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Why the latest Israel-Gaza conflict is escalating – National

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An unusually timed and likely undesired killing of a Hamas commander has caused an Israel-Gaza conflict that is escalating to levels not seen since 2014 because of the political need to save face, experts say.


READ MORE:
Rockets fly between Israel and Gaza after botched raid, Hamas TV station bombed

On Sunday, Israel killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza strip during a botched undercover operation, causing an escalation of rocket fire from both Gaza and Israel. Six other Palestinian militants and an Israeli colonel were also killed in Israel’s operation.

Hamas has since fired at least 300 rockets into Israel, one of which hit a bus, while Israel has responded with its own fire, striking Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station and killing three Palestinian gunmen.

The timing of the conflict is unusual, given ceasefire talks between Gaza and Israel were reportedly progressing, leaving experts to conclude that Israel botched the operation and the conflict was unintentional.

WATCH: Israel bombs Hamas TV station in Gaza after warning shots






“This operation was more meant for intelligence gathering, locating people who might be held in the Gaza strip, not to assassinate, especially given the recent efforts to reach a ceasefire,” said Costanza Musu, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, citing international analysis for her reasoning.

The Hamas commander that was killed had a “mid-range” level of command, and the Israeli military has denied it was an assassination attempt. Musu says it is unlikely there would be authorization to assassinate him, given his level of command.

Israel and Gaza were reportedly making progress in their ceasefire talks in recent weeks, but Musu says the ceasefire was being negotiated for “pragmatic” reasons, and the two sides still have fundamentally different objectives that make lasting peace difficult. This is why the rapid escalation in the midst of these talks is somewhat understandable, although it is a “big setback” for the ceasefire, Musu said.

WATCH: Israeli army video purportedly shows air strikes over Gaza






Rex Brynen, a political science professor at McGill University, says it is “farcical” that Israel would be engaged in such a high-risk activity while the country was working toward a ceasefire with Gaza.

“It was very strange timing. You would have thought (Israel) would have calmed down risky actions like that when it seems the ceasefire is coming along,” Brynen said.

But Musu explains that a lot of these types of intelligence operations happen, the only difference is that they’re not botched and they’re not reported so the public doesn’t know when they occur.

WATCH: 8 killed in covert Israeli military operation in Gaza






Now that the public does know about this operation — and it led to a death that, by all accounts, wasn’t intentional — both sides are trying to save face, and the operation has been politicized.

“Hamas wants to make a point: ‘You can’t do this, we’ll fire back.’ And Israel wants to make the point: ‘You can’t fire rockets at us,’” Brynen said. “At the moment, both sides are trying to cow the other to back down.”

Brynen says there is currently a political climate in Israel that causes politicians to talk tough, as public opinion is geared against Hamas — and the same in Gaza towards Israel — meaning politicians will have to “ride it out for a little.”

WATCH: Hamas leader among 7 dead after violence erupts in Gaza strip






Although the domestic politics will push toward escalation, strategic calculations will push towards de-escalation, he said.

That is because a large effort to go into Gaza is very strongly opposed by the military, Musu said, due to the risk of high civilian casualties in the high-density area. Musu also points out that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently gave a talk in Paris where he said he opposed invading Gaza.

Brynen says things could go either way with the escalation, especially if the rockets hit civilians. So far he has been “impressed” with the amount of firepower Hamas has shown, which he says is greater than in the past.

“There’s always the risk of things getting much worse before they get better,” he said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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