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Monday morning news: February 12, 2024

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Biden phone call » President Biden is calling on Israel to hold off on a planned ground invasion in southern Gaza until it comes up with a credible plan to protect civilians in the city of Rafah.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

NETANYAHU: We are working out a detailed plan to do so. And that’s what we’ve done up till now. We’re not cavalier about this. This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’ effort to keep them in harm’s way.

The president and the prime minister spoke by phone on Sunday about the situation.

Palestinian officials said Israel hit Rafah with airstrikes last night.

Rafah/Netanyahu response to U.S. criticism » Prior to Sunday’s phone call, Netanyahu responded to Biden’s recent criticism. That president said last week that Israel’s response to the October Hamas terrorist attack…

BIDEN: Has been … over the top.

Netanyahu told ABC’s This Week:

NETANYAHU: I don’t know exactly what he meant by that, but put yourself in Israel’s shoes. We were attacked. Unprovoked attack, murderous attack on October 7th. The worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust.

He said given Israel’s size and the scale of the Hamas attack, it was the equivalent of 20 9-11s, and that America in that situation would likely respond just as strongly.

Egypt has threatened to suspend a peace treaty with Israel if it moves ahead with the Rafah operation.

But Netanyahu says …

NETANYAHU: We’re doing everything we can to minimize civilian casualties and continue to do so. But one thing we’re not going to do – is we’re not going to let Hamas emerge victorious.

He says Rafah is Hamas’ last remaining stronghold, and abandoning a ground offensive there means losing the war.

Israel shows video of tunnel network under UNRWA HQ in Gaza » Meantime, Israeli Defense Forces — or IDF — has released new video footage of a sprawling Hamas tunnel network. This network ran under the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency known as UNRWA.

An IDF officer showed reporters around an underground communications center.

OFFICER: This place is of Hamas’ intelligence units, where they command most of the combat from here.

He showed a bundle of wires that had run up through the basement of the UNRWA building.

UNRWA officials said they had no knowledge of the tunnels.

The UN agency is already embroiled in a major scandal amid allegations that some of its employees actively participated in the Oct. 7th attack.

Special counsel reaction latest »Democrats and Republicans sparred on Sunday talk shows over special counsel Robert Hur’s report on Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said of President Biden:

COONS: He was cleared completely, while Donald Trump faces 40 federal felony charges for obstruction of justice and refusing to protect our national secrets.

But Republicans see a double standard. The report said Biden willfully disclosed highly classified information about serious national security concerns.

GOP Sen. Tom Cotton:

COTTON: If Joe Biden isn’t going to face charges, Donald Trump shouldn’t either.

President Biden’s team is also trying to control the fallout from serious concerns raised in the report about his mental acuity. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said the report only stated the obvious.

COMER: That Joe Biden’s mental capacity is diminished. I think we see that played out on a daily basis.

The report said the president struggled to remember major events in his life such as when he served as vice president or when his son Beau died.

Biden says that’s not true. And the White House is on the attack accusing the special counsel of mischaracterizing Biden’s mental sharpness for political reasons.

The report cited the president’s memory problems as one of the reasons for not pursuing criminal charges against him.

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 67. The nays are 27. The motion is agreed to.

Senate approves funding for Ukraine, Israel, others » With that procedural vote on Sunday, the Senate advanced a $95-billion-dollar bill that would fund aid to Ukraine and Israel, among other things.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:

SCHUMER: Ukraine is dangerously low on supplies, including ammo and air defenses. If America doesn’t assist Ukraine, Putin is all too likely to succeed.

Eighteen Republicans voted for it giving leaders in the upper chamber hope that it will survive a full vote on the Senate floor.

Russia drone swarm as Ukraine reshuffles military » Meanwhile, in Ukraine Russian forces attacked with nearly 50 drones over Ukraine in a six-hour barrage Sunday.

The Ukrainian air force said it was able to shoot down all but about five of the drones over nine different regions, including around Kyiv.

The attack comes as President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy continues to reshuffle his war cabinet. Zelenskyy just appointed Oleksandr Pavliuk, former deputy defense minister to be the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces.

Super Bowl »  For the second straight season, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions. WORLD’s Alex Carmenaty reports.

AUDIO: First and goal. Mahomes flings it, it’s there, Hardman, jackpot Kansas City.

ALEX CARMENATY: Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a game winning touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman with less than ten seconds left to seal the win in the final seconds of overtime.

The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-to-22 in Super Bowl 58.

Mahomes had 333 passing yards and two touchdowns and was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time in his career.

It was a back-and-forth affair. The 49ers had three different leads in the game, including one in overtime.

The Chiefs are the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots did it in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

For WORLD, I’m Alex Carmenaty.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: An obscure constitutional argument under the microscope on Legal Docket. Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.

This is The World and Everything in It.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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