The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, say fighting between them in the Gaza Strip has turned into all-out civil war. On Tuesday, at least 25 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded as forces loyal to Hamas seized increasing control across Gaza. Hamas fighters took the main headquarters of Fatah’s security force and grabbed key positions in several refugee camps. The death toll over the last five days of internal Palestinian fighting has now reached 55. More than 1,000 Palestinians marched through Gaza City chanting “stop the killing” but were dispersed by Hamas gunfire. Meanwhile, gunmen traded attacks on an empty home belonging to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and the Gaza offices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. Abbas has accused Hamas of staging a coup. Fatah officials also announced they will pull out of the Palestinian unity government until the violence stops. Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr singled out the Israeli and U.S.-led international boycott on the Palestinian government as a source of the conflict. He said: “If you have two brothers put into a cage and deprive them of basic essential needs for life, they will fight. I don’t think we should put the blame on the victim.” Meanwhile, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah al-Khatib called on all sides to take action.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah al-Khatib: “The main priority at this stage is to stop the Palestinian fighting so the Palestinians can face up to their challenges. We are also jointly calling on Israel to act positively with regards to the Palestinians’ right to receive their money that is being held by Israel.”
The fighting comes as The Guardian newspaper reports the highest-ranking U.N. official in Israel and the Occupied Territories has issued a scathing denunciation of the U.S. role. In a confidential report, Alvaro de Soto condemns the international boycott on the Palestinian government and says U.S. pressure has “pummeled into submission” the U.N.’s role as an impartial broker. De Soto also says Israel has adopted what he calls “an essentially rejectionist” stance toward Palestinians that precludes any chance at meaningful negotiations. De Soto also criticized the Palestinian record at stopping violence against Israel. De Soto submitted the report before stepping down last month.
Meanwhile in Iraq, there are fears of a new escalation in sectarian fighting following a bombing of a major Shiite shrine. Earlier today, militants destroyed the two minarets of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra. The shrine was already badly damaged from a bombing more than one year ago that set off a wave of ongoing sectarian violence.
Meanwhile, Iraqis are struggling with dwindling water supplies and frequent power losses as summer temperatures soar.
Baghdad resident Allawi Eneed: “The country is in a really difficult situation. It’s suffering. They do not supply us with water. Why? Are we different from the rest of the people to be treated like animals and drink water like animals? The water is not clean. We are getting sick. People from the whole area are getting sick. Women are getting sick, children are getting sick. We walk about five kilometers to get a pot of water.”
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the former commander in charge of training the Iraqi army said Iraq is years from achieving its goals and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States. Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey testified Iraq needs at least 20,000 more soldiers to handle security in the country and at least five more years before it can control its own airspace.
In Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross says the U.S.-led NATO force is failing to protect civilian life during its military strikes. On Tuesday, Red Cross head Pierre Kraehenbuehl urged NATO to take further precautions to avoid more deaths.
ICRC chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl: “I mean, when you have 2,000 civilians that have to move out of the region, 170 homes destroyed and several dozen people killed, there was both exposure of civilians to risk by the presence of armed actors on the ground, but also concerns about the measures of precaution. And again, I’ve highlighted earlier, we know how difficult it is to take all those measures, this is clear, but again it is a responsibility to do that, and yes, in such instances we think that clearly much more must be done to preserve and spare civilians when these types of military operations are underway.”
A coalition of U.N. agencies and labor unions have formed a new effort to fight child exploitation. The announcement came as the U.N. marked the World Day for the Elimination of Child Labour.
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director Jose Maria Sumpsi: “Let this day mark the beginning of our joint efforts to give children back their childhood. From this day forward, we shall work together to break the cycle of poverty and allow children the opportunity for a future in which their own children will be free from the worst forms of child labor in agriculture.”
The Bush administration is stepping up its war of words with Iran. On Tuesday, Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns accused Iran of transferring weapons to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has previously said Iranian weapons are turning up in Afghanistan but had stopped short of putting direct blame on Tehran.
A U.S. prosecutor who took part in the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg has criticized the U.S. military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. Henry King Jr. said this week Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert Jackson would “turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against government officials for deporting a mentally disabled U.S. citizen who’s now missing in Mexico. The ACLU says Pedro Guzman was serving a four-month jail sentence for trespassing when he was deported to Tijuana on a supposed immigration charge. He was deported despite telling officers he was born in California. He was born in Los Angeles and lives in a nearby town with his mother. Immigration officials say the deportation was justified because they had reason to believe Guzman was an undocumented immigrant. Members of his family have searched shelters, jails and hospitals in Tijuana to track him down. ACLU Southern California legal director Mark Rosenbaum said: “This is a recurring nightmare for every person of color of immigrant roots.”
In New Orleans, an officer charged in the videotaped beating of an unarmed man shortly after Hurricane Katrina has committed suicide. Lance Schilling was set to go on trial next month for beating 64-year-old retired teacher Robert Davis. Davis was walking in the French Quarter when officers hit him at least four times in the head, dragged him to the ground, and kneed him in the back. He was left bleeding on the ground.
And in Sacramento, the filmmaker Michael Moore joined up with the California Nurses Association Tuesday for a rally and hearing at the state Capitol. Moore is promoting his new film “Sicko,” which critiques the U.S healthcare system and insurance industry. Moore spoke on the Capitol steps.
Michael Moore: “There’s no room for the concept of profit when it comes to taking care of people when they’re sick. That question of how will this affect our bottom line, how will this affect our profits — that’s an immoral question, and it should never be asked.” (Video Courtesy: WeTheMedia.tv)
The Treasury Department is investigating Moore for possibly breaking the U.S. embargo on Cuba after he took ailing ground zero workers to the island for medical treatment. Moore says he’s sent a master copy of his film to Canada to safeguard against potential government interference.