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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants today near the main hospital in Gaza’s second-largest city of Khan Younis. The aid group Doctors Without Borders said its staff were trapped inside the Nasser hospital with about 850 patients and thousands of displaced people because the surrounding roads are too dangerous or inaccessible. The hospital is one of only two hospitals in southern Gaza that can still treat critically ill patients, the group said. Najib Jobain and Melanie Lidman report for AP News.
Israel was trying to demolish part of a Palestinian neighborhood as part of a plan to create a buffer zone between Gaza and Israel when around 20 of its soldiers were killed Monday in an explosion, according to three Israeli officials and an Israeli officer involved in the demolitions. Israel wants to demolish many Palestinian buildings along the border to create a “security zone” which would make it harder for militants to repeat a raid similar to the Oct. 7 attacks, the officials said. Patrick Kingsley, Ronen Bergman, and Natan Odenheimer report for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron will travel to Israel today where he is expected to raise concerns over the rising Palestinian civilian death toll, push for a “sustainable” ceasefire, and urge Israel to open more crossing points to allow aid deliveries into Gaza.“No one wants to see this conflict go on a moment longer than necessary,” Cameron said. “An immediate pause is now necessary to get aid in and hostages out. The situation is desperate.” Cameron will also meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to emphasize Britain’s long-term support for a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel. Reuters reports.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned yesterday that Netanyahu’s apparent rejection of a two-state solution will indefinitely prolong the war. In his strongest language yet, Guterres told a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council that “the right of the Palestinian people to build their own fully independent state must be recognized by all, and a refusal to accept the two-state solution by any party must be firmly rejected.” He also warned that the risks of regional escalation of the war “are now becoming a reality,” referring to Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. Edith M. Lederer reports for AP News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby repeated objections yesterday to Israel’s moves to create a buffer zone, saying, “We do not want to see the territory of Gaza reduced in any way.” However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States was open to a temporary buffer zone solely to enable Israelis who had fled after Oct. 7 to return to their homes. “If there need to be transitional arrangements to enable that to happen, that’s one thing to happen,” Blinken said. “But when it comes to the permanent status of Gaza going forward, we’ve been clear, we remain clear about not encroaching on its territory.”
The top Middle East mediator for the United States Brett McGurk is traveling to Qatar and Egypt as discussions ratchet up over the release of Hamas-held hostages, although U.S. officials emphasize there has been little progress so far. “Certainly, one of the things he’s in the region talking about is the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done,” Kirby told reporters yesterday. “I wouldn’t even classify them as ‘negotiations’ quite at this point, but ‘ongoing discussions with counterparts’ about what’s in the realm of the possible here.” Karen DeYoung and Shira Rubin report for the Washington Post.
The United States launched airstrikes yesterday against Iran-backed militias in Iraq in response to ballistic missiles fired against Al-Assad airbase on Sunday that left four U.S. personnel with traumatic brain injuries, according to two U.S. officials. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq. These precision strikes are in direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against U.S. and Coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias.” Austin added, “We do not seek to escalate conflict in the region. We are fully prepared to take further measures to protect our people and our facilities. We call on these groups and their Iranian sponsors to immediately cease these attacks.” Luis Martinez and Anne Flaherty report for ABC News.
The Kataib Hezbollah militia group in Iraq said one fighter was killed and two injured following U.S. strikes earlier today. Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post.
MILITARY CONFLICT WITH HOUTHIS
The United States struck two Houthi anti-ship missiles in Yemen yesterday, the U.S. Central Command confirmed. The strikes are the ninth attack in two weeks and came a day after the U.S.-led coalition carried out much larger strikes against nine sites in Yemen controlled by the Houthis. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.
Turkey ratified Sweden’s bid to join NATO yesterday after a long-standing dispute over what it called Sweden’s support to Kurdish separatists. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign the legislation within the coming day, leaving Hungary as the sole NATO member yet to ratify Sweden’s accession. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Ankara’s vote and said he was counting on Hungary to “complete its national ratification as soon as possible.” George Wright reports for BBC News.
North Korea fired several cruise missiles into the waters off its coast, South Korea said today. The launches come as commercial satellite imagery analysis suggests the North has torn down the Arch of Reunification monument in its capital that symbolized reconciliation with South Korea, and mark North Korea’s second known launch event of the year. Kim Tong-Hyung reports for AP News.
Germany’s top court stripped a neo-Nazi party of the right to public financing and tax advantages normally afforded to political organizations, a decision that could provide a blueprint for government efforts to fend off a far-right resurgence. Although the party, Die Hamat, was already too small to receive public funding, the case could have implications for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. “Today’s decision by the Federal Constitutional Court sends out a clear signal: Our democratic state does not fund enemies of the Constitution,” Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, said in a statement. Christopher F. Schuetze reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian soldiers are running out of ammunition and other weapons needed to effectively fight Russia now that U.S. funding has lapsed, the Pentagon’s top official overseeing international security affairs said yesterday. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
A Russian military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war crashed near the southern city of Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border, Russian authorities said today. At the time of writing, it was not immediately clear what caused the crash or whether anyone survived. Henry Austin reports for NBC News.
At least eighteen people were killed and 130 injured in Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities yesterday morning, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy said. Sarah Rainsford and Paul Kirby report for BBC News.
Heavy fighting has been reported in central Somalia after al-Shabab militants attacked military bases in the Mudug region. The attack reportedly began with a suicide bombing targeting government special forces. Galmudug security minister Mohamed Abdi Aden said that troops are still battling the militants in the Aad village, where the military bases are located. The Somali National News Agency reported that the army thwarted the attack with the help from locals, “inflicting heavy losses on terrorists,” but the al-Shabab group said it had seized the five military bases, killing dozens of soldiers. BBC News reports.
Ethiopian national security adviser Redwan Hussien said his country was “willing to listen to friends” as it attempts to de-escalate tensions with Somalia over a controversial port deal with the self-declared republic of Somaliland. “As part of our commitment, we shall redouble our effort to ensure a better understanding. Will listen to friends for a possible coordination of efforts lowering rhetoric. Will continue striving to steadily reach a conclusion with amicable considerations which benefit all,” he posted on X. The dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia was triggered by Ethiopia signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland early this month, providing landlocked Ethiopia with access to a seaport. BBC News reports.
An increasing number of bipartisan lawmakers are questioning President Biden’s legal authority to conduct strikes against the Houthis in Yemen. In a signed letter yesterday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Todd Young (R-IL) pressed Biden on the strategic and legal rationale for the recent strikes against Houthi assets that were conducted without authorization from Congress. The letter follows reports that the White House is preparing for a sustained campaign against the Houthis that could last several months. The lawmakers added that while they “support smart steps to defend U.S. personnel and assets,” they “further believe Congress must carefully deliberate before authorizing offensive military action.” Bryant Harris reports for DefenseNews.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to lift a gag order that restricts his ability to criticize witnesses in his ongoing criminal case for attempting to subvert the 2020 elections. The ruling shows the full 11-member bench, including three of Trump’s own appointees, voted against reconsidering the Dec. 8 decision upholding the gag order. “The court had a duty to act proactively to prevent the creation of an atmosphere of fear or intimidation aimed at preventing trial participants and staff from performing their functions within the trial process,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.