The Pentagon has announced U.S. military aircraft carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq today targeting artillery used by the militant group Islamic State used against Kurdish forces defending the city of Erbil. The bombing came less than 12 hours after President Obama spoke on national television announcing he had authorized airstrikes in Iraq in an attempt to halt the sweeping advance by the Islamic State. Obama becomes the fourth U.S. president in a row to order military action in Iraq. The Islamic State has captured large swaths of northern Iraq and has advanced to a half-hour drive from the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil. Up to 40,000 people, many of them members of the Yazidi religious minority, remain trapped on the Sinjar Mountains near the border with Syria, surrounded by rebels and slowly dying of thirst. The United States has also begun dropping relief supplies. We speak to Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has written several books, including "Ending the Iraq War: A Primer." One of her recent articles is "Don’t Go Back to Iraq!: Five Steps the U.S. Can Take in Iraq Without Going Back to War."
Fighting in Gaza has resumed after the expiration of a 72-hour truce expired. Israel said it launched air strikes after Palestinians fired at least 18 rockets into southern Israel after the ceasefire ended. Palestinian officials say a 10-year-old boy was killed earlier today when an Israeli air strike hit near a mosque in Gaza City. Six other people were wounded in the attack. Hamas military wing spokesman earlier called on Palestinian negotiators holding indirect talks with Israeli negotiators in Cairo to refuse any ceasefire extension unless its long-term demands were met. We speak with longtime peace activist Uri Avnery, who has pushed for Israel to engage with Hamas. Avnery is a historic figure within the Israeli peace movement. He was born in Germany in 1923. His family fled the Nazis and moved to what was then Palestine. As a youth he joined the Irgun Zionist paramilitary group which he later quit to become a leading peace activist in Israel. In 1950, he founded the news magazine, HaOlam HaZeh. Fifteen years later, he was elected to the Knesset on a peace platform. In 1982, he made headlines when he crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yassir Arafat, head of the then-banned Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1993, he started the Gush Shalom peace movement. He will turn 91 next month and still writes a weekly column.
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