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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news
The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas saw more than 200 Palestinians killed between Dec. 8 and 9, according to the Hamas-run ministry of health. Meanwhile, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that on Dec. 9, 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid supplies entered Gaza from Egypt, and the day before, 585 dual nationals and four injured people evacuated Gaza to Egypt.
The “health care system is collapsing” in Gaza, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned yesterday in Qatar, adding that there “was no effective protection of civilians in Gaza.” “I expect public order to completely break down soon, and an even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt,” he added. In an interview yesterday, Phillipe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which takes care of Palestinian refugees, said that “the population has been pushed more and more into tinier and tinier and tinier pieces of land in the Gaza Strip, and there is no way that this piece of land will be able to accommodate such a high number of people.” Ben Hubbard and Vivian Nereim report for the New York Times.
Cogat, the Israeli defense ministry body overseeing policy for the Palestinian territories, said in a post on X that the U.N. “must do better” on delivering aid supplies to Gaza. “We have expanded our capabilities to conduct inspections for the aid delivered into Gaza. Kerem Shalom is to be opened, so the amount of inspections will double. But the aid keeps waiting at the entrance of Rafah. The UN must do better – the aid is there, and the people need it.” The U.N. said the aid distribution has largely stopped over recent days due to the fighting and restrictions of movement on main roads, particularly around and nearby Khan Younis. BBC News reports.
Hamas warned yesterday that hostages would not leave Gaza alive unless the group’s demands were met. In an audio clip posted on Hamas’ Telegram channel. spokesperson Abu Obeida said: “Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership… nor the supporters behind them… can take their prisoners alive without exchanging, negotiating, and agreeing to the terms of the resistance.” It is believed there are 138 people remaining in captivity by Hamas and other armed groups. BBC News reports.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a post on X today that it killed the commander of Hamas’ Shejaiya Battalion, Emad Krikae. The IDF claimed Krikae was previously responsible for anti-tank missile training in the Gaza City Brigade, and “part of anti-tank missile fire and terrorist raids carried out inside Israeli territory.”
The IDF are searching and detaining hundreds of Palestinian men in and around Gaza City, raising concerns among human rights groups that prisoners are being mistreated. The IDF claim many of the men are militants who are surrendering, images circulating online — released by Israel — appear to show scores of men stripped down to their underwear. In some of the images, the men can be seen wearing a blindfold with their hands tied behind their backs or placed above their heads, and piles of guns and weaponry are piled high in the background. The Israeli military said, “individuals who are found not to be taking part in terrorist activities are released.” Shayndi Raice reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza did not open today, according to Israeli authorities. According to an international humanitarian official, the opening of the crossing was postponed because Egypt did not want to allow aid trucks into Gaza, and instead wanted to “keep [the] border area clear for the VIP visitors to Rafah.” The official added that the crossing should open tomorrow. Meanwhile, Israel appeared to blame the U.N. for the delay. Ivana Kottosavá, Alex Marquardt, and Clarissa Ward report for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Washington’s veto on Friday of the U.N. Security Council resolution that called for a ceasefire means that “leverage has failed,” Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan warned. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority — which the US and others have hinted as a potential governing body for post-war Gaza — called the veto a “mark of shame that will follow the United States for many years.” Abbas added that Washington’s policy toward Israel has made their country “a partner in genocide.” In a post on X, the Saudi foreign ministry expressed “deep dissatisfaction with the inability of the Security Council to carry out its responsibilities,” referencing that a group of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority countries met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday. Vivian Nereim reports for the New York Times.
Israel said it helped foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews in Cyprus, Netanyahu’s office said yesterday. No details of the attack were provided but the statement said that Israel, on behalf of the Mossad intelligence service, was “troubled” by what it saw as Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus “both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area.” Reuters reports.
Morrocans waving Palestinian flags protested yesterday in the capital, Rabat, calling on the government to cut ties with Israel. It is estimated that 3,000 protesters attended, led by Morocco’s biggest Islamist party, the PJD. Protesters chanted: “Palestiine is not for sale” and “Resistance go ahead to victory and liberation.” Morocco and Israel are parties to a defense cooperation pact which was signed when the PJD was in office when Morocco agreed to the normalization deal with Israel. The new PJD leader, Abdeililah Benkirane, said signing the agreement was a mistake. Ahmed Eljecthimi reports for Reuters.
Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, criticized Israel yesterday for implementing a policy of purging Palestinians out of Gaza through a war which he said meets the “legal definition of genocide.” “What we are seeing in Gaza is not just simply the killing of innocent people and the destruction of their livelihoods (by Israel) but a systematic effort to empty Gaza of its people,” Safadi said. Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy labeled Safadi’s comments as “outrageous and false accusations.” Suleiman Al-Khalidi reports for Reuters.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The French ambassador to the U.N. called for a “new immediate and lasting humanitarian truce,” and said the Security Council (U.N.S.C.) had “failed once again,” in a subtle reference to the U.S. veto. “We do not see any contradiction between the fight against terrorism and the protection of civilians,” Nicolas de Rivière said. Vivian Nereim, Edward Wong, and Thomas Fuller report for the New York Times.
Former British diplomat Tom Fletcher, who served as a foreign policy adviser to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, called on the government to “get off the fence” on Gaza, and said the U.K. ‘s vote for a ceasefire at the U.N.S.C. during the 2009 Israel-Gaza conflict contributed to a truce motion, despite the U.S. government opposing it. “It moved the US to an abstention and so people say UN Security Council resolutions are just demonstrative, but we had a cease-fire within a week of that resolution,” Fletcher added. BBC News reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that it is not “acceptable to use [the Oct. 7 attacks] event for the collective punishment of the millions of Palestinian people with indiscriminate shelling.” Lavrov urged for “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza and said that “some kind of monitoring on the ground was needed. We addressed the U.N. Secretary General suggesting that he use his authority to consider some kind of monitoring – but so far to no avail.” Guy Gaulconbridge reports for Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday and voiced his condemnation of “anti-Israeli positions” taken by Russian envoys at the U.N., according to an Israeli statement, following Russia’s vote in favor of the U.N.S.C. ceasefire resolution on Friday. Netanyahu also “expressed sharp criticism of the dangerous cooperation between Russia and Iran,” the statement added. A statement from the Kremlin said, “Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the principle position of rejecting and condemning terrorism in all its forms,” adding that “At the same time, it is extremely important that countering terrorist threats does not lead to such grave consequences for the civilian population.” Dan Williams reports for Reuters.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
The US on Friday vetoed the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, Robert Wood, remarking that the draft text was “divorced from reality.” “We still cannot comprehend why the resolution’s authors declined to include language condemning Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7,” Wood said. The UK abstained from the vote. Meanwhile, on the same day as the veto, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement, “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival.” Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
The U.S. State Department has pushed through a government sale to Israel of more than 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition, bypassing a congressional protocol usually required for arms sales to foreign countries, according to a State Department official and a statement by the Defense Department on Saturday. “The Secretary of State determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to the Government of Israel of the above defense articles and services in the national security interests of the United States, thereby waiving the Congressional review requirements under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act.” The statement added that the “United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives. Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.” Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the sale of munitions to Israel, saying in an interview yesterday that “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas…and we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas.” He added that “The tank ammunition and related support constitute only a small portion of military sales to Israel and the rest remains subject to congressional review.” AP News reports.
Blinken condemned the reported sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks, saying yesterday, “The atrocities that we saw on October 7 are almost beyond human description or beyond our capacity to digest. And we’ve talked about them before, but the sexual violence that we saw on October 7 is beyond anything that I’ve seen either.” He added, “I don’t know why countries, leaders, international organizations were so slow to focus on this, to bring it to people’s attention. I’m glad it is finally happening.” Jack Forrest and Sam Fossum report for CNN.
Yemen’s Houthi movement said on Saturday that it would target all ships heading to Israel with immediate effect, regardless of their nationality, and wanted all international shipping companies to cease trading with Israeli ports, in the latest sign of escalating regional conflict. A Houthi military spokesperson said all ships sailing to Israeli ports are banned from the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. “If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces,” the spokesperson added. Mohammed Alghobari reports for Reuters.
Lebanon’s border with Israel saw violence over the weekend as Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah launched drones and missiles at Israeli positions, and Israeli air strikes hit several towns and villages in south Lebanon. Senior Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah said the Israeli air strikes were a “new escalation” to which the group was responding with new strategies be it “in the nature of the weapons [used] or the targeted sites.” The U.N. peacekeeping force in south Lebanon (UNIFIL) said “the potential for a miscalculation that could trigger a wider conflict is increasing,” and said a UNIFIL watchtower was struck on Saturday afternoon. The Israeli army said Hezbollah “launched from 20 metres away from a United Nations compound” which “endangers the lives of UNIFIL soldiers.” Hezbollah did not respond to Israel’s comment. Laila Bassam, Tom Perry, Dan Williams, and Emily Rose report for Reuters.
A U.S. F-16 fighter jet crashed this morning over the Yellow Sea off South Korea during a routine training exercise after an “in flight emergency,” the U.S. military has confirmed. “The pilot ejected the aircraft. The pilot has been recovered by Republic of Korea Maritime Forces, awake and in stable condition,” the statement said. The U.S. Air Force said the cause of the in-flight emergency was unknown. CBS News reports.
Argentina’s new far-right president, Javier Milei, warned “there is no money” and recommitted the country to a program of austerity measures. Milei said he would undo “decades of decadence” with spending cuts designed to reduce public debts and drive down inflation, which currently stands at 140%. “The bottom line is that there is no alternative to austerity and there is no alternative to shock treatment,” Milei said. “We know that in the short term the situation will worsen. But then we will see the fruits of our efforts.” Sean Seddon reports for BBC News.
Azerbaijan is expected to host the U.N. Climate Summit in 2024, marking the third major oil and gas producer in a row to host the Summit, if the plan goes ahead. Many analysts and human rights groups view Azerbaijan’s government as authoritarian, with concerns focusing on the documented widespread corruption and political repression over the 20-year rule of the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev. Brad Plumer and Max Bearak report for the New York Times.
The Philippine military chief said today he was aboard a supply boat with Filipino forces when it was blasted with a water cannon and bumped by Chinese coast guard ships over the weekend in the South China Sea. “It’s pure aggression. I witnessed how many times the big Chinese coast guard and militia ships cut our path. They water-cannoned us, then bumped us,” General Romeo Brawner Jr said. Brawner added that the Philippine “armed forces will continue our mission because it is lawful and it’s our obligation to bring supplies to our troops … and protect our fishermen,” referencing that the Philippine boat was carrying Christmas gifts, food and other supplies to the Filipino marines and navy personnel stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said it summoned the Chinese ambassador today and filed diplomatic protests against China, with a spokesperson for the Philippine coast guard labeling Beijing’s actions as “barbaric.” Jim Gomez reports for AP News.
A statement released by China’s military yesterday said, “China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Ren’ai Reef, and their adjacent waters,” claiming the China Coast Guard (CCG) took “control measures” against a Philippine ship that was delivering supplies to a “stranded” warship. The statement adds that the Philippine vessel “disregarded repeated warnings by the Chinese side in violation of the Convention of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and swerved toward CCG vessel 21556 in an unprofessional and dangerous manner, leading to a collision.”
The government of Guyana agreed yesterday to join bilateral talks with Venezuela over the rising territorial dispute of Esequibo. Venezuela’s government said Saturday it agreed to the talks to preserve its “aspiration to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, without interference from external actors.” The President of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, said that “in relation to our border, there is absolutely no compromise. The matter is before the ICJ and there is where it will be settled.” Bert Wilkinson reports for AP News.
Russia fired eight ballistic missiles at Kyiv early today, all of which were shot down by Ukraine, Kyiv’s Air Force said. One person was injured by shrapnel and three others suffered severe stress reactions, officials said. The Air Force also said it intercepted 18 drones fired by Russia over the southern Mykolaiv region overnight. AP News reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy had a brief but sharp-looking meeting with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Oban at the inauguration of Argentina’s new president yesterday. Orban remains a threat to Ukraine’s hopes of joining the EU. Details of the discussion are unknown. Jessica Parker reports for BBC News.
President Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with President Biden tomorrow at the White House in a meeting that will “underscore the United States’ unshakable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine,” the White House confirmed yesterday, amid the ongoing dispute in Congress over funding for Ukraine. The statement added, “As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.”
An elderly couple was targeted for their Jewish faith in an assault and attempted robbery as they walked to a synagogue in Beverly Hills on Saturday, according to police and the Synagogue’s rabbi. Jarris Jay Silagi, 44, was arrested and booked on allegations of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, elder abuse, and an added allegation of a hate motivation, Beverly Hills police confirmed. “When he came up to them, he screamed at her, ‘Jew, give me your jewelry,’ and then started hitting him on the head,” the Rabbi of the synagogue said. Silagi is due to appear in court tomorrow. Dennis Romero reports for NBC News.
Former President Trump confirmed in a post on his Truth Social media that is no longer planning to testify in his ongoing New York civil fraud trial today. Trump has already been called once as a prosecution witness and he was expected to take the stand again today as the final witness in his own defense. “I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say other than that this is a complete & total election interference (Biden campaign!) witch hunt,” he wrote in his all-caps post.