Israel decided late Saturday to extend a 12-hour humanitarian truce for another 24 hours in the Gaza Strip under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from other nations. But Hamas militants said they will accept the truce only if Israeli troops leave the territory, and fired a barrage of rockets at Israel.
During the period of the 24-hour truce, which goes on through Sunday midnight, the Israeli army would continue to neutralize Gaza tunnels as well as respond to attacks by Palestinian militants, according to Israeli news website Haaretz.com. Israel says the tunnels reach into its territory and could be used to attack its citizens.
Ezzedine al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, acknowledged that it fired two rockets at Tel Aviv in central Israel, and five at Nachal Oz in the south, according to France 24. However, there were no reports of casualties. more >>
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was holding talks with diplomats from various countries in France Saturday for a comprehensive truce deal between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza Strip even as both sides agreed for a 12-hour ceasefire.
Several foreign ministers were in Paris Saturday – the day a 12-hour humanitarian truce went into effect in Gaza Strip on a U.N. request – to help forge an agreement between Israel and Palestinian militants to end the fighting that has been going on for 19 days, according to Reuters.
"In support of initiatives currently under way, most notably Egypt's initiative, our objective is to converge all international efforts so that the conditions of a ceasefire can emerge as quickly as possible," a French diplomatic source told Reuters. more >>
A revered Muslim shrine in Mosul, Iraq, said to be the burial place of the biblical prophet Jonah known as Yunus in the Koran, was reportedly blown "to dust" by members of the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Thursday.
"Islamic State completely destroyed the shrine of Nabi Yunus after telling local families to stay away and closing the roads to a distance of 500 meters from the shrine," an official at the Sunni endowment, which manages Sunni religious affairs in Iraq told AFP.
The official who asked not to be identified said the militants took an hour to rig the shrine before levelling it to the ground. He explained that other notable shrines had also been destroyed by ISIS: "But the worst destruction was of Nabi Yunus, which has been turned to dust." more >>
Persecution watchdog groups who have campaigned for the release of Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim are celebrating her family's departure from Sudan to Italy, with one calling it an "answered prayer" for the thousands who had signed petitions and offered prayers.
"We are thankful for the Italian government's critical involvement in this case, and for the ACLJ supporters who never ceased to bring attention to Meriam and her family," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
"The ACLJ, in conjunction with nations and organizations worldwide, fought for Meriam and her family their basic religious liberties. Because of the unwavering dedication of the American people, the four are now safe in Italy and hoping to be in the United States soon." more >>
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized both Israel and Hamas and urged them to stop the fighting after a shell destroyed a U.N. school on Thursday in Gaza, killing 16 people and injuring over 200.
"This is wrong," Ban said, according to CNN.
"I am telling to the parties – both Israelis and Hamas, Palestinians, that it is morally wrong to kill your own people. Whole world has been watching, is watching with great concern. You must stop fighting. And enter into dialogue." more >>
Members of a militant Islamic group is demanding shopkeepers to cover their store mannequins with full-face veils to abide by the strict Islamic teaching regarding the human form.
Local residents of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, have told international media outlets that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), now called the Islamic State, have demanded local shopkeepers to cover both male and female mannequins with veils. This mandate coincides with a strict interpretation of Shariah law that forbids artwork and statues depicting the human form.