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Yep. We have a downed plane and a ground war. Quite the day for humanity.
There are days when the news around the world is massively overwhelming, when things just get so dark that it weighs upon your mind, no matter how far removed the situation is from your own personal life.
Thursday was one of those days.
Here’s what happened.
A holy shit moment just happened in Ukraine. A Malaysian Airlines passenger flight crossing Ukraine crashed, killing 298 people. Alarmingly, a U.S. official has confirmed to NBC that the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. It’s hard to say who is responsible. Locals said they heard two loud bangs before seeing flaming wreckage fall from the sky. A video reportedly shows the moment Flight MH17 crashed:
Image credit: AP
A web of governments are now involved in this crisis.
At least 154 people on the flight were Dutch citizens. There were also 27 Australians on board, 23 Malaysians, including all 15 crew, and 11 Indonesians. Six passengers from the United Kingdom, four from Germany, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian. There are still 47 dead whose nationalities haven’t yet been confirmed — the plane was reportedly carrying 23 Americans on board.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the Ukrainian military “did not take action against any airborne targets,” declaring the crash a “terrorist act.” Foreign Policyclaims the translated dialogue overhead among the villagers indicates they are pro-separatist and celebrating the crash. A rebel Twitter account quickly took down a post bragging that they had shot down a Ukrainian military “An-26,” a craft that initially looks like it could be mistaken for a passenger jet.
Ukrainian separatist leader Aleksander Borodai has blamed the downing of the plane on the country’s government forces. The possibility remains that either the Ukrainian or Russian military could have (almost certainly unintentionally) shot down the plane. Ukraine claims that Russia has shot down one of its Sukhoi-25 jets on Wednesday amidst a major buildup of troops on the eastern border, and that another missile had been fired at a Suk-25 the same day. It also says Russia shot down another military transport. Both sides have sophisticated military equipment and almost certainly would be able to detect the difference between military and civilian aircraft.
In televised remarks, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the downed aircraft did not make a distress call, and that if it was shot down, the perpetrators “must be brought to justice.”
The European Aviation Safety agency has closed eastern Ukraine’s airspace until further notice.
Whatever happens next, it’s clear that Thursday was a “game changer" that will likely suck dozens of nations into the months-long Ukraine-Russia conflict, and broaden the crisis.
And then Israel launched a ground war. At 10:39 p.m. local time, the Israeli military announced it had begun a ground operation of the Gaza Strip, saying its goal was to “establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror.”
Image credit: Getty
Palestinians and journalists in Gaza reported heavy artillery fire from ground troops in the north and naval gunboats stationed near Gaza’s port. They continued their air assault, which included targeting a rehabilitation hospital and, earlier, killing four young children playing on a roof. Scores of rockets from Gaza continued to stream into cities all over central and southern Israel.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Al Jazeera that Israel’s ground operation in Gaza amounts to “stupidity,” and threatened that the Israeli army would pay a “high price.”
Israeli tank fire in Gaza killed three people on Thursday night, raising the Palestinian death toll in 10 days of violence in the coastal enclave to 240, mostly civilians. One Israeli civilian has died.
It’s one of the more severe cycles of Israel-Palestine violence in the last 14 years. Here’s how it compares (click to enlarge):
Meanwhile, the White House was placed on lockdown. Just when you thought enough political news had broken for one day, things took a turn in Washington, D.C. It doesn’t compare to the scale of tragedy that is happening in Israel or Ukraine, but it is icing on the awful cake that was this terrible news day. According to ABC’s White House Correspondent Jon Karl, the lockdown just after 4 p.m. was caused by an “unattended package” found along the North Lawn fence. The lockdown was lifted an hour later.
Thursday was a no good day for humanity. Pure and simple.