Israel And Hamas Reach Deal To Release Hostages And Pause Fighting 

According to reports from NBC, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a deal in which 50 women and children who were kidnapped and held in Gaza will be released while both sides take a pause on fighting with each other. The deal will also involve 150 Palestinian women and children being released from Israeli jails, as well as the delivery of hundreds of aid trucks. 

The US and other nations have been putting pressure on Israel and Palestine to reach a deal to stop the violence. Local officials in Gaza have stated that more than 14,000 people, including 5,000 children, have been killed from Israel’s air strikes and ground assaults. More than 1.6 million Palestinians have been displaced in what’s being called a “mounting humanitarian crisis.”

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Israel’s government approved the deal on Wednesday with Hamas confirming the deal in a statement, claiming this is “a chance to consolidate the will of our victorious resistance. All hostages exchanged by both sides must be under the age of 19, although this detail was not mentioned by any other party.”

Hamas carried out an attack on Israel on October 7th in which some 1,200 people were killed. 

Three Americans could be part of the first group of hostages released: two adults and a 3-year-old girl named Abigail,” a senior Biden administration official said.

The pause in fighting will last four days. Israeli drones that have been responsible for a majority of the attacks in Palestine will cease to fly, and Hamas will be consolidating the remaining hostages. 

“The deal includes an option to extend the pause in exchange for 10 hostages released per day,” the Israeli official said.

This pause also means that more fuel and supply trucks will be able to enter Gaza, as Israel has been resisting this due to the fact that it “can be used by Hamas to launch rockets and power tunnels, along with as many as 300 to 400 daily humanitarian aid trucks, according to a senior U.S. official and a source familiar with the talks in the region.”

A senior Israeli official said the “government would release 150 Palestinian women and children,” none of which are accused of killing Israelis directly.

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According to Patrick Smith, Corky Siemaszko and Alexander Smith of NBC, “Netanyahu’s office released a list of 300 prisoners eligible for release under the agreement. On the list, 123 are teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17, held on allegations from throwing rocks and contacting banned terrorist groups, to attempted stabbings and planning suicide attacks. 

There are 33 women, ages 18 to 59, accused of crimes such as nonfatal stabbings and recruiting and transferring money for terror groups. And 144 are 18-year-old males, who appeared to fall outside the original criteria put forward by Israel, meaning it was unclear when they would be released.”

Israel is holding more than 4,700 Palestinians, including 146 minors, in detention on what it calls security grounds,” according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. 

“In addition some 1,300 Palestinians are under administrative detention — which means they are being held without trial and without having committed an offense, on the grounds they plan to break the law in the future,” B’Tselem says. 

The Red Cross will also now be allowed access to the hostages in Gaza to provide them with medicine and other supplies. 

Biden said in a statement late Tuesday he welcomed the agreement.

“First lady Jill Biden “and I have been keeping all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented,” he said.


Thousands Of Civilians Flee North Gaza As Israeli Troops And Hamas Battle 

Thousands of Palestinian civilians have begun fleeing north Gaza this week as they seek refuge from Israeli air strikes and ground fighting between the troops and Hamas. Israel announced the four-hour window of opportunity they gave to residents to evacuate the area or risk being stuck among the violence, according to reports from Reuters

Health officials in Palestine stated that an air strike has hit refugee camp houses in Nuseirat which killed 18 people, and in Khan Younis six individuals were killed in an air strike, including a young girl. 

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“We were sitting in peace when all of a sudden an F16 air strike landed on a house and blew it up, the entire block, three houses next to each other. Civilians, all of them civilians. An old woman, an old man and there are others still missing under the rubble,” said a witness, Mohammed Abu Daqa.

Chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said “combat engineers were using explosive devices to destroy a Hamas tunnel network that stretches for hundreds of kilometers (miles) beneath Gaza.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the military said it had “destroyed 130 tunnel shafts so far. Combat engineers fighting in Gaza are destroying the enemy’s weapons and are locating, exposing and detonating tunnel shafts,” it said.

“It is … important to make Israel understand that it is against (its) interests to see every day the terrible image of the dramatic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. That doesn’t help Israel in relation to the global public opinion,”  U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told Reuters.

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Palestine officials have said that over 10,500 people have been killed with 40% of them being children. “The level of death and suffering is hard to fathom,” UN health agency spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said. 

A senior Israeli official told reporters in Washington late on Tuesday that “Israel has no intention of reoccupying the Gaza Strip or controlling it for a long time. We assess that our current operations are effective and successful, and we’ll continue to push. It’s not unlimited or forever.”

One witness who’s currently sheltering with her young children in an improvised tent discussed what it’s like for those who remain stuck in the northern Gaza city: 

“The situation is getting worse day after day. There is no food, no water. When my son goes to pick up water, he queues for three or four hours in the line. They struck bakeries, we don’t have bread.” 

“Thousands of Palestinians fleeing from the north wearily made their way in a long line past wrecked and bomb-scarred buildings,” witnesses said.

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Philippines Officials Accuse Chinese Coastguard Of Intentionally Colliding With Vessels

This Monday, officials from the Philippines accused the Chinese coastguard of “intentionally” colliding with their vessels that were on a resupply mission in a part of the South China Sea, according to reports from Reuters

Both China and the Philippine’s blamed each other for the collisions, with the most serious one being this past Sunday; no one was harmed luckily.

China stated that the Philippine boats “bumped dangerously with Chinese fishing vessels” and coastguard vessels. On Monday, China’s embassy in Manila stated that they “called on the Philippines government to stop causing trouble and provocation at sea and to stop smearing China’s reputation with groundless attacks,” according to Reuters.  

On the Philippine’s end, officials from their coastguard, foreign ministry, defense ministry, national security council, and armed forces have condemned the Chinese coast guard for their actions and handling of the collisions. 

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US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told his Philippine counterpart, Eduardo Ano, that they have the US’s support, emphasizing that they too believed China’s actions were “dangerous and unlawful.”

Gilberto Teodoro, the Philippines Defense Secretary, stated in a news conference that “Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels, in blatant violation of international law, harassed and intentionally hit [Manila’s supply boat and coastguard].” 

“This is a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government in the West Philippine Sea in complete disregard of any norm or convention of international law,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro also emphasized “the support of our allies and like-minded nations such as the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and European Union in condemning China’s aggression and expansionist actions.”


Swiss Glaciers Have Lost 10% Of Their Volume In The Last Two Years

Swiss glaciers have lost 10% of their volume in two years, a report has found. The analysis from the Swiss Academy of Sciences have credited climate change as the reasoning behind the accelerated melting. 

The scientists have claimed that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the unusually hot summers and winters with low snow levels that we’ve experienced in recent years. The overall hotter temperatures have led to glaciers all over the world experiencing accelerated melting. 

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According to the report, the volume lost in the Swiss glaciers between the summers of 2022 and 2023 equates to the volume lost between 1960 and 1990. 

The analysis also found that 4% of Switzerland’s total glacier volume disappeared last year, which marks the second biggest annual decline on record. The largest decline on record was in 2022 with a 6% drop. 

Experts have also stopped measuring certain glaciers and the amount of ice it’s lost due to the fact that their decline has been so rapid. Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland (Glamos), which keeps track of 176 glaciers, just recently stopped recording data for the St. Annafirn glacier in the central Swiss canton of Uri due to the fact that it’s mostly melted at this point. 

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Matthias Huss, the head of Glamos, stated:

“We just had some dead ice left. It’s a combination of climate change that makes such extreme events more likely, and the very bad combination of meteorological extremes. If we continue at this rate … we will see every year such bad years.” 

Small glaciers are disappearing from ice loss, and in order to stop these glaciers from melting, carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels must be halted. However, Huss stated that even if the world managed to “keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels,” only one third of the glacier volume in Switzerland will remain. 

“All the small glaciers will be gone anyway, and the big glaciers will be much smaller. There will be some ice in the highest regions of the Alps and some glaciers that we can show to our grandchildren,” Huss stated.


Morocco Earthquake Death Toll Nears 2,900 With Over 5,500 Injured 

Nearly 3,000 individuals have been reported dead after the devastating earthquake that hit Morocco last Friday. Over 5,500 people are injured as search and rescue efforts throughout the destroyed terrain continue.

Authorities are losing hope of finding any more survivors as a majority of the roads have now been blocked off, making it difficult to reach remote villages in rural mountainous areas that were likely impacted the most by the quake. 

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According to Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior, the death toll currently is at 2,901 with 5,530 individuals injured in the nation’s deadliest earthquake since 1960.

Vehicles with rescue supplies are continuously making there way towards roads in the mountains to deliver food and tents to survivors while search teams continue to search through rubble for more people. 

Stefanie Dekker, a reporter for Al Jazeera, reported from the village of Imi N’Tala that the situation is dire:

“The village is completely flattened and devastated. The stench of death is everywhere. There are still at least 40 bodies under the rubble. Massive chunks of the mountain came down, smashing into these villages. Entire families have been wiped out.”

“One man was pointing at his home. There was a white door that remained standing, and he was telling us that that was the door to his house. He started crying about how he ran out of the door and everything collapsed around him. He lost both his sons and his wife. He was screaming because he saw his wife’s abaya under the rubble. It was heartbreaking,” Dekker said.

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“The problem is the access to these places. There are narrow, winding roads. There are still many places that they have not been able to reach.”

Search and rescue teams from Qatar, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United Arab emirates have been stationed throughout Morocco working with emergency teams, the military, and other officials. 

The United States and United Nations have also sent teams to the nation to help assess the damage and collaborate on response efforts. 

Head of the Menara district in Marrakesh, Abdel Wahed Chafiki, said “it is difficult to determine the total number of victims. The rugged mountainous terrain where the earthquake struck is making it a challenge to get to victims, but local authorities are continuing their relief efforts and providing assistance.”

“The army is doing [its] job to bring these people out of the ground, but also it’s very, very difficult to reach these places, so you can imagine that there is no food, but also there’s no blankets or beds where people can sleep,” said Errachid Montassir, an activist and humanitarian worker, who has been traveling with doctors to remote villages in the Atlas Mountains.

Rebuilding all that has been damaged, lost, and destroyed is going to be a long journey, as Morocco’s economy was already on the decline before the earthquake due to a lack of tourism.


At Least 55 Individuals Dead In Maui Due To Wildfires 

The wildfires in Maui have killed at least 55 people and wiped out one of their most historic towns. Hawaii emergency management records have shown that there was no indication that warning sirens sounded before individuals started running for their lives. 

Residents, instead, received alerts on their phones, TV’s, and radios, however, widespread power outages limited the reach of these warnings. 

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According to reports, the wildfires are Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster since the 1961 tsunami which killed 61 people, and the 1946 tsunami which killed 150 people on the Big Island. These events are what prompted the development of Hawaii’s emergency alert system which includes around 400 sirens throughout the chain of islands. 

Many survivors, however, stated in interviews that they didn’t hear any sirens of warning that would typically give them enough time to prepare and get as far away from danger as possible. 

Search and rescue operations are still currently underway, and Governor Josh Green warned that the death toll is likely to rise. 

At least three wildfires spread in Maui this week due to the dry summer and strong winds brought on by a passing hurricane. 

Lahaina was greatly impacted, and is reported to look like a gray, ash covered area filled with the bones of buildings and torched palm trees and boats. 

“Without a doubt, it feels like a bomb was dropped on Lahaina,” the governor stated. 

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Firefighters were able to create perimeters around more of the Lahaina area and fires as well as another nearby. 

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Adam Weintraub told The Associated Press that “the department’s records don’t show that Maui’s warning sirens were triggered on Tuesday, when the Lahaina fire began. Instead, the county used emergency alerts sent to mobile phones, televisions and radio stations,” Weintraub said.

Maui Fire Department Chief Brad Ventura said “the fire moved so quickly from brush to neighborhoods that it was impossible to get messages to the emergency management agencies responsible for alerts.

What we experienced was such a fast-moving fire through the … initial neighborhood that caught fire they were basically self-evacuating with fairly little notice,” Ventura said.

Bobby Lee, the president of the Hawaii Firefighters Association, stated: Maui’s firefighting efforts may also have been hampered by a small staff. There are a maximum of 65 firefighters working at any given time in Maui County, and they are responsible for fighting fires on three islands — Maui, Molokai and Lanai —” he said.


President Joe Biden States NATO Won’t Consider Ukraine Membership Until War With Russia Ends

President Joe Biden was recently interviewed by CNN, where he discussed how Ukraine is not going to be able to get a membership with NATO until the war with Russia ends. 

Biden spoke with Fareed Zakaria of CNN to discuss how the US and its allies in NATO would continue to provide Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his forces the security and weapons needed to end the war with Russia. 

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“I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden said

“For example, if you did that, then, you know – and I mean what I say – we’re determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory. It’s a commitment that we’ve all made no matter what. If the war is going on, then we’re all in war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case.”

“I think we have to lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO,” Biden said, stating that he “refused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands before the war for a commitment not to admit Ukraine because the alliance has an open-door policy.”

“But I think it’s premature to say, to call for a vote, you know, in now, because there’s other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues,” Biden said.

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Biden is also gearing up for a weeklong trip to Europe that will include a NATO summit in Lithuania, where the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Zelensky’s push for NATO membership, will be discussed. 

Biden also discussed key foreign policy challenges involving China, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, stating that he feels like Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to replace the US as the nation with the largest economy and military capacity in the world, however, he also stated that he believes the US can have a working relationship with Beijing. 

“I think there is a way to resolve, to establish a working relationship with China that benefits them and us,” Biden said. 

“And the last thing I’ll tell you, I also called him after he had that meeting with the Russians about this new relationship, etc. And I said, ‘This is not a threat. It’s an observation.’ I said, ‘Since Russia went into Ukraine, 600 American corporations have pulled out of Russia. And you’ve told me that your economy depends on investment from Europe and the United States. And be careful. Be careful,’” Biden explained.


Thousands Of Citizens Evacuate Philippines As Mount Mayon Volcano Begins Spewing Lava And Sulfuric Gas 

Nearly 13,000 Philippine residents in the southeast of the country’s main island have been evacuated as the Mount Mayon volcano began spewing lava and sulfuric gas on Sunday, according to authorities. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recommended that everyone within a 3.7 mile radius of the Mount Mayon volcano is in a “danger zone” and should be evacuated as they’re at risk of rockfalls, landslides, and ballistic fragments. 

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On Thursday, the alert level on the volcano reached a 3 out of 5, leading to 88% of residents living within the danger zone to be evacuated. Efforts to relocate the rest are continuous, according to the Philippine Provincial Information Office. 

Mayon is known as one of the world’s most active volcanoes, located on Luzon island about 205 miles southeast of Manila. 

Phivolcs warned that a “hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days after detecting a relatively high level of unrest at the volcano.”

Phivolcs has also stated that within the past 24 hours, the Mayon Volcano network recorded 21 weak volcanic earthquakes, 260 rockfalls, and lava flow activity from the crater. THe agency also detected three pyroclastic density currents, which are very hot and fast-moving flows of ash, hot gases, and debris. 

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According to CNN Philippines, on Friday the government was able to release response funds to support affected residents after Albay province was placed under a state of calamity. 

Phivolcs director Teresito Bacolcol said they were “closely monitoring the situation at the volcano, and we could raise the alert level to 4 if there is an increase in volcanic earthquakes and inflation of the volcano’s edifice.”

Bacolcol also said “there was an effusive eruption Sunday night with lava flows observed to reach 1,640 feet from the volcano’s summit.”

“Lava flows are slow moving and effusive eruptions are generally less violent and produce less ash and volcanic gases than explosive eruptions,” he stated.

10,000 farm animals that were located in areas threatened by the volcano were also evacuated to feeding camps and shelters outside of the danger zone. Rescue and repair efforts are continuous and ongoing as authorities continue to monitor the Volcanoes activity. 


Climate Change Activists Dump Charcoal In Rome’s Trevi Fountain

Climate change activists in Rome, Italy turned the blue water of the Trevi Fountain black with diluted charcoal this past Sunday. 

The group consisted of 10 individuals from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione, which translates to ‘Last Generation.’ The group carried multiple banners, one of which stated “Let’s not pay for fossil campaigns considering what is happening in Emilia Romagna,” specifically referring to northern Italy, where there are multiple floods which some experts have linked to climate change. 

“Our country is dying.”

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Rome police stated that all of the activists were arrested and are facing vandalism charges. 

The counselor for personnel, urban security, local police, and local authorities in the Lazio region, Luisa Regimenti, condemned the recent act in a written statement. 

“This was the umpteenth demonstrative act of eco-vandals that hit a symbol of Rome universally known in the world.”

“[Dying the fountain] was a serious gesture, a worrying escalation that must be stopped with a safety plan for the monuments and the works of art most at risk in Rome and Lazio,” she continued. 

Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri tweeted: “Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. Today the #FontanadiTrevi was smeared. Expensive and complex to restore, hoping there is no permanent damage. I invite activists to compete on a confrontational terrain without putting the monuments at risk.”

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Mayor Gualtieri also explained to the local media that in order to correct the dying of the fountain, authorities would have to empty the dyed water and dispose of it: “This will involve a significant intervention. It will cost time, effort, and water.” 

This incident marks the third time this year that a famous Italian fountain was used for activists protesting for action to be taken towards flooding cities. 

In May, charcoal was dumped into the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, and in April, the Barcaccia fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps endured the same fate. The Last Generation has claimed responsibility for all three incidents. 

“Charcoal in the water of the Trevi Fountain, 1 out of 4 houses in Italy is vulnerable to floods. How much longer do we have to wait for those in government to take concrete action?”

Flooding in the northern Italian area has killed at least 14 people and displaced more than 36,000 residents. 

“The climate crisis is affecting territories with increasingly intense extreme events, with risks to people’s lives, and impacts on the environment and the economy. And Italy once again proves unprepared,” said Italian environmentalist association Legambiente in a press release.


More Than 29,000 People Evacuate Alberta Region Of Canada Due To Wildfires 

Officials are stating the Alberta region of Canada is enduring an “unprecedented situation” as more than 29,000 individuals were forced to flee their homes due to the spreading of more than 100 wildfires. 

Within the past 24 hours, 16 new fires have started in Alberta, according to Wildfire Information Unit Lead Christie Tucker. 

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Firefighters around the province are currently battling 108 active wildfires, according to Tucker, 31 of those wildfires were burning “out of control.”

This wildfire activity is quite uncommon for this early summer season, and firefighters aren’t used to seeing such a large mass of land burned. Bone-dry environmental conditions and abnormally hot weather, combined with high winds are said to be the biggest contributor to the “really extreme wildfire activity.” 

This year, so far, wildfires in Alberta have burned a total of 375,000 hectares of land, about 926,000 acres; a majority of which has occurred within the last few days.

Tucker also stated that additional firefighters and resources are currently heading to Alberta from across the country to assist the battle against the wildfires. Scattered showers on Sunday helped calm some of the blazes and tame some of the fires that were in difficult to reach places. 

Firefighters are now hoping that the cooler temperature and higher humidity brought on by the rain will help them as they fight the fires.

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“Up north, it’s still very dry. We’re still seeing winds and we are expecting a continuation of those kinds of conditions that can lead to extreme wildfire behavior,” Tucker said at a news conference. 

“Communities in Alberta have seen some extremely hot temperatures in the past week, with the capital city of Edmonton hitting 31 degrees Celsius, about 88 degrees Fahrenheit, on Wednesday and Thursday – more than 10 degrees above average,” according to the Canada Centre for Climate Services.

“The region has also seen a lack of precipitation which may have contributed to the extreme fire conditions in Alberta, drying out land and making fires more difficult to contain,” CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

“So far, about 5,000 people have sought refuge at evacuation centers, “Alberta Emergency Management chief Colin Blair said.

Multiple hospitals have been fully evacuated and many roads in north and central Alberta, where a hefty amount of the fires are currently, have been closed.

“We have so many fires, so spread out and it’s because we’ve seen unprecedented conditions this spring. … It’s been an unusual year,” Tucker said.