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HeadlinesDecember 26, 2023

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Hundreds of Palestinian Civilians Killed as Israel Steps Up Attacks on Gaza Strip

Dec 26, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to step up attacks on the Gaza Strip after a weekend of violence that left hundreds of Palestinians dead. On Friday, 90 people were killed when Israel bombed two homes in Gaza City. Seventy-six of the dead were members of one family. They include Issam al-Mughrabi, who worked as a United Nations Development Program official for three decades. He was killed along with his wife and five of their children. On Sunday, at least 106 Palestinians were killed in a single Israeli airstrike on the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza. This is Ibrahim Youssef, a camp resident who searched for his wife and four children after the attack buried them under the rubble.

Ibrahim Mohammed Al-Haj Youssef: “My wife and children are still trapped inside. I only managed to uncover my eldest son Muhammad. How will I bury them while they remain under the rubble? How can I locate and lay them to rest? How will I confirm that my children are here? Where did they go, and what happened to them? What fault did they have? Why did this happen to them? It’s not their fault. The world watches as we die and are being slaughtered.”

The Palestine Red Crescent Society says an Israeli artillery attack on its headquarters in Khan Younis left several people injured. Meanwhile, human rights groups are demanding an investigation after video reportedly taken by an Israeli photojournalist appeared to show hundreds of Palestinians civilians, including children, held by Israeli soldiers in a Gaza stadium at gunpoint, stripped to their underwear, bound, and forced to sit on open ground.

Israel PM Netanyahu Says Gaza Assault “Isn’t Close to Finished”

Dec 26, 2023

Israel’s military said Sunday it had recovered the bodies of five Israeli hostages from a network of underground tunnels under the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City. Israeli officials did not say how the captives had died. On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gaza Strip for the second time since Israel began its assault in October. He told troops “this will be a long battle, and it isn’t close to finished.” Later on Monday, family members of hostages held a protest inside Israel’s parliament as Netanyahu delivered a speech at a special session of the Knesset. They were demanding Israel’s government prioritize the release of the 130 hostages still held in Gaza. The protesters chanted “No time, now!” and held signs reading, “What if it was your brother?” and “What if it was your father?”

U.N. Security Council Passes Watered-Down Gaza Aid Resolution Following U.S. Veto Threat

Dec 26, 2023

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Passage came only after the United States spent days threatening to veto the original draft, which called for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities.” Instead, the watered-down resolution passed Friday called for steps to “create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” Thirteen members voted in favor, while the United States abstained. In response, Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said, “Nothing short of an immediate ceasefire is enough to alleviate the mass civilian suffering we are witnessing. … It is disgraceful that the U.S. was able to stall and use the threat of its veto power to force the U.N. Security Council to weaken a much-needed call for an immediate end to attacks by all parties.”

Baghdad Condemns U.S. Strikes on Northern Iraq, Says Civilians Among the Dead

Dec 26, 2023

The Pentagon says it carried out three strikes on Iraqi territory early today at President Biden’s direction, in response to a drone attack on an air base in Erbil that wounded three U.S. service members, one of them critically. Iraq’s government said the U.S. attacks killed one member of the Iraqi security forces and wounded 18 people, including civilians. It condemned the Pentagon’s “unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military launched airstrikes in northern Iraq and Syria over the weekend targeting bases, shelters and oil facilities operated by the Kurdish PKK militia. The attacks came after the Turkish Defense Ministry said 12 of its soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in battles with PKK fighters.

Israel Assassinates Senior Adviser to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria

Dec 26, 2023

An Israeli airstrike on northern Syria on Monday killed Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for coordinating Iran’s military alliance with Syria. Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, saying, “Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures to respond to this action at the appropriate time and place.”

Pope Calls for Gaza Ceasefire as Palestinians Cancel Christmas Celebrations in Bethlehem

Dec 26, 2023

At the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned what he called the “futile logic of war” during his annual Christmas Day message. Speaking from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, the pope repeated his call on Hamas to release the 130 hostages held in Gaza and demanded Israel halt its unrelenting attacks.

Pope Francis: “I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid. May there be an end to the fueling of violence and hatred.”

Pope Francis’s remarks came as Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem — the birthplace of Jesus — canceled Christmas celebrations to mourn the more than 20,000 people killed in the Gaza Strip since October. After headlines, we’ll speak with Rev. Munther Isaac, who delivered his Christmas sermon Saturday at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem.

Ukraine Weighs Lowering Age of Conscription as It Seeks Half-Million More Soldiers

Dec 26, 2023

Ukraine’s military claims it has destroyed a Russian naval landing ship at a base in Russian-occupied Crimea, and says it shot down five Russian fighter jets over recent days. This comes after Russia’s military claimed it seized the frontline town of Maryinka in eastern Ukraine. On Monday, Ukraine celebrated Christmas on December 25 for the first time ever, breaking from a Russian Orthodox Church tradition of celebrating the holiday in early January in alignment with the Julian calendar. In Kyiv, Ukraine’s parliament is debating a bill that would lower the age of military conscription from 27 to 25, after the military said it needed up to a half-million additional soldiers. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports Russian President Vladimir Putin has been signaling through intermediaries since at least September that he is open to a ceasefire that freezes fighting in Ukraine along the current lines.

Jailed Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Resurfaces in Arctic Penal Colony

Dec 26, 2023

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been located at a penal colony in northern Siberia, two weeks after his supporters lost contact with him when he disappeared from a prison camp outside Moscow. A spokesperson for Navalny says he resurfaced Monday at the IK-3 penal colony, nicknamed “Polar Wolf,” in the town of Kharp in the Arctic Circle.

Kira Yarmysh: “We know for sure that in this new colony his conditions would be even worse than they were before. But the thing is that this colony is very distant. It is very difficult to access it. And for lawyers, it will be very difficult to go there and to see Alexei.”

Anti-Austerity Protesters Defy Argentine President’s Edict Banning Demonstrations

Dec 26, 2023

Protests are continuing in Argentina after newly inaugurated President Javier Milei introduced sweeping economic shock measures that have caused prices to soar. Milei is a far-right libertarian. Last week he ordered a major deregulation of the national economy. Protesters have taken to the street despite threats from Milei to cut off government benefits to anyone who blocks streets.

Pakistan Attempts to Use Artificial Rain to Combat Hazardous Air Pollution

Dec 26, 2023

In Pakistan, officials in Lahore have closed schools, markets and parks after the city of 11 million people recorded some of the worst air quality in the world. On Saturday, the government turned to cloud-seeding technology in an unsuccessful attempt to use artificial rains to drive down air pollution. Local environmentalists blame poor government planning for the acrid air in Lahore, which has lost three-quarters of its tree canopy in recent decades.

Mohammad Salahuddin: “This weather is causing eye and throat irritation to everyone. It is damaging our health. This smog has been happening for the last five, seven years. It did not happen before that. This is related to climate change. We ought to plant trees and keep our atmosphere clean.”

Two Paramedics Found Guilty of Negligent Homicide in Killing of Elijah McClain

Dec 26, 2023

Here in the United States, a Colorado jury has found paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was walking home from the store when he was tackled by police, placed in a carotid hold and later injected with ketamine. An expert witness testified there was “no reason” for the paramedics to give McClain the powerful sedative; they were also found to have failed to provide medical care to McClain after they drugged him and he lay handcuffed and unconscious on the ground. He suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and died in the hospital three days later. This was the last of three trials over the killing of Elijah McClain, after one officer was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and assault, and two other officers were acquitted.

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