!! Get your facts straight!

    by: Anthony Bellchambers from: London UK
    July 10, 2014 12:43 AM
    It now seems a distinct possibility that Israel's killing of more than 50 civilians in Gaza will lead to all out war in the region.

    That could mean the targeting of Israel's secret underground nuclear weapons facility at Dimona in the Negev desert that is estimated to hold enough WMD to destroy not only the entire Middle East but Israel itself if hit by long-range rockets in reprisal for those horrific killings of innocent men, women and children that is clearly a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and not 'unavoidable collateral damage' as will be claimed.

    Such an eventuality would be a global catastrophe and highlights the negligence of the international community in allowing this one state to have built and constructed the largest undeclared arsenal of weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world by authority of successive US governments.

    The United Kingdom and the European Community has long demanded that the entire Middle East including Israel and Iran be declared a NUCLEAR WEAPONS FREE ZONE. That demand has been rejected by the United States under pressure from the Israel lobby in Washington.

    The possibility now is of a cataclysmic nuclear catastrophe that will have global consequences.

    by: SteveHC from: USA
    July 09, 2014 11:13 PM
    There will be no peace in that region until the extremists there - particularly the violent extremists - are eradicated. Regarding Israel, this means the elimination of Hamas and the removal of extremists from the Knesset.

    by: Patrick Kelly from: San Francisco
    July 09, 2014 8:13 PM
    I have just learned what is wrong with the Jewish people and why they have been persecuted so much. Some Jews and indeed those that follow their faith actually believe the moronic nonsense in the Torah that the creator of the universe has chosen them among all the rest of humanity as his special or chosen people. No wonder you have trouble getting along with your neighbors with an attitude like that. Especially when your neighbors who pray to a different god also hold the exact same belief only according to Muslims and the Koran, it's Islamists who are special and chosen above all the rest of humanity. The obvious problem here of course is that with each side seeing the other as beneath them, this is surly going to result in a lot of friction since how can anyone believe they are special if people on the other side of the fence claim the same thing about themselves. Boy, I am a liberal minded person but I think we need China to come in and take over the Middle East so they can outlaw religion for a few decades. Otherwise, there can never be peace between two peoples whom both believe they are better and indeed special when compared to others. Now I see. Now I understand the problem beneath the problems. Now I understand what these religions are selling and why so many drawn to them. Who wouldn't want to believe that they are special and god's chosen ones? The only problem with all this of course is there is no god whether you grew up to learn to become a Muslim or a Jew. It amazes me that as we enter the 21st century we are still plagued by the ignorance of those who worship Zeus and Thor though by a different name. The same moronic fools who would still be sitting outside of caves dressing up their voodoo dolls and praying for a better crop this season were it not for non-believers who dragged them kicking an screaming into a brighter future . Anyone who thinks religion is a positive human attribute needs their heads examined.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 09, 2014 10:04 PM
    It is beyond madness, Patrick. Let's pretend, like we have been doing for thousands of years, that this murderous God does exist.

    God created the earth with his bare hands, so, the entire world would be sacred, not just particular places because of particular men. If God gave Moses the 10 Comms in Sinai, then why don't the Jews hold Sinai as sacred as Jerusalem?

    God created man (non-gender ref), therefore MAN is the chosen ones. In no bible, koran, nor religious text does God or Allah say He created a particular race or ethnicity. Garden of Eden, no Jew ref.

    MAN wrote all these religious texts. Women not included, in fact, women are excluded in all religions when it comes to fair and equal treatments compared to men. Yes, there are books with a woman's title, but only written by men. Speaking of something being sacred: if God did write the 10 Comms with his bare hands on Sinia, then wouldn't that be the only written word of God? The only known written words by God himself, only to have Moses break them apart because he was 'irritated' with the golden calf and Spring Break partying! Moses didn't get into trouble for it! Spit in a temple or mosque and watch what happens!!!

    Man created religion. Man created religion. Hmmmmm......man created religion! MAN!

    For that, I do conclude there is a God. A God in no sense likened in any text or religion. No one can deny that before we knew each other on both sides of the world, that the peoples believed in something they couldn't see. Even in remote islands, people worshipped invisibility. Temples and sacrifices were created around the world before the first boat took sail. A God who is simply hands off, probably in some tropical galaxy far, far, away, enjoying much needed vacation time. A God who simply wants no worship, doesn't need worship, gives all existence in the entire universe the necessities to thrive and grow. A God who wants US to take care of US and this global abode he made for US. My belief is that God has no need for beliefs nor worship. Taking care of each other and this rock is his only worship! Humanity should be the only religion. The first Comm should have been, thou shalt protect the babies and children above all other issues!!!!

    by: Leviathan from: Gdansk, Poland
    July 09, 2014 7:24 PM
    It is clear that the Zionists want to exterminate the rightful owners of Palestine......when Lord Arzuth (Adolph Hitler) entered this dimension the playing pieces were already in motion. The Kosmos is about to correct to itself !! Soon an extradimensional door of unspeakable pain will open............upon the children of Abraham........
    HAIL SATAN !!!
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 09, 2014 10:28 PM
    Relax bro, God is just on vacation in a tropical galaxy far, far, away. Satan joined him a couple of millenia later, because he felt he wan't qualified to oversee the evil going on here. I have proof, here's a phone call I intercepted:

    (ring, ring, ring)
    (Lucifer) Hello, how may I direct your call?.......Ok....let me see if He is in...............(palming the phone) psssssst, hey God, it's for you.
    (God) What's the area code, Lucy, I have to ask you that every time!
    (Lucifer) Cut it out! I'm not Lucy! "Ooooooh Lucy, I'm hoooooome!" Come on God, that joke is so old! grrrrr! ......ummmmmm..... The area code is from the Milky Way galaxy.
    (God) Well take a message, Lucinda! Probably just another priest wanting a new altar boy! hehe
    (Lucifer) It's Lucifer, for the last time!!!! God, sir, you have so many messages from the MW, so far you have 666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666 messages!
    (God) hehe, oh Lucretia, your '666's are so 1950's!!!
    (Lucifer) Lucifer!!!! arrrrggggghhhh! Bro! You are getting on my nerves, God!
    (God) My bad, Lu...Lucif.....Louie, Louie, Lou eye, oh baby! Just playing, how about that Mai Tai I asked for?
    (Lucifer) The heck with this, I'm going back to hell!!!! This is a bunch of BS!!!
    (God) OK, go back to hell, see if I care! But coach ticket this time, not first-class! After you get my beverage.......and put that little umbrella in it too! chop chop!!!
    (Lucifer, on the cell phone) Yeah, hey Lord Arzuth ....what.....yeah....bring the jet around......what......NO! Tell Xenu we are just going to Burger King! What, yes, OK, I'll say it!................L'Chaim!!!

    by: Dr Rob Lee from: Conn.
    July 09, 2014 6:53 PM
    Only when Jews are involved do we get such rhetoric. With 150,000+ dead in Syria and the Sunnis & Shias are about to face off & devastate the region, only Israel is singled out as the major cause of potential regional destruction. This lob-sided wolf crying is no longer paid attention to. And no logical argument is going to change minds when Jew-hate trumps all.

    by: Carl Persson from: Anchorage, AK
    July 09, 2014 12:34 PM
    Both sides bear blame and neither side can score a definitive victory. The moderates on both sides are being undermined by their leaders and extremists that want war and oppose peace. Sad state of affairs.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 10, 2014 7:34 AM
    Right on Rarian! I'll help ya! Maybe then the Palestinians and Israelis can go to the club, slam some brews, and get into real fights like the rest of us! Then they can laugh, make fun of each other, some hugs with 'I love you man', and get on with life......the American way!
    In Response

    by: Rarian Rakista
    July 09, 2014 8:15 PM
    Single State Solution: round up all the warmongers/theocrats on both sides and deport them to some South Pacific volcanic island that is barely able to support life.

    by: Dr. D. from: US - just back from Israe
    July 09, 2014 12:32 PM
    The opening of this article is extremely misleading with the charge that Israel is responsible for the escalation; apparently the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza had nothing to do with escalation. . . .or at least that's the impression given unless you read additional paragraphs. The article also equates the deliberate attacks on Israeli civilian populations with the Palestinian's deliberate use of human shields (Palestinians receive a warning for impeding attacks on Hamas locations). While mentioning Palestinian causalities, the article omits the age, gender, and context of those killed (how many were males in their late teens actively engaged in the conflict or were those who refused to vacate after receiving a leaflet or phone call warning of the attack from the Israelis?).

    One further note - Hamas rules Gaza and is responsible for every death from this fighting. Israel gave them land for peace, and they still attack. Israel removed its presence, and they still attack. Hamas' goal, written in their charter, is the destruction of Israel. It's time the West realizes that and acts accordingly.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 10, 2014 12:26 AM
    Good grief, Canada, just eat your Kroft Dinner, and let big boys have a conversation! You had to make a stab at the US, didn't you! I wouldn't talk about drones if I were you. I was in both Afg and Iraq. Should we discuss the drone bombings done by Canadian drones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On civilian populations!!!!!!!!!!! At one base, Canadian Air Force had half of the airfield, with 4 hangars of Predator sized drones people!!! Attack drones, not surveillance drones. I liked them, by the way, very impressive.

    And no, you completely and utterly ignorant Kroft Dinner eater!!!! Hamas wouldn't ever warn a single Israeli of a coming attack, even if they had 1,000 times better weapons than Israel. What is in the Kroft Dinner, LSD???? I want some...hehehe
    In Response

    by: william Li from: canada
    July 09, 2014 3:16 PM
    if you want Hamas to fight like Isreal then give them the same quality weapons first. the same amount of tanks, jets and missiles. I guaranty you, then Hamas will not use human shield anymore. and Hamas will give 5 min warning to isreal before an air raid too.
    before that, Hamas still gonna use their old strategy as mixing in civilians, and the international community still gonna condemn isreal for killing innocents, like we condemn america for killing innocent villagers with drones!

    by: Abel from: naija
    July 09, 2014 12:26 PM
    Preach no peace, know no peace. Period!
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