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Israel has resumed airstrikes on the Gaza Strip following the collapse of an Egyptian ceasefire. Israel had accepted the Egyptian proposal, but Hamas never formally responded. The group’s members say the plan was a nonstarter because it would have maintained the status quo of before the ongoing assault, when Israel maintained a crippling siege on Gaza and bombed it at will. Hamas also wants the release of prisoners initially freed as part of a 2011 prisoner swap but who were re-arrested in Israeli raids last month. Hamas officials also criticized the Egyptian government for failing to consult with them in formulating the proposal. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is an avowed Hamas opponent, and critics have called his ceasefire effort a ploy to give Israel an added pretext to continue the bombings.
In response to Hamas’ rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he now has no choice but to expand the attack on Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “It would have been preferable to have solved this diplomatically, and this is what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it.”
Israel resumed the bombing of Gaza several hours after the ceasefire was to take effect. At least seven Palestinians have been killed in attacks earlier today. One strike destroyed the home of top Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. It was the first apparent targeting of a Hamas leader since the assault on Gaza began over a week ago. More strikes on the homes of Hamas figures have followed today. The Palestinian death toll stands at more than 200, including 31 children. On Tuesday, funerals continued for the victims in Gaza, including a 10-year-old boy. Two members of the al-Hajj family, a son and an uncle, spoke out about an Israeli bombing of a home that killed eight family members, including two parents and five siblings.
Yasser al-Hajj: “After losing both my parents and my brothers and sisters, I am now all by myself. I have no one except a sister who is married and lives in Rafah, and that’s far away. Life is going to be difficult from here on out.”
Mohammad al-Hajj: “Imagine the feeling when someone carries his sister and her sons and daughters, who are children, 18, 16 and 14 years old. I carried them when their bodies were ripped apart. It was horrifying.”
Militants in Gaza have fired more than 150 rockets into Israel since Tuesday. One Israeli civilian was killed as he volunteered handing out food to Israeli soldiers stationed near Gaza. He was the first Israeli to be killed by rocket fire since the conflict began. A paramedic described his death.
Uri Shacham: “Unfortunately, 30 minutes ago, an Israeli citizen working near Erez crossing border was hit by shrapnel due to a mortar attack on the crossing. He was severely injured, treated at the scene by paramedics of Magen David Adom and evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where they unfortunately had to pronounce his death.”
In addition to bombing Gazan homes, Israel’s attack has further decimated a civilian infrastructure already in crisis after years of a crippling blockade. On Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned the more than week-long Israeli bombings have pushed Gaza to the brink of a new water crisis.
Nada Doumani: “Water is a problem, and it can quickly turn out into a catastrophe. We do have hundreds of thousands of people without water in Gaza. So water repairs have been conducted in very difficult conditions. Water engineers have been killed, and this obviously hampered a lot the work. Gaza has already a very difficult deteriorating infrastructure, 1.5, 1.7 million people living in a very small area, and the infrastructure is already bad. With all the shelling and the bombings and the fighting going on, it can only be even worse.”
At least 10 people have died in a typhoon churning across the Philippines. Nearly 370,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes as the cyclone makes its way to the capital Manila. Typhoon Rammasun is the strongest to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan last year, one of the worst ever recorded. The official death toll from Haiyan stands at more than 6,100.
The death toll from Tuesday’s massive bombing in Afghanistan has reached 89 people, all civilians. The blast hit a crowded market in the eastern province of Paktika. It is said to be the deadliest militant attack on Afghan civilians since the U.S. invasion of 2001.
A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.
A Navy medical officer stationed at Guantánamo Bay has become the first known prison official to refuse to force-feed hunger-striking detainees. The unidentified officer’s stance was revealed in a phone call from a Guantánamo Bay prisoner to his attorney. The prisoner, Abu Wael Dhiab, says the nurse refused to force-feed the hunger strikers sometime before July 4. The Navy says the officer has been re-assigned to “alternative duties,” away from the prison’s detention center.
A district court judge has stayed the execution of a Missouri prisoner convicted of three murders. John Middleton was scheduled to die by lethal injection just after midnight. But Judge Catherine Perry issued a stay after ruling he meets the standard for mental incapacity “showing that he is incompetent to be executed.”
One of the country’s best-known undocumented immigrants has been released following his detention at a Texas airport. Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, first came to the United States from the Philippines in 1993. In 2011, he became a leading undocumented activist after revealing his status in a widely read essay. Vargas had recently traveled to the Texas border to document the crisis of thousands of immigrant children from Central America fleeing poverty and violence. But he says he soon realized he might have trouble leaving with just his Philippines passport due to the heavy presence of Border Patrol agents and checkpoints. On Tuesday, as he attempted to fly to Houston en route to Los Angeles, Vargas was arrested by immigration authorities for the first time in his life and held for most of the day. As the whole country watched, the Department of Homeland Security eventually released Vargas, saying he did not have a prior record, and their priority was to remove “criminal individuals.” He has been given a notice to appear before an immigration judge.
The trial of four former Blackwater guards accused of massacring 17 Iraqi civilians at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square is continuing this week with former employees offering an inside account of the killings. One witness described how one of his colleagues shot an unarmed Iraqi who was holding his hands up in an apparent gesture of surrender. Another said he saw people hiding in their cars, trying to shield their children, while a third recalled waving to Iraqis, telling them to duck down as his own colleagues showered the area with bullets. The trial for the 2007 massacre began last month after years of delay. The private security firm Blackwater has undergone several renaming and rebranding attempts, most recently merging with former competitor Triple Canopy under the name Constellis Holdings.
Global experts have submitted a report to the United Nations on how the world’s top economies can help avoid climate disaster. The study for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon details specific steps that countries can take to help keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the target level for staving off devastating global warming. The Pathways to Deep Decarbonization Project is being billed as the most comprehensive of its kind to outline practical measures to counter climate change. Project member Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said that if countries do not adapt, the world is on pace for a temperature hike of 4 degrees or higher.
Jeffrey Sachs: “What’s concerning about this report is that we are way off track, and to get on track will require major cooperative efforts that are right now not in place. Two degrees Centigrade limit is not easily achieved. We’re on a trajectory of some 4 degrees Centigrade or more, depending on exactly the assumptions that one makes. And all of the evidence is that the business-as-usual path would be an absolutely reckless and unforgivable gamble with this planet.”
The United Nations will hold a climate change summit in New York in September as part of negotiations for a global agreement by the end of next year.
A Swedish court is holding a hearing today to decide whether to lift the arrest warrant on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. Visit our website for the latest details on the hearing and to watch our extended interview with Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has political asylum.