Israel Hits Gaza Harder, While Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls on All Muslims to Arm Hamas Against Israel

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On Wednesday, a crowded U.N. school sheltering displaced Gazans due to fighting was hit with Israeli Tank shells killing 15 and wounding 90 after tearing through the walls of two classrooms, a U.N. aid agency spokesman and a health official said, according to the Associated Press article Shelling of UN school kills 15 as Gaza war rages. In addition, 27 Palestinians were killed elsewhere in the territory Wednesday as hope for a ceasefire dims. The strike happened as Israel conducted its heaviest air and artillery assault in the more than three week long war with Hamas. In Jebaliya, the shells hit the U.N. school before dawn according to Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. The agency is sheltering more than 200,00 people displaced by fighting at dozens of these schools across the strip. He said: “We were scared to death. After 4:30 a.m., tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school. One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside.” Four of the dead were killed outside the school compound, two in their home and two in the street after pre-dawn praters, their relatives said. Abu Hasna said the international community must step in: “It’s the responsibility of the world to tell us what we shall do with more than 200,000 people who are inside our schools, thinking that the U.N. flag will protect them. This incident today proves that no place is safe in Gaza.” Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official, said in all 42 Palestinians were killed by airstrikes and tank shelling in different areas of Gaza Wednesday. The total now stands at 1,269 Palestinians killed since July 8 and 7,100 Palestinians wounded, al-Kidra reports, while Israel has lost 53 soldier and three civilians. Gaza militants have fired 2,600 rockets toward Israel the past three weeks and the Israeli military has hit targets linked to militants, about 4,100 targets in Gaza over 23 days, according to the Israeli military. On Wednesday, aircraft dropped leaflets with contact phone number and email over Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood warning resident to stay away from Hamas militants and report possible rocket launches. The leaflets said: “The Israeli Defense Forces are going into a new phase in the coming operation and does not want to harm civilians. The army is warning residents in the areas where the operation will take place that for your safety, you have to keep away from terrorists and the locations from which they operate.” Karin Laub and Peter Enav report, 15 killed at Gaza UN school; Israel holds fire, the mortar shells fired at the school by the soldiers was in response to mortar shells fired near the school according to the Israeli military. Later Wednesday, the Israeli military declared a four hour humanitarian ceasefire in parts of Gaza beginning at 3pm Hams had no immediate comment. In a statement, the military said: “In response, soldiers fired toward the origins of fire. And we’re still reviewing the incident.”

While the battle ground continues to run with the blood of many innocent people caught in the crossfire, the tide of public opinion may be turning against Israel around the world with Iran calling for Muslims to take up arms and fight Israel. In its fourth week now, the current Israeli operation in Gaza will not end anytime soon as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not leave until the tunnels between Israel and Gaza are destroyed to prevent Hamas fighters from attacking Israeli civilians. As the Associated Press asks in their article, Are images from Gaza turning public opinion against Israel? : “But can the Israeli government stand a long conflict, or, as many pundits question, is the country in danger of losing a battle for public opinion on the world stage?” Several outlets already have claimed that the Palestinian death toll and rapid spread of images and victims’ stories from Gaza are turning the tide against Israel e.g. PR week, Haaretz and Mashable. According to Israel’s progressive paper Haaretz, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told a conference call of American Jewish leaders, “Israel is being routinely portrayed in both conventional and social media as an angry, well-armed giant leaving many innocent victims in its wake.” The difference this time is that there are more Western journalists in Gaza than previous operations giving media coverage to the other side of the conflict than Western audiences are use to seeing. The response to this coverage has been a steady stream of protests around the world against Israel’s operations. A Pew poll this week said among Americans, twice as many blame Hamas in the latest conflict than Israel and half think Israel’s military operation is an appropriate response. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of unfavorable views toward Israel happen in Germany, France, China and all Arab and Muslim countries. Part of this, the Associated Press reports, many do with the overwhelming unpopularity of Israel’s total blockade of Gaza and strict control of the West Bank that former President Jimmy Carter calls an apartheid state and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry fears it will become if it isn’t already. In Israel where support was once 90 percent in the last two wars in Gaza, a 2010 poll found a quarter of Israelis felt the blockade did more harm than good. However, on Sunday, the Israeli prime minister said that Israel will not cede national security for the sake of public relations. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Muslims to help arm Gaza Palestinians in their fight against Israel during the ongoing ware between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel, the Associated Press article, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Calls For Arming Gaza To Fight Israel, reports. Khamenei claims that while Israel and America want to disarm Hamas, Iran says “the opposite … the Muslim World has a duty to arm the Palestinian nation by all means.” Iran does not recognize Israel and as an ally to Hamas supports militants anti-Israeli groups such as Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group. Iran considers the Jewish state its archenemy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western back monarchy and brought clerics to power.

International Conflicts Rage On As Russia Sparks Gun Buying in the U.S. and More Planes Meet Disaster

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No one can deny the fact that this year have been the worst in the history of aviation especially the past week with a cluster of disaster spanning three continents including 300 passengers killed on a plane shot out of the sky, suspension of flights to Israel’s largest airport due to rocket attacks, and airliner crashing in a storm and another disappears. According to the AOL article, Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster, industry analysts and safety experts have concluded their is no common theme with these disasters as they all seem random tragedies and do not think the events indicate that flying is suddenly becoming less safe. The International Air Transportation Association reported that less than one in 2 million flights last year ended in an accident where the plane was damaged. John Beatty, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, a non-profit promoting global aviation safety, said: “One of the things that makes me feel better when we look at these events is that if they all were the same type event or same root cause then you would say there’s a systemic problem here, but each event is unique in its own way.” Beatty added that because of the growth in the industry especially in the developing world that more accidents could potentially happen. Malaysia Flight 17 shot down on July 18 in Eastern Ukraine killed 298 people and Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people in March adding up to more than twice the total global airline fatalities in all of last year which was the safest year on record with 163 fatalities in 2013. ON Wednesday, seven days after Flight 17 met disaster, a TransAsia plane crashed in Taiwan due to stormy weather killing 48 people injuring 10 others and crew and injuring five more people on the ground. The next day an Air Algerie flight with 116 people disappeared in a rainstorm which the wreckage was later found in Mali, a Burkina Faso official said late Thursday. Together, the disasters may push the fatalities over 700 for this year, the most since 2010, and 2014 is still only half over. According to Robert W. Mann Jr., an aviation industry analyst: “They’re all tragic, but the global air travel consumer has a very short memory and it’s highly localized to their home markets where they fly. The places where these things are happening, 99 percent of passengers never go to or fly to. … This isn’t a headline issue for most people, and that’s why people continue to fly despite the headlines.”

While aviation industry faces a tough year, Russia and Pro-Russian separatists face new accusations regarding Ukraine. According to Catherine Taibi, CNN Freelancer Abducted By Pro-Russian Separatists In Ukraine, a CNN freelance journalist has been detained in eastern Ukraine since Tuesday after being abducted by pro-Russian separatists as reported by the network Thursday. Anton Skiba was taken from his hotel in Donetsk after covering days of the MH17 crash site and the network chose not to report the incident for safety concerns. CNN reports that several press freedom groups and organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have called for Skiba’s immediate release. Skiba was accused of “terrorism” and “of posting cash rewards for the killing of separatist fighters on his Facebook page.” The Unites States on Thursday accused Russia of firing artillery across the border in to Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions, Reuters reports Russia Fired On Ukraine, U.S. Says. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf explained: “We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions.” Ukraine’s Security Council said on Wednesday that preliminary information indicated that missiles were fired from Russia that took down two government fighter jets over Eastern Ukraine. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday dismissed this saying it is an attempt to mislead the public, according to Interfax news agency reports citing a defense ministry official. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., after new sanction imposed by the Obama administration last week against Russia included several companies such as Kalashnikov Concern, who makes the most popular weapon in the world, the Ak-47. As Hunter Stuart reports, Russian Sanctions Spark AK-47 Buying Frenzy In U.S., the move has sent Americans in to a buying frenzy seeking to buy AK-47s that are already for sale in the U.S. Gun sellers around the country say they are seeing big business in AK-47s and other Russian firearms. The Treasury Department says people and businesses who own Kalashnikov guns can still sell them in the U.S. as the Kalashnikov company does not benefit.

While Russia and the pro-Russian rebels deal with the fallout of the alleged allegations, Israel elected a new president amid the violence and destruction. Newly elected president Reuven Rivlin, a legislator from the hawkish Likud Party, took over the reigns from Nobel Prize Laureate Shimon Peres whose presidency ended on Thursday, according to the Associated Press report Israel swears in new president amid Gaza war. During his handover ceremony, Peres, 90, said: “I did not imagine that in the last days of my presidency I would be called upon, once more, to comfort bereaved families” and blaming the Islamic militant group Hamas for starting the war by firing at Israel, but emphasized that “Israel is not the enemy of the people of Gaza.” Rivlin’s speech was similar saying: “We are not fighting against the Palestinian people, and we are not at war with Islam. We are fighting against terrorism.” However, unlike Peres, Rivlin has long been an opponent of efforts to establish a Palestinian state, the Associated Press reports. Peres spent his last days of his seven year term dealing with grieving families of soldiers killed din the two weeks of fighting. So far, 30 have died and three civilians on the Israeli side, while more than 700 Palestinians with most being civilians have died. Israel’s president is meant to be a unifying figure and moral compass, while executive power rest with the prime minister who is currently the conservative Benjamin Netanyahu. This week, Peres met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to try and broker a ceasefire. Rivlin, 74, a stalwart in Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said he will turn his priorities inward focusing on domestic issue such as rising living costs and affordable housing, while Peres said ,once out of office, he will facilitate investments in education, health care, agriculture and technology throughout the Middle East.

East Meets West: The Struggle for Peace and Compromise

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As the world seems to head into a downward spiral of blaming and shaming, the United States struggles to keep its grip on the rest of the world and hold on to the power and respect it may of once had. No one event can be pinpointed in its illustrious and not soon forgotten contemptible past as many countries if not all have committed crimes against their own people including these so called superpowers. As of lately though, the POTUS seems to be dealing with many volatile situation involving our not so friendly sometimes outright hostile neighbors from across the sea even the world. The conflicts of Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Iraq and Russia are just a few that have made headlines in the past year, however this article will only discuss the most recent conflicts and the involvement. whether warranted or not, of the United States, U.N. and other so called aggressors. This year alone, Obama and let’s not forget a lackadaisical Congress have had to determine whether these crises and conflicts warrant the attention of the military or require a more gentle hand  in order to prevent a much bigger catastrophe some call a war. With increasing tension around the world between neighboring countries, it is more important than ever for not just the United States but the world to take note that the solutions are many and war should not be the first. Of course, these problems are not all rooted in this presidency but left overs from decades long ago.

Iraq Conflict: Sunni Militants Capture Northern Iraqi Town, Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra explains the deepening Iraqi crisis has lead to an all out war between the Shiite militias and the Sunni insurgency across the country according to officials. Iran has decided to help the Iraqi government fight against the insurgency which is something unheard just a few weeks ago and with this the United States has decided to help as well. The United States will deploy 275 military troops to protect the U.S. Embassy and other American interests, however the White House insists that no more combat troops would be sent. The insurgents has seized the strategic city of Tal Afar never the Syrian border as part of its goal to link both sides of the Iraq and Syrian frontier. According to Iraqi officials, Tehran’s Quds Force commander, Iranian General Ghasem Soleimani, has been advising in Iraq on how to push back the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group. The U.S. has been notified of his presence, but his presence in Iraq has led to Sunni suspicions about the Shiite led government’s close ties to Tehran, according to the Associate Press. Since the U.S. troops left in 2011, the Islamic State has vowed to march to Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf threatening the stability of Iraq. The Friday before this article was published, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, orginally from Iran, call on the people to defend the holy shrines. The call to arms has lead to armed Shiite militiamen parading on the streets and volunteers joining the security forces chanting Shiite religious slogans. This new mobilization has lead to further allegations of a sectarian slant adding to increased tensions before and after the incursions of this last week with thousands killed since late last year. Soleimani, a powerful figure in Iran’s security establishment, and his Quds Force a secretive branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were also involved in the mid 2000s with organizing Shiite militias against U.S. troops in Iraq and more recently involved in helping Syrian President Bashar Assad against Sunni rebels, according to U.S. officials. His visit and subsequent training of the Shiite militias by his Quds Force means Iran could take a role similar to the one it played in Syria which has been crucial to the survival of Assad.

Iran & ‘Argo’: Authorities Reportedly Planning On Suing Hollywood

Iran & ‘Argo’: Authorities Reportedly Planning On Suing Hollywood.

Iran in the news again but not for what you may expect, but does not all surprise people. As the Associated Press reports, several Iranian news outlets reported that Iran is planning to sue Hollywood over an unrealistic portrayal of the country in the Oscar winning film “Argo.” One such news outlet, pro-reform Shargh daily, said Iran officials are in talks with Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, a french lawyer, over how and when to file a lawsuit. The movie portrays the 1979 attack o the U.S. Embassy in Tehran where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days, but six staffers were sheltered by the Canadian ambassador. The main focus of the film is on their escape using a fake movie as a cover story. While the movie has receive plenty of acclaim and accolades, after the Oscar win in February, Iranian officials have come out publicly about the movie dismissing it as pro-CIA and anti-Iran propaganda. The lawyer stated to the semi-official Mehr news agency that “We will be able to block distributors of the movie, force them to apologize and challenge them to confess that the movie is nothing but a sheer lie.” Although the movie never showed in Iranian theaters, Iranian have found the movie through bootleg DVDs setting off a debate between those Iranians that took part in the 1979 Revolution who saw the movie as inaccurate and those too young to recall the events who wanted a different perspective. A late Monday viewing of the movie with critics and Iranian cultural officials, sparked the lawsuit but after the gathering called the “Hoax of Hollywood” it remains unclear what charges Iran could raise and what court Tehran could turn to for action according to the Associated Press. According to people in attendance at the gathering, the movie is seen as a “violation of international cultural norms” and in a statement proceeding the meeting comment that “awarding an anti-Iran movie is a propaganda attack against our nation and entire humanity.” Officials are accusing the movie of depicting Iranians as “too violent” and the movies director did not consult other documentaries on the embassy storming or discuss the reasons for the crisis such as tensions over the U.S. CIA-aided counter-coup in 1953 that took down democratically elected Prime Minister in order to restore pro-Western monarchy in Iran.

Of course this is not the first time Hollywood has been under fire for its depiction of history especially when it comes to Iran who believes that the portrayal of its country in movies is rather distorted. In 2009, Iran felt it was owed an apology from Hollywood actors visiting the country and movie industry officials for insulting Iranians in films like “300” and “The Wrestler.” In 2007, the movie “300” which was a hit in the United States angered Iranians because it insults their ancient culture and stirs animosity toward Iran. The 1991 film, “Not Without My Daughter”, a story about an American woman fleeing Iran with her daughter angered Iranians who accused the film of portraying Iranians as dirty, boorish and cruel, Islamic fanatics and womanizers. The Iranian state run film industry boycotted this year’s Oscars due to a Internet video clip made in the U.S. denigrating the Prophet Muhammad setting off protests in the Muslim world.