The Middle East Channel

Israel Bombards Gaza Knocking Out Sole Power Plant

Israel has intensified strikes on the Gaza Strip after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis there would be a long conflict ahead. In a televised address Monday, Netanyahu said "We will not complete the operation without neutralizing the tunnels." Ten Israeli soldiers were killed Monday, including up to five who died in clashes with militants who emerged from a tunnel running from Gaza into Israeli territory. The Israeli military said it hit 70 targets in one of the heaviest nights of bombardment Gaza has seen in three weeks of conflict. One of the strikes destroyed the unoccupied house of Hamas political leader Ismail Haniya. Additionally, Israeli shelling knocked out Gaza's only power plant, which supplies up to two-thirds of the area's energy needs. According to Gaza health officials, 1,156 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, mostly civilians, while 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed as well as three civilians.

Syria

Australian police have issued arrest warrants for two citizens believed to be fighting with the Islamic State in Syria after photos allegedly of them holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers were posted on Twitter. An estimated 150 Australian citizens and residents are believed to have joined militant Islamist groups, and the country is reportedly the largest per capita source of foreign fighters for the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Syrian government barrel bombings overnight killed at least 15 civilians, including six children, in the northern city of Aleppo, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Six additional civilians were killed in mortar shelling by rebel forces.

Headlines

  • Italy has offered to help Libya contain a massive fire at a fuel depot near Tripoli as clashes continue between rival militias over control of the capital's international airport.
  • A U.S. court has ordered the seizure of a cargo of Kurdish oil worth $100 million, claimed by the Iraqi government, aboard a tanker off the coast of Texas.
  • FIFA's vice president has ordered the payment of migrant laborers who worked on offices in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup who reportedly are owed 13 months' wages.

Arguments and Analysis

'Isolating Gaza' (Ilana Feldman, Stanford University Press blog)

"Palestinians living in Gaza's 'open air prison' are not only targeted for attack, but also victimized by enforced immobility. Through years of policies of increasing control, closure, and blockade, Israel has created this vulnerability and is now deploying immobility as a lethal weapon. There is frequent reference in the media to the blockade imposed on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas won parliamentary elections, but the process of isolating Gaza began long before that. Understanding how immobility was imposed and then weaponized requires looking at the history of borders, movements, and constraints on motion that have defined this place since 1948."

'What's behind Libya's spiraling violence?' (Frederic Wehrey, The Washington Post)

"One of Libya's conundrums is that nearly all the militias claim legitimacy from their affiliation with competing organs of the weak and fractured government. Government subsidization of militia power arose from the enfeebled state of the formal army and police, which Moammar Gaddafi had marginalized in favor of elite units commanded by his sons and which had largely evaporated during the revolution. Bereft of a way to project its authority and police the country's periphery and towns, Libya's transitional authorities, the National Transitional Council (NTC), put the militias under its payroll. The chief of staff, minister of defense, minister of interior, and president of the outgoing General National Congress (GNC) have all at one time "registered" or "deputized" militia coalitions. One result of these subsidies has been a mushrooming of militias, well beyond the number that actually fought against Gaddafi."

'A war in search of an objective' (Gregg Carlstrom, Medium)

"The three-week-old Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has killed nearly 1,100 Palestinians and wounded more than 6,500, is a war in search of an objective. Perhaps more accurately: it is an open-ended military campaign yoked to the ever-more-difficult political objective of sustaining an unsustainable status quo."

-- Mary Casey

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

The Middle East Channel

Israel and Gaza See Tenuous Calm as U.N. Calls For Cease-Fire

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. 

Syria

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.

Headlines

  • 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