GUNS OF AUGUST: World War I began 100 years ago today, and services commemorating the centenary have begun in Britain and across Europe. (Watch live updates here). Remembering the time, when “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime,” Prime Minister David Cameron urged Britons to extinguish the lights in their homes at 10 p.m. (5 p.m. EDT) and leave a lone light or candle burning by 11 p.m.—the precise moment of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. At 10 Downing Street, a single candle will be left burning on the doorstep this evening.
In Belgium, European leaders gathered today where German troops first crossed to invade France. French President François Hollande deviated from his planned speech to cite current conflicts:
“I mentioned the neutrality, twice compromised, of Belgium, but today neutrality is no longer an option. … How can we stay neutral when a people, not far from Europe, is fighting for its rights and territorial integrity? How to stay neutral when a civilian aircraft can be shot out of the sky? When there are civilian populations being massacred in Iraq, minorities being persecuted in Syria?”
The Great War’s agony and grief were poured out in the poetry of death.
ISRAEL: Today is Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Regarded as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, it also signifies the exile of Jews from Israel and other tragedies up through the Holocaust. Observant Jews today will neither eat, wash, study the Torah, nor sit in normal chairs for half the day. In Israel today, though, this “anti-festival” is for many interrupted by rocket sirens and all-clears, as Israelis remember casualties of the current war.
Israel claims to have evidence that almost half of Palestinians killed in the 25-day-old Gaza war were combatants. The latest UN figures show over 1,650 Palestinians killed in the conflict, as well as nine members of its own staff.
GAZA: In Gaza, Israel announced a temporary and unilateral ceasefire—a seven-hour “humanitarian window”—this morning, but even as Israeli soldiers on the ground are pulling back, shelling has apparently resumed. The ceasefire exempted the area around the southern town of Rafah, where a UN school was struck on Sunday and fighting continues. IDF troops are working to destroy a cross-border tunnel in the area.
EBOLA: A drug tested only on monkeys in U.S. labs was flown in to save two American health workers who hovered near death after contracting Ebola in Liberia more than a week ago. One of doctors treating Dr. Kent Brantly described the ongoing recovery of both patients after taking the highly experimental drug as “miraculous.”
With Donald Trump on a warpath to keep the American Ebola patients out of their homeland, John Piper has written an ode to Ebola’s victims.