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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news
The Israeli military said it expects the conflict in Gaza to continue throughout 2024. In a new year’s message, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said troop deployments will be adjusted to prepare for “prolonged fighting.” George Wright reports for BBC News.
Four Palestinian militants were killed by the IDF during a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Azzun after they threw explosives on Israeli forces, the IDF said. BBC News reports.
Israel said it killed dozens of militants in the north of the Gaza Strip over the past day, as residents reported heavy fighting and shelling by Israeli tanks in parts of the Al-Bureij refugee camp. The developments follow Israel’s announcement of plans to withdraw some troops inside Gaza in a shift to more targeted “mopping up” operations. Dan Williams, Nidal A-Mughrabi, and Arafat Barbakh report for Reuters.
Thousands of childhood vaccine doses against diseases, including polio, rubella, mumps, and measles entered the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing yesterday, the Hamas-run health ministry said. The supplies will cover vaccinations for up to 14 months with the aid of Egyptian cold storage facilities. Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus, said Israel must “clear and hold all of Gaza” to eliminate Hamas, comparing the war to the battle against the self-styled Islamic State militant group. Petraeus added he is concerned Israel’s military campaign in Gaza could “radicalize future generations.” BBC News reports.
Israel’s decision to withdraw troops from Gaza “appears to be the start of the gradual shift to lower-intensity operations in the north that we have been encouraging,” a U.S. official said. Andrea Shalal reports for Reuters.
Five IDF soldiers were “lightly injured” as a result of “a number of launches from Lebanon toward the area of Adamit in northern Israel,” the IDF confirmed in a post on X yesterday. “IDF soldiers and aircraft struck terrorist infrastructure, military sites in which [Iran-backed Lebanese] Hezbollah terrorists were operating and launch posts in the last few hours, as well as a terrorist cell operating in the area of Houla,” the post added. Meanwhile, Hezbollah said yesterday in itsTelegram account that four of its fighters were killed while “martyred on the road to (liberate) Jerusalem.”
U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense after a container ship came under attack from four Iranian-backed Houthi boats, the U.S. Central Command confirmed in a post on X. U.S. Central Command added that the weekend events represented the “23rd illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since Nov. 19.” The Houthis confirmed that ten of their fighters were killed in the skirmish. Jari Tanner reports for AP News.
Attacks by Iran-backed militant groups – including the Houthis in Yemen, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Kataib Hezbollah targeting U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq – have been coordinated and calibrated following meetings where the groups “discuss updates and progress on all the fronts and how strategically the operations benefit each front,” an official with Kataib Hezbollah said. “Iran provides all kinds of support but when it comes to decisions and actions on the ground, the decision is ours,” the official added, referencing how each group has a degree of autonomy. Liz Sly, Mustafa Salim, and Suzan Haidamous report for the Washington Post.
The U.S. Navy’s largest warship, described as the “most adaptable and lethal combat platform in the world,” will return back to its homeport in Virginia to “prepare for future deployments,” the U.S. Sixth Fleet confirmed in a statement yesterday. The USS Gerald R. Ford arrived off the coast of Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks to contribute to “regional deterrence and defense posture,” and its departure means there will now be a lone U.S. aircraft carrier in the region in the wake of rising tensions with proxy groups. Brad Lendon reports for CNN.
Israel’s supreme court struck down a divisive judicial overhaul law on an 8-7 ruling. The law would have removed the court’s powers to overturn government decisions, which the court deemed to be “unreasonable in the extreme.” The law was originally passed in July, having been pursued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government prior to the war erupting. While Netanyahu signaled he will not fight the ruling, he criticized the decision, remarking that “it is unfortunate that the Supreme Court chose to issue a decision at the heart of Israel’s social divisions, precisely when IDF soldiers on the right and the left are fighting and risking their lives.” Carrie Keller-Lynn and Anat Peled report for the Wall Street Journal.
The head of South Korea’s opposition party, 59-year-old Lee Jae-myung, was stabbed in the neck with a seven inch knife by an assailant during a visit today to the port city of Busan. Lee is due to undergo surgery this afternoon. His injuries are not expected to be life threatening. The suspect will be charged with attempted murder, local police confirmed. Timothy W. Martin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Turkish authorities detained 33 people on suspicion of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, according to state-run media. Thirteen others are being sought after by the police, as raids in 57 locations across eight provinces have been carried out so far as part of an investigation by the counter-terrorism bureau of Istanbul’s prosecutor’s office. NBC News reports.
Russian President Vlaidmir Putin pledged yesterday to “intensify” attacks against Ukraine and said that Ukraine’s support from the West was the biggest obstacle to ending the conflict. His comments follow days of mutual aerial bombardment, with Kyiv suffering fresh attacks by Russian drones this morning, killing at least four people and injuring almost 100. All 35 unmanned aerial vehicles launched by Russia last night were downed by Ukraine’s air force, according to an announcement on Telegram. Oliver Slow reports for BBC News.
The upcoming year will see a string of fresh laws including new gun violence prevention measures in Michigan, and Illinois becoming the first state to enforce a law prohibiting book bans. The law states “adopt[s] the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that indicates materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Kyla Guilfloil reports for NBC News.