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Ukraine says pro-Russia rebels pull back from Donetsk outskirts
2014.07.24 03:37:26

Pro-Russian separatists are leaving their positions on the outskirts of Donetsk and retreating towards the center of the eastern Ukrainian city, Ukrainian military officials said on Wednesday.

Residents said the rebels, who rose up in April demanding independence from Kiev in the mainly Russian-speaking east, had dug trenches in downtown Donetsk outside the main university, where they have been living in student dormitories.

Ukrainian government forces have pushed the armed rebels back to their two main strongholds, in Donetsk and nearby Luhansk, taking back control of villages and suburbs around them. [Reuters]



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Israeli representative at the UN Human Rights
2014.07.24 03:36:05

Israeli representative at the UN Human Rights Council says the Council's holding of the special session is misguided, ill-conceived and counterproductive to the ceasefire efforts.

"The people of Gaza are not our enemies", Israeli representative says at the UN Human Rights Council. He said that Israel is fully committed to international law and its military "makes great efforts" to minimize civilian casualties.

Hamas is committing war crimes, using civilians as human shields.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Ukraine to impose sanctions on Russian individuals, firms - PM
2014.07.24 03:32:20

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday Kiev would impose sanctions on Russian individuals and companies who support "terrorists" directly or indirectly.

He told a meeting of his ministers that he had set up a special committee which had 10 days to propose a list of individuals and companies to be covered by the punitive measures.

He did not give details of what form the sanctions would take. [Reuters]



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UN rights chief Navy Pillay
2014.07.24 03:16:57

UN rights chief Navy Pillay, in a speech at the emergency meeting on Gaza, gave "a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes. Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated".

UN rights chief Navy Pillay:

The continued failure to properly ensure accountability on both sides following earlier escalations of hostilities in Gaza is of serious concern. The culture of impunity for alleged violations of international law invites further transgressions and the victims of the past become victims again. War crimes and crimes against humanity are two of the most serious types of crimes in existence, and credible allegations that they have been committed must be properly investigated. So far, they have not been.

I reiterate my numerous calls for this blockade [on #Gaza] to be lifted once and for all.

The disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life, was shockingly evident for all to see in the apparent targeting on 16 July of seven children playing on a Gaza beach.



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Ukraine says Dutch ready to send police to MH17 site
2014.07.24 03:15:18

The Netherlands and other countries that lost citizens when MH17 was shot down are proposing sending police officers to secure the crash site in rebel-held east Ukraine, authorities in Kiev have said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the offer was made by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte "to provide security at the crash scene and surrounding area in order to ensure an independent international investigation into the reasons for the catastrophe."

"Rutte noted that he intended, together with Australia and other countries whose citizens were victims on plane MH17, to propose sending a civilian police mission to Ukraine under the auspices of the UN," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement following a phone talk between the two leaders late on Tuesday. [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Netherlands

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Israel’s precautions
2014.07.24 03:14:18

UN rights chief Navy Pillay says the killing of civilians in Gaza, especially children, raises concerns over Israel’s precautions and respect for proportionality.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Russia starts reinforcing naval fleet in Crimea
2014.07.24 03:13:27

Russia said on Wednesday that it had begun expanding its Black Sea fleet based in Crimea with new ships and submarines, months after annexing the peninsula from Ukraine.

"Today we have started forming a powerful Black Sea fleet with an absolutely different level of air service, coastal missile and artillery troops and marines," said Alexander Vitko, the Black Sea fleet commander, in a message to servicemen

President Putin said at a meeting with the national security council on Tuesday that Russia will bolster its defenses to counter the creeping influence of NATO close to its borders.

"It is necessary to implement all of the country's defense measures fully and promptly, including of course in Crimea and Sevastopol, where we have to de facto create military infrastructure from scratch," he said.

[AFP]



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John Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv
2014.07.24 02:54:03

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Tel Aviv to seek ways of ending the deadliest violence in years between Israel and Gaza's Hamas.

"Secretary Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, this morning to meet with officials to discuss the ongoing ceasefire efforts," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"He will also travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and will be meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian Authority President (Mahmoud) Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu."

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | United States | John Kerry

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Malaysian airliner's black boxes arrive in Britain
2014.07.24 02:52:49

The black box flight recorders from the Malaysian airliner downed in eastern Ukraine have arrived in Britain, the Ukrainian government's special investigation commission said on Wednesday.

"Today ... the black boxes from the airliner Boeing 777 arrived in Britain under the supervision of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)," the commission said on its Facebook page. [Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Malaysia | Britain

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Israel shells power plant
2014.07.24 02:51:54

Adding to the woes of the besieged Gaza Strip, residents said Israel shelled their power plant which provides electricity to half the people of Gaza.

The power station spokesperson in Gaza said that the main equipment was hit last night.

Electricity supplies from Israel were hit last week. Israel saying  rockets from Gaza had damaged infrastructure.



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Bodies of Malaysia jet victims to leave Ukraine
2014.07.24 02:50:31

Ukraine is preparing a departure ceremony for the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, which are being flown to the Netherlands.

Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said Wednesday's ceremony was set for 11 am local time (0800 GMT) at the airport in Kharkiv.

Dutch officials say at least 200 bodies had arrived there in refrigerated railroad cars a day earlier.  [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Malaysia

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Israeli tank fire killed five
2014.07.24 02:45:24

Israeli tank fire killed five people, including two children, in southern Gaza, medics said, on the 16th day of Israel's assault on the besieged enclave.

The shelling hit houses east of the city of Khan Yunis, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP news agency.



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Possible many more MH17 bodies with wreckage: Australia PM
2014.07.24 02:44:38

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday it was possible that many bodies from the MH17 crash were still lying in the open in Ukraine.

"It's quite possible that many bodies are still out there, in the open in the European summer, subject to interference, and subject to the ravages of heat and animals," Abbott told a press conference in Canberra. [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Australia

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Ambulances set to enter flashpoint Gaza neighbourhood
2014.07.24 02:43:52

A convoy of 10 ambulances is set to enter the neighborhood of Shajaiya in Gaza, despite the ongoing Israeli assault.

Medics said they hoped the large number of ambulances would convince Israel to hold fire, our correspondent added.

Shajaiya has been targeted by intense Israeli bombardment earlier this week. leaving dozens killed, including many children.



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Bill Clinton: Perpetrators of MH17 crash sought a divided world
2014.07.24 02:42:29

Former US President Bill Clinton called on Wednesday for strength in responding to the downing of flight MH17, declaring that those who shot down the plane - and provided the means to do it - sided with a brutal vision of the world.

Speaking at the world AIDS conference in Melbourne, Clinton said it "matters not" if the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday by mistake, and the loss of 298 lives on board unintended.

And he paid tribute to the six AIDS campaigners who died aboard the flight. Speaking to a hall packed with scientists, policymakers and grassroots  activists, Clinton singled out Dutch researcher Joep Lange, praising him for tireless work in bringing life-saving drugs to millions of people infected by the AIDS virus.

"He and the five other colleagues we lost lived lives which are overpowering in their contribution to a shared future," Clinton said.

The former president called on the world's response to be strong, and not be sapped by any argument that the loss of lives may have been unintended.  [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Bill Clinton

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Death toll update
2014.07.24 02:29:29

Israel's assault on Gaza, which entered its sixteenth day, has so far claimed the lives of 640 Palestinians, including dozens of children. More than 4000 people have been injured.

The number of Israelis who died from fighting with Palestinian fighters has climbed to 31, including 29 soldiers and two civilians. One other soldier remains missing, but is presumed dead, according to the Israeli army.



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Australian families may travel home with MH17 victims: PM
2014.07.24 02:27:38

Australian families affected by the MH17 tragedy will be offered the opportunity to go to the Netherlands to travel home with the bodies of victims, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday.

At least 37 of those who died when the Malaysia Airlines jet was apparently shot down over Ukraine last week - killing all 298 on board - were Australians.

"By its very nature, it may take some weeks before we can honor the dead by returning them to those they loved and those that loved them. But we will bring them home," Abbott said in a statement to AFP.

"Once the Australian victims of MH17 have been identified, the government will transport their families to the Netherlands, should they wish, so they can accompany their loved ones home."

Abbott has been highly critical of efforts to secure the crash site, and Australia is deploying more than 100 officials to Ukraine and the Netherlands to support efforts to bring the bodies home.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Australia

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UN rights council inquiry into Israel's violations in Gaza
2014.07.24 02:11:11

The UN Human Rights Council is expected to hold a special meeting in Geneva at 8 GMT on the situation in Gaza.  

The Palestinians have tabled a draft resolution that call for the establishment of an independent, international inquiry that would investigate Israel's alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The majority of the Council's 47 members have supported the Palestinian request to convene the session, according to a statement by the Geneva-based body. For a Special Session to be convened, the support of one-third of the Council is required.

Diplomatic sources say that the resolution will likely be voted on at the end of the session, despite pressure exerted on members by the US and Canada to not endorse it.

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will address the Council, according to  sources.  Representative from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides are also expected to make speeches.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Israel should be awarded the Nobel peace prize
2014.07.24 02:08:55

Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has suggested Israel should be awarded the Nobel peace prize for "fighting with unimaginable restraint", according to the Guardian newspaper.

He has reportedly told a meeting of Christians United For Israel in Washington: "Some are shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide and would put us in the dock for war crimes. But the truth is that the Israel Defense Forces should be given… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint."

International human rights organization Human Rights Watch has said that the Israel, in its assault on Gaza, may be committing war crimes.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Palestinian emergency services
2014.07.24 02:07:21

Palestinian emergency services said that at least six people were killed early on Wednesday during prolonged shelling of the southern town of Khan Yunis and 20 more were wounded, most of them seriously.

Two more were killed by Israeli fire in the north of the Strip, medics said.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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