Israeli retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza
Israel Defence Forces carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza after two rockets fired from Gaza landed off the Tel Aviv coast on Saturday morning. IDF said fighter jets and helicopters attacked a series of targets in a rocket production-facility belonging to Hamas, while Israeli tanks shelled Hamas military posts near Gaza’s border with Israel. Hamas media said Israeli warplanes struck a Hamas outpost west of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Strip, while tanks targeted outposts in northern Gaza.
Europe exceeds 100 million COVID cases
The current flare-up of COVID infections, pushed by the Omicron variant, has led Europe to exceed 100 million cases since December 2019, according to a count by the AFP. Europe – considering 52 countries and territories from the Atlantic to Russia and Azerbaijan – yesterday officially registered 100,074,753 infections, or more than a third of worldwide cases (288,279,803, always according to the AFP). In the last seven days, Europe has counted over 4.9 million infections, with an increase of 59% compared to the previous week. According to the Johns Hopkins University, deaths registered in Europe are over 1.5 million.
Record new COVID-19 cases in Australia
Australia started 2022 with a record number of new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak centred in the eastern states grew, and New South Wales eased its isolation rules for healthcare workers as the number of people hospitalised with the virus rose. NSW, the most populous state, and Victoria, both posted daily record case numbers of 22,577 and 7,442 respectively, health department figures showed. There were four deaths due to COVID in New South Wales and nine in Victoria, taking the national death toll from the pandemic to more than 2,250.
‘Violence against women insults God’ – Pope
Pope Francis used his New Year message on Saturday to issue a clarion call for an end to violence against women, saying it was insulting to God. Francis, 85, celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on the day the Roman Catholic Church marks both the solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God as well as its annual World Day of Peace. His homily centred around the themes of motherhood and women, saying it was they who kept together the threads of life. He used it to make one of his strongest calls yet for an end to violence against them, exclaiming, “How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.” Last month, the Pope said men who commit violence against women engage in something that is “almost satanic”.
South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon laid to rest
South Africa has given its final farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the leaders of the struggle that put an end to apartheid, as well as a champion of human rights and the environment at a global level. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the archbishop a man “of great moral stature, of exceptional quality in the service of humanity”. Tutu’s urn with his liquified body will be interred behind the pulpit of the cathedral, where he served as archbishop for 35 years.
France: EU flag controversy
The installation of the European flag under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to celebrate the beginning of the French EU presidency has sparked controversy in France. Far-right presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour said they were “outraged” that the French flag was replaced by that of the EU “over the grave of the unknown soldier”. Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune described this as a “sterile controversy”, adding “The French flag will obviously be reinstalled. It is a symbolic and temporary initiative.”
Taliban ‘behead’ female mannequins
The Talibans have prohibited the display of the heads of female mannequins in shops claiming that they offend Islam. The anti-vice ministry has described the mannequins as “statues” to be worshiped, recalling that this was prohibited by Islam. And it announced ‘severe punishment’ for shopkeepers who will not abide by the directive.
Emirates conquer five Guinness Records
The United Arab Emirates have recorded five Guinness World Records thanks to fireworks displays in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah in the New Year celebrations. The Sheikh Zayed Festival in Al Wathba, a suburb of the Emirate capital, set three Guinness World Records with a 40-minute fireworks display to welcome 2022. The fireworks achieved world record in terms of volume, duration and form, during the Abu Dhabi New Year celebrations. In Ras Al Khaimah, in the north of the country, a 12-minute fireworks display over an area of more than 4.7 kilometers has won two Guinness Book of Records, the state news agency Wam reported. A 1,055.8-metre-high fireworks tower, more than any skyscraper in the world, set the first record, for “tallest multi-rotor / drone fireworks show”. The second record was achieved for the “highest number of multirotors/drones launching fireworks simultaneously”, when 452 drones simultaneously fired the fires to create ‘Happy New Year’ in the sky.
Spider-Man flies to the box office
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” continues its race to the box office. The sequel to the Spider-Man saga finished first in the New Year’s Eve box office chart, grossing $15.4 million for a total of $572.6 million in the United States alone. According to “Variety”, the box office of the New Year’s weekend is expected to bring in another $48 million, for a total of $615 million: more than the box office of “Incredibles 2”, making the film with Holland the tenth grossing in history.