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UNIFIL: IDF advancing further north

Heavy exchanges of fire continued along the length of the Blue Line in the last 24 hours, with a major concentration in the western sector. Hezbollah fired rockets from various locations, and the IDF continued the shelling and aerial bombardment. Yesterday and during last night, the IDF moved significant reinforcements, including a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF advanced from that area north toward Bint Jubayl, and south towards Yarun. 

11 Palestinians Killed, Including Child, and 45 Injured in Gaza

The Centre is extremely concerned over the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) operation that started this morning in the Shejaeya Quarter, east of Gaza City. IOF bombardment and land attacks have thus far led to the death of 11 Palestinians, including a three-year old girl, and the injury of 45 others, including seven children. In addition, two journalists from Palestine television were injured covering the events. IOF bulldozers continue their razing and destruction of agricultural lands and other civilian property in the area. 

How to Watch the War on the Web

You too can be a wartime news editor. With the ubiquity of streaming video on the Internet and advances in search engines, RSS and self-publishing tools, anyone can bypass the editorial hierarchies of Western news organizations and assemble a personal newscast of the Israeli-Hezbollah war. You can pick and choose from multiple news sources as a way to confirm your own point of view. Or you can access the many other points of view regarding a complex and deadly conflict. The point is that watching the war on the Web can give you a very different — and potentially more complete — picture of the conflict and its causes than if you rely on any one news source or perspective. 

Three UNIFIL peacekeepers dead, one missing

Yesterday evening at 19:30, at least one aerial bomb impacted directly on the building inside the patrol base of the Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) in the area of Khiyam in the eastern sector. The three-story building and the position were entirely destroyed. At the time, there were 4 unarmed military observers in the position from different nationalities. A UNIFIL rescue team was immediately dispatched to the location, and is still trying to clear the rubble. They retrieved the bodies of three observers, and are searching for the fourth, who is also feared dead. The Secretary General of the United Nations gave a statement last night in Rome concerning this incident. 

Israel killed 31 children in Gaza during the past 31 days

As Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip passes the one month milestone, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section (DCI/PS) would like to draw attention to the 31 Palestinian children whose deaths expose anew the degradation of the principles of international humanitarian law. The death of these children implicates both the parties to the conflict as well as those States not directly involved, but who, as third parties, are legally bound to enforce these principles. Israeli air, sea and ground troops have opened fire in civilian areas in the dense population centers of Gaza cities and refugee camps, including near hospitals, schools, and in crowded residential housing complexes on numerous occasions. 

Israel's Foreign Ministry provides Free Internet Tool to online activists

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs understands that today’s conflicts are won by public opinion. They mobilize pro-Israel activists to be active and voice “Israel’s side to the world.” A software company has developed The Megaphone desktop tool that sends desktop alerts on key articles on Israel and surveys, online polls where activists could click on the button to support Israel and click alerts to easily voice pro-Israel opinions. This tool helps activists to raise the profile of opinions on Israel. EI’s Arjan El Fassed finds this tool also useful for those who would like to see some fair and balanced reports on the Middle East conflict. Pro-human rights and pro-peace activists will find this a useful tool as well. 

Security Council debates UN force in south Lebanon amid more firing near its positions

The United Nations Security Council today discussed the future of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as the force reported further heavy exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) close to its positions in the south of the country. The 15-member body met with countries that contribute troops to UNIFIL before holding consultations that included a briefing by the Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as discussing Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report on the Force, a UN spokesman told reporters. In his report, which was released yesterday, Mr. Annan said the upsurge in violence since 12 July had “radically changed the context” in which the Force operates. 

Illness among children in Gaza rising dramatically – Swedish Sida increases humanitarian support

The crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is so serious that the UN is again pleading for additional emergency relief for the entire civil population. Essential infrastructure has been bombed and there is an acute shortage of clean water, functional sanitation plants and electricity. Most recently, the incidence of illness among children in Gaza has increased dramatically. Likewise, among adults, the incidence of diarrhoea, for example, has increased by 163 percent compared to last year. The UN now fears a widespread outbreak of deadly diseases. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – Sida – has resolved to contribute an additional SEK 15 million to UN humanitarian efforts in Gaza and on the West Bank. The contribution will finance food supplies, health, sanitation, and education. 

Palestinian refugees trapped in Lebanon are sitting targets for Israeli bombs

Nearly 400,000 Palestinian refugees trapped in Lebanon are sitting targets for Israeli bombs, according to Samia Khan, Head of Programmes at NGO Minority Rights Group International. “The Palestinian refugees, some of whom are stateless and many without rights, are prevented from leaving their camps. They have, in effect, become a sitting target for the Israeli bombs,” she says. There are twelve camps for Palestinian refugees across Lebanon, many situated in areas that have been heavily bombed. The camps have existed for nearly 60 years and have developed into urban ghettos indistinguishable from their surroundings – except for restrictions on entry and exit. While camps in Beirut are relatively accessible, in other areas, refugees must have proper identification papers to enter or leave the camps. 

International Crisis Group: Only diplomacy can defuse the crisis in the Middle East

Horrific as it is, the current toll of death and destruction could reach entirely different proportions should a new threshold be crossed. A political solution to the twin crises of Lebanon and Palestine must be the international community’s urgent priority. Waiting and hoping for military action to achieve its purported goals will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences: it will make it much harder to pick up the political pieces when the guns fall silent. A new report launched by the International Crisis Group pieces together the strands of this multi-headed crisis in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and elsewhere, based on talks with officials and others, including Hamas and Hizbollah representatives.