Israel, Palestinians Agree on Long-term Gaza Ceasefire
Seven weeks of fighting that has left more than 2,200 people dead comes to an end on August 26 after a long-term ceasefire agreement has been signed between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire announcement was greeted by celebratory gunfire on the streets of Gaza City. Under a second stage, Israel and the Palestinian would discuss the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza and the freeing of about 100 prisoners. Israel and Egypt were also said to be demanding guarantees that weapons would not be smuggled into Gaza.
The United State also welcomed the deal with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying: “We strongly support the ceasefire announcement.”
The war between the two results death of 2,143 Palestinians, wounded more than 11,000 and left some 100,000 homeless. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and six civilians were killed, including the two killed by Palestinian mortar fire just before the cease-fire was announced.
Hindu Temple Faces Demolition in Pakistan
The demolition of Hindu temples for the construction of parks, schools etc is a common phenomenon in Pakistan. Recently, a historic Hindu Temple in Rawalpindi was demolished to make way for barracks for soldiers, outraging the minority community in the country.
The pre-partition Mahari-shi Walmeck Sawami Jee temple built in 1935, popularly known as Balaknash Temple located at Gracy Lines of Chaklala, along with a Hindu graveyard and 53 single room houses may be demolished as the authorities are planning to construct barracks for soldiers. As the Hindu community was informed on August 12 that the temple and a Hindu graveyard will be demolished, a petition was filed against this move by the local Hindus in a court.
So far, hundreds of historic Hindu temples have been demolished in Pakistan, but the Indian Government has been a mute spectator, and has stayed away from taking any action in the affirmative.
US Journalist Released by Jabhat al-Nusra
Peter Theo Curtis, 45, who has been captured for close to two years was released by Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian rebel group with ties to al-Qaeda on August 24. The 45-year-old American Journalist was kidnapped in October 2012 by Jabhat al-Nusra. His release follows the murder of James Foley, another kidnapped US reporter who was killed by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) last week.
In a revelation, the CEO of Global Post, a media organisation where James Foley had worked revealed that the ISIS had demanded a ransom of $132 million in exchange for Foley’s release. American Journalist Steven Sotloff is also believed to be held captive by the same group. In the wake of Foley’s death, the Obama administration has been very much criticised for its policy of refusing to pay ransoms to terrorist groups.
According to a report, Al Qaeda and its affiliates have received about $125 million in ransom money in past, paid by European countries like France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. France paid approximately $13.3 million for the release of four hostages held by ISIS earlier this year, while Italy paid near about $5 million for the release of an Italian Journalist.
—Nishant Kumar 'Azad' with inputs from Agencies