Egyptian mediators are holding indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo as a 72-hour cease-fire enters its second day. An Egyptian official said, "It is still too early to talk about outcomes be we are optimistic." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the parties to use the truce to move toward broader negotiations focusing on the need for a two-state solution. The Palestinian representatives, who include members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Authority, are looking for an end to the seven-year Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza, while the Israelis are calling for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The truce has been the longest to hold in about four weeks of fighting. The United Nations estimates 1,814 Palestinians have been killed, 72 percent of whom it said were civilians, while the Israeli military said it killed 900 combatants.
Fighting broke out between the Lebanese army and militants from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State near the Lebanese border town of Arsal, despite a 24-hour cease-fire that came into effect Tuesday evening. A Lebanese security official said the cease-fire was still in place, but security forces were responding to violations. Saudi Arabia has offered $1 billion to the Lebanese army to bolster security efforts. Meanwhile, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported rebel shelling killed 16 people, including two children, in districts of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
- Up to 40,000 civilians from the Iraqi minority Yazidi sect are trapped in the mountains after an Islamic State offensive overtaking the town of Sinjar during which 40 children were reported killed.
- Israeli authorities reported they have arrested a Palestinian man, Hussam Qawasmeh, for suspected involvement in the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12.
- Militants attacked a checkpoint in northern Egypt late Tuesday killing five policemen and sparking clashes during which security forces killed four of the attackers.
Arguments and Analysis
'A friend flees the horror of ISIS' (George Packer, The New Yorker)
"Karim heard that one young man from Sinuni had been executed by ISIS for no reason other than being Yazidi. A friend of Karim's was hiding in the mountains, running low on supplies, and out of battery power in his phone. Another friend, an Arab (‘He is not a religion guy, he's open-minded, it doesn't matter if you're Christian or Yazidi,' Karim said), had stayed in Sinjar and was trapped in his home. Now ISIS was going house to house, with information provided by locals, looking for Iraqi soldiers and police, for people with money, for Kurds. They had already taken away the friend's brother, a police officer. No one knows for sure how many people ISIS has killed since the attack on Sinjar. Karim heard that it is many hundreds.
Prince Tahseen Said, 'the world leader of the Yazidis,' has issued an appeal to Kurdish, Iraqi, Arab, and European leaders, as well as to Ban Ki-moon and Barack Obama. It reads: 'I ask for aid and to lend a hand and help the people of Sinjar areas and its affiliates and villages and complexes which are home to the people of the Yazidi religion. I invite [you] to assume [your] humanitarian and nationalistic responsibilities towards them and help them in their plight and the difficult conditions in which they live today.'"
'The One Place Where Israel and Hamas Are Communicating' (Debra Kamin, The Atlantic)
"Thanks to flimsy copyright laws in the region, Israeli and Palestinian television stations routinely tap into each other's transmissions and broadcast them to their viewers. Since Gazans and Israelis are barred from entering each other's territories, this swap of feeds often stands in for reporters on the ground. The news broadcasts-a fun-house mirror of Israeli television showing Palestinian television showing Israeli television-sometimes offer the only window into the reality of life on the other side.
Occasionally, the voyeurism becomes even more surreal. Yaari, one of Israel's most respected Arabists, often tries to strike up a conversation with the anchors in Gaza. Sometimes he succeeds."
'Rouhani Report Card: A Year of Diplomatic Breakthrough and Breakdown' (Suzanne Maloney, The Brookings Institution)
"If there had been any doubt about Hassan Rouhani's priorities prior to his inauguration as president a year ago this week, they were dispelled in the new executive's first press conference after assuming office. In that session, Rouhani declared with his trademark bluntness that 'we are ready to seriously and without wasting any time participate in serious negotiations,' adding that 'if other sides have the same notion, I am sure this issue will be solved in short time.'
Rouhani has not yet lived up to that ambitious assertion. But since taking the second most senior position in the Iranian government a year ago, his imprint on the country's foreign policy is evident, if incomplete: he has helped shape a more dynamic, outward-oriented Iran prepared to take modest risks to move beyond its disputes with old adversaries."
-- Mary Casey
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