Israeli forces have launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the first offensive since a new coalition government took power, coming just weeks after an 11-day conflict with the Palestinian enclave.
Blasts were heard at multiple locations in Gaza around 1:00am local time on Wednesday, Reuters and AFP reported, while a radio station operated by the Hamas militant group said strikes targeted a Palestinian training camp. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the operations in a statement on Twitter, also sharing footage of one of the strikes.
“Fighter jets recently attacked Hamas military complexes that served as camps and meeting places for terrorist operatives in the Khan Yunis and Gaza brigades,” the military said, adding that it is “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities.”
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According to local media reports, the incendiary balloons ignited at least 20 fires around Israel.
Footage purporting to show the attack in progress has circulated on social media. It is unclear where the videos were captured, but unconfirmed reports noted a flurry of strikes around Khan Younis.
The balloons also coincided with an Israeli ‘Flag March’ through Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday, held yearly in celebration of Tel Aviv’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Despite fears the march, led by Israeli nationalist groups, could stoke tensions with the Palestinians, law enforcement authorized the event. Tensions from the march spilled over into clashes, not only in Jerusalem but along the Gaza-Israel border as well, leading to multiple arrests. One Palestinian was shot in the leg, but was only lightly injured, the Times of Israel reported.
The march had been postponed from May, when it is usually held, due to a spike in hostilities with armed groups in Gaza, which spiraled into 11 days of fighting that killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel. The violence ended after a ceasefire deal mediated by Egypt late last month.
The latest strikes also come as the first bout of hostilities with Gaza under a new Israeli government, with Naftali Bennett sworn in as prime minister on Sunday. Dubbed the “Change Bloc” and composed of right-wing, centrist and even Arab parties, the diverse coalition ended a 12-year reign by longtime PM Benjamin Netanyahu, after four consecutive elections in two years failed to produce a lasting majority.
Nigeria Detains Israel Filmmakers for second week without charges
The three Israeli filmmakers arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) will spend the second week in detention without being charged to court by the Nigerian government.
The Israelis were taken in by Nigeria’s secret police over allegations that they supported the activities of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Peoples Gazette had reported that a Zionist activist, Rudy Rochman, filmmaker Noam Leibman and French-Israeli Journalist E. David Benaym were arrested on July 9, when they visited Ogidi village, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State to shoot a documentary.
They took off from Ben Gurion Airport, Israel on July 5 and arrived in Nigeria the following day to film the documentary, “We Were Never Lost”, which explores Jewish communities in African countries such as Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, and Nigeria.
Their arrest came on the heels of the repatriation of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who in 2018 publicly declared that he “owed his survival to the state of Israel.”
The crew which was arrested at a synagogue during Friday night services on July 9 and subsequently taken to Abuja are also said to be without legal representation in detention.
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Times of Israel reported that one of the men entered Nigeria on a French passport, and the other two on American passports, making it difficult for the Israeli embassy to get involved at the onset. They will now spend the second Shabbat, a symbolic day of rest for the Jews, in custody of Nigerian security forces.
The families of the trio alleged that political groups (in Nigeria) twisted the gifting of a Torah scroll to a local community to claim it constitutes support for separatist political ambitions.
“The filmmaking crew thought it would be a nice gesture to bring several gifts with cultural symbolism to the communities it planned to visit,” their families said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, members of non-state political groups have hijacked for their own purposes images of the filmmakers gifting a Torah to a local community,” the families charged.
They also maintained that they were working with the U.S., Israeli and French embassies on the matter, and “We hope that the DSS will quickly conclude what the facts support.”
The report said SSS released one of the detainees, Mr Benaym to the French Embassy on Tuesday night to receive some medical attention, “with the intention of having him return to DSS custody the next day to continue the investigation.”
A spokesman for the SSS had declined comments about the filmmakers’ arrest and claims of torture.
German floods kill at least 133, search for survivors continues
Rescue workers searched flood-ravaged parts of western Germany for survivors on Saturday as water levels remained high in many towns and houses continued to collapse in the country’s worst natural disaster in half a century.
At least 133 people have died in the flooding, including some 90 people in the Ahrweiler district south of Cologne, according to police estimates on Saturday. Hundreds of people are still missing.
Around 700 residents were evacuated late on Friday after a dam broke in the town of Wassenberg near Cologne, authorities said.
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Over the past several days the floods, which have mostly hit the states of Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, have cut off entire communities from power and communications.
The flooding has also hit parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. At least 20 people have died in Belgium.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, were scheduled to visit Erftstadt, one of the hardest hit towns, on Saturday.
Laschet is ruling CDU party’s candidate in September’s general election. The devastation of the floods could intensify the debate over climate change ahead of the vote.
Scientists have long said that climate change will lead to heavier downpours. But determining its role in these relentless downpours will take at least several weeks to research, scientists said on Friday.
We Won’t Enforce New Mask Mandate – LA County Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday he will not use his department to enforce a mandatory indoor mask requirement set to take effect this weekend amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the county since its reopening.
On Thursday, the county Department of Public Health revived a requirement that masks be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status, a month after California dropped its statewide mask mandate for vaccinated people.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing,” L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a virtual briefing with reporters.
In a statement, Villanueva said forcing those who are vaccinated or who have contracted COVID-19 to wears masks indoors “is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance,” he said. “We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathy Barger also voiced her opposition to the order.
“I am concerned by rising cases, but I don’t believe the mask mandate will help efforts to stress vaccine efficacy and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated,” she tweeted Friday. “LA County should remain aligned with the State instead of creating confusion and disagreement at the local level.”
Fox News has reached out to the Department of Public Health but has not heard back.
The new mandate goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. All indoor spaces, including gyms, retail stores, large events, offices and restaurants – when not eating or drinking – will require the wearing of a mask.
It was not clear how long health officials plan to keep the order. David said transmission of the coronavirus has steadily increased since the county’s June 15 reopening. The Delta variant, which is more contagious than other stains, has raised concerns from health officials, as well.
On Friday, the Public Health Department said the COVID-19 positivity rate increased 700% in one month – jumping from 0.5% to 3.7%. The agency urged residents to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines can protect you from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” it tweeted.
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