Completion of Hamas-Israel Hostage Deal ‘Very Close,’ Joe Biden Affirms

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Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.

Joe Biden Optimistic About Potential Deal to Free Hostages in Gaza

Joe Biden expressed optimism that Israel and Hamas are close to reaching a deal that would result in the release of dozens of civilian hostages in Gaza. The US president stated that the US has been working on the negotiations intensively for weeks and that things are looking good at the moment. The deal, being brokered by Qatar and the US, would also involve the release of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed Biden’s optimism, stating that he hopes for good news soon.

Progress in the Hostage Talks

Mediated by Qatar, the hostage talks aim to secure the release of up to 50 civilians held by Hamas in Gaza since their attack on southern Israel on October 7. In exchange, Israel would agree to a temporary pause in hostilities, lasting from three to five days, and release as many as 150 Palestinian women and children held in its prisons. This pause would allow for an increase in humanitarian aid, which has been heavily restricted by Israel, to reach Gaza. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has facilitated previous releases, recently met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar to discuss the negotiations.

Continued Fighting and IDF’s Progress

The fighting in Gaza continues, with Israeli troops now operating near the Indonesian Hospital in the north. On Monday, an explosion at the hospital resulted in nearly a dozen deaths, with Israel claiming that it responded to fire from within the hospital. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have also been engaged in combat in eastern parts of Gaza City. Despite these challenges, the IDF has made significant progress in degrading Hamas’ capabilities and eliminating fighters. Through relentless aerial bombardment, over half the buildings in northern Gaza have been destroyed. It’s estimated that around 13,000 people have been killed as part of Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and invasion.

Release of Celebrated Poet and Israeli Strikes in Lebanon

In a separate development, the Israeli army released poet Mosab Abu Toha, who had been detained at a Gaza checkpoint. Toha has been documenting the impact of Israel’s bombardment on civilians and his family. He was detained with his wife and infant son, who is a US citizen. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel continue to exchange fire near the border. Two journalists, including Farah Omar and Rabih al-Maamari, were killed in a rocket strike, prompting Lebanon’s caretaker premier to blame Israel for attempting to silence the media. Hizbollah, an Iran-backed group, vowed to retaliate and launched guided missiles across the border as its first response.

Press Freedom Concerns

The death toll among journalists continues to rise in the Israel-Hamas war. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that nearly 50 journalists, most of them Palestinians in Gaza, have been killed since the conflict began. This number surpasses the total number of journalists killed worldwide in 2022.

Read More of this Story at – 2023-11-21 17:15:57

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