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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news


Israel escalated its criticism of the U.N. agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) yesterday, saying that 450 of its employees were members of militant groups in Gaza, although it provided no evidence to support the accusation. The head of the agency, Phillippe Lazzarini, told a press conference last night that he “has never been informed” or received any evidence of Israel’s claims. He added that every year, UNRWA provides Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a list of its staff, and he has “never received the slightest concern about the staff that we have been employing.” Tia Goldenberg and Ravi Nessman report for AP News.

 Qatari and Egyptian mediators told Israeli negotiators during talks last week that Hamas is willing to decrease the number of Palestinian prisoners released as part of a hostage deal if Israel agrees to allow more Palestinian civilians to return to northern Gaza, an Israeli official and a source with knowledge of the issue told Axios. Israeli negotiators were told by Qatari and Egyptian mediators that the return of Palestinians to northern Gaza is a top priority for Hamas, the Israeli official said, adding that they were surprised how important the issue is. Hamas officials told al-Arabiya yesterday that they gave Egyptian mediators their response about the “ratio”, but Israeli officials claimed they have not received this information from Cairo. 

A U.N. team has concluded there are “reasonable grounds to believe” sexual violence was committed during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Following a 17-day visit to Israel, the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, reported yesterday that she and a team of experts had found “clear and convincing information” of rape and sexualized torture being committed against hostages seized during the Oct. 7 attacks, adding that the true extent of sexual violence could “take months or years to emerge and may never be fully known.” The team also visited Ramallah in the West Bank to hear concerns raised over cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinians in detention by Israeli security forces and settlers, including in the form of sexual violence. 

Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, has recalled its U.N. ambassador after what he said was an “attempt to silence” the U.N. report on sexual violence committed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attacks. In a post on X, Katz said that U.N. Secretary- General António Guterres should have convened the U.N. Security Council to review the report’s findings or declare Hamas a terrorist organization. Amir Tal and Richard Roth report for CNN.

There is “no way to know the fate” of Israeli hostages held in Gaza until a ceasefire deal is in place, a member of Hamas’s political bureau told CNN yesterday. Israel believes 130 hostages remain in Gaza, 99 of whom are believed to be alive. “It is not possible to know any details about the fate of the Israeli prisoners because they are in different locations and with different factions, we do not know their fate under the bombardment and the starvation policy,” Hamas official Basem Naim said in Istanbul, adding, “Therefore we need a ceasefire in order to gather information.”

 The number of children dying of dehydration and malnutrition in Gaza will “skyrocket” without a ceasefire,UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said yesterday. Elder called the deaths, which UNICEF said it is now witnessing inside Gaza, “entirely predictable,” “man-made,” and “preventable.” He said that while the levels of child malnutrition in southern Gaza are “unacceptable and dangerous,” the levels in the north are “roughly three times higher” due to lower levels of humanitarian assistance reaching northern parts of the strip. Elder said it is not too late to avert a full-blow crisis, but that the situation is “getting close to some kind of point of no return.” Tom Soufi Burridge reports for ABC News. 


Turkish police detained seven people, including a private detective, suspected of selling information to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, Turkey’s intelligence agency said today. The detective, who was a former public servant, allegedly gathered information on Middle Eastern companies and individuals in Turkey, placing tracking devices and engaging in surveillance, the agency said. Reuters reports. 


Vice President Kamala Harris met yesterday with Israeli War Cabinet Member Benny Gantz and expressed“deep concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza” and the “horrific tragedy” of the aid convoy incident that left over 100 Palestinians dead. Harris “called on Hamas to accept the terms on the table” whereby the release of hostages would lead to an immediate six-week ceasefire and a surge of aid throughout Gaza and “welcomed Israel’s constructive approach to the hostage talks.” The two officials also “discussed the situation in Rafah and the need for a credible and implementable humanitarian plan prior to contemplating any major military operation,” and Harris urged Israel to take additional measures in cooperation with the United States and international partners to “increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and ensure its safe distribution.”

Parts of Harris’s speech on Sunday about the need for an immediate six-week ceasefire as part of a hostage deal were toned down beforehand by national security officials, three current U.S. officials and a former U.S. official familiar with the speech told NBC News. The original draft of Harris’s speech, when it was sent to the National Security Council for review, was more critical of Israel about the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the need for increased aid, according to one of the current officials and the former official. Harris’s communications director called the claims “inaccurate.”

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby accused some Israeli cabinet members of blocking efforts to increase aid into Gaza. Speaking at a briefing with reporters, Kirby said, “There have been some obstacles to getting the aid in that are organic to the fact that we’re talking about a war zone, but also inorganic obstacles [have been] thrown up in some cases by some members of the Israeli cabinet that have made it hard to get that aid in.” Kirby did not name the cabinet members he was referring to. 

The United States will continue to support Israel with military assistance, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said yesterday. “We continue to support Israel’s campaign to ensure that the attacks of October 7 cannot be repeated. We have provided military assistance to Israel because it is consistent with that goal [and] … with international humanitarian law.” Miller also said that there is more the Israeli government “can do and more that they should do” to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it struck a series of Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah sites in Southern Lebanon in response to an anti-tank missile attack this morning near Margaliot that killed a foreign national and wounded seven others. Separately, Hezbollah announced the deaths of three members killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives killed in Israeli strikes. Emanuel Fabian reports for the Times of Israel


One of two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis at a container vessel in the Gulf of Aden hit the ship and caused “damage,” the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said today. Initial reports indicated no injuries and the Liberian-flagged, Swiss-owned container vessel did not request assistance and continued on its way, CENTCOM said, adding that its forces “conducted self-defense strikes against two anti-ship cruise missiles that presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.”


North Korea called the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills a plot to invade the country, threatening today to take “responsible” military measures in response. North Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it “strongly denounces the reckless military drills of the U.S. and (South Korea) for getting more undisguised in their military threat to a sovereign state and attempt for invading it.” A spokesperson added that North Korea’s military will “continue to watch the adventurist acts of the enemies and conduct responsible military activities to strongly control the unstable security environment on the Korean Peninsula.” Hyung-Jin Kim reports for ABC News.

 Russia’s foreign ministry today accused Western ambassadors in Moscow of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs by attending the funeral of Alexei Navalny, saying their behavior raises doubts over the need for such envoys. The charge follows Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov allegations yesterday that E.U. ambassadors refused to meet him for a conversation ahead of Russia’s presidential election this month. A spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry said that such behavior showed Western ambassadors were “putting on performances” rather than doing diplomatic work. Guy Faulconbridge reports for Reuters. 

China’s premier will no longer hold a news conference after the country’s annual legislative meeting, Beijing announced yesterday, ending a three-decades long practice viewed as a rare opportunity for journalists to interact with top Chinese officials. The decision, announced a day before the opening of this year’s legislative conclave, is viewed as a sign of Beijing’s increasing information opacity. A spokesperson for the legislature offered few details about the decision except that there would be more question-and-answer sessions with lower-level officials instead. Vivian Wang and Chris Buckley report for the New York Times. 

Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels collided in the disputed South China Sea, injuring four Filipino crew members. Philippine officials said Chinese coast guard ships and accompanying vessels blocked the Philippine coast guard and supply vessels off the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and executed dangerous maneuvers that caused two minor collisions between the Chinese ships and two of the Philippine vessels. An hour later, another Chinese coast guard ship blocked, then collided with a supply boat the Philippine coast guard was escorting, the Philippine officials said. Jim Gomez reports for AP News.

The United States yesterday sanctioned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, its first lady, and other government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three entities and 11 people, including the Mnangagwas, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and retired Brig. Gen. Walter Tapfumaneyi. Fatima Hussein reports for AP News.

Vietnamese real estate tycoon Truong My Lan faces the death penalty in a trial that begins today over alleged fraud amounting to $12.5 billion, marking Vietnam’s largest financial fraud case on record. Lan, 66, allegedly used “thousands of ghost companies,” paid bribes to government officials, and violated banking regulations, according to a government document. Another 85 people are being prosecuted in connection. Aniruddha Ghosal reports for AP News. 


Ukraine claimed today it sank another Russian warship in the Black Sea using high-tech sea drones. The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship, Sergey Kotov, overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are manufactured in Ukraine and laden with explosives. Russian authorities have not confirmed the claim at the time of writing. Illia Novikov reports for AP News.


The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday temporarily put on hold a Texas law that would allow local authorities and judges to arrest and deport immigrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S. border. The move comes after civil rights groups and the Department of Justice jointly sued in an effort to prevent the law from going into effect, arguing it is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling. Justice Samuel Alito halted the lower court’s order until March 13 so the Supreme Court can make a determination. Sareen Habeshian reports for Axios. 

A civilian U.S. Air Force employee was indicted for allegedly sharing classified defense information about Russia’s war on Ukraine on a foreign online dating platform, the Department of Justice announced yesterday. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel David Franklin Slater, 63, is accused of sending intel to someone claiming to be a woman living in Ukraine from February to April 2022 — a period during which he was attending classified briefings, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said Slater was working in a classified space at U.S. Strategic Command Offutt Air Force Base and held a top secret security clearance during the exchanges with the woman. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in the District of Nebraska today.  

Jack Teixeira pleaded guilty yesterday to leaking highly classified intelligence reports and other documents. Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman accused of posting highly classified intelligence reports and other documents on social media, pleaded guilty to all six counts he faced under the Espionage Act. He has agreed to sit for a debrief with members of the intelligence community and the Department of Defense, court documents say, as well as turn over all relevant documents he has or knows the location of. In exchange, prosecutors have said that they will ask a judge to impose a 16-year sentence, far less time than the decades-long prison sentence he could have faced had he not struck a deal. Alanna Hannah Rabinowitz reports for CNN.


The former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, has pleaded guilty to perjury charges from his testimony in the civil fraud trial against former President Trump. Weisselberg, 76, made the plea in a deal with Manhattan prosecutors yesterday, admitting he lied in sworn testimony when he claimed he was not involved in an incorrect valuation of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse. He is expected to return to New York’s Rikers Island prison to serve a five-month sentence. Nadine Yousif reports for BBC News.