Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Anannya Parekh
The Israel-Palestine war: Scramble to save Gazan lives
For details and more context on the war, check our two part series: 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.
The death toll: 2,750 Palestinians have been killed—and 9,700 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7. Another 1,000 are missing and presumed dead. The bombing is getting more intense as Israel prepares for a ground invasion. (Reuters)
A big diplomatic push: Israel’s staunchest allies are suddenly worried about a bloodbath in Gaza—which they claim will play into Hamas’ hands. And may even trigger broader war in the region—drawing in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The UK foreign secretary said:
It is in Israel’s interest to avoid civilian casualties and Palestinian casualties, because Hamas clearly wants to turn this into a wider Arab-Israeli war, or indeed a war between the Muslim world and the wider world.
Another point to note: “Hezbollah poses a markedly more serious threat to Israel than Hamas because of its vast arsenal of precision-guided missiles and thousands of experienced and well-trained fighters.”
The stalemate: But efforts to make Israel pull its punches appear to have failed. Israel insists there is no deal to temporarily cease bombing—and let humanitarian aid into South Gaza—despite Egyptian claims to the contrary. Despite the best efforts of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Tel Aviv is targeting the border crossing into Egypt:
Trucks carrying badly needed supplies have waited for days at Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza but repeated Israeli strikes and a diplomatic stalemate with Cairo have meant they have been unable to enter. An Israeli airstrike hit the border crossing again on Monday evening… the fourth time the area has been bombed since the war began.
This useful Guardian graphic lays out the only avenues in or out of Gaza:
Biden heads for Israel: The US president will do his best to break the deadlock—when he lands in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. He has also made it clear that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza. To be clear: Washington firmly supports the ground invasion—but wants Israel to allow the Gazans to leave first. (Wall Street Journal, paywall)
The UN Security Council: is considering two rival resolutions. The one proposed by Russia calls for peace—but doesn’t mention Hamas. The Brazilian version tries to strike a balance:
The Brazilian draft resolution calls for “humanitarian pauses” and also “firmly condemns all violence and hostilities against civilians and all acts of terrorism.” But it also “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas.”
But the Council remains deadlocked—unable to reach any kind of consensus—even though China has been surprisingly flexible. (The Hindu)
The worry about oil: While the odds of escalation right now are even, it would be a disaster for the global economy:
A sharper escalation could bring Israel into direct conflict with Iran, a supplier of arms and money to Hamas, which the US and the European Union have designated a terrorist group. In that scenario, Bloomberg Economics estimates oil prices could soar to $150 a barrel and global growth drop to 1.7% — a recession that takes about $1 trillion off world output.
Some experts predict that it would tip the world into recession. (Bloomberg News)
A hate killing in the US: A six-year-old boy was fatally stabbed by the landlord of his apartment in Chicago. His mother has been seriously wounded. The trigger unsurprisingly was the Hamas attack. New York Times has more details.
MSNBC cancels Muslim anchors: The supposedly liberal channel has quietly taken three of its Muslim hosts off the air:
The network did not air a scheduled Thursday night episode of The Mehdi Hasan Show on the streaming platform Peacock. MSNBC also reversed a plan for Ayman Mohyeldin to fill in this week on the network for host Joy Reid’s 7 p.m. show on Thursday and Friday. Mohyeldin, an Egyptian-American journalist and veteran NBC News correspondent covered the conflict from Gaza for two years. In 2021, he aggressively questioned Israeli leaders on strikes on the territory. Two network sources with knowledge of the plans told Semafor that the network also plans to have Alicia Menendez fill in this upcoming weekend for Ali Velshi, a third Muslim-American host who on Sunday interviewed a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority.
All three have the deepest knowledge of the region and conflict on the channel. Semafor has more on this dismal story.
Meanwhile, in India: The UP government has booked two Muslim clerics for “objectionable” social media posts. It isn’t clear what they said but this: “At a law and order review meeting on Thursday, Adityanath had ordered strict action against any ‘controversial statement’ and ‘activity contrary to the views of the Government of India’ on the conflict.” Note: there is no law that dictates citizens toe their government’s diplomatic line. (Indian Express)
World Cup 2023: Australia vs Sri Lanka
The Aussies pulled out a five-wicket win against Sri Lanka—thanks to Adam Zampa, Josh Inglis and Mitchell Marsh. Leg-spinner Zampa claimed four wickets—restricting Sri Lanka to 209 runs. In fact, Sri Lanka lost 10 wickets over the course of 84 runs—in a sudden batting collapse. In any case, Australia’s hopes of lifting the trophy remain alive—however faint they may be. The Telegraph has more on the match.
Three key elections of note
Poland: Exit polls show that the ruling rightwing party is on its way out—and will be replaced by a coalition government. Why this matters: the Law and Justice Party has been pulling away from Ukraine—questioning how long Warsaw can continue to support Kyiv. A position that puts it at odds with fellow EU members. OTOH, Opposition leader Donald Tusk “ran primarily on strengthening Poland’s long-troubled ties with the European Union”—and has called Ukraine an important partner for Warsaw.” (Wall Street Journal, paywall, BBC News)
New Zealand: Voters firmly rejected the Labour party—which was led by Jacinda Ardern for most of the past six years. The Kiwis moved to the right and picked the National Party—led by Christopher Luxon. A big reason for Labour’s waning popularity: inflation and Ardern’s strict Covid restrictions. CNN has more on the reasons why—and what to expect from the new government.
Ecuador: President Guillermo Lasso called for early elections in May—even though he had another year in office. The reason: Lasso was facing impeachment proceedings. He instead threw his support behind left-leaning Luisa González—who has now lost to banana baron Daniel Noboa. FYI: The election has been marked by unprecedented violence—including the assassination of one of the presidential candidates. More spookily: almost all the suspects in his killing have also been killed in prison. (New York Times)
Supreme Court defines limits of abortion rights
The context: A woman who is more than six months pregnant filed a Supreme Court plea—asking to abort the pregnancy due to mental health issues. But the foetus is fully viable—and ending the pregnancy will require stopping its heartbeat. The Court had asked AIIMS authorities to look into her mental health—and the health of the foetus before delivering its ruling. We explained the case in this Big Story.
What happened now: The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud rejected the woman’s plea to terminate the pregnancy:
“(The foetus) having crossed the statutory limit of 24 weeks, the requirements either in Section 3(2)(b) or Section 5 must be met,” it said. As per these provisions, MTP in case of a foetus exceeding 24 weeks can only be allowed if it is necessary for saving the life of the mother or if the foetus suffers from physical or mental abnormalities. The bench said the medical reports don’t “indicate that a termination is immediately necessary.”
The other deciding factor: The foetus has a stronger chance of being healthy if carried to term. The Court has said the couple is free to give the baby up for adoption once it is delivered. (Indian Express)
Sticking with the Supreme Court: The Court seems determined to hear petitions challenging electoral bonds ahead of the national election. It has set up a constitution bench of five judges to hear the matter on October 31 and November 1.
By refusing to delay the hearing for the formation of a five-judge Bench, the court has sent a clear message to the government that it does not intend to delay the hearing any more. The case has been pending in the Supreme Court for over eight years now.
The Hindu has more on the decision and why it matters.
Reminder: Electoral bonds are bearer bonds that allow people to donate to a political party. They were introduced by the government in 2018 to make the system more “transparent.” The legality of the bonds, however, has been challenged—since they allow the donor to remain anonymous. So you never know who gave how much to whom. Before the bonds were introduced, political parties had to disclose details of all donors who gave more than Rs 20,000.
Two things to see
One: We forgot to include the “first look” of Deepika Padukone’s macho avatar as the “lady Singham”—described by director Rohit Shetty as “the most brutal and violent officer of our cop universe.” She will be part of the sequel of the franchise slated for release next year. Tbh, she looks more manic than fierce. (Vogue)
Two: If you’ve been jonesing for some Salman Bhai, get ready for ‘Tiger 3’—whose trailer dropped yesterday. Warning: it is three minutes long. The movie is slated for a Diwali release. (Indian Express)