Gaza: Thousands rally for hostage deal as ceasefire talks continue – Newstrends
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Gaza: Thousands rally for hostage deal as ceasefire talks continue

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Gaza: Thousands rally for hostage deal as ceasefire talks continue

Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied late into the night calling for a deal to bring hostages home, ahead of further ceasefire talks.

Protesters in Tel Aviv chanted “war is not holy, life is”, with some accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of aiming to prolong the conflict.

It came as a Hamas delegation met mediators in Egypt on Saturday.

The group said there were no new developments, but added “a new round will begin” on Sunday.

Negotiators have resumed long-running negotiations in Cairo – brokered by Egypt and Qatar – on pausing Israel’s offensive in Gaza in return for freeing hostages.

The main sticking point appears to be whether the deal would be temporary or permanent.

It is thought the wording being discussed involves a 40-day pause in fighting while hostages are released, and the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

An adviser to the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said the group was looking at the latest proposal with “full seriousness”.

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But he repeated a demand that any deal would have to explicitly include an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and complete end to the war.

An anonymous Israeli government official told local media on Saturday that Israel would “under no circumstances agree to end the war as part of an agreement to free our abductees”.

They added: “The IDF will enter Rafah and destroy the remaining Hamas battalions there – whether there is a temporary pause to free our captives or not.”

Mr Netanyahu has faced pressure from within his far-right coalition to press ahead with the long-promised offensive in Gaza’s southern-most city, where an estimated 1.4 million people have taken shelter after fleeing fighting in northern and central parts of the strip.

The US – Israel’s biggest diplomatic and military ally – is reluctant to back a new offensive that could cause significant civilian casualties, and has insisted on seeing a plan to protect displaced Palestinians first.

Saturday’s demonstrations in Israel were the latest display of the increased domestic pressure Mr Netanyahu is facing to secure the return of the hostages.

Of the 252 who were kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October, 128 are still unaccounted for – and among them, at least 34 are presumed dead.

Natalie Eldor, a protester in Tel Aviv, told Reuters news agency she was there to “support a deal now, yesterday”.

“We need to bring all the hostages back, the live ones, the dead ones. We got to bring them back. We got to switch this government,” she added.

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Some who gathered at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv accused the prime minister of undermining the proposed truce, while others called for an end to the war.

Addressing the prospects of a truce on Saturday, minister Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said: “An official response to the outline has not yet been received. When accepted – the war management cabinet will meet and discuss it.

“Until then, I suggest to the ‘political sources’ and all decision-makers to wait for official updates, to act calmly and not to get into hysteria for political reasons.”

Ceasefire talks have gone on for months without a breakthrough, and there has not been a pause in fighting or a release of hostages since the end of November.

There have been moments at which a new agreement has seemed imminent – only to fall through before being signed.

A source familiar with this latest round of discussions told the BBC that the negotiations were still complex, and any breakthrough could still take several days.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations’ World Food Programme has warned that northern Gaza is now experiencing a “full-blown famine”.

Cindy McCain warned the catastrophic situation in the territory was spreading south in an interview with US media.

“What we are asking for and what we’ve continually asked for is a ceasefire and the ability to have unfettered access to get in safe,” Ms McCain said.

The war began after waves of Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza’s border into Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages. The group is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by many Western countries.

During the subsequent Israeli military campaign in Gaza, more than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed and over 77,900 wounded, according to figures from the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Gaza: Thousands rally for hostage deal as ceasefire talks continue

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Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

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Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

A stage has collapsed in heavy winds at a political campaign rally in northern Mexico.

The unforseen incident killed at least nine people, including a child, and injured 121, the governor of Nuevo Leon State said on Thursday.

The collapse occurred during an event Wednesday evening attended by presidential long-shot candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who ran to escape. Videos of the collapse on social media showed people screaming, running away, and climbing out from under metal polls.

The victims “will not be alone in this tragedy,” Máynez told reporters Wednesday night, adding that he had suspended upcoming campaign events.

Afterward, soldiers, police, and other officials roamed the grounds of the park where the event took place, while many nearby sat stunned and haunted by the tragedy.

In a video message, Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Garcia, a leading member of Máynez’s Citizens Movement party, said 94 of the injured were treated and released, but 27 remained hospitalized. State health authorities said a lot of the injuries involved skull fractures. Garcia said three victims were undergoing surgery and appeared to be in critical condition.

Garcia said the accident occurred “in a matter of seconds.”

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said most of the injured were women. He absolved Máynez’s Citizens Movement party — widely viewed as an implicit ally of López Obrador’s Morena party — of blame even before investigations were carried out.

“We know that they are not to blame,” the president said Thursday.

Condolences poured in from across Mexico, including from the other two presidential candidates.

Máynez wrote in his social media accounts that he went to a hospital after the accident in the wealthy suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, near the city of Monterrey. He said he was in good condition.

“The only important thing at this point is to care for the victims of the accident,” he wrote.

Videos of the accident showed Máynez waving his arm as the crowd chanted his name. But then he looked up to see a giant screen and metal structure toppling towards him. He ran rapidly towards the back of the stage to avoid the falling structure, which appeared to consist of relatively light framework pieces as well as what appeared to be a screen with the party’s logo and theatre-style lights.

Máynez has been running third in the polls in the presidential race, trailing both front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena Party and opposition coalition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez. Both sent their condolences, and Sheinbaum cancelled a campaign event in nearby Monterrey the next day “in solidarity” with the victims and their loved ones.

“My condolences and prayers are with the families of the dead, and my wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured,” wrote Gálvez in a social media post.

The accident happened at the height of campaign season, with many events held this week and next in anticipation of the June 2 presidential, state, and municipal elections.

The campaign had so far been plagued by the killings of about two dozen candidates for local offices.

Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

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Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

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Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

Norway, Ireland and Spain said Wednesday they would recognize a Palestinian state, a historic but largely symbolic move that further deepens Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas in Gaza. Israel immediately denounced the decisions and recalled its ambassadors to the three countries.

Palestinians welcomed the announcements as an affirmation of their decades-long quest for statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — territories Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

While some 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the United Nations — recognize a Palestinian state, Wednesday’s cascade of announcements could build momentum at a time when even close allies of Israel have piled on criticism for its conduct in Gaza.

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It was the second blow to Israel’s international reputation this week after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister. The International Court of Justice is also considering allegations of genocide that Israel has strenuously denied.

Israel recalled its ambassadors to the three countries and summoned their envoys, accusing the Europeans of rewarding the militant Hamas group for its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the European ambassadors would watch grisly video footage of the attack.

Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

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Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

Israel has called on “nations of the civilised world” to refuse to comply with any International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants issued against its leaders.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, announced on Monday that his office had applied to a pre-trial panel for arrest warrants for three senior Hamas officials. Khan also stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant would be sought for arrest for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Hamas attack on October 7 and the ensuing seven-month war in Gaza.

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The announcement sparked outrage among Israeli officials, the public, and the country’s allies. In an official response on Tuesday, Israeli government spokesperson Tal Heinrich said, “We call on the nations of the civilised, free world – nations who despise terrorists and anyone who supports them – to stand by Israel. You should outright condemn this step.”

Heinrich continued, “Make sure the ICC understands where you stand. Oppose the prosecutor’s decision and declare that, even if warrants are issued, you do not intend to enforce them. Because this is not about our leaders. It’s about our survival.”

The ICC prosecutor emphasized that while Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, this does not “absolve Israel or any state of its obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.”

Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

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