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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Israeli military forces located what they said was the largest weapons production factory in Gaza so far, with underground workshops they said were used to manufacture long-range missiles and munitions. According to the military, the factory, located in the Bureij area, is connected through underground shafts to a tunnel network to transport the weapons throughout the Gaza Strip. Ronen Zvulun reports for Reuters.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that nine more of its troops have been killed, bringing the total number to 185. Meanwhile the IDF said it has moved “deep” into Khan Younis while “eliminating 40 terrorists,” and Palestinian state media reports that a 16-storey residential tower block has been destroyed by Israeli warplanes in the city center. BBC News reports.
Israel announced it will briefly pause military activities in part of central Gaza today to allow humanitarian supplies to enter. The pause will run from 10:00 local time to 14:00. BBC News reports.
Violence including the sexual crimes committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks “constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes,” and may also be crimes against humanity, two U.N. experts said yesterday. Talya Minsberg reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
The Emirati President rebuffed a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pay “unemployment” stipends to Palestinian workers from the occupied West Bank whom Israel barred from the territory since Oct 7. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s refusal underscores the position of many Arab states, that say they will not fund maintaining the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza after the war. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
The IDF confirmed a military base in northern Israel was struck by a drone launched from Lebanon today. The IDF said no one was killed in the strike, but added that its fighter jets targeted “terrorist infrastructure” in southern Lebanon this morning. Meanwhile, Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah earlier said it targeted an Israeli command post in Safed. There were also reports of another alleged Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon this morning, which unconfirmed reports said killed three people. BBC News reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with the Israeli war cabinet today as he continues a regional tour aimed to prevent spillover from the war in Gaza. Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv last night and said he will press Israel’s government on the “absolute imperative” to do more to “protect civilians”. Arafat Barbakh, Simon Lewis, and Nidal Al-Mughrabi report for Reuters.
Israeli officials will tell Blinken today that Israel will not allow Palestinians to return to northern Gaza if Hamas does not agree to release more hostages, according to two senior Israeli officials. The officials stressed that Israel does not in principle oppose allowing Palestinians to return to northern Gaza, but will tell Blinken that such a move must form part of a new hostage deal. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
Blinken said Israel “has real opportunities” to improve relations with its neighbors during meetings with Israeli officials today. The comments followed a visit on Monday with Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who told Blinken that the Saudis still had a “clear interest” in trying to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel, according to what the Secretary of State said to reporters. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
Protestors calling for a ceasefire in Gaza briefly interrupted President Biden’s speech yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina. Approximately half a dozen protesters were escorted out of the event, with Biden later commenting, “I understand their passion and I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza.” Erin Doherty reports for Axios.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on a resolution today calling for a sustained ceasefire in Gaza as well as humanitarian aid, the release of hostages, and condemnation of “antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic, and all xenophobic rhetoric and attacks.” The resolution will not have legal authority. Janie Har reports for AP News.
Hundreds of protestors calling for a ceasefire blocked traffic in New York City on Monday morning, disrupting commuting traffic, and leading to over 300 arrests. Philip Marcelo reports for AP News.
Israel is conducting more frequent strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria including infrastructure, air defense systems, and people involved in arms transfers to Iran’s proxies in the region, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The sources, including a Syrian military intelligence officer and a commander in the regional alliance backing Syria, said Israel shifted its strategy in Syria following the Oct. 7 attacks, abandoning the “rules of the game” that had characterized previous strikes there. The sources said Israel was “no longer cautious” about inflicting heavy casualties on Hezbollah in Syria. Laila Bassam, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, and Maya Gebeily report for Reuters.
Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and Britain jointly initiated dispute-settlement proceedings at the U.N. aviation council against Iran, the countries said yesterday. The move is a bid to hold Iran accountable for the downing of a passenger airliner in January 2020 that killed 176 people.Iran say its Revolutionary Guards shot the aircraft accidentally and blamed a misaligned radar and an error by the air defense operator. Reuters reports.
The fourth tranche of court documents related to accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was released yesterday, alleging that Epstein recorded sex tapes of high-profile figures including former President Clinton and Prince Andrew. Nada Tawfik and Mike Wendling report for BBC News.
French President Emmanual Macron appointed Gabriel Attal to become France’s next Prime Minister following the resignation of Elisabeth Borne yesterday. Attal, 34, will be the youngest prime minister since the founding of the Fifth French Republic in 1958, and the first openly gay man to hold the position. Joshua Berlinger and Dalal Mawad report for CNN.
Two U.S. fighter jets flew over Bosnia yesterday in a demonstration of U.S. support for the Balkan country’s integrity in the face of “anti-Dayton and secessionist activity,” a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo confirmed. “The United States has underscored that the BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) Constitution provides no right of secession, and it will act if anyone tries to change this basic element” of the Dayton peace agreements, the statement added. Bosnian-Serb pro-Russia leader, Milorad Dodik, has repeatedly threatened to split the Serb-run half from the rest of Bosnia. Eldar Emric reports for ABC News.
Somaliland’s defense minister said “Ethiopia remains our number one enemy” and resigned in protest over his government signing an agreement permitting landlocked Ethiopia access to Somalia’s coastline. Omar Faruk reports for AP News.
Sunday’s election in Bangladesh which saw Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina win a fourth successive term was “not free or fair,” a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said yesterday. “The United States remains concerned by the arrests of thousands of political opposition members and by reports of irregularities on elections day,” the statement added.
Ecuador declared a state of emergency yesterday for 60 days after the country’s most wanted prisoner disappeared from prison. The state of emergency deploys the military onto the streets and prisons while setting a nationwide nighttime curfew. Reuters reports.
A judge in Haiti has issued arrest warrants for over 30 high-ranking officials accused of government corruption, including former presidents and prime ministers . The warrants, issued on Friday, were leaked on social media over the weekend.. AP News reports.
Opposition politicians in Italy have called for the government, headed by far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, to explain how hundreds of demonstrators were able to give a banned fascist salute at a Rome rally without any police intervention. The rally, held on Sunday night, commemorated the 1978 slaying of two neo-fascist youth group members. Frances D’Emilio reports for AP News.
A U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 27 months in jail yesterday for sharing unclassified U.S military information with China in exchange for nearly $15,000 in bribes. Reuters reports.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday that “most EU member states” are not delivering sufficient weapons to Ukraine,calling on allies to strengthen their efforts.” Reuters reports.
President Biden is not considering firing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over his failure to tell the White House about his emergency hospitalization, according to four senior Biden administration officials. One official added that Biden would not accept a resignation if Austin were to offer one, saying, “Austin’s going nowhere.” Jonathan Lemire and Alexander Ward report for POLITICO.
House Republicans yesterday recommended that Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress over his failure to comply with a subpoena, in violation of federal law. The recommendation follows Hunter Biden’s earlier comments saying he would refuse to sit for a closed-door deposition, but would be willing to testify before the GOP-led House Oversight Committee. April Rubin and Andrew Solender report for Axios.
Mike Roman, a defendant in the Georgia election interference case involving former President Trump, filed a motion accusing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Wills of an “improper” romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, making the indictment “fatally detective,” according to Roman’s lawyers. The filing claims that Willis and Wade traveled together to “traditional vacation destinations” and that sources close to both attorneys confirmed their relationship was initiated before the election interference case. Ella Lee and Zach Schonfeld report for The Hill.
Former President Trump said in an interview yesterday that he predicts the U.S. economy will crash and hopes it does so within the next year. “We have an economy that’s so fragile, and the only reason it’s running now is it’s running off the fumes of what we did,” Trump said. “And when there’s a crash — I hope it’s going to be during this next 12 months because I don’t want to be Herbert Hoover. The one president I just don’t want to be, Herbert Hoover.” Sarah Fortinksy reports for The Hill.
The landmark legal case about whether former President Donald Trump should be immune from criminal prosecution will be heard in Washington today. Trump is expected to attend as his lawyers argue that the office of the White House protects him from the 2020 election fraud charges. Max Matza reports for BBC News. Oral argument is set for 9:30 in the morning and will be livestreamed (C-SPAN).
Special Counsel Jack Smith was targeted by an attempted swatting on Christmas Day. Police were dispatched toward Smith’s Maryland residence but were called off when they learned it was a false alarm. According to two law enforcement sources, someone called 911 falsely alleging that Smith had shot his wife at the home address. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident. Michael Kosnar and Zoë Richards report for NBC News.