Latest World News on Fox News

Fury aimed at 'antisemitic' UN committee probing Hamas' sexual atrocities against Israeli women

JERUSALEM - The U.N.'s controversial Commission of Inquiry (COI) tasked with investigating Hamas' crimes of rape and sexual abuse of Israelis has been deemed an "antisemitic" group by the Jewish State's ambassador to the U.N. that is incapable of conducting a fair probe. "The antisemitic Commission of Inquiry, established by the morally  distorted Human Rights Council , which recently appointed Iran as chair of the council's Social Forum, is biased against Israel in every way," Israel's Ambassador Gilad Erdan told Fox News Digital. "Therefore, Israel has zero trust in its findings and its illegitimate activities. Its 'investigation' into the terror organization's sexual crimes against Israeli women on Oct. 7 is akin to Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, investigating its crimes." Erdan is a fierce critic of the  U.N.'s longstanding alleged bias against the Jewish state. UNITED NATIONS SLAMMED FOR SILENCE OVER HAMAS RAPES, MUTILATION AND MURDER OF ISRAELI WOMEN, CRITICS SAY "The commissioners' pre-existing prejudice against Israel is abundantly clear," he added. "They have denied Israel's right to be a member of the U.N., they have undermined the accepted working definition of antisemitism, and they support the boycott of Israel." Anne Bayefsky, director of the New York-based Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News Digital, "There is no possibility whatsoever that the COI will investigate anything about Israel in a fair manner. This isn't speculation, it's fact." The origin of the COI is  grounded in a 2021 resolution from the controversial U.N. Human Rights Council, which has also been embroiled in scandal over its alleged bias against Israel.  The Human Rights Council established "an ongoing, independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of international human rights law leading up and since 13 April 2021." Bayefsky, also president of Human Rights Voices, has written extensively about the COI, and she took the chairwoman of the COI, Navi Pillay, and her fellow committee members to task for stoking antisemitism.  "The three individuals on this so-called 'inquiry,' starting with Pillay herself, are utterly biased," Bayefsky said. "That's precisely why they were selected in the first place. Their personal records demonstrate rank antisemitism. COURT KEEPS ANTI-BDS LAW IN PLACE, STRIKING DOWN EARLIER DECISION "They are running an antisemitic inquisition, not an investigation. And the only reason they have a sudden interest in the horrifying reality of Palestinian Arab rape of Jewish women and girls is because their faux legal charade is at risk of even greater delegitimization." Fox News Digital  reported in July 2022 on Miloon Kothari, a member of the COI who told an obscure anti-Israel blog, "We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by - whether it's the Jewish Lobby or it's the specific NGOs. A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us." Kothari's alleged anti-Jewish rant sparked outrage at the time, including calls for the Biden administration to apply pressure to disband the COI. When asked if the COI is infected with antisemitism and unfit to conduct an inquiry into Hamas' sexual assaults on Israel, Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, defended the COI. "The Secretary-general is not involved in the work of bodies that report to the Human Rights Council," Dujarric said. "He also has no authority of the appointment of its members. That being said, he has no reason to doubt the impartiality and professionalism of Navi Pillay and her colleagues." Numerous Fox News Digital press queries to the Human Rights Council were not answered. When questioned if the secretary-general believes Hamas is a terrorist organization, Dujarric said, "The U.N. has consistently condemned the horrific actions taken by Hamas. The secretary-general strongly condemned the Hamas attacks on (Oct. 7) within hours of their occurrence and did the same concerning sexual assaults as more evidence came in about them. "In the U.N. system, designations of terrorist bodies are to be made by the relevant member state bodies, namely the Security Council and the General Assembly. They do not fall within the secretary-general's authority."  While the EU and U.S. and many additional countries have designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization, the U.N. has not classified Hamas a terrorist entity. Asked about the antisemitism allegations against the COI and its members, Guterres' spokesman said his "statements and actions, as secretary-general and his previous roles at the national level, clearly demonstrate his life-long fight against antisemitism." In late October, Israel's ambassador, Erdan, urged Guterres to resign after he allegedly  blamed the Jewish victims of the Hamas massacre Oct. 7, in which 1,200 people were murdered, including over 30 American citizens. Under growing pressure and criticism for silence over Hamas' sexual atrocities, Pramila Patten, the U.N.'s special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, said in a statement she was "gravely concerned about emerging reports of sexual violence against both women and men while they were held in Hamas captivity.  "Special Representative Patten expresses concern for those civilians still held hostage by Hamas and calls for their immediate, safe and unconditional release," her statement added.  According to her statement, Patten calls for "robust and independent investigations into all allegations of sexual violence in connection with the current conflict. In this respect, she urges the State of Israel to grant access to United Nations entities with an investigative mandate, which have promptly signaled their availability and willingness to examine the scope and extent of these crimes, including allegations of sexual violence against Palestinians." ISRAEL AMBASSADOR WARNS UN 'CONTAMINATED' BY ANTISEMITISM, SAYS PEACE WITH SAUDIS CAN 'TRANSFORM' REGION Bayefsky also noted that Jordanian national Reem Alsalem, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, "went silent for two months" and she "has refused to denounce Hamas' sexual violence against Jewish women and girls." Alsalem issued a  statement Nov. 20 on the U.N. website but did not explicitly condemn Hamas for carrying out rapes and sexual assaults against Israeli women and girls. The bulk of Alsalem's press release was devoted to blaming Israel for alleged violence against Palestinian women. Fox News Digital sent press queries to Alsalem.  "Israel is a democracy governed by the rule of law," Bayefsky said. "It knows how to conduct an inquiry of criminal acts perpetrated against its citizens on its soil. The question for the rest of the world is, do you really give a damn about ensuring Palestinian terrorists are held accountable?" Israeli women are outraged over the conduct of U.N. bodies toward Hamas' rape and sexual assault campaign targeting Jewish women and girls.  "The U.N. continues to tell the world loud and clear that 'believe all women' does not apply to Jewish or Israeli women," Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, told Fox News Digital. "I would argue that the appointment of the members of this COI, given their history of antisemitic comments, could amount to a threat to re-traumatize still-living victims and the families of those who were murdered. For the U.N. to relegate this topic to their untrustworthy hands is akin to a farmer asking a local fox to look after its chickens." The U.S. State Department did not immediately answer a Fox News Digital press query.

Netanyahu tells Biden Israel will act militarily against Yemen's Houthis if US won't: report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has allegedly told President Biden that his country will act militarily against Yemen's Houthi movement if the United States fails to do so, according to a report by Israeli publication N12News.  The Iran-aligned group has been harassing Israeli and U.S. forces in the Middle East since the start of Israel's war with Hamas .  N12News posted on X Saturday that Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel's national security chief of staff, told journalists Amit Segal and Ben Caspit about its intention to respond to the group that has attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab strait, a sea lane through which much of the world's oil is shipped. US WARSHIP SHOOTS DOWN 3 HOUTHI DRONES TARGETING COMMERCIAL VESSELS IN RED SEA: CENTCOM The group has also fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel. "Tzachin Hanegbi to Amit Segal Ben Caspit: Netanyahu informed Biden...- if you don't act against the Hutus, we will act militarily," the post on X reads.  Fox News Digital requested but did not receive comment from the White House , the State Department or Netanyahu's office. The claims come after three commercial vessels were attacked in the Red Sea last week, prompting a U.S. warship to shoot down multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) headed toward them. IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS SHOOT DOWN US MQ-9 REAPER DRONE OFF COAST OF YEMEN USS Carney was in the southern Red Sea , just north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Dec. 3, when it shot down three Houthi drones heading in its direction, a U.S. official recently told Fox News, adding that the action was taken in self-defense. The drones were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, the official claimed.  There were no injuries to any of the crew members on the commercial vessels. The Houthis, which rule much of Yemen and its Red Sea coast, also seized a British-owned cargo ship last month that had links with an Israeli company. The Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions on 13 individuals and entities responsible for providing funds to the Houthis in Yemen. These sanctions aim to cut funds off to those who facilitate Houthi attacks. Houthi officials say their actions are a show of support for the Palestinians. CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP Israel has said attacks on ships are an "Iranian act of terrorism" with consequences for international maritime security. A Houthi military spokesperson said all ships sailing to Israeli ports are banned from the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. "If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces," the spokesperson said in a statement contained in a Reuters report on Saturday.  Reuters and Fox News' Danielle Wallace, Andrea Vacchiano, Lucas Y. Tomlinson and Liz Friden contributed to this report.

Turkey's Erdogan slams UN Security Council as 'Israel Protection Council'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday slammed the UN Security Council after the United States vetoed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.  Erdogan, who does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, described UN leadership as the "Israel protection council," following a Friday vote in which the U.S. was the only member nation to oppose the measure. Erdogan also accused the West of "barbarism" and Islamophobia for the war in Gaza. The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining. The U.S. is one of five permanent members to have veto power, and its no vote canned the measure.  BLINKEN BLASTED FOR 'LECTURING' ISRAELIS, AS JOHN MCCAIN'S 2014 WARNING ABOUT DIPLOMAT RESURFACES "Since October 7, the security council has become an Israel protection and defense council," Erdogan said, according to AFP.  Hamas terrorists launched a brutal attack on Israel on October 7 that killed about 1,200 and sparked the current Israeli offense against Hamas, which the group claims has killed more than 17,400. "Is this justice?" Erdogan questioned after the vote, adding, "The world is bigger than five," a reference to the five nations that hold veto power in the UN Security Council.  "Another world is possible, but without America," the Turkish leader said. "The United States stands by Israel with its money and military equipment. Hey, America! How much are you going to pay for that?" he added. "Every day, the Declaration of Human Rights is violated in Gaza," he said, according to AFP.  Erdogan has been hugely critical of Israel's role in the conflict. He panned the nation at a packed hall in Istanbul the day before the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights according to the Associated Press.  TURKEY'S ERDOGAN, ON ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR, SAYS WEST IS 'TOO WEAK TO EVEN CALL FOR A CEASE-FIRE' "Israel has carried out atrocities and massacres that will shame the whole of humanity," Erdogan said. Erdogan also took aim at the West for its role in wars. "We have seen this example of the West's barbarism in all those unfortunate events that they either supported or perpetrated." CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP "According to their understanding, non-Westerners don't have the right to enjoy those universal human rights . . . they overlook Islamophobic attacks, and they show the twisted perception and mentality of the West," he said. The comments come after Erdogan claimed earlier this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be tried as a "war criminal" after Israel's war against Hamas concludes.  He also compared Netanyahu to genocidal dictators of the past. The Associated Press, along with Fox News' Chris Pandolfo and Anders Hagstrom, contributed to this report.

Russia warns Israel that Hamas tunnel plan would amount to 'war crime' if pursued

A Russian diplomat has warned that Israel's plan to flood Hamas tunnels in order to flush out the terrorists may constitute a war crime.  "War crimes are snowballing - shocking reports have been circulated in recent days that Israel plans to flood underground facilities in the Gaza Strip with seawater," Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky said during a United Nations Security Council meeting this week.  "According to open sources, the IDF has already built a system of pumps and pipes to pump seawater and is currently discussing with the United States practical aspects of such flooding: whether there will be enough water or if the tunnels' 'topography' is fit for that and so on. Such a step, if made, will constitute a blatant war crime," Polyansky argued.  The Wall Street Journal earlier this week reported that the Israel Defense Forces have constructed five large seawater pumps about one mile north of the Al-Shati refugee camp, with each pump capable of moving thousands of cubic meters of water per hour from the Mediterranean Sea into the Hamas tunnels. CEASE-FIRE MEANS 'HAMAS GETS AWAY WITH MASS MURDER': MICHAEL OREN The report, citing senior U.S. officials, claims that this process could flood the tunnels within weeks, but Israel has not committed to the plan - especially with concerns over the remaining hostages, whom Hamas may still have in the tunnels. The slow flood could allow for Hamas and hostages to flee the tunnel, a source familiar with the plan said.  "We are not sure how successful pumping will be, since nobody knows the details of the tunnels and the ground around them," the source said. "It's impossible to know if that will be effective, because we don't know how seawater will drain in tunnels no one has been in before." Russian outlet TASS reported that Polyansky blasted "Western-biased media" for hailing the plan as a "brilliant tactical solution" and not thinking about the consequences of pumping the seawater into soil.  US SANCTIONS PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, INCLUDING AFGHANISTAN, CHINA, IRAN "Obviously, it is a real plan of action to undermine the enclave's fragile agricultural capacities, because seawater will inevitably contaminate Gaza's subsoil waters," Polyansky said, connecting the plan to the lack of drinking water in Gaza since the start of Israel's operations and ground invasion of the territory.  The World Health Organization (WHO) said the war has caused a public health crisis in the Gaza Strip that could drive up the death toll, which the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has already reported at over 13,300. The lack of functioning hospitals, running water and shelters will contribute heavily to the deteriorating situation, according to WHO. The lack of potable water supplies, sanitation and medical access is a recipe for epidemics as displaced Palestinians have been forced to take shelter in cramped homes and camps, WHO's Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Switzerland.  United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a letter to the Security Council this week about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in a rare invocation of Article 99, which grants him the power to directly convey his thoughts and desires to the council. A secretary-general last used this power in 1971 when fighting broke out in Pakistan and led to the separation of Bangladesh.  DANGEROUS REBELS CLAIM ANOTHER CONGO TOWN AS UN PEACEKEEPERS LEAVE COUNTRY Guterres urged the Security Council to pursue a ceasefire declaration, but the U.S. vetoed a motion tabled during Friday's Security Council meeting , with the United Kingdom abstaining from the vote while all other members supported it.  The U.S. blasted the resolution as "divorced from reality" and argued that it would "not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way." U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Robert A. Wood called the demand for an unconditional cease-fire "dangerous" and "a recipe for disaster for Israel, for Palestinians and for the entire region."  The resolution demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of hostages as well as humanitarian access, but it did not condemn the Hamas attack on October 7, which the UK cited as a necessary condition for its support.  "Calling for a ceasefire ignores the fact that Hamas has committed acts of terror and is still holding civilians hostage ," British Ambassador Barbara Woodward explained. She also voiced support for a two-state solution, which she stressed must deliver statehood for the Palestinians and security for Israel.  Fox News Digital's Chris Pandolfo, Timothy Nerozzi and Lawrence Richard and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Hamas brutality on Oct 7 'can never justify' the 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Gaza, UN secretary-general says

Hamas' "brutality" and "sexual violence" on October 7 does not justify the continued assault on the Gaza region by the Israeli military, the United Nations' top administrator says. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the international organization's security council on Friday, continuing his demands for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza region. "We are all aware that Israel began its military operation in response to the brutal terror attacks unleashed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on 7 October," Guterres told the security council. "I unreservedly condemn those attacks. I am appalled by the reports of sexual violence." UN SECRETARY-GENERAL INVOKES RARELY USED POWER TO DEMAND CEASE-FIRE IN GAZA He continued, "There is no possible justification for deliberately killing some 1,200 people, including 33 children, injuring thousands more, and taking hundreds of hostages." However, Gueterres went on to say that the carnage and sexual violence did not justify the continued assault on Gaza's infrastructure and civilian areas. "At the same time, the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people," the secretary-general said. CAIR DIRECTOR SAYS HE WAS 'HAPPY' TO WITNESS OCT. 7 ATTACKS, ISRAEL 'DOES NOT HAVE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE' He continued, "And while indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations." The secretary-general already invoked a rarely used power of his office earlier this week to publish a letter to the members of the council expressing severe concern about the violence continuing to unfold in the Gaza Strip and increased inability to address the casualties. "I am writing under Article 99 of the United Nations Charter to bring to the attention of the Security Council a matter which, in my opinion, may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security," Guterres said in the letter. Guterres warns that humanitarian systems attempting to aid civilians affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict are at their breaking point due to under-supplying and dangerous cross-fire. The Israeli Defense Forces are bearing down on Hamas' last major holdout in Gaza after finishing off the terrorist organization in the north.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Israel will be taking security control of Gaza long after the war, potentially angering President Biden's administration.

Hong Kong to cull 900 pigs in wake of deadly swine fever outbreak

More than 900 pigs are set to be culled in Hong Kong after authorities detected the presence of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) in animals at a licensed farm in the New Territories district. Authorities at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said 19 of 30 pigs tested at the farm had swine fever and that transportation of pigs from the farm had been immediately suspended. The culling will start early next week, the agency said.  "AFCD staff has arranged to inspect the other eight pig farms within three kilometers (two miles) of the index farm and will collect samples for ASF testing," the AFCD said in a statement. ITALY CULLS MORE THAN 30,000 PIGS TO COUNTER SPREAD OF SWINE FEVER "Pork cooked thoroughly is safe for consumption. Members of the public do not need to be concerned." The disease can be fatal for pigs as soon as a week after infection. It is not harmful to humans and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, according to the Dept. of Agriculture. ASF has never been reported in the United States. If it is detected here, approximately 76 million domestic pigs will be susceptible to this disease, according to the Dept. of Agriculture. The news comes after Hong Kong culled 5,600 pigs last month at a farm near the mainland China border.  Nearly 34,000 pigs in Italy were culled to counter the spread in September. The disease also swept to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania and Serbia. There have also been multiple reports of ASF cases in wild boar in these countries, according to the European Food Safety Authority. AFRICAN SWINE FEVER DETECTED IN GREECE FROM WILD BOAR An outbreak in 2018-19 rocked the $250 billion global pork market and about half the domestic pig population died in China, the world's biggest producer. It caused China losses estimated at more than $100 billion. The outbreak also spread to other Asian countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, North Korea and South Korea, as well as Hong Kong. Last year, Vietnam successfully produced the first vaccine against African swine fever. It was co-developed by Vietnamese companies and researchers from the United States and two million doses were shipped to the Philippines in October. It comes as the first human case of the swine flu strain H1N2 was detected in the United Kingdom, late last month. One case was detected in Michigan over the summer after a person came into contact with an infected pig at an agricultural fair, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  An  H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009  caused at least 18,500 laboratory-confirmed human deaths.  Greg Norman contributed to this report.

Cop commandeers civilian's bike, tackles drug dealer in wild street chase: video

Wild footage out of the U.K. shows a police officer commandeering a civilian's bike in order to track down and tackle a drug dealer who was in possession of a stash of drugs disguised as candy.  "This incident was an example of good old fashioned policing where our officers and members of the public worked together to take down a man whose actions were a blight on the community," Inspector Beth Warren, of Northamptonshire Police, said of the dramatic footage, according to SWNS News.  The scene unfolded on Aug. 23 in Northampton, after police received a call from a member of the public that a man, later identified as Sean Prosser, 28, had carried out a drug deal. Police constable Lewis Marks jumped into action and pursued Prosser from his police vehicle, the video shows.  Prosser was seen riding a bike and ducked into Beckets Park, forcing the cop to hop out of his car and pursue the suspect on foot.  FLORIDA MAN ARRESTED AFTER LEADING POLICE ON HIGH SPEED CHASE ON MOTORCYCLE WITH FAKE 'MCLOVIN' TAG Marks then spotted a civilian on his own mountain bike and asked to commandeer it.  "Can we borrow your bike? Can we borrow your bike? Thank you," Marks is heard saying in the footage.  The wild video shows the cop hustling on the mountain bike through the park and city streets until he catches up with Prosser, and tackles the man.  "Ow! My head. I haven't done anything," Prosser is heard saying in the footage as the two tussle on the ground.  Marks handcuffed the man and radioed colleagues that he "rammed [Prosser] off his bike."  POLICE OFFICER BORROWS A BOY'S SMALL BICYCLE TO CHASE A SUSPECTED BURGLAR - AND 'RACES OFF AFTER WANTED MAN' "I'm going to get this bike back to its owner. I just grabbed it off a member of the public," he added.  The video shows the officer cycling back to the park, where he meets up with the owner of the bicycle and thanks him for lending him the mountain bike.  PHILADELPHIA MAN CAUGHT ON CAMERA STEALING $100K BIKE FROM SHOP, POLICE SAY "Mate I caught him, I wouldn't have caught him without your help," he tells the man as they shake hands.  Prosser was taken into custody and found to be in the possession of a large sum of cash, and a phone containing text messages related to drug deals , according to SWNS. Police also found a Kinder egg candy toy that contained heroin and crack cocaine.  He was charged with two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, escaping from lawful custody, acquiring/using/possessing criminal property, being concerned in the supply of cocaine and being concerned in the supply of heroin. He pleaded guilty earlier this month and was sentenced to more than three years behind bars , according to SWNS.  "The quick-thinking of PC Marks ensured Prosser was arrested swiftly and I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank the member of the public who let us borrow his bike," Inspector Warren of Northamptonshire Police added of the officer's actions, according to SWNS.  "Tackling drug harm is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police and I hope this case demonstrates how quickly we act on community intelligence in order to make our town a nicer place to live."

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have same endgame: 'destroy' Israel, expert says

JERUSALEM - Ever since Hamas terrorists carried out a brutal massacre in southern Israel on Oct. 7, President Biden and his White House team have been pushing for a post-war configuration that involves the Palestinian Authority (PA) - the body that governs Palestinians in parts of the West Bank - extending its authority into the now war-ravaged enclave.  In responses as recently as last week, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against such an idea, pointing out that the PA - headed by Mahmoud Abbas and dominated by his political party Fatah - is no different from Hamas, a rival Palestinian faction with an extreme Jihadist ideology whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.  The differing opinions of the Palestinian body, considered to be the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, are stark and could ultimately put Jerusalem and Washington on a collision course when the time comes for implementing future options for Gaza, the West Bank and ultimately Israeli-Palestinian peace. MORE THAN A MILLION PALESTINIANS IN GAZA ARE NOW DISPLACED; WHY ARE ARAB COUNTRIES NOT OPENING THEIR DOORS? "The endgame of both the PA and Hamas is to destroy the State of Israel , and the only real difference between them is how to do this," Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told Fox News Digital.  While Hamas believes in armed resistance, the PA instead "manipulates the international community with the ideas and the slogans of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians," said Michael. "When you look closer at the PA's terminology, however, it refuses to accept that Israel will be a nation-state for the Jews, yet it demands that Palestine will be a state only for Palestinians."  Established in 1994 as part of the Oslo peace process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PA was meant to gradually take over responsibility for civil functions and security arrangements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as Israelis and Palestinians worked together to create two states alongside each other. However, the authority, which was first led by Yasser Arafat , seemed doomed from the start. Extremist factions such as Hamas refused to accept its goals and actively worked to undermine it. Later, as its popularity among Palestinians grew, Hamas relented and decided to run for parliamentary elections in 2006. Winning the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian parliament, sent shock waves through the Palestinian political establishment, and Abbas, who had replaced Arafat as president in 2004 following his death, refused to accept Hamas' victory. The tension sparked an ongoing feud between the PA and Hamas, with the latter violently seizing power in the Gaza Strip and declaring itself as the governing authority over the 2 million Palestinians living there. OUTRAGE OVER GERMAN CHANCELLOR'S SILENCE AS PALESTINIAN LEADER SAYS ISRAEL COMMITTED '50 HOLOCAUSTS' It was at this stage that the paths of the two Palestinian authorities began to diverge, particularly in the international arena. The PA became the accepted leaders of the Palestinian people and was welcomed in forums such as the United Nations, while Hamas was shunned and even boycotted by most Western governments.  Despite their contrasting reputations, however, Israel - and particularly Netanyahu - maintained that the two Palestinian groups still had one thing in common: an ideology that negates Israel's right to exist.  "The Palestinian Authority, like Hamas, is an enemy of Israel," Michael told Fox. "Not only does it support terrorism by  paying terrorists who murder Jews ; it also glorifies those terrorists by making them national heroes - less than a week after a Palestinian terrorist has been killed there's a roundabout, or a street, or a school named after him, and his story is added to the Palestinian educational curriculum."  "The Palestinian Authority's glorifying of terrorism is poisoning the hearts and the minds and the collective consciousness of Palestinian society," Michael said. A recent poll carried out by Birzeit University, a Palestinian college on the outskirts of Ramallah, found that some 80% of Palestinians in the West Bank - the area under PA control - supported Hamas' brutal attack against Israel on Oct. 7. An even greater number viewed the various Palestinian terrorist factions, including Hamas, very positively.  This point was sharpened last month by senior Palestinian Authority official Jibril Rajoub , who currently serves as secretary general of Fatah's Central Committee. He told journalists at an event in Kuwait that he believed Hamas' massacre was justified "in the context of the defensive war our people are waging." Rjoub, who also heads the Palestinian Soccer Association, explained that Hamas would always "be part of the Palestinian political and national fabric and part of the struggle," even though his own Fatah Party has refused to engage politically with Hamas for 17 years. He also said that a similar attack against Israelis could quite possibly emanate from the West Bank, the area that is under direct PA control.  'PAY FOR SLAY': PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY MAY HAVE TO COMPENSATE FAMILIES OF HAMAS TERRORISTS, REPORT SAYS Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian affairs analyst based in Jerusalem, said it was such statements that made Israelis feel the PA was not a true partner for peace and no different from Hamas.  "The anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement, as well as its diplomatic campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel in the international arena, is just one reason," Abu Toameh said. "There is also the PA's failure or even refusal to crack down on armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank, such as Hamas, and even the PA security forces' involvement in attacks against Israelis in the past." However, Ghaith Al-Omari, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Fox News Digital that there were fundamental differences between the two. "Hamas is an organization that is ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel using terror - as we saw on Oct. 7 - with the ultimate objective of establishing a theocratic government from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea," he said. "The PA seeks the establishment of a secular Palestinian state alongside Israel using diplomacy."  Al-Omari explained that "the failure of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, along with chronic corruption and poor governance have rendered the PA weak and discredited, which has contributed to Hamas' rise."  He echoed sentiments expressed recently by President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that for the PA to survive and even thrive following the war in Gaza, it needed to be revitalized and rehabilitated.  PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT, IN FRONT OF PUTIN, RULES OUT US AS MIDEAST PEACE MEDIATOR DURING SPEECH Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, agreed that there were broad differences between the PA and Hamas but added that, in essence, "the PA is a very, very, very problematic partner for Israel." "While Hamas' main goal is to eradicate Israel from the map, and they will never be ready to discuss mutual recognition with you, the PA is still willing to discuss a political settlement with Israel and quite a stable one," he said, adding, however, that the PA should in no way be viewed as a left-wing organization that supports peace and coexistence, just as the "least bad option compared to Hamas."  "The problem with this entity lies in its education system where young people are formally educated that Israel is the enemy," Milshtein said, giving the example of official PA schoolbooks that do not include maps of Israel.  "They only speak about Israel as a demonic entity, and this is a very negative phenomenon that must be changed," he added. "You cannot allow this kind of authority to educate the young generation of Palestinians for peace." David Makovsky, director of the Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said while he too recognized the problems, it was wrong to lump the PA and Hamas together.  "You need to drill down and ask what Israel's legitimate concerns about the PA are," he said. "Is the PA annoying? Yes. Have they condemned Oct. 7? No. In addition, the speeches of Abbas have sometimes been outrageous, but there needs to be some context in that Israel and the PA have worked very well together for nearly 30 years."  Makovsky pointed out that much of the cooperation, including in security, economic, and civil matters, happens behind the scenes, so no one on either side sees it happening. "There is also the difference that the PA is willing to negotiate for peace along the 1967 borders, while Hamas says its goal is the pre-1948 borders, which means no Israel at all," he said, adding that another difference is that hundreds of Israelis who mistakenly enter Palestinian territory each year are returned to Israel by the PA security forces, while Hamas is actively looking for Israelis to kidnap - as happened on Oct. 7 - in exchange for its security prisoners.  "I think if you asked Israel's security establishment, they would advocate for the PA, their view is that coordination with the PA is in Israel's interest, and they do remain a counterweight to Hamas," said Makovsky. "Israel could never work with Hamas but it can work with the PA," he claimed.

Squatter who won battle over dead woman's home sells it for huge profit

A man in the U.K., who took over a retiree's empty home in London and gained legal ownership of it under a "quirky" ancient Roman law, has sold the property for a profit, local media reports.  A British construction worker identified as Keith Best spotted an empty three-bedroom, semi-detached home in London's Newbury Park back in 1997 while working a construction job nearby, according to Express. Best began renovating the property and ultimately moved his family into the home in 2012.  The house, however, belonged to retiree Colin Curtis, who lived on the property with his mother until the late 1990s, when he moved out. Curtis inherited the property, but under what has been described as a "quirky" ancient Roman law that allows "someone in possession of a good without title to become the lawful proprietor if the original owner didn't show up after some time," Best became the home's legal owner, the Guardian previously reported. Best had filed an application for adverse possession about a decade ago in order to legally obtain the property. The Chief Land Registrar initially denied the application following a law that criminalized squatting, but the ruling was overturned by the High Court in 2014 when a judge ruled the Registrar's decision was "founded on an error of law," the Daily Mail reported.  SQUATTER DRESSED IN OWNER'S CLOTHES, RAIDED FRIDGE IN RITZY BEACH HOUSE: POLICE The judge ruled that previous laws approached squatting issues as civil matters, and despite the judge finding Curtis committed criminal trespass, he was granted ownership of the home. The judge found that at least 10 years had passed "without effective action by the owner" to take control of the property.  "This judgement recognises that making residential squatting a criminal offence was not intended to impact on the law of adverse possession, which is an old and quirky law," Best's attorney said back in 2014. "It is a quirky law that benefits the economy because unused and unclaimed land and property gets recycled back into use." SQUATTER DRESSED IN OWNER'S CLOTHES, RAIDED FRIDGE IN RITZY BEACH HOUSE: POLICE Curtis died in 2018 at age 80, the Daily Mail reported, and had filed a counter-claim against the judge's ruling. However, it was dismissed due to him not being listed as the executor of his mother's estate. His mom, Doris Curtis, died in the 1980s and had no will. Curtis said before his death that he was unaware he had to apply to become the administrator of his mother's estate.  After moving out of the property in 1996, he continued paying council taxes on the home, but rarely visited the house, the Daily Mail reported.  The home was in the Curtis family since World War II, and neighbors told the Daily Mail that Doris Curtis would be "turning in her grave" over Best legally taking over the property.  'SERIAL SQUATTER' FRESH OUT JAIL UP TO HER OLD TRICKS AS FORMER RESIDENTS PAY THE PRICE: OWNER "This house has a very troubled past because there is no way Best should have got his hands on it for free. A lot of people around here are still very angry that he was allowed to get away with it and that the law backed him," a neighbor told the Daily Mail  "Doris would have been turning in her grave. They were a very hardworking, east end family and her descendants should have benefited from this house. But the family who live there now are wonderful and it's nice to see it as a loving home once again. You can't blame them for what happened." The home was worth roughly £400,000 when Best took over the property. He sold the home to Atiq Hayat, 35, for £540,000 - the equivalent of roughly $682,000 - meaning he made a profit of roughly £140,000, or $177,000, the Daily Mail found.  SQUATTERS TURNING FLORIDA NEIGHBORHOOD INTO 'NIGHTMARE' AS COPS LEFT 'HANDCUFFED': REPORT "His name appeared on all the documents related to this house and everything was done properly, and we have nothing to worry about," Hayat told the outlet, explaining he never knew of the home's legal past until journalists contacted him for comment.  "I never met Mr. Best, but my sisters did twice, when they came to see the property. It was in a very good condition, and he seemed like a very genuine man. The sale was done in the proper legal way through solicitors, so we didn't have a lot to do with him," he added.  Hayat even balked at the home's legal history and asked, "How can you just take over an empty house and make it your own, isn't that theft?" "It doesn't make sense to me. How could the courts have just allowed him to become the legal owner?"

Warning for Biden admin as Europe swings to the right and unfettered migration threatens Western values

Firebrand politician Geert Wilders' surprising late November election victory in the Netherlands has prompted a political sea-change and could alter the European political landscape.   Wilders, the so-called Dutch Donald Trump, seeks to cobble together a coalition to govern the northern European country of nearly 18 million people. Fox News Digital spoke to a number of experts who note that the 60-year-old Wilders' election triumph has catapulted hot-button issues of unfettered mass migration, open borders, crime and terrorism into the larger U.S. and European conversations.  "It is very clear on both sides of the Atlantic, the issue of mass migration is a huge electoral issue. And I would say the political developments in Europe and the overwhelming rejection of open doors approach is a clear warning sign for Joe Biden ahead of the 2024 presidential election," Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told Fox News Digital. HARD-RIGHT FIREBRAND GEERT WILDERS WINS ELECTION IN NETHERLANDS: 'DUTCH DONALD TRUMP' Gardiner said while "the No. 1 issue for the U.S. election is inflation and the cost of living, immigration is high up there for the voters. The European election will make Biden very nervous." "As we saw with Geert Wilders' stunning election victory in the Netherlands, there is taking place right now a political earthquake across Western Europe," Gardiner noted. "Wilders' win is a real game changer. The election was overwhelmingly about mass migration into one of Europe's most important countries. "Wilders stands on a platform of opposing mass migration into the Netherlands, and at the same time he stands against the increasing Islamization of Europe. Voters are increasingly rejecting open borders, mass migration and the rise of Islamist ideology in their societies." Prior to Wilders' victory,  Fox News Digital reported some European politicians expressed shock and growing concern about the widespread presence of radical Islamists at anti-Israel rallies. In 2017, Wilders argued he wanted to  "de-Islamisize" the Netherlands . With the Islamist Hamas organization's massacre of 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans, Oct. 7 in Israel, attitudes in the Netherlands toward Wilders and his People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (PVV) ostensibly improved in dramatic terms. SWEDISH PM LOOKS TO MILITARY FOR HELP AMID GANG VIOLENCE SPIKE Writing in the conservative British Spectator magazine, Freddy Gray noted, "But on October 7, the day Hamas struck, his ... party was polling at 12 percent. Throughout the month of October, that support more than doubled."

"What changed? Well, vast pro-Palestine protests took place in Holland. On October 14, 20,000 people marched in Amsterdam. The biggest news story in Holland in the past month, as in Britain, was the sheer numbers of people willing to take to the streets to wave flags in solidarity with Palestine and berate their government for its unwillingness to condemn Israeli aggression." Gardiner's analysis mirrored Gray's points by noting, "The horrific horrible evil massacre in Israel hit very hard in Europe. The barbaric terrorist attack in Israel could take place on European soil if European governments do not act. There is growing awareness of this in Europe. "If Israel does not defeat Hamas, Hamas will repeat what it did in Israel all over Europe. Not only does Hamas hate Israel, but it also hates Western civilization. ... Wilders' victory is the shape of things to come in Europe." There have been some significant telltale signs that parts of Europe are shifting to a more conservative political culture. Italian right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni shocked many with her election win last year. Meloni has called on the European Union to establish a naval blockade in the Mediterranean Sea to stop the influx of migrants. She warned that the  "future of Europe" is at stake.  After eight years of a socialist government in Sweden and amid reports of rising crime and failed integration among Muslim immigrants, Swedish voters opted for a shift to a  right-wing coalition government . Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson secured the parliamentary backing of the anti-immigration party, Sweden Democrats, to form the coalition. " Unfettered immigration , particularly from Muslim countries, but from non-Western states more broadly, is viewed by an ever-increasing proportion of voters as the cause of the deterioration of their societies," said American-Israeli commentator Caroline Glick, a former assistant foreign adviser to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  "Immigrants carry out the vast majority of violent crimes. They are well on their way to bankrupting welfare agencies and are seen increasingly as destroying public education for children of native European families." She added that the political movement to the conservative right in Europe "is informed by a sense that governments of the left who are largely animated by a post-nationalist worldview have proven incapable of providing for the basic needs of their societies, first and foremost personal security, but also including adequate education and economic opportunity." Both Gardiner and Glick noted that the largely Muslim mass protests against the Jewish state, which have blanketed many European capitals from London to Paris to Berlin, are stoking antisemitism.  "This has led to rising antisemitism in Europe and created a culture of fear. It further underscores the failure of multiculturalism that was also pushed in the Netherlands," Gardiner said. ANTISEMITISM EXPOSED "Hamas's invasion of Israel and its mass slaughter of Israeli Jews emboldened Muslim communities in Europe, the U.S. and throughout the Western world to riot and terrorize and threaten the ways of life of their host societies," Glick said. "The decision by Hamas supporters in England to stage a massive demonstration on Remembrance Day and similar efforts in Europe and the U.S. to prevent public Christmas tree lighting celebrations by Hamas supporters are testaments to their sense of empowerment on the heels of the invasion and slaughter that Hamas jihadists carried out in Israel." The recent murder of a German tourist in Paris prompted French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to declare France was "durably  under threat from Islamist terrorism." A 26-year-old French man, Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, who was born to Iranian parents, was accused of stabbing the tourist and injuring two other people. Rajabpour-Miyandoab pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and said he was motivated to murder by the war in Gaza. SUSPECT IN ATTACK THAT KILLED TOURIST IN PARIS REPORTEDLY SHOUTED 'ALLAHU AKBAR' "Everything is done to ensure that the conflict between Hamas and Israel does not weigh on communities in France ," Marc Eichinger, a former French intelligence agent, told Fox News Digital. "But it's clear that the small French Jewish community is moving closer to the hard right. They have no illusions, no magic formula. The French have been shocked by the reaction of certain leaders on the left who, as we can also see with Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., are clearly antisemitic." The former head of the British Labour Party, Corbyn has been engulfed in antisemitism scandals and termed members of the Islamist terrorist movements of Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends." Last month,   Jean-Luc Mélenchon , head of the far-left French party   France Unbowed (LFI), refused to join a large  mainstream march against antisemitism and support for French "Republican" values. The anti-immigrant far-right party National Rally, and its three-time presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, was also there to join the protest against the world's oldest hatred. Just days after the Oct. 7 massacre, Le Pen said, "The very worst is happening. We see pogroms on Israeli soil inflicted by a terrorist group with an indescribable bestiality. ... Israel must be allowed to eradicate Hamas."  According to polls in 2023, Le Pen's  popularity and credibility as a problem-solver are growing among French voters.  France's neighbor, Germany, has experienced ubiquitous pro-Hamas demonstrations across the country. Social Democratic Party Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has pledged to crack down on the 450  active Hamas operatives and other Palestinian security threats in the country. In a statement to Fox News Digital, Michael Wolffsohn, a German-Jewish historian and commentator on modern antisemitism and Islamism, is wary of Europe's recent shift to the right.  "The deplorable right-wing trend in Europe is, if at all, very indirectly related to 10/7," Wolffsohn said. "The concerns and fears of many Europeans about Islam and Islamism are not the real reason for the rise of the New Right, because the AfD [Alternative for Germany party ], for example, is currently courting both Iran and the Turkish Gray Wolves. " The Turkish Gray Wolves is a fascist Turkish international movement banned by France in 2020.  While the AfD purports to oppose Islamism, a group of its MPs courted the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a 2022 article in the German paper Die Welt. The U.S. State Department has classified Iran's regime as the world's worst state-sponsor of terrorism. The vice chairwoman of the AfD faction in the German parliament, Beatrix von Storch, told the Welt, "The Islamic terror state Iran stands for everything that we are fighting."  She claimed that is the "consensus in the AfD." Emily Robertson contributed to this report.

11 dead in clash between criminal gang and villagers in central Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Eleven people were killed in a clash Friday between gunmen from a criminal gang and residents of a small farming community in central Mexico , authorities said. Dramatic video of the fight posted on social media showed villagers in cowboy hats with scythes and hunting rifles chasing down suspected gang members amid bursts of automatic gunfire. O DETAINS 2 IRANIANS BEING MONITORED BY FBI Police in the State of Mexico, which abuts Mexico City , said the clash occurred in the hamlet of Texcaltitlan, aommunity is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of the capital. State police said eight of the dead were members of the criminal gang, while three were village residents. Police did not identify the gang, but the violent Familia Michoacana drug cartel has been dominant in that area for a decade. Local media said Familia Michoacana gunmen had shown up in the village earlier demanding local farmers pay a per-acre (hectare) extorsion fee. Authorities did not immediately comment on that. Drug cartels in Mexico have been known to extort money from almost any licit or illicit business that they can, sometimes attacking or burning ranches, farms or stores that refuse to pay. The Familia Michoacana is known for its brazen ambushes of police as well as the the 2022 massacre of 20 townspeople in the town of Totolapan in neighboring Guerrero state. The attack killed the town's mayor, his father and 18 other men.

France convicts 6 teens in connection with teacher's Islamist beheading

A French juvenile court on Friday convicted six teenagers for their roles in the beheading of a teacher by an Islamic extremist that shocked the country. Teacher Samuel Paty was killed outside his school in 2020 after showing his class cartoons of the prophet of Islam during a debate on free expression. The attacker, a young Chechen who had been radicalized, was killed by police. The court found five of the defendants, who were 14 and 15 at the time of the attack, guilty of staking out the teacher and identifying him for the attacker. Another defendant, 13 at the time, was found guilty of lying about the classroom debate in a comment that aggravated online anger against the teacher. EUROPE FACING 'HUGE RISK OF TERROR ATTACKS' DURING CHRISTMAS SEASON, EU WARNS The teenagers - all students at Paty's school - testified that they didn't know the teacher would be killed . All were handed brief or suspended prison terms, and required to stay in school or jobs during the duration of their suspended terms with regular medical checkups. They left the courtroom without speaking. Some had their heads down as they listened to the verdicts. One appeared to wipe tears. Paty's name was disclosed on social media after a class debate on free expression during which he showed prophet caricatures published by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The publication had triggered a deadly extremist massacre in the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in 2015. Paty, a history and geography teacher, was killed on Oct. 16, 2020, near his school in a Paris suburb by attacker Abdoullakh Anzorov. The five who identified Paty to the attacker were convicted of involvement in a group preparing aggravated violence. SUSPECT IN ATTACK THAT KILLED TOURIST IN PARIS REPORTEDLY SHOUTED 'ALLAHU AKBAR' The sixth defendant wrongly claimed that Paty had asked Muslim students to raise their hands and leave the classroom before he showed the class the prophet cartoons. She was not in the classroom that day, and later told investigators she had lied. She was convicted of making false allegations. Her father shared the lie in an online video that called for mobilization against the teacher. He and a radical Islamic activist who helped disseminate virulent messages against Paty are among eight adults who will face a separate trial for adults suspected of involvement in the killing, expected late next year. The trial was held behind closed doors, and the media are not allowed to disclose the defendants' identities according to French law regarding minors. The proceedings come weeks after a teacher was fatally stabbed and three other people injured in northern France in October in a school attack by a former student suspected of Islamic radicalization. That killing occurred in a context of global tensions over the Israel-Hamas war and led French authorities to deploy 7,000 additional soldiers across the country to bolster security and vigilance.

Taiwan reports Chinese spy balloon sighting as election nears

Taiwan's Defense Ministry says it spotted a Chinese surveillance balloon in the n Strait along with a large-scale movement of military aircraft and ships. The ministry said the balloon passed southwest of the northern port city of Keelung on Thursday night, then continued east before disappearing, possibly into the Pacific Ocean. There seemed to be some uncertainty about whether the balloon was operated by the People's Liberation Army, the military branch of China's ruling Communist Party. The ministry referred to it both as a "PLA surveillance balloon" and as "PRC's balloon," using the acronym for the People's Republic of China, China's official name. AS TAIWAN PREPARES FOR 2024 ELECTION, FEAR OF CHINESE INTERFERENCE INCREASES A Defense Ministry spokesperson said they had no additional information. The incident came just over a month before Taiwan is to hold elections for president and the legislature and raises questions about possible Chinese efforts to influence the vote. China's Defense Ministry offered no comment, and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, "I'm not aware of the situation, and it is not a diplomatic question." China has long blurred the lines between military and civilian functions, including in the South China Sea, where it operates a huge maritime militia - ostensibly civilian fishing boats that act under government orders to assert Beijing's territorial claims. Taiwan has threatened to shoot down such balloons, but the ministry did not say what, if any, action was taken. It said the balloon was flying at an altitude of approximately 21,000 feet. It also said 26 Chinese military aircraft and 10 navy ships were detected in the 24 hours before 6 a.m. Friday. Fifteen of the aircraft crossed the median line that is an unofficial divider between the sides, but which Beijing refuses to recognize, it said. Some also entered Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone outside the island's airspace, which encompasses the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. Taiwan's military monitored the situation with combat aircraft, navy vessels and land-based missile systems, the ministry said. Such incursions occur regularly as a means of advertising China's threat to use force to annex the self-governing island republic it considers its own territory, wear down Taiwan's military capabilities, and impact morale among the armed forces and the public, who remain largely ambivalent to China's actions. VIEWS ON CHINA AS 'ENEMY' OF THE US GROW, MANY SUPPORT MILITARY BUILDUP TO DETER TAIWAN INVASION: SURVEY The Chinese missions have also prompted Taiwan to increase its purchases of aircraft from the United States, its chief ally, and strengthen its own defense industry, including producing submarines. Beijing strongly protests all official contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan, but Taipei's aggressive diplomacy has helped build strong bipartisan support for it on Capitol Hill. U.S. President Joe Biden vowed sharper rules to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects after a three-week high-stakes drama sparked by the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting much of the United States early in the year. The U.S. labeled the balloon a military craft and shot it down with a missile. It recovered what it said was sophisticated surveillance equipment. China responded angrily, saying it was only a weather balloon that had blown off course and called its downing a major overreaction.

Ukraine's human rights envoy calls for a faster way to bring back children deported by Russia

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's human rights ombudsman voiced hope Friday that a coalition of countries formed to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia will be able to come up with a faster mechanism to repatriate them. Over 19,000 children are still believed to be in Russia or in occupied regions of Ukraine. Dmytro Lubinets spoke to reporters following the first meeting of the National Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children, which was formed based on a recommendation by Canada, in Kyiv. BULGARIA APPROVES MORE MILITARY AID FOR UKRAINE He said Russia continues to deport Ukrainian children to the territories it controls, citing information his office has received. This effort earlier this year prompted the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his envoy for children's rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. Judges at the ICC said they found "reasonable grounds to believe" the two were responsible for war crimes, including the illegal deportation and transfer of children from occupied Ukrainian regions to Russia - something an Associated Press investigation detailed earlier this year. Russia has dismissed the warrants as null and void, arguing that it doesn't recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, but Ukraine welcomed them as a major breakthrough. Lubinets said Friday that Kyiv wants "the arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court to not stop." "Not only these two persons participated in the deportation of Ukrainian children. According to our data, this is a fairly large number of representatives of the Russian Federation who have done this and are still doing it," he said. Lubinets acknowledged that Russia has been more willing to return children after the warrants. But challenges remain vast. So far, Russia only returns children whose location and identities have been verified by Ukrainian officials, a difficult task especially for Ukrainians orphans. He also raised the alarm that children were now being deported via Belarus, saying that his office was "finding more and more facts" of that, and expressed concern that young Ukrainian boys in Russia were being primed for the Russian military, with data about them being collected by military enlistment offices for future conscription into the army. Lubinets said the first meeting of the coalition had "highly positive results," but urged it to "find concrete mechanisms to return Ukrainian children." This means finding a mechanism to identify Ukrainian children held by Russia, the process of return, and financial support and assistance when they are back on Ukrainian soil, he said. Returns are possible only after "we show documents, have official Ukrainian guardians and we know where the child is in Russia," said Lubinets. "After that some progress goes on and we talk substance." "We have a big number of children now in process of discussion and return. I hope in the nearest future we will see positive results," he said, not elaborating on the number of children.

Mexico detains 2 Iranians being monitored by FBI

Mexico's immigration agency said Friday its agents have detained two Iranians who they say were under observation by the FBI. 5 BODIES FOUND STUFFED INSIDE VEHICLE IN RURAL MEXICO The National Immigration Institute did not say what the supposed FBI investigation was about. The agency said a total of five Iranians were detained along with their Haitian driver, who was apparently acting as their guide on a highway between the Baja California border cities of Tijuana and Tecate on Wednesday. It said their car was stopped at a toll booth because agents suspected they were going to try to cross into the United States. The agency said two of the Iranians were "under observation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations." The FBI did not immediately confirm the information.

Palestinian President Abbas says US is the 'only power' capable of ordering Israel to end the war

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, on Friday told Reuters that he believes the U.S. "is the only power that is capable of ordering Israel to stop the war [...] but unfortunately it doesn't." Abbas, speaking in an interview, also said that "the United States, which fully supports Israel, bears the responsibility of what is happening in the enclave." He called for an international peace conference to find a solution to end the Israel-Hamas war. WHITE HOUSE INTERNS REBEL AGAINST BIDEN WITH PRO-PALESTINIAN LETTER DEMANDING CEASE-FIRE "I am with peaceful resistance. I am for negotiations based on an international peace conference and under international auspices that would lead to a solution that will be protected by world powers to establish a sovereign Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem," Abbas told Reuters. A temporary cease-fire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas went into effect in late November but lasted for only a week before fighting resumed in the Gaza Strip.  On Tuesday, President Biden blamed Hamas for breaking the agreement with Israel, telling donors the terrorist group's "refusal to release the remaining young women is what broke this deal."  CAIR DIRECTOR SAYS HE WAS 'HAPPY' TO WITNESS OCT. 7 ATTACKS, ISRAEL 'DOES NOT HAVE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE' "The United States tells us that it supports a two-state solution, that Israel is not allowed to occupy Gaza, to keep security control of Gaza or to expropriate land from Gaza," he also said, referencing an Israeli plan to have a temporary presence in Gaza after the war ends, according to Reuters.  He added, "America doesn't force Israel to implement what it says." Fox News Digital's Greg Norman contributed to this report.

Prosecutors in Guatemala ask court to lift president-elect's immunity; OAS cites 'coup attempt'

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - Prosecutors in Guatemala on Friday asked a court to strip President-elect Bernardo Arévalo of his immunity, saying there could be enough irregularities to annul the election results, a move that the OAS called part of "a coup attempt." It was the third time they have done so since he won election in August, and the Organization of American States said the moves were part of "a coup attempt." MALA'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TAKES DRASTIC TURN AS UNEXPECTED WINNER IS CERTIFIED, PROMPTING LEGAL FIGHTS Arévalo is scheduled to take office on Jan. 14, and it was unclear whether the prosecutors' continued targeting of him and his party could interfere with the inauguration. The most recent request from prosecutors cites alleged irregularities in the way Arévalo's Seed Movement party gathered signatures to register years earlier. Authorities arrested a number of Seed Movement members in recent weeks. They also previously requested stripping Arévalo of immunity over alleged mishandling of party funds, and requested that he and his vice president-elect also lose their immunity for allegedly making supportive comments on social media about the takeover of a public university last year. The OAS in a statement said it "condemns the coup attempt by Guatemalan prosecutors," and urged the courts and congress not to allow it. "The attempt to nullify this year's general elections represents the worst form of breaking with democracy and consolidating a political fraud against the will of the people," the OAS wrote. Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. government, has faced months of protests and calls for her resignation, as well as international condemnation for her office's interference. Porras, as well as outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, have denied any intent to meddle in the election results. Earlier this month, three magistrates of Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal left the country, hours after the Congress opened them up to prosecution by stripping them of their immunity as the losing side in the presidential election continued its efforts to interfere with the results. The magistrates certified the election result but came under pressure from two attorneys tied to a far-right candidate who did not advance to the runoff round of the presidential election. The attorneys complained that the tribunal overpaid for software purchased to carry out and publish rapid initial vote tallies. The Attorney General's Office had previously said that its preliminary investigation suggested there had been less expensive options available. Arévalo had not been polling among the top candidates headed into the first round of voting in June, but secured the second spot in the runoff with his promise to crack down on Guatemala's endemic corruption. In the final vote in August, he won by a wide margin over former first lady Sandra Torres. The son of a former president, Arévalo still managed to position himself as an outsider. As an academic who had worked for years in conflict resolution, he was untainted by the corruption that has pervaded Guatemalan politics in recent years and offered a promise of change. Guatemala's establishment, which would potentially have the most to fear from an Arévalo administration serious about taking on corruption, appears clearly bent on either weakening Arévalo or preventing from taking office. In testimony to the special committee investigating the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Karen Fisher, one of the attorneys who brought the complaint, urged them to move quickly. "Time is short because Jan. 14 is coming up," she said.

Bulgaria approves more military aid for Ukraine

Bulgaria's parliament on Friday approved the provision of additional military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia . A majority of 147 lawmakers in the 240-seat chamber voted in favor of supplying Ukraine with portable anti-aircraft missile systems and surface-to-air missiles of various types intended to bolster Ukraine's air defense capabilities, the state-run BTA news agency reported. Military experts said the missiles, which are either defective or redundant, cannot be repaired in Bulgaria, but Ukraine has the needed facilities to fix them or use them for spare parts. CHIP ROY: NO UKRAINE AID UNTIL BORDER IS SECURE Some 55 lawmakers from pro-Russian groups in parliament voted against sending the aid, underscoring the divisions in the Balkan country over helping Ukraine counter Russia's invasion. Bulgaria, once a member of the now-defunct Warsaw pact, joined NATO in 2004, but still maintains stocks of Soviet-designed weapons. In addition, parliament on Friday approved the use of Bulgarian airspace for training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots and allowed up to four rotating infantry or mechanized Ukrainian army units of up to 160 people per year to transit or stay in Bulgaria for training. In a separate vote, lawmakers on Friday overrode a veto by the country's pro-Russian president on providing Ukraine with 100 Soviet-era armored personnel carriers and available armament, as well as spare parts, to help the war-torn country boost its defensive capabilities. UK'S DAVID CAMERON: 'NONSENSE' THAT UKRAINE IS FAILING, SAYS AID BOOSTS US JOBS President Rumen Radev has repeatedly opposed Bulgaria's military aid for Ukraine, claiming that sending Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine would diminish Bulgaria's own defense capability and "would risk involving Bulgaria in the war." Bulgarian lawmakers have in the past voted in favor of aiding Ukraine's military several times. In September, they approved supplying Ukraine with defective surface-to-air missiles for the Russian-made S-300 air defense system and small-caliber automatic weapon ammunition discarded by the Interior Ministry. The votes have marked a turnaround in Bulgaria's policy on sending military equipment to Kyiv following the appointment of a new, pro-Western government .

Indonesia suspects human traffickers involved in recent Rohingya refugee spike

Indonesia's government blames a surge in human trafficking for the increasing number of Rohingya Muslims that have entered the country over the past few weeks, the Indonesian president said Friday. President Joko Widodo said in a televised news conference that he received "reports about the increasing number of Rohingya refugees entering Indonesian territory, especially Aceh Province." "There are strong suspicions that there is involvement of a criminal human trafficking network in this flow of refugees," he said, adding that the "government will take firm action against perpetrators of human trafficking." 2 BOATS CARRYING ROHINGYA REFUGEES REPORTEDLY ADRIFT ON ANDAMAN SEA Police said they arrested three Aceh residents for human trafficking on Friday. They are suspected of helping 30 Rohingya refugees leave their camp in the city of Lhokseumawe. The suspects were given 1.8 million rupiah ($115) to smuggle the refugees from the camp to the city of Medan in North Sumatra province, said Henki Ismanto, the Lhokseumawe police chief. Since August 2017, about 740,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Burma to camps in Bangladesh, following a brutal counterinsurgency campaign. Burmese security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of Rohingya homes, and international courts are considering whether their actions constituted genocide. Most of the refugees leaving by sea attempt to reach Muslim-dominated Malaysia, hoping to find work there. Thailand turns them away or detains them. Indonesia, another Muslim-dominated country where many end up, also puts them in detention. Since November, more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived by boat in Indonesia's northernmost province of Aceh. The latest arrivals, a group of 139 refugees, including women and children, landed on Sunday, followed by protest from local residents who demanded they be relocated. Aceh residents have twice blocked the landing of hundreds of Rohingya refugees on the shores of their province. OVER 100 ROHINGYA REFUGEES LAND ON INDONESIAN BEACH, 2ND TIME THIS WEEK Widodo said his government would provide temporary assistance for the Rohingya refugees while still prioritizing the interests of local residents, and work together with international organizations to solve the problem of the Rohingya refugees in the country. The aid group Save the Children said in a Nov. 22 report that 465 Rohingya children had arrived in Indonesia by boat the week before that. The organization also said the number of refugees taking to the seas had increased by more than 80%. Save the Children said more than 3,570 Rohingya Muslims had left Bangladesh and Burma this year, up from nearly 2,000 in the same period in 2022. Of those who left this year, 225 are known to have died or gone missing, with many others unaccounted for. An estimated 400 Rohingya Muslims are believed to be aboard two boats adrift in the Andaman Sea without adequate supplies could die if more is not done to rescue them, according to the U.N. refugee agency and aid workers.

Dominica arrests 2 in killings of Canadian animator, wife

Authorities in Dominica are investigating the killings of a wealthy Canadian businessman and his partner who owned an eco-resort in the eastern Caribbean island. Two men have been arrested and charged in the slaying of Daniel Langlois and Dominique Marchand, officials announced at a press conference Thursday. A third person was arrested but not charged, police spokesman Jeoffrey James said, adding that the investigation is ongoing. EX-DEA INFORMANT PLEADS GUILTY IN HAITIAN PRESIDENT'S 2021 ASSASSINATION "The work of the team has not ceased," he said. "We are devoted to having justice served in this matter." Authorities in Dominica said they have requested independent investigators to help with the probe and the DNA and forensic analysis of evidence gathered and have been in touch with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police . Police in Canada said they're aware of the investigation in Dominica and that it works closely with its international partners. However, they said in a statement that they do not comment on specific criminal investigations in foreign jurisdictions. The two men charged in the case appeared in court Wednesday but were not required to enter a plea, said Sherma Dalrymple, Dominica's director of public prosecutions. They remain in jail and will appear in court in March, she said. The victims' bodies were found last week in a car that had caught fire, according to police, who have not identified a motive. Local media, citing court documents, said one of the men charged had been involved in a years-long dispute over use of a road leading to the couple's eco-resort.

Slovak president intent on blocking parliament's plan to dismantle top prosecutor's office

Slovakia's president said Friday she would seek to block the new government's plan to return the prosecution of major crimes from a national office to regional ones, using either a veto or a constitutional challenge. But the governing coalition could likely override any veto. The government of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico plans to change the penal code to abolish the special prosecutors office that handles serious crimes such as graft and organized crime by mid-January, and return those prosecutions to regional offices, which have not dealt with such crimes for 20 years. President Zuzana Čaputová said in a televised address Friday that she thinks the planned changes go against the rule of law, and noted that the European Commission also has expressed concerns that the measure is being rushed through. SLOVAK PM LOOKS TO CURB MIGRATION BY DEPLOYING FORCES TO HUNGARIAN BORDER The legislation approved by Fico's government on Wednesday needs parliamentary and presidential approval. The three-party coalition has a majority in Parliament. President Čaputová could veto the change, but that likely would at most delay the legislation because the coalition can override her veto by a simple majority. It's unclear how any constitutional challenge to the legislation would fare. Fico returned to power for the fourth time after his scandal-tainted leftist party won Slovakia's Sept. 30 parliamentary election on a pro-Russian and anti-American platform. His critics worry that his return could lead Slovakia to abandon its pro-Western course and instead follow the direction of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. SLOVAKIA MOVES TOWARD CONSTRUCTION OF CHINESE-OWNED CAR BATTERY PLANT Since Fico's government came to power, some elite investigators and police officials who deal with top corruption cases have been dismissed or furloughed. The planned changes in the legal system also include a reduction in punishments for some kinds of corruption. Under the previous government, which came to power in 2020 after campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket, dozens of senior officials, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businesspeople linked to Fico's party have been charged and convicted of corruption and other crimes. Several other cases have not been completed yet, and it remains unclear what will happen to them under the new legislation. The opposition has planned to hold a protest rally in the capital on Tuesday.

US sanctions people around the world over human rights abuses, including Afghanistan, China, Iran

The United States Treasury Department announced sanctions on people around the world, including officials in Afghanistan, China and Iran, who have committed or contributed to human rights abuses. In a statement, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it had imposed sanctions on 20 people in nine countries, including two Iranian spies, members of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government, and Chinese security officials. "Our commitment to upholding and defending human rights is sacrosanct," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. "Abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms - wherever they occur in the world - strike at the heart of our shared humanity and our collective conscience." She added: "Treasury's targeted sanctions announced today and over the past year underscore the seriousness of our commitment to promoting accountability for human rights abuse and safeguarding the U.S. financial system from those who commit these egregious acts." TREASURY ANNOUNCES COUNTER-FENTANYL STRIKE FORCE, LED BY ANTI-TERRORISM OFFICE, TO FIGHT SPREAD OF DEADLY DRUG Friday's announcement came ahead of Human Rights Day on Sunday, the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Treasury sanctioned two members of the Taliban - Fariduddin Mahmood and Khalid Hanafi - over their links to the repression of women and girls in Afghanistan. "Since August 2021, the Taliban has implemented expansive policies of targeted discrimination against women and girls that impede their enjoyment of a wide range of rights, including those related to education, employment, peaceful assembly, and movement, among others," OFAC said. GOP LAWMAKER PRESSES TREASURY ON DONATION CASHFLOW BETWEEN PRO-PALESTINIAN CHARITIES AND HAMAS Mahmood was identified as a member of the Taliban's "cabinet" that made decisions to close education centers for women and girls. Hanafi, Taliban's "Minister" for the so-called "Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," has "engaged in serious human rights abuse, including killings, abductions, whippings, and beatings." The Treasury sanctioned two Chinese officials, Gao Qi and Hu Lianhe, over their links to serious human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz - members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. OFAR also sanctioned two Iranian intelligence officials - Majid Dastjani Farahani and Mohammad Mahdi Khanpour Ardestani - who Washington said recruited people to conduct operations in the U.S., including the lethal targeting of current and former U.S. government officials. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP   The sanctioned individuals also included: two Central African Republic nationals; three individuals from Congo; four criminal gang leaders in Haiti; Liberian mayor Jefferson Koijee; two county commissioners and a governor in South Sudan; and the Commissioner General of Uganda prisons. The Treasury said that over the last year it has imposed sanctions on more than 150 individuals relating to human rights violations. Reuters contributed to this report.

Venezuela accuses US of 'provocation' with flight drills amid tensions over oil-rich neighbor

The U.S. held military exercises with the South American country of Guyana after Venezuela voted to take over an oil-rich part of its neighbor.  "In collaboration with the Guyana Defense Force, the US Southern Command will conduct flight operations within Guyana on December 7," the American embassy in Guyana wrote in a statement. "This exercise builds upon routine engagement and operations to enhance security partnership between the United States and Guyana, and to strengthen regional cooperation," the statement continued. "In addition to this exercise, USSOUTHCOM will continue its collaboration with the GDF in the areas of disaster preparedness, aerial and maritime security, and countering transnational criminal organizations." "The U.S. will continue its commitment as Guyana's trusted security partner and promoting regional cooperation and interoperability," the statement concluded.  TOP-RANKING MILITARY OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN 9-FIGURE PARAGUAY ARMS TRAFFICKING BUST Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on Thursday declared the drills a "provocation" that proves "another step in the wrong direction."  "We warn that we will not be diverted from our future actions for the recovery of the Essequibo," he wrote on X. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held a referendum vote last week to determine if his country would try to lay claim to the Essequibo region, part of Guyana with rich oil reserves.  ARGENTINA'S MILEI EXTENDS PUBLIC INVITATION TO MUSK: 'WE NEED TO TALK, ELON' The ruling party declared victory and participation of roughly 10.5 million voters - around half of all eligible voters - which many have rejected after reports of empty voting centers across the country.  The ruling party has not yet revealed what actions it might take to enforce its claim, but Venezuela and Guyana agreed on Wednesday to continue discussing the issue to avoid an escalation, France 24 reported.  Venezuela's top diplomat Yvan Gil spoke with his Guyanese counterpart Hugh Todd about the "territorial dispute," and both parties agreed to "keep the communication channels open." SOUTH AMERICAN OFFICIAL FIRED AFTER SIGNING AGREEMENT WITH COUNTRY MADE UP BY INDIAN 'HOLY' CONMAN: REPORT A Guyanese military helicopter went missing on Thursday amid the heightened tensions, German news outlet DW reported. Seven people were aboard the helicopter, which was traveling along the border with Venezuela before its disappearance.  Authorities have so far attributed the disappearance to bad weather, but that has not prevented tensions in the region from increasing. Brazil reinforced its military presence in the border cities of Pacaraima and Boa Vista to "guarantee the inviolability of the territory."  The U.S. has stressed that it favors a "peaceful resolution" to the dispute, urging both countries to respect the 1899 demarcation "unless or until the parties come to a new agreement or a competent legal body decides otherwise."  "This is not something that will be settled by a referendum," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters this week.  Miller added that the U.S. is still seeking commitments from Venezuela to uphold its part in an agreement that would provide some much-needed sanctions relief for the country.  "They have not carried out their part of the agreement," Miller said. "We urge them to do so, but at the same time, we are considering the matter and will suspend some of the sanctions relief that we put in place earlier this year if we determine that adequate progress to the commitments they made to us have not been made."  The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet in a closed-door session Friday afternoon to discuss the growing tensions. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Japanese residents cautioned after thousands of dead sardines wash ashore beach

Thousands of tons of dead sardines have washed up on a beach in northern Japan for unknown reasons, officials said Friday. The sardines and some mackerel washed ashore in Hakodate on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Thursday morning, creating a sliver blanket along a stretch of beach about a 0.6 mile long. Local residents said they have never seen anything like it. Some gathered the fish to sell or eat. TEXAS GULF COAST BEACH COVERED AS THOUSANDS OF DEAD MENHADEN FISH WASH ASHORE

The town, in a notice posted on its website, urged residents not to consume the fish. Takashi Fujioka, a Hakodate Fisheries Research Institute researcher, said he has heard of similar phenomena before, but it was his first time to see it. He said the fish may have been chased by larger fish, become exhausted due to a lack of oxygen while moving in a densely packed school, and were washed up by the waves. The fish also may have suddenly entered cold waters during their migration, he said. RARE FISH THAT LIVES THOUSANDS OF FEET UNDER THE OCEAN WASHES ASHORE IN CALIFORNIA STATE PARK The decomposing fish could lower oxygen levels in the water and affect the marine environment , he said. "We don't know for sure under what circumstances these fish were washed up, so I do not recommend" eating them, Fujioka said.

US embassy in Baghdad struck by mortar fire in early morning attack

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad was attacked by mortar fire on Friday morning that caused minor material damage but no casualties, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Explosions were heard near the embassy in the capital city of Iraq at approximately 4:15 a.m. on Friday. An embassy spokesperson then confirmed the U.S. Embassy was attacked, adding: "Assessments are ongoing, but there are no reported casualties on the Embassy compound." The attack was confirmed by a U.S. military official who said the attack was launched at U.S. and Coalition forces in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government buildings and embassies. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed later that at least seven 60 mm mortar rounds landed in the U.S. Embassy compound while others fell into the river. U.S. and Iraqi officials initially said the projectiles were rockets.  CAIR DIRECTOR SAYS HE WAS 'HAPPY' TO WITNESS OCT. 7 ATTACKS, ISRAEL 'DOES NOT HAVE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE' Friday's mortars struck in the vicinity of the embassy complex and Union III that houses offices of the U.S.-led coalition, the official added, clarifying there were no casualties. The attack was believed to have been carried out by Iran-aligned militias in Iraq, an embassy spokesperson said. No group immediately claimed responsibility. UN SECRETARY-GENERAL INVOKES RARELY USED POWER TO DEMAND CEASE-FIRE IN GAZA "We again call on the Government of Iraq, as we have done on many occasions, to do all in its power to protect diplomatic and Coalition partner personnel and facilities," the official said. "We reiterate that we reserve the right to self-defense and to protect our personnel anywhere in the world." The attack is the first such attack on the U.S. Embassy since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, which has escalated tensions in the region. Various militia groups have attacked U.S. forces throughout Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began two months ago. Iran-backed militias in Iraq have claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks that targeted bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. The armed groups, operating under the banner of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, have linked more than 70 such attacks to Washington's backing of Israel in its devastating assault on Gaza. The U.S. military says a total of 78 attacks have been carried out against U.S. facilities over recent weeks of which 37 were in Iraq and 41 in Syria. In response to attacks against American troops, U.S. forces have retaliated with airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, hitting weapons depots and other facilities directly linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. has roughly 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq and around 900 others in eastern Syria, operating on various missions against the Islamic State group. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Distributed by