Palestinian Israeli Conflict Deepens as Lebanon Strikes

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Courtesy of Higher Learning

On Friday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he will not give in to international pressure to stop a military offensive in Gaza and will continue until rocket fire out of Gaza ceases. According to Aron Heller, Israel leader: World pressure won’t stop military offensive, the Prime Minister had a good conversation with many world leaders in recent days including President Barack Obama and has decided to continue with his plans. So far, Netanyahu has attacked more than 1,000 targets in Gaza during the four day operation using twice the force used in a similar 2012 offensive. The death toll after the four day offensive comes to 100 Palestinians with no word how many Israelis have died so far.

However, as the death toll from Israel’s massive air campaign in Gaza topped 100 Friday, militants in neighboring Lebanon fired rockets at Israel as Gaza militants continued rocket fire reaching deeper into Israel. According to Heller, Gaza militants have fired 550 rockets against Israel in the offensive with Israeli military hitting more than 1,100 targets identified as launch sites and bombarding the territory every 5 minutes on average. In Gaza, an Israeli Airstrike on Friday and overnight strikes has killed eight people raising the death toll to at least 98 with a later strike pushing the total over 100 along with 670 wounded, the Associated Press reports. Hamas says it intends to fire rockets at the airport and warned foreign airlines to stop flying to Israel. However, Israel has shot down at least 110 incoming rockets so far with its “Iron Dome” defense system. In northern Israel, rocket fire struck near the Lebanese border causing the military to respond with artillery fire toward southern Lebanon, according to military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. The Lebanese military stated that militants fired three rockets toward Israel around 6 am and the Israelis retaliated by firing 25 artillery shells on the area. Lebanon’s state run National News Agency confirmed one militant firing the rockets was wounded and taken to the hospital, while the Lebanese’s military said troops found the two rocket launchers and dismantled them. The recent rocket fire from Lebanon was blamed on radical Palestinian factions in the area and Hezbollah, a Shiite militant stronghold in Southern Lebanon, was not involved. The  Associated Press reports that a pair of Lebanon based al-Qaida groups, the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, in the past have claimed responsibility for similar rocket attacks on Israel.

The recent conflict between Israel and Gaza came after the death of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank and a Palestinian teenager was abducted and burned to death as retaliation. Lerner states that the military was trying to prevent civilian causalities calling residents ahead of time to warn of imminent attacks and using “non-explosive munitions” to warn people to leave before the attack. Lerner blames Hamas for the deaths of innocent bystanders by firing into heavily populated areas. Israeli leaders are considering a ground assault in Gaza to target Hamas, even though, this would most likely increase Palestinian civilian casualties and put Israeli troops at risk. Israel has mobilized more than 30,000 reservists to aid in the possible ground invasion. In the past, the Associated Press reports, a ground incursions in 2009 left hundreds of civilians dead and both sides drew war crimes accusations in a United Nations report. Middle East envoy Tony Blair said that efforts to reach a truce were being made. According to the Associated Press, Blair state, “We are in a critical point. I think we have got to do everything we can to … create a situation in which the people in Gaza and the West Bank and in Israel feel that this is not then going to recur and there is some genuine plan in place.”

North Korea Nuclear Test: Japan, South Korea Ready Armies Following Provocation

North Korea Nuclear Test: Japan, South Korea Ready Armies Following Provocation.

As Norht Korea claims another successful nuclear test in defiance of U.N. warnings, South Korea ups their military preparations and mobilizes their scientist Wednesday to determine whether the claim is true. The denotation is also the focus of global diplomatic maneuvers with the US Secretary of State John Kerry reaching out to China, Japan and South Korea. While President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address, stated that firm action may be taken and to assure his allies. “Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Obama said. The device in question was detonated on Tuesday at an underground site in the northeast. The goal for North Korea is to build a bomb small enough to fit on a missile capable of striking the U.S. Intelligence officials in Seoul believe that another nuclear test and ballistic missile launch test will occur. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said that if the U.S continues their threat and hostility then they will continue their testing. Japan and South Korea are collecting data on these tests by collecting air samples and South Korea has raised their military readiness level as well as deployed cruise missiles that are capable of hitting North Korea at any time and plan to deploy ballistic missiles. In an emergency session, UN Security Council unanimously said the testing poses a clear threat to international security and peace and pledge further action. The test was a defiant response to UN orders that required North Korea to shut down its atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation. Despite tensions, U.S. and North Korea diplomatic talks could likely occur later this year.

 

Syria, Iran Threaten Israel With Retaliation For Strike

Syria, Iran Threaten Israel With Retaliation For Strike.

Is any of this helping the situation to make peace? On Thursday Syria has threaten to retaliate against Israeli airstrikes and its ally Iran. The Jewish state sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary General stressing the “right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty” and hold Israel as well as its supporters accountable. Why is the U.S. getting involved when as a country we are still struggling to support our own people and our own military? U.S. officials confirmed Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria Wednesday explaining the target was a convoy allegedly carrying anti-aircraft weapons going to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran. A Israeli lawmaker close to the Prime Minister hinted that further missions may happen in the future and hinted at his involvement in the strike. This attack and others have only caused further tension in the region over Syria’s 22 month old civil war. The days leading up to the attack Israeli leaders fear that Syrian President Bashar Assad is losing control of the country and its weapons arsenal convention and non-conventional. The convoy targeted in the attack had anti-aircraft missiles that if acquired by Hezbollah would allow them to shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. The Syrian military denies these claims saying the low flying Israeli jets crossed into their country to bomb a scientific research center. Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal a senior Syrian army officer, who defected and now in Turkey, confirmed the site that was targeted is a well known center for weapons development called the Scientific Research Center and no chemical or non-conventional weapons are at the site. The Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon has threatened retribution for the airstrike saying Damascus has the options and capacity for surprise. At the U.N. headquarters in New York, deputy U.N. spokesman said the UNDOF did not observe any planes so could not confirm the incident. Hezbollah as well as Iran has pledged their allegiance to Syria as well as retaliation. Russia has also said they will look into the situation as the attack appears unprovoked on a sovereign nation. Hezbollah gets a majority of its funding and arms from Syria who has had their power drained by Syria’s civil war.