Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
The 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.
Death toll: 9,770 people have been killed in Gaza—including over 4000 children and 2,290 women. The number of Israeli deaths is at 1,538.
An ambulance strike: Israel continues to escalate the war—hitting the Maghazi refugee camp and—most controversially—an ambulance. The van was leaving Al-Shifa hospital for the border with Egypt. Its travel route had been signalled in advance to the Red Cross and the Israelis. Tel Aviv defended the action claiming that Hamas terrorists were seen entering the van. See the CNN report below. (BBC News):
The Maghazi strike killed at least 47 people and wounded dozens of others. The toll is expected to rise as bodies are recovered from the rubble. In what is becoming a routine horror story, the photographer for the Andalou Agency lost four of his five children. His wife is still in critical condition—and his surviving one-year-old is being treated for shrapnel wounds on his face. See the aftermath below:
Blinken in the Middle East: The US Secretary of State made unusually strong remarks about the death of children in Gaza:
But on his trip to Tel Aviv he didn’t say much about dead children. And Israel strongly rejected any idea of halting the relentless bombing—even for brief humanitarian pauses: “Instead, it said that Hamas was ‘encountering the full force’ of its troops. ‘Anyone in Gaza City is risking their life,’ Israel’s Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant said.”
Washington now is reduced to claiming its officials “have privately outlined several steps to Israel to reduce civilian casualties in its military campaign in the Gaza Strip.” One such “recommendation”: use smaller bombs! There is no sign that Israel has taken this ‘friendly advice’ on board.
A trip to West Bank: More interestingly, Blinken also visited Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas—trying to push through US’ plans for postwar Gaza:
Blinken said the U.S. envisions the Palestinian Authority as “playing a central role” in any post-Hamas administration in Gaza, according to the senior U.S. official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to detail the discussions. Abbas, however, said the Palestinian Authority would only assume power in Gaza as part of a “comprehensive political solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the Palestinians’ official WAFA news agency.
The US doesn’t want to be saddled with responsibility for a bomb-ravaged (and bitter) Gaza. Hence the desire to pass the hot potato to Abbas—who for now has shown little interest in being the appointed patsy. We have loads more on postwar Gaza plans in this Big Story. (Associated Press)
OTOH, Israel: is doing its best to push Palestinians out of Gaza. According to the New York Times: Tel Aviv has been trying to sell the transfer of several hundred thousand civilians from Gaza to Egypt—as a humanitarian measure. No one’s buying that plan either.
Protests, protests everywhere: Thousands of people are still turning up across the world—demanding a ceasefire. First up: Berlin—where the German government has severely cracked down on any criticism of Israel. You can see the size of the crowd here. A dramatic shot of the protests below:
Then a whole bunch of Americans gathered in Washington DC—headed for the White House:
And there were insane crowds at Trafalgar Square in London:
Ukraine pressured to make peace
The US and EU officials appear to be leaning on Ukraine to make peace with Russia: “The conversations have included very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal.” The reason for that change of heart:
They began amid concerns among U.S. and European officials that the war has reached a stalemate and about the ability to continue providing aid to Ukraine, officials said. Biden administration officials also are worried that Ukraine is running out of forces, while Russia has a seemingly endless supply, officials said. Ukraine is also struggling with recruiting and has recently seen public protests about some of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s open-ended conscription requirements.
The war in the Middle East is also a likely factor. The US can’t afford to get into a brawl on multiple fronts in very different parts of the world. NBC News has more on the “stalemate” in the war.
Point to note: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly rebuked his commander-in-chief for telling the Economist: “Just like in the first world war we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate… There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.” New York Times has more on the growing rift between Zelenskyy and the military.
A deadly Nepal earthquake
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the Jajarkot region at 11:47 pm on Friday. As of now, 157 are dead—and over 140 have been injured. Adding to the damage: multiple aftershocks of magnitude 4 or higher. Also: “Although the quake's magnitude was not severe, the damage and the death toll are high due to the poor quality of construction in the area and because it struck while people slept.” Reminder: Nepal sits on two major faultlines—and is in great risk of a deadly earthquake. A 2015 quake killed nearly 9,000 people, Reuters has the rest. Get a glimpse of the damage below:
World Cup 2023: The latest update
SA vs India: We walloped South Africa by 243 runs. Virat Kohli scored his 49th ODI century—and equaled Sachin Tendulkar’s record. And he did it in just 277 innings—while Tendulkar needed 452. Also: It was his birthday—so perfect timing! See him celebrate the happy moment below. (The Hindu)
Unhappy news for Pandya: It’s official! Hardik Pandya is out for the entire World Cup—and has been replaced by pace bowler Prasidh Krishna. Reminder: Pandya sustained an ankle injury during the match against Bangladesh on October 19. Krishna has played 17 ODIs and two T20 matches for India. To be fair, at the rate the Indian team is going, it has neither missed Pandya—and likely doesn’t need his replacement. (The Hindu)
As for Pakistan: The team scored a 21-run victory over New Zealand—keeping alive their semifinal hopes. They also did a favour to South Africa—which is now in the semis thanks to the Kiwis’ loss. Defending champ England is going home—having lost six out of seven matches. ESPNCricinfo has more on what the teams need to make the cut.
Meanwhile, in Calcutta: The police have arrested 21 people and seized 127 tickets in a crackdown on black market tickets. This is for the match between India and South Africa on Sunday. Tickets worth Rs 900 are going for as much as Rs 4,000. But here’s what’s interesting: Kolkata police alleges that the BCCI is part of the scam:
It has been alleged that certain officials of the BCCI, along with officials of the CAB and the online portal BookMyShow, has purposefully put aside a large chunk of the tickets meant for the general public, making those available to the black marketers for the purpose of their personal gains.
Yes, it is election season. No doubt, this is the Trinamool Congress answer to all those Enforcement Directorate raids of opposition leaders. (Hindustan Times)
Elon Musk has a chatbot!
The world has yet another AI chatbot. This one is called Grok—and supposedly has a “rebellious streak.” Inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Grok has a sense of humour and penchant for sarcasm. Musk offered this example:
Musk posted an apparent example of Grok’s playful tone with a screengrab of a query to the chatbot asking it for a “step by step” guide to making cocaine. The four steps outlined in the reply include “obtain a chemistry degree” and “set up a clandestine laboratory in a remote location”.
The chatbot is still at the testing stage—and will eventually become available to premium subscribers. (CNBC)
Singapore PM steps down
Lee Hsien Loong announced his plan to step down and hand over power to his deputy Lawrence Wong late next year—right before the 2025 general election. Wong is the finance minister—and became more visible during the pandemic. Reminder: Lee is the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew—the founding father of Singapore and its first prime minister. You can see his emotional speech below. (Quartz)
Two things to see
One: It’s not like Sikhs in India don’t have enough problems, But Khalistan devotee and “designated terrorist”—Gurpatwant Pannun—decided to make even more trouble by releasing this insane video. He literally threatens a terrorist act—warning Sikhs not to fly Air India after November 19—as “their lives can be under threat. Everything about this is stupid and seriously creepy. Reminder: 329 people died when Sikh extremists put a bomb on an Air India flight in 1985. The key masterminds have never been punished. See our Big Story for more today. (The Hindu)
Two: A ewe named Fiona was stranded on a remote beach in the Scottish Highlands for two years—while animal charities deemed a rescue effort to be too “complex.” In the end, all it took was five determined farmers who hauled her up a steep slope—even though she is “over fat.” The “loneliest sheep in Britain” has now been sheared—and is headed to a farm. (The Guardian)