Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Israel-Palestine War: The latest update
For more context on the Israel-Palestine war, check out our Big Stories on: The motive for the Hamas attack; the effect of civilian casualties on Gaza’s post-war fate; and the deal for a four-day truce.
Death toll: According to the last report by the media office in Gaza from November 24, 14,854 people have died in the region. This includes 6,150 children and over 4,000 women. New York Times reports that the death toll in Gaza has few historical precedents and has surpassed the toll of the deadliest moments of US-led attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
On Sunday, another 17 hostages were set free—including an American child. Hamas says it will consider extending the truce beyond four days by releasing more hostages.
Reminder: 54 out of 220 hostages taken on October 7 attacks were Thai—mostly employed as farm labourers in Israel. There are 18 Thai hostages still with Hamas. A sister of one of the released hostages gave an interview saying they have been treated well—watch it here.
About the Palestinian release: In exchange, Israel released 24 women and 15 children who were being held in prison. But human rights activists say the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails has shot up since October 7:
There are now thought to be more than 6,000 Palestinians held by Israel on security grounds - many still awaiting trial. Almost every Palestinian family in the West Bank is thought to have had a relative detained by Israel at some point in the past - often in jails inside Israel, making it difficult or impossible for their relatives to visit.
According to CNN, however, the homecoming of these detainees was marred by the Israeli police. Watch this ground report below:
A truce extension: Egypt claims that there are positive signs the truce may be extended:
Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt's State Information Service (SIS), said in a statement that the country was holding extensive talks with all parties to reach an agreement over extending the four-day truce, which "means the release of more detainees in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails."
A related read: New York Times looks at whether Israel can go back to bombing Gaza after a truce.
Things to see: This Sky News exposé of a Fox News segment—that claimed to show their reporter in the middle of nail-biting “action—is really, really funny.
About China’s new “mystery illness”
There have been a flood of media headlines speculating about an outbreak of a respiratory illness among children. Everyone is understandably paranoid in this post-Covid era—and the WHO asked Beijing to provide more information. Also: “Both SARS and COVID-19 were first reported as unusual types of pneumonia.” Here’s the good news:
Recent clusters of respiratory infections are caused by an overlap of common viruses such as the influenza virus, rhinoviruses, the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, the adenovirus as well as bacteria such as mycoplasma pneumoniae, which is a common culprit for respiratory tract infections, a National Health Commission spokesperson said.
In other words, this is not a new virus—and for now, there is no reason to worry about a new epidemic. (Associated Press)
In more worrying news: 60 million “zero-dose children” are driving a global surge in outbreaks. They were not vaccinated due to the pandemic and are now too old for routine immunisation for little kids. The consequences are worrying:
By midway through this year, 47 countries were reporting serious measles outbreaks, compared with 16 countries in June 2020. Nigeria is currently facing the largest diphtheria outbreak in its history, with more than 17,000 suspected cases and nearly 600 deaths so far. Twelve countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, are reporting circulating polio virus.
New York Times has more on this story.
Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: The latest update
The context: Forty one workers have been trapped in a collapsed tunnel that was under construction in Uttarakhand since November 12. We explained the collapse, the struggle to rescue the workers—and the reasons for this tragedy in our Big Story.
What happened now: Rescue agencies were optimistic about reaching the workers within days—thanks to an American drilling machine. But those hopes were dashed over the weekend:
The blades of the auger machine, which was being used for drilling, hit a metallic grinder in the rubble of the collapsed rubble and broke down and got stuck in the rescue pipes which were being pushed through the debris to create a passage, putting a halt to the rescue operations for the third time in 15 days.
The machine has now suffered irreparable damage. And authorities are now trying to drill in a different location. The plan is to drill vertically—86 metres down into the tunnel. This will take another four days. Also: they will persevere with the horizontal drilling—and manually dig through the remaining 10 to 12-metre stretch of rubble. But they’re trying to figure out if it is safe to do both at the same time. The Hindu and Hindustan Times have more.
Two bits of cricket news
One: Skipper Hardik Pandya has indeed been traded by the Gujarat Titans to the Mumbai Indians—despite early reports to the contrary. Mumbai scrounged the Rs 150 million (15 crore) needed to buy Pandya by selling Cameron Green to RCB. Indian Express has lots more on how IPL transfers work. The Telegraph and ESPNCricInfo have more on the trades.
Two: India won the second T20 match against Australia—as part of its ongoing World Cup recovery program:) They beat the Aussies by 44 runs—to take a 2-0 lead in the series. The Hindu has the match report.
Race riots in Dublin
Late last week, the Irish city witnessed a shocking spree of arson, violence and looting. It was triggered by the stabbing of three children and a caregiver outside a primary school. Two of the kids are critically injured. The suspect is a naturalised Irish citizen—rumoured to be of French-Algerian descent. Rightwing groups immediately fueled outrage and mobilised protests—which quickly became violent. The bigger reason:
Ireland’s demography has been transformed in recent decades as a booming economy reversed the historical flow of emigration. A fifth of the 5 million people now living in Ireland were born elsewhere. A recent increase in refugees from Ukraine and other countries fuelled a backlash amid concern over a housing shortage and straining public services. The number housed by the state jumped from 7,500 in 2021 to 73,000 in 2022.
Hence, the hashtag #IrelandIsFull.
But, but, but: The good news is that people have also raised $350,000 in support of the delivery person who intervened to save the children’s lives. He is a Brazilian man who moved to Ireland just a year ago. You can see scenes from the riots below. (Times UK, paywall, The Guardian)
UP government’s appalling ‘Beti Bachao’ plan
The Uttar Pradesh government may soon prevent girls from attending private coaching classes in the evening—as part of its ‘Safe City Project’. A District Magistrate has issued this guideline: “Coaching (centres) in which the girl students are studying, should be conducted till 8 pm. If any coaching (centre) is found operating after 8 pm, punitive action will be taken against them” This is disastrous for any young woman studying for any kind of competitive exam. FYI: These centres claim at least 40% of their students are girls. And reporting shows that the real threat lies not in the centres—but during the commute back home—often through unpatrolled, badly lit streets. Data point to note: Noida received Rs 1.8 billion (180 crore) under the Nirbhaya Fund scheme to make the city safer for women. (Times of India)
A mighty big tiger reserve
The government has approved a plan to merge two wildlife sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh to create the largest tiger reserve in the country. The new sanctuary will span 2,300 square kilometres. Reminder: According to the latest count, MP has the highest number of tigers—785. (Mint)
Climate change is melting snowfall
According to new research, snowfall has reduced by 2.7% since 1973. That doesn’t sound like much but researchers warn that snowfall amounts will “fall off a cliff”—as temperatures rise in the near-future:
Snow also isn’t going to decline linearly, or at a 1-to-1 rate, with rising temperatures, said Justin Mankin, a climate scientist and associate professor of geography at Dartmouth College. Instead, there is more of a tipping point, which would mean that once a certain temperature threshold is reached, “we should expect the losses to accelerate.”
Why this matters: Certain parts of the world don’t receive a lot of rain. Their water supply instead relies on snowpack—that builds during winter and melts as the seasons warm. Example: California. Data point to note: A 2015 study found that 2 billion people who rely on melting snow for water are at risk of snow declines of up to 67%. That includes those who live close to the Himalayas. (CNN)
P Diddy faces #MeToo barrage
The context: Typically, there is a 10 to 20-year statute of limitation on sex abuse cases in New York. But the city’s Adult Survivors Act—passed in November, 2022—offered a one-year window to survivors of sexual abuse to file civil suits regardless of when the abuse happened. There have been a number of lawsuits filed to beat the deadline—which expired at midnight on Thursday. A number of noted celebs have been accused of sexual assault this week—including Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose and actor Jamie Foxx.
What happened now: Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs was first accused by singer Cassie of beating and raping her—and trafficking her to other men—while they were in a relationship back in 2005. However, they reached a settlement within a day. But Combs has now been accused by two other women of sexual abuse. Joie Dickerson-Neal claims he drugged her and sexually assaulted her in 1991—and filmed it. A Jane Doe says she was coerced into having sex with Combs and another singer in early 1990s. He denies all allegations. (NBC News)
One trailer to see
Manoj Bajpayee fans rejoice! He will be back on the big screen as a migrant worker on the run in the thriller ‘Joram’. It looks intense and promising. The movie hits theatres on December 8. (Indian Express)