Monday Sunrise Briefing: Gaza ceasefire? Not yet, says Israel.

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, May 17, 2021, sunrise briefing.

Here are two news events - Israeli-Palestinian attacks continue and China's historic Mars landing - from this past weekend (while you may have been whale watching, baking a chess pie, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home after Israeli air and artillery strikes in Gaza City May 14, 2021.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled Sunday the fourth war with Hamas in Gaza would go on “full force” even as the U.N. Security Council convened an emergency meeting to demand a stop to civilian deaths. 

Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and Israel, is reportedly seeking a ceasefire. But after a week of what Israel called the highest concentration of rockets - more than 3,000 - from Hamas ever, Mr. Nethanyahu said Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” on the militant group. The pattern, say observers, is familiar. In the past, Israel has leveraged its military advantage over Hamas until the global outcry over civilian deaths - and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza - pushes Israel to end its response. 

On Saturday, after giving a one-hour warning, Israeli jets bombed the Gaza building housing the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets. Israel said Hamas was using journalists as human shields to protect “military intelligence assets.” Joel Simon of The Committee to Protect Journalists said Israel was attempting “to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.”

2. First trip to the Red Planet. China joined the U.S. and Russia on Saturday in achieving a difficult space mission: landing on Mars. The European Space Agency has attempted two Mars landings, but both spacecraft crashed. China's Mars rover is expected to spend at least 90 days studying the planet and looking for signs of water ice. China’s first Mars landing comes on the heels of its launch last month of the main section of what will be a new permanent space station orbing Earth, and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.

PA Images via Reuters
European champs. Barcelona players celebrate after victory in the UEFA Women's Champions League final in Gothenburg, Sweden, Sunday May 16, 2021. They were the first women's Spanish soccer team to reach the UEFA finals and win.

Look Ahead


A better deal? France hosts an African Economies Summit aimed at creating what French President Emmanuel Macron has called a “new deal” for financing African countries. 

Oscars of the Internet. The 25th Webby Awards honor the year's best websites, podcasts, online videos, and commercials. Acceptance speeches are limited to five words. Yes, there’s a statuette too. 

Best of pop music? The annual Eurovision Song Contest showcases singers from 39 countries. This year's contest will be hosted by The Netherlands (home of the 2019 winner). Sweden's SVT channel will be streaming the event. The first semi-final is at 3 p.m. ET. Semi-final 2 is scheduled for Thursday, May 20, 3 p.m. ET, and the Grand Final is set for Saturday, May 22, 3 p.m. ET. 


Arctic cooperation. The foreign ministers from eight nations bordering the Arctic (Russia, U.S., Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Norway) gather in Iceland to discuss global warming, shipping lanes, and mining rights as the ice thaws and competition heats up. 


Anti-democracy crackdown. Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai faces another trial, this time on charges of fraud. This past Friday, the government froze an estimated $64 million of his personal assets.


Best of B-Ball. The long NBA playoff season begins with the top eight teams from each division competing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The finals won’t be played until July.

Generosity Watch

Mellissa Powell never intended to start a business. She saw a need and stepped up.

Thirteen years ago, she started a free “homework center” for neighborhood kids in her backyard in Waterhouse, Jamaica. "When I was growing up, I never had anyone around me to guide me in certain ways and ask me, ‘how was school’ and if I understood the day's lesson. I want every child to have that opportunity," the mother of three tells The Jamaica Star in Kingston.

She has no formal training as a teacher, but “challenges herself” by doing research online so that she can challenge the kids. About five years ago, her generosity evolved into an income. "I used to help out with the kids' homework and then one parent asked me if I woudn't do it for a small fee and then next thing I knew I had 28 children who I was teaching after school and on Saturday.”

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines, she only has nine children in her backyard classroom now. But her enthusiasm hasn’t waned: “This is one job that doesn't seem like a job to me."

The Respect Project

Courtesy of Political Blind Date
Toronto City Councilors Shelley Carroll (in red pants) and Gary Crawford talk with Melissa Appleton of the Participatory Budgeting Project in New York during the filming of a "Political Blind Date" episode.

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

‘Blind date’ for political rivals? TV show is breaking down barriers.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about Black moms fighting racism in Canadian schools.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. In Israel, Arabs and Jews alike recoil from mob violence
  2. Beijing embraces gig workers’ cause – but not their activists
  3. In US, pandemic’s end is in sight. Are Americans ready?
  4. Renewable energy in a rare ape’s habitat raises ethical dilemma
  5. Women’s pro soccer goes big-time in England. Why now?

 If you value our constructive, uplifting journalism, please consider supporting our work by subscribing. Thank you!

The Monday Sunrise Briefing editor is going on holiday. We'll see you again on June 7. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Monday Sunrise Briefing: Gaza ceasefire? Not yet, says Israel.
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today