- Palestinian Authority leaders blast Hamas for triggering Israeli operations, call on group to admit it lost
Top figures from the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) on Thursday lashed out against Hamas, criticizing the Palestinian terror organization for what now appears to have been a deliberate series of escalatory gambits in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which ultimately triggered, respectively, Israel's Operation Protective Edge and Operation Brother's Keeper. Though reporting on the two Israeli campaigns has at times been tangled - with analysts and journalists sometimes linking Israeli military calculations in the Gaza Strip to the West Bank kidnappings - regional leaders have tracked the two operations as distinct campaigns, conducted in separate theaters and aimed at securing differing strategic goals. Operation Brother's Keeper was initiated in the West Bank after Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers, and had as its goal the erosion of Hamas's West Bank terror infrastructure. Almost 100 Hamas operatives were eventually detained in some form, and a massive plot to generate political instability via mass violence was disrupted. Operation Protective Edge was separately initiated in response to an uptick in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, and expanded into a ground conflict after Hamas activated its offensive tunnel network. It had as its goal the destruction of Hamas's projectile arsenal and underground infrastructure. The 50 days of the hot conflict saw Hamas's arsenal depleted by 80 percent and its attack-tunnel network destroyed, before a ceasefire was secured earlier this week on terms broadly considered to be favorable to the Israelis. PA President Mahmoud Abbas took to television on Thursday to blast Hamas for its role in both campaigns. Discussing the West Bank kidnappings, Abbas revealed that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had personally denied to him that the group had been involved, just days before Hamas's Turkey-based West Bank leader Saleh al-Arouri boasted that the organization had indeed carried out the operation. Abbas also criticized Hamas for intransigence in the context of the Gaza conflict, declaring that the PA had worked with the Egyptians to develop ceasefire language just days into the war. Hamas had rejected those terms in the middle of July, and Abbas emphasized that the group ended up accepting functionally the same terms at the end of August. Senior Abbas advisor Mahmoud al-Habbash went even further, calling on Hamas to admit it had lost and recalibrate accordingly. Alluding to a battle described as having involved Muhammad's forces in 625, where "history has registered that the Muslims were defeated because of the heavy casualties they suffered," Habbash reprimanded Hamas for refusing to acknowledge its losses.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as the country’s president on Thursday, amid concerns that the three-term prime minister, who was elected earlier this month with just over half the vote, has made substantial moves to consolidate power under what has until now been a largely ceremonial post. Reuters described Erdogan’s inauguration as “cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times, in what his opponents fear heralds an increasingly authoritarian rule.” Following his inauguration, Erdogan appointed the country’s outgoing foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, as the interim prime minister, part of what Agence France Presse referred to as “a tightly choreographed succession process.” The Wall Street Journal noted that Erdogan had been “working diligently to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition that would safeguard his place as the ultimate decision maker in Turkey.” Several members of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) walked out on the ceremony before Erdogan’s swearing in, with opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu boycotting the inauguration entirely. Erdogan’s ascension to the country’s presidency seems set to deepen rifts between the CHP and his own Justice and Development (AKP) Party, which have for months battled over accusations of corruption and political maneuvering. Erdogan had earlier this year engaged in a fight with judiciary figures and with elements of the country's security forces as part of a wide-ranging pushback by the AKP against a corruption probe that had engulfed many of the party's elites, including Erdogan and his family. The pushback involved, among other things, the purge of literally thousands of judges, police officers, and others deemed by the party to be opponents. The Journal conveyed sentiments from critics to the effect that Erdogan’s handling of domestic issues – which was carried out, per the Journal by “quashing dissent, casting old allies as villainous enemies, [and] passing laws to expedite centralization of authority” – potentially foreshadowed how the newly installed president would govern.
A 12-second video clip created by a Ferguson, Missouri resident as a private message to a friend is believed to have captured Police Officer Darren Wilson allegedly shooting to death Michael Brown on August 9. Using the Israeli-made Glide video messaging smartphone application, the man started to record his message when gunfire erupted in the background. When a user taps record, the video message is simultaneously broadcast live to recipients and stored to the cloud for on-demand viewing at any time. “Because Glide is the only messaging application using streaming video technology, each message is simultaneously recorded and transmitted, so the exact time can be verified to the second. In this case, the video in question was created at 12:02:14 PM CDT on Saturday, August 9th,” Chaim Haas, Head of Communications at Glide, tells ISRAEL21c. The short video now making news shows six or seven shots being heard in a first volley of fire, a three-second pause, and then four more shots being fired. Lawyer Lopa Blumenthal says the recording was made by her client, who has asked to remain anonymous. Blumenthal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she had to coax her client to take the recording — which could potentially be critical evidence — to the FBI citing he fears for his safety. “We commend this Glide user for turning their Glide video message over to FBI investigators as possible evidence in this ongoing investigation,” Glide posted on a blog. “I’m 100 percent positive this is accurate,” Blumenthal is quoted as saying. “He is not doing this for the publicity. He has no motivation to lie.” This would not be the first time Israeli-made video technology will have helped American investigators solve a case. Israeli-made video analytics technologies helped police track down the Boston Marathon suspects. Glide creators also understand the power of new technology. “While tragedy is never good news, and our hearts go out to the family of Michael Brown, this incident underscores how technology is changing the landscape of not only journalism, but also criminology,” the company writes in a statement. (via Israel21c)
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