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December 4, 2023

The World is Smoldering:

Israel, Hamas Engage in Some of Fiercest Fighting of War
Israeli troops and Hamas fighters were engaged Monday in some of the toughest fighting of the two-month-old war, as Israel looks to decisively finish its operations in and around Gaza City and prepare to move its offensive south.
The Israeli military has essentially cornered Hamas fighters in two of their last strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip—the Shajaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and the city of Jabalia, immediately to the north. 
Israel has conducted heavy airstrikes in those areas since the fighting resumed over the weekend, including one strike that Israeli officials said killed Hamas’s battalion commander in Shajaiya, and which Palestinian officials said caused hundreds of civilian casualties
At the same time, Israel is turning its attention to the southern city of Khan Younis, the home of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. Israel also believes Khan Younis is probably where hostages are being held. 

U.S. Destroyer, Commercial Vessels Attacked by Drones, Missiles in Red Sea
A U.S. destroyer and three commercial ships operating in the Red Sea came under drone and ballistic-missile attacks, the Pentagon said Sunday, marking the most significant escalation of a weekslong military attack on ships operating in those waters. 
In two instances on Sunday, the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, came under attack, including while responding to distress calls from nearby commercial ships that faced missile attacks, the Pentagon said. The Carney also shot down a drone that flew nearby.

White House says U.S. funding about to run out; Ukraine to probe apparent shooting of two unarmed soldiers by Russian forces
At least two people were reportedly killed in Russian shelling in the Kherson region on Sunday, while 18 attack drones fired from occupied Crimea were downed overnight, according to Ukrainian officials. 
Along with attacks by air, intense fighting continues along defensive lines in Ukraine’s south and east, particularly Maryinka, Avdiivka and Bakhmut. 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his nightly address to thank those who had not forgotten about fighters on the front line and people living in occupied areas. Ukraine is preparing new military support packages from its partners and strengthening air defenses, he said.  Last week, Zelenskyy said the war had entered a new phase as harsh weather sets in and the country braces itself for a rise in Russian strikes on energy infrastructure, a strategy Moscow employed last winter. 

Secret Talks, Oil and Sanctions: Inside a US-Venezuela Breakthrough
The day had finally arrived: Venezuela’s leaders and the opposition would come together to map out a plan toward free elections. 
Also on the table was the potential rollback of harsh sanctions that had further cemented the country’s economic crisis. After years of failed negotiations and conflict, it would be a historic win. 
The US-backed opposition group, accompanied by US officials including Chief of Mission of the Venezuelan Affairs Unit Francisco Palmieri, had flown from Caracas to Barbados on Oct. 16 to finalize the latest efforts for a deal. Beads of sweat dripped down the delegates’ foreheads as they waited in the humid facilities at the Bridgetown hotel.

Venezuelans vote to claim sovereignty over a part of oil-rich nation Guyana
 Venezuelans on Sunday voted to claim sovereignty over a large swathe of their oil-rich neighbor Guyana, marking the latest escalation in a long-standing territorial dispute between the countries. 
Voters were asked if they supported the establishment of a new state in the contested area, known as the Essequibo. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council counted more than 10.5 million votes, the country’s local media stated. The number of voters were not specified, however, and the Associated Press reported that few voters could be seen at polling sites throughout the voting period. 

Evergrande Liquidation Ruling Postponed in Surprise to Creditors
China Evergrande Group won breathing room to strike a restructuring agreement with creditors after a Hong Kong court again pushed back a decision on whether the world’s most-indebted property developer should be wound up.
The proceedings have been adjourned to Jan. 29, Judge Linda Chan said in the city’s High Court. The unexpected delay came as the original petitioner didn’t push for an immediate liquidation on Monday, an about-turn that caught Evergrande and other creditors off guard and marked the latest twist in a lawsuit that has dragged on for more than a year.


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