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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Israel said yesterday it dismantled a 250-meter tunnel below Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City as part of an underground military complex. The tunnel “led to a number of significant terrorist centers and was used for carrying out terrorist operations,” the Israeli military added. Daniel Victor reports for the New York Times.
The chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, David Barnea, vowed yesterday that the agency would track down every Hamas member involved in the Oct. 7 attacks, irrespective of where they are located. Barnea made a comparison to the aftermath of the Munich 1972 Olympic massacre, the strongest indication yet that Israel was behind the blast that killed the deputy head of Hamas in Beirut, although it has not formally claimed responsibility. Fadi Tawil, Tia Goldenberg, and Sami Magdy report for AP News.
Fourteen people, including nine children, were killed this morning in a strike on Al-Mawasi, the Hamas-run health ministry said. Separately, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said at least one person was killed and six others wounded in an Israeli strike that hit its headquarters in Khan Younis. Tim Lister and Abeer Salman report for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassralah responded yesterday to the killing of a top Hamas official in Lebanon, saying “if the enemy considers waging a war against Lebanon, our battle will be without boundaries or rules.” He added, “we are not afraid of war. Those who think of going to war with us will regret it. War with us will come at a very, very, very high cost. Yesterday’s crime will not go unpunished.” Euan Ward, Hwaida Saad, and Ben Hubbard report for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
European nations condemned comments made by Israeli officials calling for the resettlement of Palestinians out of Gaza. In a post on X, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said, “This does not fit a future two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.” A spokesperson for the UK government also denounced the comments, saying, “Gaza is Occupied Palestinian Territory and will be part of a future Palestinian state. The UK firmly rejects any suggestion of the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza.” Irene Nasser, Alireza Hajihosseini and Manveena Suri report for CNN.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East today for the fourth time since the Oct. 7 attacks. Blinken will visit “a number of capitals including Israel” an official said. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstien is visiting Israel today to meet with senior officials in an attempt to prevent escalation with Hezbollah following the killing of Saleh Arouri in Beirut on Tuesday. BBC News reports.
The United States has not observed “any acts that constitute genocide” in Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said yesterday. The remark follows the launch of genocide proceedings by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, with the ICJ announcing yesterday that it will hold public hearings next week. Miller added that he has no assessments on whether war crimes or crimes against humanity have been committed. Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis report for Reuters.
A second Biden administration official resigned yesterday in protest of Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Tariq Habash, a Department of Education policy adviser, is the first known official of Palestinian origin to quit over Biden’s approach to the war. Ellen Knickmeyer and Collin Binkley report for AP News.
ATTACKS IN IRAN
Two explosions in Iran yesterday killed at least ninety-three people during a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani’s death. Soleimani was targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020. Iranian officials have blamed unspecified “terrorists,” as well as Israel, for the most recent attack. Top Commander of Iran’s Quds force, Esmail Quaani, said the attack was conducted by “agents of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the United States.” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington was not responsible and there was no reason to believe Israel was involved. Parisa Hafezi reports for Reuters.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed to retaliate against Israel for the attacks in Iran yesterday. Raisi said: “I warn the Zionist regime: Do not doubt that you will pay a heavy price for this crime and the crimes you have committed.” Niamh Kennedy reports for CNN.
Middle Eastern leaders condemned the attacks in Iran, which have further inflamed regional tensions a day after a strike in Beirut killed a top Hamas leader. Irene Nasser, Alireza Hajihosseini and Manveena Suri report for CNN.
The U.S. called on the U.N. Security Council yesterday to take action against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group for their attacks on ships in the Red Sea. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Christopher Lu told an emergency meeting that the Houthis have conducted over 20 attacks since Nov. 19, emphasizing that Iran supplied advanced weapons systems that were used in the attacks, in contravention of U.N. sanctions. Edith M. Lederer reports for AP News.
The United States and 12 other allies issued what is widely considered a final warning to the Houthi group yesterday. “Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” the countries said. “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.” A senior Biden administration official said the Houthis should “not anticipate another warning,” but declined to detail next steps should attacks continue. Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani report for AP News.
A high-ranking militia commander was killed today in an airstrike on the logistical support headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) in central Baghdad, a coalition of Iran-backed militia that is nominally under Iraqi military control. The PMF claimed the United States was behind the strike. Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports for ABC News.
China has protested to Myanmar after five people were injured by artillery shells launched during battles between rebel groups and the ruling junta that strayed into a Chinese town near the border, a foreign ministry spokesperson said today. Reuters reports.
Joint South Korea-U.S. drills involving heavy weapons that began on Dec. 29 near the border with North Korea have ended today. North Korea condemned the allies for conducting “reckless war maneuvers” that encourage “an inferno of nuclear war.” North Korea state media commented that “2024 is the highest risk of conflict.” Jack Kim reports for Reuters.
Former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew are named in newly-unsealed list of prominent individuals connected to accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. More documents are expected to be made public in the coming weeks, with much of the information from the first tranche of documents containing widely-known information. Clinton has not been accused of any crimes relating to Epstein, and both he and Prince Andrew deny any wrongdoing. Samantha Delouya, Lauren del Valle, and Kara Scannell report for CNN.
Ukraine and Russia swapped hundreds of prisoners of war (POW) in the first swap in almost five months, following a deal brokered by UAE mediators. Russia released 230 POWs, including 213 soldiers, 11 officers and six civilians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenesnkyy confirmed. In exchange, Ukraine released 248 Russian military personnel, Moscow’s defense ministry confirmed. “We will keep working to bring back all of our people,” Zelenskyy added. Claudia Chiappa reports for POLITICO.
Russia is progressing with plans to purchase Iranian ballistic missiles, according to U.S. officials. Delivery could take place as early as spring, although the officials added they do not believe the deal has been formally completed. Michael R. Gordon, Gordon Lubold, and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
Several State capitol evacuations took place yesterday following a bomb threat sent via email to officials in the morning. No explosives were found, and the FBI said it was aware of the multiple hoax bomb threats at State capitol buildings but had “no information to indicate a specific and credible threat.” The disruption was minimal in most states and the FBI is continuing to gather information. Rebecca Reynolds reports for AP News.
Hundreds of protesters from Jewish groups calling for a ceasefire interrupted the first day of California’s legislative session yesterday, forcing the state Assembly to adjourn just minutes after convening. The protest was organized by groups including IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. Trân Nguyën and Adam Beam report for AP News.
A Nevada judge was attacked in court yesterday by a defendant in a felony battery case. Courthouse officials said the judge suffered injuries but was not hospitalized, but a courtroom marshal was hospitalized after suffering a dislocated shoulder and a wound to his head. The defendant is being held in Clark County Detention Center where he faces multiple new felony charges. Ken Ritter and Rio Yamat report for ABC News.
A former top lawyer for the D.C. National Guard filed a Defense department whistle-blower complaint saying he faced retaliation after accusing two Army officers of lying about their response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot over their delayed deployment to the incident. The complaint highlights ongoing disputes over blame for the more than four-hour delay in deploying National Guards as rioters swarmed the Capitol. Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
Former President Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a ruling barring him from running for president in Colorado, just one day after he lodged an appeal against a similar decision in Maine. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling based on whether a Civil War constitutional amendment disqualifies him as a presidential candidate would be binding nationwide. Bernd Debusmann Jr.reports for BBC News.