Israel continues to bombard the Gaza Strip amidst talks over a ceasefire. Israeli military attacks today include the bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant and the heavy shelling of Khan Younis, killing six people and leaving at least 20 wounded. The Palestinian death toll is near 650, including more than 160 children. More than 4,000 have been wounded. According to Gaza officials, 475 houses have been totally destroyed, and more than 2,600 homes have been partially damaged. Israel has also struck 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals. Meanwhile, two more Israeli soldiers have been killed, bringing the Israeli military death toll inside Gaza to 29. A farm worker from Thailand also died inside Israel after being hit by rocket fire from Gaza.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel today for talks with Israel and then the Palestinian Authority. On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas endorsed a Hamas call to condition a ceasefire on ending the seven-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said there is a “strong possibility” Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza. Pillay cited Israel’s deadly attack on residential homes in the Shejaiya neighborhood and the shelling of the al-Aqsa Hospital. Her comments come one day after Amnesty International also called for Israel to be investigated for war crimes.
Nadia Boehlen, Amnesty International spokesperson: “Most of them are civilians, and under them we have children, we have women. Yesterday, the al-Qashar Hospital was attacked, with four people that were dead, dozens wounded. So there is a strong allegation of crime wars committed by Israel. In order to establish these war crimes, we ask now for a strong international inquiry. This has to be done in order to eventually transfer Israel in front of the International Criminal Court.”
The Obama administration has continued to back Israel’s assault on Gaza, saying it believes Israel is acting in self-defense. On Tuesday, President Obama was confronted by protesters along the route of his motorcade to attend fundraisers in San Francisco. The demonstrators held signs signs reading “Stop the Killing” and “Save Gaza.”
Syria has reportedly seen the deadliest 48-hour period of its three-year civil war. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 700 people were killed on Thursday and Friday, more than those killed in the chemical attack on Ghouta nearly one year ago. Most of last week’s dead were killed in heavy clashes between government forces and rebel fighters at the Shaar gas field in central Syria. The Observatory puts the overall death toll since March 2011 at 170,000, more than one-third civilians. More than 2.8 million people have been displaced.
The coffins of passengers who died in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are being flown to the Netherlands today after being moved out of eastern Ukraine. The remains of around 200 of the 298 victims were transferred on Tuesday after being held up for days by pro-Russian rebels, who are suspected of downing the plane.
Top U.S. intelligence officials say they believe the targeting of the plane was a mistake. They also say Russia had no direct involvement, but have accused Moscow of “creating the conditions” for the downing through the arming and training of separatist rebels. Russia has joined with other members of the United Nations Security Council to approve a measure calling for an international investigation.
In breaking news, a Ukrainian military spokesperson says two Ukrainian fighter jets have been shot down. Ukraine has seen intense violence in recent weeks, with the U.S.-backed Kiev government launching major attacks on Russian-leaning southeastern areas.
In Indonesia, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been declared the winner of this month’s presidential election, defeating the U.S.-trained former army general Prabowo Subianto with 53 percent of the vote. In a victory speech on Tuesday, Jokowi called for national unity after a bitter presidential contest. The American journalist Allan Nairn has reported Indonesian forces linked to Prabowo tried to rig the vote in his favor. Prabowo lost by more than 8.4 million votes, but is now refusing to concede. His advisers say they plan to challenge the election results at Indonesia’s Constitutional Court.
A pair of federal appeals courts has issued conflicting rulings on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law. On Tuesday, a panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down insurance subsidies in the 36 states that only use federal exchanges. The court said subsidies approved by the law do not apply to the federal exchanges, just the state exchanges. If allowed to stand, the ruling would drastically hike premiums for more than 4.5 million people and gut a provision at the heart of Obamacare. In a separate ruling hours later, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia upheld the subsidies. The differing rulings will likely mean that Obamacare’s fate returns to the Supreme Court.
Congress remains at odds over how to address the influx of 57,000 migrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. President Obama has requested $3.7 billion to cope with the crisis. Today Senate Democrats plan to introduce a measure requesting one billion dollars less than Obama wants, but Republicans have rejected that plan. A deal appears unlikely before Congress goes on recess at the end of July. Republicans have demanded increased border militarization, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. On Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the number of detained migrant children is actually dropping.
Jeh Johnson: “We’re seeing the numbers of illegal migrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley sector drop over the last four to six weeks. We’ve seen the numbers of total apprehensions drop and the numbers of apprehensions of unaccompanied children drop over the last four to six weeks. We’re not declaring victory. This could be seasonal, but the numbers are dropping.”
The Supreme Court has granted Arizona’s request to carry out an execution after a lower court put it on hold. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sided with death row prisoner Joseph Wood, who argued that Arizona must disclose its lethal injection methods and the source of the drugs involved. It was said to be the first time an appeals court delayed an execution because of drug secrecy. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court overturned the court’s ruling, setting the stage for Wood’s planned execution later today.