Ukraine says rebels will pay as missiles kill 23 soldiersBy By Natalia Zinets and Maria Tsvetkova10 hours ago WSJ Live In Eastern Ukraine, Heavy Fighting Kills at Least 23 In Eastern Ukraine, Heavy Fighting Kills at Least 23Army recaptures part of eastern Ukraine despite casualties
By Natalia Zinets and Maria Tsvetkova
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed to „find and destroy” pro-Russian rebels who killed 23 servicemen and wounded nearly 100 in a missile attack on Friday.Poroshenko issued his angry statement following an emergency meeting of his security chiefs called in response to the early morning strike by Russian-made Grad missiles on an army motorised brigade near the border with Russia.The attack, which came as government forces seemed to be prevailing in the three-month conflict, appeared to be the deadliest on government troops since the Ukrainian military ended a unilateral ceasefire on June 30.”All those who used the Grad against the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be found and destroyed,” Poroshenko said in a statement on his website.”For every soldier’s life, the militants will pay with scores and hundreds of their own. Not a single terrorist will avoid responsibility; each will get what they deserve,” he said.View galleryUkrainian troops are pictured near Slaviansk July 11, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vow …The pro-Russian separatists launched a volley of Grad missiles at 4:30 a.m. on the border post at Zelenopillya, in Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk region, military sources said.Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said 19 servicemen were killed and the border guard service said four of its number also died. Military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said on his Facebook page 93 were injured in the Grad attack.Authorities had earlier put the death toll at up to 30 but this was later scaled down to 23.Kiev blames Moscow for fanning the violence and allowing fighters and high-powered weaponry to cross the frontier from Russia to Ukraine.The attack was a big setback for the government which scored a notable victory last weekend by pushing rebels out of their stronghold in Slaviansk and forcing them back to the industrial city of Donetsk, where they have dug in.Army recaptures part of eastern Ukraine despite ca … Play VideoSeparatists have been battling government forces for three months since they set up ‘people’s republics’ in the Russian-speaking east of the country and said they want to join Russia.Poroshenko’s government has threatened a „nasty surprise” to drive rebels out of Donetsk, the region’s industrial hub with a population of 900,000, while pledging to limit civilian casualties.A WAY OUTIn Donetsk’s main railway station, people said they had been waiting in line for two hours to buy tickets to flee the city, which they feared would suffer the same destruction as Slaviansk did during fighting.Separatist leader Alexander Borodai told journalists on Thursday 70,000 residents had already left the city.View galleryUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses Ukrainian troops as he visits their base in Devhenke …”We decided yesterday to leave the city and immediately got ready,” said Nadezhda Avramenko, 55, a housewife sitting on the train platform with her family.Standing in line for tickets, Irina, 55, a kindergarten teacher, said she was leaving with her family”We’re going to Crimea. We’ll return if the Donetsk People’s Republic holds out and if the monstrous Ukrainians come, then there will be no return. How can you live with them if they’re killing people,” she said.Elsewhere in the Luhansk region, four servicemen were killed when their armoured personnel vehicle detonated a mine, said military spokesman Andriy Lysenko on Friday, while another soldier was killed in the town of Karlovka in Donetsk province. Separately, at least five miners died and another five were injured when their bus came under fire from rebels, Lysenko said. The shelling of the bus forced energy and coal company DTEK, which employed the miners, to suspend operations at four mines in the economically depressed industrial province of Luhansk, Interfax news agency quoted the company as saying.DIPLOMACYThe missile attack took the gloss off the government’s Slaviansk victory and seemed likely to add a new sense of urgency to diplomatic attempts to end the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.With an eye to Donetsk which government forces hope to recapture, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Poroshenko by telephone on Thursday to use a sense of proportion in actions against separatists and to protect civilians.A statement said both sides agreed that a meeting was needed of the ‘contact group’ which had met during Poroshenko’s ten-day ceasefire to prepare the way for peace talks.The chance for peace talks withered after Poroshenko called off the ceasefire on June 30 in the face of rising domestic anger over numerous ceasefire violations by the rebels.(Writing by Thomas Grove and Richard Balmforth; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Report: At least 30 Ukraine troops dead in attack
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian Interior Ministry official said at least 30 servicemen were killed Friday after pro-Russia rebels fired on them with missiles.Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to the interior minister, said authorities would react swiftly to punish the perpetrators.”They will be destroyed or captured and be made answerable to Ukrainian law,” Shkiryak said.Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the attack was on a forward base in a village near the Russian border and confirmed there had been heavy casualties, but did not give any specific figure.The base was located near one of three border crossings whose closure Russian officials had announced Friday.Ukrainian government troops have been fighting for more than three months against separatists in eastern Ukraine. In the last two weeks, however, they have cut the amount of territory held by the rebels in half and forced them out of their stronghold in the city of Slovyansk. The rebels have since regrouped in the eastern city of Donetsk and Ukraine has vowed to cordon the area.Border crossings are of particular concern to both sides. Ukraine says that Russia is supporting and arming the rebels, but Russia denies the charges. The rebels have captured a few of the crossings and Ukraine has demanded them back.Russian news agencies quoted Vasily Malayev, spokesman for the Federal Security Service in the Rostov region, as saying the border crossings east of Donetsk were temporarily closed late Thursday because of fighting.Ukraine on Friday said it had regained control of one of those rebel-held crossings.
Rebels kill 23 Ukraine troops, shredding truce hopes
The Ukrainian defence ministry said Friday the death toll included 19 troops killed in a hail of rockets fired from a truck-mounted Grad rocket launcher system — a type of weapon both Kiev and Washington insist could only have been covertly supplied to the rebels by Russia.The official spokesman of Ukraine’s intensifying eastern assault added that 93 servicemen had sustained „wounds and contusions of varying severity”.”The rebels will pay for the life of every one of our servicemen with tens and hundreds of their own,” Ukraine’s Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko told an emergency security meeting.”Not a single terrorist will avoid responsibility,” he said. „Every single one of them will get their just desserts.”Friday’s official toll is the highest since Poroshenko tore up a brief ceasefire with the rebels on July 1 and relaunched an offensive that managed to dislodge the militias from key eastern strongholds they had held since early April.View galleryPro-Russian militants wave as they drive past a checkpoint in Makiivka, 15 kilometers east of Donets …The military separately spoke of „eliminating” nearly 100 fighters in one of Ukraine’s bloodiest days since the start of the crisis last November when anti-government protests spiralled into revolution and a protracted standoff with pro-Russian rebels.- Russia’s UN push -Russia meanwhile has circulated a proposal for a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire between Kiev and the pro-Moscow insurgents.Other elements of the measure would give a greater role to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters Friday.He added that the Council „should express deep concern about the increasing number of civilian casualties as a result of intensified combat operations.”View galleryUkrainian soldiers wave as they arrive near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on July 11, 2014 …He also said Russia would allow OSCE monitors to be deployed at two border crossing points on its side of the frontier — a key issue for the West which claims gunmen and weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.”There must be a sustainable ceasefire and then measures on the border and contacts,” Churkin said. „We do not want to see a military escalation, we want deescalation.”Russia has asked the 14 other members of the Security Council to respond by 1400 GMT Monday, although it has yet to request that the panel meet over the matter.Two previous attempts by Moscow — caught up in a standoff with the West over the situation in Ukraine — to get the Council to agree to a text proved unsuccessful.Churkin also accused Poroshenko of using a June 20 peace plan as „a smoke-screen for intensifying operations in the east of the country” against the insurgents.View galleryUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko (centre) during his broadcast address to the nation on June 21, …- ‘Abductions and torture’ -The tide in the eastern uprising turned last weekend when resurgent government forces managed to flush out the separatists from a string of eastern towns and cities that hold historic Russian ties.Most of the militias have since retreated to Donetsk and the neighbouring industrial city of Lugansk — both capitals of their own „People’s Republic” that refuse to recognise Kiev’s new Western-leaning government and are seeking annexation by Russia.The conflict has claimed nearly 550 lives and displaced tens of thousands across a rustbelt that had long been the economic engine of the troubled post-Soviet state.Amnesty International said on Friday it had recorded „hundreds” of abductions and acts of torture committed by the separatists during the uprising.But it also noted that „excessive force may have been used… by Ukrainian forces” on several occasions — a charge repeatedly made by Moscow.The conflict has further splintered Ukraine’s culturally fractured society and left some ethnic Russians feeling marginalised by the more nationalistic leaders that have recently taken power. Many have escaped across the eastern border in search of a new home.”Everything is shutting down,” said a man in his fifties as he listened to the echoes of gunfire rolling in from fierce clashes being waged on Friday morning outside Donetsk International Airport.”There is nothing to do here. No work — and it is getting too dangerous,” he said.Poroshenko now finds himself trapped between European pressure to agree an immediate truce and massive domestic support for his troops to finish off an insurgency that has threatened the 45-million-strong nation with disintegration and economic collapse.Germany and France have been spearheading EU efforts to secure a truce and win promises from the Kremlin to stop meddling in Ukraine. They hope to avoid further European sanctions on Russia that might damage their energy and financial ties with Moscow.But they have found Poroshenko — boosted by recent successes on the battlefield and bound by promises made at the May election — looking increasingly unwilling to call off the offensive.
Documents Show Rebel Justice In East Ukraine Was Bureaucratic, Swift, And Merciless
Thousands of Ukrainians Flee to Russia as Army Attacks
With the Ukrainian military’s pursuit of pro-Russian fighters intensifying, the mother of three fled, crossing into Russia on Friday. Natasha, who declined to provide her last name for fear of being targeted if she returned to Ukraine, and her children are now among nearly two dozen people crowding into a volunteer’s dacha, or country house, outside of Moscow.They are part of a growing number of Ukrainians who have left their homes as Ukrainian forces step up a fierce fight against rebel forces.In recent weeks, Russian officials have sounded the alarm about a growing humanitarian crisis along their border.“We are really on the brink of a humanitarian disaster,” Vasily Gobulev, the governor of Russia’s Rostov region, said on Wednesday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.Yet, like much of the conflict, the scope of the refugee problem remains murky. All that is clear is that many have fled and that the trend appears to be accelerating.Figures provided by the Russian government have been disputed by independent activists who have visited camps along the border.Top Russian officials claim around 500,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of the year. Of that number, some 180,000 are said to have registered as refugees, including nearly 21,000 children. Over 20,000 have reportedly applied for asylum in Russia.Perhaps in a bid to bolster the credibility of Russia’s claims, state-run media have begun to cite figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which says over 100,000 Ukrainians have fled to Russia. But the U.N. has no permanent presence along the border and Dan McNorton, a UNHCR spokesman, said that his office is only repeating figures cited by Russian officials. The U.N., he said, has no independent confirmation.It is a difficult population to count. Many who cross the border spend only a few days in camps before being transferred to other regions around the country. Others may skip the camps to stay with friends and family, potentially leaving their presence uncounted.The independent observers that are on the scene, however, say the government’s figures appear to be high.Svetlana Ganushkina, a human rights activist who runs the organization Civic Assistance, says her colleagues working along the border report the total number is only in the “tens of thousands.”She said some lack adequate medical care, but gave credit to authorities for providing aid for refugees, unlike past humanitarian crises in, for example, Chechnya.Ganushkina said that, when interviewed, few of the people who fled across the border can say they witnessed bloodshed, but were instead frightened by the increased airstrikes by the advancing Ukrainian forces.Many, she said, expressed hope that eastern Ukraine would follow Crimea in becoming part of Russia, suggesting they had political reasons for fleeing east to Russia.Other Ukrainians, meanwhile, decided to flee west to other parts of the country.There, too, estimating the scale of the displacement is difficult. There is no centralized count and the Kiev government has left the problem up to local authorities.The latest figures from UNHCR, published early last week, said the number of internally displaced Ukrainians had spiked to over 50,000. This week, a UNHCR spokesman had no updated numbers, but estimated it had continued to rise.Yulia Gorbunova, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, just returned this week from a trip throughout the country and estimated the figure to be around 100,000 people.“It’s definitely a huge problem,” she said in a phone interview.She estimated about 75 percent of those internally displaced came from east Ukraine. The rest came from Crimea, the bulk of which are Crimean Tatars who fear persecution now that the region has been annexed by Russia.Back at the dacha outside Moscow, Natasha expressed no interest in the battle for power in Ukraine. She only hopes it will be over soon so that she can go back home.
When the CIA Keeps the President in the Dark
But the president went into the call blind and Merkel didn’t bring it up, according to White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden. The incident has left “frustrated” White House officials to question why the CIA didn’t immediately tell the administration about the bungled operation, The New York Times reported.It’s unclear who is responsible for the breakdown in communication about the arrest — Hayden and the CIA won’t say — but two retired senior intelligence officials told ABC News it should not be surprising that most likely the president and his national security advisor all along were not aware of the alleged recruitment of the German agent, as well as that of another recently discovered purported U.S. spy in the German Defense Ministry.As former White House counter-terrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke put it, “never in a million years” would the president be briefed on what Clarke called such “totally mundane” recruitment targets. A third retired senior CIA covert operations specialist disagreed in this case, saying it was a “real possibility” the White House was aware of the operation.Either way, all three former senior officials said it’s up to the CIA’s “good judgment” whether to let the White House in on what one called “pure espionage.”How Do You Say Awkward in German? Kerry, German FM to Talk Spying Ally: Germany’s Merkel Not Amused by US Spy CaseEx-CIA Head: ‘Shame on Us for Being Caught’ in GermanyThere are times when by law the CIA must not only inform but seek the approval from the president for certain operations — most notably for covert actions. Covert action is defined by U.S. law as “an activity or activities of the United States government to influence political, economic or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly…” As put more simply by former CIA Inspector General L. Britt Snider, covert action is “doing something in another country merely beyond gathering information.”Some more recently exposed major covert action programs include the CIA’s targeted killing drone program, the joint CIA-military mission to kill/capture Osama bin Laden and the reported Stuxnet cyber-attack on the Iranian nuclear program.Do you have information about this or another story? CLICK HERE to send your tip in to the Investigative Unit.In his book “Good Hunting,” longtime CIA veteran Jack Devine, who once led the CIA’s largest Cold War-era covert action program assisting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Russians, emphasizes that all CIA covert action over the years – including the most controversial – were approved or ordered by the president at the time.“It is true that the CIA’s biggest mistakes involved covert action,” writes Devine, who spent more than 30 years in the shadows for the Agency. “But it is also true that these mistakes, without exception, also involved operations carried out at the behest of presidents pursuing flawed policies. And for every covert action that failed spectacularly, there have been others that enabled presidents and policy makers to achieve ends in the nation’s interest with an unseen hand, which is almost always preferable to a heavy footprint.”Retired veteran CIA attorney John Rizzo told ABC News, “Covert actions are the ones that have tended to become messy over the years, going back to the days of the wink and nod from the president” and now come with a whole “legal regime” to ensure that all bureaucratic checks are in place, including briefings for the correct members of Congress.But none of those rules apply to the CIA’s regular intelligence collection, or “pure espionage,” according to Rizzo.“Unlike covert action, the president does not have to approve intelligence collection operations. That’s what CIA does, recruit foreign agents when they can,” said Rizzo, author of „Company Man”. “There’d be no reason for [Obama] to have known, for instance, if the CIA has in fact recruited German citizens.”Clarke said the only time the CIA would likely inform the White House about a recruitment mission is if the target is politically sensitive.”Let’s say you were recruiting the secretary to a president… You’re recruiting the butler to the prime minister, something fairly high up,” then, Clarke said, the CIA may decide to inform the White House. „But it’s up to the CIA pretty much to determine what a politically sensitive recruitment is.”Devine told ABC News that in his mind, the equation is simple: “This is espionage. Espionage doesn’t require the president’s approval. Having said that… if you think the case is going to get to the president’s desk, you should brief him on it.”The German operation has certainly hit the president’s desk, as well as newspaper headlines the world over.When asked if the president was originally briefed on the alleged recruitment of the Germans, National Security Council spokesperson Hayden said she would “definitely” not get into “who knew what and when.”While Devine said doing anything with human intelligence in Germany was risky due to raised tensions after revelations months before that the U.S. was tapping the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both Rizzo and Clarke said that from what’s been in the media, the suspected agents wouldn’t fit the bill for being „politically sensitive” enough to require a White House heads up.“If [the German allegations] did happen, this was just a classic recruitment of a foreign citizen,” Rizzo said.Unless something goes wrong, as it apparently did in Germany.In that case, Clarke said the CIA should have informed the White House immediately, most likely the with word coming from CIA Director John Brennan to Susan Rice, the president’s National Security Advisor.“I’m sure it wasn’t intentional” that the president wasn’t briefed until after the call with Merkel, Clarke said, guessing that the news maybe just hadn’t spread rapidly enough in the intelligence community.Whatever the case, the U.S. may have underestimated the diplomatic fallout of the bungled operation. Twice the U.S. Ambassador in Berlin was summoned to German government offices to “clarify” the spying allegations, and Thursday the German Foreign Office announced it had requested America’s top intelligence official in Berlin be sent packing. The Foreign Office said today on Twitter that the move was a „necessary and appropriate action to [the] breach of trust.”“The way I see it, if you consider this with a healthy dose of common sense, it’s a waste of energy to spy on one’s ally,” Chancellor Merkel said Thursday, according to a translation by German news outlet DW. Other prominent German politicians demanded the U.S. cease all spying in their country.For days the White House, the CIA and the State Department have either declined to comment or offered deflecting statements, but have not denied the allegations.State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki announced Thursday Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to speak with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in coming days.“I would also say that, last year the president underwent a review of all of our intelligence gathering,” Psaki said. “The Secretary was engaged in that, as were administration officials across the board. There are, of course, a range of factors that are taken into account… keeping Americans safe, keeping allies in other countries safe as well as taking steps to reform and revise some of our systems when needed, and he did just that.”However, Psaki was presumably referring to the government’s review of signals intelligence in the wake of disclosures about National Security Agency’s electronic eavesdropping, a review that doesn’t deal with old-fashioned human spying.ABC News’ Mary Bruce contributed to this report.
Obama, corporate giants announce plan to boost suppliers
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is enlisting several major U.S. and multinational companies to draw attention to an initiative aimed at helping small businesses expand and hire workers.The president will meet on Friday with representatives of household name firms such as Apple , AT&T , Coca Cola and Johnson & Johnson to spotlight the corporate giants’ pledge to pay their smaller suppliers within 15 days.The speedy payout puts more money in the coffers of smaller firms and helps them invest and hire workers, the president and his aides say.For the larger companies, the initiative ensures that their own suppliers are robust and „demonstrates a recognition that a healthy supply chain is good for business,” the White House said in a statement.Frustrated by a legislative stalemate with the Republican-led House of Representatives, Obama has vowed to act unilaterally when he can to achieve his agenda, and the announcement Friday is typical of the sorts of modest initiatives the White House has unveiled.View galleryU.S. President Barack Obama and his advisors hold a meeting with company executives and their small …This approach has antagonized congressional Republicans who say the president has overstepped executive branch authority.House Republicans on Thursday made public a „discussion draft” of legislation to authorize legal action against the president for misusing executive orders and other unilateral actions to advance his agenda.The supplier initiative is based on a similar program for government contractors. The federal government promises to pay contractors quickly if those companies in turn commit to rapidly pay the smaller firms that supply them.The White House says that arrangement affected 172,000 small businesses and generated over $1 billion for them to invest and hire workers since it was launched three years ago. The president was due to renew that program on Friday as well as announcing the public sector initiative.Other firms attending the White House event include CVS , FedEx , IBM , Lockheed Martin , and Walgreens .Honda <7267.T>, Toyota <7203.T>, Rolls Royce , Ericsson , and Westinghouse <6502.T> are also among the corporate participants in the White House event.(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Ken Wills)
Gaza toll passes 100; Israel to counter rockets ‘with all power’
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An airstrike outside a family home early Saturday pushed the Palestinian death toll past 100 in four days of cross-border fighting as Israel showed no sign of pausing despite international pressure to negotiate a ceasefire with the militants.Asked if Israel might move from the mostly aerial attacks of the past four days into a ground war in Gaza to stop militant rocket fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied, „We are weighing all possibilities and preparing for all possibilities.””No international pressure will prevent us from acting with all power,” he told reporters in Tel Aviv a day after a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama about the worst flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian violence in almost two years.On Friday Washington affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself in a statement from the Pentagon. But Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon he was concerned „about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect civilian lives and restore calm.” An Israeli airstrike killed five youths and wounded 15 people outside a family home in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip early on Saturday, witnesses and medical officials told Reuters.A rocket seriously wounded one person and injured another seven Israelis when a fuel tanker was hit at a service station in Ashdod, 30 km (20 miles) north of Gaza. Palestinian militants warned international airlines they would fire rockets at Tel Aviv’s main airport.Medical officials in Gaza said at least 75 civilians, including 23 children, were among 106 people killed in the aerial bombardments that Israel began on Tuesday. They included 12 killed on Friday.Among the dead was a man described by Palestinian officials as a doctor and pharmacist. A 4-year-old boy was killed when a neighbour’s house was targeted by an Israeli raid, a Palestinian hospital official said. Two other people aged 70 and 80 were killed in a missile strike elsewhere in Gaza, the Palestinian Heath Ministry said.Death toll mounts as Israel hammers Gaza Play VideoPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the United Nations Security Council to order an immediate truce.But Israel said it was determined to end cross-border rocket attacks that intensified last month after its forces arrested hundreds of activists from the Islamist Hamas movement in the occupied West Bank following the abduction there of three Jewish teenagers who were later found killed. A Palestinian youth was killed in Jerusalem in a suspected Israeli revenge attack.Israel’s campaign „will continue until we are certain that quiet returns to Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said. Israel had attacked more than 1,000 targets in Gaza and there were „more to go.”Israel’s military commander, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, said his forces were ready to act as needed – an indication of a readiness to send in tanks and other ground troops, as Israel last did for two weeks in early 2009.”We are in the midst of an assault and we are prepared to expand it as much as is required, to wherever is required, with whatever force will be required and for as long as will be required,” Gantz told reporters.Western-backed Abbas, who is based in the West Bank and agreed a power-sharing deal with Gaza’s dominant Hamas in April after years of feuding, called for international help: „The Palestinian leadership urges the Security Council to quickly issue a clear condemnation of this Israeli aggression and impose a commitment of a mutual ceasefire immediately,” he said.RACE FOR SHELTER After the failure of the latest U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel, Abbas’s accord with Hamas angered Israel.Mideast violence rages on Play VideoThe rocket salvoes by the hardline movement and its allies, some striking more than 100 km (60 miles) from Gaza, have killed no one so far, due in part to interception by Israel’s partly-U.S. funded Iron Dome aerial defence system.But racing for shelter had become a routine for hundreds of thousands of Israelis and their leaders have hinted they could order troops into the Gaza Strip, a 40-km sliver of coastline that is home to nearly 2 million people. Some 20,000 reservists have already been mobilised, the army says.Hamas’s armed wing said it would fire rockets at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion international airport and warned airlines not to fly to Israel’s main gateway to the world.The airport has been fully operational since the Israeli offensive began and international airlines have continued to fly in, with no reports of rockets from Gaza – largely inaccurate projectiles – landing anywhere near the facility, inland of the coastal metropolis. It is within an area covered by Iron Dome.LEBANESE ROCKETS Fire was also exchanged across Israel’s northern border. Lebanese security sources said two rockets were fired into northern Israel on Friday but they did not know who had fired them. Israel responded with artillery fire. Palestinian groups in Lebanon have often fired rockets into Israel in the past.Lebanese security forces arrested a Lebanese man suspected of firing the rockets with two Palestinians, the national news agency said. The Israeli military said they caused no damage.Palestinians said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Rafah, ships shelled a security compound in the city of Gaza and aircraft bombed positions near the Egyptian and Israeli borders.The offensive is the deadliest since November 2012, when around 180 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed during an Israeli air campaign to punish Hamas for missile attacks. That conflict was eventually halted with mediation from Egypt, which was then governed by Hamas’s Muslim Brotherhood allies.But Egypt, now ruled by the Brotherhood’s enemies, is today locked in a feud with Hamas over the group’s alleged support for militants in Egypt’s Sinai desert – something Hamas denies. Cairo said on Friday its „intensive efforts” with all sides to end the warfare has met only „intransigence and stubbornness”.Izzat El-Risheq, a Hamas official told Arab television Al-Hadath „there are efforts for a ceasefire,” but demanded Israel stop its offensive before any deal could be reached.If Israel launches a ground invasion of Gaza, it would be the first since a three-week war in the winter of 2008-09, when some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.The Israeli military said some 550 projectiles have been fired at Israel since Tuesday and that it had targeted some 210 sites in the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, among them „long-range rocket launchers, Hamas leadership facilities and terror and smuggling tunnels.”An anti-tank rocket fired near the Gaza border wounded two Israeli soldiers on Friday, and Israel said it had targeted seven Hamas militants accused of involvement in rocket attacks.(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
As Hamas takes on Israel, not all in Gaza are cheering (+video)