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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Pro-Israel advocacy groups have spent nearly 100 times more in advertising via Meta’s social media platforms in the last month compared to groups aligned with Palestine and Arab nations, according to an analysis by POLITICO. The largest single pro-Israel advertiser between Nov. 2 and Dec. 1 was the “Facts for Peace” organization, which spent over $450,000 targeting Meta users under 30-years-old in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Houston. One of their advertisements included a Palestinian citizen of Israel denouncing Hamas’ treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, and a video which said, “while Gazans suffer, Hamas leaders reside in villas in Qatar.” Meta has banned Hamas and removes content that praises the organization. Mark Scott reports for POLITICO.
Israel said it has killed about half of Hamas’ mid-level battalion commanders and surrounded yesterday the house of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Khan Younis, proving Israeli “forces can reach anywhere in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a photo they claim to have found during the fighting of what they allege was a group of operatives likely overseeing thousands of Hamas fighters. “The terrorists are now emerging from the underground tunnels and engaging our forces in close combat. Our forces will continue to further our achievements in Jabalya, Shuja’iyya, and also in the Khan Younis area—the heart of Hamas’ terror,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said yesterday. Rory Jones reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Invoking Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, a letter by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council of the “severe risk of humanitarian collapse” in Gaza and called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” The U.A.E. also gave the council a draft humanitarian ceasefire resolution that it aims to put to a vote tomorrow when the council is due to be briefed by Guterres on the situation in Gaza. The resolution would require at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes. Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood said the US does not support any further action by the council at present, “however, we remain focused on the difficult and sensitive diplomacy geared to getting more hostages released, more aid flowing into Gaza, and better protection of civilians.” Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour said Arab ministers would discuss the draft resolution with U.S. officials during a visit next week to Washington, saying, “on top of the agenda is this war has to stop.” Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, criticized Guterres’ decision to invoke Article 99 and labeled it a “a new moral low.” In a post on X, Erdan wrote, “the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’ reign of terror in Gaza.”
Head of the World Food Programme has warned that “Everyone in Gaza is hungry,” while the director-general of the W.H.O. cautioned that “Gaza’s health system is on its knees and near total collapse.” The comments came following the U.N.’s calls for a humanitarian ceasefire. NBC News reports.
Israel maintains that Hamas has a stronghold in Jabalia refugee camp and claimed the IDF captured a main Hamas outpost in the area, as well as locating tunnels and weaponry used by Hamas. Hundreds of IDF tanks are surrounding the densely populated refugee camp in north Gaza and hundreds of tank shells are reported to have hit the region. The Hamas-run local authority said about 100,000 people are still in the camp without a functioning hospital. No aid has reached north Gaza since the fighting pause collapsed last week. BBC News reports.
The IDF said this morning that its “troops killed Hamas terrorists and struck dozens of terror targets” during operations in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip over the past day. “IDF troops engaged with a terrorist cell that exited from a tunnel shaft, killed two terrorists in combat and struck the shaft,” the IDF said. Morgan Winsor reports for ABC News.
An airstrike hit Rafah last night, a region specified by Israel as an area to relocate to as they urged civilians to leave southern Gaza. The strike came soon after the U.N. expressed alarm at the conditions there, including how over-crowded it was and that displaced people were sleeping on the street. “Under international humanitarian law, the place where you evacuate people to must, by law, have sufficient resources for their survival — medical facilities, food and water,” said James Elder, a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund. He added that instead, these regions are “patches of barren land” where “thousands of people are building tents made of wood and plastic.” Military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said in a post on X that Gazans heading north should instead use the main coastal road, although it is unclear whether many people would do so given the bombardment. Liam Stack reports for the New York Times.
The Hamas-run health ministry said that 73 bodies and 123 injured people were brought to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al Balah in the past 24 hours. The circumstances of the deaths and injuries are unknown and the health ministry did not elaborate. Shashank Bengali reports for the New York Times.
The IDF released a photo allegedly showing 11 senior Hamas leaders in a tunnel beneath Gaza and said it has killed five of them. It said among those killed was the head of Hamas’ aerial division, two battalion commanders, a brigade commander, and a deputy brigade commander. The military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, confirmed last month that at least three of the men in the picture had been killed, including the northern Gaza military leader, his deputy, and a battalion commander. Adam Goldman reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — US RESPONSE
An investigation released Tuesday by Amnesty International alleges that a U.S.-made weapons guidance system was used in two Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that reportedly killed 43 civilians, in what “should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration.” Fragments of the U.S.-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions system were found in the rubble in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. The report is one of the first attempts tying an American made weapon to a fatal attack in Gaza. Amnesty International said it used weapon experts and a “remote sensing analyst” who examined satellite imagery and photos which show the “fragments of ordnance recovered from the rubble.” The report claims as a result of two attacks, 19 children, 14 women, and 10 men were killed. The report “did not find any indication that there were military objectives at the sites” of the airstrikes, but said “these air strikes were either direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) labeled the report “flawed, biased and premature, based on baseless assumptions regarding the IDF’s operations.” The U.S. State Department said it is reviewing the report. CNN reports.
Israel has rejected requests raised “in every meeting” by the Biden administration to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to “enable a surge of humanitarian assistance” to more Palestinians, according to three senior U.S. officials. The Kerem Shalom crossing, located at the intersection of Gaza, Egypt, and Israel, is a key throughway that Israel has kept closed over political and military concerns, a senior official said. The U.N. and aid agencies have repeatedly urged Israel to open the crossing, but the U.S. effort has not been openly reported. The Rafah crossing is the only throughway into and out of Gaza currently, but that route is ill-equipped to deal with a large influx of aid vehicles. The Israeli government’s office responsible for coordinating aid deliveries to Gaza has publicly blamed the U.N. for failing to do more to increase truck deliveries, while the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development said last week that only a third of U.N. provisions have reached Gaza. Alexander Ward and Erin Banco report for POLITICO.
The US would object to any proposed buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip as it would be “violation” of one of Washington’s guiding principles to ensure no reduction in the enclave’s territory, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said yesterday. “If it’s with respect to something within Israeli territory I won’t speak to that — that’s a decision for the Israelis to make,” Miller said during a daily press conference, adding there would have to be a transition period post-major combat operations to avoid a “security vacuum.” Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis report for Reuters.
The Justice Department said yesterday it was investigating “the murder of more than 30 Americans” and the abduction of U.S. citizens by Hamas fighters during the Oct. 7 attacks. “Hamas murdered more than 30 Americans and kidnapped more” Attorney General Merrick Garland said, adding that “we are investigating those heinous crimes, and we will hold those people accountable.” No further details were provided and it is unclear which laws would be used to prosecute those involved in the attack. A senior enforcement official said the alleged perpetrators could be indicted on antiterrorism laws or under the war crime statute. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
Senior Biden administration officials said that striking the Iran-backed Yemen Houthis is the wrong course of action, despite military officers proposing more forceful responses to the attacks in the Red Sea. The attack on Sunday drew a U.S. Navy warship into a firefight, but intelligence officials have not determined that its warship was the target due to the imprecise Houthi missiles. Officials believe the Houthis were instead attempting to target assets with Israeli ties. Just yesterday, the USS Mason shot down another drone launched by the Houthis in the Red Sea, according to a U.S. military official. No damage or injury has been reported to equipment or personnel. A State Department spokesperson said, “in light of the recent targeting of civilians by the Houthis and its piracy in international waters, we have begun a review of potential sanctions.” Lara Seligman and Alexander Ward report for POLITICO.
Saudi Arabia has asked the US to show restraint in responding to Houthi attacks, according to two sources familiar with Saudi thinking. The Houthis have said its attacks are a show of support for the Palestinians, and a senior source said Houthi representatives had discussed their attacks with Iranian officials in a meeting in November, where it was agreed they would carry out actions in a “controlled way” to help bring an end to the Gaza war. The two Saudi-familiar said Riyadh’s message of restraint to Washington was aimed at preventing rising escalation. The sources added that Riyadh is pleased with the way the US is dealing with the situation. Both the White House and the Saudi government declined to comment. Aziz El Yaakoubi and Parisa Hafezi report for Reuters.
A 26-year-old man suspected of stabbing a German tourist to death and wounding two others in Paris last weekend is under formal investigation for murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist organization, the French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said yesterday. The suspect has been identified as a French man named Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, who pledged allegiance to the self-styled Islamic State militant group, the prosecutor’s office confirmed. Dominique Vidalon reports for Reuters.
The draft British legislation which aims to enable the British government’s flagship Rwanda policy to go ahead gives power to disregard and ignore key sections of human rights laws and international rules, such as the international Refugee Convention, in an attempt to obviate the recent Supreme Court decision blocking the policy. The Bill also allows ministers to ignore any emergency order from the European Court of Human Rights to temporarily halt a deportation flight to Rwanda while an individual case is still being considered. The Bill is due to be heard in Parliament today. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Through this new landmark emergency legislation, we will control our borders, deter people taking perilous journeys across the Channel and end the continuous legal challenges filling our courts.” Becky Morton and Dominic Casciani report for BBC News.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Athens today in a visit both countries hope can restore Greco-Turkish relations. Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades on issues including ethnically-split Cyprus, energy resources, and flights of the Aegean Sea. It is Erodgan’s first visit to Greece in six years and he was welcomed by Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis. A Greek government official said Athens wants to emphasize a mutually beneficial agenda. Athens has said that it will only discuss the demarcation of economic zones, and issues of “national sovereignty” will not be discussed, while Erdogan said yesterday all issues should be open for discussion. Renee Maltezou reports for Reuters.
Republicans yesterday blocked an emergency $111 billion bill, on a 49-51 vote, that would have provided $50 billion to fund the war in Ukraine, and instead demanded new border restrictions in exchange for Ukraine funding, in a move that jeopardizes President Biden’s push to provide further support to Kyiv amid another winter wartime. While the bill failed over an immigration dispute, the ongoing resistance it has met in Congress demonstrates the waning support of Ukraine among Republicans. Just hours before the vote, Biden said, “make no mistake: Today’s vote’s going to be long remembered, and history is going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause.” He added that Republicans were “willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process.” Karoun Demirjian reports for the New York Times.
Four Russian men, including two commanding officers, accused of torturing an American during the invasion of Ukraine have been charged with war crimes, the Justice Department announced yesterday. It marks the first prosecution against members of the Russian armed forces connected to the war with Ukraine, and it is also the first time the Justice Department has brought charges under a nearly 30-year-old statute that criminalizes the subjection of an American to torture or inhumane treatment during a war. The charges are largely symbolic given the low prospects of the four defendants being found, secured, and taken into custody. Attorney General Merrick Garland said yesterday, “this is our first, and you should expect more. We will not forget the atrocities in Ukraine. And we will never stop working to bring those responsible to justice.” Lindsay Whitehurst and Eric Tucker report for AP News.
Officials from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense presented a “list of armaments to meet the needs of the defense forces of Ukraine” during a closed-door session yesterday attended by government officials and defense executives in Washington, with the list including drones, Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, F-18 Hornet fighter jets, and air defense systems. The list includes new stock for Ukraine as well as replenishment of existing stock including Abrams tanks and 155mm artillery. Mike Stone reports for Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed OPEC+ cooperation on oil markets and the Middle East during his three hour talk with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman yesterday, the Kremlin has stated. It is reported that the next meeting between both officials will be held in Moscow. Guy Faulconbridge and Vladimir Soldatkin report for Reuters.
A gunman opened fire yesterday at the University of Nevada marking the worst shooting in the city since October 2017, killing three people and critically wounding a fourth victim, before the gunman died in a shootout with police. The gunman was a professor who had unsuccessfully sought a job at the university, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. The professor previously worked at East Carolina University, the official said. Ken Ritter and Rio Yamat report for AP News.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a post on X that members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces “have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in Sudan.” The State Department also released a statement yesterday which confirmed that this determination was based on the “careful analysis of the law and available facts.” This “determination provides force and renewed urgency to African and international efforts to end the violence, address the humanitarian and human rights crisis, and work towards meaningful justice for victims and the affected communities that ends decades of impunity.” The statement added that the US is “committed to building on this determination and using available tools to end this conflict.”
House Republicans threatened to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress if he did not appear for a closed-door deposition scheduled for next week. Hunter Biden has resisted private questioning out of concern that Republicans will “distort the facts and misinform the American public,” according to his lawyer, Abbe Lowell. “There is no ‘choice’ for Mr. Biden to make,” Representative James Comer and Representative Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote to Biden’s lawyer. “The subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on Dec. 13. If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition on Dec. 13, 2023, the committees will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings.” Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
In a legal settlement yesterday, the 10 Republicans who signed paperwork falsely claiming Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2020 agreed to a series of concessions including: withdrawing their filing, acknowledging President Biden won the presidency and that their false certificates were used to “improperly overturn” the election, and not to serve as presidential electors in 2024 or in any election where former President Donald Trump is on the ballot. They also committed to “cooperate fully” with the federal criminal prosecution. The civil settlement marks the first occasion pro-Trump electors have agreed not to repeat their actions in the next election and revoke their documents. Republicans in two other states are facing criminal charges for falsely claiming to be presidential electors; investigations are continuing in three additional states. No money is being exchanged as part of the civil settlement. Patrick Marley reports for the Washington Post.
A Nevada grand jury charged six Republicans who claimed to be presidential electors in 2020 and submitted documents to Congress falsely purporting that Trump won the election in their state. The jury has limited these charges to the electors themselves, although it is unknown if additional charges against others are possible. The indictment was filed with the clerk of the court yesterday, and was widely anticipated this month due to the statute of limitations expiring on Dec. 14 — three years to the day since electors met to cast their ballots. The felony charges facing each Nevada elector are for offering a false statement for filing (a Category C felony) and uttering a forged instrument (a Category D felony). Amy Gardner and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report for the Washington Post.
A Palestinian student who was paralyzed from the chest down after he and two other college students were shot over Thanksgiving weekend in Vermont was released from hospital today. In a video shared by his family, 20-year-old Hisham Awartani was strapped to a medical stretcher as he waved to cheering onlookers in the hospital hallway. Antonion Planas reports for NBC News.
Trump is expected to attend his ongoing New York civil fraud trial today to watch as an accounting professor will be called to testify for his defense. Trump himself is scheduled to take the stand again on Monday, for a second time. Jennifer Peltz and Michael R. Sisak report for AP News.
Colorado Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism yesterday during oral arguments attempting to prevent Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot. Justice Carlos Samour sided with Trump’s attorney and expressed concern “about the definition of insurrection that the district court adopted. It strikes me as somewhat or potentially overbroad,” referencing November’s district court ruling which stated Section 3 does not apply to the office of president. Meanwhile Scott Gessler, a former Colorado Secretary of State who is representing Trumps’ campaign, acknowledged the violence at the Capitol amounted to a riot, but not an insurrection. He also argued the drafters of the Constitution made an explicit choice to not include the president in Section 3 of the Amendment. John Frank reports for Axios.