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5 things to know for Dec. 26: Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, Extreme weather, Serbia

By Harmeet Kaur, CNN

(CNN) — Did you get a gift this holiday season that you were less than enthusiastic about? We’ve got tips on how to handle the disappointment.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

1. Gaza

At least 250 people were killed and 500 others were injured in Gaza over a 24-hour period, the Hamas-controlled health ministry said Monday. That brings the death toll to more than 20,000, with no indication that Israel’s war against Hamas will end anytime soon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said over the weekend that the military was intensifying operations inside Gaza. He also vowed “a long fight” ahead in a speech on Monday, while family members of Israelis held hostage by Hamas interrupted his remarks to demand their immediate return. A close confidant of Netanyahu is expected to meet US officials today to discuss the next phase of the war, according to a source. Meanwhile, Egypt has proposed a three-phase plan to end the fighting — though it’s unclear how it will be received by the warring parties.

2. Ukraine

Ukraine claims it carried out an airstrike in Crimea that destroyed a Russian tank landing ship. If confirmed, it would be the third time in less than a week that Russia suffered a major loss of military hardware. Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that its Novocherkask vessel was “damaged” in a Ukrainian attack. CNN hasn’t been able to independently confirm the loss but it would be a welcome success for Ukraine as its counteroffensive against Russia has struggled and as international support for its war effort is weakening. Looking ahead to 2024, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh writes in his analysis that “it is clear Kyiv faces an existential crisis in the coming winter.”

3. Iraq

The US military carried out airstrikes in Iraq that targeted three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, likely killing several militants, according to US officials. The airstrikes were a retaliatory response after the Iranian-backed militant group claimed credit for an attack on US forces Monday that injured three troops, the White House said. Kataib Hezbollah aims to expel US and coalition forces from Iraq and set up an Iranian-aligned government there, according to the US Director of National Intelligence website. The group also operates in Syria.

4. Extreme weather

A major winter storm is bringing blizzards across the Plains and the Upper Midwest, making for dangerous travel conditions during this busy holiday week. Parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming are under blizzard warnings. The National Weather Service said the heavy snow and strong winds could topple trees and power lines and bring whiteout conditions that make travel “difficult to near impossible.” The storm is expected to weaken by tonight, but the weather service said parts of the northern Plains and the upper Midwest can expect a wintry mix to persist into Wednesday.

5. Serbia

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Sunday to demand that the results of the country’s general elections last week be annulled. Protestors attempted to storm the City Assembly in Belgrade but were fended off by police using riot gear and tear gas. At least 35 people were arrested, according to media reports. The mass protests come after President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party won 47% of the votes in a snap election last week, cementing his decade-long grip on power. An international watchdog called the elections “unjust,” accusing Vucic and his party of stifling media freedom, voter intimidation and bribery.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

They met on a Greyhound bus and have been married for 60 years
She fell asleep on his shoulder, and the rest is history.

Look up at the sky tonight
The ‘cold moon,’ or the final full moon of the year, reaches its peak tonight.

A baby rhino arrives at the Atlanta zoo
Welcome to the world, little one.

A young girl was born with a rare condition that left her unable to speak
A complex surgery helped her find her voice.

A tip for coffee connoisseurs
A recent study suggests that this secret ingredient makes for better coffee.

TODAY’S NUMBER

$685 million
That’s where the Powerball jackpot stands after no ticket nabbed the top prize in Monday night’s Christmas drawing.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“At a time of increasingly tragic conflict around the world, I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other.”

King Charles III, calling for compassion in his Christmas address. Standing before a replantable and sustainably decorated Christmas tree, he also called on people to care for the planet.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY …

The making of a LEGO masterpiece
Artist Ekow Nimako creates dazzling sculptures inspired by Black mythology and Afrofuturism solely out of black LEGO pieces. Watch here.

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