Six In The Morning Wednesday 7 February 2024

Israel-Gaza war: Hamas responds to ceasefire offer with 135-day truce plan

By Ido Vock & Lyse Doucet BBC News

Hamas has laid out a series of demands, including exchanging hostages for Palestinian prisoners and rebuilding Gaza, in response to an Israel-backed ceasefire proposal.

The armed group wants a full withdrawal of Israeli forces and an end to the war after three 45-day truce periods.

The offer is likely to be unacceptable to Israel’s prime minister, who has called for “total victory” in Gaza.

The question is whether a middle ground can be reached to move the process on.

Hamas’s response is a counteroffer to a ceasefire proposal backed by Israel and the US and mediated by Qatar and Egypt – details of which have not been made public.

A draft of the Hamas document seen by the Reuters news agency suggests:

‘Our last stop is Rafah’: trapped Palestinians await Israeli onslaught

Refugees crammed into the border city face a terrifying choice: stay for the expected attack, or flee back north through a war zone

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crammed into the small southern Gaza border city of Rafah are being forced to contemplate being displaced once more as an Israeli offensive looms.

Those who fled to the border city, almost half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, face a terrifying choice: stay in overcrowded Rafah – once home to 280,000 people – and wait for the attack, or risk moving north through an area of continued fighting.

Large areas are occupied by tented encampments, which have encroached even on some of Rafah’s cemeteries. Aid officials have described the city as a “pressure cooker of despair”, warning that a full-scale Israeli offensive on an area so overcrowded could cause large-scale loss of civilian life, and could be a war crime.

Senegal internet restored after election postponement unrest

Authorities cut access as the country grapples with the fallout of postponing the presidential election to December. The delay sparked protests.

Senegal’s internet service was restored Wednesday, days after the government suspended it following the postponement of this month’s presidential election.

“It remains unclear as to whether the restoration will be sustained,” internet monitor Netblocks said.

Unrest erupted in Dakar after President Macky Sall postponed Senegal’s presidential election originally scheduled for February 25.

Access to mobile data had been blocked since early Monday when lawmakers backed Sall’s decision to hold the election in December. They took the decision only after security forces stormed the chamber and removed some opposition deputies, who were unable to cast their votes.

Ahead of Pakistan’s elections, parties hope to woo young voters


Pakistan is gearing up for parliamentary elections on February 8. With 60 percent of the population under the age of 30, the youth vote will be decisive. Historically, voter turnout in Pakistan has been particularly low among young voters. Moreover, Pakistan’s two-year political and economic crisis has profoundly damaged their confidence in the electoral process. In a bid to connect with the youth, political parties are turning to social media. Our correspondents Shahzaib Wahlah and Sonia Ghezali report, with the collaboration of Talha Saeed.

Japan exception to U.S. military’s handling of PFAS contamination


February 7, 2024 at 14:03 JST

Japan appears to be an exceptional case where the U.S. military has done almost nothing about cancer-causing organic fluorine compounds detected near U.S. military bases.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) repel water and oil and have been used in various products, such as firefighting foam.

The Okinawa prefectural government has detected levels of PFAS exceeding the temporary standards set by the Environment Ministry in tests conducted near U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, in the prefecture.

Ukraine’s Zaluzhny touts drones as path to victory; Russia suffers strikes

In the past week of war, Ukraine strikes a missile corvette, an airfield and an oil refinery with missiles and drones.

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief has outlined a plan to massively scale up the use of unmanned systems to overcome Russia’s advantages in manpower and materiel and break the deadlock in this war.

The effectiveness of such systems was proved again last week as they sank a Russian missile corvette, grounded three planes and set an oil refinery on fire.

Russia, too, continued to attack Ukraine with drones and missiles, but it failed to capture new territory despite its superior resources and constant assaults on the eastern city of Avdiivka and Ukraine’s stronghold at Krynky on the left bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.