- European Union blasts Hamas for "criminal and unjustifiable" rocket attacks, calls for disarming Gaza Strip terror organizations
The European Union (EU) on Tuesday issued what was widely taken as blistering criticism of Hamas - the Times of Israel described the statement as "taking a strikingly pro-Israel stance" while the left-leaning Ha'aretz settled for "dramatic" - with the bloc's 28 foreign ministers demanding that the Palestinian terror group "immediately put an end to [rocket attacks on Israel] and.. renounce violence," and also calling for all terror groups in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to be disarmed. The EU, which has for years been subject to not entirely unjustified accusations of institutionalized anti-Israel bias, described "the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip" as "criminal and unjustifiable acts." Rocket attacks on Israeli population centers Tuesday managed to get within a few kilometers of Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport, after which the Federal Aviation Administration issued an order prohibiting American airlines from flying into or out of the airport for 24 hours. Europe's Air Safety Agency (EASA) issued a similar but more indefinite warning, which cascaded into Canada. The dynamic seems set to end debate over the degree to which Hamas's rocket arsenal constitutes a full-blown strategic threat to the Jewish state, after weeks in which some observers had sought to downplay the disruptions that rocket attacks were generating. The EU statement went so far as to acknowledge and condemn Hamas's "calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields." There has been occasional public debate over the extent to which Hamas has in fact deliberately mobilized Gaza civilians as human shields. Several videos on the issue - either documenting how Hamas's leaders have done exactly that, or rebroadcasting news segments in which mainstream journalists dismantled anti-Israel spokespeople for brushing aside Hamas's tactics - have gained traction on social media platforms.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday conveyed reports that Tehran has for the past six months exported a record amount of crude oil to China, which the outlet noted comes “amid a loosening of U.S. sanctions” as Iran negotiates with the P5+1 powers – including Beijing – over its nuclear program. Iran and the P5+1 had last week agreed to extend by four months nuclear negotiations, just weeks after reports emerged that Iran had for eight straight months violated crude oil export restrictions put into place by the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), which expired Sunday. The JPA limited Iran to exporting roughly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude averaged out over the JPA’s six-month implementation window. Bloomberg on Monday reported that oil exports from the Islamic republic are set to remain near the highest level in two years. Bloomberg also noted that Iranian oil sales averaged 1.27 million bpds for the first half of the year, and shipments for the second half of 2014 were expected to remain around that level. Analysts this week expressed explicit concern over among other things the diplomatic repercussions of the Journal report, with Washington Institute Managing Director Michael Singh noting in a conference call with The Israel Project on Tuesday that the situation “raises a real conundrum for U.S. officials because it raises the possibility that you could have to take action against China under sanctions laws even while these talks are going on.”
To give people abroad an idea of what it means to live under a constant barrage of rockets, two Israelis have set up a real time online clock timer that automatically resets when Hamas fires toward Israel. Aaron Friedman, marketing manager at Curiyo, told local media that he thought up Israelhasbeenrocketfree.com to help visualize for people around the world what it’s like to live under constant attack. He turned to 18-year-old tech developer Yehonatan Tsirolnik, a high schooler set to serve in the IDF’s military intelligence unit in October, to code the project. The clock uses information from the IDF Home Front Command system. “Israel has been under NON STOP rocket attacks for years and in the past few weeks its gotten much worse. And I want people to know what that really means,” Friedman writes on his Facebook feed. “So, with the help of Yehonatan Tsirolnik, we developed a site which counts up from the last rocket attack. Whenever a rocket is fired, it restarts. Sadly, this counter never really gets above an hour.” (via Israel21c)
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