The Middle East Channel

Soldier Captured as Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Collapses

The Israeli military is searching for a soldier who it believes was captured during an attack on forces as they were working to destroy a tunnel from Gaza into Israel. The seizure of the soldier came as a 72-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas collapsed shortly after it began on Friday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ...

SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images
SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli military is searching for a soldier who it believes was captured during an attack on forces as they were working to destroy a tunnel from Gaza into Israel. The seizure of the soldier came as a 72-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas collapsed shortly after it began on Friday. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the cease-fire in a statement Thursday. It began at 8:00 a.m. local time Friday, and was to be followed by negotiations in Cairo. About 90 minutes after the truce went into effect, Israel shelled eastern Rafah in southern Gaza, killing an estimated 40 people. Spokesman for the Israeli military Lt. Col Peter Lerner said soldiers were trying to destroy a tunnel when several militants emerged from underground in an assault on the Israeli forces, and seemingly dragged an Israeli soldier back into the tunnel. Lerner said, "The cease-fire is over" and continued that the military is conducting ground operations to find the missing soldier, who was identified as Second Lt. Hadar Goldin. Additionally, the United Nations reported two Israeli soldiers were killed during the clashes.

Syria

U.S. officials said the Obama administration is working on a new strategy to prosecute Syrian war crimes after the army defector, known as Caesar, who served as a military police photographer, met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Caesar brought 55,000 photos of bodies of people who had been tortured and starved. He said about 150,000 people remain in Syrian prisons and appealed to the United States to make sure that they get released. While international prosecution has been blocked by Russian, U.S. officials said they would work with their allies to focus on crimes where individual countries have jurisdiction, such as with their own nationals or in cases of dual citizenship.

Headlines

  • Libyans protested against Islamist militias in Tripoli after Ansar al-Sharia declared Benghazi an "Islamic emirate" meanwhile an explosion Friday nearly destroyed Benghazi’s police headquarters.
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government is pushing for the United States to supply weapons and military equipment to help repel advances from the Islamic State, which has overtaken territory in northern Iraq.

Arguments and Analysis

The Consequences of Dreams‘ (Hisham Matar, The New Yorker)

"Those who regret the end of Qaddafi’s regime ignore how the current chaos is the product of four decades of oppression. ‘Wasn’t Qaddafi better?’ is the wrong question, because it doesn’t illuminate the objective reality of post-revolutionary Libya. To understand today’s events, one must remember what life was like under Qaddafi. The state was designed around an individual and his family; it resembled more a Mafia than a political structure. And so ending the dictatorship meant ending the state.

Without a fully functioning national army and police force, and other state institutions, building an accountable and democratic government is going to be immensely hard. Contributing to this is the legacy of Qaddafi’s oppression of dissent. Modern Libya is sixty-five years old, dating from 1951. For almost two-thirds of that time, it was ruled by one voice. In light of this history, creating a political atmosphere that permits and encourages difference and plurality will be difficult."

New requirement to register rattles Egyptian NGOs‘ (H. A. Hellyer, The National)

"The ‘war on terror’ narrative in Egypt, in place since the removal from office of Mr Morsi a year ago, has seen an emphasis on security measures to the near exclusion of other considerations. With that in mind, human rights organisations have become even more important – but their collective job has become more difficult.

For many years now, NGOs have been subjected to a restrictive legal regime that dates back to the Mubarak era. It remains quite difficult for them to register and undertake the activities that NGOs normally carry out in other countries. For this reason, many NGOs have registered as other types of legal entities, such as research companies or law firms.

They have engaged with the institutions of state for many years – at extremely senior levels – and have not been turned away on the basis that they aren’t registered as NGOs. But now, they are essentially being provided with an ultimatum to register in this capacity, which could cripple their ability to function."

— Mary Casey

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