Federal government has revoked 1,633 mining licenses due to default in payment of stipulated service fees by operators.
In a statement on Tuesday, Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals development, said the revocation became necessary after the expiration of a 30-day notice to defaulters — as stipulated by sections 11 and 12 of the Nigerian Mineral Mining Act (NMMA), 2007.
Alake, in the statement issued by Segun Tomori, special assistant on media to the minister, said the ministry began the process of revoking 2,213 titles on October 4, 2023.
“In compliance with the law, the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) on October 4, 2023 began the process of revoking 2,213 titles,” he said.
“These included 795 Exploration titles, 956 Small Scale Mining Licences, 364 Quarry licences, and 98 Mining Leases. These were published in the Federal Government Gazette Number 178, Volume 110 of October 10, 2023 with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of Annual Service Fee.
“The mandatory 30 days expired on November 10, 2023. Only 580 title holders responded by settling their indebtedness.
“With this development, the MCO recommended the revocation of 1, 633 mineral titles as follows: Exploration Licence, 536; Quarry Licence, 279; Small Scale Mining Licence, 787 and Mining Lease, 31.
“In line with the powers conferred on me by the NMMA 2007, Section 5 (a), I have approved the revocation of the 1,633 titles.
“I hereby warn the previous holders of these titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect as security agencies shall work with the Mines Inspectorate of the Ministry to apprehend any defaulter found on any of the areas where titles have been revoked.”
Alske said efforts are ongoing to sanction other operators defaulting in payment of royalties, taxes amongst others.
According to the minister, revoking the licences of operators shortchanging government is an ongoing process which he said will create space for serious prospective investors to come on stream.
Addressing illegal mining in the country, Alake read the riot act to culprits, saying that their days are numbered.
Alake said illegal miners will be dealt with by the government should they continue their unauthorised mining activities.
He said President Bola Tinubu is committed to sanitising the mining sector.
On the issue of insecurity, Alake said plans for the establishment of mine police are underway.
The minister said the military will conduct initial clearance operations to pave the way for the deployment of the mine police.
Israeli government debates deal for release of Gaza hostages, truce
Israel's government met into the early hours of Wednesday to consider a deal for Palestinian Hamas militants to free some hostages in Gaza in exchange for a multi-day truce and the release of a greater number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Officials from Qatar, which has been mediating negotiations, as well as the U.S., Israel and Hamas have for days been saying a deal was imminent.
Qatar Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said the proposal on a hostage release deal was delivered to Israel in the early hours of Tuesday.
"The State of Qatar is awaiting the result of the Israeli government's vote on the proposal," he said.
Before gathering with his full government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday with his war cabinet and wider national security cabinet over the deal. Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages, taken when its fighters surged into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli prime minister said the intervention of U.S. President Joe Biden had helped to improve the tentative agreement so that it included more hostages and fewer concessions.
But Netanyahu said Israel's broader mission had not changed.
"We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals. To destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel," he said in a recorded message at the start of the latest government meeting.
If agreed, the accord would see the first truce of a war in which Israeli bombardments have flattened swathes of Hamas-ruled Gaza, killed 13,300 civilians in the tiny densely populated enclave and left about two-thirds of its 2.3 million people homeless, according to authorities in Gaza.
A U.S. official briefed on the discussions said the deal would include 50 hostages taken from Israel, mostly women and children, in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners and a pause in the fighting of four or five days.
The pause would also allow for humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Israeli media including Channel 12 news said that if the deal was approved, the first release of hostages was expected on Thursday. Implementing the deal must wait for 24 hours to give Israeli citizens the chance to ask the Supreme Court to block the release of Palestinian prisoners, reports said.
Hamas has to date released only four captives: U.S. citizens Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, on Oct. 20, citing "humanitarian reasons," and Israeli women Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, on Oct. 23.
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The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which participated in the Oct. 7 raid with Hamas, said late on Tuesday that one of the Israeli hostages it has held since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel had died.
"We previously expressed our willingness to release her for humanitarian reasons, but the enemy was stalling and this led to her death," Al Quds Brigades said on its Telegram channel.
HOSPITAL ORDERED TO EVACUATE
As attention focused on the hostage release deal, fighting on the ground raged on. Mounir Al-Barsh, director-general of Gaza's health ministry, told Al Jazeera TV that the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City. Israel said militants were operating from the facility and threatened to act against them within four hours, he said.
Hospitals, including Gaza's biggest Al Shifa, have been rendered virtually inoperable by the conflict and shortages of critical supplies. Israel claims that Hamas conceals military command posts and fighters within them, a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny.
On Tuesday, Israel also said its forces had encircled the Jabalia refugee camp, a major urban flashpoint and Hamas militant stronghold.
According to the United Nations, most Palestinians in Gaza are registered as refugees because they or their ancestors were displaced by the 1948 war of Israel's creation.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA said 33 people were killed and dozens wounded in an Israeli air strike on part of Jabalia, a congested urban extension of Gaza City where Hamas has been battling advancing Israeli armoured forces.
In southern Gaza, Hamas-affiliated media said 10 people were killed and 22 injured by an Israeli air strike on an apartment in the city of Khan Younis.
Reuters could not immediately verify the accounts of fighting on either side.
Ukraine has lost over 13,000 troops this month – Moscow
Ukraine has lost over 13,700 troops and approximately 1,800 tanks and other heavy weaponry so far this month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told his government colleagues on Tuesday during a ministerial meeting.
Russian forces have been actively thwarting Kiev’s attempts to breach their defensive lines and continue to reduce Ukraine’s military capacity, the senior official said. He claimed that Ukrainian soldiers were surrendering in droves after realizing the futility of their counteroffensive.
The minister issued his last assessment of Ukrainian casualties in late October, when he said they had surpassed 90,000 since the start of Kiev’s ill-fated counteroffensive in early July. During this week’s meeting, Shoigu described the cost paid by Ukrainian soldiers in the conflict as “colossal.”
Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, previously said that the conflict with Russia had reached a “stalemate” and that his armed forces would likely not achieve a breakthrough in the confrontation anytime soon. President Vladimir Zelensky has disputed the assessment, claiming that progress was still being made in his nation’s attempt to return Ukraine to its pre-2014 borders.
On Monday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kiev to meet Zelensky and announce Washington’s latest package of military assistance, worth some $100 million. The Pentagon, however, has warned that it is running out of money authorized by Congress to be spent on Ukraine.
The funding has become contentious on Capitol Hill; the conservative wing of the Republican party opposes further aid. Critics of the White House’s pledge to support Kiev for “as long as it takes” have complained about a lack of transparency and argued that the US has more important priorities.
Some GOP lawmakers have described the Zelensky government as a problematic recipient of aid, in light of a string of graft scandals this year, including in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian leader welcomed more foreign dignitaries in the capital, including German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, European Council President Charles Michel and Moldovan President Maia Sandu. The country is commemorating the 10th anniversary of what Kiev calls the “Revolution of Dignity,” the mass protests and armed overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected government that ultimately led to the current confrontation with Russia.
Moscow has described the Ukraine conflict as part of a US-led proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainians are used as “cannon fodder.” Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, called the latest package of aid “a sedative pill” for the Zelensky government, as it edges closer to complete collapse.
Ukraine's tank repairmen deal with damage inflicted by Russian drones, artillery and mines
Reuters) - In a nondescript warehouse in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, a crew of repairmen work tirelessly to fix Ukrainian tanks damaged by Russia's vast arsenal of mines, drones and artillery.
“The most common causes why vehicles are brought here are because they either drove over an enemy mine or came under artillery shelling,” said 30-year-old Oleksandr Fedorenko, the deputy head of weaponry of the 4th Tank Brigade.
Another problem are Lancets, the Russian kamikaze drones that Ukrainian soldiers say has been a menace on the battlefield this year.
“We get vehicles that were hit by Lancet or by unmanned guided rockets. It happens often. On average there are five to ten vehicles brought in here each month,” Fedorenko said.
Throughout the war, hundreds of videos online show Ukrainian and Russian tanks being struck by shells or drones, or being incapacitated by landmines. Both sides have lost significant amounts of machinery.
Although exact numbers are kept secret, Ukraine started the war with fewer tanks than Russia, which invaded 21 months ago and has a vast military-industrial complex.
"We have no time to relax, we understand very well the enemy's forces by far exceed ours," Fedorenko said.
In his November 7, 2023 New York Times newsletter, the economist Paul Krugman asks a good, albeit belated, question: Why did so many economists get the inflation outlook wrong? After all, the near-consensus among mainstream economists in recent years was that inflation would persist – and even accelerate – and that this justified substantial interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. Yet the quasi-inflation of 2021-22 proved transitory.
Krugman poses his question with impeccable diplomacy, professing “respect” for three authors of a September 2022 paper published by the Brookings Institution (which was then promoted by Harvard University’s Jason Furman) projecting that it would take at least two years of unemployment at 6.5% to bring inflation back to the Fed’s self-imposed 2% target. But inflation had already peaked before the Brookings paper appeared, and long before the Fed’s rate hikes might have been felt. Over the next year, inflation petered out, even as unemployment remained below 4%. “Team Transitory” – which once briefly included US Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen – endured two years of derision, but it was correct all along.
Krugman rightly focuses on the illogic of certain inflation “pessimists,” who “came up with new, completely unrelated justifications” for their contention that inflation would “remain stubbornly high” long after the 2021 fiscal stimulus packages had been absorbed. Since these pessimists encountered very little mainstream dissent, their doomsaying continued to dominate the discourse well into 2023.
Krugman tactfully avoids naming Lawrence H. Summers, whose “justifications” for inflation pessimism included supposedly excessive “savings,” the Fed’s “debt purchases” and forecasts of “essentially zero interest rates,” and “soaring stock and real estate prices.” Yet, aside from his worries about fiscal stimulus, this was all nonsense. As I pointed out at the time, savings cannot cause inflation, and a technical forecast has no causal power.
Adopting the persona of a naïf, Krugman then suggests that it was “almost as if economists were looking for reasons to be pessimistic.” A paragon of politesse, he declines to tell us what those reasons might have been. But two always stood out. The first was fear: if American workers retained a financial cushion from the Covid-19 aid packages, they might be “harder to boss around.” The second reason concerned power: high interest rates tend to support the dollar internationally.
Since then, various Fed officials have acknowledged both motives many times. For example, an obsession with wages permeates all of Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speeches, and he has openly stated his commitment to maintaining a strong dollar. It is no surprise that mainstream economists endorse – indeed, craft – the same arguments.
But I, too, was being polite, because I omitted a third possibility: namely, that some mainstream economists might call for high interest rates to curry favor with bankers, who enjoy larger profit margins when rates are high (especially now that the Fed pays interest on bank reserves directly). A strong public stance on the matter could generate hefty speaking fees, consulting contracts, or a path to high public office. As Krugman concludes, “I’d like to see some hard thinking about how so many of my colleagues got this story so wrong and maybe even a bit of introspection about their motivations.”
That would be nice, but let’s not hold our breath. Instead, let’s turn to a larger issue. Krugman notes that all the economists he mentions “are very much part of the economics profession’s mainstream.” He means this as a compliment; yet, as Hamlet says, “there’s the rub.” Consider just how often mainstream economists get things wrong – not only small things, but very big ones. Remember their famous failure to foresee the 2007-09 financial crisis, or the woefully ill-advised turn to austerity in 2010? What about the predictably perverse effect of sanctions on Russia? The misdiagnosis of inflation in 2021-22 was merely the latest episode in a long-running series of failures.
The question we should be asking, then, is whether there is something wrong with mainstream economics. Mainstream economists should perhaps re-examine their core beliefs, or maybe we need a new “mainstream” altogether.
To be sure, Krugman notes that “one strand of argument involved parallels with the inflation of the 1970s.” But this only grazes the problem. The real issue is that most of today’s leading mainstream economists were trained in the 1970s, and their worldview – not just the facts, but the theory – was fixed back then. On macroeconomic issues such as inflation, the influences of general equilibrium theory, inflation-unemployment trade-offs, and monetarism remain strong. The legacies of Kenneth Arrow, Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, and Milton Friedman live on.
That earlier generation’s project was partly scientific, partly political. As “social scientists,” they believed in the power of mathematics, which they borrowed from the celestial mechanics of previous centuries. Politically, they sought to defend capitalism against the Soviet challenge during the Cold War. By uniting these objectives, they fashioned the market-oriented mathematical straitjacket in which today’s mainstream economists were raised – and from which they cannot escape. Yesterday’s Wunderkinder – including Summers and Krugman – are today’s tired old men.
Notably, Krugman’s reflection on disinflation makes no mention of the economists who did not misdiagnose things, including Isabella M. Weber of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and L. Randall Wray and Yeva Nersisyan of the Levy Institute. They correctly predicted the disinflation back in March 2022.
But economists with better ideas never get citations by name, let alone job offers from so-called top departments, mainly because so many members of the old guard want to preserve the academic, political, and media monopolies they have held since the 1970s. That means purging new ideas and belittling the people who advance them. By offering such a polite, gentle critique of his “colleagues” after their latest failure, Krugman is being diplomatic to a fault.
Are you a formerly "gifted" kid, struggling to find success as an adult? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant may have a solution for you.
Put simply: Instead of giving up when things don't come naturally to you, start thinking like a "late bloomer."
"Natural talent is overrated," Grant, a bestselling author and psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, recently told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Most child prodigies do not grow up to become adult geniuses. And I think that leaves us to really underestimate the slow learners, the late bloomers."
You need to be able to try new things, problem solve and accept mistakes to reach the height of your capabilities, Grant wrote in his newest book, "Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things." Those "slow learners" develop such traits by necessity from an earlier age, priming them well for achievement later in life, he added.
Late bloomers also tend to be particularly skilled at turning weaknesses into strengths, and if you can master something you're bad at, you're well-equipped to handle most types of challenges, Grant told "Squawk Box."
That doesn't mean the "naturally gifted" are doomed, according to Grant. His book outlines ways anyone can work toward reaching their potential:
- Ask superiors and peers for advice rather than feedback. You'll elicit more interesting and relatable takeaways.
- Find new and fun ways to practice your skills. Athletes often call this cross-training: Instead of running drills or plays repetitively, they lift weights, practice yoga or even attend dance classes. No matter your context, doing this can help prevent burnout.
- Expect and accept awkwardness. Mastering anything is difficult, and that shouldn't deter you from trying.
"The feeling that something is uncomfortable is a signal that you're about to learn something new," Grant told the New York Times last month. "That's a signal we should not only pay attention to, but amplify.
Research backs that up. If you've been dubbed an auditory learner, for instance, you might prefer audiobooks or podcasts over written texts. But the format doesn't actually affect your ability to master the material: People grasp new concepts more effectively when they're pushed outside their comfort zones, studies suggest.
Character skills can be highly valuable in the workplace. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban actively seeks out employees who make the office a better place rather than scouring through impressive resumes, he told Grant's "Re:Thinking" podcast last year.
In one example, Cuban said he hired a CEO who had less relevant experience on their resume, but excelled at "employee support and employee training and enhancement."
″[They] may not have had the experience on the business side that we otherwise would have gone for," said Cuban. "[But they] were putting [employees] in a position to succeed [better] than anybody I've seen."
Central Bank of Nigeria scrapped a meeting of its monetary policy committee for a second time since Governor Olayemi Cardoso was nominated to the post in September, raising concerns about attempts to bolster the nation’s currency that’s plunged about 42% this year and is fueling inflation.
A calendar of MPC meetings published on the central bank’s website had scheduled the next gathering for Monday and Tuesday. The “MPC is not holding” a meeting this week, Isa Abdulmumin, spokesman for the bank, said by text message on Monday. He didn’t give a date for when it would be held.
Investors have been looking to the MPC meeting for signals on how the central bank will rein in inflation that’s accelerating at the fastest pace in almost two decades. They were also anticipating an update on the overhaul of the nation’s foreign-exchange controls initiated by President Bola Tinubu in June.
Nigeria Postpones Rate Decision as Inflation Quickens
Price growth is at an almost two-decade high
“Postponing two successive meetings is not a good sign” if you want to stabilize the naira and attract investment to the country, Mosope Arubayi, an economist at IC Group said by phone from Lagos. The meeting will “enable investors to assess the direction of the new MPC board. The most important information for foreign investors is the interest rate.”
The naira was trading at a wide spread at the official market, compared with the parallel market rate because of dollar shortages. It closed 791.74 a dollar on Friday, according to Lagos-based FMDQ, which tracks the data. That compares with 1,138 naira to the dollar it traded on the streets of Lagos on Monday — a 30% spread, Abubakar Mohammed, chief executive officer of Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., which compiles the data said by phone.
A Bloomberg survey of 12 economists had forecast the central bank will raise its benchmark rate by as much as 325 basis points from 18.75%.
CBN held its last monetary policy meeting in July when it raised the benchmark by 25 basis points to curb inflation, which was 22.8% in June. The price index has since climbed to 27.3% in October, pressured by the depreciation in the local currency and a jump in fuel costs after the removal of subsidies on gasoline.
The new CBN leadership has instead signaled an intention to tighten borrowing costs and control liquidity by raising yields on short-term papers.
“While rising OMO yields are the most important signal yet of the CBN’s tightening intent, formalizing this with an MPC statement would also help reinforce the message,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank, referring to open market operations conducted by the authority.
Cardoso may give some indication of the central bank’s policy direction on Nov. 24 when he speaks at a dinner organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Lagos-based Thisday newspapers reported on Monday, citing a statement from the industry group.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says democracy has not been working as a system of government in Africa because it was “forced” on the continent.
Obasanjo stated this on Monday in Abeokuta in his address at a high-level consultation on “Rethinking Western Liberal Democracy for Africa.”
The former president said the Western style of democracy has failed in Africa because it does not take into consideration the views of the majority of the people.
He described Western Liberal Democracy as a “government of a few people over all the people or population”.
”These few people are representatives of only some of the people and not full representatives of all the people.
“Invariably, majority of the people were wittingly or unwittingly kept out. This is why we should have ‘Afro Democracy’ in place of Western Liberal Democracy.”
Obasanjo said African countries have no business operating a system of government in which they have no hands in its definition and design.
“The weakness and failure of liberal democracy as it is practised stem from its history, content, context and its practice.
“Once you move from all the people to representatives of the people, you start to encounter troubles and problems.
“For those who define it as the rule of majority, should the minority be ignored, neglected and excluded?
“In short, we have a system of government in which we have no hands to define and design and we continue with it, even when we know that it is not working for us.
“Those who brought it to us are now questioning the rightness of their invention, its deliverability and its relevance today without reform,” he said.
Obasanjo explained that the essence of any system of government should be the welfare and well-being of the people.
“Here, we must interrogate performance of democracy in the West – where it originated from – and with us the inheritors of what we are left with by our colonial powers.
“We are here to stop being foolish and stupid. Can we look inward and outward to see what in our country, culture, tradition, practice and living over the years that we can learn from?
“(Something) that we can adopt and adapt with practices everywhere for a changed system of government that will service our purpose better and deliver.
“We have to think out of the box and after, act with our new thinking.
“You are invited here to examine clinically the practice of liberal democracy, identify its shortcomings for our society and bring forth ideas and recommendations that can serve our purpose better,” he said.
In his remarks, a former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, said liberal democracy in Africa is confronted with many challenges.
Fayemi said the improvement of the welfare of the people remained important, as democracy faces challenges of delivery in Africa.
“Non-delivery of development outcomes for the people must be adequately addressed so that democracy can deliver,” he said.
Lagos State Government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu approved N24.5m for the renovation of the official residence of the Commissioner of Police in the state.
The approval for the project executed by Omay Engineering Services Ltd was dated February 6, which was a few days before the February 25 general election.
The main opposition parties in the state accused security agencies of colluding with non-state actors to intimidate their supporters and suppress votes in some areas of the state.
This was seen in the Public Procurement awards by the state government in 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2023.
Aside the money spent on renovation, the state Ministry of Justice paid N200m to four Senior lawyers to represent Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat in pre-election matters.
The state also released N20.8m for the decoration of the venue for political delegates’ congress.
However, the money was approved on June 26, more than three months after the 2023 general elections.
N6.1m was approved in July for the provision of furniture items at the Campaign office, GRA, Ikeja. Political commentators said it is wrong for taxpayers’ money to be used to fund political activities.
The government also approved N152 million for the restoration of water supply at Iduganran palace, the official residence of the Oba of Lagos.
These revelations come at a time when Nigerians are struggling to cope with harsh economic conditions.
Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat, have come under criticism over the controversial approval amid the nationwide hardship.
In addition, Sanwo-Olu approved N44.8m for the clearing of vegetables within the Epe Mixed Development Scheme.
According to records from the state’s Public Procurement Agency (PPA), the project was awarded in May to M/S Obak Nigeria Enterprises by the Lagos State New Towns Development Authority.
Another approval by Sanwo-Olu is N7.5 million to replace liquid fragrance in his office.
Further checks revealed that some questionable spending was approved by the state government. According to the document, N73.1m was approved for the production of the official portraits of President Bola Tinubu and the state governor, Sanwo-Olu. The project which was executed by the office of the Chief of Staff was awarded to Flolizvi Connect.
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, was sworn-in as President on May 29. Sanwo-Olu also started his second term tenure on the same date.
N80.8m Tokunbo vehicles; 400m on Charter plane
The office of the Chief of Staff also got approval of N80.8m on June 19 for the procurement of ten units of foreign used vehicles. The same office got approval of N440.75m for the purchase of a brand new Lexus LX 600 Bulletproof Sport Utility Vehicle.
The office also got N18.5 million for the supply and distribution of 2,000 Noiler chicken across the local government areas and wards in the state.
400m was approved for flying hour expenses on an ad-hoc charter plane.
N152 for Akiolu’s water, N581m for church renovation
The government also approved N152m for the restoration of water supply at Iduganran palace, the official residence of the Oba of Lagos.
Records also showed that the state approved N581m to renovate Saint Andrews Anglican Church in Oke-Popo area of the state.
Hamas chief says close to truce agreement with Israel
The chief of Hamas told Reuters on Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group was near a truce agreement with Israel, even as the deadly assault on Gaza continued and rockets were being fired into Israel.
Hamas officials are "close to reaching a truce agreement" with Israel and the group has delivered its response to Qatari mediators, Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement sent to Reuters by his aide.
There were no more details about the terms of the potential agreement.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he believed an accord was near. "We're closer now than we've been before," White House spokesman John Kirby said of an agreement aimed at securing the release of some hostagesheld in Gaza and a pause in the fighting that would allow much needed aid into the besieged enclave.
Hamas took about 240 hostages during its Oct. 7 rampage into Israel that killed 1,200 people.
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), met Haniyeh in Qatar on Monday to "advance humanitarian issues" related to the conflict, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. She also met separately with Qatari authorities.
The ICRC said it was not part of negotiations aimed at releasing the hostages, but as a neutral intermediary it was ready "to facilitate any future release that the parties agree to."
Talk of an imminent hostage deal has swirled for days. Reuters reported last week that Qatari mediators were seeking a deal for Hamas and Israel to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day ceasefire that would boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians, citing an official briefed on the talks.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that he hoped for an agreement "in the coming days" while Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that the remaining sticking points were "very minor."
A deal has appeared close before.
"Sensitive negotiations like this can fall apart at the last minute," White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told NBC's "Meet the Press" program on Sunday. "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
Hamas' raid on Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israel's 75-year-old history, prompted Israel to invade the Palestinian territory to target Hamas.
Since then, Gaza's Hamas-run government said at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,600 children and 3,550 women, by unrelenting Israeli bombardment.
Hamas said on its Telegram account on Monday that it had launched a barrage of missiles towards Tel Aviv. Witnesses also reported rockets being fired at central Israel.
HOSPITALS AT RISK
The Palestinian news agency WAFA said on Tuesday at least 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombing of the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza at midnight.
There was no immediate comment from Israel.
Gaza's health ministry said on Monday that at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by firing into the Indonesian Hospital complex, which was encircled by Israeli tanks.
Health officials said 700 patients along with staff were under Israeli fire.
WAFA said the facility in the northeast Gaza town of Beit Lahia, funded by Indonesian organisations, had been hit by artillery rounds. Hospital staff denied there were any armed militants on the premises.
World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was "appalled" by the attack that he too said had killed 12 people, including patients, citing unspecified reports.
The Israeli Defence Forces said troops had fired back at fighters in the hospital while taking "numerous measures to minimise harm" to non-combatants.
Like all other health facilities in the northern half of Gaza, the Indonesian Hospital has largely ceased operations but is still sheltering patients, staff and displaced residents.
Twenty-eight prematurely born babies evacuated from Gaza's biggest hospital, Al Shifa, were taken into Egypt for urgent treatment on Monday.
Israeli forces seized Shifa last week to search for what they said was a tunnel network built by Hamas beneath the hospital. Hundreds of patients, medical staff and displaced people left Shifa at the weekend, with doctors saying they were ejected by troops and Israel saying the departures were voluntary.
Ukraine ‘concerned’ by Western push for Russia talks – security chief
The government in Kiev is worried that its Western backers are calling for peace out of an irrational fear of Russia, Aleksey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on Monday.
Danilov spoke via video link to the annual conference of the Halifax International Security Forum, a Washington, DC-based NGO funded in part by the Canadian government.
“Ukraine is concerned by the fact that discussions among certain partners have intensified regarding the need for negotiations, consultations, meetings with the Russians to discuss the issues of the war in Ukraine, a ceasefire, etc,” Danilov said, according to a transcript posted by his office.
He attributed this to a “rudimentary fear” of Russia and argued that the West should follow Ukraine’s example instead, as Moscow “only understands the language of force.”
According to Danilov, the current conflict is “a struggle between democracy and tyranny,” with the West and Ukraine on one side, and Russia, China, Iran and North Korea on the other. If Russia is not defeated, the world should expect a new “axis of evil” within 15-20 years that would include “some European countries” as well, he insisted. “Ukraine and the Ukrainian people will fight to the end. We are sure of our victory.”
President Vladimir Zelensky’s top security official described Ukraine’s ideal of victory as “controlled decomposition of Russia into several parts”leading not just to “regime change” in Moscow but the “de-sovereignization… denuclearization and demilitarization” of the neighboring country.
Meanwhile, he said, Ukraine needs more Western funding and support to restore its 1991 borders and become an economic powerhouse once more.
“Ukraine has every chance to become a strategic project of the West, which will demonstrate the full power of the vitality of democracy and the defense of universal values,” Danilov insisted. “The West must confirm that it is and remains the First, and a victorious Ukraine will serve as a convincing narrative in the modern confrontation between slavery and freedom!”
Earlier on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kiev to offer moral support for Ukraine, but had no new military assistance to announce. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the outlet CNBC that Ukraine is “utterly dependent” on US funding to keep paying the salaries of government workers, calling the continued funding of Kiev a “critical priority” for US national security.
Washington has blown through most of the congressionally approved funding for Ukraine and the White House has been trying to pressure Congress to pass more, so far with no effect.
Ukraine says Russian troops focusing on Bakhmut in the east
Ukrainian forces were engaged in containing increasing Russian attacks on Monday around the shattered eastern town of Bakhmut, military officials said.
The officials said Ukraine's troops had also achieved some success after crossing to the east bank of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson region.
Russia has concentrated on Ukraine's eastern regions after failing to move on Kyiv in the early days after the February 2022 invasion. Their progress has been slow.
Ukrainian forces have also made marginal gains in a five-month-old offensive in the east and south.
Moscow's forces seized Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk region in May after months of heavy fighting that left the town in ruins.
Volodymyr Fityo, a spokesperson for Ukrainian ground forces, said Russian troops focused attacks on Klishchiivka, a nearby village on heights retaken by Ukrainian forces in September.
"Russian occupying forces have brought in the necessary reserves and gone on the attack," Fityo told national television.
"Eleven attacks have been repelled in the past 24 hours. The enemy is trying to dislodge our men from defensive positions around Klishchiivka."
Russian accounts said Moscow's forces had beaten back more than 30 Ukrainian attacks in and around Bakhmut in the past week. The Russian Defence Ministry reported more than two dozen attacks near Kupiansk in Ukraine's northeast in a week.
Reuters could not verify accounts from either side.
ASSAULTS ON AVDIIVKA
Fighting in the east has also centred on the equally devastated town of Avdiivka, still in Ukrainian hands 20 months into the war and after more than a month of Russian assaults.
Military analyst Serhiy Zgurets, writing on the Espreso TV media outlet website, said Russian forces were trying to launch a new offensive on the town, known for its vast coking plant.
"To be truthful, enemy's attempts to surround Avdiivka have resulted in significant losses for them," Zgurets wrote.
Maksym Morozov, an Interior Ministry major, told Espreso that recent rains had left the ground soft and unsuitable for enemy equipment near the town, where 1,500 residents remain from a pre-war population of 32,000.
Another military spokesperson, Andriy Kovaliov, said Ukrainian forces had "carried out several successful and effective actions" on the east bank of the Dnipro nearly a week after military officials acknowledged their presence there.
Russian forces were making up to 10 daily attempts to dislodge Ukrainian forces from positions on the eastern bank and were drafting in reserves, he told national television.
Russian troops left the western bank of the river and the region's main city, Kherson, a year ago, but have since been shelling their abandoned positions from areas across the river.
Ukrainian authorities earlier reported that Russian shelling had killed three people and damaged power lines and a gas pipeline in Kherson region and in central Dnipropetrovsk region.
Two drivers were killed when Russian forces shelled a private transport company parking lot in Kherson, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.
A woman was killed and a man injured in a Russian artillery strike on Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk governor Serhiy Lysak said.