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Current Issue
Spring, 2014
Volume 40, Number 1
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
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 Israeli-Palestinian conflict Iraqi Christians 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 Israeli-Palestinian conflict Iraqi Christians 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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14 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis leads his 13 July Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Pope Francis called for an end to the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace. (photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land. Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described his appeal as “heartfelt” and said we must all continue to pray insistently for peace in the Holy Land in the light of the tragic events of the past days...

Israel says it downed drone as death toll climbs (ABC News) The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed today that it sent homemade drones over Israel, after Israel said that it had shot down a Palestinian drone flying along the coast in southern Israel. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades boasted on Twitter that the drones carried out “three missions over Israeli military bases” and a “specific mission over Israeli war ministry.” The group claimed to have domestically built three different kinds of drones for surveillance and bombing missions...

Ukraine forces end blockade at airport (Reuters) Ukraine said on Monday its forces had ended a rebel blockade of a strategic airport in the east as it traded charges and threats with Russia over violations of their joint border during a weekend of fierce military combat. Ukraine’s military said its warplanes had inflicted heavy losses on the pro-Russian separatists during air strikes on their positions, including an armoured convoy which Kiev said had crossed the border from Russia...

Ukraine crisis damaging Catholic-Orthodox relations (AFP) The crisis in Ukraine is undermining reconciliation efforts between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and has shown up Pope Francis’s inability to make his peace message heard in the conflict-torn country, analysts said. Francis has called for dialogue in Ukraine — as he does for conflicts around the world — but the Vatican has kept a distance and did not take a position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March or subsequent hostilities in the east of the country...

More Kerala nurses leaving India (Hindustan Times) The rains are weak this year in Kerala and everyone was talking about it. Then they started talking of something else — the rescue of the 45 nurses from Iraq, and the scandal of another batch that wants to go right back. The return from Iraq has lobbed certain questions at the Kerala nursing fraternity. It believes it has to answer them, both for self-clarification and to explain why things are the way they are. The questions are: Should they allow themselves to be ill-paid and stay safe? Or should they, before all else, go after the money?...



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11 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian man examines the damage to his destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City July 11. A Catholic priest in Gaza said Israeli missile attacks are wide-ranging and that there is no safe zone. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Neuhaus: Irresponsible Israeli-Palestinian rhetoric begets violence (Vatican Radio) The Latin patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land, the Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., has joined his colleagues of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land in calling for more moderate Israeli and Palestinian voices to ease tensions which have spiraled into a seemingly unending cycle of tit-for tat violence…

Rumor and leaks fill void as Israel silences press over killings (New York Times) Israeli intelligence officials used gag orders in recent weeks to stifle reporting on the initial investigations into both the abduction and the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem. These restrictions on media coverage of events in the Palestinian territories come more than five years after Israel blocked journalists from reporting on the bombardment of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead. The current war in that territory is taking place in full view of foreign correspondents there, as the Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer pointed out…

Greece holding migrants in detention, conditions ‘appalling’ (Al Jazeera) When a visitor identifying himself as an employer came knocking, Azher Abbas opened the door of the flat he shared with two other undocumented Pakistani migrants. To his surprise, police officers rushed into his home. Mr. Abbas spent 15 months at one of Greece’s largest immigrant detention centers, around an hour drive south of Athens. An estimated 6,000 are held in such camps, and thousands more at police stations. “We were never treated as people,” said Abbas. One day, he and other inmates complained about the chickpea stew. “A bunch of policemen came and spat in the food and held batons over us and said ‘eat it now…’ ”

Displaced swell Syria coastal population (Daily Star Lebanon) The population of Syria’s coastal provinces, relatively untouched by the country’s war, has risen dramatically, sheltering one million displaced people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday. “Over a million people have arrived in Latakia and Tartus since the beginning of the conflict, swelling the local population by 50 percent,” the I.C.R.C. said in a statement…

Economic cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia on the rise (Al Monitor) Cairo is working on resuming the Ethiopian-Egyptian activities that were suspended on all levels. This comes in tandem with the preparations for the expected visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi to Ethiopia, and as part of the restoration of dialogue aiming to settle the dispute between the countries over the Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile. The dialogue was re-opened following the meeting that was held between the Ethiopian prime minister and President Sisi on the sidelines of the last African Summit held in Equatorial Guinea…



Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Israeli-Palestinian conflict Greece Migrants
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10 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises after an an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 8 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing scores of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Gaza endures third straight day of Israeli airstrikes (Washington Post) Israel’s major military operation against Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip entered its third day Thursday, with a surge in deaths in the territory, including nine Palestinians killed while watching a World Cup game at a beachfront cafe. The death toll in Gaza jumped overnight, doubling to 80 dead and more than 500 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The latest fatality was 5-year-old Abdullah Abu Gazal, who was killed in a midmorning Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahia…

Water shortage crisis in northern Iraq towns (AINA) The water purification plants in Mosul supply water to the city and surrounding areas. After taking control of Mosul on 10 June, ISIS severely limited the water supply from Al Rashidiya and Al Slamiya water projects, which provide much of the Nineveh Plain with potable water. According to a report by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, ISIS is allowing only about 90 minutes of pumping per day. The Assyrian towns of Baghdede, Karemlis, Bartella, Tel Kepe, Batnaya and Bashiqah — home to nearly 200,000 Assyrians — face severe water shortages…

Middle East’s stable monarchy comes face to face with extremist threat (Al Jazeera) Several times since the Al Qaeda breakaway group staged its astonishing takeover of Sunni-majority Iraq last month, supporters of the Islamic State have marched through the streets in Jordan’s southeastern city of Ma’an raising black flags and declaring their restive city “Jordan’s Fallujah” — a reference to the extremist stronghold in Iraq, the first city that fell to the insurgents back in January…

Ukraine warns rebels it plans to retake territory (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government forces on Wednesday warned separatists in the eastern town of Donetsk that a plan was now in place to take back the territory they occupy, but defiant rebels reported a steady flow of new recruits who were ready to fight…

Holy Synod to elect new Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader in August (Pravmir) The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made the decision to elect its new leader on 13 August, the church announced on its website



Tags: Middle East Iraq Jordan Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church
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9 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian woman reacts following what police said was an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Majdi Fathi, Reuters)

Holy Land bishops criticize ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians. “Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred,” said an 8 July statement from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land…

Gaza hospitals struggle to treat wounded (Al Jazeera) As Israel continues to pound Gaza with air strikes — carrying out 50 bombings overnight and more throughout the day on Tuesday — Dr. Ayman al Sahbani expresses concern about the capacity of the territory’s hospitals to attend to the many injured. Gaza also suffers from a shortage of medicine and medical supplies, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qedra, told Al Jazeera. Gaza is completely missing about 30 percent of essential drugs, while 15 percent of the remainder is expected to be exhausted within days of an Israeli assault, he said…

Report: Israeli forces stole $3 million during West Bank raids (Euro-Mid Observer) During the course of Israel’s three-week campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank, ostensibly to search for the killers of three settlers, the Israeli military and police conducted an average of 18 raids per day into Palestinian homes, charities and businesses, stealing cash and property worth an estimated $3 million, documents a new report from the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights…

Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate dies at 78 (ABC News) The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period. Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, who had been credited with stabilizing the church, died Saturday “after a long illness,” the church announced online Saturday. In his more than 20 years as head of the country’s largest church, Metropolitan Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits…

Syria’s war widows fight for survival (Al Jazeera) According to United Nations figures, more than 145,000 Syrian refugee women have become the sole breadwinners for their families, struggling to provide food and shelter for their children and often facing harassment, humiliation and isolation. A report released Tuesday by UNHCR says that one in four Syrian households living in four major countries of refuge — Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt — are headed by lone women…

Inside an Iraqi Christian ghost town (Al Jazeera) Christians are only 2 percent of Iraq’s mostly Muslim population. And while they have little to do with the ongoing fighting, as I witnessed in the Christian village of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq this week, they’re suffering the consequences…



Tags: Syria Refugees Iraq Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church
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