International diplomatic efforts achieved the release of two American hostages by Hamas and the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border to a convoy of lorries carrying aid. Arab leaders met in Egypt to discuss the conflict while European leaders urged the Israeli government to show restraint. Evidence emerged that an explosion at an Anglican hospital in Gaza that was initially blamed on Israel was in fact caused by a Hamas rocket.
Notwithstanding the low turnouts, the by elections in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire were a disaster for the Conservatives. If the swing to Labour in Tamworth were to be replicated across the country at a general election, the Conservatives would be left with just 39 seats. There are 6 Cabinet members (including the Prime Minister) with smaller majorities than Mid Bedfordshire.
Prime Minister in waiting?
The London stock exchange regained its position as Europe’s largest stock market after overtaking Paris. UK government borrowing in September was £20bn lower than expected. Business leaders welcomed the government’s withdrawal of planned reforms to reporting requirements for listed companies.
Poland’s opposition parties won enough seats in the general election to take power from the incumbent Law and Justice Party, following 8 years in government. Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk is expected to form a government.
Liberals return to power in Poland
Ukrainian forces struck Russian helicopters with ATACMS missiles. The US had previously resisted supplying such long range missiles to Ukraine fearing that they would be used to hit targets inside Russia.
Sam McBride on the failings of the Windsor Framework
Professor Edward Luttwark on the challenge Israel will face in Gaza
Left Glove One, Two, Right Glove Biff by Adrian Hill
While the world’s media has focussed on Israel, the Ukraine war grinds on. Former paratrooper and diplomat Adrian Hill, continues to monitor the war and concludes that Ukraine is making progress while Russian claims of advances are overblown.
Perhaps the greatest danger to Ukraine’s freedom and future lies across the Atlantic Ocean in Washington DC where Congress appears to have lost its collective senses and deleted its institutional memory. When the Republican Party offered to pass a finance Bill they left off the aid package for Ukraine. This is going back to the 1930s and 1940s when Joe Kennedy was US Ambassador to London and opposed lend-lease with the argument that the Germans are going to invade Britain and win the war in Europe. Americans eventually would find they actually had armed the Third Reich.
As the fog of war descends on Gaza, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find accurate and trustworthy reports on what is going on. This makes it increasingly important that reports are treated critically and with a certain degree of scepticism. The explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is a good case study, from which several lessons can be drawn.
Firstly, both Israel and Hamas place high value on what people in other countries think of what is going on. The lengths Israeli officials have gone to show that they were not responsible for the bombing and the pressure they have put on media outlets to report accurately is evidence of this. For Israel, the presence of US and other western military assets in the region is an important bulwark against escalation either by Hezbollah or Iran. If public opinion in the West were to turn decisively against Israel, they would not be able to rely on those deterrents. Hamas has a strong interest in Israel being seen as an aggressor by international media for the same reasons. In addition, they will soon be relying on international aid for basic supplies. The more that Gaza is seen as the scene of Israeli aggression the stronger the international pressure to let aid in.
Secondly, the position that a media outlet takes on the underlying conflict affects how it interprets evidence. One that thinks that Palestinians have a legitimate claim against Israel and are the victims of decades of state-building is much more likely to believe reports of war crimes in Gaza than one which thinks that Israel has a legitimate claim on Palestinians and its Arab neighbours for their commitment to Israel’s destruction. The Qatari-run Al Jazeera thinks that Israel was to blame for the blast; Channel 4 was equivocal; while the Telegraph thinks it was Islamic Jihad.
Thirdly, it is very hard to find any credible sources on the ground. Domestic authorities in Gaza have been completely taken over by Hamas over the course of their 15 year rule. It also has a long history of involvement in charities and social welfare programmes partly to build up support amongst the population, partly as a cover for planning terrorist attacks. When western media quote “Palestinian officials”, they usually mean officials in the West Bank. Being far away from the action and having extremely poor relations with Hamas, they are not likely to be better placed to find out the truth than anyone else, and are as likely as anyone to be swayed by their underlying views on Israel. As a result, the usual voices of authority have to be treated with a lot of scepticism.
The sad fact is that accurate details on what goes on inside Gaza are very hard to come by. Instead of being swayed one way then the other as reports of violence emerge, it is perhaps better to focus on what we know about the two sides more broadly.
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate