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TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 23

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jerusalem to focus on securing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas; the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17; courts issue rulings on Obamacare subsidies; Honduras' president told to expect U.S. deportations on "massive scale"; David Perdue wins Senate GOP runoff primary; ethics concerns in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

  • “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday there have been ‘steps forward’ in the diplomacy aimed at ending the fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as he arrived in Jerusalem for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli officials.” [WSJ]
    • “The Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, challenged critics of his country’s military operation in Gaza Tuesday morning, saying they don’t understand the legal definition of ‘proportionality’ in wartime.” [TIME]
    • How to Break Hamas’ Stranglehold on Gaza [WashPost/David Ignatius]
  • “U.S. intelligence resources tracked the ‘specific missile’ that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that ‘implicates Russia’ in helping to bring down the plane.” [TIME]
  • “On Tuesday, two federal courts issued rulings on President Obama’s health care law. Here’s what you need to know about how the rulings affect you…” [TIME]
  • “Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has been warned by U.S. officials to expect a enormous wave of deportations from the United States, he told TIME in an interview at the presidential palace in the Honduran capital on July 17. ‘They have said they want to send them on a massive scale,’ he said.” [TIME]
  • Businessman David Perdue won Georgia’s Senate GOP runoff primary against Rep. Jack Kingston with less than 51% of the vote on Tuesday. Perdue now faces Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, in the fall. [TIME]
    • Battleground Georgia: Democrats See 2014 Flip [Politico]
  • What if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Loses? [Politico]
  • Cuomo’s Office Hobbled State Ethic Inquiries [NYT]
TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 22

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: Ukraine rebels turn over bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17; Kerry seeks Gaza cease-fire; Detroit suspends water shutoffs; One of the largest private gifts ever for scientific research; Georgia GOP primary; 10 years since the 9/11 Commission report

  • “After days of resistance, pro-Russian rebels on Monday yielded some ground in the crisis surrounding downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—handing over passengers’ bodies, relinquishing the plane’s black boxes and pledging broader access for investigators to the crash site.” [WashPost]
    • Why Putin Is Willing to Take Big Risks in Ukraine [WSJ]
    • “The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 exposes the truth about RT, the Russian English-language propaganda outlet.” [TIME]
  • Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day.” [Reuters]
  • “Whether the Afghan forces can sustain themselves in the critical districts the Green Berets will be ceding to them is an urgent question all over the country. The answer will help define America’s legacy in Afghanistan, much as it has in Iraq, where the Iraqi forces have fallen apart in combat.” [NYT]
  • “Congress and the President have finally found some common ground: Obama will sign the first significant legislative job training reform effort in nearly a decade on Tuesday.” [TIME]
  • Breakthrough on VA Reform Bill? [Hill]
  • “President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order aimed at protecting workers at federal contractors and in the federal government from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” [Politico]
  • “The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is suspending its water shutoffs for 15 days starting today to give residents another chance to prove they are unable to pay their bills.” [Detroit Free Press]
  • “…the Broad Institute, a biomedical research center, announced a $650 million donation for psychiatric research from the Stanley Family Foundation—one of the largest private gifts ever for scientific research. It comes at a time when basic research into mental illness is sputtering, and many drug makers have all but abandoned the search for new treatments.” [NYT]
  • Jack Kingston’s Insider Advantage [NJ]
  • “The evidence for a left-wing challenge to Clinton that could defeat her is thin to nonexistent.” [Slate]
  • “Ten years ago today, we released The 9/11 Commission Report to the government and the American public…” [USA Today]
TIME Palestine

Israel Hits More Than 70 Targets in Gaza, as Ban and Kerry Call for Truce

The U.N. Secretary General and the U.S. Secretary of State lament renewed carnage and call for a cease-fire

Israeli warplanes struck more than 70 targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Tuesday morning, including a stadium, five mosques and the home of a late Hamas military chief, reports the Associated Press.

The attacks came as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accelerated diplomatic efforts for an immediate cease-fire.

The Israel Defense Forces through its Twitter account on Tuesday said that it had killed 183 “terrorists” and struck at more than 1,300 “terror sites” in Gaza during the two-week-old Operation Protective Edge. However, according to Human Rights Watch, many of the attacks have been made on civilian structures, including a refugee camp and hundreds of homes, leading to thousands of displacements.

Some 584 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed during the conflict. The U.N. estimates that 75% of Palestinian deaths are of civilians, with scores of women and children among them.

“We must find a way to stop the violence,” said Ban at a joint press conference in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, with Kerry. “So many people have died. As [Secretary Kerry] just said, it’s mostly [the] civilian population, women and children. It’s very sad, it’s tragic.”

Kerry called on Hamas to accept a cease-fire framework tabled by Egyptian authorities earlier this month.

“Israel has accepted that cease-fire proposal,” said Kerry, who landed in Egypt on Monday after being dispatched to the region by President Barack Obama on Sunday night. “So only Hamas now needs to make the decision to spare innocent civilians from this violence.”

Despite the heavy loss of Palestinian lives in the fighting, Kerry described Israel’s military operation in Gaza as “appropriate” and a “legitimate effort to defend itself.”

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities acknowledged to local media on Monday that they could not account for the whereabouts of one of their soldiers but that he may have been killed after an attack on an armored vehicle over the weekend.

The admission comes a day after Israel’s envoy to the U.N. dismissed claims made by Hamas on television Sunday that they had kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 21

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: The bloodiest day of this Gaza conflict so far; Malaysia Airlines flight MH17; 2016 jockeying; How Congress will reform the VA, respond to the border crisis and replenish the Highway Trust Fund

  • “Day 13 was the bloodiest so far. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in heavy bombardment and street battles in Gaza on Sunday and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas, officials said.” [WashPost]
    • Havens Are Few, If Not Far, For Palestinians in Gaza Strip [NYT]
    • The Explosive, Inside Story of How John Kerry Built an Israel-Palestine Peace Plan—and Watched It Crumble [New Republic]
  • “Ukraine launched a military assault to break pro-Russian rebels’ hold on the eastern city of Donetsk on Monday in the first major hostilities in the area since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down last week.” [Reuters]
    • “Ukraine is ready to hand over the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster to Dutch authorities, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Monday, an offer aimed at resolving a days-long standoff over access to the rebel-held crash site that came even as fighting appeared to be intensifying.” [WSJ]
    • “Russia’s behavior so far suggests that it will not stand by and watch the insurgency falter, regardless of how much evidence arises that its foot soldiers shot down that plane…It would not only mean further isolation for Russia, it would also prolong or even deepen the most dangerous phase in its conflict with Ukraine.” [TIME]
    • A Working Theory of the MH 17 Shoot-down [TIME]
  • With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position [WashPost]
    • “Hillary Clinton has earned at least $12 million in 16 months since leaving the State Department, a windfall at odds with her party’s call to shrink the gap between the rich and the poor.” [Bloomberg]
    • The Biden Agenda [New Yorker]
  • “If you’re searching for signs that a Republican politician is serious about a 2016 presidential run, watch what he or she says about Common Core.” [TIME]
  • Inside Rand Paul’s Jewish Charm Offensive [National Journal]
  • “The House and Senate are far from agreement on President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to address the tens of thousands of children flowing from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border…the House and Senate are still trying to break a logjam over concerns about the cost of reforming the Veterans Affairs Department…The Senate also hopes to provide final passage of a House-passed bill to replenish the Highway Trust Fund before later this summer when it is projected to run out of money.” [National Journal]
    • Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis [WashPost]
TIME Gaza

Israel Launches a Ground Invasion of Gaza. No One Knows How It Will End

Israeli Markava tanks heading toward the Israeli-Gaza border early on July 18, 2014.
Israeli Markava tanks heading toward the Israeli-Gaza border early on July 17, 2014. EPA

As Israel sends ground troops into Gaza for the third time in six years, no one knows how the conflict will end

Updated: July 18, 2014, 5:15 a.m. E.T.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that the military is prepared for “significant expansion” of a ground offensive that saw Israeli tanks roll into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after 10 days of aerial bombardment.

“At this point all options are on the table,” said Lt. Libby Weiss, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). “It’s not bound by time, [it's] more bound by objectives — to strike a blow to Hamas’ ability to carry out terror attacks against Israel.”

Journalists were told they had 30 minutes to evacuate seaside hotels in central Gaza City, a clear indication that Israeli operation will not be limited to the border areas. Weiss said the reach of the offensive would be continually assessed on strategic grounds. Israel has been amassing tanks and artillery on the border for more than a week and has called up 40,000 reserve soldiers. Since the launch of the offensive, the army has called up 18,000 more in next step of the 10-day-old Operation Protective Edge.

The ground invasion started hours after a temporary cease-fire on Thursday morning, which many hoped would lead to an official end to the hostilities. Palestinian and Israeli officials had been in Cairo, as Egypt attempted to broker a deal between Hamas and Israel. Those attempts have clearly failed. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Cairo Friday in an effort to continue the talks.

Although there has been only one Israeli fatality from the more than 1,000 rockets fired from Gaza during this escalation — thanks in part to the success of the Iron Dome anti-missile system — the Gaza invasion will put Israeli troops in the line of fire. On Friday, an Israeli soldier and 20 Palestinians were killed as the operation went under way. In 2008, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead left nine Israeli soldiers dead, and another four killed by friendly fire. For Israel the objective is the conclusive destruction of Hamas’ infrastructure and military capability — an objective that Israel feels can’t be achieved with air and missile strikes alone. Officials wouldn’t say how many troops would be entering Gaza but said they would be supported by Israel’s air force and navy, and there will almost certainly be to be rising numbers of fatalities with the onset of the ground invasion.

But Israel’s army will not bear the brunt of the casualties. Already 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have already been killed by Israeli strikes, and ground combat will put more at risk. At least over 1,300 Gazans were killed in Cast Lead and already four have been killed since the start of the invasion tonight.

For its part, Israel claims it had no choice but to launch the invasion. “It’s clear Hamas is rejecting multiple offers to de-escalate the situation,” said Lt. Weiss. But Hamas was looking for more than just a ceasefire. The militant group wanted end of restrictions on the blockaded territory of 1.7 million people and the release of Palestinian prisoners arrested in the last month, many of whom were swapped for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 but re-arrested in violation of the agreement. Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman based in Beirut, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday: “No one is talking against having a cease-fire, but we want a fair cease-fire to protect our own people for a long time, to protect them from the Israeli military attacks, from the siege, from the arrests.”

And while Hamas’ rockets have had almost no effect on Israel, the group has said its al-Qassam brigades are ready to engage in combat with Israeli forces. Meanwhile, as Israel pursues its military objective and combat escalates, it’s the civilians in Gaza, as always, who will suffer — like the four children killed by an Israeli strike in front of foreign journalists on July 16. Most Gazans cannot leave the strip, and thousands have already been internally displaced thanks to Israeli bombardments. With thousands injured, medical facilities are already stretched thin — and the war may only be beginning.

TIME

Pictures of the Week: July 4 — July 11

From Israel’s deadly air offensive in Gaza and Brazil’s humiliating World Cup exit to French Fashion week’s modern attitude and a double wedding for wounded Ukrainian paratroopers, TIME presents the best photos of the week.

TIME Israel

Civilian Casualties Rise as Israel Hammers Gaza From the Air

Palestinian relatives of eight members of the Al Haj family, who were killed in a strike early morning, grieve in the family house during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Palestinian relatives of eight members of the Al Haj family, who were killed in a strike early morning, grieve in the family house during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014. Khalil Hamra—AP

Raising questions of how long air campaign can go on

Updated 7:06 a.m. E.T. on July 11

The death toll among Palestinians scrambling under a relentless Israeli air assault in the Gaza Strip passed 80 Thursday and edged close to 100 Friday, including at least 14 children.

Meanwhile, the barrage of rockets Gaza militants launched toward Israeli cities failed to produce a significant casualty on the third day of Israel’s offensive Thursday. A media report that a missile had critically injured someone in a car in Ashdod, a coastal city near Gaza, was withdrawn by smartphone alert 28 minutes later. An rocket fired from Gaza struck a gas station in southern Israel on Friday, seriously wounding one, as rocket fire also came from Lebanon for the first time in the latest fighting.

Everything about the latest offensive is moving fast, especially relative to the last round of fighting. That November 2012 air campaign — dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense by Israel — lasted eight days. Israel’s current offensive, Operation Protective Edge, has bombed more than half as many targets in Gaza in less than half the time — 860 in three days compared with 1,500 in eight days last time. The Israeli military said it destroyed more buildings in the first 36 hours of the current campaign than in all of Pillar of Defense. More people are dying too: the 80 fatalities reported so far is, once again, more than half the reported death toll from the longer bombing two years earlier.

All of it raised the question of how long the Israeli bombardment can go on.

Israel’s wars have a half-life, a variable that slides with circumstances and unscheduled events, but which is decided, to a significant degree, by how the world views the fight. So long as it sees a democracy defending its people against terrorism, Israel enjoys considerable leeway. And that’s how most of the Gaza wars start out: Gaza, a coastal enclave of 1.8 million Palestinians patrolled on three sides by Israeli forces, which also parcels out its electricity, water and food, is a hotbox for militants. Those militants want to hit Israel any way they can, and the way that works best is missiles. More than 500 rockets have roared out of Gaza since Tuesday. Each triggers a siren somewhere in Israel, and often sympathy from some parts of the world moved by photographs of panicked mothers scrambling to shelter their children.

That is the imperative Israeli officials cite at the start of the campaign. “This operation started because in spite of our efforts to get Hamas to give up launching rockets against innocent civilians in the lower half of Israel, Hamas ignored our message and decided to escalate the situation,” Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said in a conference call Thursday. “We have to make sure that we end this confrontation with a clear result, that Hamas stops the launching of rockets and terrorist attacks on Israel, and that it has no appetite to resume this kind of activities in the future. That is the goal of this operation.”

But the operation is a brutal one — 1,000 targets means 1,000 deafening explosions, bowel-shattering concussions in one of the most crowded urban centers on the globe — and there comes a point when the world’s perspective shifts. Israel tries to delay this shift as long as possible. Compared with any other military, its armed forces take exceptional care to avoid civilian casualties. If a house is going to be bombed, a call is placed to it announcing this fact, and explicitly warning civilians to get out. A pilot might also drop a “door-knocker” on the roof — a nonlethal sound bomb also intended to announce an impending attack. The real bomb that’s then loosed on the target is often a munition, sometimes quite small, specifically selected to contain damage to the target and spare the neighbors.

But even surgical strikes involve a great deal of blood, and mistakes are inevitable. Israeli officials chose to declare an end to the 2012 offensive two days after eight members of the Dalou family, including four children, were killed by an Israeli bomb. The day’s total civilian death toll of 31 was more than the four previous days’ combined. Israeli officials insisted they won that war, but the World Press Photo of the Year was of Palestinians carrying dead children.

So it was that the U.N. Security Council convened in an emergency session on Thursday, at the request of the Palestine Liberation Organization. PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the Palestinian Authority that nominally governs Gaza, had labeled Israel’s campaign “genocide.” The hope is to activate international public opinion on the side of the dead. “Absolutely,” said Xavier Abu Eid, a PLO spokesman. “If [Israelis] don’t stop, we have an experience [in] 2012, we have an experience [in] 2009, in 2006, of what kind of things can happen.”

But in his remarks Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put equal emphasis on the missiles coming out of Gaza, and Israeli officials said they expected to prevent an admonitory resolution from the full council.

“This is not a classic Arab-Israeli conflict, where it goes on for a couple of weeks and then the great powers intervene,” said Dore Gold, a former Israeli U.N. ambassador who now heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Hamas, he noted, is not only listed by Europe and Washington as a terrorist organization, it also lacks backing in the Arab world, which is preoccupied with sectarian divisions and leery of its Muslim Brotherhood roots. Its political weakness moved the militant group to make the concessions required to complete a long-promised unity government with the secular Fatah faction led by Abbas, but the deal has failed to produce any evidence at all that “bringing Hamas in to the tent” would moderate its behavior. “They’re not acting like a terror group on its way to governing,” Gold said. “They’re behaving in the worst possible way.”

The U.S., which has been urging restraint in the conflict and brokered a cease-fire in 2012, has not called on Israel to halt air strikes in Gaza and refrained from doing so again during a phone call Thursday between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The President reiterated the United States’ strong condemnation of continuing rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” the White House said in a statement describing the call. “The President expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm. The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”

Indeed, Israel’s military says Hamas is promoting civilian deaths in Gaza, not only by operating from private homes but through posters and slogans actually urging people to cluster around targets as human shields. In one instance Tuesday, by numerous accounts local residents ran toward a building that had just received a phoned warning it was about to be bombed, apparently counting on their presence to protect. And it might have worked: an Israeli military spokesman said an effort was made to divert the incoming missile, but it was too late.

“It is a tragedy indeed,” Lieut. Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters Thursday, “and not what we intended.”

— Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 8

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: Israel increases attacks in the Gaza Strip; White House to deport "most" of the unaccompanied minors; Sen. Menendez asserts that Cuba plotted to derail his career; Legal, recreational marijuana stores open in Washington

  • “Israel stepped up its attacks in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hitting 50 alleged Palestinian militant targets in retaliation for the heaviest rocket fire from the coastal enclave in 20 months. At least five Palestinians were killed and another 16 people were wounded in the attacks…” [WSJ]
  • “The White House signaled Monday that it expects to deport most of the unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally across the southern border, employing the strongest rhetoric to date to indicate that an influx of thousands of Central American migrants will not be tolerated.” [WashPost]
    • Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking [NYT]
  • “Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes…” [WashPost]
  • Ukrainian Employer of Joe Biden’s Son Hires a D.C. Lobbyist [TIME]
  • Behind Harry Reid’s War Against the Koch Brothers [Politico]
  • Why Teenagers Today May Grow Up Conservative [NYT]
  • Everything You Need to Know About Buying Legal Weed in Washington State [TIME]
TIME Israel

Hamas Steps Up Rocket Fire, Israel Says Ready for Escalation

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA-HAMAS
Abu Obeida, right, the official spokesperson of the Palestinian militant group Ezzedine al-Qassam brigade, the armed wing of Hamas, give a press conference on July 3, 2014 in Gaza City. Mohammed Abed—AFP/Getty Images

Hamas stepped up rocket fire at southern Israeli towns and Israel called up reserve troops on Monday in anticipation of a possible escalation of hostilities with the Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip.

The armed wing of the Palestinian group said it fired dozens of rockets within about an hour, after hundreds since mid-June. Israel said more than 40 rockets were launched as militants’ funerals were held in Gaza. Thirty struck inside Israel and the rest were shot down by rocket interceptors, the army said.

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

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