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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Israeli Defense Forces killed over 700 Palestinians, including 305 children, following airstrikes in Gaza over the past 24 hours, the Gaza Health Ministry, a Hamas-run institution, said. The ministry claims nearly 5,800 people have been killed in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began. David Gritten reports for BBC News.
Israel will not permit fuel deliveries into Gaza, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said, after claiming U.N. fuel was being “stolen by Hamas.” Hagari’s comments appear to be at odds with an earlier IDF statement that fuel would be allowed for humanitarian activities in Gaza. Hospitals in Gaza are reducing their capacity to save what little fuel remains. Tamar Michaelis and Eve Brennan report for CNN.
Yocheved Lifshitz, the 85-year-old Israeli peace activist whom Hamas released after being held hostage for 17 days, offered insights into Hamas’ tunnel network beneath Gaza. Describing the tunnels as “a spider web,” Lifshitz foreshadowed the difficulties the IDF could face in an anticipated ground invasion of Gaza. She said “we walked for kilometers underground,” passing rooms that could contain dozens of people. The extensive tunnel system is believed to be hiding weapons, fighters, and hostages. Aaron Boxerman reports for the New York Times.
Israel will amend its budget in light of the war, which is expected to have a direct daily cost of 1 billion shekels ($246 million). The indirect costs of the war have yet to be determined as the economy is negatively affected by mass mobilization and rocket attacks. S&P Global has downgraded Israel’s outlook from “stable” to “negative.” Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Israeli Defense Forces killed eight Syrian soldiers and wounded seven following airstrikes on military positions in the southern province of Daraa, Syria’s state news reported yesterday. BBC News reports.
Israel has blocked visas for U.N. officials following comments made by Secretary-General António Guterres about how the Hamas attacks “did not happen in a vacuum.” “It’s time we teach [the U.N.] a lesson,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan said of the decision. Israel already refused a visa application by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. Lianne Kolirin reports for CNN.
Iran and its allies have increased efforts to send weapons into the West Bank, raising fears of a second front in the Israel-Hamas war. A senior Jordanian security official said the networks of weapons smugglers are growing, assisted by the Syrian government and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. Iran has been focused on arming the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, according to Michael Horowitz, the head of intelligence at an Israeli-based risk consulting firm. Sune Engel Rasmussen and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the international coalition set up to fight the self-styled Islamic State militant group could be repurposed to fight Hamas. During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron also said the fight against Hamas “must be without mercy…but not without rules, because we are democracies that are fighting against terrorists, democracies that respect the laws of war, democracies that do not target civilians, in Gaza or elsewhere.” Macron also stressed the need for a political process to ensure lasting peace. Aurelien Breeden reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – U.S. RESPONSE
The United States yesterday rejected calls for a cease-fire, with White House spokesperson John F. Kirby saying, “a cease-fire, right now, really only benefits Hamas.” Kirby said the United States aims to get aid into Gaza and hostages out but that the United States has not discussed any redlines with Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been discussing the potential for “humanitarian pauses,” expected to be shorter than a cease-fire, to allow aid into Gaza. Erica L. Green and Michael Crowley report for the New York Times.
The United States has “high confidence” that the explosion at Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City was caused by a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian militants, U.S. intelligence officials said yesterday. The officials also expressed “low confidence” that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was responsible for firing the errant rocket. “If an Israeli munition was responsible for this blast, we would expect that Palestinian militants would be very directly and clearly showing what they thought was an Israeli munition,” one official said. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
U.S. President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel has drawn heavy criticism from Arab and Muslim Americans and their allies, which could adversely affect his 2023 election bid. Arab Americans account for 5% of the Michigan vote, while in Pennsylvania and Ohio, they are between 1.7% to 2%, according to Jim Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute. While Arab Americans are unlikely to vote for former President Trump, Biden’s likely competitor, they may not vote at all, denying Biden their support. Andrea Shalal reports for Reuters.
Finland claims a Chinese ship anchor is likely responsible for the rupture of an undersea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia in the Baltic Sea earlier this month. Finnish police said they believe the pipeline damage was caused by Newnew Polar Bear, a containership owned by a Chinese shipping company. NATO has confirmed they are “monitoring the situation closely,” although Finnish police stress that they are uncertain whether the incident was intentional. The incident occurred as concerns increased over the vulnerability of European infrastructure to vandalism amid rising tension between the West and Russia. Georgi Kantchev reports for the Wall Street Journal.
China has sacked its defense minister, Li Shangfu, two months after he disappeared from public life. No reason for his removal has been provided, although reports suggest Shangfu was under investigation for suspected procurement-related corruption. No replacement has been announced yet. His dismissal comes at a time when Beijing is preparing to host foreign defense officials later this week. George Wright reports for BBC News.
Racism towards Black people is rising across Europe, with Austria, Germany, and Finland having the highest rates of discrimination and harassment, a study has found. The E.U. Agency for Fundamental Rights analyzed the findings, which found a near-double increase in the number of respondents who felt subject to racial discrimination in Austria and Germany over the past 12 months. Countries including Portugal and Sweden had the lowest racial discrimination rates. The report includes multiple recommendations, such as the enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation across E.U. member states. Francois Murphy reports for Reuters.
A significant infrastructure facility in Khmelnytskiy, western Ukraine, was damaged by debris caused by a Russian drone attack last night, a senior official confirmed today. The attack damaged both residential and non-residential facilities, and at least 16 people were injured. The Ukrainian military has since confirmed that their air forces intercepted all 11 Russian drones that were launched at Ukraine overnight. Reuters reports.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims that his country’s recent attacks have denied the Russian fleet access to safe bases and maritime corridors in the Western region of the Black Sea. The announcement comes as Kyiv’s military aims to push Russia’s occupying forces out of the Crimean Peninsula. At a diplomatic summit of the Crimea Platform, Zelenskyy also alleged that the capability of Ukraine to strike Crimea is coming closer, although no further details were provided. Hanna Arhirova reports for AP News.
Kyiv’s justice minister Denys Maliuska says Ukrainian authorities will no longer hesitate to prosecute its oligarchs. Ukrainian investigators are probing several billionaires for wealth-related crimes, including fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement, with most of these cases having begun during the 20-month-old war against Russia. The announcement comes after billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, once viewed as Zelenskyy’s chief patron, was jailed last month on fraud and money laundering charges. Dan Peleschuk reports for Reuters.
Ukraine’s newly formed Siberian Battalion recruits Russian citizens to help the ongoing fight against Moscow. An anonymous Ukrainian military officer confirmed that the majority of the unit’s 50 members are indigenous people of Siberia who are eager to fight against what they perceive to be Russian imperialism both inside their homelands and in Ukraine. Many recruits entered Ukraine via third countries. Military analysts say that other Russian regions home to indigenous peoples, such as Buryatia, constitute a disproportionate number of soldiers in the Russian army. Max Hunder reports for Reuters.
The Ukrainian government has ordered the evacuation of children in villages across southern Ukraine, and police are visiting houses to persuade parents to escape amid widespread Russian shelling in the region. The evacuation has expanded following the initial removal of children in eastern Ukraine, which saw 41 children moved in recent days following an increase in offensive assaults in the area. An estimated 800 children of marginalized families are yet to move. Ukrainian evacuation orders, while not new, indicate the intensity of the most violent periods. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
Two dozen U.S. military personnel were wounded following drone attacks at U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq last week, U.S. Central Command confirmed. While the Pentagon has previously confirmed the attacks, the number of casualties had not been disclosed. Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said that there “is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces.” Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains report for NBC News.
The U.S. military in the Middle East is ramping up its surveillance operations and other measures designed to ensure troops are safe as fears of attacks mount. General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East, said, “with the increase in the number of attacks and attempted attacks on U.S. military locations, continuous review of our force protection measures is critical.” Phil Stewart reports for Reuters.
China’s Defense Ministry denounced the U.S. Defense Department’s annual report on China, claiming it misrepresents its military approach and security policy. The report claims that China will significantly expand and diversify its nuclear forces. “We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this report,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian announced, claiming it “exaggerates and hypes the non-existent Chinese military threat.” Bernard Orr reports for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Michael Cohen, ex-lawyer to former President Trump, testified yesterday in Trump’s New York civil fraud case. Cohen provided damaging testimony that linked his actions, and those of all Trump Organization employees, directly to the former president. Cohen claimed that he inflated Trump’s net worth after Trump “arbitrarily” asked him to do so. Kayla Epstein reports for BBC News.
Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows secured an immunity deal in the federal election interference case. After being granted immunity, Meadows reportedly told a grand jury that he repeatedly told former President Trump that his claims of voter fraud were baseless. Meadows told investigators that Trump was being “dishonest” with voters when he claimed election victory. Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin report for ABC News.
Jenna Ellis, a lawyer and defendant in the Georgia election interference case, became former President Trump’s third ex-legal adviser to plead guilty. Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the filing of false statements in exchange for five years of probation, $5,000 in restitution, and 100 hours of community service. Jan Wolfe, Mariah Timms, and Cameron McWhirter report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
House Republicans yesterday nominated Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) as their fourth candidate for speaker. Johnson’s nomination came just after Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) bid was cut short by a rebuke by former President Trump after just four hours. Johnson is a close Trump ally. He will need to secure 217 Republican votes to become speaker. Marianna Sotomayor, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Jacqueline Alemany, and Theodoric Meyer report for the Washington Post.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton yesterday said he is suing the Biden administration for implementing a policy that allegedly led to the cutting of razor wire at the U.S.-Mexico border, undermining Texas’ border security. “Texas has the sovereign right to construct border barriers,” Paxton said, “agents were physically cutting wires and assisting the aliens’ entry into our state. This is illegal.” An administration official in July said border agents have previously cut through razor wire to respond to medical emergencies. A Texas official in July also said they “open” the wire in case of emergencies. Sarah Dewberry and Rosa Flores report for CNN.