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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Israel Kills Hamas Military Chief in Airstrike

Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of the military arm of Hamas, died today in a targeted Israeli airstrike on the Gaza strip. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a series of aerial attacks today, hitting at least 20 targets, after five days of clashes at the border. Egypt, who brokered a truce between the two sides yesterday, recalled its ambassador to Israel over today’s raids, a spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said. Jabari, who was behind the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, personally escorted him to the Rafah Crossing in October 2011 in an exchange of prisoners. “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” said the IDF in a Twitter update. The killing of Jabari “opened the gates of hell,” said the armed wing of Hamas. The attacks killed at least nine civilians in Gaza and wounded another 40, according to medical personnel on the ground.

Petraeus to Testify on Benghazi Behind Closed Doors, Says Feinstein

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein said former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus agreed to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. “He is very willing and interested in talking to the committee,” Feinstein said. He will do so in a closed-door session, possibly tomorrow. Petraeus resigned after an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed he had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, a married woman 20 years his junior. Security officials told Reuters Broadwell’s computer contained “substantial” classified information that should have been stored more securely, though there is no evidence that any of it was disclosed yet.

Obama Stands Strong on Taxes, Defends Rice

Facing reporters for the first time since June, U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated his stance on higher taxes for top earners. Referring to the House Republicans’ position on tackling the deficit, he said “we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.” Obama’s fiscal plan includes the creation of four tax brackets for individuals earning over $200,000 per year, or households making more than $250,000.  Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Republicans’ approach on increasing revenue by ending tax breaks and closing loopholes is “magical thinking.” Obama was also asked about a possible nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rice was criticized by Republican lawmakers for her response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. “She has done exemplary work. She has represented the U.S. and our interests in the U.N. with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace,” Obama said. “To besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

Syria: More Airstrikes Near Turkish Border

Syria’s government ordered a new airstrike near the Turkish border for a third day today, prompting the Turkish government to threaten Syria with a retaliation. For the third time, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime hit the border town of Ras al-Ain as it attempted to dislodge rebel groups from the area. Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad called France’s decision to recognize the newly-formed rebel bloc as an “immoral” act, accusing the French of supporting terrorism, reviving its colonial past, and allowing “the killing of Syrians.” French President François Hollande said yesterday in a press conference the Syrian National Coalition is the sole representative of the Syrian people.

Egyptian Belly Dancer’s Music Video Aims to Shake Islamic Establishment

Sama al-Masri, an Egyptian dancer and actress who claimed to be married to Islamic Member of Parliament Anwar al-Balkimy, launched a music video in which she sings and dances, mocking Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood for failing to address the country’s problems. Calling Morsi out on some of the promises he made during the campaign, she makes light of recent comments he made, claiming the cost of fruits dropped since he was elected. Pointing out that, contrary to Morsi’s plan for his first 100 days in office, violence has increased, she plays with knives, singing that she is not afraid of thugs. Masri rose to prominence recently when she claimed to have married Balkimy, a politician from Egypt’s ultra conservative Al Nour Party who was forced to resign after a nose job for which he was suspected of paying with the party’s money. Balkimy failed to tell Masri he was already married, she said.

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