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Spring, 2014
Volume 40, Number 1
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In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
28 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis issues new appeals for peace (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday made another urgent appeal for an end to the conflicts in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine. Speaking after his regular Angleus address to thousands of people gathered in a hot and sunny St Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke of the victims of war, in particular the children who die or are injured and orphaned by the violence…

Patriarch Sako: "The situation is dire" in Iraq (Vatican Radio) Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako says the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate quickly. He said the country has suffered tremendously at the hands of the ISIS militant group, also known as Islamic State—extremist Muslim rebels, who one month ago declared a caliphate on the border with Syria and Iraq. With ISIS pledging to expand its control over the region, there is very little relief from the attacks in sight….

Palestinian sources: Israeli airstrike hits Gaza hospital (CBS News) The Gaza police operations room and a Palestinian health official say separate Israeli airstrikes hit the compound of Gaza City's main hospital and a nearby park, causing casualties. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. Camera crews were prevented from filming the area of impact at Shifa Hospital. Health official Ayman Sahabani says several people were wounded in the strikes…

United Nations calls for cease fire in Gaza (Associated Press) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reinforced the Security Council's call for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza war on Monday and demanded that Israel andHamas end the violence "in the name of humanity." The U.N. chief accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal of being irresponsible and "morally wrong" for letting their people get killed in the conflict. He urged them to demonstrate "political will" and "compassionate leadership" to end the suffering of war-weary citizens. "Gaza is in critical condition" after pummeling by Israeli forces that has killed helpless civilians and raised "serious questions about proportionality," he told reporters...

India's largest Ramadan gathering held in Kerala (Arab News) Hundreds of thousands of believers gathered at the Swalath Nagar in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district in the southern Indian state of Kerala overnight Thursday in what is claimed as the the world’s third largest Ramadan congregation. Organizers say some half a million people attended the annual prayer meet in the past two years and they expect similar or increased numbers this year…



Tags: Holy Land Israel Kerala Chaldeans
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25 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Israeli soldier prays in front of a tank at a military staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip on 24 July. Fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700. (photo: CNS/Nir Elias, Reuters)

Israel-Palestine conflict: The voice of reason silenced by the blast of weapons (VIS) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, spoke at the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council dedicated to the question of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem, which took place on 23 July. “As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. … The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. … Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future lies in recognizing our common humanity…”

‘Appalled’ by attack on U.N.-run school in Gaza, Ban urges halt to fighting (U.N. News Center) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is “appalled” by the news of an attack on a United Nations-run school in Gaza where hundreds of people had taken refuge from the ongoing hostilities, adding that the incident underscores the need to stop all fighting immediately. Media reports say at least 15 people died in the attack on the school in Beit Hanoun, which was run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). More than 100,000 Gazans — 5 percent of the total population — have sought refuge in UNRWA facilities since the conflict began over two weeks ago…

World’s top Muslim leaders condemn attacks on Iraqi Christians (Vatican Radio) Two of the leading voices in the Muslim world denounced the persecution of Christians in Iraq, at the hands of extremists proclaiming a caliphate under the name Islamic State. The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the secretary general for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims. Meanwhile, Mehmet Gormez, Turkey’s top cleric and the spiritual successor to the caliphate under the Ottoman Empire, also touched on the topic during a peace conference of Islamic scholars…

Pope Francis calls Patriarch in solidarity with Iraqi Christians (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reassured the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, Ignatius Joseph III, that he is following news out of Iraq with concern — particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants…

Italy tries to cope with crush of migrants seeking refuge in Europe (Los Angeles Times) An estimated 71,000 people have made the dangerous 350-mile voyage to Italy this year from the Libyan coast. The number already exceeds the total for all of the previous record year, 2011, at the height of the “Arab Spring” uprisings. Chaos in Libya, traditionally a staging point for would-be émigrés trying to reach the European Union, has turned the operation into something of a free-for-all…

India: Salesians open child assistance center in Bangalore (Vatican Radio) A new child assistance center was inaugurated in Bangalore Railway Station under the direction of Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO) on 9 July by Mr. Anil Kumar Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Southern Western Railways. The Child Rescue Booth, which will start functioning from Platform Four of Bangalore City railway station, aims to rescue the scores of children who arrive there daily, and to protect child rights in general. It is estimated that 50-60 runaway children arrive daily in the city of Bangalore, mostly at the railway station and Bus station…



Tags: India Christian-Muslim relations Iraqi Christians United Nations Migrants
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24 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians in Gaza City yesterday walk past a mosque that witnesses say was hit by Israeli shelling. (photo: CNS/Mohammad Salem, Reuters)

Hiding in the shadow of the pastor in Gaza (Al Jazeera) Gaza’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios has not had much sleep in the past few days. He has been busy ensuring that scores of Palestinian families who sought refuge in his church, the Church of St. Porphyrius, are getting all the help they need. The churches of Gaza are among the very few places left where Palestinians can seek refuge — so far. But on Monday night the nearby cemetery, located in the Orthodox church’s yard, was hit in an Israeli strike. “If we ask why did they hit [the church], they [Israelis] will come up with an excuse. But what I know is that Israel announced that churches and mosques are protected areas, they are safe places,” said Archbishop Alexios. During its 17-day assault, Israel’s army has hit at least five mosques…

Jerusalem patriarch: Don’t punish all Palestinians because of Hamas (CNS) It is impossible for Israeli military to target Hamas missiles without hitting civilians in the Gaza Strip, said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem. People might not agree with Hamas, which controls Gaza, but “we cannot punish all the population because you do not agree with Hamas,” he told Catholic News Service in Washington on 23 July…

Israeli fire hits U.N. facility, killing 15 (AP) Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside. Gaza health official Ashraf al Kidra says the dead and injured in the school compound were among hundreds of people seeking shelter from heavy fighting in the area. It was the fourth time a U.N. facility has been hit in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, since the Israeli operation began on 8 July…

Maronite patriarch calls for dialogue with ISIS (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter has called the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria to a dialogue. “Humanity is the only thing we share with you. Come let’s talk and reach an understanding on this basis,” he addressed ISIS during a speech Wednesday at a dinner of the Episcopal Media Committee. “You rely on the language of arms, terrorism, violence and influence, but we rely on the language of dialogue, understanding and respect for others…”

Iraq’s ‘Islamic State’ is quite happy to rule by terror (Christian Science Monitor) For the Islamic State, the jihadi group based in Iraq and Syria that has seized major cities and towns in northern and central Iraq in recent months, slaughter and the fear of slaughter are the coin of the realm. And so far, it’s working…

Massive explosion in the courtyard of the Armenian Church in Zaporozhye (Public Radio of Armenia) A massive explosion ripped through Zaporozhye, near a major hospital, last night, Ukrinform reports. According to preliminary reports, the explosive device was left in the courtyard of the local Armenian church. No casualties were reported as a result of the accident…

From Aleppo to Armenia: Syrian auto-repair tycoon starts over (Christian Science Monitor) In Aleppo, Sako, 60, owned an auto-repair business that employed 15 workers. He made a substantial amount of money, he says — enough to buy four apartments in Aleppo and two cars, and eat out regularly at the city’s pricier spots. Then the war hit his business, forcing him to flee with his wife to Yerevan, the Armenian capital, where years earlier he had sent one of his sons to study to be a pharmacist. Now he rents and operates a small, tidy falafel and shwarma stand in the center of town, while his wife, a former anesthesiologist, manages another outpost next door…



Tags: Syria Iraq Armenia Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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23 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians gather on 23 July in the courtyard of St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza City, where they are taking refuge from fighting in the area. Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on 23 July, including the enclave’s sole power plant. (photo: CNS/Finbarr O’Reilly, Reuters)

Gazans find sanctuary in ancient church (Al Monitor) The more than 1,600-year-old Church of St. Porphyrius, Gaza’s only Greek Orthodox church, canceled its Sunday prayers to open its doors to roughly 400 internally displaced persons from Shajaia. Deacon Rami Ayad says they have also “opened shops and houses to accommodate another 600 people. The neighbors are donating to everyone and the church is providing the youth in the mosque nearby with money to get food and break the fast at sunset, since they are fasting [for Ramadan]…”

Darkness Falls on Gaza (New York Times) The long siege has bled the Gaza Strip dry. There is no money for public services; the majority of the population lives in abject poverty. And now at least 120,000 Gazans have been displaced by the fighting, thousands taking temporary shelter in United Nations schools. Many will return to homes damaged or destroyed, with little or no means to rebuild. Cement is especially severely rationed because Israel suspects it is diverted by Hamas to build tunnels for fighters…

Israel’s Iron Dome doesn’t cover Bedouins (Electronic Intifada) The Negev desert in the south of present-day Israel is home to 200,000 indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, known as Bedouins, most of whom are completely defenseless against falling rockets because the Israeli government refuses to protect their villages and denies them the right to build bomb shelters. One of two Israeli civilians killed since 8 July was 32-year-old Auda al Wadj, who died when a rocket fired from Gaza struck his home in Qasr al Ser, a Bedouin village near Dimona that lacks sirens, bomb shelters and cover from Israel’s missile defense system…

700 Syrians killed in two days of conflict (Al Jazeera) In the bloodiest two days of fighting in the Syrian civil war, more than 700 people were reported killed in fighting between government and rebel forces loyal to the radical Islamic State — more than have been killed during the 15-day-old Gaza conflict that has dominated media attention in recent days…

More Lebanese soldiers flee to join Syrian rebels (Daily Star Lebanon) At least 10 soldiers have defected from the Lebanese army to join the Syrian opposition, several lawmakers said Wednesday. The members of parliament accused authorities of imposing a news blackout on the “defection” until the army had conducted its own inquiry…

Fighter jets shot down in eastern Ukraine (Huffington Post) Two Ukrainian military fighter jets have been shot down in the east, according to the country’s Defense Ministry. The Sukhoi-25 fighters were shot down 1:30 p.m. local time Wednesday over an area called Savur Mogila…

Security Council denounces persecution of minorities in northern Iraq (U.N. News Center) The United Nations Security Council has denounced the persecution of Christians and other minority groups in northern Iraq, which used to be home to minority communities that had lived together for hundreds of years before coming under direct attack by the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its allies…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict Palestinian Refugees
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22 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi man carrying a cross and a Quran attends a liturgy at Mar Girgis Church in Baghdad on 20 July. Pope Francis called for prayers, dialogue, and peace, as the last Iraqi Christians flee the Iraqi city of Mosul. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Malik, Reuters)

Pope Francis calls Patriarch in solidarity with Iraqi Christians (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reassured Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants. Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul…

An update on the situation in Iraq from the Dominican Sisters (Order of Preachers) We would like to update you on the situation here in Iraq, especially in the province of Nineveh. The two Chaldean sisters, who belong to the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, and the three orphans were released on Monday, 14 July. The sisters told me that they were treated well. We thank God for their safety. However, their car was taken away with the valuable items they had with them, also the ISIS took the keys of their convent in Mosul. Moreover, the ISIS gave the sisters a message to inform the Patriarch and the bishops…

Jihadists seize ancient Iraqi monastery and expel monks (The Telegraph) Islamist militants have taken over a monastery in northern Iraq, one of the country’s best-known Christian landmarks, and expelled its resident monks, a cleric and residents said on Monday. Islamic State fighters stormed St. Behnam, a fourth-century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic Church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, on Sunday, the sources said…

Patriarch emeritus: There is no war in Gaza, but a useless massacre (Fides) In the night between Monday and Tuesday, the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip caused further destruction and casualties among the civilian population. More than 580 Palestinians have been killed, while among the Israeli soldiers there have been 27 deaths so far. In the latest round of Israeli raids even four mosques and several health centers have been affected…

In Gaza, burying those killed by Israeli airstrikes is getting more dangerous (Washington Post) For Palestinians, burying bodies has become more difficult and dangerous with each passing day. Movement can be a risky sprint not only for ambulances but also for the beat-up vans that ferry the dead to cemeteries. The central morgue in Gaza City is overflowing, its wheezing refrigerators losing the struggle against the smell. The graveyards are filling, and mourners dig their own holes…

Georgian Orthodox Church condemns attack on Armenian church in Tbilisi (ArmenPress) On 22 July, Georgian Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasim of Zugdidi and Tsaishi met with the prelate of the Georgian-Armenian diocese, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan and discussed the attack on the Armenian Church of St. Etchmiadzin in Tbilisi. “The attack on the Armenian Church of St. Etchmiadzin is unacceptable and the Georgian Orthodox Church condemns that incident and calls on the parties for peace and tranquility…”

East Damascus hit by fiercest clashes in months (Daily Star Lebanon) Eastern Damascus was hit Tuesday by its fiercest fighting in months between rebels and pro-regime forces, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The air force meanwhile pounded rebel areas of the eastern neighborhood of Jobar, as opposition fighters launched mortars into army-held parts of Damascus, wounding 18 people…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Gaza Strip/West Bank Iraqi Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Georgian Orthodox Church
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21 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Palestinian death toll has passed 500, with reports of more than 3,100 people wounded since air strikes began on 8 July. (video: Al Jazeera)

Israeli ground offensive in Gaza triggers shelter crisis for fleeing civilians (Christian Science Monitor) Overnight fighting killed at least 60 Palestinians in a Gaza neighborhood, while Israel’s army reported its deadliest day in a 13-day offensive. Aid agencies are struggling with more evacuees than during the 2008-2009 war…

Security Council holds emergency meeting on Gaza (U.N. News Center) The Security Council on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Doha, the first leg of a Middle East tour which aims to end the conflict…

Cardinal Sandri appeals for end to violence in Middle East (Vatican Radio) The head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has made an appeal for reconciliation and an end to conflict in countries across the Middle East. Speaking at Mass in Los Angeles to mark the feast day of the two Lebanese Sts. Sharbel and Elias, Cardinal Sandri said: “Our hearts go out to the Christians in the Holy Land, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt and all the innocent victims of violence in the Middle East…”

In Iraq, rise of Islamic State deals blow to Christian population (Los Angeles Times) The ascendance of the Islamic State — a Sunni Muslim faction that embraces an intolerant strain of fundamentalist Islam — has generated alarm among the region’s diverse minority populations, including those here in the sprawling flatlands known as the Nineveh plains…

Iraqi patriarch laments status of Iraqi Christians (Vatican Radio) The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Iraqi Kurdistan. The exodus was caused by the proclamation on Thursday by the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate that Christians must pay a special tax or be killed. Islamists have for the past two days been marking the doors of homes belonging to Christians and Shiite Muslims living in the city. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael in an interview with the AFP news agency…



Tags: War Gaza Strip/West Bank Iraqi Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations
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18 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Rev. Jorge Hernandez celebrates Mass in Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza. Father Hernandez is a missionary of the Argentina-based Institute of the Incarnate Word. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Gaza’s Christians gather in prayer for peace in midst of war (Vatican Radio) As fighting intensifies in the Gaza Strip, faithful are gathering in the parish church of the Holy Family to pray for forgiveness, justice and peace for all. In the early hours of Friday, Israel launched a Gaza ground campaign after 10 days of bombardments from the air and sea failed to stop militants’ rocket attacks, stepping up an offensive that already has taken a heavy toll in civilian lives…

Pope urges Israeli, Palestinian leaders to end Holy Land hostilities (CNS) Expressing his serious concerns over the escalating violence in the Holy Land, Pope Francis telephoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging all sides to end hostilities and build peace…

Gaza faces imminent water crisis (Al Jazeera) According to International Committee of the Red Cross, hundreds of thousands of people are now without running water, and within days, the entire Gaza population “will desperately run short of water resources…”

The near enemy: Why the real threat to Israel isn’t in Gaza (Foreign Affairs) With Hamas busy firing rockets at Israeli cities, it’s only natural that the Israeli public’s primary concern in recent days has been physical security. But it should also be attuned to other, equally dangerous, problems posed by the current crisis. Once more, conflict has distracted Israelis from the fact that radical, messianic, and xenophobic forces have gained significant ground in the battle for the soul of their state…

‘Ripped our guts again’: Families mourn MH17 victims (News Herald) International passengers from all walks of life, from a prominent AIDS researcher and soccer fans to a nun and a florist, were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday in eastern Ukraine, sending shockwaves around the world from Malaysia to the Netherlands…

The last Christian families leave Mosul (Fides) The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Erbil, Dohuk and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan that are considered safer…

Syrian businesses in Bekaa Valley shut down (Daily Star Lebanon) Security forces shut down shops and small trades ran by Syrians in several areas of the Bekaa Valley Friday, the National News Agency reported. “All shops managed by Syrians in Chtaura, Bar Elias and Masnaa were sealed off,” the agency said. The move comes as Lebanon is reeling under tremendous economic stress, largely caused by the impact of the Syrian conflict and the influx of over 1.1 million Syrian refugees fleeing violence at home…



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Iraq War Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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17 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Israeli soldier adjusts the barrel of a tank at a military staging area outside the northern Gaza Strip on 14 July. (photo: CNS/Nir Elias, Reuters)

Israelis consider ground invasion of Gaza; brief truce planned (Los Angeles Times) Iraeli military and political leaders were increasingly leaning toward a ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to rid the Palestinian enclave of rockets and tunnels used by militants for attacks, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Wednesday. An operation to move Israeli troops into the densely populated coastal enclave had been resisted by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sources said earlier, because of the likelihood of wider casualties on both sides. The deaths of at least 222 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the latest fighting has exposed the Israeli government to widespread criticism that escalated Wednesday with the deaths of four children playing on a Gaza beach when an artillery shell landed. One Israeli has been killed…

Jordanians angered by Israel’s war on Gaza (Al Monitor) Jordanians have raised their voice against the Israeli offensive on Gaza that has so far killed over 200 Palestinians and one Israeli, with protesters taking to the streets, members of parliament planning to head to the Gaza Strip and King Abdullah II warning of “the dangerous escalation” of violence in the area…

In Mosul, ISIL orders no aid to Christians and Shiites (Fides) The jihadist militiamen of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have ordered civil servants to suspend any provision of food aid and gas cylinders to the Shiites, Kurds and the few remaining Christians in Iraq’s second city. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by Christian sources in Mosul…

U.N. refugee chief calls for political solution in Iraq (Washington Post) The head of the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday that he was increasingly frustrated with Iraq’s skyrocketing number of displaced people — and with governments worldwide that expect humanitarian aid organizations to resolve these matters alone. “There will not be a humanitarian solution for the Iraqi crisis. There is no humanitarian solution for the Syrian crisis,” António Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said in a closed briefing with reporters here in the Iraqi capital. “It is absolutely crucial that the Iraqi political system find a way to overcome its political divisions and contradictions,” he said…



Tags: Holy Land Iraq Jordan Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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16 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians inspect a destroyed car following an airstrike in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on 10 July. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Level of human loss, destruction in Gaza ‘immense,’ says U.N. agency (U.N. News Center) The level of human loss and destruction in Gaza as a result of the ongoing conflict with Israel has been “immense,” the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees said today. “The numbers are increasing by the hour,” Sami Mshasha, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told a news conference in Geneva…

100,000 Gazans told to flee as both sides press attacks (New York Times) Israeli forces intensified their assaults on targets in Gaza on Wednesday, bombing the residences of several Hamas leaders and warning 100,000 Gazans to flee their homes ahead of more attacks. The Gaza death toll from nine days of conflict vaulted past 200, including at least four children killed on a beach from what Palestinian officials called an Israeli gunboat shell…

Israeli airstrikes damage Egyptian homes (Al Monitor) Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip is rattling Egyptians on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border. Eyewitnesses on the Egyptian side said houses along the border that is adjacent to the Gaza Strip have been directly affected by the intense Israeli bombardment. According to the residents of the Egyptian part of Rafah, Israeli fighter jets have been targeting tunnel entrances with highly explosive concussion bombs to destroy the main outlets on the Palestinian side. Abu Mohammed al Shaer, who resides in a two-story building on the border, about 1000 feet from the bombing sites, told Al Monitor: “No one can imagine how harsh the bombardment is. … The glass windows have all been shattered, and the [walls of the] houses have cracked…”

Pope Tawadros II: Bishops do not express support for candidates (Fides) The date of the next general elections in Egypt has not yet been set. In all probability, the Egyptians will not go to the polls before next October, but already meetings and to define candidates have started. In this context, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has already warned the bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church to refrain from any direct involvement in the election campaign in support of political parties or individual candidates…

Chaldean patriarch to politicians: Waste no more time, Iraqis are in danger (Vatican Radio) Patriarch Louis Raphael I has sent a Letter to the Members of Iraqi Parliament urging them to “waste no more time” in resolving the crisis that is devastating the nation. Adding his “humble voice as Christian religious authority in Iraq” to the voice of all the Muslim authorities, the patriarch begs them “to accelerate the elections of the three presidencies to save the country…”

Iraq Christians see ISIL uprooting Prophet Jonah’s remains as dire portent (Ecumenical News) Members of Jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are believed to have unearthed the remains of revered biblical Prophet Jonah in Mosul. This act is fueling the fears of Christian leaders in Iraq that the persisting violence could spell the end of 2000 years of Christianity in the country…

Ancient cave monastery complex in Georgia to be preserved (Serbian Orthodox Church) Vardzia, a cave monastery complex of the 12th-13th centuries in the valley of the Kura river, is an outstanding monument of medieval Georgian architecture. A three-day international seminar, dedicated to the development of plans for preserving the Vardzia cave monastery complex in the Samche-Javaheti region, began on 9 July. The seminar was organized by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia…



Tags: Egypt Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations
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15 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza Strip, gather around the remains of a house that police said was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza on 14 July, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants whose rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israeli strikes on Gaza enter day seven (Various) Israel launched a military offensive on Hamas-controlled Gaza last week, alleging a response to an increase of rocket attacks from the territory. At least 172 Palestinians have died and more than 800 homes have been damaged or destroyed since fighting began last Tuesday, with more than 1,300 Israeli rockets striking the region. Palestinian militants have in turn fired some 1,000 rockets into Israel causing some injuries and property damage, but no fatalities have been reported among Israelis. Egypt proposed a cease-fire deal that Israel backed, but whereas Hamas found the proposal met none of its conditions, the effort ultimately failed. As the conflict continues to escalate, both on physical and ideological fronts, many around the world appeal for peace — including Pope Francis, the office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Israeli and Palestinian mothers, and the United Nations.

Iraq: Nuns, orphans released by kidnappers (Vatican Radio) Two nuns and three orphans under their care have been released in Iraq by kidnappers linked to ISIS, the Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni militant group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Speaking to AsiaNews, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I expressed relief that there was “finally good news” in the country where ISIS, under the banner of a new Islamic “caliphate,” has captured large swaths of territory from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad…

Christian, Muslim groups urge Lebanon neutrality (Daily Star Lebanon) Moderate and independent Lebanese Christian and Muslim figures Tuesday called for a Lebanon free from Hezbollah or the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. A statement issued Tuesday by the moderate groups the Lady of the Mountains and the Shiite Consultative Gathering as well as other independent Lebanese figures slammed ISIS and Wilayat al Faqih, an indirect reference to Hezbollah, as “spiritual sisters.” Under the Wilayat al Faqih doctrine, which was introduced in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the supreme ayatollah, or highest religious authority, has final say in political matters as well…

Ukrainian army shells convent in Lugansk (Pravoslavie) Before sunrise on 4 July 2014, the Ukrainian army, coming very close to Lugansk, fired artillery against the regional clinical oncological dispensary of Lugansk, where the St. Olga’s Convent is located, reports the convent’s website. The site message suggests the attack was “a response to the prayer resistance to the fratricidal war, organized by the clergy and sisters of the convent…”



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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