The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has topped 1,800 as the Israeli offensive enters its 28th day. On Sunday, at least 10 people died when Israel shelled another United Nations school sheltering Palestinian civilians. The United States has called the attack “disgraceful.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it a “moral outrage and a criminal act.” It was the seventh U.N. school hit since Israel’s offensive began.
The United Nations is warning of a “rapidly unfolding” health crisis in Gaza as large parts of the territory remain without power or running water, and well over 300,000 are displaced. The United Nations’ top humanitarian official for the Occupied Territories, James Rawley, warned of an outbreak of water-borne diseases.
James Rawley: “We have essential services — water, sanitation and electricity — that are hardly functioning at all. We have the recipe here for a health disaster, and we are beginning, the health professionals, talking about diseases that we have not seen in the Gaza Strip for decades. I’m talking about typhoid, cholera and other water-borne diseases that could well break out given the overall health disastrous situation that we see now.”
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed since a 72-hour ceasefire collapsed on Friday. Over the weekend, the Israeli government admitted that a soldier it had reported as captured had actually been killed in battle. Israel had used the claim to accuse Hamas of breaking the ceasefire that was to take effect Friday morning. Hamas never confirmed the soldier’s capture and said he was likely killed in fighting before the ceasefire took effect. Israel killed more than 100 people in a heavy bombardment of Rafah following its claim of the soldier’s capture.
Sixty-three Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have now been killed in the past four weeks. Earlier today, Israel announced a unilateral seven-hour truce in most of the Gaza Strip except for Rafah. Palestinians have already accused Israel of breaking its own ceasefire by launching a bomb attack that killed an eight-year-old girl and wounded 29 other people in the Shati refugee camp.
Thousands of people rallied outside the White House on Saturday in protest of U.S. backing for the Israeli assault on Gaza. Some called it the largest rally for Palestinian rights ever held in the United States.
Mary Ebukhdear: “I am here to protest for my country. I want to hope to see my country free one day. I want to stop the massacre in Gaza.”
Iman Kandil: “As an American, we’re all complicit because our tax money goes to fund some of the military techniques and weapons that are being used to murder innocent civilians. So, it’s devastating, it’s infuriating, feeling a little bit frustrated with the government, and hopefully we can make a little bit of change. You know, we’ve been writing to Congress, writing to the president, writing to Secretary Kerry, trying to make that change. But I think progress is slow, but we’re hopeful.”
President Obama has raised the prospect of new executive action on immigration reform after Congress failed to send him legislation. On Friday, the Republican-controlled House approved a measure that would provide less than $700 million to address the migrant crisis on the southern border, far below the $3.7 billion that Obama sought. Republicans also voted to speed up the deportation of child migrants and revoke much of Obama’s executive order granting a reprieve to undocumented youth. On Friday, Obama said he is prepared to act on his own.
President Obama: “Without additional resources and help from Congress, we’re just not going to have the resources we need to fully solve the problem. That means while they’re out on vacation, I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress.”
The Washington Post reports Obama is considering measures including “temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years” — up to five million people.
On Saturday, hundreds of protesters rallied outside the White House in a call for President Obama to halt his administration’s record deportations and address comprehensive reform. Tefere Gebre of the AFL-CIO said Obama has a unique opportunity to take action.
Tefere Gebre: “The president has an opportunity to actually go back, provide justice to the parents, provide justice to the workers in this country who have been working in the shadows. And we’re here to ask the president to go back, to be bold and provide justice and provide opportunity for people to come out of the shadows and work without fear. That’s what we are here for.”
President Obama is backing Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan in the face of calls for Brennan’s resignation. Brennan admitted last week CIA officials spied on a Senate panel probing the agency’s torture and rendition program, months after he made an initial denial. Brennan made the acknowledgment after an internal CIA inquiry found 10 agency employees illegally monitored Senate staffers’ computers. At least three senators have called on Brennan to step down.
At a news conference on Friday, President Obama said he has “full confidence” in CIA Director John Brennan. Addressing the Senate report that the CIA spied on, Obama acknowledged the United States has “tortured some folks.”
President Obama: “We did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”
In comments that got far less attention, Obama also said that after he took office, he banned “some” — not all — of the CIA’s torture practices.
President Obama: “But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.”
The death toll from a record-setting Ebola outbreak in West Africa has topped 820. The World Health Organization is warning the epidemic is out of control and could turn “catastrophic.” But at a summit meeting on Friday, WHO Director Margaret Chan said leaders of the three most affected countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have agreed on a $100 million plan to contain the virus.
WHO Director Margaret Chan: “The presidents of these three countries recognize the serious nature of the Ebola outbreaks in their countries. They are determined to take extraordinary measures to stop Ebola in their countries.”
The measures include deploying troops to the worst affected regions that account for around 70 percent of the Ebola cases.
Two Americans are known to have contracted the Ebola virus, and both will be treated under quarantine inside the United States. A doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia is already in a special isolation unit at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, where he is said to be improving. A nurse who also contracted Ebola in Liberia is set to arrive at Emory on Tuesday.
An earthquake in the Chinese province of Yunnan has killed nearly 400 people. More than 1,800 people were wounded.
A new report has revealed a U.S. agency sent Latin American recruits to Cuba to secretly foment anti-government activism under the guise of civic causes like HIV prevention. The Associated Press reveals the U.S. Agency for International Development sent nearly a dozen young people from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to Cuba to organize anti-government sentiment during President Obama’s first term. The operatives were given sparse training and paid as little as $5.41 an hour. There is no evidence they succeeded in their mission. The program was launched just after USAID contractor Alan Gross was arrested in Cuba, where he remains in jail on suspicion of being a U.S. spy. As part of the program, USAID hired Creative Associates International, a firm that also played a key role in the “Cuban Twitter” program — a fake social media program launched in another bid to undermine the Cuban government.
A medical examiner has made a ruling of homicide in the death of Eric Garner, an African-American father of six who died after police placed him in a chokehold. Police say they confronted Garner because he was selling bootleg cigarettes. Graphic video of the incident shows an officer pulling Garner to the ground by the neck and then holding his head against the pavement. He repeatedly says that he cannot breathe. Garner’s family and supporters have called for criminal charges against the officer and a federal civil rights investigation.