TIME Flight MH17

After MH17, Challenges Ahead for the International Community in Ukraine

In the video above, TIME asked an international affairs expert to discuss the diplomatic challenges faced by the international community

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In the wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was shot down last week, diplomatic pressure for Russia and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine continues to mount.

Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak recently announced an agreement with the leader of a pro-Russian separatist group to return bodies, hand over black boxes, and let independent international investigators access the crash site.

Here, international affairs expert Austin Long explains what the options are for the international community, as it seeks justice for victims.

TIME Malaysia

See the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash Site in Ukraine From Space

Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crash site in Ukraine, July 20, 2014.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine, July 20, 2014. DigitalGlobe/Getty Images

Satellite image released by DigitalGlobe shows a main impact site on July 20

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was traveling some 33,000 feet above eastern Ukraine on July 17 when it was struck by a surface-to-air missile believed to have been fired by Russia-backed separatists, resulting in the deaths of 283 passengers and 15 crew members from 12 nations. (Read about the lives lost in the tragedy.)

DigitalGlobe released this image on July 21, one day after its QuickBird satellite captured it. Debris from the plane, which had been traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was scattered over several square miles near the area of Grabovo. (For a closer look, see Jérôme Sessini’s photographs from immediately after the crash.)

President Barack Obama accused the separatists on Monday of removing evidence from the impact site following reports that bodies were not being properly released and international investigators were being blocked from the scene.

TIME Ukraine

The Lives Lost in the MH17 Disaster

Local people pray during a special mass in Saint Vitus Church in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Hilversum, Netherlands.
Local people pray during a special mass in Saint Vitus Church in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Hilversum, Netherlands. Christopher Furlong—Getty Images

Here are some of the stories of the almost 300 who perished when their airplane was shot down in the skies over Ukraine

A total of 298 lives—including over 20 families and as many as 80 children—were lost when flight MH17 was apparently downed by a surface-to-air missile on Jul. 17. A German aerospace engineer, a leading Dutch AIDS researcher, an Australian nun, and a Malaysian actress were among the passengers on board when the flight crashed over eastern Ukraine, near the settlement of Grabovo. Malaysia Airlines released the passenger manifest on Saturday, revealing that nationals of 12 countries were traveling on the Kuala Lumpur-bound plane.

Here is a breakdown of the victims’ nationalities:

193 from the Netherlands, with one passenger carrying a dual Dutch-U.S. citizenship

43 from Malaysia, including all crew members

27 from Australia

12 from Indonesia

10 from the United Kingdom, with one passenger carrying a dual U.K.-South African citizenship

4 from Germany

4 from Belgium

3 from the Philippines

1 from Canada

1 from New Zealand

Here are just some of the individuals who lost their lives in Thursday’s incident:

Wals family, the Netherlands

Father Jeroen, mother Nicole, 17-year-old Brett, 15-year-old Jinte, 12-year-old Amèl, and 9-year-old Solenn were from the small town of Neerkant. Before Thursday’s flight, Jinte tweeted her excitement about flying to Malaysia: Over uurtje in t vliegtuig naar Maleisië! (In an hour, I will be in the air to Malaysia!) The father, Jeroen, had been a fan of cycling. Neighbors of the family told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that they could not believe they would “never again … see Jeroen bring out the bicycle for his daughter.” Solenn, the family’s youngest member, had been allowed to skip a year in St Willibrord primary school, which all four children attended, due to her extraordinary abilities.

Cor Schilder and Neeltje Tol, the Netherlands

A portrait of Neeltje Tol and Cor Schilder is placed with flowers and candles in front of their flower shop in Volendam, Netherlands,July 19, 2014.
A portrait of Neeltje Tol and Cor Schilder is placed with flowers and candles in front of their flower shop in Volendam, Netherlands,July 19, 2014. Phil Nijhuis—AP

The couple owned a flower shop in the town of Volendam, where locals have been laying flowers in their honor since the crash. They were on their way to a vacation in Bali, Indonesia, Channel 4 News reports. Shortly before take-off, Schilder posted a photo of the plane on his Facebook wall, commenting in Dutch that “in case it goes missing, this is what it looks like”—he was referring to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March. In May, he wrote of the couple’s upcoming trip: “We will stay in a villa with a private pool with rose petals floating in it. We won’t leave before all those petals have withered away.”

Quinn Lucas Schansman, The Netherlands and USA

The 19-year-old had been studying business in Amsterdam and playing football for a local club, Olympia ’25. He was born in New York, but his family moved to Europe soon afterward, and Schansman spent the rest of his life there. A fan of the Dutch soccer team Ajax, he was on his way to meet his family for a three-week vacation in Indonesia, the birthplace of his grandfather, according to a relative. His social media accounts show that he had a girlfriend and was adventurous and fun-loving.

Cameron Dalziel, South Africa and the UK

Dalziel, reportedly in his mid-40s, was a helicopter pilot who lived in Malaysia with his wife and two children, aged 4 and 14. A South African citizen born in Zimbabwe, he was traveling on a British passport. His brother-in-law Shane Hattingh has said that Dalziel took a position with CHC Helicopters in Malaysia last year in order to spend more time with his wife and kids, as he had previously been flying around the world, unable to see them for extended periods of time. One of his former colleagues posted on Twitter that Dalziel was “one of [the] world’s best rescue helicopter pilots” and a “great man, father, [and] husband.”

Jane Adi Soetjipto, Indonesia

Adi Soejipto, an Indonesian of Dutch descent, had been planning to celebrate her 74th birthday in Jakarta, where she lived with her adopted son, after visiting relatives in the Netherlands. She and her late husband, who passed away two years ago, did not have any children of their own. They stayed in Indonesia when her parents and six siblings moved to the Netherlands in 1963. She spent the last months of her life in the Netherlands with her sick mother, who died during the visit.

Allen family, the UK and the Netherlands

A bunch of flowers with a picture and a message for John Allen, a British lawyer who died with his Dutch wife and three sons on flight MH17, is placed at Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, July 20, 2014. Patrick Post—AP

John Allen, his wife Sandra Martens and their three sons Christopher, Julian and Ian—whose ages ranged from 8 to 14—lived in Amsterdam and were headed to Indonesia for a vacation. Allen, a British lawyer, worked at the Dutch law firm Nauta-Dutilh, which in a statement on its website said that “all … who had the privilege of working with John during his 18 years at NautaDutilh came to know him as a kind, down-to-earth and humorous man.” Sandra Martens, who was Dutch, worked as an elementary school teacher.

Philomene Tiernan, Australia

77-year-old Tiernan was a Roman Catholic nun returning to Sydney from a retreat in France. She worked at the Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart near Sydney, where she had taught for over 30 years. In a statement, the school’s principal said that sister Tiernan—known as “Phil”—had visited St. Francis Xavier Church in Paris, the burial site of the Society of the Sacred Heart’s founder Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, adding that the visit was “a special moment” for Tiernan. “Phil was a very much loved staff member and friend. We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman who was greatly loved by us all,” principal Hilary Johnston-Croke said.

Tambi Jiee, his wife Ariza Ghazalee, and their four children, Malaysia

The family of six—Tambi Jiee, 49; Ariza Ghazalee, 46; Afif, 19; Afzal, 17; Azmeena, 15; and Afruz, 13—was returning to Malaysia after spending three years in Kazakhstan, where Tambi Jiee had been working for the energy company Shell. The three youngest children, Afruz, Azmeena, and Afzal, had attended school in Kazakhstan, while the eldest, Afif, had been attending Taylor University in Kuala Lumpur, and had joined his family for a vacation in Europe prior to their trip home, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ariza’s final Facebook post on July 17 was a photo of the family’s suitcases.

Joep Lange and Jaqueline van Tongeren, the Netherlands

Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren Jean Ayissi—AFP/Getty Images; EPA

The leading Dutch AIDS researcher, along with five other passengers on board, was en route to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia—the largest AIDS conference in the world. During the opening ceremony on Sunday, speakers commemorated the lives of their lost colleagues. Lange, 59 and his partner van Tongeren, 64, had both worked at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development—he as its executive scientific director and she as a communications director. Lange was also a professor of Medicine at the University of Amsterdam, where he had recently been working on a paper about medical research in Africa, according to the AIGHD’s website.

John Alder and Liam Sweeney, the UK

Alder and Sweeney were ardent Newcastle United fans on their way to New Zealand to watch their favorite team’s preseason tour. Sweeney, 28, had previously volunteered as a steward on fan buses to Newcastle’s away games, and was thus well-known among the teams’ supporters. His father, Barry, told the BBC that “football was his life,” adding that he’d “rather it was [him] sitting on that plane … because he was only 28.” Alder, 63, had reportedly seen all but one of Newcastle’s matches in 50 years. Newcastle’s managing director expressed his condolences to Alder’s and Sweeney’s families and said that “both men were dedicated supporters of our club and were known to thousands of fans and staff alike.”

 

TIME Gaza

Truce Elusive as Hamas, Israel Stick to Positions

Displaced Palestinians who fled areas of the Northern Gaza Strip are seen in the courtyard of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Bet Layia, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014.
Displaced Palestinians who fled areas of the Northern Gaza Strip are seen in the courtyard of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Beit Layia, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. Alessio Romenzi

Palestinian health officials said at least 550 Palestinians have been killed and 3,350 wounded since the new round of fighting started on July 8

(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) — The top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signaled Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel’s defense minister pledged to keep fighting “as long as necessary” — raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were heading to Cairo on Monday to try to end the deadliest conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in just over five years.

Meanwhile, cross-border fighting continued unabated, with Israeli strikes leaving entire families buried under rubble and Hamas militants firing more than 50 rockets and trying to sneak into Israel through two tunnels, the latest in a series of such attempts.

Seven Israeli soldiers were killed Monday in clashes with Palestinian militants, the Israeli military said. That raised the overall Israeli death toll to 27, including two civilians. The Israeli military said four soldiers were killed in a firefight with Hamas fighters trying to sneak into Israel through a tunnel, and that the other three were killed in battles in Gaza.

Palestinian health officials said at least 550 Palestinians have been killed and 3,350 wounded since the new round of fighting started on July 8.

Mounting casualties on both sides have led international officials to step up diplomatic efforts to end the worst bout of fighting between the two sides since 2009.

On Monday, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his belief that Israel has the right to defend itself against rockets being launched by Hamas into Israel. Yet he contended that Israel’s military action in Gaza had already done “significant damage” to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure and said he doesn’t want to see more civilians getting killed.

Israeli fighter planes struck homes across Gaza, in at least four cases burying two or more members of the same family under the rubble, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official.

One of those strikes killed nine members of a single family in Gaza City, another killed 10 in the southern half of the coastal strip.

Also, rescuers going through the wreckage of a house targeted late Sunday retrieved 28 bodies in the town of Khan Younis, including at least 24 from the Abu Jamea family, according to al-Kidra and a local human rights group.

“Doesn’t this indicate that Israel is ruthless?” said family member Sabri Abu Jamea. “Are we the liars? The evidence is here in the morgue refrigerators. The evidence is in the refrigerators.”

Israeli tank shells also hit the Al Aqsa Hospital in the central town of Deir el-Balah, killing at least four people and wounding 60, al-Kidra said.

A doctor at the hospital, Fayez Zidane, said the third and fourth floors and the reception area were damaged, and patients were evacuated to the lower flowers.

The Israeli military said an initial investigation suggests that anti-tank missiles were stored near the hospital and that the cache was successfully targeted. “Civilian casualties are a tragic inevitability of the brutal and systematic exploitation of homes, hospitals and mosques in Gaza,” the army said.

The military has consistently said it makes great efforts to minimize civilian casualties but Hamas puts Gazans in danger by hiding weapons and fighters in residential areas.

In fighting, the Israeli military said 10 Hamas infiltrators trying to sneak in through the tunnels were killed after being detected and targeted by Israeli aircraft.

Hamas also fired 50 more rockets at Israel, including two at Tel Aviv, causing no injuries or damage. Since the start of the Israeli operation, Hamas has fired almost 2,000 rockets at Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Gaza military operation would have no time limit.

“If needed we will recruit more reservists in order to continue the operation as long as necessary until the completion of the task and the return of the quiet in the whole of Israel especially from the threat of the Gaza Strip,” Yaalon told a parliamentary committee.

Israel accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional cease-fire last week, but resumed its offensive after Hamas rejected the proposal.

Hamas says that before halting fire, it wants guarantees that Israel and Egypt will significantly ease a seven-year border blockade of Gaza.

Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, signaled Monday that his group is sticking to its position.

He said the aim of the battle is to break the 7-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory, which was imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas overran Gaza in 2007. Over the past year, Egypt has further tightened restrictions, driving Hamas into a deep financial crisis.

Haniyeh said in a televised speech that “we cannot go back, we cannot go back to the silent death” of the blockade.

He said all of Gaza’s 1.7 million residents shared this demand.

“Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage,” he said. “This siege, this unjust siege, must be lifted.”

Kerry left Washington early Monday for Cairo, where he will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012. He was expected to urge the militant Palestinian group to accept an Egyptian-offered cease-fire agreement.

Cairo’s cease-fire plan is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt.

Hamas remains deeply suspicious of the motives of the Egyptian government, which has banned the Muslim Brotherhood, a region-wide to which Hamas also belongs.

Israel invaded Gaza late last week, preceded by a 10-day air campaign. Air and artillery strikes have targeted Gaza’s border areas in an attempt to destroy tunnels and rocket launchers.

TIME Ukraine

Ukrainian Rebels Hand MH17 Black Boxes to Malaysian Investigators

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine handed over the black boxes from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 during a meeting in Donetsk

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Updated: July 22, 2014, 8:20 a.m. E.T.

Rebel forces handed over Flight 17’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Monday, hours after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak struck a deal with the separatists.

The leader of the investigative team reported that the boxes were in good condition, the BBC reports.

Najib announced on Monday that he had reached an agreement with the leader of a pro-Russian separatist group to return victims’ bodies, hand over the jet’s black boxes and let independent international investigators gain access the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last week.

A train containing remains of some of the bodies arrived in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv early on Tuesday, as per the arrangement, and were due to be flown to Amsterdam. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his government expects them to arrive on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, and that the identification of some victims’ bodies could be quick while others may take “weeks or even months.”

Remains of Malaysian citizens will be flown home, Najib said.

The Malaysian leader announced in a Facebook post Tuesday that the final stipulation of the deal—a full investigation of the crash site—has yet to be fulfilled, but he called the agreement a “breakthrough.”

“I am pleased to confirm that the first two conditions have now been met,” Najib said. “We are closer to finding out what happened to [the] aircraft, and fulfilling our shared responsibility to those who lost lost their lives.”

The prime minister said he and Alexander Borodai, the self-appointed “Prime Minister” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” had reached a deal on “securing evidence from the aircraft, launching an independent investigation and above all recovering the remains of those who lost their lives.”

Najib said Monday that despite the tentative agreement, “there is work still to be done … which relies on continual communication in good faith.” He called on all parties to “continue to work together to make sure this agreement will be honored,” adding that “only then can victims be afforded the respect they deserve.”

“For the families, nothing can undo this damage,” said the Prime Minister, who reportedly lost a relative in the crash. “The lives taken cannot be given back. The dignity lost can’t be regained. My heart reaches out to those whose loved ones were taken on MH17.”

Borodai used a press conference before the handover of the black boxes to deny any involvement in the accident, The Guardian reports. Instead, he said, the Ukrainian government had “both the technical ability and the motive” to shoot down the plane.

TIME Malaysia

Live: Malaysian PM Speaks on MH17

Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose step-grandmother was on the plane that came down in eastern Ukraine, delivers a statement

TIME Ukraine

Obama Accuses Separatists of Removing Evidence From MH17 Site

"What exactly are they trying to hide?"

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President Barack Obama sharply condemned Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine for keeping international investigators away from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel them to cooperate.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House Monday morning, Obama called the separatists’ actions “an insult to those who have lost loved ones” in Thursday’s shooting down of the plane.

Noting that U.S. and international investigators stand at the ready to examine the crash site and assist in recovering the remains of the 298 killed, Obama said they’ve been chased away from the area by separatists firing weapons into the air. “The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. All of which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama said.

“Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts,” Obama said. “We have to make sure that the truth is out.”

American officials believe that Russia-trained Ukrainian separatists shot down the plane Thursday with a SA-11 surface-to-air missile. Obama said the “burden is on Russia” to force the separatists to provide access to the site.

“Russia, and President Putin in particular, has a direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation,” Obama said. “That’s the least they can do.”

Obama said his preference is to find a diplomatic solution to the months-long Ukraine crisis, but said the United States and the international community will continue to escalate “costs” on Russia if it does not reign in the separatists. On Friday, Obama ruled out an American military response to the incident.

Obama also addressed the ongoing war in Gaza, saying he has directed Secretary of State John Kerry to push for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” based off the 2012 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

“As I’ve said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas,” Obama said. “I’ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”

Obama acknowledged that Kerry, who departed for Cairo early Monday to work on a cease-fire plan, has a tough job ahead of him. “The work will not be easy,” he said. “Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved. Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We don’t want to see anymore civilians getting killed.”

 

TIME

Obama Calls for Immediate Access to Crash Site

(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama is calling for international investigators to have “immediate and full access” to the site in eastern Ukraine, where a passenger jet was shot down last week.

Obama accused pro-Russian separatists in the area of removing evidence and bodies from the crash site. He says that raising the question of “what exactly are they trying to hide?”

The president says the burden is on Russia and President Vladimir Putin to compel the separatists to cooperate with the investigation. Obama says that if Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, Moscow “will only further isolate itself” and the economic costs will continue to increase.

The White House says the missile that brought down the Malaysia Airlines plane was fired from an area controlled by the separatists.

TIME Israel

Watch: This Is How Israel Blows Up Tunnels in Gaza

Footage released by the Israeli forces shows how underground passageways are destroyed

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In the video above, posted on the official YouTube page of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), soldiers are shown inserting a charge into a tunnel said to be in Gaza, then detonating it.

According to the IDF, soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade found the tunnel in a residential area of Gaza.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Israeli armed forces uncovered 34 shafts leading into about a dozen underground tunnels, some as deep as 30 meters, that the military said could be used to carry out attacks, according to the AP.

Last week, Israel began a ground invasion of the Palestinian territory with the goal of destroying tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza and thus striking a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure,” according to a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over 500 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have died in the recent fighting.

TIME Ukraine

Ukraine Ready to Hand MH17 Investigation Over to Dutch

Personnel from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry load the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 into a truck at the crash site on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
Personnel from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry load the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 into a truck at the crash site on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images

The Netherlands suffered the most fatalities in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Monday the country is prepared to let Dutch authorities take over the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The deal to let the Dutch continue the investigation is an effort to end the standoff between the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatist groups over who can access the crash site.

“We are responding to the request of our Dutch partners. They launched the request. The Dutch people suffered the most,” Mr. Yatsenyuk said Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports. “This is the right thing to do. This is a humanitarian gesture. It will add more independence to the investigation.”

Dutch investigators began arriving in Eastern Ukraine on Monday, USA Today reports, to begin the grim task of inspecting the bodies of victims who have been moved to refrigerated train cars by the separatists.

The crashed flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which the U.S. says was shot down by Ukrainian rebels using weapons provided by Russia, left 298 people dead on Thursday, the majority of whom were from the Netherlands. Since the crash, the rebels who control the area have limited government access to the crash site for an official investigation. Over the weekend, rebel forces moved bodies and other evidence from the crash site.

The Dutch Safety Board told the WSJ Monday they were still in the process of discussing taking over the investigation. Experts from across the globe are also in the country with hopes of investigating the crash.

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