Israeli PM warns of ‘prolonged’ campaign in
Gaza war as violence rages despite Muslim holiday
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel’s prime minister warned Monday that the country faced a prolonged campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as the military urged residents in parts of the embattled territory to evacuate ahead of what appeared to be a broadening of the three-week war.
"What is coming will be worse," the Israeli military said in phone messages targeting Gaza militants.
Israeli leaders have been mulling whether to expand the assault against Hamas in Gaza, or respond to international calls for a truce.
The international community so far has been unable to bring about a cease-fire that would end the fighting, which has already killed at least 1,050 Palestinians, 52 Israeli soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side.
But with attacks mounting from both sides Monday, and Israel and Hamas far apart on terms for a truce, a cease-fire appeared elusive.
Hamas and Israel blame
each other for deaths of 10 people -- 9 of them children -- in Gaza park
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Hamas and Israel blamed each other for an explosion at a Gaza park Monday that killed at least 10 Palestinians -- including nine children playing on a swing -- in a horrific scene that underscored the heavy price civilians are paying in the conflict.
Israel’s military said a rocket misfired by Gaza militants was responsible, and it later released aerial photos that it said showed the weapon’s path. Gaza officials blamed Israeli airstrikes.
The blast took place on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Afterward, dozens of Palestinians crowded the spot at the park in the Shati refugee camp northwest of Gaza City, where pools of blood could be seen on the ground. Some cried out, pleading for God’s mercy.
Witnesses said the youngsters had been playing on a swing set.
Fighting in Ukraine prompts residents to flee and keeps investigators from plane site
SHAKHTARSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Panicky residents in an eastern Ukrainian town fled their homes Monday carrying a few possessions in plastic bags and small suitcases as shells exploded in the distance, fighting that also prevented an international police team from reaching the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane was downed.
"Mom, hang in there," exclaimed a weeping woman who was fleeing Shakhtarsk with her mother. Associated Press reporters saw a high-rise apartment block in the town being hit by at least two rounds of artillery.
The fighting there and elsewhere in the area kept Dutch and Australian police for the second day from reaching the site where the plane crashed after being shot from the sky. They had planned to begin searching for remaining bodies and gathering forensic evidence and the delay strained tempers among international observers.
"There is a job to be done," said Alexander Hug, the deputy head of a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "We are sick and tired of being interrupted by gunfights, despite the fact that we have agreed that there should be a ceasefire."
The plane was downed on July 17 while flying over a part of eastern Ukraine where government forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels have been fighting for months. Ukrainian and Western officials say the plane was shot down by a rebel missile, most likely by mistake, and that Russia supplied the weapon or trained rebels to use it. Both the rebels and Moscow deny that.
Blowing up shrines, extremists shrug off restraint and unleash their vision on Iraq’s Mosul
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Residents of Mosul have watched helplessly as extremists ruling the northern Iraqi city blew up some of their most beloved landmarks and shrines to impose a stark vision of Islam. Next up for destruction, they feared: the Crooked Minaret, a more than 840-year-old tower that leans like Italy’s Tower of Pisa.
But over the weekend, residents pushed back. When fighters from the Islamic State group loaded with heavy explosives converged on the site, Mosulis living nearby rushed to the courtyard below the minaret, sat on the ground and linked arms to form a human chain to protect it, two residents who witnessed the event told The Associated Press on Monday.
They told the fighters, If you blow up the minaret, you’ll have to kill us too, the witnesses said.
The militants backed down and left, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the militants.
But residents are certain the militants will try again. Over the past two weeks, the extremists ruling Iraq’s second largest city have shrugged off previous restraint and embarked on a brutal campaign to purge Mosul of anything that challenges their radical interpretation of Islam. The militants -- though Sunnis -- target shrines revered by other Sunni Muslims because the sites are dedicated to popular religious figures. In the radicals’ eyes, that commits one of the worst violations of Islam: encouraging worship of others besides God.
Sick man with Ebola who boarded plane shows weaknesses in stopping
deadly disease’s spread
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- No one knows for sure just how many people Patrick Sawyer came into contact with the day he boarded a flight in Liberia, had a stopover in Ghana, changed planes in Togo, and then arrived in Nigeria, where authorities say he died days later from Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known to man.
Now health workers are scrambling to trace those who may have been exposed to Sawyer across West Africa, including flight attendants and fellow passengers.
Health experts say it is unlikely he could have infected others with the virus that can cause victims to bleed from the eyes, mouth and ears. Still, unsettling questions remain: How could a man whose sister recently died from Ebola manage to board a plane leaving the country? And worse: Could Ebola become the latest disease to be spread by international air travel?
Sawyer’s death on Friday has led to tighter screening of airline passengers in West Africa, where an unprecedented outbreak that emerged in March has killed more than 670 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. But some health authorities expressed little confidence in such precautions.
"The best thing would be if people did not travel when they were sick, but the problem is people won’t say when they’re sick. They will lie in order to travel, so it is doubtful travel recommendations would have a big impact," said Dr. David Heymann, professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Sexual assault suspect dead, federal marshals and police officer wounded in NYC shootout
NEW YORK (AP) -- A California man who skipped town after being accused of molesting a child was killed and three law enforcement officers trying to arrest him were wounded in a daytime shootout inside a New York City smoke shop, officials said Monday.
The suspect, wedding photographer Charles Richard Mozdir, was recently featured on a CNN show about fugitives. He was wanted in a San Diego case and charged with five counts of lewd acts upon a child younger than 14, according to a criminal complaint.
Officials didn’t disclose details of the injuries sustained by the two U.S. Marshals and a New York City detective, but Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters all three were in stable condition.
"We pray everything we are hearing is true and that these officers will be OK in the long run," de Blasio said.
The shootout between Mozdir and a fugitive apprehension task force happened just after 1 p.m. in the West Village not far from New York University in a highly trafficked tourist area bounded by jazz clubs, restaurants a subway station and basketball court.
Obama getting emotional about daughter leaving White House in 2 years to attend college
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is practically weepy at the thought of his daughter Malia going off to college, a milestone many months away that is already on his mind.
Malia barely reached up to her father’s shoulders when they moved to the White House nearly six years ago with her mother, little sister and grandmother. At 16, she stands nearly as tall as her 6-foot-1 dad and is visiting college campuses in preparation for that bittersweet day in the fall of 2016 when she trades her White House bedroom for a dorm.
She has been seen touring the University of California at Berkeley and the Palo Alto, California, campus of Stanford, where another president’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, attended college.
In a commencement address to high school graduates in Worcester, Massachusetts, Obama said he’s practicing for what’s coming in two years. "So I’m trying to get used to not choking up and crying and embarrassing her. So this is sort of my trial run here."
Obama said during a question-and-answer session with the chief executive of Tumblr, a social media site, that his daughter, like young people in general, should shop around for a college.
UN Security Council calls
for Gaza cease-fire
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is demanding an end to the violence in Gaza "in the name of humanity" and is accusing the leaders of Israel and Hamas of being irresponsible and "morally wrong" for letting their people get killed.
Ban urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Monday to demonstrate "political will" and "compassionate leadership" to end the suffering.
The U.N. chief reinforced the U.N. Security Council’s call early Monday morning for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire."
Ban said "Gaza is in critical condition" after pummeling by Israeli forces that has killed helpless civilians and raised "serious questions about proportionality."