The CIA chief is scheduled to hold talks with regional leaders about a possible agreement to release the hostages. This is the latest news
CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to meet with officials from Israel, Egypt and Qatar to discuss a deal that would secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, according to a US official familiar with the plans.
These meetings come amid intense discussions about the features of a new agreement linking the release of the hostages to stopping the fighting in Gaza. The meetings are expected to be held in Europe, according to the official.
US officials said they remained focused on securing the release of the hostages after a leaked recording of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing Qatar angered the Gulf state.
Here's what you need to know:
Deadly bombings: At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured after Israeli bombing hit an area near Gaza City where people were waiting for aid deliveries, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah reported Thursday that at least 25,900 Palestinians were martyred and 64,000 others were injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.
The escalating crisis: 14 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza are partially functioning, and access to some is impossible due to the conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing the World Health Organization. Furthermore, Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, now hosts more than 50% of the Strip's population, and people face deteriorating health conditions and increasing hunger, according to the United Nations.
“The worst situation”: Surgeons at the humanitarian organization MedGlobal in Gaza do not have the resources to anesthetize patients while cleaning their wounds, said the group's American co-founder, Dr. John Kaler. Kahler, who has provided humanitarian aid from Haiti to Yemen, described Gaza as a “soul-tearing event” and the “absolutely worst situation” he had ever witnessed.
Leakage denial: Families of hostages held in Gaza have denied leaking a recording of a meeting in which Netanyahu appeared to criticize Qatar, saying its officials record the meetings while families have to leave their phones at the door. Netanyahu's office did not immediately respond to CNN's question about who leaked the audio recording that angered Doha. On Thursday, the White House reiterated its gratitude for Qatar’s role in mediation.
The issue of genocide: Israel has declassified more than 30 documents, including summaries of Cabinet meetings, as part of its defense against South Africa's genocide charge before the International Court of Justice, an Israeli official told CNN. The International Court of Justice is scheduled to announce its ruling in the case on Friday, which could call for a ceasefire in the conflict. The rulings of the International Court of Justice are legally binding, but the court has no mechanism to implement its decisions. A final ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza is likely to take months or years.
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