Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Anannya Parekh
Israel-Palestine War: The latest update
For more context on the Israel-Palestine war, check out our two-part series on the Hamas attack on Israel: part one lays out the Hamas offensive and failures of Israeli intelligence; part two explains the big picture—and Hamas’ motive driving what seems like a suicidal attack. Also read: our Big Story on the ground offensive by Israel, which will decide the fate of Gaza and the power balance in the Middle East. We look at the larger geopolitical picture in the region in this Big Story. We explained the Al-Shifa hospital in north Gaza that has turned into a battlefield in this Big Story.
The Al-Shifa raid: Israel is still in the midst of its “targeted” operation—scouring the hospital for Hamas members and weapons. Israeli Defence Forces had claimed that the hospital was sitting on a network of underground tunnels—that were the “beating heart” of Hamas operations. So here’s what they’ve found.
The video, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed a deep hole in the ground, littered with and surrounded by concrete and wood rubble and sand. It appeared the area had been excavated; a bulldozer appeared in the background.
The army said its troops also found a vehicle in the hospital containing a large number of weapons. Here’s what Washington is saying: “The United States is confident in an assessment from its own intelligence agencies on Hamas activities in Al Shifa hospital and will neither share nor elaborate on it.”
Evacuation, again: Israel has sent evacuation notices to residents of four towns in South Gaza—telling them to leave. Just weeks ago, North Gazans were encouraged to move to these towns—which were deemed “safe.” Now Tel Aviv wants all of them to go to a tiny town that is only a few square kilometres—declaring that a “safe zone.”
Gazans are running out of places to flee to—since Egypt will not allow them across the border. Humanitarian aid agencies warn: “With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation.” (Associated Press)
Tougher line on Gaza: Jordan has backed out of a joint water and energy deal—with Israel and the UAE. Under the agreement, Jordan would have supplied solar energy to Israel—in return for desalinated water. Its foreign minister said: “Israel is pushing the whole region toward hell [and] will have to bear the consequences.”
Meanwhile, in the UK: 56 Labour MPs defied their leader Keir Starmer to vote in favour of a cease-fire—despite a warning that they would be sacked. They included prominent leaders of the shadow cabinet—who have now resigned. BBC News has more on the vote and the resignations.
Meanwhile, in Spain: The recently reelected Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for an immediate ceasefire—and a stop to the “indiscriminate killing of Palestinians.” The acting social rights minister went further and called for breaking diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.
Stuff to watch: For the big picture in the Middle East: this CNN interview with a thoughtful Daniel Levy—who was the negotiator for Israel in several peace talks. Also see: a crowd of protesters who surrounded a restaurant—where Canadian PM Justin Trudeau was having dinner. (Reuters)
Tunnel collapse: Rescue efforts drag on
The context: On Sunday, a 60 km stretch of a tunnel being constructed in Uttarakhand collapsed—trapping 40 workers. On Tuesday, authorities began to drill 900 mm pipes into the ground—and weld them to create a passage for the labourers. The tunnel is part of an ambitious Char Dham highway project that aims to cut the journey between Uttarkashi and Yamunotri town by 26 km—to help pilgrims visiting these holy spots.
What happened now: The rescue equipment has not proved adequate to the task. The drilling machine used to drive the pipes into the ground broke down. And a new, bigger one has been flown in from Delhi. Officials hoped it would help insert five metres of pipe each hour—but the pace is still extremely slow. Despite the CM’s claim that the workers will be out in a couple of days, sources say that estimate is highly optimistic. Also: An engineer working on-site said the collapsed area has increased in the last two days as another 10 metres of tunnel had fallen again on Tuesday—while they were trying to drill through the debris. The Telegraph has lots more.
World Cup: A very Aussie win
Australia won a thrilling semi-final against South Africa by three wickets—and will take on India in the finals on Sunday. South Africa managed to put only 212 runs on the board—with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood taking early wickets of the top order. But despite the low score, the Aussies struggled—but their famous grit won the day. The Guardian has the match report while the Indian Express analyses how Australia’s determination won over South Africa’s hope.
Meta’s okay with disinfo ads
Meta has decided to greenlight political ads that claim that the 2020 US elections were stolen. Just in time for the 2024 presidential election. So much for Mark Zuckerberg’s moral posturing over fake news—and its impact on democracy. Its algorithm will also reduce the amount of organic political content on your timeline. In other words, politicians can say anything to be seen—they just have to pay for it.
Point to note: “While the company will allow political advertisements to claim that past elections, including the 2020 presidential race, were rigged, it will prohibit those that ‘call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election’.” Aww that’s nice. Wall Street Journal has more on why the company took this decision. (CNN)
Spotify X Google AI ki jodi
Your fave streaming app is going to use Google’s AI tools to analyse the roughly 5 million podcasts and 350,000 audiobooks. The aim is to “better understand patterns behind users’ favourite spoken content”—and offer you stuff you’re more likely to listen to. That’s good news since many users are unhappy with its ‘More Like This’ picks. (The Verge)
It’s raining sand, Hallelujah!
WASP-107b was first discovered in 2017 and we have now figured out why the “candy floss” planet looks kinda “puffy.” The clouds in its atmosphere are actually made of silicate sand—not water vapour like we earthlings enjoy. What this means: “The sand likely acts as water does on Earth, falling like rain towards the planet's hotter interior and then evaporating back up to form clouds once more”—making it more unlivable than any sci-fi hellscape. But hey the ‘artistic’ depiction looks kinda hot (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). NPR has lots more on why this is a notable discovery about clouds.
Two things to see
One: Lots of people are very upset that Kim Kardashian has been selected as one of the winners of GQ’s annual Men of the Year awards. She is technically the ‘Tycoon of the Year’—which is kinda gender neutral and primarily recognises her biz success. She is hardly the first person with double X chromosomes to win this honour. Her predecessors include Rihanna, Megan Thee Stallion, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston and Scarlett Johansson.
We’re not sure what the fuss is about over a glossy mag pulling a PR stunt for its annual awards. In any case, Kardashian is in the company of fellow (very) male honorees including Tom Ford, Offset and Travis Scott. Also: why is she sexily sucking on her thumb—which is the most ‘female sex object’ thing to do. (The Times UK, paywalled and CNN)
Two: With India cruising ahead in the World Cup—plus celebs in attendance—the fanboy energy is out of control. Here is Virat Kohli passing a football to David Beckham at Wankhede Stadium before the semi-finals. What we learned from this: Cricket teams use footballs to warm up. Huh!