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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments. Here’s today’s news.
Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in southern Lebanon, according to a Washington Post analysis of munitions fragments from October shelling, in which at least nine civilians were injured. Markings indicate the white phosphorus, which has legitimate battlefield purposes such as signaling and marking but not as an incendiary weapon, was supplied as part of U.S. military aid to Israel. A Pentagon spokesperson said the U.S. had not yet verified the weapons’ origin and had not provided white phosphorus munitions since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Rights groups have called for its use in the Lebanon attack to be investigated as a possible war crime. William Christou, Alex Horton, and Meg Kelly report for the Washington Post.
A U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration is “certainly concerned” about the reports that Israel used white phosphorus and “asking questions.” Matt Berg reports for Politico.
“Infectious diseases are ravaging the population of Gaza,” according to Gaza Health Ministry officials and aid organizations. Exact numbers are difficult to track, but “the World Health Organization has reported at least 369,000 cases of infectious diseases since the war began … a staggering increase from before the war.” These numbers exclude cases in northern Gaza, where “what remains of the health system is overwhelmed.” ”[C]old, wet weather; overcrowding in shelters; scarce food; dirty water; and little medicine” are exacerbating the dire situation. Gaya Gupta, Hiba Yazbek, and Ameera Harouda report for The New York Times.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken privately told Israel during his most recent visit that the U.S. administration wants them to wrap things up by the end of the calendar year, several sources told The Economist.
Following several reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a policy of encouraging funding for Hamas as a counterweight, a report by the New York Times discusses the origin of that policy and its operation over time. “Israeli intelligence officials now believe that the money had a role in the success of the Oct. 7 attacks, if only because the donations allowed Hamas to divert some of its own budget toward military operations,” Mark Mazzetti and Ronen Bergman report for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
A U.S. official said a missile from Houthi-controlled Yemen hit a merchant ship in the Red Sea on Monday. The attack is part of escalating violence in which Iranian-backed Houthi militias are attacking vessels in the region in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Luis Martinez reports for ABC News.
Israeli officials warned Monday that “increased attacks on northern Israel by Hezbollah, from Lebanon, could prompt a powerful response.” The officials did not specify what steps Israel might take. Andrés R. Martínez, Neil MacFarquhar, and Thomas Fuller report for The New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The U.N. World Food Program called for an immediate ceasefire, warning that civilians in Gaza are going for days at a time without food and that half of displaced Palestinians are starving. Representatives of other U.N. agencies echoed the call, including the head of the U.N.’s relief agency for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, who also called for a major increase in humanitarian aid. Ramy Inocencio and Tucker Reals report for CBS News.
The heads of six major humanitarian organizations called on the Biden administration and other global leaders to urgently “change course on Gaza.” In a New York Times guest essay, leaders of CARE USA, Mercy Corps, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam America, Refugees International, and Save the Children U.S. urged the United States to stop blocking calls for a ceasefire at the United Nations and to address the “humanitarian nightmare” unfolding in Gaza, which they wrote is unlike anything they have previously seen. They wrote, “The right to self-defense does not and cannot require unleashing this humanitarian nightmare on millions of civilians. It is not a path to accountability, healing or peace.”
Lawyers for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said they have lost contact with him and have been told he is not at either of the penal colonies where he was believed to be held. Navalny is serving multiple sentences on extremism and other charges, which many international observers believe are politically motivated due to his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently announced that he will stand for reelection again in 2024. Stephanie Halasz, Anna Chernova and Christian Edwards report for CNN.
The latest draft of a potential COP28 climate deal omitted language about a “phase out” of fossil fuels. Representatives of both the EU and the representative of the Alliance of Small Island States criticized the latest version of the proposal as weak, with the EU threatening to walk away and a representative of the climate-affected island nations to call it a “death certificate.” Georgina Rannard reports for BBC News.
At least 23 people were killed and 32 wounded in a suicide attack on a police station in Pakistan. The attack is one of the worst of recent months, collapsing part of the building and damaging nearby businesses. Riaz Khan and Munir Ahmed report for the Associated Press.
A U.S.-China military hotline has not been restored, a month after the presidents of the two countries agreed to resume direct communication between military counterparts. U.S. President Biden “called the agreement ‘critically important’ and evidence that he and [Chinese President] Xi ‘made real progress’” after their meeting in San Francisco in November. U.S. defense officials have “not received any responses” to repeated attempts to reach their Chinese counterparts. Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee report for NBC News.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, after a surprise setback Monday on a major immigration bill that had been a priority, will form a special parliamentary commission “as fast as possible” to reach a compromise with opponents on the left and right. Reuters reports.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a test in Parliament today over legislation that would deport immigrants who arrive illegally in Britain to Rwanda. Members of his Conservative Party are split on the measure. “The bill seeks to allow parliament to deem Rwanda a “safe” country and block courts from considering claims that it will not act in accordance with international obligations.” Ben Quinn reports for The Guardian.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington Monday for a series of meetings with President Biden and members of the U.S. Congress. Following a months-long Ukrainian counteroffensive that proved unsuccessful in achieving its aims, the United States and Ukraine are seeking new strategies in the war. Biden last week reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine and asked Congress to approve another round of funding, but support for continued assistance is flagging among some Republicans. Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Thomas Gibbons-Neff report for the New York Times.
An Air Force investigation found that Jack Teixeira, who allegedly leaked classified Pentagon documents, acted alone, but that inadequate supervision, including following four prior security incidents involving Teixeira, “enabled” the leaks. The investigation resulted in disciplinary actions against 15 Air National Guard members, including Col. Sean Riley, who was removed from his position as commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing. Eleanor Watson reports for CBS News.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled against a woman seeking an abortion due to the likely death of the fetus and her own health. The court overturned a district judge’s ruling that the woman qualified for an exception to Texas’ abortion restrictions. The woman has left the state to have an abortion. Selena Simons-Duffin reports for NPR.
The ACLU appealed a court ruling that would make it harder for individuals and private groups to bring lawsuits under the Voting Rights Act. The ruling could make it more difficult to enforce the provisions of the Act, which prohibit racial discrimination in elections. Hansi Lo Wang reports for NPR.
The House of Representatives canceled plans to vote on reforms to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, likely punting any reforms to the controversial surveillance tool until next year. The program expires at the end of the month and efforts to reauthorize and reform it have been hotly contested among those who insist the law is a critical law enforcement tool and privacy advocates who feel it requires overhaul. The annual defense authorization bill, which is scheduled for a vote this week, contains a short-term extension of the program without reforms until mid-April. Karoun Demirjian and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
Special Counsel Jack Smith petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to decide on an urgent basis whether former President Donald Trump is immune from criminal prosecution in the case involving Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Smith is seeking to keep the March 4 trial on track with the petition, which would bypass appellate court review. Trump’s motion to dismiss the indictment on immunity grounds was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan in a December 4 ruling, holding that “[w]hatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.” The Supreme Court responded within hours directing Trump to submit a reply to the petition by next Wednesday. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for Politico.