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TOPIC: humanitarian aid


First It Was Poland's Farmers — Now Truckers Are Protesting Ukraine's Special Status

For the past month, Poland has been blocking off its border checkpoints to Ukrainian trucks, leaving many in days-long lines. It's a commercial and economic showdown, but it's about much more.

Since November 6, Polish truckers have blocked border crossing points with Ukraine, citing unfair advantages given to the Ukrainian market, and demanding greater support from the European Union.

With lines that now stretch for up to 40 kilometers (25 miles), thousands of Ukrainian truckers must now wait an average of about four days in ever colder weather to cross the border, sometimes with the help of the Polish police. At least two Ukrainian truck drivers have died while waiting for passage into Poland.

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The round-the-clock blockade is being manned by Polish trucking unions who claim that Ukrainian trucking companies, which offer a cheaper rate, have been transporting goods across Europe, rather than between Poland and Ukraine. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian truckers have been exempt from the permits once required to cross the border.

Now, Polish truckers are demanding that their government reintroduce entry permits for Ukrainian lorries, with exceptions for military and humanitarian aid from Europe. For the moment, those trucks are being let through the blockade, which currently affects four out of Ukraine’s eight border crossings with Poland.

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What's Left Of Gaza: Scenes Of Destruction, Pangs Of Desperation

The information coming out of the Palestinian enclave is scarce but undoubtedly grim. An Italian reporter from across the border gathers information from inside Gaza amid a fragile and inevitably temporary ceasefire.

SDEROT – When we ask Sister Nabila Saleh to describe the situation in Gaza, she responds by sending ten photos: images of rubble, destruction, and desolation. They suggest that the point of no return has long been surpassed.

Sister Nabila is of Egyptian origin and spends her days in the parish of the Holy Family in Gaza City, where all of the remaining Christian community is sheltering.

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Communication is challenging; on WhatsApp, conversations are impossible, only snippets of written sentences arrive on each side. Still, they suffice in describing the hellish conditions they've been facing for the past seven weeks.

"The situation is very difficult, everything is destroyed, nothing is left," she said. "Living is a challenge, for now, no aid is reaching us, there is only one supermarket with some basic supplies."

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Gaza Truce May Be Extended, Oil Deals At COP28, NZ Cig Ban Up In Smoke

👋 Салам!*

Welcome to Monday, where the truce between Hamas and Israel may be prolonged to allow for further releases of hostages and prisoners, leaked documents show UAE allegedly planning on using COP28 to make oil deals, and New Zealand is putting out its pioneering smoking ban. Meanwhile, Leszek Kostrzewski in Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza distills the politics of moonshine in Poland.

[*Salam - Kyrgyz]

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“I Am Palestinian” — When History Calls Us To Stand In Their Shoes, To Say Who We Are

There are certain watershed moments where the world comes together in defense of an idea or a people, or maybe both. A call from afar to stand up in the name of the Palestinian people.


CALGARY — Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film “Spartacus,” starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier, is based on a true story of the leader of a momentous slave rebellion against the Roman empire circa 70 BC.

Near the end of the movie, when the slaves have been captured, the Roman general offers to let them all live if they reveal their leader, the gladiator Spartacus. In a show of solidarity and final act of bravery, the slaves stand up one-by-one, to declare: “I am Spartacus.”

And with that, all are crucified.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Elias Kassem

Gaza And BRICS: Arab Leaders' Visit To China Is Only The Beginning

Frustrated by the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s war on Gaza, Arab governments have looked at other options to help establish a ceasefire before it becomes too late. First stop: Beijing. Moscow’s role may be more obscure, but no less essential, in building a global coalition that counters the West’s stance.

CAIRO — Call it “the China option.”

The scene Monday in Beijing said a lot, both about the state of the war in Gaza, and the world at large: top diplomats of five Arab countries, all with close ties with the U.S., arrived in the Chinese capital to meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as part of Arab and Islamic diplomatic efforts to rally global support for a ceasefire.

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Choosing Beijing as the first stop of a tour to the five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council shows China’s growing role in the Middle East amid global power competition. It also shows regional frustration from the West’s justification of Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians as “a self-defense,” according to Asharq, a United Arab Emirates-based news outlet.

“Motivating the major countries in the East to play a more effective and influential role may restore balance to the international scene,” wrote Gamal Raif, an Egyptian journalist and political writer, on X, formerly known as Twitter. “China in particular has been seeking for some time to find new workspaces within the international arena.”

The delegation included foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority, and the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Mostafa Hosny

How The War Has All But Destroyed Gaza's Ailing Healthcare System

The health situation in Gaza is becoming more and more dire as Israel continues to bomb the enclave. Egyptian media Mada Masr takes a look at the history of the Palestinian health care system.

Mosaab is 16 years old and is a leukemia patient, one of 13,000 cancer patients in the Gaza Strip who have been left without access to medical care since Israel began bombing the strip and cutting off access to water, fuel and other vital supplies. The carnage from Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza has led to severe overcrowding in the few hospitals that are still operational, with thousands of wounded arriving daily.

“The situation is very bad. There is no medicine, no treatment, no hospitals, and we are unable to leave the house to treat my son. His condition is deteriorating, especially since he is a cancer patient and requires special care. We can’t find all of Mosaab’s medications for his lungs and stomach, antibiotics, and his chemotherapy drugs,” Mosaab’s mother tells Mada Masr. “Everything is cut off. There are no hospitals, no power transformers, no electricity, and we can’t treat him in Gaza or go to Haifa to continue his treatment.”

Before the recent attacks on Gaza, Mosaab was receiving treatment at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, which was bombed by the Occupation’s fighter jets. As a result of the airstrikes, the second and third floors of the building were destroyed in airstrikes. Then the hospital halted its operation as it ran out of fuel, the director of the foreign relations department of the Gaza Health Ministry, Mahmoud Radwan, tells Mada Masr.

Mosaab’s mother discovered her son’s illness seven years ago, which set her off on what has been a long journey to try to treat him outside of Gaza, one that thousands of other patients in the strip undertake due to the severe shortage of medical equipment and healthcare workers even before the current attack, which exacerbated the collapse of the health sector.

After Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections, Israel and Egypt imposed an air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007, restricting the movement in and out of the strip and imposing restrictions on the health sector, as many essential medical supplies suddenly became unavailable.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Pierre Haski

Negotiate, Talk, Negotiate — And A First Small Sign That Israel Is Listening

In Qatar, Egypt, Paris or on the phone, negotiators are busy trying to secure the release of hostages, push for "humanitarian pauses", and prepare for the political aftermath of the war. Meanwhile, the war rages on in Gaza.


PARIS — War is not just the actions of soldiers, but also the movements of negotiators that are sometimes even harder to see.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Emma Albright

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.

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.

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What's Next For Gaza? Israel? The World?

Netanyahu gives scant signs of hope for any easing of the massive assault on the Palestinian enclave, as the number of dead tops 10,000.

One month after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, the world aimed to take stock Tuesday of a war that has already killed thousands and threatens to destabilize the region, and beyond.

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Here’s an excerpt from a piece by French geopolitical commentator Pierre Haski:

“The shockwaves continue to resonate around the world: from Colombia recalling its ambassador from Israel, to this past weekend's gathering of two million people in Jakarta to the hardening of Arab countries that had made peace in the past with the Jewish state, to the unleashing of acts of anti-Semitism in Europe.

We can also mark a broader geopolitical impact. The United States has invested more than it has in a long time in the Middle East, from which it had been trying to distance itself for years. U.S. military deployment and diplomatic involvement have been considerable.

The Americans have so far succeeded in deterring Iran and its allies from getting involved in an escalation that would have changed the nature of the crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris gave a one-word response to a journalist who asked her what the U.S. message was to Iran: “Don’t!" Message received — so far anyway.

Read the full piece translated from French by Worldcrunch here

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Noor Swirki and Sara Seif Eddin

Gaza's Water Crisis: From Lever Of Occupation To Weapon Of War

Shortages of water, which have ultimately long been controlled by Israel, have long been a brutal reality for the Palestinians of Gaza. Now with the ongoing bombing and siege campaign, the daily search for water has become central to the struggle to survive.

KHAN YOUNIS — Firas, a young Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip, was displaced from eastern Khan Younis to a shelter in the governorate’s center due to the ongoing Israeli bombing. Each day, he carries several empty bottles and makes his way to the Nasser Medical Complex in the south of Gaza, hoping to fill them there.

This water is impotable, but he drinks it anyway. The only other option for him and his family is to stand in line for hours to buy 10 bottles for 12 shekels ($3.08), which is 50% higher than pre-war prices. The water may run out before his turn comes. With the continuing bombing, Firas, like all those displaced to shelter centers, only has the chance to shower every two or three days, depending on the availability of water.

Firas is not alone. Falastin, a displaced woman in her thirties, carries a plastic bag filled with her clothes for half a kilometer to reach a public bathroom in a hospital to take a shower. On her way back, she carries a gallon of water to bring home to her three daughters so they can also shower and wash their clothes. “Imagine walking all this distance and carrying all this weight on my back,” Falastin says.

Ahmad faces a slightly better situation than Firas and Falastin. He hasn’t been displaced yet, but he shares in the daily strip-wide struggle to get water. Ahmad is in charge of the water supply for his family of nine. He walks to a tank at a nearby mosque three times a day while carrying a gallon bottle and fetches 16 liters of water after waiting in line for at least half an hour.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Emma Albright and Cameron Manley

As Gaza Death Toll Tops 10,000, No Sign Of Israel Relenting

As the death toll in Gaza reaches 10,000, Israel has launched what may be its most intense bombardment, as ground offensive continues to accelerate. All of this as U.S. Secretary of State Blinken says he's trying to get Israel to limit the civilian casualties.

The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 has surpassed 10,000, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza announced Monday.

Ashraf Al Qudra, spokesperson for the ministry, said 10,022 Palestinians in Gaza had been killed by Israeli strikes, including 4,104 children, 2,641 women and 611 elderly people.

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The updated casualty numbers come just after the Israel's military said on Monday that its fighter jets had struck 450 Hamas targets in Gaza in a 24-hour span. By some accounts, it was the heaviest bombing since the war began.

Meanwhile, the ground campaign continues as well in Gaza. A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its forces are moving forward towards Gaza City, which he says the Israeli military has encircled since reaching Gaza's coast on Sunday.

“The north and south (of Gaza) have been cut off from one another and is under IDF control,” Peter Lerner told CNN on Monday. This “indeed means that we are pushing forward towards Gaza City, we have encircled Gaza City two days ago and we are moving forward," Lerner added.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Pierre Haski

Why Israel Will Agree To A "Humanitarian Pause" — But Nothing More

Calls for a "humanitarian pause" are multiplying as the war rages on for almost a month, but the West is careful not to talk about a ceasefire, which Israel totally rejects. Where does that leave us in a search for a way out?


PARIS — What do we mean when we talk about 'humanitarianism'? The word is being used more and more — a humanitarian "pause" has been requested of Israel, humanitarian aid is being sent to Gaza by numerous countries, and a humanitarian conference is to be held in Paris on Thursday.

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The needs are obviously immense, almost a month after the start of Israeli strikes on Gaza, following the October 7 massacre committed by Hamas in southern Israel.

Civilians are the first victims of the merciless war waged by the Jewish state against the Palestinian Islamist movement, and the aid reaching them is totally inadequate.

But during war, politics and diplomacy still matter. If Westerners are putting the emphasis on humanitarian action, it's not only to try to meet immediate needs, but also because they are either unwilling or unable to bring the fighting itself to a halt.

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