According to various European and US media outlets, the Israeli military has completely encircled Gaza City as the United Nations’ main relief agency in the isolated enclave accused Israeli warplanes of lethally bombing UN-run schools sheltering civilians. Nearly a week after Israel first began moving tanks, bulldozers, infantrymen, and combat engineer units into Gaza, Israel Defense Force (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Gaza City has been surrounded. The IDF’s engineering corps was working to locate and neutralise underground infrastructure, explosives and other threats so that troops can move freely, he said.
20 killed in Israeli raids on schools sheltering civilians
The UN Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), meanwhile, highlighted the civilian toll of the ongoing conflict, after agency chief Philippe Lazzarini announced that Israeli warplanes had hit several UN-run schools, sheltering about 20,000 civilians. More than 20 people were reportedly killed in the attacks, in Jabalya, and also one person at the beach camp,” he said. Chaos of the aftermath could be seen in a five-minute video posted to Telegram, which showed bloodied bodies strewn across the floor and people, at the UNRWA-sponsored Jabalya Elementary school, screaming. Israel’s weeks long bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 9,025 people and injured over 22,000, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah.
Escape from Gaza continues
More people continue to flee Gaza. An Egyptian border official told CNN 341 foreign nationals left the enclave on Thursday, following in the steps of the injured Palestinians and foreign nationals who were allowed to cross into Egypt on Wednesday – the first sanctioned exodus since Israel’s siege and blockade began. In total, Egypt is preparing to facilitate the evacuation of nearly 7,000 foreign citizens from more than 60 countries, caught in Gaza, through the Rafah crossing.
Hamas proposes ceasefire, exchange of prisoners
Al-Quds reports Hamas’ political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has proposed an immediate ceasefire including the exchange of prisoners and “opening of the political path to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”. In a recorded video statement, Haniyeh said he had presented a “comprehensive vision” to end the war with Israel, but claimed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “deceiving” his people by convincing them they could defeat Hamas in Gaza.
Germany warns EU will be ‘vulnerable’ unless it enlarges
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, has said the European Union must enlarge to avoid making everyone on the European continent more vulnerable. “Putin’s Moscow will continue to try to divide not only Ukraine from us, but also Moldova, Georgia and the Western Balkans,” Baerbock said in a speech on Thursday, quoted by Euronews. “If these countries can be permanently destabilised by Russia, then that also makes us vulnerable, it makes us all vulnerable. We can no longer afford grey areas in Europe,” she added. Baerbock’s comments came as she hosted 17 foreign ministers from EU and candidate countries, including Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba, for a conference in Berlin focused on EU enlargement. The European Commission is due to publish an annual assessment next week of candidate countries’ progress in implementing the key institutional, judicial, and economic reforms needed to be fit for EU membership.
Putin lifts nuclear weapons testing ban
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratified Moscow’s withdrawal from an international treaty banning nuclear weapons testing. Pravda says Moscow cited the lack of US ratification of the treaty as the reason for its withdrawal. The measure passed both houses of parliament last month. The Kremlin has denied that Ukraine and Russia were at a “stalemate”, claiming that Moscow was achieving its objectives in the invasion. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports the United States has imposed further measures against Moscow over the war in Ukraine, targeting Russia’s future energy capabilities and sanctions evasion.
First woman to lead US Navy
The US Senate has overwhelmingly voted to confirm Admiral Lisa Franchetti’s nomination to lead the Navy. She becomes the first woman to serve as the Navy’s top officer as well as the first to serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Franchetti, who was approved as Chief of Naval Opertions in a 95-1 vote, has commanded at all levels, including a naval destroyer and two stints as an aircraft carrier strike group commander. She brings with her 38 years of experience and is the second woman in the US Navy to be promoted to four-star admiral.
Sam Bankman-Fried Guilty of Fraud
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was found guilty of fraud charges Thursday, according to the Washington Post. He was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and violations of campaign finance law in December 2022. The 30-year-old allegedly defrauded millions of investors through FTX crypto schemes, including using customer investments in the amount of $8 million to fund side investments and pay off debts. He faces a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison.
The planet is heating up faster than predicted
Our planet is on track to heat up at a much faster rate than scientists have previously predicted, meaning a key global warming threshold could be breached this decade, according to a new study co-authored by James Hansen, the US scientist widely credited with being the first to publicly sound the alarm on the climate crisis in the 1980s. In the paper, published Thursday in the journal Oxford Open Climate Change, Hansen and more than a dozen other scientists said, “We are in the early phase of a climate emergency,” and warned a surge of heat “already in the pipeline” will rapidly push global temperatures beyond what has been predicted, resulting in warming that exceeds 1.50 C above pre-industrial levels in the 2020s, and above 20 C before 2050.
Main photo credit: IDF