Gaza 'war returns', Ebola 'out of control' and WW1 remembered

A Palestinian stands in front of his family house destroyed in an Israeli attack in the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip Image copyright AP

Gaza's conflict is once again on front pages as the collapse of the latest ceasefire and alleged kidnapping of an Israeli soldier left hopes for peace in tatters.

It prompts UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to write in the Guardian, urging Israeli PM Benjamin Netenyahu to talk directly to Hamas. As the paper points out, his plea comes despite the fact the British government considers the Palestinian group a terrorist organisation.

"Military action has repeatedly failed to prevent rocket attacks against innocent Israelis. Modern history teaches that you can't shoot, occupy or besiege your way to lasting security," Mr Clegg writes.

However, Mr Netenyahu's immediate focus is likely to be on the rescue of soldier Hadar Goldin, 23, who the Times describes as the son of a former academic at the University of Cambridge. The Daily Mirror's headline reads "Release soldier... or else", echoing a threat from a senior Israeli politician that the country should "start levelling Gaza",

Remembering how a previous kidnap ended with Israel releasing 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one serviceman, the Times's Tom Coghlan writes: "For Hamas, the capture of an Israeli soldier represents an extraordinary prize, and one to alter significantly the trajectory of the conflict in Gaza." However, Hamas has since denied knowing of Lt Goldin's whereabouts.

Many papers publish photographs showing a laser-guided bomb falling in Gaza with what Daily Telegraph chief foreign correspondent David Blair calls "the speed and menace of a plunging dagger". He continues: "In a split second, a building is pulverised into a swirling mass of smoke and rubble. But this is Gaza - and everyone knows the sight and sound of an Israeli air strike. Inured to danger, people in the street nearby hardly pause."

The Independent carries a letter from musician Brian Eno asking: "Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing?" In response, author Peter Schwarz gives his version of the history behind the conflict and the US's relationship with the region.

The Independent also says the UK government has been accused of failing to regulate arms sales to Israel amid evidence that "weapons containing British-made components are being used in the bombardment of Gaza". The paper says it's seen documents showing that export licences worth £42m have been granted to 130 UK firms to supply Israel since 2010.

And the Mail prints an image of the Palestinian flag being projected onto the Houses of Parliament by protesters without approval from authorities.

'Out of control'?

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West Africa's Ebola outbreak continues to create headlines, with the Daily Mirror declaring that the deadly virus is "spiralling out of control" in light of World Health Organization statements.

Some 60 health care workers have lost their lives to the disease, reports the paper. It says that while a second member of Sierra Leone's Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow has been given the all-clear after falling ill, another team-mate is suspected to have gone on the run in a bid to avoid returning to his homeland, where the spread of the virus has led to a state of emergency.

From Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, a British doctor tells the Independent that fear of Ebola "is causing more harm than the disease itself" as welfare NGOs withdraw staff and hospitals close their doors in panic. He gives the example of one suspected victim who, on learning he was to be put in isolation, fled the hospital. "We don't know where he is. That is very dangerous," the doctor adds.

Jeremy Clarkson offers his wisdom in the Sun: "It's been said in the past that if one infected person were ever to board an international flight, most of the world's population would be dead within a fortnight. Happily, however, thanks to two-hour check-ins at most airports this is no longer the case." If the disease was killing Americans or Europeans, he reckons, the cure would be found a lot quicker.

However, the Guardian's editorial points out that many modern viral infections "kill their victims so fast that the epidemic peaks and subsides before a drug treatment can be rolled out". It gives qualified support to trialling new drugs in the middle of an epidemic, rather than waiting until the usual protocols of medical tests have been followed.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail worries that bush meat - "the flesh of exotic animals such as chimpanzee, monkey, porcupine, fruit bats and even giraffe, slaughtered in the African bush" - is on sale in the UK's markets. "Bush meat is one of the primary sources of the disease's transmission," it says.

WW1 commemorations

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Ahead of a weekend of commemorations of the centenary of the start of World War 1, the papers find their own way to mark the occasion.

The Guardian recalls how its forebear - the Manchester Guardian - "was arguing passionately for UK neutrality". Six days before the declaration of war on Germany, its editorial declared: "If we, who might remain neutral, rush into war or let our attitude remain doubtful, it will be both a crime and an act of supreme and gratuitous folly."

In the Financial Times, Sarah Neville delves into the archives of a different sort of publication - the Manchester High School for Girls Chronicle - to find an entry from the end of 1917 recording the "adoption" of Broughton House, a home for service veterans home. "There was tremendous compassion and a realisation, right from the beginning, that the casualty rate was going to be very significant," the school's archivist tells her. She notes how the camaraderie in the home always surprised girls like Neville, who was one of those who visited as a child.

Meanwhile, the Daily Express looks back at the pals battalions, such as one formed at Houghton Main colliery in Barnsley: "The miners and other workers from the Yorkshire town were lured by the offer of regular pay, three meals a day and the adventure of a lifetime with their best mates."

Image copyright Getty Images

The Times says a new book - Soldiers' Songs and Slang of the Great War, by Martin Pegler - offers insight into the lives of those on the front line. "Slang was often infected with a sardonic humour... As ever in war, death and sex were the main preoccupations of the common soldier. Instead of dying, men were 'huffed' from the game of draughts — or 'copped a packet', while a 'daisy pusher' was someone with a fatal wound. The dead were 'landowners' or had 'gone trumpet cleaning'. After the war, a flapper was a fashionable girl about town: but during the war it was used to describe a young woman of loose morals or a prostitute."

With a rueful eye on current world events, Times cartoonist Peter Brookes pictures a Tommy saying to a comrade: "At least in a hundred years there'll be no more slaughter, Carruthers..."

The Daily Telegraph's editorial points out that a former defence editor called the war's origin a "mystery", and it says we remain "perplexed" today. But it adds: "[WW1] shaped almost every aspect of the world in which we now live - the first act in a drama that lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and whose residual legacy remains. So it is important to commemorate its outbreak not just to remember the sacrifice of the fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers of those now alive, but also to understand the current geopolitical upheavals in Ukraine and the Middle East, or even the history and purpose of the European Union."

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