U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates later this week, a senior State Department official said on Monday, to press for more humanitarian aid into Gaza and help secure the release of all hostages kidnapped by Hamas.
"The Secretary will stress the need to sustain the increased flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, secure the release of all hostages, and improve protections for civilians in Gaza," a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.
Blinken will also discuss with partners in the region Washington's principles for the future of Gaza and the need for an independent Palestinian state, the official said. He will also attend the UN COP28 climate summit in Dubai, the official added.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, have begun handing over the 11 hostages to the Red Cross, Al Jazeera reported Monday evening.
Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend the truce in Gaza, a White House official said on Monday without offering more details.
The announcement confirms an earlier statement from Qatar's foreign ministry, which indicated that the truce in Gaza has been extended for an additional two days.
"An agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip," a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a post on social media platform X.
Negotiations for the fourth phase of the hostage exchange deal with Hamas are nearing completion, with the final obstacles to its implementation having been resolved, Israeli officials told Ynet.
According to sources, the Palestinian terrorist group has agreed to include two mothers and nine children in the list of 11 hostages scheduled for release on Monday.
The cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas includes a provision that no child in captivity shall be separated from their mother. However, this clause was violated by Hamas during the second phase of the prisoner exchange with the release of Hila Rotem, who was separated from her mother who is still held in Gaza.
The head of Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) confirmed earlier that 11 Israeli hostages are expected to be released on Monday but negotiations remain ongoing for the release of 33 Palestinians.
Diaa Rashwan added that Egypt and Qatar are close to reaching a deal to extend Israel's truce with Gaza by two days. The two-day extension would include the release of 20 Israeli hostages and 60 Palestinian detainees, he said.
An Israeli political source said Monday afternoon ahead of the 4pm time set to begin the fourth round of the release of hostages from Gaza that "there is cautious optimism that it will be possible to perform the fourth release today." CNN reported that one of the problems with the list of hostages provided by Hamas is that there are no mothers on it.
"As mentioned, according to the agreement, children should be released with their mothers," said the source. According to the report, there are nine children and two elderly women on the list. However, a political source noted that "there is cautious optimism that it will be possible to perform the fourth release today."
The Prime Minister's Office referred to reports of problems with the implementation of the fourth step and the discussions surrounding the list, and said in a statement that: "Negotiations on the list of those slated to be released under the framework of the hostages release outline are continuing. We are aware of the tension in the families and will release additional information when possible. We request to refrain from disseminating rumors and unreliable information."
Elon Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu held a live discussion on Musk's X platform from the Knesset early Monday afternoon. After the discussion, Netanyahu showed him the explicit and gory film of Hamas atrocities that they filmed on body cams on October 17. Earlier Monday, Netanyahu and Musk visited Kfar Aza, where Musk got a firsthand look at the aftermath of the Hamas massacre.
President Isaac Herzog visited with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier Kibbutz Be'eri, located near the border with Gaza. Steinmeier announced that the German parliament will contribute 7 million euros for the reconstruction of the kibbutz art gallery. "The ruins behind us are the silent testimony of what happened here. It is not easy to find the words to describe what we heard from those who know and those who witnessed the actions, murders, killings and rapes of Hamas here on October 7," he said.
Ori Megidish, the soldier who was abducted to the Gaza Strip on October 7 and rescued by the IDF about a month ago, posted her first video on Tiktok since returning from captivity by Hamas.
"I am happy to see all the moving videos of the hostages returning home to their families," she said. "I wish to all the families who are still waiting for the hostages to be reunited, and experience the same moments as I experienced. I hope they all come back, and they will come back with God's help. I'm fine, at home with the family. I enjoy it and I'm happy that I got my life back."
Tal Amnu, daughter of Elma Avraham, 84, who was released from Hamas captivity Sunday, commented on her mother's medical condition - which continues to be very serious.
"They abandoned my mother in terms of health; the Red Cross refused to take her medicine to her. She arrived in a daze, all injured. She was abandoned twice – once on October 7, and the second time by all the organizations that should have saved her. I wish they hadn't been able to defeat her," she said.
The families of the hostages who are supposed to be released on Monday have not yet been informed, as Israel and Hamas both dispute the lists of hostages and prisoners that are supposed to be released. Qatari mediators are working with Israel and Hamas to resolve the issues and avoid delays, Reuters reported. On Monday morning, the Prime Minister's Office said that it had received the list of hostages who are supposed to be released Monday from the Gaza Strip, with Israeli officials calling the list "problematic" and saying intensive negotiations are underway to change it.
The private plane of billionaire Elon Musk landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday morning, according to the social media account ElonJet, which follows the movements of the plane around the world. During his visit, Musk is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, and will visit Gaza City. Ynet has learned that Netanyahu intends to show Musk the "atrocity video" documenting the murders of Hamas on October 7, as well as record a joint podcast with him.
Wolfson Hospital in Holon reported Monday morning that the medical condition of Aviva Siegel, 62, released Sunday from Hamas captivity in Gaza, has been upgraded to good. "She recovered throughout the night. Our doctors noted that this morning she is alert and relaxed. Four women who came to us from captivity in Gaza are now hospitalized in the ward," according to the hospital.
Meanwhile, released hostage Elma Avraham, 84, was airlifted to Soroka Hospital in very serious condition after her release on Sunday where doctors are reported to be fighting for her life. Hospital director Dr. Shlomi Kodesh said that Avraham was in "poor physical condition" and "life-threatening condition" stemming from a "prolonged period in which she likely did not receive proper care. The lack of treatment has led to the situation we are now dealing with."
The US military said early Monday morning that two ballistic missiles were launched from the Houthi-controlled area of Yemen at the destroyer USS Mason, after it assisted in the rescue of the tanker The Central Park, which was "taken over" by an unidentified force yesterday. US Central Command said that the missiles hit the water about 16 km from the destroyer. Five armed men abandoned the tanker and tried to escape using a small boat, but the destroyer chased them until they surrendered.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said late on Sunday that evidence suggested a misfired rocket was the likely cause of an explosion that resulted in heavy casualties at a hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17. The explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital triggered outrage across the Arab world. Palestinians blamed an Israeli air strike, while Israel said it was caused by a misfiring Palestinian rocket launch. The health ministry in Gaza said 471 people were killed. Israel disputes this figure.
"The explosion that killed and injured many civilians at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on October 17, 2023, resulted from an apparent rocket-propelled munition, such as those commonly used by Palestinian armed groups..," HRW said. It said the findings of its investigation into the explosion were based on a review of photos and videos, satellite imagery and interviews with witnesses and experts.
First published: 10:29, 11.27.23