Israel says two male Israeli hostages have been rescued in a raid in Rafah, as Israeli air strikes hit the southern Gazan city. The Israeli military says Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, are in "good medical condition.” Earlier, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said Rafah was under attack, with a number of deaths reported. It follows warnings from the international community over Israel's planned offensive in the city, where 1.5 million people are sheltering - BBC
The director-general of the Government Media Office in the Gaza Strip, has told Al Jazeera that the humanitarian situation in the northern Gaza Strip is beyond the catastrophic stage. “Some families receive only half a meal within 48 hours,” he said. “Citizens in the northern Gaza Strip cannot even find fodder and grains.” Al-Thawabta said he holds Israel responsible for blockading the Gaza Strip and preventing the arrival of aid. “We demand an end to the occupation’s attacks on civilians and an end to the war,” he said - Al Jazeera
Far more Americans trust Donald Trump to handle the US economy than Joe Biden despite months of strong growth, a new poll has found, underscoring the president’s difficulty in convincing voters his policies are improving their financial wellbeing. The survey for the Financial Times and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business found that 42 per cent of Americans felt Trump would be the best steward of the US economy, while only 31 per cent chose Biden. Around one in five — 21 per cent — said they trusted neither. The results compound a difficult week for the president, who was rattled by a withering judicial report that described him as an “elderly man with a poor memory”, validating many voters’ concerns about his age and mental acuity - FT
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has hit back against “any suggestion” countries within the alliance would not defend one another after former US President Donald Trump said he would not abide by the collective defense clause at the heart of the alliance if reelected. In what would be a stunning abandonment of a decades-long core US commitment, Trump, who is running for re-election in November, said during a campaign event Saturday he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines and would not offer such a country US protection. In a statement Sunday, Stoltenberg said such comments put European and American soldiers at an increased risk - CNN
Japan will pledge 15.8 billion yen ($106 million) in aid to support the reconstruction of Ukraine from war damage in seven fields such as infrastructure rebuilding and demining, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday. The governments of the two countries are expected to agree on Japan's involvement in the European nation's post-war reconstruction and sign more than 10 memorandums of cooperation at the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction slated for Feb. 19 in Tokyo. The conference in Tokyo to be held ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 will come at a time concerns are growing about dwindling military support for Ukraine from Western countries - Kyodo
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin transferred his duties to his deputy as he is hospitalized for treatment for symptoms “suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” according to the Pentagon. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assumed the functions and duties of the top spot at the Pentagon shortly before 5 p.m., Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement. The White House, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and Congress have been notified. The rapid notification of Austin’s visit to the hospital – the first statement from the Pentagon was released within three hours – came after the defense secretary acknowledged failures in notifying the administration and the public about his previous hospitalization - CNN
A court in western Ukraine has ordered the seizure of the real estate and cars of Lviv businessman Ihor Hrynkevch and his wife, son and mother-in-law and two of his accomplices, as part of a military procurement scandal. Hrynkevych was detained on December 29, 2023, during an attempt to give a $500,000 bribe to one of the heads of the Main Investigative Department of the State Security Bureau. He offered this money for assistance in the return of property seized from companies controlled by him during the investigation. He is currently in custody. Investors claim Hrynkevych’s companies won 23 tenders for the supply of clothing to the Ministry of Defense worth over 1.5 billion hryvnias. But a number of contracts were not fulfilled, some were implemented partially, with delays, and the orders were fulfilled by enterprises without adequate capacities. The SBI established that Hrynkevych's companies supplied low-quality goods under these contracts, which caused damage to the state in the amount of almost UAH 1-billion. Those charged face up to 12 years in prison with confiscation of property - Ukrainska Pravda
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