Bombing Fatally Strikes Assad’s Inner Circle

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Today’s Top Stories:

1. Palestinian journalists are boycotting a meeting with Shimon Peres to protest another incident of overzealous Israeli security guards trying to strip search reporters. I explained Why Palestinian Journalists Are Right to Boycott Peres.

2. Bomb in Damascus kills Syrian defense minister and Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law. AP says Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha was the regime’s highest ranking Christian. And CNN explains why Israel won’t mourn Assef Shawkat — the deputy defense minister who was married to Bashar’s sister:

In 2006, the Treasury named Shawkat — then Syria’s director of military intelligence — in an executive order, freezing his assets and prohibiting U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with him. At the time, the U.S. government called Shawkat “a key architect of Syria’s domination of Lebanon, as well as a fundamental contributor to Syria’s long-standing policy to foment terrorism against Israel.”

3. Israeli jurist appointed chief legal advisor to the UN Security Council’s . Dr. David Scharia’s certainly qualified, but Haaretz (click via Twitter) raises a whiff of “Israelwashing” at the UN:

Sources in New York said that Scharia’s appointment is sure to feature prominently in efforts to curtail drives in Congress to cut off U.S. funding for the UN. In many cases, such campaigns are based on popular perceptions of the UN’s well-known bias against Israel.

Commenting on Scharia and the Israelwashing, Colum Lynch (Washington Post) notes:

Of the more than 44,000 international employees within the United Nations, only 124 are Israeli, according to the U.N. None serve in the top ranks of the most sensitive political jobs, which are responsible for maintaining international security, mediating peace deals and coordinating humanitarian assistance.

U.N. officials, however, say that while Israel has a relatively small presence it is not considered “underrepresented” because Israel’s population, at under 8 million, is relatively small.

Israel and the Palestinians

A leaked UN report says the Eritrean regime is profiting from arms smuggling to the Sinai and Gaza. The Guardian got a look a the document:

“Multiple independent sources in Israel and the Sinai have identified General Teklai Kifle Manjus . . . as well as a string of intermediaries, as being directly responsible for the cross-border smuggling of humans and weapons from Eritrea,” the report it states. “The weapons are generally described as Kalashnikov-pattern assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Many bear the inscriptions of the Eritrean military units to which they previously belonged.”

I don’t envy Gaza parents trying to figure out what to with their kids during the summer. The UNRWA can’t afford to run summer camps, so Hamas camps are the only choice, says AP:

That means Gaza kids who go to camp will choose among those that are heavy with lessons on Islam, political indoctrination, and, in some cases, paramilitary training . . .

Many in Gaza seem to prefer to keep their kids at home rather than in the care of Hamas.

The BBC looks at Israel’s decision to upgrade the Ariel University Center of Samaria to “university” status. Reporter Yolande Knell talked to Nobel Laureate Prof. Robert Aumann, who was involved in the process:

“I was very impressed by the quality of the place as an academic institution and I think Israel needs another university,” said Mr Aumann, a mathematician.

“The last time when an additional university was added to the roster of Israeli universities was in 1972. At the time the population was three and a quarter million. The population of Israel today is almost eight million.”

Credit where credit is due: LA Times reporter Ed Sanders picks up on the story of Gaza Christians protesting forced conversions.

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