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Dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the most intensive 48-hour bombardment of Gaza so far. At least 50 Palestinians have died over the past day, bringing the death toll from Israel’s three-week assault to more than 1,250.
Earlier today, two bombs hit a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp used by the United Nations to house displaced Palestinians. Around 20 Palestinians were reportedly killed, including a medic and an infant. Scores were injured. The United Nations has accused Israel of bombing the school. It marks the sixth time a U.N. shelter has been attacked since Israel launched its offensive. A shelling of a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun last week killed at least 16 people and left more than 150 wounded. Other bombings today reportedly killed seven members of one family and 10 members of another.
On Tuesday, Israeli tank shells and airstrikes on Jabaliya killed 13 people. A neighbor at the scene said the majority of the victims were women.
Resident: "Rockets started falling on our houses. Our entire area is filled with civilians. There is no one from the resistance groups or anything. Rockets fell on the buildings next door, and one rocket fell here. As soon as that happened, we came running. We opened the door, came in. We saw people torn apart, severed heads, blood and limbs. Most of them were women. And the entire street was damaged."
On Tuesday, most of Gaza’s already limited electricity supply was cut off after Israeli tank fire hit the fuel depot of the Strip’s only power plant. A Gazan Health Ministry official said the attack threatens to impact severely Gaza’s hospitals.
Dr. Yousef Abu El-Rish: "Power is expected to go out completely because the quantities we have will not suffice for a few days, which threatens various hospital departments, especially intensive care units, dialysis, pediatrics and surgery departments that are threatened with collapse."
Protests against the assault on Gaza continue in the United States. In New York City, a group of demonstrators blocked traffic by laying down in the streets outside Israel’s Mission to the United Nations. Twenty-six people were arrested after refusing police orders to disperse. The action was organized by the author and scholar Norman Finkelstein.
Norman Finkelstein: "Well, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for the past 21 days, morning and night, watching the horror unfold, and I felt I wasn’t doing enough, I wasn’t rising to the occasion, I wasn’t acting commensurate to the horror. So I decide it’s time to do something more, time to go past the computer, remove myself from the computer and get arrested."
Tuesday’s act of civil disobedience comes one day after nine Jewish peace activists were arrested protesting the Israeli assault outside the office of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The group of mostly young activists are calling themselves "If Not Now, When?" In Seattle, peace activists held a "die-in" outside the headquarters of Boeing, which manufactures weapons supplied to the Israeli military.
The Obama administration has imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia over its support for separatist rebels in Ukraine. President Obama said the measures will target Russia’s economy, but rejected claims of a new Cold War.
President Obama: "If Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow. And today is a reminder that the United States means what it says. And we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world. Today, and building on the measures we announced two weeks ago, the United States is imposing new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy: energy, arms and finance. It’s not a new Cold War. What it is is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path."
The new sanctions continue to avoid Russia’s major oil and natural gas projects, which entail partnerships with the oil giants ExxonMobil and BP. The European Union has also approved its toughest sanctions on Russia, banning the import and export of weapons. The EU plan does carve out an exception for France, allowing it to complete a $1.7 billion deal for two amphibious assault ships. The sanctions follow this month’s downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 passengers on board. The Ukrainian and U.S. governments say separatists shot down the plane with Russian-supplied missiles, a claim Russia and the rebels have denied. International investigators remain unable to reach the crash site amidst heavy fighting between the Ukraine government and the rebels. The Ukraine government says it has seized a key town on the outskirts of rebel-held Donetsk, with violence killing at least 19 people over the past 24 hours.
A federal appeals court has saved Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic from closure. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 against a state law that would have forced all providers at Jackson Women’s Health Organization to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. None of the clinic’s providers have been able to obtain the necessary permits from the hospitals because they provide elective abortions. The law would have forced women to drive hundreds of miles out of state in order to obtain an abortion. In its ruling, the court rejected state arguments it can transfer its obligations under Roe v. Wade to neighboring states.
Fast-food workers have won a major ruling that could improve their workplace conditions, wages and attempts to unionize. The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board says McDonald’s must take responsibility for all of its workers, including those at restaurants owned and run by franchisees. Ninety percent of McDonald’s restaurants are franchises. Critics say that arrangement has helped the parent company protect itself from worker initiatives such as lawsuits and unionization drives. It has also helped deflect the ongoing movement for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, with McDonald’s arguing that franchisees set workers’ pay. In Tuesday’s ruling, the NLRB said McDonald’s qualifies as a joint employer in dozens of unfair labor practice cases, including for illegally firing or threatening workers involved in pro-union activity. The ruling comes just days after hundreds of fast-food workers from around the country gathered in Illinois for an organizing conference on their campaign for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
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