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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news
President Biden and other top U.S. officials discussed Sunday a “significant military response” following the drone attack by Iran-backed militias near the Jordan-Syria border that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded dozens. A U.S. official said, “We don’t want war but those who are behind this attack need to feel our response.” The U.S. Defense Secretary meanwhile vowed the United States would take “all necessary actions” to defend its troops. Barak Ravid, Andrew Solender and Dave Lawler report for Axios.
The three U.S. soldiers killed in the Jordan attack on Sunday have been named as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23. The United States has blamed Iran-backed groups for the attack, with the Pentagon saying the operation carried “footprints” of Kataib Hezbollah. A U.S. official added that the drone used in the attack appeared to be a “type of Shahed drone,” a one-way attack drone Tehran has been providing to Russia. Fiona Niomin reports for BBC News.
The U.S. failed to stop the attack in Jordan when the enemy drone approached its target at the same time as a U.S. drone was returning to the base, U.S. officials said yesterday. The return of the U.S. drone led to confusion of whether the incoming drone was friend or foe, officials have concluded so far, although they cautioned the inquiry into the attack was in an early stage. A U.S. Defense official said Washington has yet to find evidence that Iran directed the attack, while White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, “Clearly there is a responsibility that appropriately needs to be laid at the feet of leaders in Tehran.” Nancy A. Youssef, Michael R. Gordon, and Sune Engel Rasmussen report for the Wall Street Journal.
The United Kingdom, in coordination with the United States, has imposed fresh sanctions on senior Iranian officials who are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in a bid to tackle what it says is a threat to U.K. domestic security. “The Iranian regime and the criminal gangs who operate on its behalf pose an unacceptable threat to the U.K.’s security,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said. “The U.K. and U.S. have sent a clear message – we will not tolerate this threat.” The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans but fall short of a full proscription of the IRGC by the United Kingdom. POLITICO reports.
Israeli authorities said undercover commandos killed three Palestinian militants today in a raid on a hospital in the West Bank. Hamas said one of the dead was a member of its group, while the allied Islamic JIhad claimed the two others. Raneen Sawafta reports for Reuters.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rejected claims by Palestinian state news agency WAFA that it carried out a strike near a U.N. relief school in Gaza City yesterday.
More countries have halted funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees(UNRWA) over the alleged role of some of its staff in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, with the latest addition to the list including Japan, Austria, and New Zealand. However, the European Union announced it will not suspend funding to UNRWA, pending the outcome of the internal investigation launched. The UNRWA said it is “extremely desperate” and that the “humanitarian needs in Gaza are growing by the hour.” Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agency is “perforated with Hamas,” following a recently released Israeli intelligence dossier that alleges nearly 200 UNRWA workers are Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives, without providing detailed evidence. Robert Plummer reports for BBC News.
Twenty aid organizations, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, and Save the Children, said in a joint statement yesterday that UNRWA’s role in Gaza was irreplaceable and that “the population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease.” Doctors Without Borders said in a separate statement that “any additional limitations on aid will result in more deaths and suffering,” adding that such steps contradict the provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice last week.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Representatives from Israel, Qatar, Egypt and the United States have agreed to have Qatar present a preliminary framework to Hamas that proposes a six-week pause in the war in Gaza for Hamas to exchange some hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, officials say. The talks are at an early stage, and details would need to be finalized if Hamas agrees to build on the framework. The terms of the framework were sketched out on Sunday in Paris by the four states. The prime and foreign minister of Qatar flew from the meeting in Paris to Washington where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday. While Blinken declined to give details, he said the proposal is a “compelling one” and “there is some real hope going forward.” Edward Wong and Julian E. Barnes report for the New York Times.
A day after officials from the United States, Israel, Egypt and Qatar met in Paris to discuss a nascent ceasefire proposal, Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan acknowledged yesterday that “great efforts” were being made by the mediators but said “We have not received anything.” Hwaida Saad and Anushka Patil report for the New York Times.
Israeli Shin Bet security agency director Ronen Bar visited Cairo yesterday and met with his Egyptian counterpart, Abbas Kamel, two Israeli sources said. The two parties discussed potential plans after the war and non-hostage related issues, including the situation along the Philadelphi Corridor and how Egypt-Israel can work together to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza that would enable Hamas to rearm. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The United Kingdom is considering recognizing a Palestinian state, British foreign secretary David Cameron said yesterday. Cameron told a Westminster reception that the United Kingdom has responsibility to set out what a Palestinian state would look like and said Palestinians would have to be shown “irreversible progress” toward a two-state solution. “We have a responsibility there because we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like, what it would comprise, how it would work and crucially, looking at the issue, that as that happens, we with allies will look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations … That could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible.” Cameron also urged Israel to allow more humanitarian support into Gaza and said it was “ludicrous” that British and other foreign aid was being sent back at the border. James Landale reports for BBC News.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told U.S. officials last week that he and the Israeli military will not permit the rebuilding of illegal outposts or settlements by Israeli settlers inside the Gaza Strip, four U.S. and Israeli officials said. Gallant stressed the buffer zone would be temporary and for security purposes only, according to a senior Israeli official and two U.S. officials. The statement follows concerns by the Biden administration that the buffer zone will be used to rebuild settlements that were dismantled during the 2005 Israeli pullout from the enclave. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in a case in which he was accused of leaking state secrets. Khan is already serving a three-year jail term after being convicted of corruption in 2022. Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, vice-chairman of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI) party, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison by the special court. Carolien Davies and Simon Fraser report for BBC News.
An Iranian man accused of leading a network that targets dissidents has been charged with hiring two Canadians, including a member of the Hells Angels, to kill two Iranian refugees living in Maryland, according to indictments unsealed yesterday. The man, Naji Sharifi Zindashti, is accused of being an assassin in Iran and a drug trafficker working at the behest of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. In December, a Minnesota federal grand jury charged him with engineering a plot to murder an anonymous Iranian defector, as well as another person in late 2020 and 2021. For reasons that are unknown, the hits were never carried out. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
Indian naval forces rescued 19 Pakistani sailors after their fishing ship was hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, just 36 hours after the Indian navy rescued a 17-member Iranian crew of a vessel that was also hijacked at sea. The ship has been deployed for maritime security operations along the east coast of Somalia and Gulf of Aden. Thenavy said today its vessel was “pressed into action to locate and intercept another Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Al Naeemi.” Meryl Sebasitian reports for BBC News.
The United States began reimposing sanctions on Venezuela yesterday after it upheld a ban blocking the candidacy of the leading opposition candidate in presidential elections. A White House official said “unless [President Maduro] and his representatives in Venezuela are able to get back on track, specifically with regard to allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year’s election, we will not be in a position to renew General License 44, which provides relief to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector when it comes up for renewal in April.” The official added the United States was considering additional unspecified measures to punish the Venezuelan government. Matt Spetalnick and Vivian Sequerra report for Reuters.
Albania’s constitutional court approved 5-4 a controversial agreement to send asylum seekers in Italy to Albania. The deal will have to be ratified by Albania’s parliament, although it is expected to pass easily as Prime Minister Edi Rama holds a large majority. Laura Gozzi reports for BBC News.
Australia is the “security partner of choice” for neighboring Papua New Guinea, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said today, after the Pacific Island nation said China was seeking a policing and security deal. Reuters reports.
Hong Kong’s leader confirmed today his intention to introduce tighter national security laws to build on existing legislation Beijing imposed on the city in 2020. Jessie Pang and Greg Torode report for Reuters.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced a new $5.95 billion partnership with African states yesterday, unveiling a long-awaited plan to boost economic ties, create a European energy hub, and curb immigration. Meanwhile, the chairman of the African Union commission urged for action and not words, saying, “You can well understand that we can no longer be satisfied with mere promises that are often not kept.” Angelo Amante and Crispian Balmer report for Reuters.
Vietnam and the Philippines agreed today to further maritime cooperation between their coastguards to prevent incidents in the South China Sea. Khanh Vu reports for Reuters.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg began a trip to the U.S. yesterday to meet with Biden administration officials, lawmakers, and allies of former President Trump, in a bid to find $60 billion in Ukraine funding. The visit comes as Trump and his allies urge Republicans to reject a $111 billion package that would include aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan over disagreement with the Biden administration on border policy. “NATO allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine, and it’s important that we continue to do so,” Stoltenberg said before his meeting yesterday at the Pentagon, where he met with the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “Our support is not charity; it’s an investment in our own security because the world will become more dangerous if President Putin wins in Ukraine.” Paul Mcleary reports for POLITICO.
E.U. member states have unanimously backed a plan to set aside billions of euros of profits from Russia’s frozen central bank assets, a first step toward their possible use toward Ukraine’s reconstruction. The decision is part of the bloc’s show of support for Kyiv ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and comes before a summit on Thursday where E.U. leaders are expected to approve 50 billion euros in financial support for Ukraine. Paola Tamma reports for Financial Times.
Russian air defense systems destroyed or intercepted 21 Ukraine launched drones over the Crimean Peninsula and other Russian regions, Russian state media said today, citing Moscow’s defense ministry. Reuters reports.
A Michigan man was charged Sunday with threatening to kill President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Russell Douglas Warren, 48, appeared in federal court yesterday in Michigan and was ordered temporarily detained, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Warren allegedly said in posts on X that Biden and Harris should be taken to prison for execution by hanging and that the FBI headquarters should be bombed and all employees killed. Sareen Habeshian reports for Axios.
The former Internal Revenue Service contractor who leaked the tax records of former President Trump and several other wealthy Americans was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday. The leaks shed new light on Trump’s financial situation, after he had spent years trying to block the release of his tax returns. “What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy. It cannot be open season on our elected officials,” Judge Reyes remarked. Ivana Saric reports for Axios.