Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend their truce deal, thanks to the mediation of Qatar, Egypt, and the USA – an agreement that will allow the release of another 20 Israeli hostages (10 for each additional day of ceasefire) in exchange for 60 Palestinian prisoners in the usual ratio of one to three. The extension of the truce, which would otherwise have expired this morning, also brought with it the unblocking of the negotiation on the fourth tranche of hostages which had become complicated. The first agreement had as its objective the release of 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinians. But it was not at all obvious that the extension would actually happen. US President Joe Biden welcomed the progress, claiming to have “constantly pressed” for such an outcome, while UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke of “a ray of hope”. In the end, in the evening, 11 hostages left Gaza – nine children and two mothers, all from the Nir Oz kibbutz – in exchange for the release of 30 minors and three Palestinian women. According to reports from Haaretz, in recent weeks the leader of Hamas in the Strip, Yahya Sinwar met some of the hostages held in the tunnels and stopped and spoke with them in Hebrew – an important proof of the fact that the militia leader is still in Gaza.
Remains of 2 Israeli soldiers also released by Hamas
Hamas also made it known that the next exchanges could concern not only women and children but also other hostages, in particular the Israeli soldiers kidnapped on 7th October. Negotiations, explained Izzat Arshak of the political office of the faction, are to be conducted, however in a “separate” manner compared to that carried out for civilians. Two Israeli vedouins who have trespassed in the Strip have also been prisoners of Hamas for years, which also holds the remains of two soldiers who died in the 2014 conflict. The militiamen then informed Egypt and Qatar that they had identified other Israeli hostages in the Strip: these are in the hands of the Islamic Jihad or even of simple citizens who entered Israel on 7th October following the Hamas militants to raid the kibbutzim.
‘War will resume after truce pause’
If the civilians and displaced people of Gaza can count on a few more days of calm, it does not mean that the war will not resume. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant says that, when Israel returns to fighting Hamas in Gaza, its “strength will be greater, and it will take place throughout the entire Strip”, according to remarks provided by his office. Speaking to troops of the Givati Infantry Brigade and of the Armoured Corps, Gallant says: “You now have a few days, we will return to fighting, we will use the same amount of power and more. We will not stop until we are done.”
American accused of shooting US-Palestinian students
An American man accused of shooting and wounding three college students of Palestinian descent in Burlington, Vermont, over the weekend pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges and was ordered by a judge to remain held without bond. Authorities described the crime as “an act of hatred”. Vermont state attorney Sarah George said there was not yet sufficient evidence to support a hate crime enhancement of the charges against the suspect, identified as Jason Eaton, 48. “There is no question this was a hateful act,” George told reporters. The attack comes during heightened tensions in the United States over the Israel-Hamas war. President Joe Biden said he was “horrified” by the shooting of the students, who had gathered to observe the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
Greek PM unhappy after Sunak cancels talks
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his “displeasure” on Monday over UK counterpart Rishi Sunak’s last minute cancellation of a bilateral meeting set to discuss their long-running dispute over the Parthenon Marbles. The two leaders were due to hold talks today in London, where Mitsotakis has been visiting since Sunday, before news of their axing emerged late Monday amid an apparent spat over the so-called ‘Elgin Marbles’. The sculptures were taken from the Parthenon temple at the Acropolis in Greece in the early 19th century by British diplomat Thomas Bruce, the earl of Elgin. Athens maintains the marbles were stolen, which Britain denies, and the issue has been a source of contention between the countries for decades. Sunak has “no plans” to facilitate their return to Athens, his spokesman said earlier Monday. The Greek leader reportedly declined to meet the Deputy Prime Minister instead.
Leaders must break ‘deadly cycle’ at climate conference – Guterres
UN Secretary General António Guterres has called on the global community to break out of the “deadly cycle” of global warming and melting ice at the poles at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP28, in Dubai. “Leaders must act to limit global temperature rise to 1.5oC, protect people from climate chaos, and end the fossil fuel age,” Guterres told journalists in New York on Monday after returning from a trip to Antarctica. He said that the rapidly-melting sea ice there was contributing to rising sea levels. “That means more storms, floods, fires, and droughts across the globe, and more melting – which means, with less ice, even more heating,” Guterres said. “We are trapped in a deadly cycle and, at COP28, leaders must break this cycle,” the UN chief urged. At the COP28 summit, set to start on Thursday in Dubai, more than 190 countries want to take stock of the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords for the first time. The international community agreed the 1.5oC target in Paris in order to avoid exceeding dangerous tipping points with irreversible consequences and avert the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Shein aims to list on Wall Street
The Chinese ‘fast fashion’ giant Shein has confidentially filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal, which called it one of the most important “in years”. The debut on Wall Street “could happen as early as 2024”, according to informed sources. Goldman Sachs, JpMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley contributed to the application. At the beginning of this year Shein was valued at $66 billion and this IPO could be one of the largest in recent years, explains The Wall Street Journal. Shein reported $23 billion in revenue and $800 million in net profit in 2022 and generated record revenue and profit for the first three quarters of 2023, the newspaper reported. Founded in 2008 in China and now based in Singapore, the company quickly conquered the global ‘fast fashion’ market, It is accused of labour exploitation, encouraging excessive consumption, environmental impact and a lack of transparency regarding its production.
First human case of H1N2 swine flu detected in UK
The UK’s first human case of swine flu strain H1N2 has been detected, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced. Routine surveillance in GP surgeries picked up the case after the person suffered a mild illness; they were not known to have worked with pigs and have fully recovered. The UKHSA said it is now contact tracing those close to the patient to prevent further spread of the virus. The government body’s Director of General Science and Research Isabel Oliver told ITV News more testing was being carried out but added it was “impossible to say” whether more cases would be discovered.
‘Authentic’ is the word of 2023 for Merriam-Webster US dictionary
In an age of fake news, fact-checking and truth-seeking, America’s most prestigious dictionary has decreed that the word of 2023 is ‘authentic’. For Merriam-Webster, which every year decides which word is the most widespread in the US, there has been a “substantial” increase in the use and search for ‘authentic’ due to “stories and conversations on artificial intelligence, celebrities, identity, and social media”. The reason so many have searched for the word is that it has several meanings, according to the dictionary, including “not false or imitation” and “true to one’s personality, soul, or character”. Merriam-Webster also points out that “authentic” has been the term of choice for stars like Sam Smith and Taylor Swift, who made headlines this year with statements about finding their “authentic voice” and their “authentic self”. Another fan of the word is Elon Musk, who has often said that people should be more “authentic” on social media. One of the other words that stood out this year, according to the dictionary, is “deepfake”, closely related to “authentic”. Last year, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year was “gaslighting” – meaning the “psychological manipulation of a person” usually for a long period of time. It was invented in 1938 in Patrick Hamilton’s play ‘Gas Light’, from which two famous films were based in 1940.
Referee awards a penalty to Ronaldo, who says “It’s no penalty”
Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his exploits, but on Monday evening the Al-Nassr striker convinced the referee not to award him a penalty. The 38-year-old fell in the opponent’s penalty area in the second minute after a challenge in the Asian Champions League match against Iranian side Persepolis. But when Chinese referee Ma Ning awarded the penalty, Ronaldo asked for the decision to be overturned, stressing that it was not a foul. Ning was sent to the courtside VAR monitor and ultimately changed his decision. And so a combination of the referee assistant and Cristiano Ronaldo’s honesty saved Persepolis. The match ended 0-0, with Al Nassr’s Ali Lajami sent off in the 17th minute. Al Nassr had already qualified for the knockout stages before the match in Riyadh. The Saudi Pro League side tops Group E with 13 points after five matches and five points ahead of second-placed Persepolis.
Main photo credit: Omar El-Qattaa / AFP