World roundup: February 7 2024
Stories from Israel-Palestine, Sudan, Ecuador, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
February 7, 1497: In the infamous “Bonfire of the Vanities,” Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola burns thousands of luxury items, including books, in a huge public bonfire in the city of Florence, Italy. Savonarola had arrived in Florence in 1490 and became widely known for his bombastic preaching against what he felt were the immoralities of the Renaissance and of the city’s leading family, the Medicis. This was not his first “bonfire of vanities” but it is the best known and so is generally regarded as the bonfire. Unfortunately for Savonarola, he became so well-known that Pope Alexander VI—noted fan of both the Renaissance and immorality—excommunicated him in May 1497 and in 1498 executed him on heresy and sedition charges.
February 7, 1992: The 12 member states of the European Community—Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and West Germany—sign the Maastricht Treaty, deepening European integration and helping to create the European Union. The EU now consists of 27 member states, while one of these founding dozen, the UK, has very famously quit the bloc.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Hamas’s ceasefire counterproposal and reiterated that he has no intention of ending the massacre in Gaza until the Israeli military (IDF) has achieved “absolute victory”—whatever that might be. Reuters revealed the contents of the Hamas ceasefire plan earlier in the day. In broad strokes it outlined a 135 day ceasefire in three 45 day phases. The first phase would see Hamas release all remaining female hostages along with males younger than 19 and elderly males. The second would see the release of the remaining male hostages and the third would see Hamas repatriate the bodies of dead hostages. The Israeli government would release Palestinian captives at each stage, begin rebuilding Gaza’s decimated infrastructure in the first phase, and conduct a staged military withdrawal from Gaza—from population centers in the first phase, fully in the second phase, and the third phase would involve negotiations on an indefinite ceasefire.