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Israel has agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in fighting with militants in the Gaza Strip to start at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Saturday, a military spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said that during the brief truce, troops would keep searching for tunnels used by militants and that the military will “respond if terrorists choose to exploit this time to attack Israel Defense Forces personnel or fire at Israeli civilians.”

“Gaza civilians who have been requested to vacate from their residents are to refrain from returning,” the spokeswoman said.


The EU has imposed sanctions on two senior Russian intelligence officials in the wake of the downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB security service, and Mikhail Fradhov, chief of the foreign intelligence service, are the targets of the fresh sanctions.

Bortnikov and Fradhov were among 15 Russians or Ukrainians and 18 companies named in the EU’s latest sanctions list.

Pro-Russian rebels have been widely blamed for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines airliner which killed all 298 people onboard, while Western leaders have repeatedly accused Russia of backing the separatists.

The US yesterday said it “has indications” that Russia intended to supply more sophisticated weaponry to the rebels


Russia has now amassed around 15,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, the U.S. ambassador to NATO said on Friday, offering a higher figure than one previously cited by the Pentagon.

U.S. ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute offered the estimate during a security forum in Colorado, saying there were “now up again over about 15,000 Russian troops amassed along the border with Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said Friday that movement of Russian heavy-calibre artillery systems across the border into Ukraine is “imminent,” adding that Russia is escalating the military action there.

A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said the U.S. has seen the powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border and they could be put into the hands of Russian-backed separatists as soon as Friday. >> Read More



Joko Widodo, the carpenter’s son and reformist Jakarta governor, has won Indonesia’s presidential election, sweeping into power on hopes he can tackle entrenched corruption and speed up sorely-needed infrastructure investment.

But his rival, military strongman and Suharto-era soldier Prabowo Subianto, is not taking the defeat well.

The Indonesian Election Commission said Mr Widodo had won the election with about 71m votes, or 53.1 per cent, while his opponent, Mr Subianto, gained 62.6m votes, or 46.8 per cent, according to AP.

However, just 90 minutes before the election commission announced the final results, Mr Subianto gave an emotional press conference in which he claimed that the election was “not fair, not just, not clean” and that he would be contesting it in the Constitutional Court.

Most independent political analysts believe the election was mostly free and fair and they have uncovered no evidence of systemic cheating on either side.

If Mr Subianto does lodge a case with the court, it will have around a month to decide on its merits. That means more uncertainty for investors. >> Read More


The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Monday demanding international access to the site of the plane downed over eastern Ukraine and an end to military activities around the area, following intense pressure on a reluctant Russia to support the measure.

The resolution calls for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 carrying 298 people in Hrabove. It calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow access to the site of the crash. And it demands that armed groups who control the crash site do not disturb debris, belongings or victims’ remains.

All 15 council members voted in favor of the Australia-proposed measure, which was co-sponsored by nine other countries that lost citizens in the crash.

The foreign ministers of Australia and the Netherlands, along with the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats, challenged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to comply with the resolution.

“I hope that Russia will now feel its responsibility, act on its responsibility. If it doesn’t, it’s going to have an increasingly isolated position in the international world,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who traveled to New York for the Security Council meeting. >> Read More


Ukraine hasn’t said how it immediately knew rebels downed Malaysian plane, notes the Russian Foreign Ministry, as it unveils 10 awkward questions for Ukraine (and perhaps the US ‘snap judgment’) to answer about the MH17 disaster. However, what is perhaps more concerning for the hordes of finger-pointers is that:


Obviously, if there is proof that this is so, aside from CIA-created YouTube clips, these would deal another unpleasant blow to US foreign policy.

The Russian defense ministry during its press conference which concluded minutes ago:

 Here is the full clip of the Russian ministry releasing its own forensic analysis of what happened to flight MH17 (with English translation). >> Read More

Russia President Vladimir Putin promised Monday his country would do everything possible to end the conflict in Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of the people aboard Malaysia Airlines  Flight 17.

In his address published on the Kremlin website at 1:40 a.m. Moscow time Monday, Mr. Putin called on “all the people who are responsible for the security in the region to raise their responsibility for their people and the people of the countries whose citizens perished in the accident”.

“Russia will do everything possible to shift the current conflict in eastern Ukraine from today’s current military stage to the state of discussion at the negotiation table and the resolution by exclusively peaceful and diplomatic means,” Mr. Putin said.

Mr. Putin didn’t put a direct blame on the Ukrainian leadership, but said the downing of the plane was a consequence of renewed hostilities after a failed cease-fire June. In his address, which followed a string of phone conversations with leaders from the U.K., the Netherlands, Australia, France and Germany, Mr. Putin refrained from mentioning the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, but referred to the region by its common geographical description of Donbas. >> Read More


Turkey’s prime minister has accused Israel of demonstrating “barbarism that surpasses Hitler” during its offensive in Gaza.

Having previously compared the Israeli attacks to “systematic genocide”, Recep Tayyip Erdogan again spoke out against the country during a campaign speech ahead of next month’s election.

Hundreds of Turkish protesters have staged demonstrations outside Israeli embassies in Ankara and Istanbul over the conflict.

US President Barack Obama said while he supported Israel’s right to defend itself, he was concerned over the number of civilian deaths and escalation in the region.

putin-asrRussia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday Moscow would retaliate to the United States’ most recent sanctions over Ukraine by denying entry to several U.S. citizens.

“Retaliatory measures definitely will be taken. First of all, a similar number of Americans will be prohibited from entering (Russia),” the ministry’s spokesman Alexander Lukashevich was quoted in a ministry statement as saying.

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Team ASR,
Baroda, India.