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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Israel confirmed in a statement yesterday that it “approved the recommendation of the War Cabinet to allow a minimal supplement of fuel – necessary to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics – into the southern Gaza Strip.” The statement added that “minimal amount will be determined from time to time by the War Cabinet according to the morbidity situation and humanitarian situation in the Strip.”
Israel accuses Hamas of firing 14 rockets from “humanitarian zones,” including Al-Mawasi, a barren area in Rafah that Israeli forces have directed people to evacuate to for safety. It is unclear whether Israel would now regard the area as a military target, with Israeli military spokesperson Major Nir Dinar saying Gazans were “being updated frequently in various ways” about Israeli military activities. The U.N. says that tens of thousands of people fled to the city in Rafah and that it is the only region in the Gaza Strip that received humanitarian aid in nearly a week. Liam Stack and Yara Bayoumy report for the New York Times.
Israeli airstrikes that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists in south Lebanon on Oct. 13 were “an apparently deliberate attack on civilians and thus a war crime,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. The report by HRW relied on evidence by military, audio, and video experts, who reviewed footage before concluding that “the journalists were well removed from ongoing hostilities, clearly identifiable as members of the media, and had been stationary for at least 75 minutes before they were hit by two consecutive strikes.” The report did not find “any evidence of a military target near the journalists’ location.” Reuters also published their own report on the matter yesterday, in which Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni “call[s] on Israel to explain how this could have happened and to hold to account those responsible for his death and the wounding of [other journalists].”
A senior Hamas official in Lebanon warned yesterday that the chances of another hostage release are “dwindling” and that the return of further detainees will not take place until “the aggression stops.” ABC News reports.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it apprehended hundreds of people suspected of terrorism across the Gaza Strip yesterday, including wanted Hamas operatives. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari added in a televised briefing that many suspects had turned themselves in. Isabel Kershner reports for the New York Times.
The Hamas-run health ministry said in the past 24 hours alone, 350 people have been killed in Gaza. Bassam Masoud and Maayan Lubell report for Reuters.
A spokesperson for UNICEF in Gaza warned yesterday that “safe zones” risk “being zones of disease and human suffering.”
Gaza has gone “far beyond” a humanitarian crisis, the head of medical charity Doctors without Borders (also known as MSF) said yesterday. “It is a humanitarian catastrophe. It is a chaotic situation, and I’m extremely worried that very soon people will be in a mode of just trying to survive, which will come with very severe consequences.”
The armed wing of Hamas said today it repelled an attempted hostage rescue by Israeli special forces in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of a captive and the casualties of several military personnel. The captive soldier killed was named as Sa’ar Baruch, 25. No location was specified where the incident occurred. Ahmed Elimam and Dan Williams report for Reuters.
The son of Israel’s former top military commander, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, was among at least two soldiers killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip yesterday, the IDF said. Eisenkot, 25, was a reserve soldier in a commando unit, who served as chief of staff to the Israeli Army from 2015-2019. Isabel Kershner reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accused the West yesterday of supporting “genocide” by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza, during a televised talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Neither leader referred to their countries’ growing military relationship, while Putin commented that the sight of Gaza makes “tears come to your eyes.” Russia and Arab countries accuse the West of double-standards over their support for Israel in Gaza but accusations of war crimes by Russia in Ukraine. White House spokesperson John Kirby labeled the growing defense relationship between Moscow and Tehran “worrisome.” Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The “solution” to the war is “likely to be a Palestinian Authority who need to be capable of a level of governance,” British Defense Minister Grant Shapps said yesterday. Schapps added that the solution “will require a huge amount of international help and support … and we are not there yet.” A British military team has been in the West Bank advising the Palestinian Authority for years, and Britain is in discussions with the Palestinian Authority and the US about expanding that support, Shapps said. The comments highlight the growing divide between the Israeli government and its allies including the US and the UK, and their respective plans for the future of Gaza, following British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech last month affirming support for a two-state solution. The New York Times reports.
Cities across Europe are increasing security and protections for Jewish communities as the Hanukkah holiday begins, following the recent warning by the E.U. that Europe has a “huge risk of terrorist attacks” over the holidays in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. The London Metropolitan Police said they have made 75 arrests linked to sentiments around the war, with threats aimed at both Jews and Muslims. Josh Lederman reports for NBC News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday where Biden noted “it was Hamas’ refusal to release young women civilian hostages that led to” the end of the temporary fighting pause, according to a White House readout of the call. Biden also “welcomed the recent Israeli decision to ensure that fuel levels will meet requisite needs, but stressed that much more assistance was urgently required across the board.” Fritz Farrow reports for ABC News.
Israel has agreed to open up the Kerem Shalom border crossing at the request of the US for screening and inspections of humanitarian aid, according to a senior U.S. official. “This is an important step, and we will continue to be in touch with our Israeli counterparts to ensure it happens,” the U.S. official said. Peter Alexander reports for NBC News.
The Palestinian Authority is working with the US on a plan to run Gaza after the war ends, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said yesterday. U.S. officials visited Shtayyeh earlier this week where discussions for post-war Gaza took place, he said, adding that “we need to put together a mechanism, something we’re working on with the international community. There will be huge needs in terms of relief and reconstruction to remedy the wounds.” Shtayyeh said that Israel’s aim of defeating Hamas is unrealistic, and said his preferred outcome would be for Hamas to become a junior partner under the broader Palestine Liberation Organization, helping to build a new independent state which would include Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Ethan Bronner and Fadwa Hodali report for Bloomberg.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said yesterday he could not confirm “individual reports and stories” claiming Hamas sexually assaulted hostages, but said “because of who we’re dealing with, we certainly aren’t in a position to disabuse these reports.” Kirby added that “And the truth is, they’re believable, just on the face of it, because of who these guys are, and what they believe. And because we have heard other accounts from other survivors that have come back and other hostages.” Fritz Farrow reports for ABC News.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared his strongest criticism of Israel’s conduct yesterday saying “it remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection. And there does remain a gap … between the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.” Blinken also met with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Washington yesterday, and President Biden also spoke separately by telephone with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Netanyahu yesterday. The White House said Biden “emphasized the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities.” Bassam Masoud and Humeyra Pamuk report for Reuters.
A guided-missile attack from Lebanon killed an Israeli civilian in northern Israel yesterday, an IDF spokesperson said, following Netanyahu’s warnings that Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah started a war. The IDF said the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah carried out the attack, with Hezbollah themselves saying that one out of the 11 attacks it carried out yesterday was targeted at an Israeli barracks in Matat, on the Lebanese border. Dan Williams, Maayan Lubell, and Maggie Fick report for Reuters.
Iraq’s Green Zone which houses the U.S. Embassy was targeted with several rockets today, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials. Sirens calling on people to “duck and cover” were activated according to social media from the scene, as explosions were heard at around 4am in Iraq’s capital. U.S. forces at military bases in Iraq and Syria have faced more than 70 attacks since Mid-October. The Embassy did not provide a comment and no group has claimed responsibility at the time of writing. Timour Azhari reports for Reuters.
The U.S. and U.K. governments jointly accused Russian intelligence of orchestrating a campaign over the past eight years that targeted British journalists, lawmakers, civil society organizations, American spies, and energy networks. The U.S. Justice Department unsealed yesterday an indictment accusing two Russian nationals of the hacking campaign, which it said targeted current and former U.S. intelligence officials and Pentagon employees, as well as other NATO countries and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Office said the hacks aimed to “use information obtained to interfere in U.K. politics and democratic processes.” Britain has not stated which lawmakers were targeted, but said one of the leaked documents included the prospective terms for a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement in the run up to the 2019 election. The intelligence services of both the U.K. and U.S. blamed the cyber espionage “Center 18,” a unit within the Russian Federal Security Service known as FSB. Max Colchester and Dustin Volz report for the Wall Street Journal.
The national security advisers of the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, are set to meet in Seoul today and tomorrow to discuss North Korea, South Korea’s presidential office confirmed. Seoul will hold bilateral talks with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan today, and a trilateral meeting will follow tomorrow. The meetings take place after the three countries condemned North Korea’s recent satellite launch, which they said breached multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. The US and South Korea will also hold a separate meeting tomorrow to discuss expanding cooperation in technologies. Soo-hyang Choi reports for Reuters.
Thailand and Myanmar will create a task force to boost humanitarian aid to people displaced by fighting, Thailand’s foreign ministry said today. Thailand hopes the plan will lead to constructive engagement between the international community, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional bloc, and the military-ruled Myanmar. “If the initial phase of implementation is successful, other aid agencies may be invited to have a role in the future,” Thailand’s foreign ministry said. Panarat Thepgumpanat reports for Reuters.
Taiwan said yesterday that 12 Chinese fighter jets and a suspected weather balloon crossed the Taiwan Strait’s sensitive median line, in a sign of increasing tensions ahead of the island’s presidential elections. Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheung told reporters that their “initial understanding” was that it was a weather balloon but they felt it necessary to inform the public of its findings. “Otherwise, if after other units or other countries have reported it, everyone will wonder why (we) did not report it. The defense ministry requires all our subordinate units to have a grasp of the enemy situation,” he added. Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said today that China “are doing all sorts of things to interfere in our election and we can expect more leading up to our polling date.” Ben Blanchard reports for Reuters.
The Chinese military said on Wednesday its warplanes shadowed a U.S. navy surveillance aircraft as it flew over the Taiwan Strait. A spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army criticized the U.S. Navy for flying over the region, labeling it a “provocative move” that was publicly hyped. “The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command will remain on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson added. U.S. Navy officials said the plane traveled through international airspace and operated “in accordance with international law.” Emily Mae Czachor reports for CBS.
Armenia and Azerbaijan say they will move towards normalizing relations and will exchange prisoners who were captured during the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a joint statement released yesterday confirmed. The statement added that both countries saw a “historical chance” for “long-awaited peace” and that they hope to sign a bilateral peace treaty by the end of the year which will allow mutual respect for each others’ territorial integrity. The agreement was reached during talks between the office of Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the administration of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Barabara Tasch reports for BBC News.
West Africa’s top court yesterday rejected a request by Niger’s junta for a lifting of coup-related sanctions, with the court instead ruling that the junta is “unconstitutional” and an “unrecognized government” lacking requisite authority to make such a request. Niger challenged the sanctions arguing it was causing hardship for its citizens, including curtailing supplies of medicines and food. Chinedu Asadu reports for AP News.
The US said yesterday it would conduct flight operations with Guyana that build on its “routine engagement and operations to enhance (the) security partnership” between both countries. The long-running dispute over the oil-rich territory of Esequibo is currently being heard by the International Courts of Justice (ICJ), following voters in Venezuela voting in favor of creating a new Venezuelan state of the region. Guyana has since put its armed forces on high alert and said Venezuela is disregarding the ICJ’s orders not to take action in Esequibo. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said, “we do not want and we do not need a war in South America,” adding that Brazil could host talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution. Julia Symmes Cobb and Matt Spetalnick report for Reuters.
The US affirmed its “unwavering” support for Guyana in a statement confirming Blinken spoke with Guyanese President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali where he “reiterated that the United States looks forward to working closely with Guyana once it assumes its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in January 2024.” The statement added that “the two leaders concluded the call by agreeing upon the importance of maintaining a peaceful and democratic Western Hemisphere.”
A military helicopter carrying seven people including five senior officers vanished Wednesday near Guyana’s border with Venezuela, as authorities say there is no indication it may have been hit amid rising tensions. “We do not have any information suggesting that there was any flight by Venezuelan aircraft in that area,” said Omar Kahn, the Army Chief Brigadier General of the Guyana Defense Force. “Speculation is not what I want to go into. Our priority is to save the lives of our officers and ranks,” he added. Bert Wilkinson reports for AP News.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency closed meeting today at the request of Guyana following the pending exploration of Esequibo by Venezuela following the recent referendum result. Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Hugh Hilton Todd, accused Venezuela of violating the U.N. Charter by attempting to take what it views as its own territory, saying the immediate pending exploration of Esequibo “are flagrant violations of the court’s order, which is legally binding on the parties.” Todd asked the Council to determine at the meeting whether the situation is “likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP News.
The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, said yesterday that Western support for Ukraine risks turning the conflict into a “second Vietnam.” In an article for Russia’s “The Intelligence Operative” journal, Naryshkin added that “every new American administration will have to try to deal with it,” referencing its warnings. Guy Faulconbridge reports for Reuters.
Former Ukrainian MP Ilya Kyva has been assassinated in Russia by Ukraine’s SBU security service, Ukraine’s military intelligence has confirmed, saying “this fate will befall other traitors of Ukraine and puppets of Putin’s regime.” Kyva had campaigned unsuccessfully for Ukraine’s presidency in 2019 and was reportedly planning on seeking political asylum in Russia. He was a regular participant in Russian state-run media propaganda TV shows. Jaroslav Lukiv reports for BBC News.
A man arrested in connection with firing two gunshots outside a synagogue in New York yesterday has been federally charged, officials said. Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, 28, was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, the FBI confirmed. No injuries were reported and it was reported that Alkhader commented “Free Palestine” around the time he was taken into custody. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she has urged the NYPD to be on “high alert” at high risk locations, including synagogues, yeshivas, and community centers, as Hanukkah began yesterday. “We reject hate, antisemitism and violence in all forms. And we have no tolerance for the forces of evil who are trying to tear our communities apart,” Hochul said. Chloe Atkins reports for NBC News.
Hunter Biden faces his second criminal indictment as federal prosecutors filed tax charges against him for allegedly evading at least $1.4m in federal taxes from 2016-2019. Hunter was also indicted in September on federal firearm charges, with his lawyer alleging that the new charges are politically motivated. In a nine count, 56-page indictment filed in California, prosecutors allege he spent his money on“drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes.” Chloe Kim reports for BBC News.