Militant rockets can be seen launching from crowded neighborhoods, near apartment buildings, schools and hotels. Hamas fighters have set traps for Israeli soldiers in civilian homes and stored weapons in mosques and schools. Tunnels have been dug beneath private property.
With international condemnation rising over the death toll in Gaza exceeding 650 in the war’s 16th day, Israel points to its adversaries’ practice of embedding forces throughout the crowded, impoverished coastal enclave of 1.7 million people.
“Hamas uses schools, residential buildings, mosques and hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli civilians,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Canadian counterpart in a call over the weekend, according to a statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office. “Hamas uses innocent civilians as a human shield for terrorist activity.”
Nothing is ever so clear in the complex and often brutal calculus of urban warfare. There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack — the legal definition of a human shield under international law. But it is indisputable that Gaza militants operate in civilian areas, draw return fire to civilian structures, and on some level benefit in the diplomatic arena from the rising casualties. They also have at times encouraged residents not to flee their homes when alerted by Israel to a pending strike and, having prepared extensively for war, did not build civilian bomb shelters.
Israel, for its part, says it takes precautions to avoid killing civilians, but has also accepted as inevitable that there will be large numbers of civilian casualties when it strikes at certain targets, like Hamas members in their houses, or offices, or mosques.
“It’s a bit of a fluid concept,” said Bill Van Esveld, a lawyer and senior researcher in the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch. “If you have any choice in the matter, you should not be fighting from an apartment building full of civilians.”
Some of Hamas’s tactics mirror those of other insurgent groups, like the Irish Republican Army and Nicaraguan contras.
“Hamas knows that it works to its advantage, politically and diplomatically, as the civilian death toll mounts, there is increasing pressure to end the war immediately, and what that typically entails, if past is precedent, is making some concessions to Hamas,” said Nathan Thrall, co-author of a recent International Crisis Group report on Gaza. “Hamas deliberately buries the weapons in populated civilian areas hoping that will reduce the chance that those weapons will be taken out from the air — that’s a pretty clear-cut case.”
Experts in international law say that even as Hamas is legally obligated to minimize its operations near civilians — and is committing a war crime by firing rockets indiscriminately — so, too, is Israel obligated to identify specific military targets and keep the risk to civilians proportionate to the threats the targets pose.
As civilian casualties mounted on Monday in the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military reminded the world that it had warned people living in targeted areas to leave. The response from Palestinians here was unanimous: Where should we go?
United Nations shelters are already brimming, and some Palestinians fear they are not safe; one shelter was bombed by Israel in a previous conflict. Many Gaza residents have sought refuge with relatives, but with large extended families commonly consisting of dozens of relatives, many homes in the shrinking areas considered safe are already packed.
Perhaps most important, the vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza. They live under restrictions that make this narrow coastal strip, which the United Nations considers occupied by Israel, unlike anywhere else.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in 2010 called Gaza “an open-air prison,” drawing criticism from Israel. But in reality, the vast majority of Gazans are effectively trapped, unable to seek refugee status across an international border. (Most are already refugees, those who fled from what is now Israel and their descendants.)
A 25-mile-long rectangle just a few miles wide, and one of the most densely populated places in the world, Gaza is surrounded by concrete walls and fences along its northern and eastern boundaries with Israel and its southern border with Egypt.
Even in what pass for ordinary times here, Israel permits very few Gazans to enter its territory, citing security concerns because suicide bombers and other militants from Gaza have killed Israeli civilians. The restrictions over the years have cost Palestinians jobs, scholarships and travel.
Egypt has also severely curtailed Gazans’ ability to travel, opening its border crossing with the territory for only 17 days this year. During the current fighting between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza, only those with Egyptian or foreign passports or special permission were allowed to exit.
Even the Mediterranean Sea to the west provides no escape. Israel restricts boats from Gaza to three nautical miles offshore. And Gaza, its airspace controlled by Israel, has no airport.
So while three million Syrians have fled their country during the war there, more and more of Gaza’s 1.7 million people have been moving away from the edges of the strip and crowding into the already-packed center of Gaza City.
As Israeli troops and war planes bombarded Gaza, both sides reported death tolls that made clear Sunday was the deadliest day so far in the war. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported 87 Palestinians had died and the Israeli military said 13 soldiers were dead.
The fighting signaled that what had begun as a limited ground invasion by Israel had moved into a more extensive and costlier phase for both sides.
Most of the Palestinians were killed in an eastern neighborhood of Gaza City called Shejaiya. For the Palestinians, it was the deadliest episode since July 8, when Israel began its offensive, first from the air, which was intended to curb rocket fire against its cities and the danger of infiltration through tunnels running under the border from Gaza into Israel. The Gaza Health Ministry reported that more than 300 people were injured in Shejaiya. Tolls were not available from the refugee camps in central Gaza, where fleeing residents reported a similar Israeli advance, with artillery.
The Palestinian government, which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Western-supported Palestinian Authority and by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, in a statement described the killing of Palestinians in Shejaiya as “a heinous massacre” and a war crime.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed in combat overnight, according to that country’s military, and a spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, suggested that there would soon be an announcement about more casualties on the Israeli side. Earlier, Hamas’s military wing said it had ambushed an Israeli force after luring it into a minefield.
It was not immediately clear whether the growing death toll and increasing pressure on both sides would help or hinder international efforts to forge a cease-fire. Mr. Abbas was expected to meet on Sunday in Dohar, Qatar, with the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and Qatari officials to discuss an Egyptian proposal for ending the fighting, according to Palestinian officials. Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, is also based in Qatar.
“We did warn you — do not fly in our sky. …a plane has just been downed somewhere around Torez, it lays there behind the ‘Progress’ mine. …And here is the video proving another ‘bird’ falling down. The bird went down behind a slagheap, not in a residential district. So no peaceful people were injured.”—
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile, American officials have confirmed. The plane was traveling at about 30,000 feet, according to tracking information from a military spy satellite. The satellite was unable to detect where exactly the missile was fired.
Military and intelligence analysts are using mathematical formulas, high-speed computers and other sensors to try to pin down the missile’s point of origin. Other analysts will work with the Ukrainian authorities to recover and analyze pieces of the missile and the aircraft to help determine what kind of missile was fired, the officials said.
The plane — Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — crashed and burned in an eastern Ukraine wheat field near the Russian border, in an area roiled by fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces. There were no known survivors. Ukrainian officials immediately called the crash an act of terrorism.
The furiously unfolding investigation centered on Ukrainian separatists or Russian troops as the missile operators. The Ukrainian authorities said they had intercepted communications that indicated separatist involvement. But the reason for the attack — whether it was a deliberate strike or a tragic accident — was unknown.
“What we still don’t know is what were they thinking,” one official said.
“This is truly a grave situation,” said Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the United States, speaking in Detroit. “It’s important we get to the bottom of this sooner than later because of the possible repercussions that can flow beyond from this, beyond the tragic loss of life.”
Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, called for an immediate investigation and asked the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, to send experts to assist. “I would like to note that we are calling this not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act,” Mr. Poroshenko said.
Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, said, “If it transpires that the plane was, indeed, shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
Jose Antonio Vargas, who has chronicled in minute detail the twists and turns of his life as a Filipino living illegally for years in the United States, was detained by the Border Patrol for most of the day on Tuesday and then released with a notice to appear before an immigration judge.
The detention of Mr. Vargas, probably the most high-profile leader of the immigrant rights movement, posed an awkward dilemma for the Obama administration. The surge of Central Americans, including many children, crossing the border illegally — saying they are fleeing criminal violence at home — has made all decisions about immigration politically fraught, and administration officials were keenly aware that the backdrop to their decision to release Mr. Vargas was a border where thousands of migrants are being held.
Mr. Vargas was detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint in the airport of this city in the Rio Grande Valley before he was to board a flight to Houston, on his way to Los Angeles. In a terse statement, Department of Homeland Security officials said they had released Mr. Vargas because he had no prior immigration or criminal record. They said their focus was on deporting immigrants who posed security threats.
It was the first time Mr. Vargas, who has been living without papers in the United States since 1993, had been arrested by immigration authorities. Lawyers assisting him said that they would seek to have the action against him suspended, and that it was unlikely he would be deported.
Mr. Vargas insisted that he never intended to be detained when he came to South Texas. But he and his supporters wasted no time turning his arrest into a day of high drama, using it to publicize their cause on social media and at a news conference in front of the Border Patrol station where he was held.
“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Mr. Vargas said by telephone shortly after his release. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”
Israel and its main militant Gaza adversary weighed an Egyptian cease-fire proposal late Monday, signaling a possible de-escalation of a week-old aerial battle that has left nearly 200 Palestinians dead from Israeli bombs and has sent hundreds of Gaza rockets deep into Israeli territory.
A senior government official in Israel, which has been preparing for the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza, said it was seriously considering the Egyptian proposal. The initial reaction of Hamas, the dominant militant group in Gaza, was less committal, but was not an outright rejection.
The proposal envisioned a cease-fire beginning at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday. It called for border crossings to Gaza to “be opened,” with the movement of people and goods to be “facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Within 48 hours of the initial cease-fire taking hold, talks are to be held in Cairo with the Israelis and the Palestinian militant factions on conditions for a longer-term truce, according to the text of the proposal.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Badr Abdelatty, said: “We hope it will be acknowledged. We are in close contact with everyone.”
Adding weight to the efforts, Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in Cairo as early as Tuesday, according to officials in the region and the Egyptian state news agency.
She was 18 years old, a freshman, and had been on campus for just two weeks when one Saturday night last September her friends grew worried because she had been drinking and suddenly disappeared.
Around midnight, the missing girl texted a friend, saying she was frightened by a student she had met that evening. “Idk what to do,” she wrote. “I’m scared.” When she did not answer a call, the friend began searching for her.
In the early-morning hours on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York, the friend said, he found her — bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be sexually assaulting her from behind in a darkened dance hall with six or seven people watching and laughing. Some had their cellphones out, apparently taking pictures, he said.
Later, records show, a sexual-assault nurse offered this preliminary assessment: blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.” The student said she could not recall the pool table encounter, but did remember being raped earlier in a fraternity-house bedroom.
The football player at the pool table had also been at the fraternity house — in both places with his pants down — but denied raping her, saying he was too tired after a football game to get an erection. Two other players, also accused of sexually assaulting the woman, denied the charge as well. Even so, tests later found sperm or semen in her vagina, in her rectum and on her underwear.
It took the college just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences — threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus.
A New York Times examination of the case, based in part on hundreds of pages of disciplinary proceedings — usually confidential under federal privacy laws — offers a rare look inside one school’s adjudication of a rape complaint amid a roiling national debate over how best to stop sexual assaults on campuses.
Whatever precisely happened that September night, the internal records, along with interviews with students, sexual-assault experts and college officials, depict a school ill prepared to evaluate an allegation so serious that, if proved in a court of law, would be a felony, with a likely prison sentence. As the case illustrates, school disciplinary panels are a world unto themselves, operating in secret with scant accountability and limited protections for the accuser or the accused.
At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.
Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.
Lebron loves Cleveland so much that he chose to announce his return in an interview with the local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer a national sports magazine that has no roots in Cleveland or Ohio whatsoever.
“I’m coming home,
I’m coming home
Tell the world that
I’m coming home
Let the rain
All the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits
And they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home
I’m coming home”—SKYLAR GREY LEBRON JAMES
Palestinian deaths from Israel’s aerial attacks in Gaza rose sharply on Thursday, while militants there fired more than 180 rockets into Israel, reaching new targets spread across a vast area of the country.
The escalation appeared to increase the likelihood of a ground invasion and prompted the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to call urgently for a return to calm and a cease-fire.
“Today, we face the risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza, with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable — and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing,” he told an emergency meeting of the Security Council. There were no signs that a cease-fire was imminent, and no signs that diplomats representing the antagonists were heeding Mr. Ban’s call for calm.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, played an air-raid siren at the Council meeting to reflect what his country’s citizens hear every day. He called his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, “a mouthpiece of Hamas.” Mr. Mansour blamed the underlying Israeli occupation, exhorting the Council to intervene and “salvage prospects for peace and security.”