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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Preliminary U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that between 100 to 300 people were killed in the explosion at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, which caused “only light structural damage.” Hamas put the initial death toll at 500 people. “We are still assessing the likely casualty figures, and our assessment may evolve,” the document sent by the Director of National Intelligence to Congress states. The Biden administration is considering whether to declassify further raw intelligence as it tries to establish a clear and accurate narrative of events. “Unfortunately, the narratives have already spread and solidified at this point,” one official said. Jeremy Herb reports for CNN.
The U.N. has made progress on an agreement to get aid into Gaza from Egypt, two officials said, providing few details. Under the agreement, international observers would inspect trucks before they enter Gaza, as Israel has demanded. Justin Porter reports for the New York Times.
Egyptian construction crews are attempting to repair the Rafah border crossing, the last remaining access point into Gaza, which was damaged in the fighting. Israel said it would allow only food, water, and medicines to pass through. Twenty aid trucks may enter as soon as today. Thousands of tons of aid are near the border. Tom Bateman reports for the BBC News.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have continued to strike Gaza today, including in the south, where Palestinians were told to flee. The Israeli Defense Ministry has been evacuating communities inside Israel near Gaza and Lebanon. Today, it outlined evacuation plans for Kiryat Shmona, a town of more than 20,000 near the Lebanese border. The airstrikes and evacuation efforts may indicate preparations for the start of an IDF ground incursion into Gaza. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant yesterday ordered ground troops to prepare to see Gaza “from the inside.” Najib Jobain, Samya Kullab, and Joseph Krauss report for AP News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The Israel-Hamas war has led to competing calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take action. Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor for the ICC, said Hamas’ attack is “absolutely under the jurisdiction of the court [and is] clearly a crime against humanity” and “possibly genocide.” Ocampo said that while Israel has “the right to defend itself” and kill Hamas members, its blockade of Gaza “could be genocide [by] creating conditions to destroy a group.” Ocampo said the West’s focus on opening a humanitarian corridor, as though the conflict is a natural disaster, is problematic. He urged politicians to “put pressure on Israeli officers to not commit crimes.” Adam Taylor reports for the Washington Post.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. Navy in the northern Red Sea intercepted drones and three land-attack missiles launched by Houthi militants in Yemen yesterday. While the precise target was unclear, a Pentagon spokesperson claimed the missiles were “potentially” aimed at Israel. No injuries were reported following the incident. The incident comes after a series of separate Shia militant attacks on U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, following warnings from Iraqi militant groups concerning U.S. support for Israel in the conflict in Gaza. Gem O’Reilly reports for BBC News.
Canada withdrew 41 of its India-based diplomats, amounting to a two-thirds reduction, as India today said it would revoke their diplomatic immunity. The withdrawal is the latest move in the ongoing diplomatic spat since Canada accused India of being involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh community leader in British Columbia. Ian Austen reports for the New York Times.
China significantly increased its stocks of nuclear weapons over the past year, as Beijing hopes “to double its arsenal to over 1,000 warheads” by 2030, a Pentagon report claimed yesterday. The report clarifies that while China retains a “no-first strike policy,” the planned increase of nuclear warheads raises many concerns for the United States amid a low point in China-U.S. relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping has previously declared his hopes for “a world-class military” by 2049. Matt Murphy reports for BBC News.
Afghanistan’s acting commerce minister claims that the Taliban administration will begin formal talks to join Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure program. Beijing has sought to further ties with the Taliban-run government since it took power in 2021, and last month, China became the first country to appoint an ambassador to Kabul. Afghanistan has significant mineral deposits that China seeks to access. Joe Cash reports for Reuters.
China is set to dominate deep sea mining, a key element in global decarbonization efforts. China is expected to begin mining in 2025. It will have mining rights for 17 percent of the total area currently licensed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Unlike China, U.S. companies do not have any exploration contracts with the ISA. While China was among the first countries to send a permanent mission to the ISA, the United States remains only an observer. Lily Kuo reports for the Washington Post.
Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva is being held and facing charges after visiting family in the Russian city of Kazan. Kurmasheva was arrested on Wednesday and charged with failing to register as a foreign agent, which carries a jail term of up to five years. Dmitry Kolezev, a prominent Russian journalist, claims that the law Kurmasheva is being charged under is so vague that collecting basic information about military personnel could be prohibited. The arrest comes amid the ongoing detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, accused of spying. Ido Vock reports for BBC News.
Ukrainian troops have crossed onto the Russian-occupied eastern bank of the Dnipro River, the Ukrainian military appeared to confirm. U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War confirmed that Ukrainian troops have proceeded about 2.5 miles east of the river. While Ukrainian forces previously conducted raids across the river, the present push could indicate a larger counter-offensive is being planned. Jaroslav Lukiv reports for the BBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Lawyers for special counsel Jack Smith rejected former President Trump’s claim that he is immune in the federal election interference case, calling the argument “startling.” “Throughout American history, there have been federal criminal prosecutions of high-ranking officials from all three branches of the federal government,” prosecutors wrote in a 54-page court filing. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.
Sidney Powell, ex-lawyer to former President Trump, pleaded guilty to six charges in the election interference case in Georgia. In exchange for six years probation, Powell agreed to testify in future proceedings against the other defendants, which includes Trump. Under the deal, Powell will also record a proffer, pay a fine, and write an apology letter to Georgia citizens. Nadine Yousif and Madeline Halpert report for BBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the interim House Speaker, told Republican colleagues that he would resign if pushed to move legislation forward without a commensurate expansion of his powers. His unwillingness to move legislation forward has put more pressure on Republicans who have been unable to agree on a new speaker. Scott Wong and Rebecca Kaplan report for NBC News.
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) continues his speakership bid despite entrenched opposition from within the Republican party and little present prospect of becoming House Speaker. A third vote will be held on the House floor today. About 22 Republicans voted against Jordan on the second ballot, with only a few indicating a willingness to support him today. Clare Foran, Melanie Zanona, Haley Talbot, and Annie Grayer report for CNN.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reached an agreement with James Renner, one of the 16 Republican fake electors in the 2020 presidential election. Judge Kristen Simmons granted a motion to drop the eight felony charges brought against Renner. Under the agreement, Renner will “cooperate fully” to provide information about “Michigan’s false slate of electors,” acting as a witness in proceedings against the 15 other fake electors. Craig Mauger reports for the Detroit News.
Travis King, the U.S. soldier who returned from North Korea after fleeing across the Demilitarised Zone, reportedly faces charges in the United States. It has been reported that King faces eight charges, including desertion, possessing sexual images of a child, and assault against fellow soldiers. George Wright reports for BBC News.