Public sector employees and transport workers across Italy went on strike Friday in an action pitting trade unions against the hard-right government in Rome over its 2024 Budget. “Meloni, the people are hungry,” read one banner held aloft by protesters gathered in Rome, while thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets in Milan and Genoa. The walkout was called by two of the country’s largest unions, the CGIL and UIL, which say the tax-cutting budget woefully underfunds key sectors such as health, education, and industry. Teachers, healthcare workers, taxi drivers, and postal workers were called to strike for eight hours nationwide, while some in the private sector, from steelworkers to shopkeepers, could join in central Italy. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also transport minister, imposed restrictions on the strike to reduce the disruption, to the outrage of union leaders. CGIL general secretary Maurizio Landini accused him of an “attack on the right to strike”. However, late last night Salvini alled the strike “a flop” and expressed his “great satisfaction” with his compromise based on “common sense”.
Israel signals wider offensive in Gaza’s south
Israel has also expanded its military operations to the south of Gaza while in the evening the first 17,000 litres of diesel entered the Strip after weeks of pressure from the international community, led by the United States, for fuel supplies to the collapsing enclave. The operation conducted “on land, in the sky and from the sea” will continue wherever the militiamen are located and “since Hamas is also located in the south of the Strip, it will extend there, warned Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari. “This will happen in the time, place and conditions that we consider most favorable. But it will happen.”
26 Palestinians killed by strike in Khan Younis
At least 26 people have been killed in a strike on a residential building in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis region, according to the director of a local hospital there. Nasser Hospital’s director told the AFP news agency that the facility has received 26 dead bodies and 23 people with serious injuries. Most of the 26 dead were children, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA. Meanwhile, at least five Palestinians were killed and two injured in an overnight strike on a building in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian ambulance service Red Crescent. The building was in the Balata refugee camp, according to reports from the Reuters and AFP news agencies.
Israel allows fuel deliveries into Gaza
Amid warnings that its siege would cause starvation and disease, Israel yesterday appeared to bow to international pressure, agreeing to allow fuel trucks into Gaza and promising “no limitation” on aid requested by the United Nations. Israel said it would allow two truckloads of fuel a day at the request of Washington to help the UN meet basic needs, in particular for relief, to support the water network and to restore the telephone network over the entire territory. Aid organisations have warned of possible widespread starvation in the besieged enclave because of the lack of fuel and said most people in Gaza were without adequate food and clean water. WHO has said it was concerned about the spread of disease in the area. So far, more than 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and more than 44,000 cases of diarrhea have been recorded. Meanwhile, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the war has been economically devastating for Gaza and that the West Bank’s economy has been “severely impacted.”
Gaza death toll reaches 12,000
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said late Friday that the death toll in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s military operation, ongoing since the October 7 terror attacks, has reached 12,000. The toll included some 5,000 children and 3,300 women. Some 30,000 more have also been wounded in the intense Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territory since October 7, when Hamas fighters killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel investigates sexual violence committed by Hamas
Israeli police are using forensic evidence, video and witness testimony and interrogations of suspects to document cases of rape amid the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Women and girls caught in the rampage were brutalised sexually, as well as physically tortured and killed, witnesses to the aftermath say. CNN quotes Police Superintendent Dudi Katz saying officers have collected more than 1,000 statements and more than 60,000 video clips related to the attacks that include accounts from people who reported seeing women raped. He added that investigators do not have first-hand testimony, and it is not clear whether any rape victims survived.
EU to stop shipping plastic waste to poor countries
The European Union made a major breakthrough Friday in efforts to stop sending its plastic trash to poor countries. Under a tentative agreement, the 27 EU countries will no longer be able to export their plastic waste outside the OECD wealthy countries. Only a third of plastic waste in Europe is recycled, and half of the plastic collected for recycling is exported to be treated in countries outside the EU. Meanwhile, the European Commission has decided to initiate infringement procedures against Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Austria for failing to meet legally-binding targets for recycling municipal waste for reuse. At the same time, the Commission is urging 12 other member states to comply with EU legislation regarding air pollution and to reduce emissions of various pollutants to address air pollution.
Football: England sweat to win over Malta
England laboured to a 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley last night, with a first-half Enrico Pepe own goal followed by a Harry Kane strike 15 mintues from time. Writing on LiveScore, Adam Drury said, “It was a disappointing night in general for the Three Lions, who struggled to create openings and appeared surprised by their plucky opponents. The most notable feature of much of this match was that the visitors were more impressive than expected.” But from the hosts’ perspective, this dreary performance lacked the quality that enabled them to see off Italy last month. “Yes, qualification for Euro 2024 is already banked, but mustering just two shots in the opening 45 minutes left an expectant Wembley crowd short-changed,” wrote Drury. The result saw Malta end the campaign without a point after an eighth successive defeat, conceeding 20 goals ans scoring just two. Meanwhile, the Italians kept their hopes alive of qualifying after beating North Macedonia 5-2. They play Ukraine at the Leverkusen’s BayArena in their final match on Monday with both teams posed in second place with 13 points from seven games.