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Early Edition: June 19, 2024

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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news:

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

President Biden issued a proclamation yesterday for Juneteenth, marking the third national observance of the holiday. “Juneteenth is an acknowledgment of the truth of our Nation’s history,” Biden wrote, calling on “every American to celebrate Juneteenth and recommit to working together to eradicate systemic racism and inequity in our society wherever they find it.”

Boris Epshteyn, a key adviser to former president Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, pleaded not guilty yesterday to nine felony charges for alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona. Two other co-defendants in the case also appeared by video to plead not guilty to the same counts Epshteyn faces, including conspiracy, fraud, and forgery. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports for the Washington Post; Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.

The Colorado Springs nightclub shooter yesterday received 55 concurrent life sentences, in addition to a 190-year sentence with no possibility of parole. Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, killed five people and wounded 19 others during a rampage at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in 2022. Emily Wax-Thibodeaux reports for the Washington Post.

The House Ethics Committee yesterday supplied new details on its ongoing investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). In a statement, the bipartisan committee defended its long-running probe, saying it was “confident in the integrity of the process,” after Gaetz publicly criticized the committee for opening “new frivolous investigations.” Jordain Carney reports for POLITICO.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE 

The White House yesterday pushed back against claims by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington was “withholding” weaponry from Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said U.S. military assistance to Israel is “moving as it normally would,” aside from one delayed shipment of bombs. Netanyahu had earlier criticized the Biden administration in a video posted on X, directly addressing Blinken. Holly Honderich and Tom Bateman report for BBC News; Miles Herszenhorn reports for POLITICO.

The White House canceled a high-level U.S.-Israel meeting on Iran that was scheduled for tomorrow after Netanyahu released a video claiming Washington was withholding military aid, two U.S. officials said. Biden’s top advisers were reportedly “enraged” by the video. “This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts,” one U.S. official said. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.

The Biden administration has delayed moving forward with the sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, even after congressional leaders agreed to allow the deal to proceed, U.S. officials said. “We are looking tactically at the timing. It is not a question of whether. It is a question of when,” a State Department official said. The White House has declined to comment. Jared Malsin and Nancy A. Youssef report for the Wall Street Journal.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR

Israel’s use of heavy bombs raises “serious concerns” under the laws of war, the U.N. human rights office said today. In a new report, OHCHR provided details of “six emblematic attacks by the IDF in Gaza last year that led to high numbers of fatalities,” concluding that “the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war.” 

The war in Gaza has left 39 million tons of debris, exacerbating the already dire health crisis there, the U.N. said yesterday. In a report, the U.N. Environmental Program found that the rubble contained unexploded arms, asbestos, and other hazardous substances, as well as human remains. It also found that the war had disrupted “almost all” environmental management systems and services, wastewater treatment, and disposal facilities in the enclave. Ephrat Livni reports for the New York Times.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE 

A Paris court ruled yesterday that France’s decision to ban Israeli exhibitors from one of the world’s largest weapons shows was discriminatory and ordered the ban to be rescinded. Eurosatory, an exhibition for the defense and armaments industry held every two years, opened on Monday without Israeli representatives, complying with a government order to cancel their invitations over Israel’s campaign in Gaza. Aurelien Breeden reports for the New York Times.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Hungary yesterday lifted its veto on the outgoing Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte becoming the next NATO Secretary-General, after Rutte provided written guarantees that he would not force the country to take part in the military alliance’s new plans to support Ukraine. Lorne Cook reports for AP News

Cyril Ramaphosa is due to be sworn in for a second term as South Africa’s president after being re-elected. Bassillioh Rukanga reports for BBC News.

Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have been systematically changing the names of hundreds of Uyghur villages as part of a broader government effort to erase Uyghur culture, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The United States approved the $360 million sale of more than 1,000 small armed drones to Taiwan. The sale comes as Taiwan seeks to strengthen its asymmetric warfare capabilities amid increasing military pressure from China. Brad Lendon reports for CNN.

Sudan and the United Arab Emirates clashed at the U.N. Security Council yesterday over accusations by Sudan that the UAE is arming the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The UAE U.N. ambassador said the allegations were “ludicrous” and “designed to distract from “grave violations that are happening on the ground.” Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.

A Russian court yesterday convicted a U.S. soldier of stealing and threats of murder and sentenced him to nearly four years in prison, Russian news reports said. Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, flew to the city of Vladivostok to see his girlfriend and was arrested last month after she accused him of stealing from her. AP News reports.

A Russian university professor was sentenced yesterday by an Estonian court to over six years in prison for collecting defense intelligence for Moscow. The lead state prosecutor said the cooperation with Moscow had been happening “for a long time.” Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana reports for POLITICO.

ISRAEL-HEZBOLLAH TENSIONS

Israel yesterday warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah of the prospect of “all-out war” after the group published a video, allegedly taken by a drone, showing military and civilian locations in several Israeli cities. Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz wrote on X, “We are getting very close to the moment of deciding to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon.” CNN reports.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS

Defying Western sanctions, Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic pact today pledging to back each other in case of a military attack. Meanwhile, the State Department yesterday accused North Korea of “unlawfully transfer[ing] dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 containers of munitions to aid Russia’s war effort.” Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports for the Washington Post; Reuters reports.

HOUTHI DEVELOPMENTS

A Liberian-flagged, Greek owned-and-operated bulk carrier sank in the Red Sea days after an attack by Yemen’s Houthis believed to have killed one sailor on board, authorities said today. The Houthis, quoting foreign media outlets they control, acknowledged the sinking. Jon Gambrell reports for AP News.

TRUMP-LEGAL MATTERS

A New York court yesterday declined to hear an appeal from Trump to throw out his gag order in his criminal hush money case. The New York Court of Appeals wrote in a decision list published yesterday that Trump’s appeal was dismissed “upon the ground that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved.” Erin Doherty reports for Axios.

The post Early Edition: June 19, 2024 appeared first on Just Security.

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