Death Toll Rises as Israel Intensifies Offensive on Gaza

Israel has intensified strikes on Gaza as rockets continue to hit southern and central Israel. Dozens of rockets hit Israel on Thursday, though no deaths or injuries have been reported. According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome intercepted 21 rockets on Wednesday. The Israeli military also reported it targeted 322 sites in Gaza overnight. ...

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has intensified strikes on Gaza as rockets continue to hit southern and central Israel. Dozens of rockets hit Israel on Thursday, though no deaths or injuries have been reported. According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome intercepted 21 rockets on Wednesday. The Israeli military also reported it targeted 322 sites in Gaza overnight. According to the Palestinian health ministry 17 people, including a family and a number of children, were killed in strikes on a house and a café in Khan Younis. An estimated 80 Palestinians have been killed and 500 wounded in Gaza in the past three days. Meeting with Knesset members Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a cease-fire is not on the agenda. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the parties against escalation, saying, "The lives of countless innocent civilians and the peace process itself are in the balance." The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet for an emergency session to discuss the hostilities on Thursday.

Syria

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has selected Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura to replace Lakhdar Brahimi as the international mediator seeking to resolve the Syrian conflict. While Brahimi was the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, diplomats said de Mistura will be solely the U.N. envoy. An official announcement is expected Thursday. Meanwhile, Syrian government troops backed by Hezbollah fighters are continuing an advance into the northern city of Aleppo. According to a local resident activist, opposition forces control a 2.5 mile corridor in the north, and regime forces are close to being in a position to besiege an estimated 300,000 people.

Israel has intensified strikes on Gaza as rockets continue to hit southern and central Israel. Dozens of rockets hit Israel on Thursday, though no deaths or injuries have been reported. According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome intercepted 21 rockets on Wednesday. The Israeli military also reported it targeted 322 sites in Gaza overnight. According to the Palestinian health ministry 17 people, including a family and a number of children, were killed in strikes on a house and a café in Khan Younis. An estimated 80 Palestinians have been killed and 500 wounded in Gaza in the past three days. Meeting with Knesset members Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a cease-fire is not on the agenda. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the parties against escalation, saying, "The lives of countless innocent civilians and the peace process itself are in the balance." The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet for an emergency session to discuss the hostilities on Thursday.

Syria

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has selected Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura to replace Lakhdar Brahimi as the international mediator seeking to resolve the Syrian conflict. While Brahimi was the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, diplomats said de Mistura will be solely the U.N. envoy. An official announcement is expected Thursday. Meanwhile, Syrian government troops backed by Hezbollah fighters are continuing an advance into the northern city of Aleppo. According to a local resident activist, opposition forces control a 2.5 mile corridor in the north, and regime forces are close to being in a position to besiege an estimated 300,000 people.

Headlines

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said it believes nuclear materials, that were used for scientific research at a Mosul university, that were seized by militants in Iraq, are "low grade" and do not pose a significant threat.
  • A U.S. appeals court has upheld a ruling ordering $1.75 billion in Iranian funds be paid to families of Americans killed in the 1983 attack on a U.S. Marine barracks in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government has threatened to take legal action against buyers of Iraqi oil if it is not paid a share of the revenue from sales, after Baghdad cut the region’s entitlements.

Arguments and Analysis

Why Iraq Is More Stable Than You Think‘ (Douglas A. Ollivant, Politico Magazine)

"The news from Iraq is bad. Four distinct yet intertwined problems-the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the dysfunctional politics of Iraq, the utter collapse of the Syrian state and the larger cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran-have combined to disrupt the fragile stability gained by the Iraqis in the wake of the 2006-2008 civil war. Iraq is, once again, the paragon of a ‘wicked problem.’

There are, however, a number of rash conclusions being arrived at in the wake of the bad news. One does not have to read very far to find a series of assumptions being made about Iraq’s future-that Baghdad is about to fall, that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s days are numbered, that Kurdistan’s independence is imminent and that oil production is at risk. None of these are certain and some are extremely unlikely."

The threat or promise of justice in Palestine‘ (Mark Kersten, The Washington Post)

"Indeed, those pressing for a referral of the ICC should be careful what they wish for. Some have suggested that there is a strong case to be made that Palestinian groups like Hamas and Fatah are responsible for international crimes under the Rome Statute and that the seemingly indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas by Palestinian militants in Israel would be prioritized for investigation by the prosecutor. As SOAS criminal law professor Kevin Jon Heller argues: It would be ‘much easier to prosecute Hamas’s deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians than Israel’s disproportionate attacks, collective punishment of Palestinians, and transfer of its civilians into occupied territory.’

Nevertheless, the very threat of requesting an ICC intervention has been useful to the Palestinian Authority. In this exceptionally asymmetric conflict, Abbas has been left with few means of political leverage. The threat of an ICC intervention may yield certain benefits for the Palestinian Authority – especially if Israel and the ‘West’ are sufficiently afraid of it, which they certainly appear to be. Moreover, being seen as the unjustly targeted party whose recourse to international accountability is consistently blocked by greater powers and aggressors is undoubtedly rich political capital.’

Will Erdogan be Turkey’s next Ataturk?‘ (Mustafa Akyol, Al Monitor)

"Recently, there have been other references by Erdogan and his team to Turkey’s founding father. In the wake of the local elections on March 30, for example, he declared himself to be the leader of Turkey’s ‘second war of independence,’ a clear reference to the original war that Ataturk led. When his aides began promoting the system of an all-powerful presidency in 2012, which Erdogan hopes to realize at some point, they also referred to Ataturk as an example.

This is very interesting, because until very recently Ataturk and his political legacy was a theme that religious conservatives almost always criticized. So, should we understand this newly discovered interest in Kemalism as a sudden change in conservative ideology and identity? Probably not, because the pro-Erdogan conservatives are still very critical of the ideological components of Kemalism such as authoritarian secularism and ethnic Turkish nationalism. Yet, they now seem to partly admire, and imitate, the methods Ataturk used to accumulate and consolidate power."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.