Gaza in the Crossfire

Happy Tuesday! Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, but imagine the horror of one Georgia motorist who opened his mail to find a $1.4 million fine after he was pulled over for going 90 mph in a 55 mph zone. That’s fast, but—as city officials later clarified—not $1.4 million fast. 

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a visit there Monday. The trip will also include a visit to Amman, Jordan, where the president will meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, two U.S. Navy ships, the USS Bataan and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall, are moving towards the Mediterranean carrying more than 2,000 Marines. The ships and service members could be on hand to help with a potential evacuation of U.S. citizens trapped in Israel as fighting intensifies.
  • Four Ukrainian children—the youngest 2 years old, the oldest 17—who were abducted and taken to Russia were returned to their families Monday as part of a Qatari-brokered deal. Ukrainian authorities said at least 16,000 Ukrainian children have been transported to Russia since the beginning of the war—for which the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin—and Qatar hopes the negotiations over these four reunifications will serve as a model for future efforts to return kidnapped minors to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Putin arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a rare overseas trip aimed at strengthening the two countries’ “no-limits” partnership. 
  • Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday issued a limited gag order against former President Donald Trump as part of the government’s federal election subversion case. The order, which is more narrow than the one the Department of Justice requested last month, bars Trump from making statements targeting the prosecutors, potential witnesses, and employees of the court. Chutkan specified Trump may make comments about former Vice President Mike Pence—one of Trump’s Republican primary opponents and a witness in the proceeding—provided they do not touch on his role in the case. 
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland on Sunday opened a federal hate crime investigation into the stabbing death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy attacked by his family’s landlord in suburban Chicago on Saturday. Police say the 71-year-old Joseph Czuba—who’s been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Illinois—stabbed Al-Fayoume 26 times and the child’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, a dozen times. She is expected to survive. “This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Monday. 
  • NBC News will host the third Republican presidential primary debate—set to take place in Miami, Florida, on November 8—in partnership with Salem Radio Network and the Republican Jewish Coalition. The moderators and format have not yet been announced, but the Republican National Committee announced that in order to qualify, candidates must have campaign contributions from at least 70,000 unique donors and have at least 4 percent support in two national polls or in one national and one early-state poll. 
  • The Department of Justice on Monday moved to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union representing thousands of families separated at the border during the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018. If the settlement is approved by the judge overseeing the suit, the plaintiffs will be subject to a unique asylum process that would allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administrators—rather than an immigration judge—to review their asylum cases, taking into consideration the effect of the separation on the families’ mental well-being. Those who had already been denied asylum will be allowed to reapply. The agreement would also change Department of Homeland Security policy to clarify that a parent’s illegal entry into the United States is not sufficient reason to separate a family. 
  • Two Swedish nationals were shot dead outside a soccer match between Sweden and Belgium in Brussels late Monday night in what Belgian authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack. Police shot the suspected gunman, who fled the scene after opening fire outside the stadium, on Tuesday morning. Belgian investigators say video uploaded during the attack suggested the shooter was inspired by the Islamic State terrorist organization. Swedish officials increased the terror threat level this summer after a spate of protests featuring Quran-burnings in Stockholm.

Under Hamas’ Rule

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli raids in the southern Gaza Strip on October 17, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)
Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli raids in the southern Gaza Strip on October 17, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

For the past 10 days, a brutal war between Hamas terrorists and the Israeli military has raged in and around an area just twice the size of Washington, D.C. The Gaza Strip is densely populated, mired in poverty, controlled by an authoritarian terrorist regime—and as of last weekend, completely besieged by Israel as it tries to root out the Hamas terrorists once and for all.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reports 2,750 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, though the source of that figure has historically not made a distinction between civilians and combatants—or between those killed by Israeli airstrikes and those killed (advertently or inadvertently) by Hamas. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) cut off food, water, and fuel to the region last week in an effort to negotiate the return of at least 199 hostages taken by Hamas, and over the weekend, the Israeli government encouraged about 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza ahead of an impending ground invasion. Hamas leaders, however, are actively discouraging Gazans from leaving their homes. As violence erupts around them, Palestinians are caught in the crossfire—and under the rule of a terrorist organization that is willing to exploit their suffering for their own extremist benefit.

“You are going to see pictures of Palestinian civilians that are going to be injured, killed,” GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said on Sunday from Tel Aviv. “I hope you recognize that those individuals are being killed because of Hamas, not because of Israel. Hamas is holding their own population, the Palestinian population, as human shields.”

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