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A demonstrator during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and to call for the release of hostages kidnapped by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 6, 2024.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Does Hamas have the Israeli hostages?

Cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas seemingly took a bad turn on Wednesday. In recent days, the US presented a plan calling for a six-week cease-fire, during which Hamas would release 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for 900 Palestinian prisoners currently in Israeli jails. But Hamas reportedly rejected the proposal and planned to present its own path for ending the war.

Then, late Wednesday, more alarming news broke with Hamas reportedly telling negotiators it doesn’t have 40 hostages who meet the criteria for the initial phase of a proposed temporary cease-fire in Gaza.

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Palestinian gunmen attend the funeral of the Palestinians who were killed in an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Jan. 7, 2024.

Ayman Nobani/REUTERS

Iran throws more sparks into a tinderbox

Even as the war in Gaza rages, tensions in the occupied West Bank continue to rise, and there is fresh evidence that Iran – a longstanding backer of armed Palestinian groups – has been flooding the territory with weapons over the past couple of years.

A New York Times investigation found that Tehran has been smuggling thousands of handguns and rifles into the West Bank. The weapons are routed either through the long, porous West Bank-Jordan border or via smuggling networks running through Lebanon and Israel itself. The Iranian commander assassinated last week by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus is thought to have been involved.

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Israeli soldiers prepare to enter Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at Israel's border with Gaza in southern Israel, April 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Bibi sets date for Rafah invasion

Israel pulled troops from Khan Younis in southern Gaza this weekend, but the move doesn’t signal an end to hostilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans Monday for the invasion of Rafah.

“This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen — there is a date,” he said, without naming the exact date.

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The sun sets over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from the border with Gaza in southern Israel April 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Six months of war, no sign of peace

Sunday marked six months of war between Israel and Hamas, and some observers fear the conflict has become intractable. Hamas is still believed to hold over 130 Israeli hostages from its Oct. 7 assault that killed 1,200, while Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 Palestinians and injured 75,000. Nearly half of Gaza’s buildings have been destroyed, and 1.9 million of its residents have been displaced, leaving them at risk of disease and starvation. But is the war any closer to ending?

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President Joe Biden pauses during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Miriam Alster/REUTERS

Biden puts Bibi on notice

President Joe Biden on Thursday spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since Israeli strikes killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza.

Biden told Netanyahu that the humanitarian situation in Gaza and strikes on aid workers were “unacceptable,” the White House readout of the call said.

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Displaced Palestinians wait to receive UNRWA aid amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Did the US tell Canada to resume aid to UNRWA?

The US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked Canadian International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen to keep funding the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Hussen told the Canadian Press.

Canada and the US joined 15 other countries in freezing funding for the humanitarian organization in January after Israel alleged that more than a dozen of the agency’s employees were involved in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack But Hussen in early March announced that Canada would resume payments.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Bibi lays the groundwork to blame Biden

Israel is blaming the US for stalled talks with Hamas, in yet another sign of the increasingly tense state of relations between Washington and the Jewish State amid the war in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said the US refusing to block a UN Security Council resolution for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza was a “very, very bad move” that “encouraged Hamas to take a hard line” in negotiations over a truce and hostage release. The Israeli leader also canceled a delegation to the White House planned for this week in response, though he's since reversed course and agreed to reschedule the meeting.

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US President Joe Biden attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Netanyahu escalates feud with the White House

Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the Biden administration on Monday after the US declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza during Ramadan. The US abstention allowed the resolution to pass. Netanyahu responded by canceling plans for an Israeli delegation to visit the White House later this week to discuss alternatives to invading Rafah.

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