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‘Strong Chance’ of Hostage Deal, Israeli, US Officials Say

Thousands of Jews gather for a mass prayer for the hostages in Gaza at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Jan. 10, 2024. Photo: Yaacov Cohen

The United States, Egypt, Qatar, and Israel are nearing an agreement on a deal that could temporarily halt hostilities in Gaza and secure the return of the hostages, US and Israeli officials said on Sunday. 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN in an interview that representatives from the four countries met in Paris and “came to an understanding about what the basic contours for a hostage deal and for a temporary ceasefire would look like.”

Israeli lawmaker on Sunday Aryeh Deri told the Kikar HaShabbat news site that there was a “strong chance” that a hostage deal would happen but that it would take time. According to Deri, Hamas had not yet responded to the terms of the deal. 

Meanwhile, the state-affiliated Egyptian Al Qahera News network on Sunday reported that talks were continuing in Doha and “would be followed by meetings in Cairo.” 

Sullivan expressed his hope that “in the coming days” there would be a final agreement on the table. 

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stopped short of confirming that a deal was on the offing and said that that for the discussions to progress, Hamas must adopt a more “reasonable” stance. 

In a separate statement to CBS News, Netanyahu discussed Israel’s strategic military considerations, including plans for civilian evacuation in Gaza and military actions against Hamas forces, indicating that these plans would proceed regardless of the negotiation outcomes.

“If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” he told CBS “Face the Nation.”

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri responded by saying that Netanyahu’s comments proved the Israeli leader “is not concerned about reaching an agreement.” 

Netanyahu wants “to pursue negotiation under bombardment and the bloodshed” of Palestinians in Gaza, Abu Zuhri told Reuters. 

Separately on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces announced the death of soldier Sgt. Oz Daniel, 19, who was killed on October 7 along with the rest of his tank crew and his body taken to Gaza. His body is still being held by Hamas.

It marked the fourth IDF death announced over the weekend. Staff-Sgt. Narya Belete, 21, a soldier in the elite Givati reconnaissance unit, Staff-Sgt. Eli Zrihen, 20, from the same unit, and Major Eyal Shuminov, a 24-year-old company commander in the Shaked Battalion of the Givati Brigade, were all killed in Gaza on Saturday, the IDF said.   

A statement by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum noted that Daniel was a skilled guitar player who loved the rock band Guns N’ Roses who “loved life, loved people, had a great sense of humor and a contagious smile.”

He left behind his parents and a twin brother, Hadar.

Of the 253 people abducted to Gaza, the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 31, among them Daniel. 

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

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