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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Almost 1.9 million people — over 80 percent of the population — have been displaced across the Gaza Strip since the war broke out on Oct. 7, according to an update yesterday by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The U.N. agency “has been able to verify that 117 incidents have occurred at 85 UNRWA premises since the beginning of the war. 30 installations were hit directly and 55 sustained collateral damage… [and] has received reports of the military use of its facilities on at least five occasions.”
The situation in Gaza is becoming “apocalyptic” with “no safe place to go,” Martin Griffiths, the top U.N. emergency relief official warned in a post on X yesterday. “People are being ordered to move again, with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another,” he added. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said today that its troops have “completed the encirclement of the Jabalia refugee camp.” Caitlin Stephen Hu, Richard Roth, Mia Alberti, and Kareem El Damanhoury report for CNN.
Activists and diplomats representing around 40 countries attended a U.N. presentation yesterday on the large-scale sexual violence reported during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. “Hamas brutally murdered 1,200 souls and in some cases, they first raped their victims. We know this from eyewitnesses…from combat paramedics, we would know this from some victims if more had been allowed to live,” said Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta executive. The head of the International Crime Investigations Unit of the Israeli police, Meni Binyamin, said it had documented “violent rape incidents, the most extreme sexual abuses we have seen…I am talking about dozens,” referring to both female and male victims. Hamas has denied its fighters committed sex crimes and said such acts would violate Islamic principles. Outside the meeting, hundreds of protesters accused the U.N. of a double standard when it comes to sexual violence, as some chanted, “Me too, unless you are a Jew.” Katherine Rosman and Lisa Lerer report for the New York Times.
Israeli authorities are investigating findings by U.S. researchers at NYU and Columbia University that some investors may have known about and profited from Hamas’ plan to attack Israel on Oct. 7. “Days before the attack, traders appeared to anticipate the events to come,” they wrote, referencing short interest in the MSCI Israel Exchange Traded Fund that “suddenly, and significantly, spiked” on Oct. 2. “And just before the attack, short selling of Israeli securities on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange increased dramatically. Our findings suggest that traders informed about the coming attacks profited from these tragic events, and consistent with prior literature we show that trading of this kind occurs in gaps in U.S. and international enforcement of legal prohibitions on informed trading,” they stated in their report. Steven Scheer reports for Reuters.
A ratio of two Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza for every dead Hamas member is “tremendously positive,” IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said yesterday. The IDF believe the ratio is correct, citing a briefing by senior Israeli military officials who provided the figure, with Conricus adding that, “I think that our numbers will be corroborated — if you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shields, and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive, and perhaps unique in the world.” Mitchell McCluskey reports for CNN.
Twenty five wounded people and 583 foreign or dual nationals were evacuated from Gaza to Egypt yesterday, according to an update by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It said that Rafah — for the second consecutive day — was the only governorate in Gaza where (limited) aid distributions took place, and that last night, the main telecommunication provider in Gaza suffered another blackout due to cuts in the main cable fiber routes, which “followed a partial shutdown in Gaza City and northern Gaza a few earlier prior due to ongoing hostilities.” The U.N. office also stated that on Sunday, 10 people were reportedly killed and 20 injured when a UNRWA school in Jabalia refugee camp was struck, and that several fatalities were reported when two hospitals, the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabalia and the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, were hit on Sunday and yesterday.
Footage taken yesterday shows the aftermath of an Israeli strike on a U.N. school in Beit Lahia, Northern Gaza, which was housing displaced Palestinians. Joe Snell reports for the Washington Post.
One person was killed and several injured after clashes broke out in the Qalandia refugee camp near the city of Ramallah following an Israeli raid. The Hamas-run health ministry said a 32-year-old was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers, and the Palestinian Red Crescent said 22 people were injured from gunshots. Jennifer Hassan, Miriam Berger, and Cate Brown report for the Washington Post.
The corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed yesterday, alleged to have used his political power and a “huge” financial arrangement to win favorable news coverage from Walla news website, owned by Israel’s largest telecommunications company. Netanyahu was first charged in late 2019 on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, making him the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office. Netanyahu is exempt from attending the hearing, but it is likely he will be called to testify. Jennifer Hassan and Lior Soroka report for the Washington Post.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanuyahu would eventually be tried as a war criminal over his country’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, saying “beyond being a war criminal, Netanyahu, who is the butcher of Gaza right now, will be tried as the butcher of Gaza just as Milosevic was tried.” Erdogan referenced the Yugoslav ex-President Slobodan Milosevic who was tried for genocide and crimes against humanity at the Hague. Erdogan also condemned Western support for Israel as being “blind and deaf” as they “try to skip over the deaths of all those innocent people by using the excuse of Hamas hav[ing] nothing left to say to humanity.” Tuvan Gumrukcu and Burcu Karakas report for Reuters.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
France has announced it is freezing the assets of Hamas’ leader Yahya Sinwar for six months from today as part of a new set of sanctions. Details on Sinwar’s financial resources and assets in France are unclear. It follows UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron’s decision to sanction senior Hamas leaders last month. BBC News reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a one-day trip to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. tomorrow to discuss bilateral relations, the Israel-Hamas war, and other international issues, the Kremlin confirmed today. The trip was first announced yesterday by Russian Foreign Affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, although the date of the visit was only announced today. The trip comes before a visit to Moscow by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday. Putin is currently subject to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, but neither the U.A.E. or Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC’s founding treaty. AP News reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — US RESPONSE
Israel has assembled a system of large pumps it could use to flood Hamas’ network of tunnels under the Gaza Strip with seawater, in a tactic that would not only push fighters out from underground refuge, but also threaten Gaza’s water supply, according to U.S. officials. The IDF-assembled seawater pumps — which draw seawater from the Mediterranean Sea and have the capacity to move thousands of cubic meters of water per hour into the tunnels — would cause severe flooding within weeks. Officials said Israel informed the US of the option last month but there has not been any update on how close they are to carrying out the plan or if they are going ahead with it. “We are not sure how successful pumping will be since nobody knows the details of the tunnels and the ground around them. It’s impossible to know if that will be effective because we don’t know how seawater will drain in tunnels no one has been in before,” one official said. The IDF have declined to comment on the specific flooding plan, but confirmed that it is “operating to dismantle Hamas’ terror capabilities in various ways, using different military and technological tools.” Nancy A. Youssef, Warren P. Strobel, and Gordon Lubold report for the Wall Street Journal.
Iran’s U.N. envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani, said yesterday his country has not been involved in any attacks or actions against U.S. military forces, following the US blaming the Iran-backed Yemen Houthis for a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since the Israel-Hamas war broke out. Reuters reports.
Divers from the U.S. military and Japan’s Marine Self-Defense Forces located “remains along the fuselage of the aircraft wreckage” of an Osprey aircraft that crashed into the sea last week in southwest Japan, with the dive teams finding the bodies of “five additional crew members from the original team of eight that were involved with the crash,” the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said in a statement. No formal identification of the five crew members has been provided yet.
The Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with China’s leader Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday for the second time this year, signifying attempts to increase economic ties with China amid Western sanctions. Lukashenko — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — is on a “working visit” to China, with Xi telling his guest that, “China is willing to continue to strengthen strategic cooperation with Belarus, promote practical cooperation and deepen bilateral relations,” according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua. The meeting comes as Belarus faces sanctions from a number of countries including the US, E.U., U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands over its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its long-standing political repression. Joe Cash and Liz Lee report for Reuters.
Venezuelans voted in a referendum yesterday on a 95 percent vote share to establish a new Venezuelan state in the highly-contested oil-rich territory Essequibo. The region is under dispute, with Venezuela maintaining that a decision made in 1899 by an international arbitral tribunal to award Essequibo to Britain, the colonial power which then-ruled Guyana, was unfair. The case is presently before the International Court of Justice, although Venezuela has disputed the court’s jurisdiction to rule on the matter. President Maduro labeled the results as “an overwhelming victory.” Vanessa Buschschlüter reports for BBC News.
China is hoping to boost relations with the E.U. at an upcoming summit, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying, “China and the EU have not completely the same point of view on international and regional issues, and only by adhering to communication and coordination can we play a constructive role in maintaining world peace and stability and addressing global challenges.” The comments were made ahead of a summit this Thursday between Chinese President Xi Jinping, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Bernard orr reports for Reuters.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy will address U.S. senators on the need for another round of military aid and an update on the state of the war in Ukraine at a classified briefing today via secure video conference, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced. The briefing takes place a day before the Senate is scheduled to vote on proceeding to pass legislation for a $106 billion emergency foreign aid package, which would include more than $61 billion for Ukraine. The final details of the package are still being finalized following a Republican-Democrat dispute over adding immigration and asylum policy reforms. Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the Western military alliance for Ukraine should be “prepared for bad news,” saying “wars develop in phases … we have to support Ukraine in both the good and bad times.” The comments were made on Saturday with a German broadcaster ARD. Stoltenberg did not specify details but called on NATO members to increase ammunition production, adding “we’re not able to work together … the more we support Ukraine, the faster the war will end.” Bjarke Smith-Meyer reports for POLITICO.
Russian forces intensified attacks yesterday on the town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow continues its advance through eastern Ukraine. Head of Avdiivka’s military administration, Vitaliy Barabash, told national television on Monday, “Yesterday and today, we have seen a significant increase in artillery shelling … and a great many instances of mortar shelling.There has also been an increase in assault actions.” Much of the fighting in Avdiivka has concentrated on the coking plants and the “industrial zone” outside the town center, which officials say currently remains in Ukraine’s hands. Ron Popeski and Oleksandr Kozhukhar report for Reuters.
Russian air defense systems destroyed or intercepted 41 Ukraine-launched drones overnight and early this morning, the Russian defense ministry said. The ministry added that 26 of the drones were destroyed over Russian territory, while 15 were intercepted over the Crimean Peninsula. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said it shot down 10 out of 17 drone attacks launched overnight in “various regions” of the country.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban demanded yesterday in a letter to the President of the European Council of E.U. leaders that a decision on Ukraine gaining E.U. membership should not be made at the upcoming summit. “I respectfully urge you not to invite the European Council to decide on these matters in December as the obvious lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure. The European Council must avoid this counterproductive scenario for the sake of unity, our most important asset,” Orban wrote. Envoys from the 27 member states of the E.U. will meet today to begin written conclusions of the summit, which is also expected to discuss the possible membership of Georgia, Bosnia, and Moldova. Gabriela Baczynska and Andrew Gray report for Reuters.
The US is running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight the war against Russia, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday. His comments came after Budget Director Shalanda Young warned House Speaker Mike Johnson in a letter that “cutting off the flow of U.S. weapons and equipment will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.” Ukraine’s ambassador to the US said, “we are all praying and hoping for additional support from the American people,” as aid for Ukraine remains embroiled in Congressional dispute. Stephen Collinson reports for CNN.
The US expanded its visa restriction policy yesterday to include Ugandan and Zimbabwean officials believed to be repressing marginalized and vulnerable groups including the LGBTQ+ community and civil society advocates. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the move, although he did not cite any named officials. Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ+ law was enacted in May this year, and carries the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” The U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials soon after the law was passed, although the new policy imposes restrictions on “current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit, in undermining the democratic process in Uganda.” Kanishka Singh reports for Reuters.
Court documents unsealed yesterday show how the ex-US ambassador Victor Manuel Rocha — currently charged with spying for Cuba — made several trips to Cuba where he allegedly helped advance the interests of Cuban officials from 1981. The charging document alleges Rocha had three meetings with an undercover FBI agent where he divulged information about his time working as a secret agent. “I knew exactly how to do it and obviously the Dirección [Cuba’s intelligence agency] accompanied me … lt’s a long process and it wasn’t easy,” Rocha allegedly said. Rocha repeatedly used the term “we” to describe himself and Cuba, and referenced how he was “angry” to have his loyalty questioned by Cuba when they asked if he was still working for them. At one point, Rocha referred to himself as being “in charge” during the “knock down of small planes,” which prosecutors claim is a reference to Cuba’s shooting down of two unarmed planes flown by an anti-Castro group in 1996. Madeline Halpert reports for BBC News.