Israel considers flooding Hamas tunnels

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Tuesday, 5th December 2023

Israel is considering flooding Hamas’ underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip and has assembled “a system of large pumps” for this purpose, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing American officials. The US newspaper says the Israeli tactic “could destroy the tunnels and drive fighters from their underground shelters, but also threaten Gaza’s water supply”. According to the report, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) finished assembling large seawater pumps about a mile north of Al-Shati refugee camp around the middle of last month. Each of at least five pumps can draw water from the Mediterranean Sea and move thousands of cubic metres of water per hour into the tunnels, flooding them within weeks. The Wall Street Journal also says Israel presented the plan to the United States last month, starting a discussion about its feasibility and environmental impact. According to the report, US officials believe Israel has not made a final decision to move forward nor has it ruled out the project.

IDF pounds Jabalia, advances on Khan Yunis

The IDF launched air strikes in the early hours of today, Tuesday, on the city of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip. According to The Jerusalem Post, the army has also completed “another phase of the ground manoeuver towards Khan Yunis, with particular attention to the main road leading from the fields towards the centre of the city”. Israeli warplanes heavily bombarded an area around Khan Younis on Monday as the military ordered mass evacuations from the town in the face of a widening ground offensive that is pushing Palestinians into a progressively shrinking portion of the besieged territory. Constant bombardment on the edges of Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, lit up the sky over the town Monday evening, and a stream of ambulances carrying wounded, including several women and children, flowed to the main hospital.

Photo: Menahem KAHANA / AFP

IDF offensive on Jenin in the West Bank

Al Jazeera reports the IDF launched an offensive on the city of Jenin, in the West Bank, also in the early hours of today. According to the Arab broadcaster, the Israeli army is using 50 military vehicles, including heavy armoured bulldozers. Israeli snipers are positioned in various parts of the city. Among the objectives of the Israeli assault units were the government hospital and a local refugee camp. There are currently ongoing clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops in central Jenin, Al Jazeera says.

Screenshot: CNN

… and in Lebanon

The IDF say they have struck numerous Hezbollah sites in Lebanon in the last few hours following cross-border attacks by the Islamist movement. In a statement, the IDF said a projectile was launched from Lebanon against the Israeli border town of Zarite and the IDF bombed the source of the launch. “Artillery fire attacked a number of areas of Lebanese territory to eliminate the threat,” the statement concluded.

Photo: AFP

“50 dead in Israeli raids on two schools in Gaza City”

The Palestinian agency Wafa reports that “at least 50 citizens were killed and hundreds injured” in two separate attacks by Israeli aircraft “on two schools hosting displaced people in the Al-Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City”. Wafa says ambulance crews were encountering great difficulties in reaching the two schools.

“15,899 victims – 70% children and women”

Al Jazeera quotes the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf Al-Qudra, saying that, as of 7th October, the number of victims in Gaza had risen to 15,899, of whom 70 per cent were children and women. The spokesperson of the Hamas-controlled ministry added that the Israelis have completely destroyed 56 health facilities, arrested 35 medical staff, and made the health system in the Gaza Strip completely unusable. Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior Israeli military officials told AFP last night that about two civilians have been killed for every Hamas fighter killed in the Gaza Strip. Asked about reports that 5,000 Hamas fighters had been killed, one of the senior officials said: “The figures are more or less accurate.”

“Humanitarian situation worsens by the hour”

The Gaza chief of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Thomas White, said in a post on X that “another wave of displacement is underway, and the humanitarian situation worsens by the hour”. The president of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, who had just arrived in the Strip, wrote that the situation in Gaza is intolerable. She repeated the urgent appeal for the protection of civilians in line with the laws of war and for aid to enter without difficulty”. At the same time, Spoljaric asked that “the hostages be released and that the Red Cross can visit them safely”. Adding to the chaos, phone and internet networks across Gaza collapsed again on Monday evening, making it largely impossible for residents to communicate with each other or the outside world.

Photo: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

“The US is running out of money for Ukraine” – White House

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address US senators by video later today during a classified briefing as the Biden administration urges Congress to approve the White House’s nearly $106 billion request for funds for the wars in Ukraine, Israel, and other security needs. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent an urgent warning about the need to approve the military and economic assistance to Ukraine, saying Kyiv’s war effort to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without it. Senators will also be hearing from the US secretaries of Defence and State, and other national security officials.

Photo: AFP

The UK raises salary threshold and limits family visas for foreigners

The British government has announced a package of measures to cut net migration to the UK, including plans to raise the minimum salary required for foreign workers to be eligible for a work visa. The measure aims at raising the minimum salary that migrants to the UK must earn in a job by a third after record net migration in 2022 piled pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to act. Interior Minister James Cleverly said on Monday that the government would raise the minimum salary threshold for foreign skilled workers to £38,700 from its current level of £26,200, reform the list of jobs where exceptions are made due to shortages, and toughen rules on whether workers can bring their families.

Photo: iStock

Spain seizes 68,000 gallons of fake, inedible ‘olive oil’

Police in Spain have seized about 68,680 gallons of fake ‘olive oil’, four vehicles, about €91,000, and other paper evidence, Europol said. In Italy, police said they inspected three factories suspected of making fake olive oil, took samples, and gathered documents. One company was sanctioned for “irregular labelling” of products. Eleven suspects were arrested in connection with the counterfeit oil investigation, the police said. Schemes to make fake extra virgin olive oil are “a common practice”, according to Europol, and it described these schemes as “illegal” and able to pose “a public health risk”.

14 dead, 32 injured as bus crashes into a tree in Thailand

A double-decker bus crashed into a tree in southern Thailand, killing at least 14 people and injuring 32 others. Police said the long-distance bus was travelling from Bangkok to the far south of the kingdom when it crashed in the coastal province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Photos published by local media show the front of the bus split in two by the force of the crash, with the tree still stuck in the centre. The cause of the crash has not been confirmed, but police suspect the driver, who was seriously injured but survived, may not have had enough sleep.

Photo: BBC/SAWANG PRACHUAP DHAMMASATHAN FOUNDATION

“WTF” – furious Erling Haaland risks FA charge after social-media post

Erling Haaland and his Manchester City team-mates may face FA censure after their furious reaction to a late error by the referee, Simon Hooper, in their 3-3 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Haaland took to social media to express his disbelief at the decision, writing “WTF” in a post that linked to a clip of the incident in added time, in which Hooper first waved play on and then brought it back to award City a free kick despite Jack Grealish being through on goal. Haaland’s comments may well come to the attention of the FA for the potential use of obscene language, while City could face a charge of failing to control their players as they surrounded Hooper.

Photo: AFP

Main photo: Yousef Mohammed/Zuma Press

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