A temporary humanitarian cease-fire came into effect Thursday between Israel and militants in Gaza after a request from the United Nations for a break in 10 days of fighting. The truce was set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in order to allow residents in Gaza, who have been trapped in their homes for days, to obtain supplies and gain access to medical care. The temporary truce mostly held, however three mortar shells hit Israeli territory. Prior to the suspension of hostilities, the Israeli military reported it foiled an attempted incursion by 13 armed militants to enter Israel through a tunnel from Gaza. According to Gaza health officials, at least 224 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed by Israeli strikes, including four Palestinian boys on Wednesday who were playing on a beach in Gaza City. An Israeli official reported a comprehensive cease-fire has been reached and will take effect Friday at 6 a.m., however Hamas officials have not officially commented on a deal, and Egyptian officials said they were "unaware" of an agreement.
Syrian government forces dropped barrel bombs on the central town of Morek Wednesday and overnight into Thursday. The town on the strategic highway linking central and northern Syria has been held for the past four months by mainly Islamist rebel groups. Meanwhile, a Pentagon plan to aid Syrian rebel groups committed by President Barack Obama in May is emerging to be more modest than advocates hoped. Military officials told congressional committees that the $500 million program could be used to train 2,300 fighters, though they said the number was evolving. The United Nations reported Wednesday that it has positioned supplies for the first cross-border aid convoys since a U.N. resolution adopted Saturday.
- Gunmen ambushed army checkpoints in Tunisia's Mount Chaambi region near the Algerian border killing 14 soldiers and wounding 20 others in attacks claimed by al Qaeda linked militants.
- U.S. President Barack Obama said nuclear talks with Iran "have made real progress in several areas" and indicated he may push for an extension for negotiations past July 20.
- Air controllers in western Libya have gone on strike to protest the shelling of Tripoli International Airport putting pressure on rival militias to end four days of clashes.
- An Egyptian court has sentenced seven men to life in prison and two others to 20 years for sexually assaulting women during rallies in June following the election of President Sisi.
Arguments and Analysis
'Two political casualties of Gaza conflict: Netanyahu and Abbas' (Christa Case Bryant, The Christian Science Monitor)
Both leaders face rising political threats, in part due to the restraint they have exercised in recent weeks. Their opponents are arguing for tougher action, stances that are gaining traction on both sides and could further undermine any diplomatic initiatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even after the skies are quiet again."
'The Violence of Climate Change in Egypt' (Mika Minio-Paluello, Jadaliyya)
"In the midst of the revolutionary battles of recent years, it is easy not to notice that climate change is fundamentally changing the Middle East and North Africa we live in. This gradual transformation, much of it already inevitable, threatens to displace millions, if not tens of millions, and change the region beyond recognition. Business as usual will allow elite classes to profit from the devastation of the majority-but a just future is possible, if we fight for it."
-- Mary Casey
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images