Dozens of rockets were fired this morning from Gaza into Israel, the first of which were fired within minutes of the expiration of a 72-hour ceasefire between Jerusalem and Hamas. At least two Israelis were injured in Friday’s rocket attacks. Hamas had already violated the ceasefire hours before the official expiration, firing two rockets into the Jewish state. Israeli overtures to continue the ceasefire into next week were rejected by Hamas, which has demanded that the Israelis among other things lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The rocket fire was condemned by among others White House Spokesman Josh Earnest, as well as the State Department. On a conference call with The Israel Project Friday morning, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told reporters that Israel was “not going to negotiate under fire.” Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier this week told the BBC that Israeli concessions would require Hamas to act “with a greater responsibility towards Israel, which means giving up rockets.” Meanwhile, a poll released this week by the IDC Herzliya found that a vast majority of Gaza residents support a ceasefire, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) would rather see reconstruction in Gaza rather than a rearmament. The IDF estimates that roughly two-thirds of Hamas's and Palestinian Islamic Jihad's has either been deployed or destroyed over the past two months, leaving the group with approximately 3,000 rockets.
President Barack Obama on Thursday evening announced the authorization of limited airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in response to growing concerns that the Islamist group was poised to overtake the Kurdish capital of Erbil. The President also accused ISIS of threating the region’s ethnic Yazidis with “genocide” and announced Thursday that American military aircraft had provided aid to tens of thousands of Yazidis who had been forced to take refuge in Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain region. The administration’s decision to intervene in Iraq is being read alongside the White House’s reticence to intervene in other regional crises. Sam Brannen, a senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tweeted that “military inaction” in Syria had contributed to the “need for action in Iraq today.” The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria last September ascended to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and committed to handing over parts of its nonconventional arsenal in exchange for the West standing down from impending military strikes, despite reports in recent months that the regime is again using chemical weapons on its civilian population and empowering the extremist ISIS group. The Telegraph had already in January conveyed analysis from Western intelligence agencies cataloging how Damascus had fueled domestic and regional Sunni extremism. The piece highlighted accusations that Assad had functionally chosen his enemy in Syria's conflict, empowering both extremist Shiite elements and Al Qaeda-linked groups on the Sunni side to squeeze out moderates. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf in June was explicit in characterizing the Assad regime as being “one of the, if not the main, reason [ISIS] has been allowed to grow in strength.”
For the first time in the 20-year history of the International Mathematics Competition, an Israeli team won first place. Held in Belgrade, Bulgaria, from July 29 to August 4, the competition pitted 73 teams of university students from around the world against each other to solve problems in algebra, real and complex analysis, geometry and combinatorics (a branch of mathematics concerning finite discrete structures). The working language was English, as the competition is organized by the University College London and American University in Bulgaria. Israel’s team of six earned the gold medal, followed by silver medalists from Budapest and bronze medalists from Moscow University. Their coach, Lev Radzivilovsky, is an algorithm developer. Though the competition is geared to students who have finished at least one year of college-level studies, half of the Israeli delegation had only just finished their senior year of high school. Yet almost all were veterans of previous international math Olympiads. The winners were Tel Aviv University students Yoav Krauz, Tom Kalvari, Omri Nissan Solan and Amotz Oppenheim; and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students Nitzan Tur and Guy Raveh. At last year’s competition, Solan won an individual gold medal, while Tur, Kalvari and Oppenheim won individual silver medals and Krauz won a bronze. “You brought great honor to the State of Israel in general and academia in particular,” said Education Minister Shai Piron. “Human capital is our comparative advantage over other countries and you are proof that Israel will continue to lead the forefront of technology in the coming years.” Teams from Israel won silver medals in 1995 and 1996, and a bronze in 1994, the first year the competition took place. (via Israel21c)
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