Israel pounds Gaza’s north, steps up ground assault

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Monday, 30th October 2023

Palestinians in northern Gaza reported fierce air and artillery strikes early today as Israeli troops backed by tanks pressed into the enclave with a ground assault that drew increased international calls for the protection of civilians. Israeli air strikes hit areas near Gaza City’s Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, and Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli forces in a border area east of the city of Khan Younis, in the enclave’s south, Al-Aqsa Radio reported. The bombardments came hours after Israel released images of battle tanks on the Palestinian enclave’s western coast, signalling a potential effort to surround Gaza’s main city two days after the Israeli government ordered expanded ground incursions across its eastern border.

Thousands take basics from Gaza warehouses

The United Nations has warned there are signs that “civil order is starting to break down” in Gaza, reporting that thousands of desperate Palestinians are taking basic items like flour and hygiene supplies from warehouses as Israel stepped up its operation in the territory. CNN quotes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying the situation in Gaza was “growing more desperate by the hour”. Already dire conditions in Gaza cratered after telecommunications lines went down on Friday evening – deepening challenges for medical services and leaving aid agencies out of touch with their staff on the ground in the densely populated territory that’s home to more than two million people. The UN World Food Program (WFP) also acknowledged that some of its aid supplies were taken, warning of “growing hunger”. Some 94 aid trucks have entered Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt so far, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, after 10 trucks containing food and medical supplies entered the enclave on Sunday. The Israeli military has denied shortages of food, water or medicine in Gaza, despite a growing chorus of aid agencies releasing dire warnings about shortages. The UN has said that a humanitarian ceasefire could facilitate the “necessary massive scale up” in delivery of much-needed aid to civilian people.

Photo credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP

Russians remove pro-Palestinian protesters from Dagestan airport

Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters stormed an airport in Russia’s predominantly Muslim Dagestan region on Sunday, where a plane from Israel had just arrived, forcing security forces to close the airport and remove the demonstrators. Twenty people were injured before forces contained the protest at Makhachkala airport. The passengers on the plane were safe, security forces said.

Screenshot from Yaroslav Azhnyuk’s video / Facebook

Inflation to dog world economy next year, Reuters poll shows

High inflation will dog the world economy next year, with three-quarters of over 200 economists polled by Reuters saying the main risk is that it turns out higher than they forecast, suggesting interest rates will also remain higher for longer. Several central banks are still expected to begin cutting interest rates by the middle of 2024, but a growing number of economists surveyed are adjusting their views, pushing the more likely date into the second half of next year. This is a significant change from expectations at the start of this year. Then, some investment banks were predicting the US Federal Reserve, which sets the tone for many others, would be cutting rates right around now. Despite broad success in bringing inflation down from its highs – the easier bit – prices are still rising faster than most central banks would prefer and hitting their inflation targets is likely to be tough.

Orbán opposes the EU’s €50-billion plan for Ukraine…

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has come out against a €50 billion plan in long-term support for Ukraine that the European Union intends to approve before the end of the year. The draft plan, known as the Ukraine Facility, features €33 billion in low-interest loans and €17 billion in non-repayable grants and is part of a wider €100 billion revision of the bloc’s common long-term budget. Any changes to the budget require the unanimous blessing of all 27 member states, enabling a single country to stop the process dead in its tracks.

Photo credit: AFP via Getty Images

… and Slovak PM raises corruption concerns

For his part, Robert Fico, the newly sworn prime minister of Slovakia, raised concerns about the high levels of corruption inside Ukraine and asked for extra safeguards to ensure the EU cash is not “misappropriated”. “Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and its brutal financial support is conditioned by guarantees that European money, including Slovak, will be not misappropriated,” Fico wrote in a Facebook post, noting resources should be used to help Slovak companies in Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Photo credit: Tomas Benedikovic / AFP

EU countries discover up to €16 billion in unallocated funds

Denmark and other countries have detected up to €16 billion in unallocated EU funding that Brussels did not seem to have taken into account when making a request to Member States for the additional €100 billion for the next four years, the Financial Times reports. “All of this makes clear that the Commission hasn’t done its homework properly before asking for a whole lot of extra money and the member states are not happy about it,” an EU diplomat told the UK news outlet. The European Commission has declined to comment.

Main photo credit: AP/Abed Khaled

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