Israel and Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agreed late on Monday to an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour cease-fire. The truce came into effect at 8:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Israel has withdrawn its ground troops, according to the military, to "defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip." The Israeli military claimed it has destroyed 32 tunnels into Israel, killed "approximately 900 militants in combat," and destroyed 3,000 rockets. Israel is expected to send a delegation to Cairo to join Palestinians for negotiations on a longer-term end to hostilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for the demilitarization of Gaza. Beyond the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Palestinians are demanding an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza and the release of prisoners, including Palestinians detained in the West Bank during Israeli raids following the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. In nearly a month of fighting, an estimated 1,865 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed, according to Gaza officials. Israel has reported 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Additionally, Palestinian militants have launched over 3,300 rockets and mortar bombs into Israel.
Two Lebanese soldiers were killed overnight in the Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border. An estimated 16 soldiers and 50 militants have been killed in four days of fighting between the Lebanese army and fighters from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. On Tuesday, a Future Movement official reported progress had made toward ending fighting saying that, after negotiations, militants had agreed to hand over three soldiers and gradually withdraw forces. Additionally, clashes broke out in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli Monday night and gunmen attacked a bus carrying soldiers, wounding seven people, on Tuesday.
- Libya's new parliament convened at the eastern port of Tobruk for its first session Monday electing a speaker while fighting continued between militias in Tripoli and Benghazi.
- Iraq has offered air support to Kurdish forces battling Sunni militants after Islamic State-allied fighters overtook territory in the north.
- Turkish police have detained at least 25 police officers in a second wave of arrests over allegations of illegally wiretapping Prime Minister Erdogan and other officials.
- Egypt plans to construct a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old channel in a $4 billion project estimated to be completed in five years.
Arguments and Analysis
'Is Israel's blockade worth fighting for?' (Michael Robbins and Amaney Jamal, The Washington Post)
"Weakening Hamas is one of the key reasons for maintaining the controversial blockade of Gaza. Hamas says that there will be no truce without a lifting of the blockade, while Israel's central demand is a disarming of the Gaza Strip. What do we really know about the effectiveness of the blockade in achieving this aim? Has the blockade of Gaza in fact substantially weakened Hamas?
Not really. The available evidence demonstrates that at least in terms of Palestinian public opinion, Hamas is now stronger than when these policies went into effect."
'A Rush for the Exits in Libya' (Wayne White, LobeLog)
"The withdrawal of American and most other foreign missions from Libya has left its people more alone than ever before. Legitimate political authority and much of the economy has been seriously damaged. Despite temporary successes, none of the militias or Libyan army units flailing away at each other have scored enough gains to alter the overall situation. The international community should attempt to coax the leading players in this mess to assemble at a foreign venue where enough differences might be hashed out to dampen the raging violence and chaos."
'Never ask me about peace again' (Asmaa al-Ghoul, Al Monitor)
"My father's brother, Ismail al-Ghoul, 60, was not a member of Hamas. His wife, Khadra, 62, was not a militant of Hamas. Their sons, Wael, 35, and Mohammed, 32, were not combatants for Hamas. Their daughters, Hanadi, 28, and Asmaa, 22, were not operatives for Hamas, nor were my cousin Wael's children, Ismail, 11, Malak, 5, and baby Mustafa, only 24 days old, members of Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Fatah. Yet, they all died in the Israeli shelling that targeted their home at 6:20 a.m. on Sunday morning."
-- Mary Casey
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