Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Anannya Parekh
Israel-Palestine war: A massive air strike
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.
A devastating air strike: Six Israeli airstrikes razed apartment buildings in the Jabaliya refugee camp to the ground. It’s one of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps—and is densely populated by “people who were displaced from what is now Israel in the 1940s and their descendants.”. Israel says it was targeting “a very senior Hamas commander in that area.” According to initial estimates, more than 50 people are dead—and 150 injured. Al Jazeera and New York Times have more details. You can see the giant craters below:
A Western “peacekeeping force”? According to Bloomberg News, the US is already making plans for a postwar Gaza. Options being considered include
- Granting “temporary oversight” of Gaza to “countries from the region, backed by troops from the US, UK, Germany and France.”
- A multinational peacekeeping force similar to the one already operating in the Sinai peninsula—enforcing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
- Plan C would put the UN in charge—which has been fervently opposed by Tel Aviv.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confidently declared:
We can’t have a reversion to the status quo with Hamas running Gaza. We also can’t have — and the Israelis start with this proposition themselves — Israel running or controlling Gaza. Between those shoals are a variety of possible permutations that we’re looking at very closely now, as are other countries.
OTOH, it is hard to imagine either the Arabs or the UN wanting to even remotely legitimise the inevitable devastation of Gaza. And Joe Biden will jeopardise his reelection prospects if he sends more troops to the Middle East.
Where the Palestinians are: At least 800,000 residents have fled South—to escape the Israeli ground offensive:
More than half the territory's 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in packed UN-run schools-turned-shelters or in hospitals alongside thousands of wounded patients. Israeli strikes have hit closer to several northern hospitals in recent days, alarming medics. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, says nearly 6,72,000 Palestinians are sheltering in its schools and other facilities — four times their capacity.
Associated Press via The Hindu has more on the situation on the ground.
‘State sponsored attacks’ on Indian politicians?
A number of opposition leaders received an Apple notification that said:
ALERT: State-sponsored attackers may be targeting your iPhone… These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do. If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone.
The list includes everyone from Shashi Tharoor to Mahua Moitra, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Sitaram Yechury and Akhilesh Yadav. Also: journalists like Sriram Karri and Samir Saran who heads the Observer Research Foundation. No BJP politician seems to have received such a message—or at least publicly said they have.
The intriguing bit: At least five people in India received the same alert at the same time—11:45 PM on October 30, 2023.
Apple’s response: The company issued a boilerplate statement on its automated threat notifications:
State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete. It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behaviour to evade detection in the future.
The government’s response: IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government will investigate the matter—but claimed that such alerts were sent to 150 countries—not just India. This is not entirely true—people in 150 countries have received such alerts since the feature was introduced in 2021. The Wire and The Hindu have the most details. FYI: the government has never denied buying the now-defunct spyware called Pegasus—and Financial Times claims it has been shopping for a replacement ever since.
World Cup 2023: Pakistan stays alive
Pakistan knocked Bangladesh out of the tournament with a seven-wicket victory. But its hopes for a semifinal berth rest on India—who may eliminate Sri Lanka. The team will also need Afghanistan to lose at least one of its next three games. ESPNCricInfo has the match report. Indian Express pays tribute to the genius of Shaheen Shah Afridi.
In other WC news: There will be no fireworks at matches played in Delhi or Mumbai due to concerns about high levels of air pollution. (Indian Express)
Yet another Covid database leak?
A hacker has put the information of over 81 crore Indians on sale on the dark web. The details were supposedly taken from the Covid database of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). There has been no official response from the government. Reminder: a person on a Telegram channel was offering to share people’s Aadhaar and phone number in June—after accessing the same database. We explained that leak in this Big Story. (The Hindu)
Bad news about WeWork
The company is planning to file for bankruptcy as early as next week—which could mark the end of a startup that was once valued at $47 billion. Basically, WeWork owes a whole lot of money and can’t pay off its debts:
As of June, WeWork maintained 777 locations across 39 countries, including 229 locations in the U.S., according to securities filings. WeWork has an estimated $10 billion in lease obligations due starting from the second half of this year through the end of 2027 and an additional $15 billion starting in 2028, according to public filings.
Wall Street Journal (paywall) has this exclusive.
Bad news about X/Twitter: Elon Musk paid for $44 billion for Twitter. A year later, X is worth $19 billion. That was official bad news delivered to employees who were given stock options—at $45 per share. That’s a 55% discount! (The Verge)
Does anger make you better?
A new study suggests that angry people are better at performing challenging tasks—or at least games and puzzles—than those who are “emotionally neutral.” Being mad can lower reaction times, increase persistence—and encourage cheating! The lead author says:
People often believe a state of happiness is ideal, and the majority of people consider the pursuit of happiness a major life goal. The view that positive emotion is ideal for mental health and well-being has been prominent in lay and psychological accounts of emotion, but previous research suggests a mix of emotions, including negative emotions like anger, result in the best outcomes.
In other words, get mad and then get even? (The Guardian)
Messi wins the Ballon d’Or… again!
The Argentinian legend won football’s highest honour for a record eighth time. It would be more noteworthy except for the fact that he broke his own record. The party pooper at the award ceremony: France head coach Deschamps who told reporters Messi isn’t the only GOAT: “The Argentinians [say that Messi is the best of all time]. He is one of them, but it is difficult to say that Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo or Kylian Mbappe, who is younger.” The women’s version—Ballon d'Or Féminin—was won by Spanish midfielder Aitana Bonmatí—who also led her team to World Cup glory. (ESPN)
Speaking of the World Cup: Saudi Arabia is almost assured of hosting the tournament in 2034—after Australia withdrew its bid only hours before FIFA's deadline for declarations of interest. The Saudi football federation announced it has the support of over 100 of FIFA’s 211 members. The vote will be held next year. BBC Sport looks at allegations of ‘sports washing’ against Saudi Arabia—which is accused of using high profile events to deflect attention from its human rights record. The Guardian has an interesting piece on FIFA’s onerous requirements and tight deadlines that are almost impossible to meet.
Very good visa news for Indians
You can travel visa-free to Thailand until May 2024 thanks to a new initiative to promote tourism to the nation. India has been Thailand’s fourth largest source of visitors this year with about 1.2 million arrivals. The top three are Malaysia, China and South Korea. Reminder: Sri Lanka just waived the $20 visa fee for Indians for the same reason. (The Print)
A very spidey thing to see
A thousand fans attempted to set a new Guinness record in Buenos Aires—for the largest gathering of Spidermen in one place. They were trying to beat the previous record of 685 set in Malaysia in June. People truly have too much time on their hands. That said, we appreciate the raging enthusiasm you can see below. (Reuters)