Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at the Israel-Hamas war’s bloodiest day in 2024, India opening a Hindu temple on former Muslim grounds, and Cameroon’s fight against malaria. Sign up to receive World Brief in your inbox every weekday. Hospitals Under Siege The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) advanced on two southern Gaza hospitals in Khan Younis on Monday, marking the single bloodiest day of fighting in the Israel-Hamas war since 2024 began. IDF troops stormed and arrested medical staff at al-Khair General Hospital, and Israeli tanks surrounded al-Amal Hospital, which also serves as the Palestinian Red Crescent’s headquarters in the city. Nasser Medical Center, located in Khan Younis, is the only major accessible and still-functioning hospital in Gaza. More than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 50 killed Sunday night, and nearly 63,000 others have been wounded since war broke out on Oct. 7, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry announced on Sunday. Israel claims to have killed around 9,000 Hamas militants in the past three months, though it has provided no evidence to confirm that number. Israeli officials continue to accuse Hamas of working in and around Khan Younis medical centers, which it denies, and the IDF believes the city hosts the principal headquarters for perpetrators of the Oct. 7 attack. The majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, who were originally forced to flee to Khan Younis to avoid Israeli strikes, have since evacuated just north to Deir al-Balah and south to the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border. International criticism of Israeli policies worsened this weekend after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his opposition toward Palestinian statehood. “After Hamas is destroyed Israel must retain security control over Gaza to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, a requirement that contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. She added, “If we are just resetting to the status quo before Oct. 7, in a way that sets us up for another round of this, as we have seen in the past, we’re not interested in that conversation,” Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan said. Domestic support for Netanyahu also took a hit this weekend following the prime minister’s decision on Sunday to reject a Hamas-proposed hostage deal. Hamas is currently holding around 136 people captive. The militant group said it would release all Israeli hostages if Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza, freed Palestinian prisoners, and accepted Hamas’s governance of the region. The hostages’ families and other advocates for their release protested Netanyahu’s decision outside his private home in Jerusalem on Sunday and disrupted a Knesset finance meeting on Monday to demand that more be done. Netanyahu said Hamas’s offer is not a viable option. “If we accept this, we won’t be able to guarantee the safety of our citizens,” he said of the Hamas proposal. “We will not be able to bring evacuees home safely and the next Oct. 7 will only be a matter of time.” Today’s Most Read The World This Week Tuesday, Jan. 23: Turkish lawmakers vote on Sweden’s NATO membership bid. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic visit Bosnia and Herzegovina. Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte continues his trip there. Wednesday, Jan. 24: Argentina’s General Confederation of Labor holds a nationwide strike. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosts Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico in Berlin. Thursday, Jan. 25: Turkey’s and South Africa’s central banks determine their interest rates. French President Emmanuel Macron begins a two-day visit to India. Nepal holds upper house elections. Friday, Jan. 26: Tuvalu holds parliamentary elections. Sunday, Jan. 28: Finland holds a presidential election. Monday, Jan. 29: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visits Pakistan. Colombia’s six-month cease-fire with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional rebel group expires. What We’re Following India’s Plan to Build Hindu Temple on Former Muslim Grounds India’s opening of a grand Hindu temple in the holy city of Ayodhya is part of the ruling party’s efforts to promote Hindu nationalism ahead of national elections this spring. However, the temple—dedicated to Rama, a warrior-king worshipped as one of Hinduism’s most popular deities—was built over the destroyed Babri Masjid mosque. Political opposition leaders accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using the opening ceremony to stoke religious fervor and boost the popularity of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leading many to boycott the event. “By promoting Rama as the warrior-king who ruled over an ideal state, the BJP aims to create a constituency of voters who see their identity primarily in religious terms and equate the Hindu faith with the nation of India,” argued Salil Tripathi in Foreign Policy. Under Modi, India’s far-right Hindu nationalist agenda has chipped away at the nation’s originally secular structure, hurting India’s religious minorities. Reports of hate speech and crimes against Muslims and other groups have skyrocketed under his rule. And Modi’s so-called tiger warrior diplomacy has impeded some of his foreign-policy aspirations. Cameroon’s Fight Against Malaria Cameroon became the first country in the world on Monday to begin routinely giving children a new malaria vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. Yaoundé hopes to inoculate around 250,000 children in 2024 and 2025. The Gavi vaccines alliance said it is working with 20 other African nations to eventually immunize more than 6 million children within the next two years. Around 95 percent of the world’s malaria deaths occur in Africa. Young people are particularly at risk, with children under age 5 accounting for at least 80 percent of deaths. Cameroon will offer the shot free of charge for all infants under 6 months old. Also on Monday, at least 10 Cameroonian students were killed and more than 100 others injured after a stampede broke out at Lycée Bilingue d’Etoug-Ebe high school in the nation’s capital. An initial investigation believes students running late to class rushed to enter the school grounds after the front gate was opened. First responders and law enforcement were dispatched to the scene. Protests in Germany Against the Far-Right Party Hundreds of thousands of people across Germany, including around 100,000 demonstrators in Munich, marched this weekend to protest the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Their anger centered on a report, published this month by a German investigative journalists’ group, that said members of the AfD and the extremist Identitarian Movement held a meeting in November 2023 to discuss deporting millions of immigrants from Germany, which some protesters likened to the Nazis’ expulsion of Jews and other “undesirables” in the 1930-40s. The AfD has since condemned the meeting, saying it had no financial or official ties to the event. Still, German leaders have used the report to condemn the far-right’s growing influence. “We protect everyone — regardless of origin, skin color or how uncomfortable someone is for fanatics with assimilation fantasies,” Scholz wrote on X, formerly Twitter, adding that he would not allow anyone in Germany to be judged by their country of origin. Odds and Ends Delhi’s Butter Chicken Battle Delhi’s high court is finally taking a stand on one of India’s most controversy-inducing feuds: Who invented butter chicken and dal makhani? New Delhi’s Moti Mahal restaurant recently filed a petition accusing rival Daryaganj of falsely claiming that its ancestor invented the much-beloved dishes. Moti Mahal is run by the descendants of Kundan Lal Gujral, and Daryaganj is run by the descendants of Kundan Lal Jaggi, both of whom (along with a third friend) ran the original Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, where the dishes originated. All we need is a pair of star-crossed lovers, and we have a modern Romeo and Juliet.

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