Putin Signs Laws Annexing 4 Ukrainian Regions

Local resident Ekaterina, 22, stands next to her residential building that was damaged after an overnight Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP)
Local resident Ekaterina, 22, stands next to her residential building that was damaged after an overnight Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP)
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Putin Signs Laws Annexing 4 Ukrainian Regions

Local resident Ekaterina, 22, stands next to her residential building that was damaged after an overnight Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP)
Local resident Ekaterina, 22, stands next to her residential building that was damaged after an overnight Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, a move that finalizes the annexation carried out in defiance of international law.

The documents were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. The formalities followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

The move comes as Moscow's war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks on the battlefield, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and more land in the east and in the south — the very regions Moscow has pushed to annex.

The borders of the territories Russia is claiming still remain unclear, but the Kremlin has vowed to defend Russia's territory — the newly absorbed regions, too — with any means at its disposal, including nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the annexation by announcing a fast-track application to join NATO and formally ruling out talks with Russia. Zelenskyy’s decree, released Tuesday, declares that holding negotiations with Putin has become impossible after his decision to take over the four regions of Ukraine.

On the battlefield on Wednesday morning, multiple explosions rocked Bila Tserkva, setting off fires at what were described as infrastructure facilities in the city to the south of the capital Kyiv, regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

Early indications are that the city was attacked by so-called “kamikaze” or suicide drones, he said.

Bila Tserkva is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Kyiv.

Russia has increasingly been using suicide drones in recent weeks, posing a new challenge to Ukrainian defenses. The unmanned vehicles can stay aloft for long periods of time before diving into their targets and detonating their payload at the last moment.

Many of the earlier attacks by the Iranian-made drones happened in the south of the country and not near the capital, which hasn't been targeted for weeks.

In a later post, Kuleba said that a total of six Shahed-136 drones struck the city, one of the largest in the region after Kyiv itself. One person was injured in the attacks.

Dozens of rescue workers were on the scene and still working to extinguish the fires hours after the attacks were reported, he said.

Ukrainian forces, in the meantime, continued to make gains in the south. Kyiv's military said Wednesday they have recaptured more villages in the Kherson region as a part of their massive counteroffensive effort.

Operational Command South said that the Ukrainian flag has been raised above Liubymivka, Khreschenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka and Mala Oleksandrivka villages.



Türkiye's Erdogan Welcomes Gaza Pause as Temporary ‘Stop of Bloodshed’ 

Palestinians cook among the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians cook among the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
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Türkiye's Erdogan Welcomes Gaza Pause as Temporary ‘Stop of Bloodshed’ 

Palestinians cook among the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians cook among the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday welcomed a pause in the Gaza war and the exchange of hostages and prisoners between Israel and militant group Hamas as a temporary "stop of bloodshed" in the enclave. 

Türkiye, which supports a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, has strongly criticized Israel for its ground and air assault on Gaza, launched in retaliation for Hamas' rampage last month in which some 1,200 people were killed and 240 others taken hostage. 

More than 15,000 people, mostly women and children, have so far been killed in the Israeli campaign, health officials in the enclave say. 

"We view the hostage exchanges, the humanitarian pause as a positive development in terms of a stop of bloodshed," Erdogan said. 

Speaking to lawmakers in parliament, Erdogan slammed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's retaliatory assault, adding the Israeli premier would be remembered as the "butcher of Gaza". 

"The statements coming from the Netanyahu government are lessening our hopes that the humanitarian pause can be turned into a lasting ceasefire," Erdogan added, without elaborating, while repeating his view that a genocide was taking place in Gaza. 

He said he would discuss the situation in Gaza during a visit to Dubai later this week, adding Ankara would ramp up diplomatic efforts for a full ceasefire and hostage exchanges in coming days. 

Unlike most of its Western allies and some Gulf states, NATO member Türkiye does not view Hamas as a terrorist group. It hosts some members of the militant group, but has also not taken steps to curb trade or energy ties with Israel. No big Turkish company has moved to divert businesses either. 

Erdogan said Türkiye had "largely completed" evacuating its nationals from Gaza. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Ankara was expecting to receive 50 Gazan patients on Wednesday as part of a medical evacuation scheme which has brought more than 150 people, mostly cancer patients and their companions, for treatment. 

Koca said the 50 evacuees, most of whom are children and young people, would arrive in Ankara on Wednesday afternoon from Egypt. He added the youngest evacuee is a 7-month-old baby. 


Türkiye Freezes Assets of 82 Organizations, People for Alleged PKK Ties

A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/ File Photo
A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/ File Photo
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Türkiye Freezes Assets of 82 Organizations, People for Alleged PKK Ties

A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/ File Photo
A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/ File Photo

Türkiye froze the local assets of 20 organizations and 62 people based in Australia, Japan and various European countries, citing alleged ties with Kurdish group PKK, a decision published in the Official Gazette showed on Wednesday.
Türkiye’s Ministry of Treasury and Finance said the decision was "based on the existence of reasonable grounds" that they committed acts falling within the scope of the law on preventing the financing of terrorism.
The list included three organizations from Germany and another three from Switzerland, both countries that are home to a large Kurdish diaspora. It also named two organizations each from Australia, Italy and Japan.
Other affected organizations were in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and Iraq-Syria.
A spokesperson for Insamlingsstiftelsen Kurdiska Roda Solen, the one organization on the list in Sweden, said the group is a humanitarian aid organization with no operations and no assets in Türkiye.
Sweden as well as Finland requested to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in May last year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan raised objections to both requests, citing the Nordic nations' protection of those whom Türkiye deems terrorists, as well as their defense trade embargoes. Türkiye endorsed Finland's bid in April.
From Sweden, it has demanded further steps to control local members of the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK), which the European Union and the United States consider a terrorist group.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told NATO counterparts on Tuesday he was working hard on Sweden's NATO ratification, which the Turkish parliament is debating. He provided a likely timeline of before year-end for the Nordic country to formally join the alliance, a senior State Department official said.


Ukraine Has Received 300,000 of EU’s Promised Million Shells, Says FM 

A local resident stands outside an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on November 28, 2023, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (AFP)
A local resident stands outside an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on November 28, 2023, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (AFP)
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Ukraine Has Received 300,000 of EU’s Promised Million Shells, Says FM 

A local resident stands outside an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on November 28, 2023, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (AFP)
A local resident stands outside an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on November 28, 2023, amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (AFP)

The European union has delivered about 300,000 of its promised million shells to Ukraine so far, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday while attending a NATO meeting in Brussels.

Speaking to reporters on the event's sidelines, Kuleba called for greater alignment of Ukraine's and NATO's defense industries to ensure Kyiv has the supplies it needs to defeat Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

"We need to create a Euro-Atlantic common area of defense industries," Kuleba said, adding this would ensure both Ukraine's security and that of NATO countries themselves.

Kyiv has for the last several months engaged in a concerted drive to entice leading global arms manufacturers to set up operations in Ukraine, part of a bid to diversify its reliance on weapons and ammunition given by its allies.

Kuleba also said he had a "productive" meeting on Tuesday with Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar.

Slovakia's newly-elected President, Robert Fico, promised to halt military aid to Ukraine, although later clarified that he would not block arms purchases from private companies.

"He reiterated that the maintenance hub for Ukrainian heavy equipment will continue to function in Slovakia. Contracts between Ukrainian and Slovak companies producing weapons will continue," Kuleba said.


Iran Finalizes Arrangements for Delivery of Russian Fighter Jets

A handout photo made available by the Iranian army office shows Iranian Navy soldiers next to Iran's new warship “Deylaman” during an inauguration ceremony at the port of Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea, Iran, 27 November 2023. (EPA/Iranian army office/Handout)
A handout photo made available by the Iranian army office shows Iranian Navy soldiers next to Iran's new warship “Deylaman” during an inauguration ceremony at the port of Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea, Iran, 27 November 2023. (EPA/Iranian army office/Handout)
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Iran Finalizes Arrangements for Delivery of Russian Fighter Jets

A handout photo made available by the Iranian army office shows Iranian Navy soldiers next to Iran's new warship “Deylaman” during an inauguration ceremony at the port of Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea, Iran, 27 November 2023. (EPA/Iranian army office/Handout)
A handout photo made available by the Iranian army office shows Iranian Navy soldiers next to Iran's new warship “Deylaman” during an inauguration ceremony at the port of Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea, Iran, 27 November 2023. (EPA/Iranian army office/Handout)

Iran has finalized arrangements for the delivery of Russian made Sukhoi su-35 fighter jets and helicopters, Iran's deputy defense minister told Iran's Tasnim news agency on Tuesday, as Tehran and Moscow forge closer military relations.

Iran's air force has a limited quantity of strike aircrafts, including Russian jets as well as ageing US models acquired before the 1979 revolution.

“Plans have been finalized for Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, Mil Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yak-130 jet trainers to join the combat units of Iran's Army,” Iran's deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi said, according to Reuters.

The Tasnim report did not include any Russian confirmation of the deal.

In 2018, Iran said it had started production of the locally-designed Kowsar fighter for use in its air force. Military experts believe the jet is a carbon copy of the F-5, first produced in the United States in the 1960s.


Erdogan Tells UN’s Guterres Israel Must Be Tried in Int’l Courts over Gaza Crimes

Palestinians inspect the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in Wadi Gaza, in the central Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinians inspect the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in Wadi Gaza, in the central Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Erdogan Tells UN’s Guterres Israel Must Be Tried in Int’l Courts over Gaza Crimes

Palestinians inspect the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in Wadi Gaza, in the central Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinians inspect the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in Wadi Gaza, in the central Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Israel must be held accountable in international courts for the war crimes it committed in Gaza, the Turkish presidency said.

In a phone call ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Gaza planned for Wednesday, Erdogan told Guterres that "Israel continues to shamelessly trample on international law, laws of war, and international humanitarian law by looking in the eyes of the international community", his office said.

Israel launched an air and ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza after the militant group carried out a deadly gun rampage in southern Israel last month, killing some 1,200 people and taking 240 others hostage. Israeli bombardment has killed more than 15,000 in Gaza, according to the enclave's health authorities.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, part of a so-called contact group of Muslim countries that has been holding talks with Western leaders over Gaza, will attend the meeting in New York on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.


China Coastguard Says it Warns off Japanese Ships in Disputed Waters

File Photo: Photo nearby Ukedo fishing port in Namie town, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
File Photo: Photo nearby Ukedo fishing port in Namie town, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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China Coastguard Says it Warns off Japanese Ships in Disputed Waters

File Photo: Photo nearby Ukedo fishing port in Namie town, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
File Photo: Photo nearby Ukedo fishing port in Namie town, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The Chinese coastguard said its vessels warned off Japanese ships that "illegally intruded" into waters around disputed East China Sea islets on Tuesday.

The Chinese vessels "took necessary control measures", the coastguard added, without going into details. There was no immediate comment from Japan, Reuters reported.

China urged Japan to immediately cease all "illegal activities" in the area and ensure that similar incidents do not recur, the coastguard added.

The waters around Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, are disputed and claimed by both China and Japan. The two sides have faced off in the waters, deploying patrol boats and urging the other to leave the area.


Iranian President Postpones Scheduled Trip to Türkiye

In this photo released on Monday, March 20, 2023, by the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi gives a televised new year message to the nation at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released on Monday, March 20, 2023, by the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi gives a televised new year message to the nation at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
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Iranian President Postpones Scheduled Trip to Türkiye

In this photo released on Monday, March 20, 2023, by the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi gives a televised new year message to the nation at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released on Monday, March 20, 2023, by the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi gives a televised new year message to the nation at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Türkiye has been postponed, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news reported on Tuesday, without elaborating on the reason.

"The trip was scheduled to take place on Wednesday but it has been postponed to another date," Tasnim said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that Raisi would visit Türkiye at the end of November to hold talks on Gaza.

 

 

 

 

 


Vermont Man Charged with Attempted Murder in Shooting of Students of Palestinian Descent 

A vigil is held on the grounds of Brown University, after three students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Vermont, at the school's main green in Providence, Rhode Island, US, November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
A vigil is held on the grounds of Brown University, after three students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Vermont, at the school's main green in Providence, Rhode Island, US, November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
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Vermont Man Charged with Attempted Murder in Shooting of Students of Palestinian Descent 

A vigil is held on the grounds of Brown University, after three students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Vermont, at the school's main green in Providence, Rhode Island, US, November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
A vigil is held on the grounds of Brown University, after three students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Vermont, at the school's main green in Providence, Rhode Island, US, November 27, 2023. (Reuters)

The man accused of shooting and wounding three college students of Palestinian descent in Burlington, Vermont, over the weekend pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges on Monday and was ordered by a judge to remain held without bond.

Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arraigned in Chittenden County Criminal Court in Burlington, appearing via a video feed from the county jail where he has been detained since his arrest on Sunday, the day after the attack.

Police have said investigators were treating Saturday evening's gun violence in the heart of Vermont's largest city as a suspected hate-motivated crime.

Two of the three men who were shot recounted they were wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, and one said they were conversing in a mix of English and Arabic when the gunman confronted them, according to charging documents filed in court.

The three friends - identified in court documents as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Aliahmad and Kinnan Abdalhamid, all aged 20 - remained under medical care on Monday with gunshot wounds to the spine, chest and buttocks, respectively, authorities said.

The victims told police they were shot while strolling near the University of Vermont, about a block from the house of Awartani's grandmother, following an afternoon at a bowling alley, according to a police affidavit filed in support of the charges.

All three men are undergraduate students at colleges in other cities but were staying with Awartani and his relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to police, Easton approached the three men right outside his apartment, drew his pistol and wordlessly opened fire from a few steps away, then vanished from the scene. Investigators said he fired four shots in all.

‘I've been waiting for you’

The shooting sparked an intense manhunt by local, state and federal law enforcement, including the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Eaton was taken into custody the following day after an ATF agent knocked on his door while canvassing the neighborhood and was greeted by the suspect, who held his hands out with palms upturned and said to the officer, "I've been waiting for you," according to the police affidavit.

A search of the apartment later turned up a handgun, ammunition matching the rounds found at the crime scene, a .22-caliber rifle and two shotguns, police said.

He was charged with three counts of attempted second-degree murder, a felony punishable by a prison sentence of 20 years to life if convicted.

"Although we do not yet have evidence to support a hate crime enhancement, I do want to be clear that there is no question that this was a hateful act," said Sarah Fair George, state's attorney for Chittenden County, during a briefing on Monday.

The shooting came amid a surge in anti-Islamic, anti-Arab and antisemitic incidents and threats reported around the United States since a bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas erupted on Oct. 7.

"In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime," Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement on Sunday.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit at his three-minute arraignment, Eaton responded "yes, sir" when asked by the judge if he understood the charges against him.

Police said the suspect had legally acquired the gun used in the shooting a few months ago.

The US Department of Justice is assisting local authorities in the investigation, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday.

"No person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of lethal violence," Garland said ahead of a separate meeting at the department's Southern District of New York office.

The White House said President Joe Biden was horrified by the shooting. "There is absolutely, absolutely no place for violence or hate in America," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a news briefing.

According to the victims' families, Awartani is a student at Brown University in Rhode Island, Abdalhamid is enrolled at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and Aliahmad attends Trinity College in Connecticut.

Police said all three are of Palestinian descent - two of them US citizens and the third a legal US resident.

They are graduates of the Ramallah Friends School, a private Quaker secondary school in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the families said.


Elon Musk, Israel Agree for Use of Starlink in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with businessman Elon Musk during their visit to Kfar Aza kibbutz (dpa)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with businessman Elon Musk during their visit to Kfar Aza kibbutz (dpa)
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Elon Musk, Israel Agree for Use of Starlink in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with businessman Elon Musk during their visit to Kfar Aza kibbutz (dpa)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with businessman Elon Musk during their visit to Kfar Aza kibbutz (dpa)

Israel and Tycoon Elon Musk had agreed in principle that SpaceX's Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip."

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi issued a statement that seemed a retreat from his opposition last month to Musk's proposal to use Starlink to support communication links in the blackout-hit enclave with "internationally recognized aid organizations."

During his visit to Israel, Musk met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited a kibbutz in southern Israel, where Hamas launched its attack on Oct. 7.

Netanyahu told Musk during an interview published on his "X" account at the end of their visit to Kfar Aza that Israel must disarm Gaza after the destruction of Hamas and "eliminate extremism" in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu's office released footage showing the two men walking through rubble on the kibbutz.

"We have to demilitarize Gaza after the destruction of Hamas, and we have to deradicalize Gaza ... and then we have to also rebuild Gaza," he said.

Karhi announced a preliminary agreement that Starlink would only operate in Israel and Gaza with the Israeli government's approval.

"Elon Musk, I congratulate you for reaching a principle understanding with the Ministry of Communications under my leadership," Karhi wrote.

"As a result of this significant agreement, Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip."

In statements, Musk declared his support for the campaign launched by Israel against the Hamas movement.

"Those that are intent on murder must be neutralized," Musk added.

"The propaganda must stop that is training people to be murderers in the future. And then making Gaza prosperous. And if that happens, I think it will be a good future."

Reuters indicated that Musk had a direct online discussion with Netanyahu, adding that he asserted: "I'd like to help as well," Musk said

Netanyahu hoped Musk would help, adding that his visit reveals the commitment to secure a better future.

Musk himself was assailed for his endorsement of an anti-Jewish post on Nov. 15.

Musk also watched footage assembled from Hamas bodycams, CCTV, and other sources of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in which Israel says 240 people were taken captive back to Gaza.

Early on Monday, the billionaire tweeted during his Israel visit that "actions speak louder than words."

Later, Musk met families of hostages held in Gaza with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Herzog said Musk had a huge role in the global fight against antisemitism.


Berlin Welcomes Release of Gaza Hostages, Including Two Germans

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock looks on at a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis (not pictured) in Vilnius, Lithuania April 22, 2022. (Reuters)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock looks on at a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis (not pictured) in Vilnius, Lithuania April 22, 2022. (Reuters)
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Berlin Welcomes Release of Gaza Hostages, Including Two Germans

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock looks on at a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis (not pictured) in Vilnius, Lithuania April 22, 2022. (Reuters)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock looks on at a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis (not pictured) in Vilnius, Lithuania April 22, 2022. (Reuters)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock welcomed Monday the release of 11 Gaza hostages, including "two German teenagers" as part of the truce agreement between Israel and Hamas.

"After 52 days of suffering and despair, their mother can hold them in her arms again. My thoughts are with the families who are still waiting in fear. We are doing everything we can so that they too can hold them in their arms," Baerbock posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The release of the two hostages on Monday brings the total number of German passport-holders released by Hamas to 10 -- four were released on Friday and four more on Saturday, AFP reported.

Baerbock also welcomed the announcement by Hamas of a truce extension, which she said would allow "precious time for our aid to reach the people of Gaza."

"And it's a glimmer of hope so we don't lose sight of what could happen: concrete steps towards a secure future for all the people in the region."