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HeadlinesDecember 27, 2023

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Death Toll in Gaza Tops 21,000; Israeli Drone Kills Six Palestinians in West Bank

Dec 27, 2023

Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 241 Palestinians have been killed over the past 24 hours as Israel intensifies its assault on Gaza, where the overall death toll has topped 21,000, including over 8,000 children.

Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli drone strike has killed six Palestinians in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem during an Israeli raid. Al Jazeera reports Israeli forces blocked ambulances from reaching the victims of the strike. The youngest victim was 16 years old. Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 300 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

As Egypt Proposes Ceasefire, Israel Says Attack on Gaza to Continue for “Many More Months”

Dec 27, 2023

Egypt has proposed a plan for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, but on Tuesday Israel’s army chief said Israel’s military operation in Gaza would continue for “many more months.” Hamas has also rejected elements of the Egyptian proposal.

80 Unidentified Palestinians Buried in Mass Graves in Rafah

Dec 27, 2023

On Tuesday, the bodies of about 80 unidentified Palestinians were buried in a mass grave in Rafah in southern Gaza. Israel had seized the bodies in northern Gaza in order to determine if any of them were dead Israeli hostages. Israel then returned the bodies to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Netanyahu Backs Expelling All Palestinians from Gaza

Dec 27, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly endorsed expelling all Palestinians from Gaza. Israeli news outlets report Netanyahu told a group of Israeli lawmakers on Monday, “Regarding voluntary immigration … This is the direction we are going in.” Palestinian leaders denounced Netanyahu for embracing what they describe as ethnic cleansing. The 11-week Israeli assault has already forced more than 85% of Palestinians in Gaza to leave their homes — and many have no homes to return to. Displaced Palestinians say there are no safe places remaining in Gaza.

Displaced Palestinian: “We were displaced. We were bombed by aircraft. And the school was not safe, so we went out. And while we were leaving, there were snipers, and people were martyred. We have been out for two days, and the situation has not improved. The plane is bombing from above, and the snipers, as well.”

Israeli Soldier Dies from Fungal Infection in Gaza as Public Health Crisis Grows

Dec 27, 2023

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has also led to a growing public health catastrophe as disease spreads due to contaminated water supplies, the buildup of untreated sewage and the lack of medical care. Some Israeli officials have openly praised the spread of diseases in Gaza. In November, retired Major General Giora Eiland — who still advises Israel’s defense minister — wrote, “Severe epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip will bring victory closer.” The public health crisis in Gaza is also impacting Israeli soldiers. The Times of Israel reports one soldier died after being infected by a harmful fungus in Gaza. At least 10 other Israeli troops were infected after being exposed to soil contaminated with sewage waste. Meanwhile, three more Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza. One hundred fifty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its ground invasion.

Israeli Conscientious Objector Sentenced to 30 Days in Prison

Dec 27, 2023

An 18-year-old Israeli teenager who refused to enlist in the Israeli army has been sentenced to 30 days in prison. Tal Mitnick spoke out against Israel’s assault on Gaza before his sentencing on Tuesday.

Tal Mitnick: “I am standing today in Tel HaShomer base, and I am refusing to enlist. I believe that slaughter cannot solve slaughter. The criminal attack on Gaza won’t solve the atrocious slaughter that Hamas executed. Violence won’t solve violence. And that is why I refuse.”

Israel to Halt Automatically Granting Visas to U.N. Workers

Dec 27, 2023

Israel has announced it will stop automatically granting visas to employees of the United Nations after it accused the U.N. of being “complicit partners” with Hamas. Top United Nations officials have repeatedly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, while demanding more humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.

Pentagon Intercept & Shoot Down 12 Houthi Drones in Red Sea

Dec 27, 2023

The Pentagon is saying it intercepted and shot down 12 drone attacks, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack cruise missiles launched by Yemeni Houthi forces in the Red Sea during a 10-hour period on Tuesday. This comes as concern grows over a wider regional war in the Middle East. The Houthis have vowed to keep carrying out attacks on ships in the Red Sea to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Yahya Sarea, Houthi spokesperson: “In support of the Palestinian people’s oppression, who continue to suffer from killings, destruction, siege and starvation, the naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces, with the help of Allah, carried out a targeted operation against the commercial ship MSC United using suitable naval missiles.”

Ukraine Strikes Russian Warship in Crimea But Loses Control of Frontline Town

Dec 27, 2023

Ukrainian forces struck a large Russian warship at a port in occupied Crimea on Tuesday in what’s been described as one of the most significant attacks against Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet in months. But the attack comes as Ukrainian officials have acknowledged Russia has seized the frontline town of Maryinka in eastern Ukraine after a monthlong battle in the latest setback to Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive.

Turkish Parliamentary Committee Backs Sweden’s Bid to Join NATO

Dec 27, 2023

Sweden is a step closer to joining the NATO military alliance. On Tuesday, a parliamentary committee in Turkey approved Sweden’s application to join NATO. Turkey’s full parliament must now vote on the issue, but a vote has not yet been scheduled. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO nations which have not yet approved Sweden’s bid. Last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the final vote hinges on whether the U.S. Congress approves selling 40 F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. Erdoğan is also calling on Canada to lift an arms embargo on Turkey.

Blinken & Mayorkas Head to Mexico to Meet AMLO to Discuss Border Issues

Dec 27, 2023

Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas and White House homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall are meeting today with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City. Blinken is preparing to discuss what his office has described as border security challenges and “unprecedented irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere.” Andrés Manuel López Obrador is expected to call again for the Biden administration to lift sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela, which AMLO says has driven an increase in migration. This comes as a caravan with over 6,000 migrants are heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Some participants in the caravan are holding banners that read “Exodus from Poverty.” Other caravan participants said they are fleeing violence at home. This is Jose Santos from Honduras.

Jose Santos: “I came here escaping from the MS-13 criminal gang. I worked as a security guard. MS-13 asked us for money, but we didn’t have any. They wanted our ammunition, but, as guards, we only received a limited amount of ammunition. They threatened to kill me, not once but three times. I was scared, so I decided to come to Mexico, hoping I’ll be allowed to go to the U.S.”

In related news, CNN is reporting more than 11,000 people seeking refuge in the United States are waiting in shelters and camps on the Mexican side of the border.

Opposition Candidates in DRC Protest “Massive Fraud” in Presidential Election

Dec 27, 2023

Opposition candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo are accusing the nation’s electoral commission of committing “massive fraud” during last week’s election. Initial results show incumbent Felix Tshisekedi has a large lead over more than two dozen rivals, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege. Opposition parties have announced plans to defy a ban on election-related protests by staging a march in the capital Kinshasa today.

160 Killed in Attacks in Rural Nigerian State of Plateau

Dec 27, 2023

In Nigeria, armed groups have killed at least 160 people in a series of attacks on villages in the central Nigerian state of Plateau. Amnesty International criticized the federal government of Nigeria for failing to do more to protect rural communities in the region which have come under numerous deadly attacks.

Japan Moves Closer to Opening World’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant

Dec 27, 2023

Japan is moving closer to reopening the world’s largest nuclear power plant, which was shut down following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Earlier today, Japan’s nuclear regulator lifted its safety ban on the plant, which is run by Tokyo Electric Power, or TEPCO. Local government bodies still need to sign off on the plant’s reopening.

U.S. Places Guatemalan Prosecutors on Blacklist for Role in Trying to Overturn Arévalo Election

Dec 27, 2023

The U.S. State Department has placed several prosecutors in Guatemala on a corruption blacklist over their attempts to block Guatemala’s President-elect Bernardo Arévalo from taking office. Arévalo, who is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 14, has accused his opponents of waging a “slow-motion coup d’état” by attempting to overturn his election victory.

NYC Activist Ralph Poynter, Husband of Radical Attorney Lynne Stewart, Dies

Dec 27, 2023

The longtime New York activist Ralph Poynter has died. Poynter was a retired New York school teacher who was a longtime advocate for political prisoners and a radio host on Pacifica station WBAI. He was married to the prominent radical attorney Lynne Stewart, who died in 2017. Poynter helped lead efforts to free Stewart, who was jailed for four years for distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman.

South Korean Actor Lee Sun-kyun of “Parasite” Fame Dies at 48

Dec 27, 2023

The acclaimed South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun has died at the age of 48. Lee Sun-kyun starred in the film “Parasite,” which in 2020 became the first foreign language film to win best picture at the Oscars. Police found Lee Sun-kyun unconscious in a car in Seoul shortly after his wife had reported that he had left behind what appeared to be a suicide note. Lee Sun-kyun had been under investigation for violating South Korea’s strict drug laws. He was recently questioned by police for 19 hours.

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