The Gaza Strip has seen relative calm Monday and rocket fire into Israel sharply dropped as the United Nations and United States called for a cease-fire. On Sunday, Hamas said it wanted a 24-hour truce for Monday's Eid al-Fitr holiday. The U.N. Security Council issued a statement calling for "all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond." The Israeli army reported one rocket had been fired Monday morning at Ashkelon. The Israeli military struck three targets in Gaza and continued efforts to destroy tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory. Israel's security cabinet met early Monday to debate cease-fire proposals or a possible escalation of the Gaza offensive. Israel and Hamas observed a temporary humanitarian truce on Saturday, but fighting resumed on Sunday. An estimated 1,036 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli operation began on July 8, and Israel reported 43 soldiers and three civilians have died.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared at a Damascus mosque for Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of Ramadan. Clashes have intensified between Assad's troops and Islamic State fighters, and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported about 1,240 pro-government forces have been killed in the past 10 days. Opposition activists and Syrian state media reported the Syrian army recaptured the Shaer gas field in Palmyra that was seized by the Islamic State earlier in July. However, a source from the Islamic State said its fighters withdrew after seizing tanks and rockets and destroying the fields' equipment.
- Violent clashes in Libya killed at least 50 people over the weekend and sparked the United States to evacuate its embassy, additionally rocket fire hit an oil tank igniting a massive fire.
- Shiite militiamen have released Sunni president of Baghdad's provincial council, Riyadh al-Adhadh, and his bodyguards after abducting them in the Iraqi capital late Friday.
- A British teacher kidnapped in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in February has been freed.
Arguments and Analysis
'Voices from Libya's armed struggle' (Borzou Daragahi, Financial Times)
"Libya's political divide is now so pronounced that eastern and western Tripoli have come under different unofficial jurisdictions.
Haftar supporters and allied militias from Zintan control the western half of the Libyan capital while Islamists are in charge in the east.
The highway leading to the airport that cuts through the city serves as a green line.
When ferocious fighting broke out between the western and eastern militias over control of the country's airport, the battle left dozens dead and badly damaged dozens of aircraft.
While some Libyans refuse to entertain the notion of the country descending into all-out armed confrontation, others feel there is little holding back the warring camps from widening their conflict."
'The Perils of Jordan's Informal Sector' (José Ciro Martínez, The Majalla)
"Since the violent escalation of Syria's conflict in the spring of 2011, Jordan has maintained a generous 'open-door' policy. This has helped prevent a broader humanitarian disaster, but at a great cost to the country's own citizens, as well as its budget. One recent study by think tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on the socioeconomic impact of the refugees on Jordan estimates the cost of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Jordanian economy to be somewhere between 11.5 billion-13 billion dinars (16 billion-18 billion dollars) during 2012-2014. There are undoubtedly certain under-publicized benefits accruing from the refugee influx. Wealthy Syrians have invested in the retail sector, spent on real estate, and increased the eligible labor pool for Jordanian businesses. The estimated aggregate benefit of the Syrian crisis on the Jordanian economy stands somewhere between 7.2 billion-7.9 billion dinars (10 billion-11 billion dollars) during 2012-2014. But the benefits accrue largely to private businesses. The government and vulnerable segments of the Jordanian population, on the other hand, are bearing the full brunt of the cost."
-- Mary Casey
DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images