Macron: "Intense" French Negotiations For Hostage Release After Video Of French-Israeli Captive
The 21-year-old French-Israeli woman was captured by Hamas at the music festival on Oct. 7 and brought to Gaza.
Updated October 17 at 18:20 p.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron said “intense discussions” are “advancing” to free hostages held by Hamas. The comments come after a French-Israeli hostage appeared in the first video released by Hamas of a captive since the Oct. 7 attack in Israel that included the capturing of scores of civilians in Israel.
“I want to be very prudent here,” Macron said Tuesday, as quoted by Le Point magazine. “I’m not saying more, first of all, to not create expectations; and most of all to not endanger the intense discussions underway.” Macron added that French negotiators are in touch with both Israeli authorities and “powerful intermediary friends of Hamas.”
The remarks come after a top Hamas spokesman appeared in a video late Monday to address the ongoing hostage situation, saying that between 200 and 250 hostages are currently being held in Gaza. Abu Obayda, the spokesman for Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the' military wing of Hamas, said that hostages with a foreign passport are "our guests," who will be protected and released when conditions on the ground permit, Times of Israel is reporting.
Also late Monday, the video appeared of Mia Schem, the 21-year-old French-Israeli dual citizen captured during the musical festival last Saturday, with her arm being wrapped in a bandage. (See below) Israeli officials criticized the video as propaganda and psychological warfare.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, Schem’s mother urged the government and world leaders to bring her daughter back home. Holding a picture of her daughter, Keren Schem said: “I am begging the world to bring my baby back home, she only went to a festival party to have some fun and now she is in Gaza and she is not the only one.”
First video released of hostage in Gaza
Hamas psychological warfare: the terror group released the first video of an Israeli hostage held captive in Gaza. 21-year-old Mia Shem: “I’m currently in Gaza. I was badly hurt in my arm but I’m being treated. Please get us out of here!”— Ariel Oseran (@ariel_oseran) October 16, 2023
*Mia’s family approved to air the video. pic.twitter.com/bEKynSRje6
Israel has killed 11 Palestinian journalists
🔊Today on Reuters World News podcast, we pay tribute to our colleague Issam Abdallah who was killed while filming Israeli missile attacks at the Israeli-Lebanon border.— Reuters (@Reuters) October 16, 2023
Listen here: https://t.co/kkzaQya3Ha pic.twitter.com/wN1u8Nt6Ny
Israel has killed 11 Palestinian journalists in airstrikes in Gaza since the Hamas incursion into southern Israel, according to Reuters. It cited the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. Among those killed was Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah, 37, who died on Friday while filming Israeli missile attacks at the Israeli-Lebanon border.
Blinken back in Israel
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. The U.S. top diplomat had already been in Israel last week, days after Hamas launched its attacks in Israel, and traveled to neighboring Arab countries, trying to prevent the conflict from escalating further.
Blinken's return comes as the U.S. seeks to help American citizens trapped in Gaza make their way across the only remaining exit from the besieged strip, the Rafah crossing to Egypt. The U.S. is also working with regional partners to help secure the release of hostages, including American citizens, taken by Hamas. Meanwhile, earlier Monday, the Israeli prime minister's office denied there were any arrangements to open the Rafah border crossing.
Read Cairo-based Mada Masr’s analysis of how the situation in Gaza is squeezing Egypt from all sides.
"The Enemy's Obsession"
Beirut-based daily Al Akhbar features a front page Monday on “the enemy’s obsession,” reporting on the multiplying airstrikes on Gaza. The Arabic-language publication notes that Israel is for now “stuck in the air” as the launch of a ground offensive is proving more complex than anticipated.
Israel evacuates its towns
In a joint statement on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced a "plan to evacuate residents of northern Israel living in an area up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the Lebanese border," reports French daily Le Monde.
Residents will be taken to hotels and guesthouses, and their accommodation will be financed by the Israeli government. The Northern Israeli border area has been tense following repeated exchanges of fire between Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Israeli army since the attack on October 7.
Hezbollah announced in the afternoon that it had hit three targets in Israel, resulting in Israeli fire. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon reported that a rocket had hit a peacekeepers' building in southern Lebanon, without causing any casualties.
Israel has also begun evacuating the remaining residents of Sderot, near the border of Gaza, which already suffered serious casualties during last weekend's Hamas raids.
Scholz to travel to Israel
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to visit Israel on Tuesday to express his solidarity according to German daily Die Welt. Israeli newspapers such as Israel Hayom and Haaretz also reported on the visit.
In a speech to the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, on Thursday, the Chancellor affirmed Germany's unwavering support for Israel. "Germany's only place is with Israel", he said, adding that the "historical responsibility resulting from the Holocaust" imposed on the country the "permanent duty to defend Israel's existence and security." The head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock, had already visited Israel on Friday to express her solidarity, before traveling to Egypt on Saturday.
French columnist Pierre Haski wonders if its not getting too late for Western allies to contain Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s thirst for revenge.
UNRWA said 1 million people in Gaza had been forced to flee their homes with at least half of them sheltering in UN facilities, with the need for food and fuel growing urgent.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office told CNN on Sunday that Israel has restored water to southern Gaza. But on Monday, the director of Gaza’s water authority Munther Shublaq disputed that claim, telling CNN that water has not been supplied to the enclave.
Israeli military airstrikes have killed at least 2,750 people and injured more than 9,700, the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said in a statement Monday. In the West Bank, 58 people have been killed and more than 1,250 injured, the ministry added. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 are still missing under houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, according to the Palestinian civil defense.
New Russian propaganda campaign tries to link Kyiv and Hamas
Russian Telegram channels and media outlets have launched a coordinated propaganda campaign aiming to undermine Ukraine and its Western allies by propagating disinformation about Ukraine and the Middle East.
Central to this disinformation effort are false claims that Ukrainian weapons are being utilized by Hamas, Kyiv-based Livy Bereg reports.
In a recent instance, a video surfaced on the "Reporter Rudenko V" Telegram channel, allegedly depicting Ukrainian weapons in the hands of Hamas. However, the authenticity of this video is highly questionable, as it presents a collection of weapons without credible confirmation of their Ukrainian origin.
Prominent Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov also played a role in propagating similar unverified narratives. Solovyov cited an alleged screenshot from a foreign news story, reporting that Israeli soldiers had apprehended terrorists armed with weapons from Ukraine. No link to the referenced report was provided, and attempts to locate the article on search engines like Google proved futile.
Furthermore, the disinformation campaign extended to distributing a fabricated video falsely attributed to the BBC and Bellingcat. Both organizations categorically refuted the authenticity of these videos. Russian propagandists have also seized upon this disinformation to undermine Ukraine's Western partners, particularly the United States, insinuating that they are incapable of providing military support on multiple fronts.
Report: Assassination Attempt Targets Senior Iranian Intelligence Officer
Unconfirmed reports have circulated on Iranian and Italian language media of an assassination attempt against a top Iranian intelligence official in Tehran.
Rome-based La Repubblica daily says Mohammad Akiki, a top member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was shot in Tehran and is in critical condition.
There is speculation that the attack was orchestrated by Israel’s Mossad intelligence services, as payback for the assault against Israeli civilians last Saturday.
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