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Blinken Pushes for More Aid for Gaza in Talks With Israel’s Netanyahu

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks from an aircraft as he arrives in Israel, as the push for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel continues, in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday for talks aimed at ensuring more aid flows into Gaza, amid increasingly tense relations between the two allies over the six-month-old war.

In Gaza, Israel claimed to have killed or captured hundreds of Hamas terrorists in a five-day operation at the Al Shifa hospital complex, the largest medical facility in the Palestinian enclave before the war.

Blinken, on his sixth trip to the Middle East since the war broke out on Oct. 7, has been engaged in an intense round of diplomacy since arriving in the region on Wednesday, meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and foreign ministers and officials from Arab nations in Cairo on Thursday.

Parallel meetings are also taking place in Doha on Friday aimed at securing a ceasefire in the conflict.

The top US diplomat’s latest visit to Israel comes at a time of strained ties between the two countries, with US President Joe Biden calling Israel‘s campaign in Gaza “over the top” and saying it has had too great a toll on civilian lives.

Prior to the meeting with Netanyahu, which lasted about 40 minutes, Blinken said he would address the growing gap between the two countries in his one-on-one conversation. He also met with the Israeli war cabinet.

Blinken said he would push Netanyahu to take urgent steps to allow more aid into the enclave.

The war was triggered by a raid into southern Israel by Hamas terrorists who killed 1,200 and took 253 hostages in a massacre that included mass rape and other atrocities.

US officials say the number of aid deliveries via land needs to increase fast and that aid needs to be sustained over a long period. Israel says it is not restricting aid.

“A hundred percent of the population of Gaza is experiencing severe levels of acute food insecurity. We cannot, we must not allow that to continue,” Blinken told a news conference late on Thursday.

Israeli Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel‘s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said the military does not believe there is a food shortage in the enclave.

“As much as we know, by our analysis, there is no starvation in Gaza. There is a sufficient amount of food entering Gaza every day,” he told reporters.

Blinken is also expected to discuss Israel’s intention to launch a ground offensive on Rafah, the Hamas terror group’s last stronghold in Gaza and where more than half of the enclave’s population is now sheltering.

Washington has repeatedly objected to such a plan. Netanyahu told Biden in a phone call on Monday that Israel sees no other way to defeat Hamas terrorists it says are holed up there.

Last week, the leader of Biden’s Democratic Party in the US Senate called Netanyahu an obstacle to peace and said Israelis should vote him out. Biden called it a “good speech”; Netanyahu called it “inappropriate” and later held a video conference with lawmakers from Biden’s Republican opposition.


The discussion on Friday will likely lay the groundwork for meetings in Washington between senior Israeli and US officials next week, when the United States will present to the Israelis alternative ways to hunt down Hamas without resorting to a full-on assault that would endanger more civilian lives.

Talks in Qatar on a truce are focused on a proposal for a six-week halt to fighting during which some 40 Israeli hostages being held by Hamas would be released, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

However, Israel is only prepared to commit to a temporary pause to the conflict and has repeatedly said it will push on with its campaign to achieve its aim of eradicating Hamas, which controls Gaza. Hamas wants a permanent end to the war and for Israeli troops to withdraw.

Blinken on Thursday said the gaps were narrowing.

In Gaza, fighting has been concentrated in recent days on the Al Shifa hospital complex.

Israeli troops entered the facility on Monday and have been combing through the sprawling complex, which they say is connected to a tunnel network used by Hamas.

Israel said it had killed hundreds of fighters and detained more than 500 suspects in its operation on Al Shifa, including 358 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian terrorist group. It said three senior Islamic Jihad military commanders and two Hamas officials responsible for operations in the West Bank were detained, as well as other Hamas internal security officials.

“Those who did not surrender to our forces fought against our forces and were eliminated,” Israel‘s Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a briefing late on Thursday.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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