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Israel's Operation Protective Edge enters its third week
by Staff Writers
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) July 22, 2014

Canada demands probe into weapons at UN schools in Gaza
Ottawa (AFP) July 22, 2014 - Canada's top diplomat on Tuesday called for a UN investigation of the discoveries of weapons caches at schools it operates in the Gaza Strip.

"I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.

"Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas (which Canada lists as a terrorist organization), once Israeli officials discovered their location," he said. Baird did not specify the source of these allegations.

Baird went on to say, "Canada unequivocally calls on the United Nations to launch an immediate independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding these reports. Canada also calls on the United Nations to ensure that in the second case, no rockets are returned to Hamas.

"Anything less than an independent investigation would be absolutely unacceptable."

UN officials had earlier announced the discovery of weapons in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip, the second time in a week.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA last Thursday said it had launched an investigation after finding 20 rockets hidden in another of its vacant schools in the Gaza Strip.

It condemned the incident -- the first of its kind -- as a "flagrant violation" of international law, and said the rockets had been removed and the "relative parties" informed.

Israel soldier 'kidnapped' by Hamas is dead: army
Jerusalem (AFP) July 22, 2014 - The Israeli army on Tuesday confirmed that a soldier who Hamas militants claimed they had kidnapped is dead and his body remains unaccounted for.

The army named the soldier, whose body is still missing, as Oron Shaul, two days after Hamas said they had kidnapped an Israeli soldier of the same name.

A spokeswoman said Israeli pathologists had identified 12 out of 13 soldiers killed in Gaza over the weekend but that 21-year-old Shaul's body was still unaccounted for.

Publication of the name suggested Hamas was likely to be holding the soldier's remains, although it was not clear if the entire body or only part of it was missing.

Israeli dog tags carry a soldier's name and his army number, and are designed to be broken in two, with half worn around the neck and the other half inserted into his boot to allow for identification in the event of death.

Shaul was part of a group of seven troops from the elite Golani unit who died in an attack on an armoured vehicle in Gaza.

A spokeswoman flatly denied any possibility that the soldier was alive.

"The identification process of six of the soldiers killed has been completed and confirmed. The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined," an army statement said.

The army refused to confirm or deny Hamas' claim on Sunday night, saying it was investigating, although Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said the rumours of an abduction were "untrue".

Hamas militants have long sought to abduct soldiers to use as bargaining chips to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Here are the main developments since Israel launched a major offensive in Gaza aimed at halting rocket fire.

The cycle of violence is the fifth between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas since 2005.

It began on June 12 with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, prompting a major crackdown on Hamas, which triggered a surge in rocket fire from Gaza.

JULY, 2014

8: Israel launches Operation Protective Edge, with dozens of air strikes on Gaza in response to mounting rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

Hamas says "all Israelis" are potential targets.

9: Israel carries out strikes as rockets are fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

12: Fifty-six Palestinians killed as the UN Security Council urges an end to hostilities.

13: Israeli naval commandos make a lightning strike in northern Gaza to hit a rocket launcher site.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas asks the UN to put the state of Palestine under "international protection".

15: Israel accepts an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Hamas rejects it, demanding an end to the eight-year blockade of Gaza. Israel resumes raids after the truce fails to hold.

16: Israel intensifies its bombardment, killing at least 25 Palestinians, including eight children, four of whom were on a beach.

17: Israel launches a ground operation, its first since the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

Hamas says "Israel will pay a high price" for the assault.

Israel calls up another 18,000 reservists, taking the total to 65,000.

18: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says "a significant broadening" of the ground operation is possible, as air strikes alone cannot destroy Hamas's tunnel network.

20: The most deadly day of the offensive, with more than 140 Palestinians killed, including at least 70 in Shejaiya, east of Gaza City. On the Israeli side 13 soldiers from the Golani brigade are killed.

Palestinian and Arab League leaders accuse Israel of war crimes.

21: Fifty-five Palestinians, including 16 children, are killed by air strikes and tank shelling across the enclave which hit a hospital and a residential building.

22: Israeli strikes kill about 40, including at least 13 women and children, as Israel's army announces the death of two more soldiers. Israeli tank fire hits a UN school sheltering displaced Palestinians.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon visits the West Bank and Israel and tells both sides: "Stop fighting, start talking". US Secretary of State John Kerry, in Cairo, urges Hamas to accept a ceasefire.

A rocket fired from Gaza crashes just kilometres (miles) from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, prompting several American and European airlines suspend links with Israel.

Since July 8, at least 620 Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,700 injured, mainly civilians, according to rescue workers. More than 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced, the UN says. On the Israeli side, 29 have died, among them two civilians hit by rocket fire, and 27 soldiers in the ground offensive.


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