Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
The U.N. General Assembly voted yesterday to pass a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, with the Assembly’s president Dennis Frances saying, “Right now, what we are seeing is an onslaught on civilians, the breakdown of humanitarian assistance and profound disrespect for international law. Even war has rules, and it is imperative we prevent any deviation from these principles and values.” The resolution is nonbinding, unlike the U.N. Security Council’s ability to pass legally binding resolutions — which it attempted to do last week, but was vetoed by the US. The vote saw 153 members vote in favor, 10 against, and 23 abstentions. The countries which opposed included the US, Israel, Austria, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
The Palestinian Foreign Minister yesterday accused Israel of starving children in Gaza, saying, “As we speak, at least 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of them children, are starving, not because of a natural disaster or because of lack of generous assistance waiting at the border… they are starving because of Israel’s deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it occupied.” An Israeli official described the comments as “libellous, delusional level of allegations.” Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber reports for Reuters.
Israel has declared 19 of the 135 people still in captivity in Gaza as dead in absentia, after saying it recovered the bodies of two hostages. The list includes a Tanzanian national, although no names have been released. Dan Williams reports for Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Gaza “will be neither Hamas-stan nor ‘Fatah-stan,” and added that he will not allow Israel to “repeat the mistake of Oslo,” referencing the 1993 Oslo Accords which established restricted Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza. Reuters reports.
The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. said before the Assembly resolution vote that “If you want a real ceasefire, here is the right address – this is the phone number of Hamas’s office in Gaza… A ceasefire only serves to prolong Hamas’s reign of terror so I urge all member states to vote against this resolution.” BBC News reports.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said nine of its troops, including a battalion commander, were killed yesterday in northern Gaza. It is one of the largest losses of life in a single incident for Israel since their military campaign began. The total number of Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza currently stands at 115, according to CNN.
Fifty thousand people have been injured since the war broke out, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Meanwhile, the W.H.O. placed blame with Israeli forces for causing delays at checkpoints which disrupted emergency vehicles transporting wounded civilians. Medical staff reported several hours delay at Jenin hospital yesterday and said the hospital was surrounded by Israeli troops with tear gas bombs thrown just outside. BBC News reports.
A senior doctor in the northern Gazan hospital Kamal Adwan said that more than 70 medical staff were “arrested and taken to an unknown area” by the Israeli military. Meanwhile, the hospital’s director said that Israeli tank shells struck the maternity ward on Monday, killing two women and injuring two others so severely that their legs were amputated. When asked about the arrests, the IDF said it is taking “all feasible precaution to mitigate harm to non-combatants, and is fighting against the Hamas terrorist organization, and not the civilians in Gaza or the medical teams operating there.” Ibrahim Dahman, Tim Lister, and Tara John report for CNN.
The World Bank announced yesterday it would provide $20 million in new emergency aid to Gaza, including $10 million for food vouchers and parcels, as part of the total $35 million package deal offered. AP News reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Far-right Polish lawmaker Grzegorz Braun of the Confederation party described Hanukkah as “satanic” and used a fire extinguisher to put out Hanukkah candles in Poland’s parliament yesterday during an annual Hanukkah celebration event attended by members of the Jewish community. Footage showed people covered in powder from the extinguisher as security guards rushed people out of the vicinity. Anna Koper reports for Reuters.
The Netherlands raised its terrorism threat level to “substantial” yesterday for the first time since 2019, citing the Israel-Hamas conflict as a primary reason. “Organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda are using the war in Gaza to urge sympathizers to carry out attacks in the West, the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and Security said. The agency added that if it had information of a specific planned attack, it would raise the threat level to “critical.” Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
President Biden said yesterday that Israel is losing global support over its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza and said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must “change,” marking his most critical comments yet of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Biden alluded to a conversation he had with Netanyahu, who said: “You carpet bombed Germany, you dropped the atom bomb, a lot of civilians died.” Biden responded with, “Yeah, that’s why all these institutions were set up after World War Two to see to it that it didn’t happen again … don’t make the same mistakes we made in 9/11. There’s no reason why we had to be in a war in Afghanistan.” Biden said, “this government in Israel is making it very difficult,” adding that Israel “cannot say no” to a Palestinian state. Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland report for Reuters.
Netanyahu confirmed in a statement yesterday “there is disagreement about ‘the day after Hamas’” with Biden and his team, but added, “Following an intensive dialogue with President Biden and his team, we received full backing for the ground incursion and blocking the international pressure to stop the war.” The statement also thanked “ American support for destroying Hamas and returning our hostages.”
Biden hosted a Hanukkah reception at the White House Monday where he labeled the “surge of antisemitism” across the world as “sickening.” The attendees included Holocaust survivors, Jewish community leaders, and Congress members. Will Weissert reports for AP News.
Israel has begun pumping seawater into Hamas’ tunnels in Gaza, according to U.S. officials briefed on the operation. A spokesperson for the IDF declined to comment. Biden was asked on Tuesday about Israel’s leaked plan, and while he did not address the Israeli approach, he said, “there are no hostages in any of these tunnels…But I don’t know that for a fact.” Some U.S. officials have warned that using seawater may endanger Gaza’s water supply. Nancy A. Youssef, Carrie Keller-Lynn, Michael R. Gordon, and Dov Lieber report for the Wall Street Journal.
Almost three dozen bipartisan senators are urging the U.N. to open an “independent fact-finding” investigation into the reports of sexual violence by Hamas. “An independent investigation is a necessary step to hold perpetrators accountable, support survivors, and provide justice for victims,” the letter reads. A U.N. commission of inquiry already examining war crimes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories said its investigation would probe accusations of sexual violence and provide evidence to the International Criminal Court, although Israel has refused to cooperate with such investigation as it accuses the U.N. of being bias. Julie Tsirkin and Zoë Richards report for NBC News.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said yesterday it struck targets in Syria and Lebanon over the past 24 hours. In Syria, warplanes and tanks struck Syrian army infrastructure, in response to three launches from Syrian territory, the IDF said. It added that in Lebanon, an Israeli fighter jet hit a Hezbollah launch post yesterday, with spokesperson Daniel Hagari accusing Hezbollah of “operat[ing] from within the villages and urban areas of southern Lebanon.” Hagari also said more than 100,000 people have fled their homes in southern Lebanon amid the cross-border violence. Andrew Carey reports for CNN.
A senior official from Yemen Houthis warned against ships traveling toward the occupied Palestinian regions said that ships passing Yemen should ensure their radios are turned on and respond to all Houthi attempts at communication. The official also warned against ships who are “falsifying their identity” by raising flags from different countries to its cargo ship owner. Reuters reports.
The Houthis claimed responsibility for hitting a Norwegian tanker at the entrance of the Red Sea with at least one missile on Monday, in a show of support for Palestinians as they claimed the ship was delivering oil to Israel. The ship’s owners said it was traveling to Italy with feedstock for biofuel. All 30 members aboard were unharmed and a U.S. Navy Destroyer provided assistance after receiving a mayday call, U.S. officials confirmed. Robert Greenall reports for BBC News.
The IDF said yesterday in a post on X that: “For the second time this week, Hezbollah launched several rockets toward Israel yesterday. One being launched 130 meters from a U.N. compound, with additional launches toward Israel from the same area. By continuing to fire from areas near U.N. compounds, Hezbollah systematically violates UNSC Resolution 1701 and endangers the lives of UNIFIL soldiers.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had a telephone call with Japan’s Minister of Defense, Kihara Minouru, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement yesterday. “The two leaders spoke about the Department’s decision to direct an operational standdown of the V-22 fleet. Secretary Austin reaffirmed that the Department views the safety of U.S. servicemembers and Japanese communities as our top priority. The two leaders applauded progress on accelerating U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral security cooperation and welcomed continued dialogue on strengthening extended deterrence. Secretary Austin and Minister Kihara committed to further cooperation on U.S.-Japan alliance priorities to promote a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. They also exchanged views on maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and the Secretary affirmed his commitment to working with Japan to uphold the freedom of navigation and ensure maritime security.”
Russia and Iran will accelerate work on a “major new interstate agreement” which is currently at a “high stage of readiness,” the Russian Foreign Ministry announced yesterday, following a telephone meeting between both countries’ leaders. Details of the agreement are unknown and concern is rising over the growing Moscow-Tehran relationship following confirmation by the Kremlin last month that their relations were developing, “including in the field of military-technical cooperation.” Russia has declined to comment on suggestions by the White House that Iran is planning to provide Russia with ballistic missiles, although Iran confirmed arrangements last month of the supply to Russia of fighter jets and helicopters. Reuters reports.
Sudan’s representative called on the U.N. Security Council today to “impose an arms and material transport embargo against rebel forces, invaders and mercenaries, and to lift sanctions on the Government forces.”
More than 190 governments at the U.N. COP28 climate conference approved an agreement today calling for a “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” The deal hopes to see an acceleration toward net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. “We should be proud of our historic achievement,” said Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of the U.A.E.’s national oil company who hosted the COP28. Matthew Dalton, Stacy Meichtry, and Sha Hua report for the Wall Street Journal.
German prosecutors have charged 27 far-right extremists — accused of being members of the Citizens of the Reich movement — with planning a coup to overthrow Germany’s democratic political system, with the indictment reading that “The members of the group strongly rejected state institutions and the free democratic constitutional order.” Preparations for the coup started in Summer 2021 and the plan was to invade Germany’s parliament with a small armed personnel group after receiving a signal. The group are alleged to have attempted to recruit soldiers and police officers, and the indictment adds that members of the group were aware that their plans would result in people being killed. Ido Vock reports for BBC News.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong met yesterday in a “new historic milestone” which will take relations between the countries “to a new height,” according to state-run Vietnam News Agency. Both sides agreed to “unceasingly consolidate political trust” and build relations “on the basis of mutual respect, equal and win-win cooperation” while respecting their respective “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” A Chinese account did not reference territorial integrity but confirmed both sides were building trustful relations. The tensions between both countries have flared following Beijing increasing its maritime presence and claiming sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, where Vietnam and other regional territories hold competing claims. Simone McCarthy reports for CNN.
A South African court ruled that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s coronation of the new Zulu king last year was “unlawful and invalid,” following a legal challenge by the king’s half-brother who claimed he is the rightful heir to the throne. Ramaphosa has not indicated as yet whether he accepts the court’s ruling — which ruled on the procedure followed rather than determining the rightful king — or whether he plans to challenge it further. Gloria Aradi reports for BBC News.
Visitors to Kenya “from any corner of the globe” will no longer “carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya,” Kenyan President Wiliam Ruto said yesterday. Ruto said a digital platform providing electronic travel authorization in advance of visits will be utilized instead of visas. “Kenya has a simple message to humanity: Welcome Home!” he said. Reuters reports.
The UK condemned on Monday the “unsafe and escalatory tactics deployed by Chinese vessels” against the Philippines, saying it “opposes any action which raises tensions, including harassment, unsafe conduct and intimidation tactics which increase the risk of miscalculation and threaten regional peace and stability.” A spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in London said China strongly disagrees with these “groundless accusations” and they have made representations with its British counterpart. “We urge the British side to respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, stop stirring up trouble and sowing discord,” the embassy posted on its website. Reuters reports.
The Biden Administration confirmed in a statement yesterday it is providing new security assistance “to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs.” This package includes additional air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons, and other equipment to help Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing war of aggression. “This package utilizes assistance previously authorized for Ukraine during prior fiscal years under Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) that remained after the PDA revaluation process.” The statement confirmed the package totals around $200 million and includes air defenses, missiles, anti-armor systems, and ammunition. “It is critical that Congress takes action soon and passes the President’s national security supplemental request to ensure that Ukraine can consolidate and extend its battlefield gains.”
Ukraine’s main mobile network, Kyivstar, claimed it was targeted in a “powerful hacker attack” in an “illegal interference,” with its chief executive hinting that Russia could be responsible. Reports said yesterday that mobile and internet signal was down, while air raid sirens in the north-eastern city of Sumy also stopped working due to the outage. Ukraine’s largest bank, PrivatBank, also said some cash machines were not working and might be “unstable.” An investigation is underway by the Security Service of Ukraine, who confirmed that “One of the versions currently being investigated by SBU investigators is that the Russian special services may be behind this hacker attack.” Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military intelligence said it carried out a cyber-attack on Russia’s federal tax service recently. Jessica Parker reports for BBC News.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday urged leaders in Washington to provide aid to Kyiv during his third visit to Washington since the war broke out. Speaking at a joint news conference with Zelenskyy yesterday, President Biden said he “will not walk away from Ukraine” and that “Ukraine will emerge from this war proud, free and firmly rooted in the West – unless we walk away.” Biden urged Congress to “compromise” and said failing to pass fresh aid to Kyiv would be a “Christmas gift” for Putin, referencing the ongoing Congressional standoff for agreeing aid amid an ongoing border policy dispute. House of Representatives speaker Mike Johnson said following his closed-door meeting with Zelenskyy earlier yesterday that the House would not agree to aid until “transformative” changes are made,” adding that “these are the conditions of the American people. We are resolute on that.” Bernd Debusmann Jr and Sam Cabral report for BBC News.
The U.S. Treasury announced it has handed out fresh sanctions on over 150 individuals and entities “who materially support Russia’s war” and will target “Russian military procurement networks and those who help Russia acquire machine tools, equipment, and key inputs,” implementing the commitments made by G7 Leaders following last week’s meeting.
The Biden administration would be willing to support a new border policy — which would see the summary expulsion of migrants without asylum claim screenings and the expansion of deportations and detentions — to convince Republicans to agree to providing aid to Ukraine, according to U.S. officials. At a press conference yesterday, President Biden said his team is “working with Senate Democrats and Republicans to try to find a bipartisan compromise, both in terms of changes in policy and [to] provide the resources we need to secure the border,” and added that “holding Ukraine funding hostage in an attempt to force through an extreme Republican partisan agenda on the border is not how it works — we need real solutions.” A spokesperson for the White House said the administration “has not signed off on any particular policy proposals or final agreements, and reporting that ascribes determined policy positions to the White House is inaccurate.” Camilo Montoya-Galvez reports for CBS News.