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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Israel has agreed to daily four-hour “tactical, localized pauses” of military operations in parts of northern Gaza to allow the distribution of humanitarian assistance and civilian evacuations, the White House confirmed yesterday. Three hours’ notice will be given before each pause, which will be in a different area each day, according to a senior Israeli official. President Joe Biden confirmed he asked for the pauses but said he asked for “an even longer pause.” A senior Biden administration official said “a pause is something more, in our view, than a couple of hours…a pause has a duration of a day, a couple of days, long enough to move significant quantities of humanitarian things in that would not otherwise be doable, and to get more foreign nationals…out.” Karen DeYoung reports for the Washington Post.
Yesterday saw 80,000 people flee Northern Gaza through the evacuation corridor, the largest movement of people since the corridor opened five days ago, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said. Saeed Shah, Stacy Meichtry, and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that his country does not “seek to conquer,” “occupy,” or “govern Gaza” after its war with Hamas. He said a “credible force” would be needed “if necessary…[to] kill the killers” to “prevent the re-emergence of a Hamas-like entity.” The comments came as the United States made clear its opposition to Israeli post-war occupation of Gaza earlier this week. Netanyahu added that after the war, “what we have to see is Gaza demilitarized, deradicalized and rebuilt.” Rami Ayyub reports for Reuters.
Israeli airstrikes hit Al-Shifa — Gaza’s largest hospital — this morning, killing one person and injuring others sheltering there, according to Palestinian officials. Officials said the Israeli military damaged the Indonesian hospital and struck vehicles outside the Rantissi cancer hospital in northern Gaza, a location Israel says is being used by Hamas. The director of Al-Shifa hospital said “Israel is now launching a war on Gaza City hospitals.” The Israeli military said Hamas has hidden command centers and tunnels beneath the hospitals, adding that, “while the world sees neighbourhoods with schools, hospitals, scout groups, children’s playgrounds and mosques, Hamas sees an opportunity to exploit [sic].” Palestinian officials said 10,812 Gaza residents have been killed as of yesterday, with children accounting for around 40% of the fatalities. Nidal Al-Mughrabi reports for Reuters.
Three top Hamas commanders who were part of the Oct.7 attacks were killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this morning, the IDF stated. The IDF also said it struck a shipping container that held “approximately 20 rocket launchers.” Mithil Aggarwal reports for NBC News.
Rafah border crossing saw 699 foreign nationals leave for Egypt yesterday, according to an Egyptian border official. “According to a CNN tally, this brings the total number of foreign nationals evacuated to more than 2,000,” Asmaa Khalil and Zeena Saifi report for CNN.
The armed wing of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in Gaza released a video yesterday showing a young boy and elderly woman among around 240 hostages taken by gunmen in the Oct.7 attacks. The group said it would release the two hostages for medical and humanitarian reasons once the requisite conditions were met, although no further details were provided. While the vast majority of hostages seized from the Oct.7 attacks are believed to be held by Hamas, the smaller militant group of Islamic Jihad has said it holds at least 30 captives. The video is the third released by the group, who have so far released four hostages, including a pair of 85-year-old women who returned to Israel on Oct.23. Nidal Al Mughrabi, Emily Rose, Yomna Ehab, Enas Alashray, Jana Choukier, and Crispian Balmer report for Reuters.
Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, expressed concerns over the “dramatic increase in violence from Israeli forces” in Jenin refugee camp, including “widespread bombing and shooting.” Jenin refugee camp is located in the West Bank and MSF say it witnessed Israeli military vehicles blocking ambulance access to healthcare facilities and entering hospitals. “Hospitals are not targets and must remain safe spaces…medical care must not be impeded,” they said in a statement released yesterday. Mohammed Tawfeeq reports for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – REGIONAL RESPONSE
Israel’s military said it retaliated after an organization in Syria launched a drone which hit a school in Eilat yesterday. The military did not provide details of the organization but confirmed they hold Syria’s government fully responsible for “any terror activity emanating from its territory.” They said the drone was launched toward Eilat, on the Red Sea, approximately 250 miles from the nearest Syrian territory point. No injuries were reported and light damage was sustained. Emily Rose, Jonathan Saul, Maytaal Angel, and Rami Ayyub report for Reuters.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk raised doubts today at a news conference in Jordan over Israel’s establishment of “safe zones.” He said they “can heighten risks to civilians, and raises real questions as to whether security can be guaranteed in practice…at the moment, nowhere in Gaza is safe, as bombardments are being reported in all parts of the Strip.” Türk said the “solution to the situation is the end of the occupation, and full respect for the right to self-determination for Palestinians,” following his comments earlier this week that both Israel and Hamas have committed war crimes. Zeena Saifi reports for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said civilians in Gaza “face a never-ending humanitarian nightmare” and stressed that “now is the time for concrete action,” in a video message at the Paris humanitarian conference on Gaza yesterday. He said the aid provided to Gaza is “a drop in the ocean” and that there needs to be “sustained access to bring in and distribute supplies at much greater scale, volume and frequency – including fuel.”
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – U.S. RESPONSE
The Biden administration has been warned by U.S. diplomats in the Middle East that its support for Israel is being viewed as “material and moral culpability” in “possible war crimes,” resulting in the loss of “Arab publics for a generation,” according to an embassy cable obtained by CNN. The cable was written by the second-highest U.S. official in Muscat. Another cable, from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, conveyed the commentary in a state-run Egyptian newspaper that “President Biden’s cruelty and disregard for Palestinians exceeded all previous U.S. presidents.” Priscilla Albarez and Alex Marquardt report for CNN.
Germany pledged yesterday to make its military the “backbone of deterrence and collective defence in Europe [sic]” and “be ready to fight a war,” its defense minister announced, as Berlin issues a new defense policy for the first time in over a decade. A 19-page document details a shift of policy following Russia’s war with Ukraine, and includes the first steps to be taken to strengthen the German military following the Cold War and “decades of neglect.” It also pledges to deploy a combat unit in Lithuania. Last year, Germany created a 100 billion-euro special fund to purchase modern weaponry. Sabine Siebold reports for Reuters.
Russian troops are intensifying attacks on the eastern town of Avdiivka using infantry as well as “artillery, drones, aviation, the same air bombing and more,” according to a senior Ukraine officer. Oleksandr Borodin, the press officer for Ukraine’s third separate assault brigade, said “all this started after the events in Israel.” The head of Avdiivka’s military administration said Russia was shelling “round the clock” but recent heavy rain meant troops were held back. The evening report of Ukraine’s General Staff said it repelled 11 attacks near Avdiivka, as well as 15 in Maryinka and 22 in Bakhmut. In an account provided by Russia’s Investigative Committee, Ukraine is said to have shelled the town of Skadovsk in the southern Kherson region, causing fatalities and wounding others. Ron Popeski and Oleksandr Kozhukhar report for Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his military top brass today to discuss the war in Ukraine and see “new models of military equipment.” The Kremlin released pictures of Putin meeting at the southern military grouping headquarters in Rostov, with attendees including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov. Reuters reports.
One person was killed and three crew members injured after a Russian missile struck a moored civilian ship at the Black Sea port of Odessa, according to Ukrainian officials. Odessa’s Regional Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the attack which was launched on Wednesday. Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the ship was supposed to be transporting iron ore to China, adding that this is the 21st targeted attack on the port since Russia withdrew from a deal earlier this year allowing for safe export of Ukrainian grain. The Russian defense ministry said it views all cargo ships in the Black Sea headed to Ukraine as potential military targets. Kathryn Armstrong reports for BBC News.
US-IRAN BACKED MILITANTS
U.S. forces have been attacked on four occasions over the past day in Iraq and Syria, with three U.S. troops suffering minor injuries, an anonymous U.S. official said. Three of the attacks took place in Iraq. Yesterday morning, a convoy accompanied by Iraqi counterterrrorism forces was targeted by an improvised explosive device in Mosul Dam, and although no injuries were reported, one vehicle in the patrol was damaged. The same morning,a drone was launched against U.S. and coalition forces in west Baghdad, but was shot down prior to reaching its target. A drone was also launched at al-Harir airbase in Erbil, which houses U.S. and international forces. The drone was downed before reaching its target and no injuries were reported. Iraqi Kurdistan’s counterterrorism service said attacks at al-Harir airbase caused a fire at a fuel depot, adding that the base was evacuated on Oct.20. Iran-backed militias in Iraq have publicly stated that they will continue attacking U.S. assets for as long as the United States backs Israel in the war. Kamal Ayash, Jamal al-Badrani, Ahmed Rasheed, Timour Azhari, and Idrees Ali report for Reuters.
Iran’s U.N. ambassador says Tehran had no role in Hamas’ attacks on Israel or proxy attacks on U.S. forces. Amir Saieid Iravani said that “Iran is not involving itself in any attack against the United States forces in the region,” and that attacks in Syria and Iraq were carried out by others at “their own decision and by their own direction.” He said Iran has “insisted that we are not going to expand this war front,” referencing his work with allies in the region. The ambassador was also asked whether he supported Hamas’ actions, and responded with “it is a war” which was “started 75 years ago,” stating that Iran was not involved in the attack nor aware of any details prior to the operation. Jennifer Deaton and Kathleen Magramo report for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating letters sent to election workers that contained suspicious white powder, with one case so far testing positive for fentanyl. No injuries or ill health effects have been reported. Officials in Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, California and Georgia have all received letters. The FBI did not provide any further details, citing “ongoing incidents,” and law enforcement officials say it is too soon to determine the identity of who sent the letters. The Washington Secretary of State, Steve Hobbs, said the incidents were “acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.” Ken Dilanian, Andrew Blankstein, Tom Winter, Rebecca Shabad, and Zoë Richards report for NBC News.