Fragile truce in Gaza is back on track after hourslong delay in a second hostage-for-prisoner swap
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The tense cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appeared to be back on track early Sunday after the release of a second group of militant-held hostages and Palestinians from Israeli prisons, but the swap followed an hourslong delay that underscored the truce's fragility.
The exchange was delayed Saturday evening after Hamas accused Israel of violating the agreement, which has brought the first significant pause in seven weeks of war marked by the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades, vast destruction and displacement across the Gaza Strip, and a hostage crisis that has shaken Israel.
The deal seemed at risk of unraveling until Qatar and Egypt, which mediate with Hamas, announced late Saturday that the obstacles to the exchange had been overcome. The militants released 17 hostages, including 13 Israelis, while Israel freed 39 Palestinian prisoners.
Thousands of people gathered in central Tel Aviv late Saturday to call for the release of all the estimated 240 people captured by Hamas in its Oct. 7 rampage across southern Israel, which ignited the war. They accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of not doing enough to bring them back.
Pressure from the hostages' families and lingering anger over Israel's failure to prevent the attack have sharpened the dilemma facing the country's leaders who seek to eliminate Hamas as a military and governing power while bringing all the captives back safely.
Israeli forces kill at least 8 Palestinians in surging West Bank violence, health officials say
JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) — Israeli forces operating in the occupied West Bank killed at least eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, in a 24-hour period, Palestinian health officials said Sunday, as a fragile pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip entered its third day.
Violence in the West Bank has surged in the weeks since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, setting off a devastating war in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians and arrested hundreds in the West Bank. Jewish West Bank settlers have also stepped up attacks.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that five Palestinians were killed in the militant stronghold of Jenin, while three others were killed in separate areas of the West Bank since Saturday morning. One of those killed, in al-Bireh in the central West Bank, was a teenager, the ministry said.
The Israeli military said it killed five Palestinians in a gunbattle during its operation in the Jenin refugee camp, where it was arresting a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli father and son at a West Bank car wash earlier in the year.
The military said those killed were militants. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group claimed one of the men, identified as Asaad al-Damj, 33, as a member, while the remainder were not immediately linked to militant groups. The military said, without specifying further, that it was backed by air power that struck and wounded what it said were armed Palestinians.
Dead, wounded or AWOL: The voices of desperate Russian soldiers trying to get out of the Ukraine war
In audio intercepts from the front lines in Ukraine, Russian soldiers speak in shorthand of 200s to mean dead, 300s to mean wounded. The urge to flee has become common enough that they also talk of 500s — people who refuse to fight.
As the war grinds into its second winter, a growing number of Russian soldiers want out, as suggested in secret recordings obtained by The Associated Press of Russian soldiers calling home from the battlefields of the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.
The calls offer a rare glimpse of the war as it looked through Russian eyes — a point of view that seldom makes its way into Western media, largely because Russia has made it a crime to speak honestly about the conflict in Ukraine. They also show clearly how the war has progressed, from the professional soldiers who initially powered Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion to men from all walks of life compelled to serve in grueling conditions.
“There’s no f------ ‘dying the death of the brave’ here,” one soldier told his brother from the front in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. “You just die like a f------ earthworm.”
The prospect of another wave of mobilization lingers, even as Moscow has been trying to lure people into signing contracts with the military. Russia’s annual autumn conscription draft kicked off in October, pulling in some 130,000 fresh young men. Though Moscow says conscripts won’t be sent to Ukraine, after a year of service they automatically become reservists — prime candidates for mobilization.
Skyscraper-studded Dubai has flourished during regional crises. Could it benefit from hosting COP28?
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In a city known for its excesses, whether reaching toward the sky with the world's tallest building or hard partying at its beach resorts and bars, Dubai has pulled off another record-breaking feat in the rolling dunes of its desert outskirts.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, named for the ruling sheikh of Dubai, stretches across some 122 square kilometers (47 square miles) and represents a pledge of billions of dollars by this city-state to reach its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. It's a solar-paneled gamble in a city where casinos have yet to arrive — though it always seems to be betting big no matter the risk.
Rising rapidly from a creek-bound pearling village to a city associated with international glamor, Dubai has a long history of finding economic success amid the war-ravaged woes of the wider Middle East. Its ruling family likely views the upcoming United Nations COP28 climate talks as another such opportunity, though it carries the significant peril of becoming synonymous with a collapse in negotiations on limiting greenhouse emissions, or being overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
There's a risk of reputational damage to the UAE if they fail to make any traction in the talks, particularly as they are a major oil producer, said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute who has long studied the region.
“There is also a risk that media and civil society coverage will focus critically on issues such as the UAE’s planned expansion of oil production capacity and depict the UAE as part of the part of the problem rather than the solution in terms of climate politics,” Ulrichsen added.
One of world's largest icebergs drifting beyond Antarctic waters after it was grounded for 3 decades
LONDON (AP) — One of the world’s largest icebergs is drifting beyond Antarctic waters, after being grounded for more than three decades, according to the British Antarctic Survey.
The iceberg, known as A23a, split from the Antarctic's Filchner Ice Shelf in 1986. But it became stuck to the ocean floor and had remained for many years in the Weddell Sea.
The iceberg is about three times the size of New York City and more than twice the size of Greater London, measuring around 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles).
Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing expert from the British Antarctic Survey, told the BBC on Friday that the iceberg has been drifting for the past year and now appears to be picking up speed and moving past the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, helped by wind and ocean currents.
“I asked a couple of colleagues about this, wondering if there was any possible change in shelf water temperatures that might have provoked it, but the consensus is the time had just come,” Fleming told the BBC.
Donald Trump draws cheers, some boos in Haley's backyard at Clemson-South Carolina football game
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump used college football rivalry weekend to bask among his supporters in a state and region that are key to his presidential fortunes, while trying to upstage his Republican opponent Nikki Haley on her home turf at the Clemson-South Carolina football game.
The former president and current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination walked into Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday night to chants of “We want Trump! We want Trump!” from fans gathered for the annual Palmetto Bowl, the state's biggest sporting event of the year.
Haley, a Clemson alumna and trustee who was twice elected South Carolina governor, did not attend.
Trump was a guest of Gov. Henry McMaster, Haley's successor. The entourage, which entered through a veritable tunnel of Trump supporters on its way to a private suite, also included South Carolina's senior U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, giving the former president a show of local political force at a game featuring Haley's alma mater.
McMaster ascended to the governor's office in 2017 when Trump elevated Haley to United Nations ambassador. Graham and Haley have mostly been allies over the years. But both men now back Trump, and the former president enjoys a wide polling lead among Republican primary voters. That includes nationally and in early nominating states like South Carolina.
Top diplomats of South Korea, Japan and China meet to restart trilateral summit, revive cooperation
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The top diplomats from South Korea, Japan and China met Sunday to discuss when to resume their leaders’ trilateral summit after a four-year hiatus and how to strengthen cooperation among the three Northeast Asian neighbors.
Closely linked economically and culturally with one another, the three countries together account for about 25% of the global gross domestic product. But efforts to boost trilateral cooperation have often hit a snag because of a mix of issues including historical disputes stemming from Japan’s wartime aggression and the strategic competition between China and the United States.
“Korea, Japan and China have the potential for massive cooperation. Our three countries are neighbors that can't be separated from one another,” South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said at the start of the meeting in Busan, South Korea. “I hope we can strive together to hold the South Korea-Japan-China summit, which is at the apex of three-way cooperation, at an early date.”
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said they would also push to revive three-way cooperation. Park said he hoped Sunday's meeting would also discuss ways of collaboration in the face of North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats, as well as trade, climate change and personnel exchange between the three countries.
In September, senior officials of the three nations agreed to restart the trilateral summit “at the earliest convenient time.”
Pentagon's AI initiatives accelerate hard decisions on lethal autonomous weapons.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AP) — Artificial intelligence employed by the U.S. military has piloted pint-sized surveillance drones in special operations forces’ missions and helped Ukraine in its war against Russia. It tracks soldiers’ fitness, predicts when Air Force planes need maintenance and helps keep tabs on rivals in space.
Now, the Pentagon is intent on fielding multiple thousands of relatively inexpensive, expendable AI-enabled autonomous vehicles by 2026 to keep pace with China. The ambitious initiative — dubbed Replicator — seeks to “galvanize progress in the too-slow shift of U.S. military innovation to leverage platforms that are small, smart, cheap, and many,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in August.
While its funding is uncertain and details vague, Replicator is expected to accelerate hard decisions on what AI tech is mature and trustworthy enough to deploy - including on weaponized systems.
There is little dispute among scientists, industry experts and Pentagon officials that the U.S. will within the next few years have fully autonomous lethal weapons. And though officials insist humans will always be in control, experts say advances in data-processing speed and machine-to-machine communications will inevitably relegate people to supervisory roles.
That’s especially true if, as expected, lethal weapons are deployed en masse in drone swarms. Many countries are working on them — and neither China, Russia, Iran, India or Pakistan have signed a U.S.-initiated pledge to use military AI responsibly.
Lebanese residents of border towns come back during a fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel
KFAR KILA, Lebanon (AP) — With a cautious calm prevailing over the border area in south Lebanon on Saturday, the second day of a four-day cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, villages that had emptied of their residents came back to life — at least briefly.
Shuttered shops reopened, cars moved through the streets, and a family on an outing posed for photos in front of brightly colored block letters proclaiming “I (HEART) ODAISSEH” in one border town, with the tense frontier as a backdrop.
Around 55,500 Lebanese are displaced by the clashes between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The fighting has killed more than 100 people in Lebanon, including more than a dozen civilians — three of them journalists — and 12 people on the Israeli side, including four civilians.
While Lebanon and Hezbollah weren't officially parties to the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, it has brought at least a temporary halt to the daily exchanges of rockets, artillery shelling and airstrikes. Some Lebanese took the opportunity to inspect their damaged houses or to pick up belongings.
Derek Chauvin's family has received no updates after prison stabbing, attorney says
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, said Saturday that Chauvin's family has been kept in the dark by federal prison officials after he was stabbed in prison.
The lawyer, Gregory M. Erickson, slammed the lack of transparency by the Federal Bureau of Prisons a day after his client was stabbed on Friday by another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, a prison that has been plagued by security lapses and staffing shortages.
A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday that Chauvin was seriously injured in the stabbing. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the attack. On Saturday, Brian Evans, a spokesperson for the Minnesota attorney general’s office, said: “We have heard that he is expected to survive.”
Erickson said Chauvin's family and his attorneys have hit a wall trying to obtain information about the attack from Bureau of Prisons officials. He said Chauvin's family has been forced to assume he is in stable condition, based only on news accounts, and has been contacting the prison repeatedly seeking updates but have been provided with no information.
“As an outsider, I view this lack of communication with his attorneys and family members as completely outrageous,” Erickson said in a statement to the AP. “It appears to be indicative of a poorly run facility and indicates how Derek’s assault was allowed to happen.”
The Associated Press