Over 175 killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza as truce ends

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Saturday, 2nd December 2023

As the Israeli poundings of the Gaza Strip after the week-long pause enters its second day, health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza said at least 178 people had been killed by late Friday afternoon after the pause in fighting between the militants and Israel ended. Officials said there were also some 600 injuries recorded during the day. Hamas said three journalists, including a Palestinian cameraman employed by the official Turkish news agency Anadolu, were killed in the Israeli raids on the Strip.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 61 journalists have been killed since the start of Gaza war. The death toll as of Friday includes 54 Palestinians, four Israelis, and three Lebanese citizens, according to the CPJ. Eleven journalists were reported injured, three were reported missing, and 19 have been arrested, according to the press freedom group. The CPJ also said it is investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, or threatened.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said they had struck more than 200 Hamas targets after fighting resumed. IDF spokesman Avichay Adraee wrote in Arabic on X, formerly Twitter, that airstrikes were carried out in Gaza’s north and south, including in Khan Younis and Rafah. Flares were seen above Khan Yunis in southern Gaza as Israel’s military said its ground, air, and naval forces had struck ‘terror targets’ in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered the country’s top spy agencies to find and take down Hamas leaders not just in the Gaza Strip but around the world. Israel’s intelligence services are working on plans to execute the order, setting the stage for a year-long campaign to find Hamas terrorists responsible for the 7th October attack, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Israeli government has said there are still 137 hostages being held in Gaza – 115 men, 20 women, and two children. According to Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy, 126 of them hold Israeli citizenship and 11 are foreigners, including eight Thai nationals, one Nepalese, one Tanzanian, and one French-Mexican dual citizen. German news agency dpa reported that, according to the families, eight Israeli hostages also have German passports. During the 7th October attacks, Hamas and other militant groups took around 240 people from southern Israel as hostages, apart from killing some 1,200 people.

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it had fired several barrages of rockets toward Israel. The Israeli Iron Dome intercepted rockets fired by Palestinian militants from northern Gaza. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Pro-Palestinian rallies were held in Rome, in Rabat, Morocco, and in Sanaa, Yemen.

Qatar, a key mediator in the war, said it was committed to continuing efforts alongside its partners to secure another truce. “Continuous bombardment of Gaza complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates humanitarian catastrophe,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in comments carried by Reuters. Quoting Egyptian and regional sources, Reuters also reports Israel had informed several Arab states that it wants to create a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border to prevent future attacks, as part of proposals for the enclave after the war ends.

Photo: John Macdougall / AFP

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Heidi Zhou-Castro says a report in The Wall Street Journal that revealed the United States sent 100 so-called “bunker buster” bombs to Israel – each weighing about 907kg – has raised new questions around continued US arms transfers to the country. “These are major bombs that the US has used in the past in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but mainly in open areas … Now Israel is using these bombs in a very different environment in Gaza, on a densely populated civilian population,” Zhou-Castro said. The delivery was part of a “surge of arms” supplied to Israel during its war on Gaza, which includes about 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells, The Wall Street Journal reported. US officials also told the newspaper that Israel used a bomb provided by Washington in an attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza that killed more than 100 people.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said his organisation was “beyond ‘concerned’ that no humanitarian aid has been allowed into Gaza today”. Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said he predicted “very sad days ahead: many will be displaced including [those] seeking refuge in already crowded UNRWA shelters”. Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director, has warned that Gaza is once again “the most dangerous place in the world to be a child” following the resumption of the war.

Malta unanimously secures OSCE chair

Wrapping up a two-day foreign ministers’ summit of the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Skopje, on Friday, the security body unanimously announced that Malta would get the organisation’s rotating chairmanship next year. NATO member Estonia had sought the role, but Russia vetoed Tallinn’s bid. Several nations boycotted the summit due to Russia’s attempts at “crippling the OSCE’s decision-making”. Months of negotiations ended earlier this week with a diplomatic agreement on Malta to take up the role.

No presidential immunity for Trump over 6th January riots

Former US President Donald Trump can be sued in civil lawsuits related to the 6th January 2021 US Capitol riot in a long-awaited, consequential decision from the federal appeals court in Washington DC. The decision will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington DC federal court, related to the 2020 election. The decision arises out of lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and Democrats in Congress. The opinion, written by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, states that not everything a President does or says while in office is protected from liability. The decision to allow the 6th January lawsuits against Trump to proceed was unanimous among the three judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Greg Katsas concurred with the decision, and Judge Judith Rogers concurred in part. Trump will still be able to seek additional appeals on the issue, if he chooses.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Image

US House ousts George Santos over ethics violations

The United States House of Representatives voted on Friday to expel disgraced Republican George Santos over allegations of misspending campaign money. The House voted 311-114 to remove the 35-year-old New York lawmaker, above the two-thirds majority required to oust a sitting member. “To hell with this place,” he told reporters as he left the Capitol. Santos – only the sixth member to be expelled in the chamber’s history – has been plagued by controversy since his election in November 2022. The eight-month Ethics Committee investigation ultimately found “overwhelming evidence” of misconduct and accused Santos of seeking to “fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy”.

Heavy snows hit Germany, UK, US

Heavy snowfalls hit southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, on Friday night, causing major disruptions at Munich Airport, the second-busiest hub in the country. An airport spokesman told the dpa news agency that around 160 flights could not take off or land. Crews were scrambling to keep a minimum of one runway in service and free of snow. Colder weather has led to extra work on several German runways this week, including in Berlin. Germany’s DWD weather service forecast prolonged snows through Saturday afternoon for much of Bavaria, with as much as 30/40 centimetres of snow expected in places – “a large portion of that within a period of 12 hours overnight into Saturday”. Most local bus and tram services were cancelled on Friday evening in Munich as the road conditions worsened. London’s Times reports England got the earliest snow in the southeast for 15 years, with more snowfall possible in the Midlands this weekend. Britain is also set for 5cm of snow today as the Met Office warned the -10°C ice wall is expected to extend length of country. In the US, a freak ‘rain plume’ sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to unleash a deluge driven by severe thunderstorms and a spate of tornadoes.

King Charles and Kate Middleton “royal racists” – BBC

The BBC has revealed the names of the two senior members of the British royal family who allegedly made racist remarks about the skin colour of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son Archie. The broadcaster confirmed on Friday that King Charles and his daughter-in-law Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, were the ones who had “raised concerns” about “how dark” Archie’s skin might be before he was born. This was the shocking claim that Prince Harry and Markle made during their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021. The BBC’s decision to name the royals came after other media outlets, including Sky News, ITV, The New York Times, and The Mirror, had already identified them, following a blunder by a Dutch publisher in accidentally printing the names of the King and Middleton in a Dutch translation of the book. Today’s Telegraph reports Buckingham Palace is considering legal action after Piers Morgan named the two so-called “royal racists” on UK television.

Photo: Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images

US extradites to Chilean accused of the murder of Victor Jara

A former soldier accused of torturing and killing Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara 50 years ago has been extradited to Chile from the United States. Pedro Barrientos, 75, had lived in the United States since 1989. He has been wanted since 2013 by the Chilean justice system, which accuses him of being one of Victor Jara’s assassins at the beginning of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Member of the Chilean Communist Party and fervent supporter of President Salvador Allende, overthrown by Pinochet, Victor Jara was among the prisoners transferred to the stadium that today bears his name. There he was interrogated, tortured, and killed – his body was found riddled with 44 bullets. On 28th August, seven more retired soldiers were sentenced to between eight and 15 years in prison for the murder of Jara. One of them, aged 85, committed suicide shortly before his incarceration. In an interview with AFP, Victor Jara’s only daughter, Amanda, spoke of a “very long road” travelled before obtaining justice. “But it didn’t affect our lives. It’s good that the trial is over.”

Photo: Policia de Investigaciones de Chile/Handout via REUTERS
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