Palestinians gathering at the site of an overnight airstrike in the Maghazi area in the central Gaza Strip on Monday.Credit…Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Netanyahu visits Gaza
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli troops fighting in the Gaza Strip yesterday, his second known trip to the territory since the war began. His visit came hours after Gazan health officials reported that a devastating overnight strike on a crowded neighborhood had killed dozens.
Netanyahu, who has faced increasing pressure from the U.S. to lower the intensity of the war, vowed to stay the course. “We’re not stopping, we are continuing to fight and are deepening the fighting in the coming days,” he said in a statement, adding that “this will be a long battle, and it is not close to ending.”
Assaults: The Gaza Health Ministry initially said 70 people died in Sunday’s attacks, with many others still buried under the rubble. But the details were blurry, given the continued difficulty of communication with residents in Gaza.
Calls for a cease-fire: International pressure has increased as the Gazan death toll has soared and civilians have been pushed into smaller and smaller corners of the enclave. Netanyahu also faces sustained pressure from the Israeli public to free the remaining hostages who were seized during the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
In other news from the war:
Israeli unemployment has spiked, with hundreds of thousands of workers called up to fight or displaced by the conflict. It could have drastic consequences for the economy.
Iran accused Israel of killing a high-level military figure in a missile strike in Syria.
Pope Francis said the war had caused an “appalling” loss of civilian life and brought “sorrow” to Bethlehem, traditionally seen as the birthplace of Jesus.
Ukraine says it downed Russian planes
The Ukrainian military yesterday said that it shot down five Russian fighter jets in three days, which would be one of the biggest weekly losses for the Russian Air Force since the war began and a rare bright spot for Ukraine after its failed monthslong counteroffensive. The claims could not be independently verified.
On the same day, however, Russia claimed to have seized full control of the eastern town of Marinka. Russian forces have gradually advanced over months of battle against Ukrainian troops there, but Ukraine denied that the town was entirely under Russian control.
Military analysts and some Ukrainian officials have suggested that Western-supplied Patriot missile systems may have been used to target the Russian warplanes — an unusual instance of the air defense systems’ use against aircraft.
Aleksei Navalny: The Russian opposition leader has been moved to a remote Arctic prison and “is doing well,” his spokeswoman said.
Holidays: Ukraine observed Christmas on Dec. 25, like much of Europe, departing from the Russian tradition of celebrating on Jan. 7.
The 2023 box office
Audience preferences this year ran counter to conventional wisdom, as viewers turned their backs on superhero movies in favor of “Barbie” — a movie that was directed by a woman, based on a very female toy and spray-painted pink. (An old movie-industry maxim holds that women will go to a “guy” movie, but not vice versa.)
There were other surprises: “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” collected $1.36 billion, a second-place result that also stunned Hollywood, given studios’ troubled history with game adaptations. And “Oppenheimer,” a three-hour period drama about a physicist, rounded out the top three, taking in $952 million.
Quotable: “Without question, change is afoot — audiences are in a different mood,” said David Gross, a film consultant. “The country and the world are not in the same place.”
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
Opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo have called for the results of the recent general election to be annulled over accusations of fraud.
Russia accused the West of orchestrating anti-government street protests in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, that flared into violence on Sunday.
Dozens of people were freed from Australia’s immigration detention centers — only to face curfews and government-monitored ankle bracelets.
Other Big Stories
An abandoned cemetery in France is a testament to the treatment of the Harkis, Muslim Algerians who fought for France during Algeria’s war of independence.
America’s dietary shift toward far more chicken and cheese in recent decades has fueled a farm expansion and worsened a groundwater crisis.
A Morning Read
Mongolia produces some of the most coveted circus performers in the world for marquee companies like Cirque du Soleil. But they train in squalid conditions, with few places to practice and little government support.
“We are wanted all over the world, but we can’t even properly train in our own country,” a circus director said.
Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: At this year’s contest, 10 of the skippers competing will be women.
The Athletic’s Soccer Quiz: Test your knowledge of 2023.
The future of Manchester United: The owners of the club have sold a minority stake in the team to the British petrochemical billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.
First World War Christmas truce: How much soccer was actually played?
ARTS AND IDEAS
The good tech awards
Every year, our tech columnist Kevin Roose highlights a few lesser-known tech projects that struck him as beneficial. Here are a few standouts. Read the full list.
Be My Eyes: This company announced a feature known as Be My AI that allows blind and low-sighted people to aim a smartphone camera at an object and have that object described for them.
The Vesuvius Challenge: A researcher at the University of Kentucky and two tech investors are offering prizes of up to $1 million to anyone who successfully deciphers a set of ancient scrolls, which can now be unlocked by A.I.
Waymo: This self-driving car company has taken a slow, methodical approach compared with its competitors, and its safety data is compelling.
Cook: Put your own spin on this festive leftovers sandwich.
Listen: Close out 2023 with these 13 songs.
Give: For the billionaire who has everything, how about an island off San Francisco?
Watch: An opera from the comfort of your home.
Style: Our fashion critic unpacks what it means to “dress your age.”
Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].