Israeli tanks entered Gaza, as pressure builds for war to pause
The leaders of the 27 E.U. nations called yesterday for a break in the fighting in Gaza to address a dire humanitarian crisis inside the territory. Their statement came hours after the Israeli military said it had briefly sent tanks into Gaza in preparation for the next stage of fighting.
The incursion by Israeli forces was at least their second limited ground raid in Gaza, after some troops briefly entered the territory two weeks ago. Although details of the incursion remained scarce, a video released by Israel’s military showed its tanks firing inside an area of Gazan territory, according to an examination of the footage by The New York Times.
Nearly three weeks after the war began, it remains unclear whether or when Israel will launch a ground invasion of Gaza.
Aid, especially fuel, is critically needed in Gaza, where resources have dwindled amid a blockade by Israel. U.N.R.W.A., the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, said it had begun significantly reducing its operations in the Gaza Strip after nearly exhausting its fuel reserves.
Israel’s military has been relentlessly bombing Gaza from the air and reported more than 250 strikes over the past day. The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry said more than 7,000 people have died. Those figures cannot be independently verified.
A day after President Biden cast doubt on the death toll in Gaza, its health ministry released a list of the names of 6,747 people it said had died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since Oct. 7. A further 281 people who died could not be identified, according to the ministry.
The U.S. struck Iranian-linked targets in Syria
The U.S. carried out two airstrikes against facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its proxies in eastern Syria in retaliation for a flurry of recent rocket and drone attacks against American forces in Iraq and Syria.
The strikes were intended to send a strong signal to Iran to rein in the attacks the Biden administration has blamed on Tehran’s proxies in Syria and Iraq without escalating the conflict in the Middle East, U.S. officials said.
Context: Near daily attacks against U.S. forces over the past 10 days — including an unsuccessful strike at a base in Erbil, Iraq, yesterday — has put pressure on the U.S. to respond militarily.
The European Central Bank kept rates steady
The European Central Bank held interest rates steady yesterday for the first time in over a year, as policymakers moved into their next phase of fighting inflation amid signs the region’s economy had weakened.
The bank, which sets rates for the 20 countries that use the euro, kept the deposit rate at 4 percent, a record high. The bank’s chief said that inflation was expected to remain high, but she added that the campaign of interest rate increases, which began in July 2022, was helping curb price pressures.
In Britain, the Office of National Statistics published new “experimental” labor market data, the latest in a series of economic re-evaluations. Some analysts said the new data raised concerns about the usefulness of the information, at a time when the labor market was under intense scrutiny.
In the U.S., the economy surged in the third quarter, a far cry from the recession that most economists had forecast at this time last year.
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Inspiration, again, in the Rugby World Cup final
Despite rolling electricity blackouts, high unemployment and rampant crime, South Africans are finding a renewed sense of optimism in sports.
South Africa’s national rugby team, the Springboks, have reached the final of the Rugby World Cup after a grueling tournament. The Springboks will face old rivals, the All Blacks of New Zealand, in Paris tomorrow.
For years, rugby was synonymous with white supremacy in South Africa. But during the 1995 World Cup, when the national team returned to international play after years of exclusion, Nelson Mandela appeared in a green and gold Springbok jersey. It was an inspirational gesture of national unity, and the team went on to win the championship.
This year, the Springboks, led by their first Black captain, Siya Kolisi (above), and the country are very different, but South Africans of all races are proudly wearing the team’s colors.
— Lynsey Chutel, briefings writer based in Johannesburg.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan
You can reach Jonathan and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.