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Foreign jihadists flocking to Iraq and Syria on 'unprecedented scale' – UN

Jhadists signing upThe United Nations has warned that foreign jihadists are swarming into the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale” and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism.

A report by the UN security council, obtained by the Guardian, finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaida”.

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Sweden recognizes Palestinian state

Sweden recognizes Palestinian stateSweden officially recognized the Palestinian state Thursday, calling it a crucial step in encouraging other countries to do so.

The action is largely symbolic and is intended to support a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Sweden joins Malta and Cyprus as European nations recognizing Palestine; Britain currently has a motion in Parliament to recognize Palestine.

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Shutdown of Al-Aqsa mosque a 'declaration of war,' say Palestinian leaders

al Qsa MosqueThe Palestinian leadership has slammed the Israeli shutdown of the Al-Aqsa mosque in the aftermath of the shooting of a Palestinian suspected would-be assassin as a 'declaration of war.'

Israeli police on Thursday killed a 32-year-old Palestinian suspected of having tried hours earlier to kill a far-right Jewish activist – incidents that have heighten tensions in an already tense Jerusalem, and led to clashes.

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About 100 missing in Sri Lanka mudslide

Sri-Lanka mudslideAbout 100 people are feared dead following a landslide in central Sri Lanka, the government says.

The landslide, which came after heavy monsoon rains, engulfed about 140 houses in Badulla district. Ten bodies have so far been found but the rescue efforts have been suspended for the night.

Bad weather is also hampering the rescue operations. Heavy rain has hit much of the country over the past few weeks.

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The Ghosts of Gaza: Israel’s Soldier Suicides

Ghosts of GazaMore than two months after the end of Israel’s latest offensive in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, its consequences are still being felt in Israeli society. While the Palestinian territory where the war was waged lies in ruins, for some of the Israelis who fought there the devastation that lingers is in the mind.

In the weeks after Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, three Israeli soldiers decided to end their lives with their own weapons. And what was especially striking about their suicides was that all served in the same unit, the Givati Brigade, which had a reputation for its ruthless ferocity, considerable bravery, and the use of Old Testament religiosity to justify the merciless operations of its commander, Colonel Ofer Winter.

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Court sentences Israeli cult leader to 30 years

Israeli cult leaderAn Israeli court sentenced a convicted polygamist and cult leader to 30 years in prison Tuesday.

Goel Ratzon was found guilty of rape, incest and other offenses in September, but acquitted of enslavement charges.

His sentencing in Tel Aviv District Court ended a saga that began in 2010 when details of Ratzon's cult first emerged.

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Netanyahu vows to continue building Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem

NatanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to continue building Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, despite stiff international criticism and rising tensions between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the contested city.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu's government announced that it would advance plans to build about 1,000 Jewish-only housing units in east Jerusalem — an attempt, Palestinians said, to further cement Israel’s control over the city, creating “facts on the ground” that would keep Jerusalem under Israeli authority in a future peace deal.

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