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HeadlinesNovember 29, 2023

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More Captives Released from Gaza and Israel as Key Parties Urge Extension of Truce

Nov 29, 2023

Talks are ongoing to further extend the truce in Gaza as the temporary ceasefire enters its final day. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at a NATO press conference in Brussels earlier today as he prepares to head back to Israel and the West Bank.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “We’ll be focused on making — doing what we can to extend the pause, so that we continue to get more hostages out and more humanitarian assistance in.”

On Tuesday, 30 Palestinian women and children were freed from Israeli prisons after 10 Israelis and two foreign nationals were released from Gaza. This is Palestinian activist and student Ruba Assi, who was freed yesterday.

Ruba Assi: “This joy is filled with pain and sacrifice, but also with assured victory. This feeling cannot be explained or put into words. We hope that all prisoners go through these moments, and our heroic people will greet them. We hope this truce will be extended to a permanent ceasefire, and we wish freedom to our heroic people.”

Israeli media says renowned Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested earlier this month, could be released in an upcoming captive swap. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoner associations say that over the first four days of prisoner exchanges, Israel arrested 133 Palestinians, nearly as many as the 150 they released. Among the remaining hostages in Gaza is a 10-month-old baby and two American women.

Aid Groups Detail Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza as Hundreds of Thousands Face Starvation

Nov 29, 2023

Some Gazans have returned to their abandoned homes as they grapple with the utter destruction left by the Israeli assault. A Gazan mother said she was using rubble from her leveled home to make fire to cook over. Aid groups including the World Food Programme are warning Gaza remains at risk of an even worse humanitarian crisis and that more assistance is urgently needed.

Samer AbdelJaber: “Our team saw hunger, desperation and destruction, people who have not received any relief in weeks, hundreds of thousands that are facing an immediate risk of starvation. WFP hopes for the extension of this pause, which offered the window of relief that could pave the way for a longer-term calm. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access cannot stop now.”

An estimated 15,000 people have been killed in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Forces Continue Deadly West Bank Attacks, Lay Siege to Jenin Hospitals During Lengthy Raid

Nov 29, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have surrounded three hospitals and are blocking medical teams as they conduct a major raid in the Jenin refugee camp. The head of Doctors Without Borders, Christos Christou, posted this video last night while trapped with staff at the Khalil Suleiman Hospital.

Christos Christou: “It’s been already two-and-a-half hours that we are trapped in our hospital here in Jenin, while the Israeli forces are operating in another incursion in Jenin camp. There is no way for any of the injured patients to reach the hospital, and there’s no way for us to reach these people.”

Christou said at least two Palestinians died of their wounds while ambulances could not reach them during the siege. This comes amid reports a 9-year-old Palestinian boy was shot by Israeli soldiers in Jenin this morning.

The IDF has also destroyed at least two homes in Jenin, as well as roads and water mains, and rounded up at least 20 people. Rights groups say Israel has arrested 35 Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank within the past 24 hours, including a 12-year-old child.

“I Am But One Casualty in the Much Wider Conflict”: Shot Palestinian American Student Speaks Out

Nov 29, 2023

Hisham Awartani, one of the three Palestinian college students shot in a likely hate crime in Vermont, has released a statement from the hospital. Awartani, a Brown University student, said, “It’s important to realize that this is part of the larger story. … I am but one casualty in the much wider conflict. Had I been shot in the West Bank, where I grew up, the medical services that saved my life would likely have been withheld by the Israeli army.”

On Monday evening, Brown students interrupted a talk by university President Christina Paxson at a vigil for the shot students, calling for the school to divest from weapons manufacturers including Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Textron.

At the Ramallah Friends School in the occupied West Bank, which was attended by all three shooting victims, students and staff reflected on the tragic incident. This is Leen Alshehab, a senior at the school.

Leen Alshehab: “As Ramallah Friends School students, we’re horrified by the recent attack that targeted three of our beloved Ramallah Friends School alumni and friends. As Ramallah Friends School students, we call upon international communities to conduct a full and thorough investigation on this attack. And we call upon for this attack to not be dismissed or ignored by any means. Today, as students, we’re wearing the hatta as a symbol of — or the keffiyeh, as a symbol of — solidarity with our friends and for their families, as well.”

Click here to see our interview with the head of the Ramallah Friends School, now general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee here in the United States, Joyce Ajlouny.

On Tuesday, Vermont Democratic Senator Peter Welch called for an indefinite extension to the ceasefire in Gaza. Welch’s fellow senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, has yet to call for a permanent ceasefire.

Koch Super PAC Endorses Nikki Haley as GOP Nominee for President

Nov 29, 2023

The Charles Koch super PAC Americans for Prosperity Action has endorsed Nikki Haley for the 2024 Republican nomination. Charles Koch and his network of right-wing billionaires is aiming to weaken front-runner Donald Trump by throwing tens of millions of dollars and thousands of volunteers across the country behind Haley’s campaign. Among other things, the super PAC is known for blocking efforts to fight the climate crisis.

Center for Reproductive Rights Argues Against Texas Abortion Ban Before State’s Supreme Court

Nov 29, 2023

The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the lawsuit challenging the state’s near-total abortion ban. Patients have been refused care despite serious complications and forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term, often at great personal risk. This is Molly Duane, a senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the case on behalf of 22 patients and doctors.

Molly Duane: “The last two years are an aberration from a centurieslong practice in Texas that allowed physicians broad discretion to provide abortion when necessary to preserve their patients’ lives. The abortion bans as they exist today subject physicians like my clients to the most extreme penalties imaginable: life in prison and loss of their medical license. And while there is technically a medical exception to the bans, no one knows what it means, and the state won’t tell us.”

Panama to Expel Canadian-Owned Copper Mine After Supreme Court Ruling

Nov 29, 2023

Panama’s president said Tuesday a contested foreign-owned open-pit copper mine that’s been at the center of recent nationwide protests would be shut down. The announcement came just hours after the Panamanian Supreme Court ruled that a 20-year contract approved by Panama’s government with the mine earlier this year is unconstitutional. Protesters had said the new contract for the Cobre Panamá mine, which is owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, was fast-tracked with little public input or transparency.

Fernando Abrego: “Mining is another expression of the rising corruption in the country. I think this sentence is a hard blow to corruption and a clear message to future governors of the country that we will not allow more impositions and corruption that restrict the sovereignty of the Panamanian people.”

The copper mine is the largest in Central America.

Indigenous Group Wins Fight to Reclaim Ancestral Land After Being Forced Out 8 Decades Ago

Nov 29, 2023

In a major victory for Indigenous rights, an Ecuadorian appeals court has sided with the Siekopai Nation to regain ownership of their ancestral homeland in the Amazon rainforest. The Siekopai people were forced out of their territory, called Pë’këya, over 80 years ago during the Peru-Ecuador War in the 1940s. This ruling will mark the first time the Ecuadorian government grants a land title to an Indigenous community whose ancestral land is now a protected area.

The Siekopai are on the brink of extinction with a population of only 800 people in Ecuador and 1,200 in Peru. In a statement, Siekopai Nation President Elias Piyahuaje said, “We are fighting for the preservation of our culture on this planet. Without this territory, we cannot exist as Siekopai people. Today is a great day for our nation. Until the end of time, this land will be ours.”

Peace Talks Resume Between Philippines Gov’t and New People’s Army

Nov 29, 2023

In the Philippines, the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, will revive peace talks for the first time in six years, facilitated by Norway. The negotiations were abruptly halted in 2017 by then-President Rodrigo Duterte. If successful, the NPA will end their half-century-long armed struggle and become a recognized political movement. This is Carlito Galvez, a former defense official and now presidential adviser.

Carlito Galvez Jr.: “Socioeconomic and environmental issues and the foreign security threats facing the country, the parties recognize the need to unite as a nation in order to urgently address these challenges and resolve the reasons of the armed conflict.”

Last week, President Marcos Jr. issued an order granting amnesty to a number of rebel groups, including former members of the NPA and Communist Party.

Sierra Leone Officials Say Recent Attacks Were Failed Coup Attempt

Nov 29, 2023

In Sierra Leone, 13 military officers and one civilian have been arrested after an alleged failed coup that left at least 20 people dead. Heavy gunfire broke out in the capital Freetown Sunday as attackers targeted Sierra Leone’s major military barracks, near the presidential villa, and two prisons, where some 2,000 people were allowed to escape. Sierra Leone officials said the attacks were an attempt to “overthrow the elected government.” This is a resident of Freetown.

Francis Squire: “We are praying for this not to repeat, because this country belongs to all of us. If this continues, where are we supposed to go? Because we will not have this kind of peace in another man’s country.”

This comes just a few months after Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio was reelected for a second term in a disputed June election. At least eight other military coups have taken place in West and Central Africa since 2020, including in Gabon and Niger this year.

Rosalynn Carter Memorial Service Brings Out Former and Current Presidents, First Ladies

Nov 29, 2023

In Atlanta, President Biden and Jill Biden, Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined other current and former leaders to pay tribute to Rosalynn Carter at her memorial service. Ninety-nine-year-old Jimmy Carter, who is now in home hospice care, was also in attendance. Rosalynn Carter was active throughout her husband’s political career, acting as adviser and strategist. She’s also remembered as an advocate for mental healthcare and unpaid home caregivers. This is her son James Earl “Chip” Carter III.

James Earl “Chip” Carter III: “Mom was always well informed on the issues of the day. In the White House, Mom asked Dad so many questions that he finally said that she should attend cabinet meetings. So she did and caught a lot of flak for that.”

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