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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is “at war” with Hamas after the Palestinian militant group launched a large-scale surprise attack on Israel on Saturday. Hamas entered Israel by air, land, and sea, penetrating at least four military bases near the Israel-Gaza border. In Israel, initial reports suggest over 700 people were killed, over 2,000 injured, and approximately 100 taken hostage. More than 400 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in Gaza and 2,300 wounded. BBC News reports.
As the barrage of Israeli rocket fire continues, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant today said he ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip with “no electricity, no food, no fuel.” The International Committee of the Red Cross has called for establishing humanitarian corridors. BBC News reports.
Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday said Israel was entering the “offensive phase” of the war with Hamas militants as he faces growing calls to begin a ground invasion of Gaza. “Anything less than invasion will be a grave mistake,” said Amir Avivi, former deputy commander of the Gaza Division of Israel’s military. “Not doing that will be devastating for Israel’s ability to deter not only Hamas, but the whole region,” he added. James Shotter reports for the Financial Times.
U.S. officials expect Israeli forces to launch a ground incursion into Gaza within 24 to 48 hours. The Washington Post reports.
While the Israeli Defense Forces have said “most” of the breach points at the Israel-Gaza barrier have been closed, they “couldn’t deny” that militants may still be entering Israeli territory, a spokesperson said earlier today. Owen Amos reports for BBC News.
Over 260 have been killed following Palestinian militants’ surprise attack on a music festival in southern Israel. Francesca Gillett reports for BBC News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS CONFLICT – INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Senior members of Hamas and Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah claimed Tehran helped plan Hamas’ large-scale surprise attack on Israel, giving the Palestinian militant group the greenlight at a meeting in Lebanon last Monday. The officials said the attack aims to disrupt the U.S.-backed efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Direct Iranian involvement in the attack would raise the risk of broader conflict in the Middle East, as senior Israeli security officials vowed to retaliate if Iran was found to be responsible for Israeli deaths. Egypt has warned that Hezbollah would enter the fight if Israel invaded Gaza. Summer Said, Benoit Faucon, and Stephen Kalin report for the Wall Street Journal.
False information about the war between Israel and Hamas proliferated on X over the weekend, with owner Elon Musk recommending accounts known for promoting mis- and disinformation. While Musk has since deleted the post, he promoted two accounts “for following the war in real-time” that previously falsely claimed there had been an explosion near the White House in May, briefly causing the Dow Jones stock index to drop by 85 points. Joseph Menn reports for the Washington Post.
Support for Palestine has surged across the Middle East and North Africa following the outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas. Demonstrations supporting Palestine were held in Bahrain, Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Tunisia, and Kuwait over the weekend. Vivian Nereim reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS CONFLICT – U.S. RESPONSE
U.S. President Joe Biden pledged “his full support” to Israel in a call with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin yesterday said that security assistance for the Israeli military “will begin moving today.” The Washington Post reports.
The U.S. military is moving a naval strike group, including the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, to the Eastern Mediterranean. “USCENTCOM stands firmly with our Israeli and regional partners to address the risks of any party seeking to expand the conflict,” said General Michael Kurilla, Commander of U.S. Central Command.
The United States continues to push for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel despite the conflict. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Israel continues to strive for normalization because it would weaken Iran, the main backer of Hamas and Hezbollah. Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken framed the Israel-Hamas conflict partly as arising out of Iran’s opposition to normalization efforts. Edward Wong, Mark Mazzetti, and Vivian Nereim report for the New York Times.
Secretary Blinken has rejected claims that the transfer of $6 billion to Iran in the recent prisoner release deal helped Hamas launch its surprise attack. “The Biden administration must be held accountable for its appeasement of these Hamas terrorists, including handing over billions of dollars to them and their Iranian backers,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), who is running for House speaker, said on X. “Not a single dollar from that account has actually been spent to date,” Blinken said.” “And in any event, it’s very carefully and closely regulated by the Treasury Department to make sure that it’s only used for food, for medicine, for medical equipment,” Blinken said. “Releasing that $6 billion obviously opens up resources for Iran, even if it is allocated just for food and medicine,” said Nader Habibi, a professor of economics at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies. Patrick Marley reports for the Washington Post.
The military junta in Niger announced a 40 percent budget cut due to sanctions and a suspension of aid following the coup in July. This reflects that about 40 percent of the country’s budget was expected from foreign partners. The budget will go from $5.3 billion to $3.2 billion. Nkechi Ogbonna reports for BBC News.
China is on track to deploy a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines, experts have said. While China’s older submarines were relatively noisy, making them easier to detect, the more recent models will be comparable to state-of-the-art Russian submarines. The growing difficulty in tracking these advanced submarines will worry the United States as tensions with China grew this year. Greg Torode reports for Reuters.
Sweden offered to send Ukraine a $200 million weapons package, including Gripen fighter jets, once Sweden joined NATO as it tries to persuade Turkey to ratify its accession. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stalled Sweden’s bid until the United States transfers F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. Erdogan’s year-long block on Sweden’s NATO bid stems from his accusation that Sweden is harboring Kurdish terrorists. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
Russia is trying to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council. Russia was expelled from the council last year in a 93-24 vote. Russia may try to exploit its control over grain shipments, weapons, and energy sales to sway countries into supporting Russia’s bid in a secret vote tomorrow. Albania and Bulgaria are also competing for the two seats representing Eastern Europe on the Human Rights Council. William Mauldin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Secretary Blinken told his Turkish counterpart that the two NATO allies should “coordinate and deconflict” their activities after the United States shot down a Turkish drone flying close to its troops over Syria last week. Turkey will continue targeting Kurdish militants, Turkey’s diplomat said. The United States cooperates with Kurdish forces in Syria, which Turkey views as separatists and terrorists. Thomas Mackintosh reports for BBC News.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to China, today expressed disappointment in China for showing “no sympathy” for Israel over the weekend. China initially responded to the fighting between Israel and Hamas by calling on “relevant parties” to remain calm and end hostilities, adding that “the fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine.” Separately, the U.S. delegation seeks economic reciprocity and an even playing field for American businesses in China. Schumer also reiterated that the United States was not seeking conflict with China. Antoni Slodkowski and Liz Lee reports for Reuters.
Joseph D. Schmidt, a former U.S. soldier who served in a military intelligence battalion, was charged with trying to give China classified secrets. Schmidt, who previously fled to Hong Kong, was arrested after flying to San Francisco. He faces two counts of violating the Espionage Act, carrying up to 20 years in prison. Adam Goldman reports for the New York Times.
A New York appeals court temporarily halted the cancellation of former President Trump’s business certificates that could have stifled his business operations in the state. This decision relates to State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s previous ruling that the prosecution proved a key fraud allegation against Trump. The appeals court declined Trump’s effort to suspend further trial proceedings being conducted by Engoron. Jacob Gershman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas puts more pressure on Republicans to select a new speaker. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) asked, “What kind of message are we sending to our adversaries when we can’t govern, when we’re dysfunctional, when we don’t even have a speaker of the House?” House Republicans will likely hear from speaker candidates behind closed doors tomorrow and vote to choose their nominee on Wednesday, with a full vote expected later in the week. Joey Roulette and David Morgan report for Reuters.