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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Report: Deal Close For 10-15 Hostages In Exchange For Brief Ceasefire – Mideast War, Day 33

Qatar is leading negotiations for one to two day humanitarian truce in exchange for the release of up to 15 hostages held by Hamas.

Photo of a woman standing in front of a wall dedicated to the hostages taken by Hamas

Families of Israeli hostages and supporters rally at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, for the release of their loved ones

Emma Albright

Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hamas for the potential release of 10-15 captives in exchange for a short ceasefire, AFP reports.

“Negotiations mediated by the Qataris in coordination with the U.S. are ongoing to secure the release of 10-15 hostages in exchange for a one- to two-day ceasefire,” an anonymous source told the news agency.

Qatar has been a key player in talks aiming to secure the release of an estimated 240 captives held by Hamas, and has already led the successful negotiation for the the handover of four captives.

Since taking power 10 years ago in Qatar, the 43-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has been determined on positioning his country as a key player in global geopolitics. And the war between Israel and Hamas, a group indebted to Qatar, has allowed Thani an opportunity to raise his profile.

With rare access to Hamas, whose leaders are in exile in Qatar, Al Thani also enjoys a good rapport with Israel and the U.S, giving him a potentially unique position to help extract the hostages.

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Unlike other countries in the region, Qatar is not worried about an uprising or a challenge to his rule from political Islamists. Instead, Al Thani hosts Islamist terror groups, including Hamas, alongside a trade office for Israel and thousands of American troops at the Al Udeid Air Base, from which the United States routinely carries out operations in the region.

The deal to exchange a limited number of captives for a brief humanitarian "pause" in the fighting would still be far from the conditions necessary to obtain a lasting truce or hostage release.

Another key country trying to mediate and look for a long-term solution is Jordan, which is uniquely situated with a special relationship with the Palestinians, decades of peace with Israel, and its king's historic standing in the Muslim world.

Until the occupation by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, what is now the West Bank belonged to Jordan. Even before that, Jordan was considered an important guardian of Palestinian interests.

On Monday, it was reported that Jordanian planes were dropping aid supplies over Gaza, thanks to an accord with Israel. As German daily Die Welt reports, the Israelis now need Jordan as a mediator, and Jordan must hope for moderation from the Israeli government.

Jordan continues to see the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas and his secular Fatah as the main point of contact in the Occupied Territories. Jordan will therefore advocate handing Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority following a Hamas defeat and strengthening the Palestinian Authority so that it can meet the challenge.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken has already indicated that Washington sees things similarly, which could also be due to Blinken's talks in Amman.

On Tuesday, during a meeting with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, Jordanian King Abdullah II warned of the catastrophic long-term repercussions of the war on Gaza, which have caused wide-scale destruction and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.

During a meeting attended by Crown Prince Hussein, the King called on the international community to pressure Israel to stop its war on Gaza and to allow the uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid.

Israel troops inside Gaza city

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its second month, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel Defense Forces are in the "heart of Gaza City" and targeting Hamas infrastructure and commanders there.

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, "Gaza City is encircled" and the IDF is "operating in it" and "advancing the pressure applied on Hamas every hour and every day."

Gallant said troops on foot were being accompanied by armored vehicles, tanks and military engineers. For its part Hamas said it was inflicting losses on Israeli forces and had destroyed military vehicles.

Meanwhile, Israel has claimed to have destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels in Gaza since it began its ground operations. In videos posted to social media by the IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, it showed what it said was evidence of the destruction.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said that the number of people killed in Gaza by Israeli military actions since the start of the war on 7 October has risen to 10,569. It says 4,324 of these are children, and that a further 26,457 Palestinians have been injured.

Deadliest month ever for journalists: 39 killed in Israel-Hamas war 

At least 39 journalists have now been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Wednesday. The war has brought about the “deadliest month for journalists” since CPJ says it began gathering data in 1992. Among those, CPJ said that 34 were Palestinian, four Israeli, and one Lebanese.

The most recent to die, on Tuesday, were Yahya Abu Manih, “a journalist with Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa radio channel,” who was reportedly killed in an airstrike in Gaza, and Mohamed Abu Hassira, a journalist for WAFA, the Palestinian news agency, who was also reportedly killed in an airstrike.

Read more about the conditions of journalists reporting from Gaza.

Italy sends navy ship equipped with hospital to Gaza

Italy is sending a navy ship equipped with a hospital to Gaza, to help treat victims of the conflict, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said on Wednesday.

According to Italian daily Il Foglio,the ship called Vulcano, is leaving from an unnamed Italian port on Wednesday with 170 staff, including 30 people trained for medical emergencies.

The minister also announced that a field hospital will be brought "directly to Gaza in agreement with the Palestinians." He added, “we are the first to carry out a humanitarian operation in that area, and we hope that other countries will follow us”.

Only 100,000 civilians remain in northern Gaza

Israel’s military has said it is extending the hours in which it will allow people in the north of Gaza to evacuate to the south. Earlier, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari posted a video which the IDF claims shows Palestinians moving from the north to the south.

The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs has said that about 15,000 people fled on Tuesday, compared to 5,000 on Monday and 2,000 on Sunday, suggesting the number of people attempting to evacuate has been increasing as northern Gaza continues to be bombarded and Israeli troops carry out ground operations there.

The IDF announced earlier Wednesday that a four-hour window was in place for Gazans to evacuate down Salah Eddin Street, which serves as one of the two primary highways in Gaza, linking the north to the south.

Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesperson, told Sky News in the UK on Wednesday that only 100,000 civilians remained in northern Gaza out of the population of 1.1 million.

Adobe is selling AI-generated photos of violence in Gaza

Screenshot via Adobe website


Adobe is selling AI-generated images showing fake scenes depicting bombardment of cities in both Gaza and Israel. Some are photorealistic, others are obviously computer-made, and at least one has already begun circulating online, passed off as a real image.

First reported by Australian news outlet Crikey, the photo is labeled “conflict between Israel and palestine generative ai” and shows a cloud of dust swirling from the tops of a cityscape. It’s remarkably similar to actual photographs of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Despite being an AI-generated image, it ended up on a few small blogs and websites without being clearly labeled as AI.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putin's "Pig-Like" Latvia Threat Is A Chilling Reminder Of What's At Stake In Ukraine

In the Ukraine war, Russia's military spending is as high as ever. Now the West is alarmed because the Kremlin leader is indirectly hinting at a possible attack on Latvia, a NATO member. It is a reminder of a growing danger to Europe.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Pavel Lokshin


BERLIN — Russian President Vladimir Putin sometimes chooses downright bizarre occasions to launch his threats against the West. It was at Monday's meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council, where Putin expressed a new, deep concern. It was not of course about the human rights of the thousands of political prisoners in his own country, but about the Russian population living in neighboring Latvia, which happens to be a NATO member, having to take language tests.

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