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Media Summary

Airstrike kills 29 children in Yemen

The BBCFT, Guardian, The Times, Independent, Express, and ITV news, report on the violence between Israel and Gaza.  The FT reports that Israel and the militant group Hamas traded at least 180 rockets, including one that traveled 50km into Israel. Israeli officials said they hit 150 military targets, including a factory they suspected of providing supplies for building tunnels into Israel. Israeli cabinet minister Yoav Gallant warned that assassinations of senior Hamas leaders remained an option for Israel. “We have all the different possibilities in order to achieve our goals,” he said. “We know much more about Hamas than they even imagine. Eventually, if needed, we will find them.” The Guardian reports that three Palestinians were killed, including a pregnant woman, a toddler and a Hamas fighter. Several Israelis were wounded, along with a 30-year-old Thai woman living in Israel. The Israeli army said it had targeted “strategic military sites” including Hamas weapons manufacturing and training locations. Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar strikes. It said Palestinian “resistance” had fired projectiles at “enemy positions in the Gaza envelope”. The Times reports that, after a 20-hour escalation, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV channel reported, “on the basis of mutual calm”, that a deal had taken hold. It added that the truce was mediated by Egypt and other unidentified regional players.

The Independent reports that the UN’s Middle East Envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was “deeply alarmed” and warned of “devastating consequences for all people” if the hostilities were not contained. ITV News reports that a senior Hamas official said the truce formally went into effect at midnight on Thursday. He said Egypt would continue efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire. The Hamas announcement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet ordered the army to take unspecified “strong action” against Gaza militants as the military reinforced units along the border. The Express reports that the Israeli Foreign Ministry accused the BBC of “deliberately lying” about the rocket attacks from Gaza. Spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, singled out an article in which the headline claimed an Israeli airstrike killed a woman and a baby. But the article did not mention that Hamas rocket fire provoked an Israeli response. Shortly after the Foreign Ministry tweet,  the updated version of the headline mentioned that airstrikes were carried out in retaliation to rocket attacks targeting southern Israel.

The FT, BBC, Independent, Evening Standard and the Express report on an airstrike that hit a bus carrying children in Yemen. The BBC reports that at least 29 children have been killed and 30 wounded in a Saudi-led coalition air strike. The children were travelling on a bus that was hit at a market in Dahyan, in the northern province of Saada. The health ministry run by the rebel Houthi movement put the death toll at 43, and said 61 people were wounded. The FT reports that the coalition said its air strikes targeted “the militants” who were responsible for a missile attack on Jizan, a Saudi industrial city near the kingdom’s border with Yemen. The Independent reports that the Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthis of using children as human shields, adding that the strike was a “legitimate military operation carried out in accordance with humanitarian law”. The Evening Standard  reports that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that its team at a hospital in Saada received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old. Col al-Malki insisted the airstrike was a “legitimate military action” and is “in accordance with international humanitarian law and customs”. The Express reports that the UN released a statement condemning the attack. The statement said: “The Secretary-General condemns the air strike today by the coalition forces in Saada, which hit a busy market area in Majz District, and impacted a bus carrying children from a summer camp.”

The Daily Mail reports that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked President Hassan Rouhani to resign. In a video published on his Telegram account on Thursday, Ahmadinejad said that Iranians do not trust Rouhani. He said: “Your continued presence is at the expense of the country.” The Express reports that oil prices are set to skyrocket if Iran carries through on a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to Trump’s forthcoming sanctions against Iran’s oil industry. Speaking to Newsweek, Jacob Shapiro, director of analysis at the think tank Geopolitical Futures said that “If Iran decided it had nothing left to lose because US sanctions are effectively killing Iranian oil exports and prioritised looking strong at home over all else, there would be a large, short-term spike in the price of oil.” Writing in the Spectator, Charles Moore’s asks: “Why do we support the Iran regime when it is bitterly hostile to our way of life?” He questions why the UK and other European nations are trying to cling to the Iran nuclear deal.

The Independent and the Daily Mail report on Colombia’s decision to recognise Palestinian statehood. The Independent reports that outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, made the decision shortly before leaving office last week. The new President of Colombia, Ivan Duque said his government has said it would study the implication of Mr Santos’ last minute decision. Santos decided to recognise Palestine as a “free, independent and sovereign state,” according to the letter, which was circulated to reporters by the foreign ministry. “Just as the Palestinian people have a right to constitute an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace alongside its neighbours,” the letter said. The Daily Mail reports that Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was surprised after learning of Colombia’s decision in the media and was waiting for an explanation from the new administration.

The Israeli media focuses on events in Gaza and reports of a ceasfire between Israel and Hamas.

Maariv reports on the security cabinet debate last night which was postponed by two hours in the hope that the Egyptians would succeed in producing an arrangement that would end the current round of violence. The paper argues that Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman was the only one who demanded to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza. The Cabinet decided to continue to strike Hamas according to the scale of responses presented by the IDF – what is referred to as a ‘controlled deterioration’ – which will gradually escalate as Hamas responds.” Ben Caspit notes that “the IDF tried yesterday to shorten the process and skip directly to the closing scene of Operation Protective Edge… Operation Protective Edge only ended when the IDF began to knock down the high-rise buildings that housed senior Hamas members in Rimal, the high-end neighbourhood of Gaza…The building that collapsed yesterday… was supposed to be a broad and noisy hint to Hamas, and an efficiency proposal: Let’s stop now and spare you several thousand fatalities and ourselves several dozen. Did Hamas get this hint? We’ll know this morning”.

Yoav Limor writes in Israel Hayom that both Israel and Hamas are still keeping to certain “rules of engagement”. “Despite the great escalation… Israel and Hamas made sure not to stop playing by the rules and to leave an opening for a cease-fire…an examination of the targets shows that both sides made sure to keep to clear limits: Hamas stuck to firing rockets at the Gaza periphery and at Sderot and Netivot (the rocket fire at Beer Sheva was by a different organization, apparently without permission), and the IDF tried to avoid, as much as possible, causing any Palestinian fatalities in its strikes. However, Limor warns that “it is clear to both sides that they are playing with fire. Every IDF attack and every Hamas rocket have lethal potential that is liable to give rise to an unplanned deterioration.”

In Maariv, Tal Lev Ram reiterates that “the political echelon and the IDF are not interested, at this stage, in a military operation in the Gaza Strip. This is not startling news, of course, and we can presume that if not for the first fire at Beer Sheva since Operation Protective Edge, the IDF would have tried to tone down its military responses yesterday in the course of the day – with the hope that Hamas would behave the same way – so as to bring about an end to the current round of warfare”.

Maariv reports on a poll that finds 64 per cent of the Israeli public are unhappy with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Performance vis-à-vis Hamas. It states that only 29 per cent of respondents said that they were pleased with the way the prime minister was handling the Gaza Strip crisis, whereas 64 per cent said they were not pleased. A total of 48% expressed support for launching a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip, versus 41 per cent who opposed such a move. On a similar theme, Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz writes that the violence from Gaza is becoming a political liability for PM Netanyahu and is “now threatening to overshadow the [election] campaign and seriously damage his “Mr. Security” credentials.”

Kan Radio reports that officials from an Israeli cyber company said that Hamas was circulating a spyware program that is disguised as the Red Colour alert app so as to take over cellphones of Israeli citizens and to spy on them. The ClearSky company issued a notice saying that a fake website that was disguised as the Israeli Red Colour alert website directed users to the malicious spyware. ClearSky believes that Hamas exploited its rocket fire offensive to try and deceive as many Israelis as possible. That said, it could be that the cyberattack was discovered in its early stages and did not cause much damage.

Zvi Barel in Haaretz reports on details of the Fatah proposal for Palestinian reconciliation and the PA’s return to Gaza. In the first stage PA cabinet ministers would resume full authority over Gaza’s affairs. In the second stage, which would last about a month, Hamas would have to stop collecting taxes in Gaza. In exchange, the PA would promise to pay the salaries of all Hamas government officials, including policemen and firefighters involved in civil defence, but not members of its military wing. In the third stage, which would last ten weeks, both sides would prepare for PA elections. Barel reports that “during this week’s discussions between Hamas leaders and the heads of other factions in Gaza, some factions, like the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were in favour of accepting Abbas’ plan. But others opposed it, including Islamic Jihad, the Popular Committees and Hamas’ military wing. The Hamas delegation then took those responses back to Cairo.”