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The Palestinian death toll has passed 1,370 on the 25th day of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry in Gaza says the dead include 315 children. More than 7,700 people have been wounded. At least 13 people were killed in bombings earlier today.
At a news conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the assault until the tunnels used by Palestinian fighters are destroyed. Netanyahu says Israel will also reject any ceasefire that prevents it from wiping out the tunnels. The tunnels have been used to move weapons and carry out attacks on soldiers, as well as to smuggle goods and Gaza residents cut off by the seven-year blockade. Rockets fired from Gaza have killed three civilians inside Israel. Israel’s military death toll during the assault is at 58.
Israel drew condemnation from the United Nations on Wednesday for the bombing of a U.N. school housing displaced Gaza residents. At least 16 people were killed, all civilians. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack "shameful."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "This morning, yet another United Nations school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack. All available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause. Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children. At least 16 civilians are dead, and many more are injured."
The Israeli attack in Jabaliya marked the sixth time a U.N. school had been struck during Israel’s more than three-week offensive. The Obama administration has condemned the attack on the U.N. school, but has refused to blame or condemn Israel for carrying it out. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has confirmed its approval of an Israeli request to restock Israel’s supplies of ammunition. The United States will provide items from its stockpile inside Israel, including mortar rounds for tanks and ammunition for grenade launchers.
Another Israeli bombing on Wednesday killed 17 people near a market in Shejaiya. The attack reportedly occurred despite Israel declaring a four-hour humanitarian pause. Around 160 people were injured. A medic said most of the slain victims died of head wounds.
Medic: "All the people who were targeted were hit in the head, with the aim of killing them. We are talking about at least 100 wounded, and we’re talking about an indescribable massacre. And this is during the four-hour truce that they announced."
Wednesday’s dead in Gaza include two Palestinian journalists: reporter Sameh Al-Aryan and photojournalist Rami Rayan. Eight journalists have been killed during Israel’s offensive. In a statement, the International Federation of Journalists said Israel "must be held accountable for these atrocities."
Large parts of Gaza remain without power or running water after Israel bombed the area’s lone power plant earlier this week. The U.N.’s deputy secretary-general, Jan Eliasson, pleaded for an end to the bombing.
Jan Eliasson: "How can you run a hospital without clean water? How can you keep food if you can’t have refrigerators? Everything we take for granted is gone. So we have an unusually dangerous situation from a humanitarian perspective. And I don’t think we need more reminders of the importance of stopping this horror. We have to see the end of fighting."
Speaking today, the U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay condemned what she called Israel’s "deliberate defiance" of international law.
Protests against the assault on Gaza continue around the world. Several people were arrested at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., in a demonstration organized by CodePink.
The Republican-controlled House has approved Speaker John Boehner’s request to sue President Obama. Boehner says Obama has overstepped his authority, citing executive orders that include raising the minimum wage, expanding LGBT protections, and stopping the deportation of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But the lawsuit itself focuses solely on the delayed implementation of a portion of the Affordable Care Act — a law Republicans opposed and then tried to repeal. At a speech in Kansas City, President Obama mocked Republican opposition.
President Obama: "So, some of the things we’re doing without Congress are making a difference, but we could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit. Just come on. Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Come on. Let’s get some work done together."
Today is the last day before lawmakers take a nearly six-week summer recess. In one of Congress’ few legislative accomplishments, the Senate is poised to pass a $16 billion measure to address the veteran healthcare crisis following House approval on Wednesday. The bill includes funding for new staff and facilities and allows veterans who face lengthy wait or travel times to seek private care.
Lawmakers will likely end the current session without a measure to address the migrant crisis on the Mexico border. President Obama has asked Republicans for $3.7 billion, but a Republican countermeasure would allocate less than $700 million. The current session will also end without action on comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrant rights groups are holding a march in Washington, D.C., on Saturday under the banner of "Not One More Deportation." Organizers are calling on President Obama "to reverse his record deportations and right his policies to expand relief to the fullest extent possible under the law." They also want Obama to meet with undocumented leaders.
A group of undocumented immigrants has reportedly launched a new hunger strike at a detention facility in Washington state. The immigrants are said to be fasting for 75 hours up until Saturday’s march. The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma has seen a number of hunger strikes this year in protest of poor conditions and federal inaction.
The U.S. Border Patrol is facing a civil rights lawsuit for the 2012 shooting death of a Mexican teenager. Sixteen-year-old José Antonio Rodríguez was killed after U.S. border agents opened fire on people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border. Rodríguez had ventured out to buy food. He was shot eight times. At a news conference, Rodríguez’s mother demanded justice for her son.
Araceli Rodríguez Salazar: "I believe that there must be justice. I don’t see why there shouldn’t be. You don’t need to be very intelligent to know that a murder was committed and they need to pay for what they did. Therefore, I am calm with respect to this because I know that the case will go on and on and it will take years, but I know that one day we will have justice."
Shootings involving U.S. border agents have killed more than 20 people since 2010.
Argentina has gone into default on its sovereign debt after failing to resolve a payment dispute with U.S. investors. A recent Supreme Court ruling sided with vulture funds that purchased Argentina’s debt for bargain prices after its financial crisis and then refused to cut the value of their holdings, as most other creditors did. A lower court judge then barred Argentina from repaying the majority of its creditors without also repaying the vulture funds. The Argentine government has refused to fully repay the vulture funds. It has delivered a $539 million interest payment to avoid the default, but the judge’s order bars the payment’s release. After failing to meet a midnight deadline, Argentina went into default for the second time in 13 years. Negotiations are expected to continue in the coming days.
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