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Forty Dead, 150 Injured in Gaza as Cease-Fire Collapses


File photo. Credit: David Silverman/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- At least 40 people were dead and 150 injured in Gaza Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as a planned 72-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas failed.

The cease-fire went into effect at 1 a.m. ET Friday.

Israel blamed the continued fighting on Hamas, saying the Israel Defense Forces responded after Hamas launched an attack. The IDF later confirmed that it was resuming full operations in Gaza.

Homes were struck in Rafah, which lies near Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt, Palestinian authorities said. Gray smoke was visible following the attack.

The hospital in the area is small and overwhelmed by the number of people needing medical care, the general director of the health ministry told ABC News.

A soldier was abducted by Hamas during Friday's fighting, the IDF reported.

United Nations special coordinator Robert Serry released a statement acknowledging reports of the ongoing violence.  "If corroborated, this would constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian ceasefire in place since 8 a.m. this morning by Gazan militant factions, which should be condemned in the strongest terms," the statement read.

"Mr. Serry urges the Palestinian parties to last night's understanding to urgently reaffirm their commitment to the humanitarian cease-fire. He is deeply concerned regarding the serious consequences on the ground that could arise as a result of this incident. He will continue his efforts to contain the violence and the risk of renewed escalation."

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has lasted nearly a month, with more than 1,400 people killed so far.

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Obama, Kerry Respond to Gaza Attack


US Department of State(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- After Israeli officials say an army unit was ambushed in a Hamas tunnel, leaving two soldiers dead and one soldier captured, President Obama is demanding Lieutenant Goldin's return.

The president said, "That soldier needs to be unconditionally released, as soon as possible."

Secretary of State John Kerry also released a statement urging both sides not to escalate.

"After the horrific loss of life in this attack and its aftermath, it would be a tragedy if this outrageous attack leads to more suffering and loss of life on both sides of this conflict," Kerry said.

But at a United Nations shelter in Gaza, Palestinians said the capture of an Israeli is a triumph.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, in Israel, there have been 58 IDF casualties and 3 civilians casualties.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that Gaza casualties are coming in at more than 1,600 killed and more than 8,759 wounded, with at least 160 killed in the last 24 hours.

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What Immigration Bill Failure Will Mean on the Southern Border


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Congress might be on the eve of vacation but on the Rio Grande Valley, near the United States and Mexico border, it was just another wild work day for the Border Patrol.

By the time vacations end in 38 days, an additional 5,700 unaccompanied minors are projected to cross into the U.S. illegally-- that's 155 a day.

Last month, 200 additional agents moved to the Rio Grande sector. Two new air boats were added this week.

The Obama administration had hoped to pay for the surge in immigrants with emergency funding from Congress but that money is not coming.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to provide $2.7 billion in funding to address the crisis of minors from Central America illegally entering the U.S.

The refugees are not hard to catch. They hail from Central America and often turn themselves over to Border Patrol as soon as they hit the northern shore of the Rio Grande River.

One boy, 7, made the trip alone with his older brother but it takes manpower to round the refugees up.

Now both the Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement say they will be broke by mid-September and will be forced to once again start dropping mothers and their children at local bus stations, and abandoning the construction of family-friendly detention facilities like one in Karnes, Texas.

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Obama, Kerry Call Russian and Ukrainian Presidents


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Telephone diplomacy is underway between the West Wing and the Kremlin.  

While Vice President Joe Biden telephoned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday, offering more equipment to secure his country's border with Russia, President Obama had some words over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the call, Obama repeated his complaint that Russia is sending heavy weapons into the hands of violent separatists and, the White House says, chided Russia for violating a ban on midrange nuclear missiles.

Here is the White House's full readout of the call:

"President Obama spoke today with Russian President Putin about the situation in Ukraine and the bilateral relationship.  The President reiterated his deep concerns about Russia’s increased support for the separatists in Ukraine.  The President reinforced his preference for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and the two leaders agreed to keep open their channels of communication.  The President also reiterated his concerns about Russia’s compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty."

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Deadly Gas Explosions Strike Taiwan


iStock/Thinkstock(KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan) -- Taiwan has been rocked by a series of deadly underground gas explosions that's killed as many as two dozen in Kaohsiung, the country's second largest city.

Rescue workers raced to save lives as the sudden blasts sparked fires, debris, and fallen trees.

According to the BBC, more than 270 people were injured.

A local resident said he saw victims laying on the ground who were unable to move.

Officials have not yet located the source of the leak.

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Senate Passes Iron Dome Funding for Israel


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate on Friday passed $225 million in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome program.

The House is in session Friday and will vote to approve the measure, a senior GOP leadership aide confirms to ABC News.

The upper chamber had considered, and failed to pass, that money late Thursday night. Included in Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s supplemental-funding bill to deliver $2.7 billion in emergency border funding, the Iron Dome money had been entangled in the politics of President Obama’s $3.7 billion border funding request.

The border money, with Iron Dome funding included, failed to clear a procedural hurdle Thursday night on a 50-44 vote. Republicans blocked final consideration.

Friday morning, with the Senate in session and no votes scheduled, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put forth a provision that mirrored what was in Mikulski’s bill. As part of an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate approved it on unanimous consent, without a roll call vote as no senators objected.

On the floor, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., praised the deal as “much needed. Not only the funding but the signal that the Congress will send and the president will send” of U.S. support for Israel in its current conflict.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requested the money earlier this month as emergency funding to beef up Israel’s stockpiles of missile-defense munitions.

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Oscar Pistorius Sells House in Which He Killed Girlfriend


Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius has sold the house in which he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The four-bedroom luxury home in the Silver Woods Estate sold for 4.5 million rand ($420,000), far less than he was initially asking. Pistorius tried to sell the house in 2011 but withdrew it from the market when there were no buyers. At the time, the asking price for the house was 6.5 million rand. Pistorius testified at his bail hearing that the house was worth five million rand.

Earlier this year, Pistorius’ lawyers announced that he wanted to sell the house to cover legal fees for his murder trial.

New owner Louwtjie Lourens, a mining consultant, told The Times newspaper in South Africa that he plans to live in the house with his family when he retires, but it is believed the property will be rented out until the Lourens moves in.

"It is in a safe area and everyone I dealt with was very professional," he told the paper.

The house was the scene of Steenkamp's Valentine's Day death last year that has resulted in Pistorius' riveting murder trial.

Final arguments in the trial will be heard next week. Judge Thokozile Masipa will then indicate when she will hand down a verdict.

Pistorius, the legless athlete known as the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, claims he thought he was acting in self defense when he fired four shots through the closed bathroom door, because he believed the noise he heard in the bathroom was an intruder.

Prosecutors have argued that Pistorius intentionally fired at Steenkamp, who was hiding behind the door.

The prosecutor's office said this week that it has filed its final arguments with the court.  "We are ready to argue," said spokesperson Nathi Mcube.

Pistorius' lawyers have until Monday to file their written final arguments.

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Syrian Defector Details War Atrocities to House Panel


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers Thursday expressed horror at the alleged atrocities described by a Syrian defector, who apparently backed up his claim against Bashar al-Assad's government with photographs he took of corpses.

The Syrian known as "Caesar," who wore a disguise to protect his identity, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that "What is going on in Syria is a genocidal massacre."

He said his images of thousands of dead men, women and children were the result of working as a military-police photographer. "Caesar" subsequently smuggled as many as 50,000 photos out of the country when he defected.

New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel said "Caesar"'s account of the campaign waged against civilians "are war crimes, plain and simple." Engel has long supported giving weapons and aid to moderate rebel groups, claiming the U.S. missed an opportunity to help depose Assad.

Other GOP lawmakers blamed the Obama administration for doing little to prevent wholesale massacres.

Meanwhile, Damascus has accused the defector of fabricating tales of government atrocities, claiming that the dead bodies in his photos were the result of crimes caused by "terrorists," the name Assad has given to all enemies of the government.

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Israel and Hamas Agree to 72-Hour Cease-Fire Beginning Friday


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(WASHINGTON) -- A 72-hour ceasefire in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict was announced by the United Nations and Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, says the ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much needed reprieve from violence.

"During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead," Dujarric said.

"Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the government of Egypt," Dujarric added.

Kerry, speaking in New Delhi, said, "It is a lull of opportunity. A moment for the sides, the different factions to come together with the state of Israel in an effort to try to address ways to find a sustainable ceasefire."

The ceasefire will begin at 1 a.m. ET.


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After Vicious Attack, Afghan Woman Rebounds with Support of US Family


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Bibi, the young Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her husband, is still healing inside and out but speaks English and calls the United States home.

Now known as Aesha and with a new nose, the once-shy girl who did not know what her future held lives with an Afghan-American family in a Maryland suburb.

For the last two-and-a-half years, the Arsalas – parents Mati and Jamila and their 16-year-old daughter, Miena – have called 22-year-old Aesha family.

Mati Arsala said Aesha had a special Pashto word for him that means "uncle."

"She call me 'Moma,'" he said. "Moma comes from the mother side, you know, which is [mother's] brother. … Sometime [she] call me Dad when she's in a good mood."

Like everyone around the world, the Arsalas had heard about the young Afghan girl, what she had been through and how she'd ended up on the cover of Time magazine.

When Aesha was 12, she was given to a Talib who married her, abused her, and forced her to sleep in the stable with animals, she said. After she tried to run away, local Taliban ordered her husband to punish her by disfiguring her face. He severed her nose and ears, she said, while his brother held her down.

Left for dead, she said she tried to crawl to an uncle's house but he refused to help her. She then staggered to her grandfather's house and he called her father. Because the local Afghan hospital could not treat her wounds, her father took her to the nearby U.S. military facility.

"Four cowarded men, to hold her hand and cut her nose and ears. [It] took two years to put her back together," Mati Arsala said. "There wasn't any justice. Nobody has done anything. Hope I have the hand to do it."


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In 2010, Aesha was photographed for a Time cover story, becoming an international symbol for women's rights in Afghanistan.

Aesha also traveled to the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, California, to begin reconstructive surgery. She went through nine major surgeries to give her a new nose. The final journey of her surgery has taken place at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Her ears were also repaired.

Each time she awoke after surgery, the Arsalas were waiting to take her home.

"Yeah, Mati Uncle drive me [to] hospital all time. … Jamila help me all the time. Miena too," Aesha said. "Mati Uncle wash my hair."

The Arsalas said it was not an easy decision to take in Aesha, whose traumatic experience left her with a host of psychological issues.

"We tried to show her that we are her family and how a family functions," Jamila Arsala said. "I think it was the best thing what we did in our life for Aesha, that we took her. … She's now a part of our family."

They said they now wished for her to see her independence. The Arsalas have helped Aesha take night classes and have supported a burgeoning interest in making jewelry.

"I'd hope that she has a normal life," Mati Arsala said. "Because she's really sociable and she likes to dress up and go out, and I'd hope she can do that without feeling uncomfortable or anything. … My wish is that once, one day, I take her hand and walk her somewhere toward the other man, like any other human being."

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White House: UN School Shelling 'Unacceptable' and 'Indefensible'


MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In its strongest statement yet, the White House on Thursday said there’s little doubt that Israeli artillery hit a United Nations school in Gaza Wednesday and called the deadly strike “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.”

“While we underscore the importance of a full and prompt investigation of this tragic incident, as well as a shelling of other U.N. facilities and schools that have been hit, it does not appear there’s a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily briefing.

While stopping just short of blaming Israel, Earnest said the “Israeli military can and should do more to protect the lives of those innocent civilians.”

“There is a difference in approach between what Hamas is perpetrating on the Israeli people and what Israel is doing to defend their country,” he said. "But the shelling of a U.N. facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible. And it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves."

While State Department spokesperson Marie Harf went further in assigning responsibility than she did Wednesday, she, like Earnest, refrained from actually blaming Israel for the attack.

“We’ve condemned the shelling of the school and we’ve said there’s not a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved,” she said.

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Tribe Emerges from Brazilian Jungle Possibly for First Time


iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) -- A remarkable video shows a group of indigenous people coming into contact with the outside world, possibly for the very first time.

The group of men are believed to be natives of Peru but they were filmed in northern Brazil on the banks of the Envira River, which runs near the Peruvian border. It's not clear when the encounter took place, but the video was released on Thursday by the Brazilian indigenous authority FUNAI.

The tribal men are naked except for belts and loincloths and carrying different weapons at points in the eight-minute video.

A few of the tribal men are seen with markings on their faces and they all have styled their dark black hair in a similar bowl-cut fashion.

Some are holding bows-and-arrows or spears, and at one point one of the men blatantly steals a machete-type knife while another takes an ax from a settlement, despite shouts of protest by the villagers. Another member of their group grabs a blue material that looks like either a towel or a piece of clothing.

Brazilian authorities have not identified the group, but were able to determine that the dialect of the language that they're speaking is a form of the Panoan linguistic group.

The people they are interacting with are believed to be part of the Ashaninka ethnic group who reside in the area where the video was shot.

One Ashaninkan man, seen shirtless with a pair of baggy athletic shorts, wades into the river to hand the tribe members some bananas.

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Quadruplets a Sign of Hope Amid Gaza Bloodshed


Pixland/Thinkstock(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- A Palestinian woman gave birth to quadruplets in Gaza Wednesday, a sign of optimism amid ongoing bloodshed in the region that has claimed more than 1,400 lives.

Dr. Bassel Abuwarda posted a photo online showing the babies to Twitter, with a doctor giving a thumbs up to the camera as he stands next to the babies' incubator.

ABC News confirmed that the mother, who is from Rafah near the southern tip of Gaza, gave birth to three boys and one girl, all of whom are doing well on Thursday.

“Despite the pain, Palestinian mother gave birth to quadruplets last night,” Abuwarda tweeted.

Dr. Qadoura: Despite the pain, Palestinian mother gave birth to quadruplets last night in #Gaza. pic.twitter.com/QVfDRWOCG2

— Dr.Bassel Abuwarda (@DrBasselAbuward) July 31, 2014

Gaza’s hospitals have taken direct hits in fighting between Hamas and Israel over the last week, and have been damaged as medical staff care for the thousands of people who have been injured in the conflict.

The quadruplets were delivered in the same hospital where many of the conflict’s victims have been treated.

At least 1,390 people have died in Gaza and more than 8,000 have been injured in the three-week conflict, according to the Palestinian health ministry. In Israel, 59 people, including 56 soldiers, have died.

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Prince Harry's New Mission


Alex Huckle/GC Images(LONDON) -- Prince Harry is a man on a mission, but Thursday morning, instead of fighting for his country on the battlefield he’s fighting to raise awareness for our wounded heroes.

The 29-year-old prince is spearheading the upcoming Invictus Games.

The games, taking place at London’s Olympic Park from Sept. 10-14, will showcase injured service men and women from 14 countries competing in everything from cycling, wheelchair basketball and rugby to sitting volleyball and swimming.

Invictus means “unconquered” and Prince Harry hopes the games will help motivate those who fought together and are now working to overcome their injuries.

Coldplay’s Chris Martin has penned the opening anthem for the Invictus Games and the competition will culminate with a concert headlined by The Foo Fighters and some of music’s most famous acts.

The cause of helping wounded soldiers is one close to Harry’s heart. He joined the British Army in May 2005 and rose to the rank of Apache helicopter commander in July after three years of training. The British Defense Ministry named Harry the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, in February 2012 from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots.

The prince returned to England in January 2013 from a five-month deployment to Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force’s 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, where he served as an Apache co-pilot gunner.

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Young Israelis, Gazans Live-Tweet Raw But Different Versions of Conflict


David Silverman/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- While the Israeli military and Hamas continue to fire rockets across the Israel-Gaza border Thursday, regular citizens on both sides are using Twitter to launch a war of words about the conflict.

Raw accounts of buildings being bombed and rockets going off have become a hallmark of this ongoing conflict, allowing regular people to voice their opinions and the possibility of peace.

Israeli citizen Ido Daniel, 27, has been tweeting about Hamas rockets being fired at Israel and intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome.

He has also tweeted about Hamas's tactics in using tunnels and storing weapons at civilian buildings.

 

2 successful #IronDome interceptions above Ashdod & Ramat Gan. Rockets ere fired during Mohammed Deif speech on Hamas TV #IsraelUnderFire

— Ido Daniel (@IdoDaniel) July 29, 2014

 

 

Air raid sirens in central Israel right now. I'm running for cover. #IsraelUnderFire

— Ido Daniel (@IdoDaniel) July 29, 2014

 

His impassioned tweets have led to arguments with those criticizing Israel.

 

It only took them 5 MINUTES to break the humanitarian #ceasefire: air raid sirens now in Ashkelon & Ashdod #IsraelUnderFire

— Ido Daniel (@IdoDaniel) July 30, 2014

 

The first-person accounts and photos that fill Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds have allowed the rest of the world to hear from people most-affected by the conflict.

Earlier this week, thousands followed along as 16-year-old Gaza resident Farah Baker tweeted about airstrikes in her neighborhood -- posting photos and short videos that allowed people around the world to see the destruction in Gaza first-hand.

 

3:04am it should be too dark but as u can see flares turned darkness into light #Gaza https://t.co/SF3buL7eC1

— Guess what (@Farah_Gazan) July 29, 2014

 

In Gaza City, 24-year-old Mohammed Suliman has been tweeting about how the conflict looks from his side of the border, painting a stark picture of destruction and death around him.

 

I have lived in Gaza for almost all of my life. War is something not new to us. These, however, are the scariest moments we have ever lived.

— Mohammed Suliman (@imPalestine) July 28, 2014

 

 

The newest airstrike next to me targeted a civilian building which belongs to Al Shurafa family. Several families live there. No warning.

— Mohammed Suliman (@imPalestine) July 28, 2014

 

 

We've been without electricity for two full days. Managed to secure some fuel to run the generator for a couple hours before I'm off again.

— Mohammed Suliman (@imPalestine) July 30, 2014

 

Suliman, too, has engaged in pointed political criticism. His tweets have been favorited and retweeted thousands of times, showing how a Palestinian in the midst of the conflict can have an significant platform to communicate his views.

 

I'm nauseated by Israeli civilians pathetically whining about Hamas rockets penetrating their walls. Your missiles obliterate whole areas.

— Mohammed Suliman (@imPalestine) July 30, 2014

 

 

Hamas killed zero Israeli children. Israel defended itself murdering 300 Palestinian children. What self-defense. Stop talking about Hamas.

— Mohammed Suliman (@imPalestine) July 30, 2014

 

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