Happy Monday! Yesterday marked exactly one year until the 2024 election, but we all pushed our clocks back an hour in an effort to stave it off a little bit longer.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Israeli military appeared to complete its encircling of Gaza City on Sunday, effectively splitting the Gaza Strip in two. “From today there is northern Gaza and southern Gaza,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the military, said yesterday. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced three-hour time windows on Saturday for civilians to leave the northern part of Gaza and head South along the main highway, but Hamas attacks on Israeli troops disrupted the evacuation corridor, according to the IDF. A phone and internet blackout was initiated again on Sunday evening—the third blackout since the conflict began.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the leaders of Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates over the past several days in a whirlwind diplomatic push to prevent conflict in the region from escalating as a result of the Israel-Hamas war. “It was very important to send a very clear message to anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region,” Blinken said. “Don’t do it.” Blinken also met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Sunday and discussed the potential for the PA to play a role in Gaza’s post-Hamas governance. CIA director Bill Burns landed in Israel yesterday and is expected to also meet with regional leaders this week.
- Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah, delivered a major speech on Friday, threatening Hezbollah’s potential involvement in the Israel-Hamas war. “What the Israelis do to Lebanon will also determine how we will act,” he said. “All options are on the table on the Lebanese front.” But the leader denied having advanced knowledge of Hamas’ October 7 attacks, and stopped short of initiating a broader conflict or declaring war on Israel, despite previous threats to do so in the event of an Israeli ground operation in Gaza. “For those who say that Hezbollah should start a war in the entire region, I say wait,” Nasrallah said. “These are the beginnings.” Missile and rocket fire from the Iranian-backed group continues to hit northern Israel, reportedly killing a civilian on Sunday and raising the specter of inadvertent escalation.
- Russia announced on Sunday that it had successfully tested a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a new nuclear submarine, Imperator Alexander III. The missile is designed to carry as many as six nuclear warheads, though the test did not carry such weapons. The announcement came on the heels of President Vladimir Putin’s withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty last week.
- A Ukrainian missile strike on Saturday hit a Russian shipyard in Kerch, a city in eastern Crimea, and damaged one ship, according to the Russian military—though the extent of the destruction was not immediately made clear. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said over the weekend that a Russian missile struck a Ukrainian brigade on Friday in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region. The military did not release details of the number of people killed or injured in the attack, but casualties were reportedly between 20 to 30. In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back against the idea that the war has stalled or that Ukraine should engage in peace talks with Russia. “I don’t think this is a stalemate,” he said. “We are not ready to give our freedom to this f—ing terrorist Putin.”
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that U.S. employers added 150,000 jobs in October—only half the number of jobs gained in September. The unemployment rate increased slightly month-over-month from 3.8 to 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate ticked down slightly from 62.8 percent in September to 62.7 percent. Average hourly earnings—a measure the Federal Reserve is watching closely in its fight against inflation—rose another 0.2 percent month-over-month in October, and 4.1 percent year-over-year.
- Former President Donald Trump is expected to take the stand today in his New York civil fraud trial. His sons, Eric and Don Jr., both testified in the trial last week, and his daughter Ivanka is expected to testify on Wednesday. The former president’s testimony comes as Justice Arthur Engoron, the judge deciding the case, broadened an existing gag order preventing public comments about the court staff to apply to not only Trump but also his legal team, following a Trump lawyer’s complaints about a clerk passing notes to Engoron during the trial. Trump has already been fined $15,000 by the court for violating the gag order on two occasions.
Antisemitism on the Rise
Over the weekend, thousands of protesters convened in Washington, D.C., to voice their opposition to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza—and call for an intifada against Israel. Such a scene—which played out on President Joe Biden’s front lawn—has become increasingly common in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack.
The October 7 assault has set off a wave of violence and hatred in the United States and Europe over the last several weeks, with antisemitic incidents up almost 400 percent from this time last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and Europe is once again on the rise.
The ADL recorded more than 300 antisemitic incidents—including harassment, vandalism, assault, and anti-Israel rallies and demonstrations—in the U.S between October 7 and October 23, “190 of which were directly linked to the war in Israel and Gaza,” the group said. Most of those incidents have been concentrated in the Northeast, where there are large populations of American Jews, but California has also been a hotspot for such activity.