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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The Israeli Defense Forces told the U.N. that approximately 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza in the next 24 hours, a U.N. spokesperson said. “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” the U.N. said in a statement. The U.N. “strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” it added. Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, has called the U.N. response “shameful.” “Instead of standing by Israel, whose citizens were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists… it preaches to Israel,” said Erdan. BBC News reports.
Israeli intelligence reportedly saw signs of irregular activity among Hamas operatives in Gaza the day before the attack, suggesting the militant group could have been preparing for an attack. Consultations that included the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet director Ronen Bar, and Aharon Haliva, head of military intelligence, were called in light of the irregular activity. However, an Israeli official said that leaders decided to wait for more intelligence before putting IDF forces around Gaza on high alert. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
Hamas militants carried detailed maps of towns and military bases and tactical guides identifying weaknesses, indicating the extent of the militant group’s planning. The documents also serve as evidence that Hamas intended to attack civilian populations as well as military targets. David S. Cloud, Anat Peled, and Dov Lieber report for the Wall Street Journal.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces yesterday, said, “Unlike other operations, we are collapsing the governance and sovereignty of the Hamas organization.” Israel has mobilized 360,000 reservists and has amassed armored divisions near Gaza. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 1,537 people have been killed following six days of airstrikes on Gaza, including 500 children and 276 women. Shira Rubin, Louisa Loveluck, Samantha Schmidt, and Susannah George report for the Washington Post.
Human Rights Watch yesterday accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza and Lebanon. The organization said in a statement that “videos taken in Lebanon and Gaza on October 10 and 11, 2023, respectively, show multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border.” The use of such munitions puts “civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries,” the statement noted. Human Rights Watch reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan KC says, “If there is evidence that Palestinians, whether they’re Hamas or Al Quds Brigades or the armed wing of Hamas or any other person or any other national of any other state party, has committed crimes. Yes, we have jurisdiction wherever they’re committed, including on the territory of Israel.” Exclusive interview with Reuters Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie van den Berg.
While civilians in Gaza have been urged to leave, the only viable exit is a border crossing that Egypt has kept shut. Gazans must “stay steadfast and remain on their land,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said yesterday, as Egypt fears being dragged into the conflict. “Egypt will not allow the Palestinian cause to be settled at the expense of other parties,” el-Sisi said earlier this week, hinting at fears that Israelis may try to make the conflict Egypt’s problem. Egypt has said it would allow international aid to enter Gaza from its territory, yet Israeli airstrikes near a potential border crossing point have made aid transfers impossible. Declan Walsh reports for the New York Times.
French Police in Paris broke up a pro-Palestinian rally after a government ban on such demonstrations. Police in Berlin, Germany, also banned planned pro-Palestinian demonstrations. European governments fear a rise in antisemitism following the Israel-Hamas war. Pro-Palestinian groups said the bans risked threatening freedom of expression. Ido Vock and Laurence Peter report for BBC News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – U.S. RESPONSE
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit to Israel yesterday, promised to help defend Israel “as long as America exists,” yet also called for restraint in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. Blinken said, “It’s important to take every possible precaution to prevent harming civilians.” Blinken also said that he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would continue speaking about the possibilities for safe passage of civilians from Gaza. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel today to meet senior government leaders. Austin will also see firsthand the U.S. weapons and security assistance that was rushed to Israel in the days following Hamas’ attack. Austin’s presence and daily communication with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant underlines the United States’ commitment to Israel, defense officials said. Lolita C. Baldor reports for AP News.
Top secret U.S. intelligence gathered in February and leaked on Discord earlier this year suggests a massive attack by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon would be unlikely. U.S. analysis said, “Even during periods of heightened tensions,” Israel and Hezbollah had intended “to display strength while avoiding escalation.” While Hezbollah’s rhetoric has heated up since the Hamas attack, it has remained comparatively restrained, calling for solidarity and protests where other anti-Israeli groups threatened to attack. Shane Harris and Sarah Dadouch report for the Washington Post.
The military junta in Burkina Faso and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding for constructing a nuclear power plant. The memorandum comes after Burkina Faso’s military ruler, Ibrahim Traore, met Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in Moscow in July. BBC News reports.
NATO faces several challenges that the alliance’s 31 defense ministers were unable to resolve in their latest meeting yesterday, including Swedish accession, identifying who damaged a Baltic Sea pipeline, and figuring out how the alliance should assist Israel. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
Russia and Ukraine are attempting to sway opinions as the world’s attention turns to the Israel-Hamas war. Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, yesterday accused Russia of transferring Ukrainian weapons captured in battle to Hamas in a bid to drive a wedge between Ukraine, Israel, and their Western allies. Budanov gave no evidence to support this claim. Ukraine has also attempted to highlight Russia’s links with Iran, which has purportedly supplied weapons to both Russia and Hamas. Matthew Mpoke Bigg reports for the New York Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan yesterday on his first known international trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest in March. Kyrgyzstan is not a signatory to the ICC statute. Frances Vinall, Annabelle Timsit, and Bryan Pietsch report for the Washington Post.
The United States and Qatar reached a “quiet understanding” not to grant Iran access to the $6 billion in Iranian funds that were unfrozen following Tehran’s release of American hostages, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told House Democrats yesterday. While Biden administration officials said there is no evidence of Iran’s direct involvement in the Hamas attack, Tehran is broadly complicit because of its previous support for the militant group. The move is primarily symbolic, as the funds were already subject to restrictions. Jennifer Hansler, MJ Lee, and Alex Marquardt report for CNN.
The United States should prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Russia and China, according to the Strategic Posture Commission, a congressionally appointed bipartisan panel yesterday. The panel advised that the United States must expand its conventional forces, strengthen alliances, and enhance its nuclear weapons modernization program. The Strategic Posture Commission reports.
The Biden administration is considering tightening restrictions on Chinese companies’ access to U.S. semiconductors used for artificial intelligence, closing a loophole that gave Chinese overseas subsidiaries access to the semiconductors, a person familiar with the situation said. Alexandra Alper and Karen Freifeld report for Reuters.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) has dropped his bid for the speakership after failing to secure an overall majority. The move comes just a day after the Republicans nominated him. It is unclear who will now be nominated for the position. Without a speaker, the House of Representatives cannot pass any bills or approve White House requests for emergency aid. Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
Interim House Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is being encouraged by some Republicans to interpret his powers broadly in a bid to get the House working again. McHenry has been cautious not to test the limits of his power as interim speaker. Yet, many Republicans want McHenry to bring a bipartisan resolution to express support for Israel to the House floor. Supporters of the move say it is within McHenry’s powers because the resolution has no force of law. Others seek to go further as they contemplate a resolution that would explicitly grant McHenry some ability to bring legislation to the floor. Stephen Groves reports for AP News.
Judge Aileen Cannon, overseeing former President Trump’s classified documents case, yesterday chastised prosecutors for “frankly wasting the court’s time.” The prosecution said lawyers defending Trump’s co-defendants should acknowledge they also represented other Trump employees who could testify against their clients at trial. Considering if there is a conflict of interest requires scheduling another hearing, which appeared to cause Cannon’s frustration. Aruna Viswanatha and Sadie Gurman report for the Wall Street Journal.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has been additionally charged with secretly acting as an agent of the government of Egypt, an updated indictment shows.