This Week Around the World: Nov. 11–18

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Nov. 11–14 Israel; Gaza, Palestinian Territory: In the largest escalation of fighting since the 2014 Gaza War, the Gaza Strip and southern Israel exchanged fire for some 25 hours between Nov. 12–13, killing at least seven Palestinians and one Israeli. The escalation occurred after a botched undercover operation into the Strip on Nov. 11, conducted by Israeli special forces, which killed seven Palestinians including a top Hamas commander, named by Al Jazeera as Nour Baraka of the al-Qassam Brigades. Haaretz reported 370 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel while the Israeli Defense Force conducted airstrikes over the Strip. In response to the ceasefire reached by Hamas and Israel on Nov. 14, Israel’s now former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned from his position in opposition while calling for early elections.

Nov. 12 El Salvador: The trial of Imelda Cortez, a 20-year-old woman accused of attempted aggravated homicide, began on Nov. 12 after her baby was found in a toilet in April 2017. Cortez, who was 17 at the time, had been raped by her stepfather and became pregnant. While Cortez’s stepfather faces up to 15 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a minor, Cortez herself faces 20 years under the country’s strict anti-abortion laws. As reported by Al Jazeera, Cortez said she was not aware of her pregnancy until she went to the restroom after having abdominal pains, at which point she lost consciousness. Medical reports show no sign of self-induced abortion or harm against the child.

Nov. 12 Myanmar: According to Amnesty International, the international non-governmental human rights organization has stripped Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi of the Ambassador of Conscience Award. “Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defense of human rights,” said the organization’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo. Due to the genocide against Rohingya Muslims and Suu Kyi’s apathetic response, Amnesty’s highest award is one of a series the leader has since seen revoked.

Nov. 14 Congo: Seven UN peacekeepers were killed during a military operation in the northeastern region of Beni. Additionally, 10 other peacekeepers and several Congolese soldiers were wounded as well, while one was missing following the attack. The operation targeted the rebel militant group Allied Democratic Forces in an area that has seen a major outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Nov. 15 Brazil: In response to statements from Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, Cuba will recall its 11,420 doctors working as part of the Pan-American Health Organization, an international organization working to improve the health of those in North, Central and South America. As reported by The Guardian, Bolsonaro criticized the program’s family policy, saying the denial of mothers to have their children while abroad “is just torture.” Additionally, he demanded doctors receive their full pay while questioning their qualifications. Cuba’s healthcare system is known for covering the costs of training doctors, emphasizing its mission to assist those in need.  In return, a significant portion of their salaries are used to support the program.

Nov. 16 Virginia, U.S.: As reported by Al Jazeera, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded Jamal Khashoggi, the self-exiled journalist who disappeared from the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on Oct. 2, was assassinated by order of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The findings were first reported by The Washington Post, which detailed a call made by MBS’s brother Khalid bin Salman at his request, telling Khashoggi it would be safe to retrieve documents from the consulate. Additionally, the CIA received from Istanbul an audio recording from inside the embassy, which proved Khashoggi was murdered “within moments of entering the consulate,” and also included a call made by a security official Maher Mutreb to a top MBS aide verifying the task was complete.

Ongoing, California: Wildfires continue to rage across northern California, with the San Francisco Chronicles reporting 77 dead, almost 1,000 believed to be missing by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, and over 11,700 homes destroyed. The wildfire, dubbed the Camp Fire, began on Nov. 8 in the Sierra foothills, accelerating quickly to 112 square miles in just 24 hours due to winds. As of Nov. 19, the fire has covered 151,000 acres and is 66 percent contained.

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