Friday Briefing

The family of Gal Abdush, who was killed by Hamas. The photograph on the wall shows Gal and her husband, Nagi.Credit…Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times

‘Screams without words’

A two-month investigation by The Times, including interviews with more than 150 people, uncovered painful new details about the attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7, established a pattern of gender-based sexual violence and identified at least seven locations where Israeli women and girls appeared to have been sexually assaulted or mutilated.

Israeli officials say that, in every place where Hamas terrorists struck — a rave, military bases along the border and kibbutzim — they brutalized women. Witnesses described instances of rape and murder in graphic detail. And soldiers and volunteer medics recalled finding more than 30 defiled bodies of women and girls. Many of the accounts are difficult to hear, and the visual evidence is disturbing to see.

Hamas has denied Israel’s accusations of sexual violence. Israeli activists have been outraged that the U.N. Secretary General, António Guterres, and the agency U.N. Women did not acknowledge the many accusations until weeks after the attacks.

Investigation: Top police investigators in Israel have gathered evidence where possible, but they have not put a number on how many women were raped, saying that most are dead — and quickly buried, according to Jewish religious custom — and that they will never know. No survivors have spoken publicly.

Witness account: Raz Cohen, a security consultant, saw a young woman, naked and screaming, being dragged by five armed men. He described how she was raped and then killed. “I still remember her voice, screams without words.”

In other news:

  • In a rare admission of fault, the Israeli military acknowledged that it had carried out two airstrikes in central Gaza on Dec. 24, which health officials said killed dozens of civilians.

  • A report that Israel’s Supreme Court might strike down part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul has raised the specter of renewed discord in the country.

  • The U.S. imposed financial sanctions to try to stanch the flow of Iranian funds to the Houthi militia in Yemen, which has been sowing chaos in the Red Sea.

Ukrainian soldiers riding in a tank near the village of Robotyne, in the Zaporizhzhia region, in August.Credit…Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

Russia retakes land from Ukraine

Russia is making progress around the southern village of Robotyne, recapturing land that Ukrainian troops took at the peak of their summer counteroffensive in the south.

With their counteroffensive stalled, Ukrainian troops are now on the back foot in many places, and Kyiv is increasingly worried that its military will not have the resources to keep up the fight.

Scandal: A celebrity party in Moscow with the dress code “almost naked” has resulted in tearful apologies, revoked sponsorships, canceled performances and, for one rapper, a two-week jail sentence.

Soldiers in Burkina Faso standing at attention.Credit…Martin Demay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A crackdown on critics in Burkina Faso

The military junta in Burkina Faso, a West African nation struggling to defeat extremist groups, has been forcibly conscripting those who have criticized the leadership for its failure to defeat the insurgents, and for abuses against the populations it is meant to protect.

Violence has surged under the military government, according to diplomats, aid workers and analysts. Burkina Faso has become a focus of the crisis in the Sahel region, an enormous swath of land south of the Sahara that has been shaken by uprisings and coups.


Around the World

Credit…Jon Super/Associated Press
  • A powerful storm has left thousands of homes in Wales and England without power, delivering heavy rain and disrupting train journeys.

  • More than 40 people were killed in Liberia in the explosion of a gas tanker after they rushed to scoop up fuel from the overturned vehicle.

  • Lee Sun-kyun, the “Parasite” actor found dead this week, is just the latest celebrity to become entangled in South Korea’s crackdown on drugs.

  • Maine will keep Donald Trump off its Republican primary ballot, a week after Colorado’s top court disqualified the former president from appearing on the ballot there.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
  • Social compliance audits, a multibillion-dollar industry meant to check for abuses in corporate supply chains, have routinely failed to root out migrant child labor.

  • A study found that ChatGPT helped business consultants with creative tasks, but not with those that required evidence-based reasoning.

  • Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was found guilty of helping to kill her abusive mother in a murder that inspired multiple “true crime” retellings, was released from prison.

  • Nikki Haley, a leading Republican, avoided mentioning slavery as a cause of the American Civil War, threatening to dent her crossover appeal. She has since amended her comments.

What Else Is Happening

  • The International Chess Federation fined a 23-year-old chess player from the Netherlands for wearing “sports shoes.” (They were canvas Burberry sneakers.)

  • Apple resumed sales of its newest smartwatches after an appeals court temporarily reversed a ban on their import and sale in the U.S.

  • Wine by the pint? Thank Brexit.

A Morning Read

You may have forgotten — or wanted to forget — what happened on the internet in 2023. We’re here to refresh your memory.

Lives Lived

Bill Granger, an Australian chef who sold the world on avocado toast and the infinite potential of breakfast, died on Christmas Day at 54.


N.F.L.: Russell Wilson, the Broncos’ star quarterback, will be benched for the final two games of the season and is expected to be cut.

Sant Andreu: Barcelona’s cult soccer club.

The great drawing board in the sky: The soccer stadiums that never were.

How to fix tennis: We asked players, executives and other influential people in the sport.


A warning to our imaginations

The explosive growth of A.I. technologies, including text-to-image generators, is not a threat to our species’ culture, Jason Farago, a critic for The Times, writes. Instead, it is a warning: We cannot let our imaginations shrink to machine size, nor can we allow the worlds of art and entertainment to further resign themselves to recommendation engines and ratings structures.

“To make something count,” Jason writes, “you are going to have to do more than just rearrange precedent images and words, like any old robot. You are going to have to put your back into it, your back and maybe also your soul.” Read his column.


Credit…Craig Lee for The New York Times

Cook: Send off the year over a classic tiramisù.

Travel: Spend 36 hours in Hong Kong.

Resolve: Try our tips to eat better in 2024.

Listen: Check out these five new classical albums.

Manage: How much anxiety is too much?

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a fabulous weekend, and I’ll see you in 2024. — Natasha

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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