Sunday 2 July – Sunday 9 July:
In the early hours of Monday, Israel launched a drone strike on the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. 1,000 Israeli forces then entered the camp in what is the largest Israeli raid into the West Bank in the 20 years since the Second Intifada (“uprising”), during which hundreds of Israeli soldiers and thousands of Palestinians were killed. In 2002, the camp was nearly destroyed by Israeli forces. The Jenin refugee camp was originally established in 1953 to house some of the 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from their homes during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. During the raid, which Israeli forces said was aimed at denying the camp’s use as a stronghold from which to launch attacks on Israel, Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians and wounded 140 more. The Israeli military claims that all of those killed in its two-day operation were combatants. The military and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli actions were about denying “safe haven” to terrorists and targeting weapons depots, command centres and terrorist tunnels. There has been recent pressure to launch a military operation from Israeli settlers in the West Bank and leaders in the right-wing coalition government, which includes religious zealots like Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir – who heads the Jewish Power (“Otzma Yehudit”) political party.
This right-wing alliance has been calling for a large-scale operation in the West Bank for months. Jenin – where Palestinian security forces are afraid to go – is today a densely populated and built-up area of around 17,000 inhabitants living in less than half a square kilometre. The urban environment, with its “warren of alleyways” and high unemployment level has become a hub for militant activity against Israel as residents grow disillusioned by the Palestinian Authority’s ability to secure a state for Palestinians. Israeli forces withdrew from Jenin on Wednesday, stating that they had discovered three facilities involved in weapons production. They also seized weapons and explosives. The United Nations has condemned Israeli actions and said they may constitute war crimes.
On Tuesday, Russia’s capital Moscow was again attacked by drones. The Russian Defence Ministry said that four drones were shot down by Moscow’s air defences, while a fifth drone was intercepted via a transmission-blocking signal which brought it down. The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on messaging app Telegram that “an attempt by the Kyiv regime to attack a zone where civil infrastructure is located, including an airport that receives international flights, is a new terrorist act”. The drone attacks forced authorities to divert flights away from the Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow. Russia blamed the attacks on Ukraine, which denied that it was involved.
On Wednesday, Peru declared a state of emergency for sixty days in areas around the 5,672 metre high Ubinas volcano. Ubinas, located in the south of the country, is Peru’s most active volcano and is part of the “Ring of Fire” along the edges of the Pacific Ocean which is known for volcanic activity and earthquakes. The state of emergency allows the government to take “exceptional measures and actions” to counter risks from activity at the volcano. The volcano has been spewing ash and gas since earlier this week, which has travelled up to some 5,500 meters (1,800 feet) into the atmosphere, according to the Geophysical Institute of Peru. The smoke cloud has smothered towns that are 10 kilometres (6 miles) away from the volcano.
On Wednesday, Meta Platforms launched its social media service Threads, which the company has pitched as an alternative to Twitter. Within 48 hours, Threads had accumulated 80 million users, setting a record of social media growth. As of today the user base stands at 100 million. Twitter has 350 million users. Twitter attorney Alex Spiro sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday accusing Meta of “systematic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property” to create Threads. Mr Spiro alleged that Meta had hired dozens of former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information” that ultimately helped Meta develop what he termed the “copycat” Threads app. “Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” the letter says. “Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice.” Meta denies hiring former Twitter employees.
On Thursday, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was charged for disobeying police orders during an environmental protest in June. “The prosecutor has filed charges against a young woman [Thunberg] who, on June 19 this year, participated in a climate demonstration which, according to the prosecution, caused disruption to traffic in Malmö,” because she “refused to obey the police command to leave the scene”. According to the Swedish prosecution authority, Thunberg faces a fine or a sentence of up to six months in jail. Thunberg was previously detained – but released that same day – during a protest in Germany in January of this year.
On Thursday, average global air temperature at two metres above the surface (land and sea) reached 17.23 degrees Celsius. The previous record for average daily temperature was in mid-August 2016 when it reached 16.92°C. Last month, the world experienced its warmest June on record by a “substantial margin,” according to a report by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. In China, more than 200 million people in the north of the country were subjected to maximum daily temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. The National Climate Center said that heat wave in June was the most extreme China has encountered over the past decade coming in a month when repeated heat waves are extremely rare, according to the Center.
On Friday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that his government would resign after negotiations failed on a proposal by Rutte’s conservative VVD party to limit asylum seekers entering the Netherlands. The policy, which would limit the arrival of children of war refugees who are already in the Netherlands and to make families wait at least two years before they can be reunited, was opposed by the centre-left Christian Union and D66 parties (part of VVD’s governing coalition). Without their support, the government was brought down. Other opposition parties celebrated the announcement. Despite having one of the stricter immigration policies in Europe, asylum applications to the Netherlands increased a third last year to over 46,000 and the government expected that would top 70,000 this year. On Saturday, Rutte met with King Willem-Alexander to discuss a caretaker administration. Rutte’s coalition will govern until a new coalition is formed, but will not pass any major new laws. New elections are expected to be held in November. On Monday there will be a debate about the government’s resignation in the Dutch lower house of parliament.
On Friday, the United States confirmed that it would send cluster munitions to Ukraine. Cluster munitions release a multitude of small bombs that spread and kill over a wide area. While they are effective weapons and will result in greater Russian casualties, the multiple small bombs can fail or explode after a delay – sometimes years later. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the American cluster bombs being sent to Ukraine failed far less frequently than ones already being used by Russia in the conflict. Due to the controversial nature of these weapons and their being banned in 123 countries, President Biden called it a “very difficult decision”. Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Spain have all voiced their opposition to the move. Also on Friday, the U.S. announced that it had completed the destruction of its declared chemical weapons stockpile. The U.S. faced a September 30 deadline to eliminate its remaining chemical weapons under the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1997 and was joined by 193 countries.
In the week ahead:
NATO will hold a summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius from 11-12 July. President Joe Biden will join alliance heads of state and government.