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
Senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri was killed yesterday in a suspected Israeli strike in Beirut. Arouri was a founder of the Hamas military wing, the deputy head of its political bureau, and an architect of the group’s Oct. 7 attacks that killed 1,200 people. Hamas confirmed Arouri’s death in a statement. Israeli military officials said they are preparing for retaliatory strikes from Hezbollah and Hamas militants in Lebanon. Dion Nissenbaum, Adam Chamseddine, Benoit Faucon, and Summer Said report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) circulated a warning this morning around the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, urging residents to leave areas designated a “combat zone.” BBC News reports.
A total of 22,313 people have died in the war since Oct. 7, according to figures released today by the Hamas-run health ministry.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the strike in Beirut reported to have killed a top Hamas leader. Meanwhile, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said his government was talking to Hezbollah to “impress on them that they should not respond themselves,” but added that “we don’t tell them, we dialogue with them in this regard.” The next 24 hours will clarify “whether they respond or not,” Habib said. BBC News reports.
Yemen’s Houthi group condemned the killing of a senior Hamas official yesterday, calling it a “brutal and cowardly crime.” They described Saleh al-Arouri as a “leader” of Palestinian resistance, expressing support for retaliatory action against Israel. Niamh Kennedy reports for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations peacekeeping mission responsible for patrolling the unofficial border between Lebanon and Israel, said it is “deeply concerned” about rising regional tensions following the Beirut strike that killed a senior Hamas leader. Spokesperson Kandice Ardiel said, “We continue to implore all parties to cease their fire, and any interlocutors with influence to urge restraint.” BBC News reports.
A former UK ambassador to Lebanon said the killing of a top Hamas leader yesterday is a “moment of real jeopardy,” adding that both Lebanon and Israel will be worried about a “miscalculation drawing them deeper into the conflict.” BBC News reports. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “essential to avoid any escalatory attitude, particularly in Lebanon,” in response to the killing. Aurelien Breeden reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
Israel carried out the strike that killed a senior Hamas leader in Beirut, according to a U.S. official. Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev said Israel has “not taken responsibility” for the attack, but added that “whoever did it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state. It was not even an attack on Hezbollah. Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership.” Alex Marquardt reports for CNN.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers of the Senate Intelligence Committee traveled to the Middle East last night to meet with senior Israeli officials. “We’re going to assess the status of the war as well as what the opportunities are for regional allies to create a path to peace,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand said her group is one of “several congressional delegations” in the region. Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer report for CNN.
U.S. spy agencies believe Hamas used the Al-Shifa hospital complex to command forces and hold “at least a few hostages,” according to newly declassified intelligence. A senior U.S. intelligence official said intelligence agencies gathered information that Hamas had evacuated the complex in the days before the operation and destroyed documents and electronics before vacating. The intelligence assessment also said that Israel was at least partially correct in claiming hostages were being held in Al-Shifa, but that those hostages appear to have been moved when Hamas evacuated. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. State Department denounced statements made by Israel’s National Security Minister Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calling for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza. “This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible. We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government…We have been clear, consistent, and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land, with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no terror groups able to threaten Israel,” the State Department statement said. Barek Ravid reports for Axios.
The U.S. has entered into a deal to extend its military presence at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar for another decade, according to a source familiar with the matter. Jonathan Landay and Kanishkha Singh report for Reuters.
The Philippines and the U.S. began a two-day joint patrol today in the South China Sea, marking a “significant leap” in the joint alliances, according to the Philippine armed forces chief. Reuters reports.
Three Chinese balloons flew across Taiwan island yesterday and came near an air base, the Taiwanese defense ministry said, marking the first time Chinese balloons have been reported to cross the island. Ben Blanchard reports for Reuters.
Ethiopia has taken the first legal steps to gain future access to the sea by signing a memorandum of understanding with the self-declared republic of Somaliland. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the development as a diplomatic victory, and Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi Abdi, was quoted as saying the deal came in “exchange for 20km sea access for Ethiopian naval forces, leased for a period of 50 years.” Meanwhile, Somalia rejected the port deal and summoned its ambassador to Ethiopia for deliberations over the agreement. Kalkidan Yibeltal reports for BBC News.
Sierra Leone prosecutors have charged 12 people, including a member of former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s security detail, with treason in connection with a failed coup in November 2023, the government said on Tuesday. Umaru Fofana reports for Reuters.
Russian officials said they foiled a Ukrainian attack on a border city as aerial war continues to intensify. Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenksyy said last night that Russia had fired “almost one hundred missiles of various types” on Tuesday. Meanwhile, yesterday morning, Russian drones targeted Kyiv in a large-scale attack, with Ukraine retaliating hours later firing eight missiles on the Russian city of Belgorod.r. Constant Méheut and Anatoly Kurmanaev report for the New York Times.
A federal grand jury filed a second superseding indictment against Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “The new allegations say Menendez made positive statements about Qatar to help a New Jersey developer get a multimillion-dollar investment from a company tied to the country.” The developer is named as Fred Daibes, who has also been charged in the case. Tom Winter and Dareh Gregorian report for NBC News.
A lawsuit filed yesterday at Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court asked for Representative Scott Perry to be barred from the state’s primary ballot. The lawsuit argued that Perry is ineligible for election because he engaged in insurrectionist activity and attempted to block the transfer of power to President Biden. Marc Levy reports for AP News.
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court yesterday to reinstate federal authority over the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It follows state officials winning a lower court order which precludes the U.S. border patrol from removing the razor wire installed in efforts to deter migrants from crossing the border. Jess Bravin and Elizabeth Findell report for the Wall Street Journal.
A man shot through a window and broke into the Colorado Supreme Court building early yesterday. Brandon Olsen, 44, caused “significant and extensive” damage in several areas, before surrendering to police. Olsen faces charges of arson, robbery and burglary, according to the Denver Police Department. Olsen’s ex-wife said the incident was not politically motivated and added that Olsen was experiencing a mental health breakdown at the time of the incident. Shelly Bradbury and Jacob Factor report for the Denver Post.
Former President Trump filed an appeal yesterday against the decision by Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, which barred him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Trump’s lawyers argued that Section 3 does not apply to Trump and that Bellows lacks authority to enforce it in any case. Trump’s name has not been removed from the ballot yet. The Maine primary is scheduled for March 5. Summer Concepcion, Alex Seitz-Wald and Gary Grumbach report for NBC News.
A federal judge in Washington dismissed a wrongful death claim brought as part of a lawsuit against former President Trump and two men accused of assaulting U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The lawsuit was allowed to continue on other grounds. Daniel Barnes and Zoë Richards report for NBC News.