Denmark calls for observer corps in Gaza

After condemning Israel's bombing of a UN school, the Danish foreign minister says that a team of international observers should go to Gaza to help to ensure that ceasefires are respected.

Denmark calls for observer corps in Gaza
A Palestinian man carries an injured child following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Photo: Said Khatib/AFP/Scanpix
Denmark’s foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, is calling for an independent corps of international observers in the Gaza Strip. 
Lidegaard says that a team of international observers could help ensure that ceasefires between Israel and Hamas are honoured and determine who fired the first shot if and when the ceasefires are broken. 
“I think it is an unfortunate situation that every time a ceasefire is negotiated it is broken before it begins. Therefore it is my recommendation that we establish an independent observer corps as quickly as possible so that they can go in and see who is violating [the ceasefires]. That way we can hopefully have a ceasefire that lasts,” he told TV2 News. 
Lidegaard said Denmark is ready to contribute to the observer team “economically, politically and eventually also with personnel.”
Lidegaard joined a chorus of international voices that condemned Israel’s bombing of a United Nations school in Gaza on Sunday, which killed ten people. 
“The bombing of the school contributes to the completely unacceptable number of civilian losses in Gaza. I also naturally condemn Hamas’s attacks on Israel,” he told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau. 
Lidegaard on Twitter: "I condemn the new school bombing, civilian losses and Hamas's attacks. We need ceasefires overseen by international independent observers so they last. Denmark ready to contribute.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called the UN school attack “a moral outrage and a criminal act”.
The United States also spoke out against the attack in a strongly-worded statement. 
"The United States is appalled by today's disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed," a statement from State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki read. 
Lidegaard said that the most natural solution for an observer corps would be to go through the United Nations. 
“That way you have the entire global community’s backing to go in and support it. And also because when this nightmare is hopefully soon over, there will need to be a rebuilding of Gaza. That’s something Denmark is also prepared to support,” he told TV2 News. 
The 118 deaths reported by Palestinian officials on Sunday brings the total number of Palestinians killed to more than 1,800 since the military offensive began on July 8th. The death toll on the Israeli side was at 65 as of Sunday. 

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Copenhagen bus fire may be tied to Israel ads

UPDATED: Four public buses were burned in the early morning hours of Friday in what may have been a reaction to a controversy surrounding an advertising campaing urging people to boycott products from Israeli settlements.

Copenhagen bus fire may be tied to Israel ads
At least one of the buses had anti-Israel graffiti. Photo: Erik Refner/Scanpix
Copenhagen Police suspect that there is a political motive behind the burning of four Copenhagen city buses early on Friday. 
“In paint was written ‘Boycott Israel – Free Gaza’ on at least one of the buses,” police spokesman Las Vestervig told tabloid BT. 
No one was injured in the fire, which was set in the bus company Arriva’s parking garage in the Copenhagen district of Østerbro. 
The fire came amidst a controversy over the bus company Movia's decision to remove advertisements from 35 buses in the capital region that urged people to boycott products from Israeli settlements . 
The ads pictured two women beside the quote: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”
The ads were dropped by Movia within just four days after the company “received a significant number of inquiries regarding the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association's campaign against Israeli settlements,” Movia told AFP. 
It has since been revealed that the majority of complaints about the advertisements were written in English, leading many to conclude that it was the organized work of a foreign lobby campaign. 
The Danish Palestinian Friendship Association told AFP that the removal of the ads was “a clear attempt to deny us our freedom of speech”. 
“There is nothing whatsoever about this campaign that is harmful, discriminatory or hateful in any way,” Fathi El-Abed added. 
As of early Friday, police had not made any arrests but where working on the assumption that the fire was set deliberately. 
“Parked buses don't catch fire on their own too often. Therefore we have reason to assume that the fires were set,” police spokesman Kristian Aaskov told Politiken.