The Middle East Channel

Israel Calls Up Reservists as Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels

The Israeli military announced it has called up 16,000 reservists and Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to complete the destruction of Hamas's tunnel network in Gaza. Netanyahu said, "We are determined to continue to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire." The military reported it has uncovered 32 tunnels, and that it would take "a few more days" to destroy that tunnels it has located. Additionally, a U.S. defense official said the United States has allowed Israel access to a weapons stockpile for a resupply of grenades and mortar rounds. In 24-days of fighting, an estimated 1,372 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, as well as 56 Israeli soldiers and three civilians. An Israeli strike on a busy market near Gaza City killed an estimated 17 people on Wednesday. Palestinians believed there was a temporary cease-fire in place, however Israel said that the area was a combat zone. The United Nations has accused Israel of violating international law for shelling a U.N. school on Wednesday that was being used to shelter refugees. U.N. officials said 20 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the attack. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also accused Hamas militants of committing war crimes.


Fighting between Islamic State forces and Syrian Kurds in the northern Aleppo province has killed at least 49 people. Fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) reportedly seized several Islamic State positions in Ain al-Arab, near the border with Turkey. Meanwhile, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a U.S. citizen who carried out a suicide truck bombing at a restaurant in northern Syria in May, returned to the United States for several months before the attack.


  • Rival Libyan militias fighting near Tripoli have agreed to a temporary truce for firefighters to contain a fuel depot blaze meanwhile at least 75 bodies were found after militias overran a Benghazi army base.
  • Yemen's army broke up protests Wednesday over fuel price increases killing one demonstrator and wounding another.
  • Hezbollah commander Ibrahim al-Haq has been killed during a mission in Iraq, suggesting the group, which is involved in fighting in Syria, is also participating in Iraq's conflict.
  • Turkish expats have begun voting in Turkey's first direct presidential election, in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the frontrunner.

Arguments and Analysis

'Americans still support Israel, but views vary by age and race, poll finds' (Gram Slattery, The Christian Science Monitor)

"How one views Israel in the recent Gaza conflict depends largely on race, age, and political affiliation, the poll indicates. While 40 percent of Americans overall see the Palestinian militant group as the prime instigator of the current violence versus 19 percent who blame the Israelis, this gap is smaller - and even nonexistent - within certain demographic groups.

Consider differences among age groups: Among Americans 65 or older, the fault lies with Hamas, as 53 percent of them blame the militant group for the current violence, while only 15 percent blame Israel. Among Americans ages 18 through 29, however, 29 percent put Israel at fault, versus 18 percent who put the blame on Hamas.

Why are Millennials less supportive of Israeli policy? According to Alec Tyson, a senior researcher at Pew, the answer may have to do with religion, as young people are less likely to be members of denominations that tend to support Israel."

'The Sana'a Illusion' (Farea Al-muslimi, Foreign Affairs)

"Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that Yemen could be an example for how to bring stability to Iraq. 'You look at a country like Yemen -- a very impoverished country and one that has its own sectarian or ethnic divisions,' he said. 'There, we do have a committed partner in President [Abdu Rabbu Mansour] Hadi and his government.' His comments came as a shock to most Yemenis. The contradiction between their country's political reality and its reputation as an Arab Spring success story has always been glaring, but now it had become absurd.

Just days before Obama spoke, demonstrations -- which were largely ignored by the international media, since few foreign journalists are allowed into country these days -- had broken out in the capital. Angry protesters shut down Sanaa's main streets, burning tires and shouting chants against the transitional government and against Hadi, the man who heads it. Yemenis, it seemed, had simply snapped under the strain of severe fuel shortages, kilometer-long lines at gas stations, and 20-hour electricity blackouts."

'The Man Who Haunts Israel' (Michael Crowley, TIME)

"Today, Khaled Mashaal and Benjamin Netanyahu are again adversaries in an international crisis, as Israel wages war with Hamas in what might be its bloodiest fight yet against the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. In the 58-year-old Palestinian, who is now Hamas's political leader and most visible spokesman, granting interviews to the likes of Charlie Rose and the BBC, Netanyahu faces an enemy who has only grown in stature since their existential encounter. Although he does not rule Hamas by fiat, Mashaal 'is one of the most influential figures in Palestinian politics,' says Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. Thrall says Mashaal is even a plausible candidate to lead the larger Palestinian national movement once the presidency of moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is 79, has ended."

-- Mary Casey


The Middle East Channel

U.N. Reports Israeli Shells Hit Gaza School

U.N. officials have reported multiple Israeli shells hit a U.N. school in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, killing at least 15 people Wednesday morning. The Israeli military said, from its initial inquiry, it appeared as if soldiers responded to militant fire "from the vicinity of the [UN] school." Around 3,300 Palestinians had taken refuge in the school, fleeing fighting and Israeli strikes in other areas of the Gaza Strip. UNRWA says more than 200,000 Palestinians have sought shelter in 85 of its schools. On July 24, a strike on a U.N. school, which was also being used as a shelter, in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun killed 15 Palestinians and injured 200 others. On Tuesday, the United Nations reported it had discovered a cache of rockets at a U.N. school in Gaza, for the third time since recent hostilities began. An estimated 1,250 Palestinians, mostly civilians, as well as 53 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in over three weeks of fighting.


The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported opposition fighters detonated bombs in tunnels under the northern city of Aleppo killing at least 13 pro-government forces. The bombs were placed in two or three tunnels under historic parts of the city. The coalition of rebel brigades, the Islamic Front, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was not reported in Syrian state media. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a statement saying the Syrian government has continued using barrel bombs against civilians, despite a February U.N. Security Council resolution. The group documented 650 new damage sites that appeared to be hit by barrel bombs since the resolution was passed. The Security Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday for its fifth report on the resolution.


  • Militias have seized a Libyan army special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi that had been held by forces allied with the former general, Khalifa Heftar.
  • A U.S. judge, who had ordered marshals to seize the cargo of a tanker holding $100 million worth of Kurdish oil, said the order could not be enforced because the vessel, at 60 miles offshore of Texas, was outside her jurisdiction.
  • Hundreds of people protested in several Yemeni cities Wednesday after the government raised fuel prices.

Arguments and Analysis

'Did Libya Prove War Hawks Right or Wrong?' (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic)

"I am struck by the willingness of prominent interventionists to have publicly declared their instincts in Libya vindicated when the country's future remained very much in doubt, as if they couldn't conceive of an intervention that would result in more lives lost than the alternative even as the possibility of that outcome was extremely plausible. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Washington, D.C. foreign-policy establishment seemed to perform no better at foreseeing how events would unfold than non-expert commentators who simply applied Murphy's Law. At the very most charitable, the common interventionist claim that Libya vindicated them in their dispute with non-interventionists was wildly premature. Perhaps the lesson to take from the NATO campaign is that even the most thoughtful interventionists have no idea how geopolitical events will unfold."

'The regime's new clothes' (Ursula Lindsey, Mada Masr)

"The new regime has its accomplices and plenty of supporters, relieved to see the state reassert its authority, and 'the people' back to a state of appropriate passivity and silence. But the authorities' hypersensitivity to dissent reveals a deep unease. Otherwise, how to explain the need to criminalize hand gestures, hunt down flyers, investigate telephone ads, and treat comedy shows as threats to national security?

The government is rightly paranoid, because it is a regime, like the Emperor of Hans Christian Anderson's tale, with no clothes. A castle of cards built on fake confessions, fake miracle cures, fake trials, fake crack-downs and clean-ups."

'Rouhani Goes to College' (Reza H. Akbari, The Majalla)

"Rouhani continues to promise more academic freedom in Iran, but the opposition to his plans has been strong. The ultimate acceptance or rejection of the Science Minister's proposed changes by the SCRC will certainly be an indicator of the fate of attempts to grant more independence to the country's universities in the future.

Thus far, the administration's opponents are doing what they can to hinder the reform process by delaying the nomination of candidates, threatening to impeach the Science Minister, and accusing the administration of breaking laws. The outcome of the conflict is not certain, but a rejection of the Science Minister's proposed changes would decrease any hope for short-term improvements in academic freedom in Iran."

-- Mary Casey