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Barrel bombs carrying chlorine gas
2014.07.19 04:00:13

Activists say 40 people in the rebel-controlled town of Kafr Zita have sustained breathing difficulties after government forces hit the town with barrel bombs carrying chlorine gas at midnight. The video below purports to be filmed in a local hospital following the attack.

Kafr Zita, in Hama province, has been targeted with chlorine gas several times in recent months, according to activists.



Tags: Syria

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Malaysia Airlines
2014.07.19 03:57:33

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Friday morning on Ukraine.

Britain's UN Mission said on Thursday it requested the meeting and later tweeted that it is set for 10 am on Friday.

The request follows Wednesday's downing of a Ukrainian air force fighter and Thursday's downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 298 people over eastern Ukraine.

Britain proposed a Security Council press statement calling for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident.''

The statement was circulated to all 15 council members, who must approve it before it can be issued.

The White House in a statement released late Thursday also called for a "full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation'' as soon as possible.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-noon said "there is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation'' into the plane crash in Ukraine."

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Malaysia

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Anti-tank missile hit an army bulldozer
2014.07.19 03:45:35

The Israeli military says an anti-tank missile hit an army bulldozer in the southern Gaza Strip. The strike caused damage, but no injuries were reported, the army said.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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UN special envoy to Syria
2014.07.19 03:43:58

The United Nations chief says the new UN special envoy to Syria will be traveling to the country, regional countries and other relevant countries "in the near future.''

Ban Ki-moon introduced Staffan de Mistura and his deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, on Thursday.

De Mistura is now the third special envoy tasked with helping to end the conflict in Syria that has killed at least 170,000 people and displaced some 9 million, a third of the country's pre-war population.

The Swedish-Italian diplomat was named to the post a week ago.

[AP]



Tags: Syria

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Abbott blamed Russia
2014.07.19 03:42:17

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott blamed Russia on Friday over the  shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jetliner over eastern Ukraine that killed all 298 people on board.

Abbott appeared to go further than other Western leaders in apportioning blame over the crash, demanding that Moscow answer questions about the "Russian-backed rebels" that he said were behind the disaster.

He also said the Russian ambassador to Australia has been officially summoned to discuss the issue.

Australia is due to host Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders at the G20 Leaders Summit in November.

Asked if he would still welcome Putin if Russia was proved to be behind the accident, Abbott hinted there may be repercussions.

"That's a fair question, let's just wait and see exactly what turns out to have happened here," Abbott said in an interview with Melbourne-based 3AW Radio.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Australia

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Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister
2014.07.19 03:03:07

Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, has called for an "open extraordinary meeting" of the United Nations Security Council to discuss Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

He earlier tweeted:

"We vehemently condemn the ground operation launched by Israel into Gaza tonight following its inhuman murders by air strikes."



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Turkey

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Palestinian envoy to the United Nations
2014.07.19 03:01:16

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations said he hopes "a very intensive negotiation" in Cairo might produce a ceasefire to end the violence in Gaza.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with leaders from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Egypt and other many others and he understood that US Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Egypt.

"We hope that an agreement and ceasefire to take place as quickly as possible before shedding the blood of one additional single Palestinian soul,'' Mansour said. [AP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt

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Diana Buttu, former legal adviser to the Palestinian
2014.07.19 02:58:47

Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, said that the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip was inevitable "only because the Israelis wanted it to be inevitable".

"They've been talking about this for some time. There hasn't been any stop to their actions," she said.

"I think it's high time that the Palestinian Authority go and sign on to the International Criminal Court and start charging Israel with war crimes. This isn't the first time this has happened."

She added, "They [Israel] shouldn't be allowed to behave like they are above the law, and treat Palestinians like they are beneath it."



Tags: Israel | Gaza

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Israel's ground incursion into the Gaza
2014.07.19 02:48:22

Hamas said Israel's ground incursion into the Gaza Strip that started on Thursday would have "dreadful consequences".

"It does not scare the Hamas leaders or the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. "We warn (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu of the dreadful consequences of such a foolish act."

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Conspiring to undermine Cairo's efforts
2014.07.19 02:40:38

Egypt's foreign minister accused Qatar, Turkey and Hamas on Thursday of conspiring to undermine Cairo's efforts to bring about a ceasefire between the Hamas and Israel in Gaza, Egypt's state news agency reported.

Egypt sees Hamas as a threat because it is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the army removed from power last year, straining ties with the Gulf Arab state of Qatar and with Turkey, both countries that backed Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri made the accusation against Turkey, Qatar and Hamas in a briefing with local newspaper editors, the state news agency MENA reported.

"Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian initiative, at least 40 Palestinian souls would have been saved," MENA quoted Shukri as saying.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt | Qatar | Turkey

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France's foreign minister
2014.07.18 06:24:39

France's foreign minister said on Thursday he was extremely worried by an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza and called on Israel to show utmost restraint.

Laurent Fabius, who will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo on Friday as part of a three-day trip to secure a "lasting ceasefire", said it was vital to protect civilians and avoid new victims.

"France is extremely concerned by the Israeli decision to launch a ground offensive in Gaza. It calls on Israel to show the utmost restraint," Fabius said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | France

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Ban Ki-moon expressed regret
2014.07.18 06:23:13

Reacting to Israel's initiation of a ground offensive on Gaza, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he expressed regret that an already dangerous conflict has escalated even further.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Heavy artillery and naval shelling
2014.07.18 06:17:34

Heavy artillery and naval shelling and helicopter fire have are being reported along the Gaza border.

Smoke could be seen rising over buildings in Gaza on Thursday night and explosions were heard in the city.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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United States called on Israel
2014.07.18 06:16:45

The United States called on Israel to do more to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties.

Even while stepping up U.S. pressure for Israeli restraint, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reasserted Washington's condemnation of Hamas's "indiscriminate rocket attacks" targeting Israeli civilians and affirmed U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself.

"We continue to urge all parties to do all they can to protect civilians," she told reporters.

She added:

We have been heart-broken by the high civilian death toll in Gaza.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | United States

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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
2014.07.18 06:14:35

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reacts to Israel's decision to invade the Gaza Strip:

It does not scare the Hamas leaders or the Palestinian people



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Israel's ground operation in Gaza amounts to 'stupidity'
2014.07.18 06:13:36

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum say that Israel's ground operation in Gaza amounts to "stupidity", threatening that the Israeli army would "pay a high price".



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Ground invasion in the Gaza Strip is not aimed at Hamas group
2014.07.18 06:12:25

Israel's launch of a ground invasion in the Gaza Strip is not aimed at toppling the Palestinian territory's dominant Islamist Hamas group, an army spokesman said.

"That is not the goal of this mission,"  Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.

A statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he had ordered the army to attack "terrorist infiltration tunnels", signalling that the operation would be limited in scope.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Ground offensive in Gaza Strip would hit Palestinian fighters
2014.07.18 06:02:03

The Israeli army said its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would hit Palestinian fighters' targets throughout the Hamas-controlled territory.

"We are now continuing with the ground forces to strike terrorist infrastructure, Hamas infrastructure, in multiple areas throughout the Gaza Strip," army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Press release issued by the Israeli military
2014.07.18 06:00:27

Below is the press release issued by the Israeli military announcing it's initiation of ground operation in Gaza.

Following ten days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.

The IDF's objective as defined by the Israeli government is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continues indiscriminate error, while striking a significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure.

This stage of operation "Protective Edge", led by the IDF's Southern Command, will include close coordination between IDF units including infantry, armored corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence combined with aerial and naval support. This effort will also be supported by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and other intelligence organizations.

In the face of Hamas' tactics to leverage civilian casualties in pursuit of its terrorist goals, the IDF will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm.  

The IDF will operate resolutely to defend the State of Israel conducting itself with professionalism, a strict moral code of conduct and a deep respect for the sanctity of human life.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Ground invasion of Gaza
2014.07.18 05:58:22

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have confirmed that they ordered a ground invasion of Gaza.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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