March 20

Flag of the United StatesSyria-flag 1932-58 1961-63Flag of Syria Washington, D.C., USA – The United States became the first Western nation to recognize the newly formed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representative of that war-torn nation. During a White House press conference, U.S. President John McCain saluted the united opposition formed in Qatar on March 19 as the basis for “future provisional government of a democratic Syria.” He also backed its efforts to topple the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“I announce today that the United States of America recognizes the Syrian National Council and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the sole representative of the Syrian people, and as the future government of a democratic Syria bringing an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” McCain said.
The move is considered a potentially significant step in the conflict — one that began with Arab Spring civil protests extending to Syria, and evolved into full-blown civil war as Assad tried to suppress the movement with violence. With the significant exception of China and Russia, most governments around the world have called on Assad to halt the ruthless military offensive that has claimed countless civilian lives—some estimates count the 13-month toll at more than 30,000 dead—and either enter negotiations with opposition forces or simply give up power altogether. But until the forging in Doha of a unified structure and leadership, foreign governments were largely limited to supporting Assad’s ouster, rather than backing a clearly identifiable successor amid the myriad groups opposing him.



May 7

Flag of the United StatesFlag of the United KingdomFlag of Arizona Glendale, Arizona, United States – U.S. President John McCain, an avid hockey fan, made a fast break from Washington to Glendale, Arizona, where he attended Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.
Along with McCain was his close friend, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had arrived in the nation’s capital the day before for a three-day visit. After arriving at Dayton Arena, the president, decked out in a gingham-check button-down and dark slacks, and Cameron, in a navy polo shirt, sat behind a basket behind a basket and munched on hot dogs with staff and fellow politicians, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D).
“We are taking some heavy pressure, but Smith has far kept Nashville away, while we are taking advantages of all our scoring chances” McCain observed at after the second period, with the Coyotes leading 2-0, after a NBC Sports analyst asked him to break down the action. "I think we are going to win this and reach the Conference Finals tonight."
Cameron, who was watching his first puck drop, chimed in with a less textured analysis: “It’s fast and furious. It’s hard to follow who has done what wrong. He’s giving me some tips.”
“He’s going to teach me cricket,” McCain laughed. Cameron was such a rookie to American sports traditions that he put ketchup, sans yellow mustard, on his hot dog. At least he washed it down with an all-American Coca-Cola.
The Coyotes eventually won 2-1, with Derek Morris (23:54) and Martin Hanzal (35:09) scoring the goals for the Coyotes and with Colin Wilson (54:01) scoring Nashville's only goal. Coyotes' Mike Smith saved 32 of 33 shots, while Nashville's Pekka Rinne blocked 15 of 17 shots.






October 18

Flag of the United StatesFlag of New York New York City, NY, United States – U.S. President John McCain took time out from the campaign trail on Thursday to appear on the talk show The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Although there was some funny moments, including a discussion regarding their age and McCain's absence from the show, the President stuck to campaign issues.
On a campaign day where the politics of comedy were to flavour the presidential race, The Daily Show's host and McCain's longtime friend, Jon Stewart, got serious, pressing McCain over issues like Syria, the economy and the polarization of the Republican Party.
McCain acknowledged that the economy wasn't recovering as fast as wished and that the intervention in Syria was taking longer than expected, but said that his administration was gradually recovering from the mess he inherited from predecessor George W. Bush. On Syria and Afghanistan, acknowledging there was substantial war-weariness and opposition among the American people, he said that it would be foolish not to complete the mission and that "he would rather lose an election than [losing] a war".
McCain also expressed his respect for friend and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (including jokingly mentioned a story of them having a vodka drinking contest in Estonia on a congressional trip), and said that hopefully their personal friendship wouldn't be affected by the election, no matter what the result was come election day. He also expressed hopes for Democrats and Republicans to work bipartisanly in issues like campaign finance reform, health care and the economy after the election.
This was McCain's twelfth visit to the show since 2001 and his second since taking office.

October 27

Flag of the United States Eastern Coast of the United States – Hurricane Sandy closed in on the United States as it threatened to smack the eastern third of the country with torrential rains, high winds, major flooding and power outages a week before the U.S. presidential election.
On its current projected track, Sandy could make U.S. landfall on Monday night or Tuesday anywhere between Maryland and southern New England, forecasters said. Rain accumulations of up to 12 inches and heavy snowfall inland are considered likely in some areas. As it merges with an Arctic jet stream, forecasters said Sandy has all the ingredients to transform into a "super storm" unlike anything seen over the eastern United States in decades.
It is a massive, slow-moving storm with tropical storm-force winds extending across 650 miles. Forecasters said its flooding impact could span multiple tides with a storm surge of 4 to 8 feet in Long Island Sound, the southern portion of Lower New York Bay and Delaware Bay.
Sandy claimed at least 59 lives as it made its way through the Caribbean islands, including 44 people in southern Haiti, mostly from flash flooding and mudslides, according to authorities. Another 11 people died in Cuba, largely due to from collapsed buildings, officials said.
Sandy was located about 335 miles east southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and packing top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour late on Saturday afternoon, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. Little overall change in strength was expected ahead of its anticipated U.S. landfall, it said.
Coastal flooding posed a major threat, particularly in low-lying areas like New York City, the global financial nerve center, and Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Ahead of the election, millions of Americans are taking advantage of early voting arrangements to cast their ballots. State officials said they have put in place contingency plans in case Sandy caused extended power outages or other problems that could disrupt voting.
The White House said McCain convened a call with Homeland Security Secretary Lindsey Graham, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Russell Honoré and other officials to receive a Saturday update on ongoing government actions to prepare for the storm.
Officials said 50 to 60 million people could be affected by Sandy, which many forecasters warn could be more destructive than Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damage across the U.S. Northeast in August 2011.
States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and a coastal county in North Carolina. McCain also ordered the National Guard and the U.S. Air Force to put as many as 45,000 personnel in at least seven states on alert for possible duty in response to the preparations and aftermath of the hurricane.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the subway, bus and train services would shut down from 19:00 (23:00 GMT) on Sunday, when the last commuter trains would depart, with the entire system to be closed down by 03:00. As many as 375,000 people have been ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, and schools will be shut. In his warning, Governor Cuomo said he did not want to overreact, but to be "prudent" now. And he urged people to stay at home.
"This is a serious and dangerous storm," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he announced his measures, while FEMA's Honoré said: "This is not a coastal threat alone. This is a very large area. People should be ready for the possibility of power outages paired with cold temperatures. Now is the time to prepare."

October 28

Flag of the United StatesFlag of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., United States – U.S. President John McCain visited the National Response Coordination Center at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he met with federal emergency officials for an update on the storm's path and the danger it poses to the Middle Atlantic States and New England.
"My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously," Obama said. He urged people to "listen to your local officials."
The president said emergency officials were confident that staging for the storm was in place.
Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit the East Coast late Monday, then combine with two winter weather systems as it moves inland, creating a hybrid superstorm. At least four battleground states are likely to be hit: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
McCain traveled the nearly three miles from the White House to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in his motorcade. He made the comments after a briefing by agency officials that was led by FEMA Administrator Russell Honoré. The group participated in a conference call with governors in states in the storm's path, including Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The president also spoke with mayors from Washington, New York City, Newark, N.J., Baltimore and Philadelphia.
As part of the briefing, the president also met with FEMA workers and thanked them.
"My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules," he said. "We want to make sure we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we have the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.
In a separate call to campaign workers in Florida, McCain said: "My first priority has to be making sure that everything is in place" to help those affected by the storm.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., United States – President McCain cancelled campaign stops in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania the following week because of the impending landfall of Hurricane Sandy and will instead monitor the storm from the White House, his spokesman said on Saturday.
McCain was to have campaigned with Senator Charlie Christ on Monday as part of a three-state swing through political battlegrounds including Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida, along with a trip to New Mexico, on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement.
Following an event in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday, "the president will return to the White House to continue to monitor Hurricane Sandy, which is currently forecasted to make landfall along the Eastern seaboard late that day," Hazelbaker said.
"The president is being regularly updated on the storm and ongoing preparations, and he has directed his team to continue to bring all available resources to bear as state and local partners continue to prepare for the storm," she said.
The change comes slightly more than a week before the November 6 election in which McCain is battling Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The schedule shift takes stops in important swing states off McCain's schedule at a time when the race is tight. But it also protects him from criticism that he is making politics a priority during a potentially devastating storm, and gives him a chance to appear presidential during a crisis.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of Virginia Columbus, Ohio, United States – Similarily, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton cancelled all of her Sunday rallies in Virginia as a precaution ahead of Hurricane Sandy moving closer to the East Coast, the campaign said Saturday.
The Democratic presidential nominee will instead campaign in Ohio with running mate Howard Dean.
Campaign officials told MSNBC the decision was made after consulting with emergency personnel, saying it was a "cautionary move to make sure emergency resources would not be diverted."
Clinton was scheduled to appear first at a noon rally in Haymark, then a late afternoon event in Richmond, followed by an evening one in Virginia Beach.

October 29

Flag of the United StatesFlag of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., United States – President John McCain on Monday expressed confidence that his administration is prepared to take on Hurricane Sandy and said he's not concerned about the impact it will have on the elections.
During brief remarks at the White House, McCain said he has been working with the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to coordinate for what is "obviously" going to be a "big and powerful storm." He said the center of the storm is expected to make landfall along the East Coast on Monday night. But because of its size, millions of people across the country will be affected, particularly when it comes to power outages and transportation.
"The most important message that I have for the public right now is, 'Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying, McCain said. "When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don't pause. Don't question the instructions being given because this is a serious storm and could potentially have fatal consequences."
McCain gave his remarks right after coming out of a Situation Room briefing on the storm. Among those in the meeting, via video teleconference, were Homeland Security Secretary Lindsey Graham, FEMA administrator Russel L. Honoré, Transportation Secretary Bill Graves, Energy Secretary Chris Shays and National Hurricane Center Director Richard Knabb.
The president emphasized that he has been working with state and local officials to ensure everybody has the resources they need, including food, water and electricity generators.
Straddling the line between his presidency and his candidacy for reelection, McCain added that "the great thing about America" is that people pull together in tough times. "We set aside whatever issues we may have otherwise to respond appropriately and with swiftness, and that's exactly what I anticipate is going to happen here."
Asked by a reporter if he is worried about the storm affecting the election, he said no.
"The election is not important now. I am worried about the impact on families. I am worried about the impact on our first responders. I am worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation," McCain said. "The election will take care of itself next week."
Flag of the United StatesFlag of Ohio Columbus, Ohio, United States – Pulled back to Washington to address the storm pounding the East Coast just days before the presidential election, President McCain passed his campaign banner on Monday to Vice President Tim Pawlenty.

October 30

Flag of the United States East Coast of the United States – Millions of people faced epic flooding and lengthy power outages on Tuesday after the massive storm Sandy wreaked havoc in much of the eastern United States with high winds and heavy rains.
The storm killed at least 45 people, including at least 18 in New York City, and insurance companies started to tally billions of dollars in losses.
The storm hit with just a week to go to the November 6 presidential election, disrupting campaigning and early voting and raising questions about whether polling stations in some hard-hit communities would be ready to open by next Tuesday.
Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds on Monday near the New Jersey gambling resort of Atlantic City, was the biggest storm to hit the country in generations.
It swamped parts of New York's subway system and lower Manhattan's Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.
Businesses and homes along New Jersey's shore were wrecked and communities were submerged under floodwater across a large area. More than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity as trees toppled by Sandy's fierce winds took down power lines.
Across the region, crews began the monumental task of restoring power for anxious customers and getting transportation up and running could take time after the storm caused nearly 16,000 flight cancellations.
The storm reached as far inland as Ohio and parts of West Virginia were buried under 3 feet (1 meter) of snow, a boon for ski resorts that was one of the storm's few bright spots.
Some cities like Washington, Philadelphia and Boston were spared the worst effects of the storm and were ready to return to normal by Wednesday. But New York City, large parts of New Jersey and some other areas will need at least several days to get back on their feet. "The devastation is unthinkable," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said after seeing pictures of his state's shore.
Seeking to show he was on top of the aftermath of the storm in the nation's most densely populated region, the White House said President John McCain planned to tour damaged areas of New Jersey on Wednesday accompanied by Christie, follwed by a tour to New York accompanied by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The New York governor, who has been a strong supporter of Democratic presidential challenger Hillary Clinton, praised McCain and the federal response to the storm.
"New Jersey, New York in particular have been pounded by this storm. Connecticut has taken a big hit," McCain said during a visit to Red Cross headquarters in Washington. McCain issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that "major disasters" existed in both states.
One disaster modeling company said Sandy may have caused up to $15 billion in insured losses. That would make it the third-costliest hurricane on record, behind hurricanes Katrina, which laid waste to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, and Andrew, which devastated parts of Florida in 1992. While damage was still being assessed, federal authorities made $13 million in "quick release" emergency relief funds available to New York and Rhode Island.
McCain and Clinton put campaigning on hold for a second day, but Clinton planned to hit the trail again in Florida on Wednesday and McCain seemed likely to resume campaigning on Thursday for a final five-day sprint to Election Day.
McCain faces political danger if the government fails to respond well, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush's botched handling of Katrina. McCain has a chance to show not only that his administration has learned the lessons of Katrina, but that he distance himself from Bush.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of New York New York City, NY, United States – Power outages darkened large parts of Manhattan and a fire destroyed more than 80 homes in New York City's borough of Queens, where flooding hampered firefighting efforts.
"To describe it as looking like pictures we've seen of the end of World War Two is not overstating it. The area was completely leveled. Chimneys and foundations were all that was left of many of these homes," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg after touring the area.
Neighborhoods along the East and Hudson rivers bordering Manhattan were underwater and expected to be without power for days, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood.
Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.
Water poured into the subway tunnels under New York City. Bloomberg said the subway system, which normally carries over 5 million people each weekday, would likely be closed for four or five days.
"Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time," said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York. Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said.
The community of Atlantique Beach on Fire Island, New York, took the storm's brunt and lost most of its oceanside dunes. Some homes were pushed off their foundations.
The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm. In many communities residents anxiously awaited the arrival of utility crews. Some gas stations in Queens, New York, ran out of fuel, and shoppers found supermarkets short of fresh meat, bread and potatoes.
The flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 80 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in Queens.
Besides the deaths in New York City, others were reported in New York state, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death - a woman hit by flying debris. Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean last week.
U.S. government offices in Washington and schools up and down the East Coast but were due to reopen on Wednesday. U.S. stock exchanges are expected to reopen on Wednesday, and the passenger rail service Amtrak will restart services on some of its busiest routes on a limited basis.


November 6

Flag of the United StatesFlag of Arizona Phoenix, Arizona, USA – Election Day in 49 states and the District of Columbia; it was the last of 21 consecutive election days in Oregon, which abolished the voting booth in 1998. The majority of states allowed early voting with all states allowing some form of absentee voting. Voters cast votes for listed presidential candidates but were actually selecting their state's slate of Electoral College members.
President John McCain rode a wave of broad support from moderates and Latinos to win re-election Tuesday by defeating Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton in Republican strongholds and key battleground states.
According to CNN projections, McCain surpassed the decisive 270-vote threshold in the Electoral College with victory in Ohio. That and a later projected victory in another swing state – Florida – gave him 279 electoral votes to 259 for Clinton, according to the CNN call based on unofficial returns.
Hillary amassed wins in some of the Northeastern states and Iowa by 9:20 PM. McCain carried the Southern states by comfortable margins. The election came down to a close race in the final states of New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Mexico and Florida, and it was in particular Florida (29 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) and Ohio (20 electoral votes), however, that the news media focused their attention on. Mathematically, either one of these state's electoral votes would be the key to an election win for either candidate.
After several hours of vote counting, McCain won New Hampshire, Ohio and Florida by close margins, and all American networks called the election in favor of John McCain at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Senator Clinton gave a concession speech half an hour later.
Joyful supporters cheered at McCain's victory party in Phoenix, Arizona, and the president thanked them for ensuring the nation will continue to move forward while warning the battle for change they seek will continue to be difficult.
"Tonight, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been long and hard, we are slowly getting back on track. We are recovering. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best days are ahead of us," McCain said to prolonged cheers.
He thanked his supporters, stating that "I will do my best to prove worthy of the honor you have bestowed in me." He emphasized the importance of bipartisanship, saying that "I sincerely hope that my dear friend Hillary, and all of her supporters, will join us in reaching the necessary compromises to get our country moving. We will always disagree with each other, sometimes fiercely, but that can't stand in the way of what is in the best interest of our country. After all, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and when we work together - republicans and democrats, moderates and independents, black or white, Hispanic or Asian or Native American, young or old or rich or poor - nothing is out of our reach."
He emphasized his main campaign theme of fighting for economic recovery and equal opportunity for all, fiscal responsibility and campaign finance reform, saying the political arguments that come with democracy in America were a necessary part of the process.

November 9

Flag of the United StatesFlag of Afghanistan Kabul, Afghanistan – General David Petraeus, the outgoing top commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, formally transferred authority Monday to incoming commander Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.
Several senior Afghan and NATO officials, including U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, attended the change-of-command ceremony in Kabul.
"Throughout, we will keep our eyes on the horizon - the future of Afghanistan, " Allen told the audience, " a nation of free people at peace, governed under its constitution, pursuing economic enterprise and development, in a secure and stable environment free from the extremism and terrorism that has plagued this wonderful country and its people for more than a generation.
For his part, Petraeus plans to retire from the Army at the end of December and assume the CIA director's job (after Senate confirmation) on January 25.

November 13

Flag of the United StatesFlag of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., United States – In the first major shakeup of his national security team since taking office, and the first major shakeup of his cabinet following his re-election, U.S. President John McCain nominated CIA Director Michael G. Vickers to replace Robert M. Gates as Secretary of Defense. Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was nominated to replace Vickers as the Director of the CIA.
"David appreciates the struggles and sacrifices of our troops and military families because he served in the Army himself. He will stand in the ranks of America’s greatest military heroes. His inspirational leadership and his genius were directly responsible – after years of failure – for the success of the surge in Iraq, and also directly responsible for breaking the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan. General Petraeus has devoted his life to serving the country he loves, and America is so much the better for it. Not only that, he and Holly are proud parents of a son who serves in Afghanistan," said President McCain in announcing Petraeus' nomination.
The retiring Robert M. Gates was appointed as Secretary of Defense by President George W. Bush in 2006 as the replacement for Donald Rumsfeld. Gates was retained in his Cabinet position by President McCain.
In addition to announcing the Vickers appointment, President Obama nominated General John Allen, currently the Deputy Commander for CENTCOM to replace General Petraeus as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

November 14

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Pillar of Defense (Hebrew: עַמּוּד עָנָן) at about 1600 (Israel time) with an airstrike targeting Ahmed al-Jabari, chief of Hamas's military wing, killing him instantly. The IDF released a video of this airstrike.
The IDF also struck against 20 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including underground rocket launchers and an ammunition warehouse stocking Iranian-made, long-range Fajr-5 missiles. The IDF said that many of the targeted weapon stashes were in residential areas and evidenced "the pattern of Hamas to use the population in Gaza as human shields." Israel claims to have destroyed most of this long-range capability.
An IDF spokesman said that the goal of the operation is to "bring back quiet to southern Israel, and... to strike at terror organizations." At the same time, Israeli spokespersons said that it would try "to avoid civilian casualties." On the same day, 11-month-old Omar Misharawi, son of Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic video editor residing in Gaza, was reportedly killed. A colleague said Misharawi told him that his son was killed by an Israeli shell and that there had been no fighting in his neighborhood at the time.
Gazan militants continued to fire rockets towards the Israeli cities of Beersheba, Ashdod, Ofakim and the Shaar Hanegev and Eshkol Regional Council. The Iron Dome missile defense system made 130 interceptions. About 55 rockets were launched on the evening of 14 November, including a Grad rocket fired in the direction of the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona. On the night of 14 November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Israeli cabinet had authorized a partial call-up of reservists in case they were needed for a large ground-based operation.
Egyptian military confirmed, 3 rockets fired from Sinai toward Israel, by militants Jihadist group in an area that over the last 18 months was used several cross-border shooting attacks and rocket launches.
The United Nations confirmed that Marwan Abu El Qumsan, a teacher for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was killed in his car near the scene of an airstrike. His brother, who was also with him, was severely injured.

November 15

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – Israel continued its offensive through the night, carrying out over 100 strikes on targets in Gaza. An IDF spokesperson stated that seven militants had been killed in the overnight attacks.
13 Israelis were treated for injuries suffered during the morning. Three Israelis, a man and two women, were killed when a rocket struck a four-story building in Kiryat Malachi. Magen David Adom paramedics treated five wounded people at the scene, including a 11-month-old child who was critically injured. A further five missiles were fired at the town as emergency services attempted to rescue those trapped inside the debris. A residence in Ashdod and a school in Ofakim were struck by rockets. During the morning the Israeli air force continued flying sorties to both to identify and destroy targets in the Gaza strip. The attacks included an airstrike on Khan Younis, in the Southern Gaza Strip, that led to the injury of four people including a woman and two children, according to Palestinian sources.
Israel put all of its communities with less than 15 seconds of warning from mortar/rocket attack in lockdown and closed all schools in less than 60-second warning radius. The Israeli air force distributed leaflets over Gaza telling residents to keep a distance from away from Hamas facilities and their forces.
Two Fajr rockets landed in the suburbs of Tel Aviv metropolis. No injuries were reported. This was the first time that Gush Dan has been targeted by missiles since the Persian Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein launched a number of Scud missiles at Israel. On the night of 15 November, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of 70 bombing runs to destroy what it said were underground medium-range rocket launchers. Palestinian sources said that 15 people were killed in Gaza as a result of the IAF strikes, including five militants and two children during the airstrikes.
Flag of EgyptFlag of IsraelFlag of Palestine Cairo, Egypt – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi condemned Israel's "aggression", as Israel continued to pound the Gaza Strip and the enclave lurched closer to all-out war.
In his harshest criticism of Israel since taking office in June, Morsi expressed his solidarity with the "people of Gaza" and the Palestinians. Speaking in Cairo, Morsi said he had withdrawn Egypt's ambassador to Israel and appealed to the UN to intervene to halt the spiralling violence.
"The Israelis must realise that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region," Morsi declared. His remarks illustrate the new and potentially volatile dynamics of the situation in the region, with Egypt's post-revolutionary government expressing strong support for Hamas.
The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel now looks increasingly fragile, following the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in February last year, and as the violent confrontation between Hamas and Israel worsens. Morsi said he had spoken to the US president, John McCain, by phone. The Egyptian president said he wanted to maintain good relations with the U.S. while "rejecting this aggression and the spilling of blood and the blockade of Palestinians".
Qatar, Jordan, Iran and Syria all condemned the Israeli operation on Thursday. It amounts to the most serious fighting between Israel and Hamas for four years.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of IsraelFlag of Palestine Washington, D.C., USA – At a White House press conference, U.S. President John McCain voiced his support for Israel and condemned Hamas, while urging Israel to limit civilian casualties.
"The United States support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties," he said. "The precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis was an ever-escalating number of missiles, landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately."
He condemned Hamas, stating they "claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination."
Meanwhile, McCain also urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, and also announced he would work closely to resolve the crisis. "The United States has got to push as hard as we can to resolve this Israeli-Palestinian issue. So many events are hinged on making that process go forward."

November 16

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – The prime minister of Egypt, Hisham Qandil, paid a visit to the Gaza Strip on 16 November. His official purpose of the visit was to "show solidarity with the Palestinian people." He arranged for a 3-hour ceasefire to accommodate his visit. About 50 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip during this window hitting sites in southern Israel. Hamas argued that the IDF bombed a Hamas commander's house in Gaza during the ceasefire, something the IDF strongly denied, and accused Hamas of violating the cease fire.
A four-year-old Gazan boy was killed after an explosion in Annazla in what was likely the result of a misfiring Palestinian rocket.[154]
Through the evening of 16 November, around 500 rockets were fired from Gaza. Iron Dome intercepted 184 of these. Israel at this point had bombed about 500 targets in Gaza. Palestinan militants fired a rocket aimed at Gush Etzion setting off air raid sirens in nearby Jerusalem. A rocket struck a home in Ashdod wounding five Israeli civilians.
Also that evening, the Israeli cabinet approved expanding the cap on reservist call-ups from 30,000 to 75,000. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the government was not considering an overthrow of the Hamas-led government in Gaza.

November 17

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – The IDF broadened its targets in the offensive from military targets to include Hamas government sites, with an Israeli air strike destroying the office building of the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. 30 people were rescued from the rubble of the building.
The World Health Organization reported that "Gaza hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties from Israel's bombings and face critical shortages of drugs and medical supplies." According to the Health Ministry officials in Gaza "382 people have been injured - 245 adults and 137 children." Israel's Defense Ministry announced it will open the Kerem Shalom border crossing to allow civilian supplies to reach Gaza.
Over 70 rockets were launched at Southern Israel. According to Magen David Adom, Palestinian rocket attacks injured sixteen Israelis and twenty Israelis were treated for shock. Two Fajr-5 missiles aimed at Tel Aviv were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Two rockets also landed outside Jerusalem. A home in Ashdod was directly hit, wounding five Israeli civilians. Two rockets were fired at Rishon Lezion and houses were damaged in Eshkol and Be'er Tuviya by missiles; one rocket fell near a Palestinian village in the West Bank damaging properties.
According to CNN, the Israeli government is moving tanks and soldiers in preparation for what could be a ground invasion of Gaza. In the West Bank, several demonstrations in support of Gaza led to dozens of protesters injured and several arrested by Israeli forces.

November 18

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip, and, for the first time, Israeli ships fired shells too. The IDF killed the head of Hamas' rocket program, Yahyia Byya, who according to IDF sources, had been responsible for most of the rocket attacks.
Two buildings housing journalists were hit by IDF. The first housed Sky News and other international journalists. No one was injured. Another media tower was hit, with reports of seven injured Palestinian journalists. The tower, known as the Al-Sharouk compound, contained the offices of Al-Quds TV, Sky News, Press TV, ARD, Kuwait TV, RAI, Rusiya Al-Yaum and ITN, and had previously also been used by BBC. The IDF said that it targeted Hamas communications devices located on the rooves of two media buildings. It condemned Hamas for using journalists as human shields. Reporters without Borders (an international NGO focused on issues of freedom of the press) issued a strong condemnation of the attacks. Christophe Deloire, the director of RWB, described the attacks as unjustified and as a threat to freedom of information, stating that "even though the outlets targeted are linked to Hamas, it does not legitimize the attacks." The attacks injured five people; one cameraman lost his leg. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich responded by urging journalists to avoid areas with any Hamas presence whatsoever, while another Israeli government official stated that the offices of both Al Quds and Al Aqsa were legitimate military targets. The Foreign Press Association also issued a statement expressing concern over the strike, and pointing to a UN Security Council statement that condemned all attacks against journalists in combat zones.
In the Nasser neighborhood, an IDF missile intended to target Yehiya Rabiah, a senior commander of rocket operations, instead destroyed the neighboring house of a policeman, killing the entire family consisting of 12 people; 14 more people were killed in total in the other attacks of that day.
Rockets were launched from Gaza towards Tel-Aviv, which was intercepted by Tel Aviv's iron dome. According to Hamas television, the rockets were launched by the Qassam Brigades. Several rockets were fired at the south of Israel, one struck a building in Ashkelon injuring two people. The Iron Dome intercepted another two rockets fired at the city. A rescue service worker in his 20s from the Sha'ar Hanegev was seriously wounded by a rocket that struck the area. Three rockets struck the city of Beersheba and a home in Sderot. Two rockets hit Ashdod after coming under fire from a large rocket salvo. In Ofakim, a rocket struck a car wounding five people including couple and their two-year-old daughter. An elderly woman was injured by shrapnel from a rocket that struck a building in the city. Three rockets fell in the Eshkol area.
Israel facilitated the passage of eighty trucks loaded with medical supplies and food into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing.[39] The Israeli Foreign Ministry reported that Hamas refused to allow 22 foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip including nine Italian citizens, one Canadian, one South Korean, a French national and six journalists from Japan. Two Turkish Red Crescent members were also prevented from leaving. The MFA criticised "Hamas’ attempts to manipulate and pressure the press."
Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that the Israel Defence Forces were prepared for a "significant expansion of the operation." British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sky News that a ground offensive would lose Israel much international support, but blamed Hamas for instigating the conflict and urged them to cease their rocket fire.

November 19

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – IDF stated that that since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, over 540 rockets were fired from Gaza have hit and 290 were intercepted in-flight over populated areas in Israel.
Over 135 rockets were fired from Gaza at areas of Southern Israel. Sirens were again sounded as multiple rockets were fired into Ashkelon; most were intercepted but two rockets struck a house and a yard. Another struck a school parking lot. Three people were treated for shock. Seven rockets launched at Ashkelon and Ashdod, and another towards Beersheba, were intercepted. A 63-year-old man was wounded by shrapnel in the Bnei Shimon Regiona. The Sderot and Eshkol regions come under heavy fire, rockets struck near Sha'ar Hanegev. A woman was injured from a mortar in the Eshkol area. It was aired live on Al Jazeera English as a correspondent was reporting. A salvo of rockets struck the cities of Ashdod and Gan Yavne. Later during the day, a second school was struck by a rocket destroying the building after a barrage of rockets targeted Ashkelon during the evening. Mayor Benny Vaknin said that the rocket, after destroying the roof, "tore apart an entire classroom. Hundreds of shards of metal were scattered in the school's yard. Had the schools here been open we would have seen disasters." Israeli paramedics treated sixteen casualties taking the number of wounded treated by Magen David Adom to over 252. Rockets also exploded near Ofakim.
At 2 AM local time, a building housing the second largest police facility in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike. The airstrike was aired live on CNN and Al Jazeera English as their correspondents were reporting.
The media center in Gaza, the Al-Sharouk compound, was hit again. PIJ reported by text message that one of their senior militant operatives, Ramez Harb, was killed in that airstrike in Gaza City.
An airstrike hit the Jabalia Refugee Camp, killing two children.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of IsraelFlag of Palestine Washington, D.C., USA – U.S. President John McCain announced that he would send Secretary of State Joe Lieberman to the Middle East in hopes that he could help mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, as well as sending former former President Bill Clinton to the region to broker a permanent peace agreement.
Lieberman was to begin his Mideast diplomacy by meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. He would then meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah before heading to Cairo to meet Egyptian leaders. Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician with ties to Hamas, was elected president of Egypt earlier this year and has taken a lead role in trying to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza militants.
McCain also announced that he had called on former President Bill Clinton to work with the Special Envoy for the Middle East, Richard Jones, on a permanent peace process between Israel and Palestine. "Today I am also announcing that I will send former President Bill Clinton to go and be the negotiator on a permanent peace agreement," McCain said. "Although it has only been a few weeks since the election, it is critical to have a person of enormous prestige and influence to have these parties sit down together as an honest broker. And I am pleased that my good friend have accepted this role."
McCain also took time out to call Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Morsi to discuss ways to try to ramp down violence in Israel and Gaza.
The president phoned Netanyahu to get an update on the rocket strikes between Israel and Gaza and expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, according to a White House readout of the conversation.
During his call to Mr. Morsi, McCain emphasized the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel and offered condolences for the lives lost in a train accident over the weekend in Egypt, the White House said in a release.

November 20

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – More than 80 rockets were fired towards Southern Israel. Palestinian militants fired 18 rockets at Beersheba. At least 9 were intercepted by the Iron Dome, while 3 landed in the city. One landed near a bus, which suffered shrapnel damage, another damaged a vehicle, and the third landed in a soccer field. Rockets were also fired at Ashkelon; one was intercepted and another landed in an open area. The city's Barzilai Medical Center relocated its emergency room to its fortified basement after rocket shrapnel struck near the hospital’s maternity ward. There was also rocket fire at Ofakim.
For the second time, sirens sounded in Jerusalem, and two rockets were fired at the city, but landed in an open area of the West Bank between two Palestinian villages. Dozens of rockets struck Kiryat Malakhi, Sderot and Ashdod. Thirteen rockets were fired at the Eshkol Regional Council, killing an Israeli soldier deployed in the vicinity of Gaza and an Israeli civilian. Later during the day, a rocket struck Eshkol wounding five people. Two rockets were fired at Jerusalem. A rocket struck a six-story building in Rishon LeZion injuring four people.
Israeli aircraft and artillery struck eleven militant cells and thirty rocket launchers in Gaza. Three Hamas fighters were killed, two of whom were involved in rocket attacks. It was reported that the IDF had destroyed 50 weapons smuggling tunnels since the start of the operation.
In the West Bank, Palestinians protested the Israeli attacks at multiple locations. In some instances, protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops and Israel Border Police gendarmes, who responded with crowd-dispersal means. One Palestinian man was shot dead in Halhul after attacking a soldier, and another Palestinian was shot while throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli neighborhood in Hebron. In addition, Palestinians pelted Israeli civilian vehicles, attempted to block a road, and laid stones which caused damage to civilian vehicles.
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi declared that there would be a deal that day. However, talks failed and violence continued. A Hamas spokesman said later that night that a deal was close.
Flag of the United StatesFlag of IsraelFlag of Palestine Tel Aviv, Israel – U.S. Secretary of State Joe Lieberman arrived in Tel Aviv in a visit to Israel to try to promote a ceasefire. He had talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He did not meet with Hamas, due to the United States designating Hamas as a terrorist organization.
The indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas were being mediated by Egypt. Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi predicted the negotiations would lead to positive results very soon, while U.S. Secretary of State Lieberman, after meeting with Netanyahu, said that the process will take place in "days ahead." UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also met with Netanyahu to attempt to end the violence. Turkish foreign ministers and Arab League diplomats were sent to Gaza to promote a truce between the warring parties.
Israel made 6 demands for a ceasefire:
  • No violence for a period of more than 15 years.
  • No smuggling or transfer of arms to Gaza.
  • End of all rocket fire and attacks on Israeli soldiers.
  • Israel reserves the right to attack terrorists in case of an attack or of a potential attack.
  • Israeli-Gaza crossings will remain closed (although Gaza-Egypt crossings may remain open)
  • Egypt's politicians must guarantee the above demands.
In exchange for a ceasefire, Hamas demands that Israel halt all attacks against the Gaza Strip and end the blockade. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal additionally wanted "international guarantees" for the lifting of the blockade.

November 21

Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of Hamas Gaza Strip and Southern Israel – Israeli aircraft attacked a Gazan militant cell preparing to fire rockets from the Jabalia neighborhood. They also struck militants in Khan Younis that were preparing to fire rockets into Israel. An airstrike against the Nusseirat refugee camp killed a 4 year old Gazan girl and wounded her mother. Six people were killed in air strikes on Gaza City. An 80-year old man and his teenage granddaughter were killed in a raid on Khan Yunis. Airstrikes struck three tunnels and two underground rocket launchers. Two Palestinians were killed shortly after the announcement and shortly before the ceasefire officially began at 9 PM.
116 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Seven people were wounded when a rocket struck the Eshkol region. A barrage of rockets was fired at Sdot Negev and two rockets struck Hof Ashkelon and Sha'ar Hanegev. Several rockets were fired at Beer Sheva, one hitting a home. Two rockets targeted Bnei Shimon and a rocket struck a building in Netivot injuring one person. A rocket exploded close to a building in Ashdod[280] and two rockets fell in the Beer Tuvia Region damaging a building and injuring a woman. Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza City was damaged after an airstrike hit the nearby Abu Khadra government building. The office of the Associated Press was also damaged. The building housing Agence France-Presse's office in Gaza city was attacked twice; the second strike killed a 2-year old child who was in the neighborhood.
The 2012–13 UEFA Europa League game between Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona F.C. and Athletic Bilbao which was scheduled to take place on 22 November at the Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in Haifa is postponed by UEFA due to the tense security situation in the region.
An explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv wounded at least 28 people, including three seriously. The blast on the bus occurred in an area with many office buildings and heavy pedestrian traffic. The bus bombing complicated efforts to reach a truce and was the first notable bombing in Tel Aviv since 2006. The United Nations, US, UK, France and Russia all condemned the attack against civilians which was described by Israel as a terrorist attack. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the attack saying "there are no circumstances that justify the targeting of civilians." The White House said that "today's terrorist attack" and attacks against innocent Israeli civilians were "outrageous", and the Russian foreign ministry termed the attack a "criminal terrorist act." Britain's Foreign Secretary said following the attack that "we are clear that terrorists must not be allowed to set the agenda." The French Foreign Minister similarly condemned it saying it took place during efforts to secure a ceasefire. Hamas praised the attack, without claiming direct responsibility for it, calling it the "natural response to the occupation crimes and ongoing massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip" and said that the organisation "blesses" the attack. At Gaza's main hospital, sweet cakes were distributed in celebration. The bus bombing was lauded from a Gaza mosque's loudspeakers and celebratory gunfire was heard when news of the bombing was reported. Hamas' television featured people praising the attack. Khaled Mashal, leader of Hamas, categorically rejected any connection of the bombing to his group.
Flag of IsraelFlag of PalestineFlag of the United StatesFlag of Egypt Tel Aviv, Israel – Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, and the U.S. Secretary of State, Joe Lieberman, announced a ceasefire. The announcement put an end to hostilities while Israel and Hamas continue to negotiate over their respective demands. According to the text of the ceasefire agreement, both sides will negotiate "opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation" after the ceasefire holds for 24 hours. Egypt was the sponsor of the agreement and shall receive assurances of each party's commitment to the agreed deal.
After the ceasefire was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Operation Pillar of Defense had been successful and thanked U.S. President McCain for his "unwavering support for Israel's right to defend itself." Netanyahu added that Israel and the U.S. will cooperate to stop the smuggling of weapons from Iran into the Gaza strip.
Twelve rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel since the ceasefire was declared, landing in the Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev region. All the rockets landed in open areas. Air raid sirens sounded in Eshkol, Sderot, Hof Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi and Sha'ar Hanegev. One rocket over Ashdod was intercepted by the Iron Dome. An explosion took place in Gaza in unclear circumstances after the ceasefire; no casualties were reported.
Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of Hamas, thanked Egypt for mediating the ceasefire and claimed that Israel had been defeated. He also praised Iran for providing militants with financing and arms.
Meanwhile, President McCain called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday to commend him for agreeing to a cease fire to end the violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. McCain "made clear that no country can be expected to tolerate rocket attacks against civilians," the White House said in a readout. He "commended the Prime Minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal – which the President recommended the Prime Minster do – while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself," the White House said in a statement.
McCain also called Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. From the White House: McCain "thanked President Morsi for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal. President Morsi expressed appreciation for President McCain’s efforts in this regard."


See also

Preceded by:
Timeline – 2011
Timeline of U.S. and international events
January 1 – December 31, 2012
Succeeded by:
Timeline – 2013

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