Israel searches for traces of Hamas in raid of key Gaza hospital packed with patients
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli troops on Wednesday stormed into Gaza’s largest hospital, searching for traces of Hamas inside and beneath the facility, where newborns and hundreds of other patients have suffered for days without electricity and other basic necessities. The forces also pressed on with their wider ground offensive.
Details from the daylong raid remained sketchy, but officials from Israel and Gaza presented different accounts of what was happening at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City: The Israeli army released video showing soldiers carrying boxes labeled as “baby food” and “medical supplies,” while health officials talked of terrified staff and patients as troops moved through the buildings.
After encircling Shifa for days, Israel faced pressure to prove its claim that Hamas had turned the hospital into a command center and used patients, staff and civilians sheltering there to provide cover for its militants. The allegation is part of Israel's broader accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. Israel released video late Wednesday of weapons it said it found in one building, but so far its search showed no signs of tunnels or a sophisticated command center.
Hamas and Gaza health officials deny militants operate in Shifa — a hospital that employs some 1,500 people and has more than 500 beds, according to the Palestinian news agency. Palestinians and rights groups say Israel has recklessly endangered civilians as it seeks to eradicate Hamas.
As Israel tightens its hold on northern Gaza, leaders have talked of expanding the ground operation into the south to root out Hamas. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have already crowded into the territory’s south, where a worsening fuel shortage threatens to paralyze the delivery of humanitarian services and shut down mobile phone and internet service.
Averting government shutdown, Congress approves temporary funding through the holidays
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ending the threat of a government shutdown until after the holidays, Congress gave final approval Wednesday night to a temporary government funding package that pushes a confrontation over the federal budget into the new year.
The Senate met into the night to pass the bill with an 87-11 tally and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature one day after it passed the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote. It provides a funding patch into next year, when the House and Senate will be forced to confront — and somehow overcome — their considerable differences over what funding levels should be.
In the meantime, the bill removes the threat of a government shutdown days before funding would have expired.
“This year, there will be no government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference after the bill's passage.
The spending package keeps government funding at current levels for roughly two more months while a long-term package is negotiated. It splits the deadlines for passing full-year appropriations bills into two dates: Jan. 19 for some federal agencies and Feb. 2 for others, creating two deadlines where there will be a risk of a partial government shutdown.
Biden, Xi met for hours and agreed to 'pick up the phone' for any urgent concerns: 'That's progress'
WOODSIDE, Calif. (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping emerged Wednesday from their first face-to-face meeting in a year vowing to stabilize their fraught relationship and showcasing modest agreements to combat illegal fentanyl and re-establish military communications. But there were still deep differences on economic competition and global security threats.
The most assuring takeaway from the meeting for Biden was that if either man had a concern, “we should pick up the phone and call one another and we'll take the call. That's important progress," he said in a news conference following the talks.
The two leaders spent four hours together at a bucolic Northern California estate — in meetings, a working lunch and a garden stroll — intent on showing the world that while they are global economic competitors they’re not locked in a winner-take-all faceoff.
“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed,” Xi told Biden.
The U.S. president told Xi: “I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunications. We have to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”
Takeaways from Biden's long-awaited meeting with Xi
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a meeting a year in the making.
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping sat down together on Wednesday just outside of San Francisco, where Asian leaders gathered for an annual summit. It was almost exactly one year since their last encounter in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of another global gathering.
In addition to a formal bilateral meeting, Biden and Xi shared a lunch with top advisers and strolled the verdant grounds of the luxury estate where their meeting took place.
There's no word on whether Chinese pandas will return to Washington's zoo. But Biden said the meeting included “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had" and will lead to stronger dialogue between the two leaders.
Biden said they will “keep the lines of communication open” and Xi is “willing to pick up the phone” — no small thing in the world of high-risk, high-stakes diplomacy between Washington and Beijing.
Supplies alone won’t save Gaza hospital patients and evacuation remains perilous, experts say
LONDON (AP) — As concerns grow for patients stranded inside Gaza’s biggest hospital, experts warned that transporting vulnerable people, including babies, is a perilous proposition under even the best circumstances.
On Tuesday, Palestinian authorities proposed a supervised evacuation of Shifa Hospital, a sprawling complex that runs several city blocks in the heart of Gaza City. Hours later, Israeli forces raided the facility — further complicating the picture.
Dr. Irwin Redlener of Columbia University in New York said that moving newborns and premature babies with health problems is fraught but possible with trained personnel, proper equipment and a transportation plan.
“Babies in incubators have complex health needs and there needs to be temperature control, hydration, medication for infections and breathing support,” said Redlener, a pediatrician and disaster response expert, who spoke before the raid.
Redlener said that when hospitals in New York were evacuated due to Superstorm Sandy in 2012, medical workers walked down numerous flights of stairs carrying babies to waiting ambulances and there were no known tragedies — at least among the infants.
The Israeli military has set its sights on southern Gaza. Problems loom in next phase of war
JERUSALEM (AP) — After raiding the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, Israel appears close to completing its takeover of the besieged territory’s northern sector, which it has described as the headquarters of the ruling Hamas militant group.
But as the military sets its sights on southern Gaza in its campaign to stamp out Hamas, key challenges loom: International patience for a protracted invasion has begun to wear thin, and with nearly 2 million displaced Gaza civilians staying in overcrowded shelters in the south, a broad military offensive there could unleash a new humanitarian disaster during the cold, wet winter.
Here’s a closer look at what could lie ahead in the coming weeks:
Israel declared war in response to Hamas’ unprecedented cross-border incursion on Oct. 7, when the Islamic militant group killed at least 1,200 people and took some 240 others hostage. Israel has set two goals: a return of all hostages and the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities.
In the first phase, Israel carried out weeks of blistering airstrikes across Gaza on what it said were Hamas military installations, many of them in residential neighborhoods. Nearly three weeks ago, it launched a second phase – a ground operation aimed at destroying Hamas’ military capabilities in northern Gaza, including an underground tunnel network used to move its supplies and fighters.
Police and protesters clash outside Democratic HQ during demonstration over Israel-Hamas war
WASHINGTON (AP) — Police and protesters clashed outside Democratic National Committee headquarters on Wednesday night during a demonstration for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, the latest reflection of boiling tensions over the bloody conflict.
Scores of Democratic representatives and candidates, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, were inside the building for a campaign reception when it was interrupted by chanting outside. Protesters said they wanted to block entrances and exits to force politicians to encounter their candlelight vigil and their calls for an end to the fighting. Many of them wore black shirts saying “Cease Fire Now.”
However, the situation swiftly devolved. U.S. Capitol Police said about 150 people were “illegally and violently protesting” in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington. But protesters blamed police for the violence, saying officers rushed them without warning.
“It is shameful the way that nonviolent protesters and members of our community were met with violence tonight," said Dani Noble, who came from Philadelphia for the demonstration. "It is absolutely shameful.”
Noble said police, some of whom were wearing riot gear, started “pulling on folks that are disabled or have have chronic illnesses, pulling people to the ground.”
Las Vegas high school student beaten to death by 10 classmates between 13 and 17, police say
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 17-year-old high school student in Las Vegas was beaten to death in an alleyway around the corner from campus by 10 of his classmates between the ages of 13 and 17, a prearranged fight that authorities said broke out over a pair of headphones and a vape pen.
But police homicide Lt. Jason Johansson said that detectives think the victim wasn’t originally supposed to be involved in the brawl, which the students agreed would take place after classes were done for the day at Rancho High School in eastern Las Vegas.
Jonathan Lewis Jr. walked to the alleyway with his friend, whose headphones and vape pen had been stolen, Johansson said.
The deadly beating on Nov. 1 was captured on cellphone video and widely shared on social media. Johansson described the footage as “very void of humanity."
In the video, he said, the victim is seen taking off his shirt to prepare for the fight, and then the 10 students “immediately swarm him, pull him to the ground and begin kicking, punching and stomping on him.”
Video shows North Carolina officer repeatedly striking a pinned woman during her arrest
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A video circulating on social media shows a North Carolina police officer repeatedly striking a Black woman during an arrest while several other officers hold her down, and although the department contends that the officer was “intentional” about where he hit the woman to get her to comply, the police chief acknowledged Wednesday that he understands "the outrage."
At a news conference Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Johnny Jennings said that when officers approached a man and woman who were smoking marijuana at a bus stop Monday and began arresting the man, the woman interfered, an officer tried to stop him and a struggle ensued.
The woman hit an officer multiple times, according to Lt. Kevin Pietrus. During the struggle, an officer who responded as backup struck the woman several times to get her to allow police to take her into custody, which is consistent with his training, Pietrus told reporters.
“After several repeated verbal commands, an officer struck the female subject seven times with knee strikes and 10 closed fist strikes to the peroneal nerve in the thigh to try to gain compliance,” police said in a statement Tuesday. “The officer was intentional about where the strikes were made.”
One bystander video posted online shows four officers kneeling and holding the woman down as a fifth repeatedly strikes her with a closed fist. As it is happening, bystanders shout at the officers to stop. After a few seconds, the officers stand up and lead the woman to a squad SUV with her arms behind her back.
Heavily armed Haitian gang surrounds hospital in capital and traps people inside
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A heavily armed gang surrounded a hospital in Haiti on Wednesday, trapping women, children and newborns inside until police rescued them, according to the director of the medical center, who pleaded for help via social media.
The Fontaine Hospital Center in the capital of Port-au-Prince is considered an oasis and a lifeline in a community overrun by gangs that have unleashed increasingly violent attacks against each other and residents. People who live in the capital's sprawling Cite Soleil slum are routinely raped, beaten and killed.
The hospital founder and director, Jose Ulysse, told The Associated Press that gangs were torching homes around the hospital and preventing people inside from leaving. He initially said that it appeared some gang members had entered the hospital but later said they did not go inside.
Ulysse said members of Haiti's National Police force responded to his call for help and arrived with three armored trucks to evacuate 40 children and 70 patients to a private home in a safer part of the city. Among those delicately evacuated were children on oxygen, he said.
“Gangs are in total control of the area,” he said.
The Associated Press