Israel approves 4-day ceasefire, release of 150 Palestinian hostages in exchange for 50 captured settlers

News Network
November 22, 2023

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Hamas and Israel have agreed to stop all fighting in Gaza for four days as part of an agreement in which Hamas will release 50 settlers including women and children held as hostages in exchange for Israel releasing 150 innocent Palestinian women and children from jail, the Palestinian group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Officials from Qatar, which has been mediating negotiations, as well as the US, Israel and Hamas have for days been saying a deal was imminent.

The deal will allow hundreds of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid trucks to enter all parts of the Gaza Strip, the statement added.

Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages, taken when its fighters surged into Israeli occupied land on Oct. 7, allegedly killing 1,200 occupying soldiers and illegal settlers.

A statement by the Prime Minister's Office said 50 women and children will be released over four days, during which there will be a pause in fighting.

For every additional 10 hostages released, the pause would be extended by another day, it said, without mentioning the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.

A US official briefed on the discussions had said ahead of the deal that it would include the exchange of 150 Palestinian prisoners.

"Israel's government is committed to return all the hostages (i.e., illegal settlers captured by Hamas) home. Tonight, it approved the proposed deal as a first stage to achieving this goal," said the statement, released after hours of deliberation that were closed to the press.

Israel's Ynet reported that all but three ministers in the far-right Jewish Power party voted in favour of the deal.

The accord will see the first truce of a war in which Israeli bombardments have flattened swathes of Hamas-ruled Gaza, killed 13,300 innocent civilians in the tiny densely populated enclave and left about two-thirds of its 2.3 million people homeless, according to authorities in Gaza.

Before gathering with his full government, Netanyahu met on Tuesday with his war cabinet and wider national security cabinet over the deal.

Ahead of the announcement of the deal, Netanyahu said the intervention of US President Joe Biden had helped to improve the tentative agreement so that it included more hostages and fewer concessions.

But Netanyahu said Israel's broader mission had not changed.

"We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel," he said in a recorded message at the start of the government meeting.

The pause would also allow for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Israeli media including Channel 12 news said the first release of hostages was expected on Thursday. Implementing the deal must wait for 24 hours to give Israeli citizens the chance to ask the Supreme Court to block the release of Palestinian prisoners, reports said.

Hamas has to date released only four captives: US citizens Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, on Oct. 20, citing "humanitarian reasons," and Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, on Oct. 23.

The armed wing of the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad, which participated in the Oct. 7 raid with Hamas, said late on Tuesday that one of the Israeli hostages it has held since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel had died.

"We previously expressed our willingness to release her for humanitarian reasons, but the enemy was stalling and this led to her death," Al Quds Brigades said on its Telegram channel.

HOSPITAL ORDERED TO EVACUATE

As attention focused on the hostage release deal, fighting on the ground raged on. Mounir Al-Barsh, director-general of Gaza's health ministry, told Al Jazeera TV that the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City. Israel said militants were operating from the facility and threatened to act against them within four hours, he said.

Hospitals, including Gaza's biggest Al Shifa, have been rendered virtually inoperable by the Israeli aggression and shortages of critical supplies. Israel lies that Hamas conceals military command posts and fighters within them, a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny.

On Tuesday, Israel also said its forces had encircled the Jabalia refugee camp, a major urban flashpoint and Hamas militant stronghold.

According to the United Nations, most Palestinians in Gaza are registered as refugees because they or their ancestors were displaced by the 1948 war of Israel's creation.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA said 33 people were killed and dozens wounded in an Israeli air strike on part of Jabalia, a congested urban extension of Gaza City where Hamas has been battling advancing Israeli armoured forces.

In southern Gaza, Hamas-affiliated media said 10 people were killed and 22 injured by an Israeli air strike on an apartment in the city of Khan Younis. 

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News Network
February 26,2024

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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has announced the resignation of his government due to the Israeli regime’s relentless ground and air strikes against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.

“This decision comes in light of the political, security, and economic developments related to the aggression against Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank, including in the city of al-Quds,” Shtayyeh, who submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, said at a weekly cabinet session in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

He added that the decision to resign was made because of what Palestinians, their cause and their political system are experiencing amid ferocious and unprecedented Israeli aggression, genocide, attempts at forced displacement and starvation in Gaza, besides intensified settler terrorism, repeated incursions into West Bank towns and villages.

He also referred to unprecedented financial strangulation, attempts to liquidate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA), repudiation of all signed agreements, gradual annexation of Palestinian lands, and bids to turn the Palestinian Authority into an administrative apparatus with no political weight.

Shtayyeh stressed that Palestinians will remain on the path of confronting the occupying Israeli regime, asserting that the Palestinian Authority will continue to struggle to establish a sovereign independent state on Palestinian lands.

Shtayyeh, who was appointed as prime minister in 2019, said in October that the current US administration doesn’t have the political will to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “They’re managing it,” he said.

The Israeli Knesset voted on Wednesday to support prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of an independent Palestinian state. Earlier, the Israeli cabinet had approved a declaration, rejecting any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians hope to establish an independent state of their own in the Gaza Strip and West Bank with East al-Quds as its capital.

Israel occupied East al-Quds during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming all of al-Quds as its “eternal and undivided” capital in a move never recognized by the international community.

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News Network
February 27,2024

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Bengaluru: An FIR has been registered against the JD(S) leader contesting the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka, D Kupendra Reddy, and his aides at the Vidhana Soudha police station in Bengaluru, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too confirmed that an FIR has been registered for 'threatening' the Congress MLAs in connection with the Rajya Sabha elections.

“The Congress leaders not only spoke about allurement and threat to their MLAs time and again but also registered an FIR against Kupendra Reddy and his aides,” the JD(S) second-in-command told reporters here.

Kumaraswamy said the complainant MLA did not say that he was lured, but that some other MLAs were 'approached'.

“Melukote MLA Darshan Puttannaiah of Karnataka Sarvodaya Paksha too had said that it’s true that his vote was sought but no one had lured him,” the JD(S) state chief claimed.

Kumaraswamy also said the BJP and JD(S) had decided that the votes of its 19 JD(S) MLAs and the additional BJP votes after its first preferential votes would go to Kupendra Reddy.

Siddaramaiah slammed the Janata Dal (Secular) for allegedly trying to lure Congress legislators to get its candidate Kupendra Reddy elected.

“JDS needs 45 votes (for their candidate) to win. Do they have that many votes? Even though they don’t have enough votes, they still fielded the candidate and are luring our MLAs. Do they have a conscience?” the chief minister asked rhetorically, posting on social media platform X.

“An FIR has been lodged regarding the threat to us. Our three candidates will win. There is no doubt about this,” Siddaramaiah insisted, without elaborating who, the FIR is against and where it has been registered.

Speaking to reporters at Vidhana Soudha here, Siddaramaiah slammed the minor partner in the opposition alliance, saying, “When JD(S) does not have ‘atma’ (soul), how can it have ‘atma sakshi’ (conscience)? They call themselves Janata Dal (Secular) but whom did they join with?”

He was referring to the JD(S) forming an alliance with the BJP.

The chief minister did not rule out the possibility of gaining votes from the rival camp saying the good works of his government may draw votes from the other side.

On the JD(S) allegations that the Congress had approached its party MLAs, Siddaramaiah said when the Congress has sufficient number of MLAs, there is no need to lure legislators from the opposition.

Voting is under way for four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka. The ruling Congress has fielded former union minister and Congress treasurer Ajay Maken and sitting Rajya Sabha members G C Chandrashekhar and Syed Naseer Hussain.

The BJP has fielded Narayansa Bhandage and also JD(S) leader Kupendra Reddy as the NDA candidate.

The Congress has 133 MLAs, excluding the Speaker, while the BJP and JD(S) have 66 and 19 legislators respectively, in the 223-member House. Others account for four. However, one Congress MLA died on Sunday.

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News Network
February 19,2024

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Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has threatened Washington, Berlin, London and Kiev with nuclear attacks if Russia is forced to retreat from Ukraine.

Medvedev, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote on Telegram on Sunday that if Moscow is forced to give up Ukrainian territory it has taken control of, it will “not hesitate” to make a “difficult decision.”

“Attempts to restore Russia’s 1991 borders will lead only to one thing — a global war with Western countries with the use of our entire strategic (nuclear) arsenal against Kiev, Berlin, London, and Washington. And against all other beautiful historic places that have long been included in the flight targets of our nuclear triad,” he wrote.

He added that Russia will have “enough guts” to take action if the country is “on the verge of extinction.”

“It’s better to return everything before it’s too late. Or we will return it ourselves with maximum losses for the enemy. Like in Avdiivka,” he concluded.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian forces were forced to withdraw from the country’s eastern town of Avdiivka after a yearlong battle.

Earlier this month, Medvedev also took to X, formerly Twitter, to criticize NATO allies for their “dangerous babbling” about a potential wider war with Russia.

“The response will be asymmetrical,” he wrote. “To defend our country’s territorial integrity, ballistic and cruise missiles carrying special warheads will be put to use. It is based on our military doctrine documents and is well known to all. And this is exactly that very Apocalypse. The end to everything.”

Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022 to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev, and also to “de-Nazify” its neighbor.

In the same year, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson joined the Russian Federation after holding referendums.

Putin said at the time that Kiev and its backers have to respect the will of the people, vowing to defend the Russian land with all means.

The US-led Western alliance has vowed to back Kiev for as long as the war against Russia continues, flooding Ukraine with weapons and munitions, which Russia says will only prolong the war.

In May 2022, Medvedev said that if the West supplied Ukraine with weapons, the move would increase “the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia.”

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