Top International News of 2023: Devastation in Gaza Fills Many People with Sadness

Following Ukraine, war has spread to the Middle East, exacerbating humanitarian crises. Many people must have been disheartened to see the devastation wrought upon the innocent civilians who have been killed.

The battle between the Israeli military and Islamist group Hamas, which effectively controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza, topped the list of this year’s top 10 international news events selected by Yomiuri Shimbun readers.

The fighting, which began with a surprise attack by Hamas against Israel, shows no sign of ending more than two and a half months after it began on Oct. 7.

The death toll from Israeli attacks has exceeded 20,000, of which 8,000 are said to be children. The death toll on the Israeli side has reached about 1,200.

Israel has cut the supply of water and food to Gaza and has also attacked hospitals. It must be said that doing so goes beyond the scope of “exercising the right of self-defense.” The international community should step up its calls on Israel to prevent a further increase of civilians being harmed.

There are reports every day of Palestinians frantically searching for survivors under rubble. In the face of the destruction of people’s everyday lives by military power, we cannot help but keenly feel the importance of peace.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, now in its second year, ranked fourth on the Yomiuri list. Concerns about this situation should not be lost in the shadow of the circumstances in Gaza.

The war in Ukraine has reached a standstill, and some observers have said that the United States and Europe are suffering from support fatigue. It is important for such parties as the United States, Europe and Japan to be united to support Ukraine and prevent Russia from succeeding in its aggression, which is a violation of international law.

Of concern are moves by Russia and North Korea to expand military cooperation (ranked 14th). North Korea is believed to have received technical cooperation for the launch of a military reconnaissance satellite (ranked 11th) in return for supplying Russia with ammunition and other supplies to support its aggression against Ukraine.

The Turkey-Syria earthquake, which killed more than 60,000 people, ranked second, the Morocco earthquake ranked 17th and the Afghanistan earthquake came in at 29th on the list. As Japan has firsthand experience of the devastation caused by massive earthquakes and the long and difficult paths to recovery, readers must have felt like a kindred spirit to victims.

The coronation of King Charles of the United Kingdom (ranked 5th) also drew much attention. Many readers must have been reminded of the more than 150-year history of exchanges between the Imperial family and the U.K. royal family.

The news that Twitter, a major U.S. social media service, was acquired and changed its symbolic blue bird logo and name to “X” came in sixth place on the list. This can be said to be a testament to Twitter’s popularity.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 26, 2023)