• A 72-hour cease-fire to go into effect this morning

    Both Israel and the Palestinian delegation to Cairo, which includes Hamas representatives, have accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour cease-fire to begin at 08:00 Middle East time (02:00 EST) today (Tuesday).

    This is the same proposal Egypt put forth two weeks ago, which Israel had accepted but which was rejected by Hamas. It is not clear whether the cease-fire will go into effect, or will go into effect and then violated. Six earlier humanitarian cease-fires were violated by Hamas within minutes of going into effect. Israel, in the meantime, has concluded the destruction of thirty-one Hamas tunnels which reached inside Israel. Hamas was planning to use the tunnels for a Mumbai-like simultaneous, coordinated attack on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip for the purpose of killing Israeli civilians – possibly hundreds of them – and capturing scores to be brought back into Gaza to be used as bargaining chips to extract concessions from Israel.

  • Top Hamas official: Jews use blood of non-Jewish children for Passover matzos

    Hamas is an avowedly and openly anti-Semitic movement, and the group’s loathing of Jews is part and parcel of its charter and what it teaches young Palestinians in the schools it controls. Hamas leaders, when they speak to Western audiences, are usually careful not to highlight this facet of the group’s ideology, but the other day one of Hamas’s leaders, in a televised interview, used the centuries-old “matzo blood libel,” asserting that Jews kill non-Jewish children in order to use their blood to make matzos for Passover. He linked the death of Palestinian children in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war to the Jewish thirst for killing non-Jewish children.

  • U.S. to spend more money on modernizing its nuclear arsenal, less on nonproliferation programs

    President Barack Obama has made gains in his quest to secure nuclear weapons and materials. In March, at the Nuclear Security Summitin Holland, Obama declared “it is important for us not to relax but rather accelerate our efforts over the next two years.” The Obama administration, however, is allocating more resources toward refurbishing and modernizing current nuclear weapons than advancing nuclear nonproliferation programs. Civilian institutions, including research labs, today hold enough nuclear explosive materials to put together 40,000 atomic bombs, but the administration has missed a self-imposed deadline of April 2013 for ensuring that nuclear materials were safe from terrorist organizations.

  • Israel announces 7-hour cease fire, continues withdrawal of forces from Gaza

    Israel declared a seven-hour “humanitarian window” in parts of Gaza on Monday, while withdrawing most of its ground forces from northern Gaza following the destruction of tunnels leading into Israel. International criticism continues following what appeared to be a deadly Israeli attack on a UN school sheltering displaced Palestinians. Initial Israeli investigation indicates that it is doubtful the Israeli airstrike against three Islamic Jihad fighters who were located about forty or fifty meters from the school had anything to do with the bodies of the dead in the schoolyard: Israel continuously monitors the area from drones and blimps, and initial video footage shows the bodies of the three Islamic Jihad fighters being dragged from where they were killed to the school yard — and that at least one schoolgirl is seen getting up and walking away after lying on the floor, covered in red dye and pretending to be dead. All previous cease-fires have collapsed after Hamas continued to its rocket launching into Israeli towns.

  • Gaza reconstruction would cost at least $6 billion

    Reconstruction in Gaza, where heavy Israeli bombardment in a war with Islamist militant group Hamas, has destroyed thousands of buildings, damaged water, sewage, and power infrastructure, and displaced about 300,000 people, will cost at least $6 billion, the Palestinian deputy prime minister says. This time, Mohammed Mustafa said, Palestinians hope donors to the reconstruction effort will make good on aid pledges. In 2009, only a fraction of the nearly $5 billion in funds pledged at an international conference after a three-week war between Israel and Hamas actually arrived in Gaza.

  • Egypt considering military action in Libya

    The disintegration of Libya may draw Egypt into eastern Libya. Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former foreign minister and former secretary-general of the Arab League, said Egypt should consider the possibility of a military response to the growing unrest in neighboring Libya, as this unrest now threatens Egypt’s national security. Moussa’s prominence, and his closeness to Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has led to speculation that an Egyptian offensive in Libya is on the table. Moussa’s statement comes against a backdrop of growing Egyptian fears that factional fighting in Libya, which has forced most Western diplomats to flee the country, could spill over the border. Last month, a Libyan Islamist militia infiltrated Egypt and killed twenty-one Egyptian soldiers in a military base near the border with Libya.

  • Ukrainian military urged Donetsk residents to leave city ahead of attack on rebel stronghold

    The Ukrainian military earlier today (Monday) urged residents of Donetsk to evacuate, with more reports of increased rebel attacks on civilians and the Ukrainian military’s plan to clear the way for government troops to advance on one of the insurgency’s biggest strongholds. The military said it has opened extra humanitarian corridors out of eastern Ukraine’s regional capital, and the government will help evacuees to find temporary shelter. Over the weekend, government troops cut off a northern route that had been used by the pro-Russian separatists who control the city to bring in reinforcements of fighters and supplies. The military now has the city, ruled by the rebels’ self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, encircled.

  • China keeps tight control of news from tumultuous Xinjiang region

    Last week a remote county in China’s far west exploded in what was the country’s worst ethnic violence since 2009, but it took the Chinese government six days to put out an exact death toll. Beijing’s iron-fisted grip on the minority region makes it clear when, and whether, a full picture of what happened might emerge. The Chinese government exploits its expansive controls and propaganda to maintain a monopoly on the narrative in the tense region of Xinjiang, where minority Uighurs complain of oppression under Beijing’s rule, and where Islamists have joined in the fight for greater autonomy for the Muslim-majority province.

  • Also noted

    Spain arrests 2 alleged female jihadists | U.S. recon jet enters Swedish air to avoid Russians | Survivors dug out from China quake that killed 398 | 22 killed in day of clashes over Libyan airport | Ukrainian army closes in on Donetsk as rebel fighters call on Russia for help |The Royal Navy evacuates Britons from Libya amid fierce fighting | Islamic State seizes town of Sinjar, pushing out Kurds and sending Yazidis fleeing | Lebanese soldiers die as Syria rebels raid border town

  • Cease-fire collapses after Hamas violates it; Israeli soldier captured

    As was the case with five earlier humanitarian cease-fires, a UN-sponsored 72-hour cease-fire, which was announced last night by Secretary of State John Kerry and which went into effect at 08:00 am (02:00 EST) – was immediately violated by Hamas. This time, at 09:30, an hour-and-half after the cease-fire went into effect, a group of Hamas fighters, which included one suicide bomber, emerged from a tunnel to attack an IDF force near the city of Rafah. The fierce fire exchange ended with a score of Hamas fighters dead, two IDF soldier killed, and several IDF soldiers injured – but the most important result was that the surviving Hamas fighters were able to capture an injured or dead IDF soldier and drag him back into the tunnel. Israel has informed the UN that the cease-fire was over, and heavy fighting across Gaza resumed.

  • Civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are not automatically a war crime

    Civilian shielding of its facilities is a declared Hamas military tactic. The evidence of rocket pits and weapon dumps located in, around and under mosques, schools, homes and hospitals is incontrovertible. Constant broadcasts calling upon, as well as occasional physical forcing of, the populace to protect Hamas assets with their bodies are well-documented. It is sickening that Hamas chose not to build public bomb shelters in Gaza, despite using hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete on military tunnels to initiate hostilities with Israel. The tragic Palestinian death toll does not demonstrate Israeli attacks are disproportionate to legitimate military objectives. It does display a disgusting strategic decision by Hamas to exploit civilians to shield its combatants. Its civilian deaths generate selective outrage in support of its political and economic goals. This atrocity committed by Hamas against its own Gazan population is where an honest war crime investigation would begin.

  • Increasing Hezbollah activity in Europe worries security officials

    This month, it was revealed that Hezbollah agents operating in Europe made procurements for “parts and technologies” in Bulgaria which would allow them to operate surveillance drones in the country. The activities on the part of Iran-partnered Hezbollah over the past two years mark a historical change in terms of their European operations and planning — a rise in activity following a lower profile after their more renown activities of the 1980s.

  • DHS slow to inspect high-risk chemical plants

    Congress passed the $595 million Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standardsprogram in 2006 to help regulate high-risk chemical facilities, but nearly a year after the massive chemical explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, a new report found little improvement in securing threats from the U.S. 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.As of 30 June, DHS has not yet conducted security compliance inspections on 3,972 of the 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.

  • Immigration cases clog immigration courts across the country

    The highly publicized mass immigration of Central American children into the United States — roughly 57,000 over a little under a year — many court systems are facing a crisis as the number of judges, lawyers, and juries available cannot keep up with demand. Across the United States, that caseload reached 375,373 trials last month — an average of 1,500 per each of the country’s 243 immigration judges. Some rescheduled cases are being pushed back as late as 2017.

  • Alabama did not share enough DHS funds with local governments

    An audit by the DHS inspector general’s office found that Alabama’s Homeland Securityprogram has not met the conditions of receiving DHS grants, as it fails to share adequate grant money with local governments. The audit, completed in May, found that of the $20.5 million awarded to Alabama for homeland security projects between 2010 and 2012, the state agency gave less than the required 80 percent of funds to local governments.