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From the Israel-Gaza war to the Moon race: events that defined 2023
Wednesday, November 29, 2023       12:23 WIB

Paris, Nov 29, 2023 (AFP)
From Hamas's brutal attacks in Israel, and the fierce retribution it provoked, to the kiss that caused a revolt in Spanish football, here are 10 events that marked a tumultuous 2023:
- Israel-Gaza war -
On October 7, hundreds of Hamas gunmen pour across the border from Gaza, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 people hostage in the worst attack in Israel's history, traumatising the country and stunning the world.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to "destroy" Hamas and Israel launches air bombardments followed by a ground offensive that reduces entire neighbourhoods in the densely packed Palestinian territory to rubble.
As Gaza's destruction and death toll mount, international pressure grows on Israel to pause its offensive.
Seven weeks into the war, the two sides agree to a four-day truce. Gaza's Hamas-run government estimates around 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians and including thousands of children.
Hamas releases 50 women and child hostages in return for 150 Palestinian prisoners, all women and minors, leading to emotional reunions.
On November 27, the two sides agree to extend the ceasefire by two days.
- Ukraine's laboured fightback -
Sixteen months after Russia invaded its neighbour, Kyiv launches a highly anticipated counteroffensive after amassing billions in powerful Western-made weapons and training new recruits.
But the pushback fails to make much of a dent in Russia's deep defensive lines.
In late November, Ukraine announces it has made inroads along the Russian-held left bank of the Dnipro River, its first major success in months.
But as winter sets in, both sides still appear largely dug in.
- Devastating quakes -
In the early hours of February 6, one of the deadliest earthquakes in a century flattens entire cities in southeast Turkey, killing at least 56,000 people, with nearly 6,000 others killed across the border in Syria.
Two images come to define the devastating 7.8-magnitude tremor: that of a father holding the hand of his dead 15-year-old daughter, protruding from under a collapsed building in Kahramanmaras, the epicentre, and that of a newborn baby rescued from the rubble while still umbilically attached to her dead mother.
Seven months later, on September 8, Morocco suffers the deadliest quake in its history, centred on the Atlas mountains. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
- More coups in Africa -
The spate of coups that have marked a brutal democratic backsliding in francophone Africa continues in 2023, with Niger and Gabon the latest countries to overthrow an elected president.
An unpopular France is forced to withdraw both its ambassador and counter-terrorism troops from Niger -- the third time its forces are sent packing by a former African colony in under two years.
In August, meanwhile, Gabon's president Ali Bongo Ondimba, heir to a dynasty that ruled for 55 years, is deposed after a presidential election which the army and opposition declared fraudulent.
- Hollywood on strike -
The existential dread caused by generative AI in the creative economy spreads to Hollywood in 2023, where writers go on strike in May to demand curbs on the use of the technology in films as well as a pay rise.
Hollywood actors join the biggest work stoppage in Tinseltown since the 1960s in July, saying that it has become almost impossible to earn a decent living for non A-listers and fear AI could be used to clone their voices and likenesses.
The strike cripples the entertainment industry and delays hundreds of popular shows and films before the studios and actors agree a deal in November, two months after the writers went back to work.
- Deadly fires -
The year goes out with a sizzle, with the European Union's climate monitor predicting 2023 will be the hottest on record.
Drought made worse by climate change was cited as one of several factors behind the deadliest wildfire in the US in a century that claimed at least 115 lives on the Hawaiian island of Maui in August.
Tourists and residents also fled huge fires on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu but the worst-affected country, in terms of area consumed by fire, was Canada, with over 18 million hectares of forest going up in smoke.
- Moon, the new frontier -
The space race heats up in 2023, with rising star India becoming the first nation to successfully land an unmanned craft on the Moon's south pole in August, just days after a Russian lunar vehicle crashed into its surface.
Over half a century after US astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, several countries are jostling to return humans to the celestial body.
is aiming for a crewed mission by 2025, China for 2030 and India for 2040.
- Forced Spanish kiss -
Spain's victory over England in the women's football World Cup final in Sydney on August 20 triggers scenes of wild rejoicing at home.
But the euphoria quickly gives way to outrage when Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales is caught planting a kiss on the lips of captain Jenni Hermoso minutes after the game -- a kiss she says later she saw as "an assault".
A defiant Rubiales insists the kiss was consensual but faced with a huge outcry, he eventually resigns.
- Caucasus exodus -
The breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh winds up its three-decade push for independence in September after being recaptured by Azerbaijan in a lightning offensive that empties the mountainous region of most of its ethnic Armenian population.
Karabakh residents flee to Armenia, fearing violence and not wanting to be ruled by Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanis with whom ethnic Armenian separatists fought two wars over the territory since the 1990s.
- Argentina lurches right -
In November, Argentina lurches to the right with the election of libertarian wild card candidate, Javier Milei, on a promise to "blow up" the central bank, dollarise the economy, privatise health and education and hold a vote on repealing abortion laws.
The economist and TV pundit known for his foul-mouthed rants against the political "caste" rides a wave of fury over decades of economic decline and double-digit inflation under the long-dominant Peronist (centre-left) coalition.
His vow to return Argentina to its "golden age" at the dawn of the 20th century draws comparisons with former US president Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Sumber : AFP

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