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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Israeli military reported early this morning that it regained full control of its border with Gaza after the brutal attacks carried out over the weekend by Hamas terrorists. Israel also increased airstrikes in the zone, in an effort to completely eradicate the terrorist threat. In response to the airstrikes, Hamas has threatened to execute hostages should Israel continue its attack on Gaza, and has thus far closed the door on the prospect of a prisoner swap. Total confirmed deaths in Israel now exceed 900, with an additional 2,500 wounded, according to Israeli authorities. Palestinian authorities report nearly 700 people have been killed in Gaza.
- In a statement Monday, President Joe Biden announced that 11 American citizens had been among those killed in the attacks on Israel over the weekend, with more likely held hostage by Hamas. “In this moment of heartbreak, the American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israelis,” the president said, likening the attack to those America suffered on September 11, 2001. “We remember the pain of being attacked by terrorists at home, and Americans across the country stand united against these evil acts that have once more claimed innocent American lives. It is an outrage. And we will continue to show the world that the American people are unwavering in our resolve to oppose terrorism in all forms.” The president is scheduled to deliver remarks on the crisis at 1 p.m. ET this afternoon. Meanwhile, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC News that the number of confirmed American dead is likely to increase in the coming days.
- Following concerns voiced by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the European Union on Monday reversed its decision, announced over the weekend, to suspend payments to Palestinians, out of concern about the impact withholding funds would have on Palestinians not involved in the conflict.
- Western leaders underscored their commitments to Israel in a joint statement yesterday, reading: “Today, we—President Macron of France, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Meloni of Italy, Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom, and President Biden of the United States—express our steadfast and united support to the State of Israel, and our unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism.” Chinese President Xi Jinping, too, amended previous official comments made on the conflict, more firmly denouncing Hamas’ attack after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The updated statement insisted that China “condemns all violence and attacks on civilians,” and the “most urgent task now is to reach a ceasefire and restore peace.”
- Amid concern and confusion over how the House of Representatives will handle the growing war in Gaza, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Monday that he would be willing to return to his onetime position if it is “what the conference wants.” McCarthy spoke with the head of the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body, and held a press conference on the events. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that included a four-point plan to offer American assistance to Israel, including sending increased “intelligence support” to Israel and bolstering U.S. military funding. Despite calls for rapid support by the U.S., questions remain over how quickly action can be taken—a speaker-less House and a looming government shutdown threaten prolonged inaction.
- President Biden voluntarily spoke with special counsel Robert Hur this week as part of an ongoing investigation into classified documents found at Biden’s private residence, the White House confirmed Monday. “As we have said from the beginning, the President and the White House are cooperating with this investigation, and as it has been appropriate, we have provided relevant updates publicly, being as transparent as we can consistent with protecting and preserving the integrity of the investigation,” a White House spokesman said.
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president yesterday, declaring that he would instead seek the presidency as an independent candidate. Kennedy announced the move at a rally in Philadelphia, criticizing the leaders of both political parties. “For decades, Republicans have railed against Big Government, and Democrats have complained about Big Business,” Kennedy wrote in an op-ed for The Hill published to coincide with his announcement. “Behind the scenes though, they have capitulated to both.” Whether Kennedy’s candidacy will pull more voters from the Republican or Democratic candidate remains unclear.
- Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas officially dropped out of the Republican presidential primary on Monday after failing to surpass one percent in most national polls, endorsing former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley as he leaves the race. “Our nation deserves a leader who can unite us and navigate the complex challenges we face, particularly when it comes to our national security,” Hurd wrote on X. “I believe Ambassador Nikki Haley is the best person in this race to do that. Ambassador Haley has shown a willingness to articulate a different vision for the country than Donald Trump and has an unmatched grasp on the complexities of our foreign policy.”
- American pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb will acquire cancer drugmaker Mirati Therapeutics in a nearly $5 billion deal, the company announced Sunday. The merger, which was approved unanimously by each company’s board of directors, is expected to be finalized in 2024.
Israel Readies for Long War
After being caught flat-footed by Hamas’ surprise attack over the weekend, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) quickly mounted a forceful response—and on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made their goal clear. “Every place where Hamas is active and working will be completely destroyed,” he said in a prime-time address. “What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”
Now four days removed from the initial wave of atrocities, the casualty numbers have continued to climb, solidifying the surprise strike as the deadliest attack in Israeli history. As of this morning, more than 900 Israelis—a majority of them civilians—have been confirmed dead, along with at least 687 Palestinians. But both those counts will continue to rise. First responders were still recovering bodies last night from the towns and villages terrorists attacked near the border, with more than 100 bodies removed from Be’eri alone—greater than 10 percent of the small kibbutz’s population.
In his remarks on Monday, Netanyahu laid out his case for the barrage on Gaza, drawing comparisons between Hamas and the terrorist group ISIS. “We always knew what Hamas is and now the whole world knows,” he said. “Hamas is ISIS and we will destroy it the way the enlightened world destroyed ISIS.”