Monday Briefing: A 3rd Hamas-Israel Exchange

Avigail Idan, 4, was released from Gaza yesterday.Credit…Hostages and Missing Families Forum

Hamas and Israel make their 3rd prisoner-hostage exchange

Hamas released 17 more hostages yesterday, including one American — Avigail Idan, who turned 4 on Friday, nearly seven weeks after her parents were killed in the Oct. 7 cross-border assault on southern Israel.

Here’s what we know about the hostages.

The Israeli prime minister’s office said that 14 Israelis, including nine children, and three foreigners were released on the third day of the negotiated cease-fire. The terms of the deal — which began on Friday and involves the release of 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and minors in Israeli custody — has allowed for the longest break in fighting in Gaza since Oct. 7. It is slated to end on Tuesday.

Israel has offered to extend the pause by one day for every additional 10 hostages released, and Hamas later announced that it was seeking to extend the truce as well.

Here’s the latest.

Delays: Hamas threatened on Saturday to postpone the second trade, claiming that Israel had not allowed enough aid to reach northern Gaza. After an hourslong delay, the exchange went ahead, and Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The delay raised fears that subsequent releases would be similarly fraught.

Aid: 200 trucks of food, water, medicine, fuel and cooking gas have arrived in Gaza each day during the cease-fire, according to President Biden. With practically no fuel or coal, families are burning doors and window frames to cook what they can scrounge. “We went back to the Stone Age,” one man said.

What’s next: An extended cease-fire could create more opportunities for other countries, particularly the U.S., to pressure Israel to scale back its military response, which has killed more than 13,000 Gazans, according to health officials there.

A fire north of Perth on Nov. 23.Credit…Dfes/Dept.Fire and Emergency Services. WA, via Associated Press

Australia’s fire season starts early

After the warmest winter on record and an unusually warm and dry spring, hundreds of fires have broken out along Australia’s east coast, including one that razed 53 homes in Queensland. Last week, on the west coast, strong winds and an unseasonably early heat wave fueled a raging blaze just over a dozen miles from the Perth city center.

By Sunday, firefighters had contained the Perth fire, which had burned through about 4,500 acres and destroyed 18 homes.

Stoked by the El Niño weather pattern, and worsened by climate change, this is the country’s first dry and hot year since the summer of 2019-20. This season is expected to be the worst since that period, when nearly 500 people died from direct fire exposure and smoke inhalation.

Mothers and babies waiting for shots in Accra, Ghana, in July.Credit…Natalija Gormalova for The New York Times

Unvaccinated children are driving a surge in outbreaks

Outbreaks of diseases that primarily kill children are spreading, driven by disruptions to health systems during the coronavirus pandemic that left more than 60 million children without a single dose of standard childhood vaccines.

By the midpoint of this year, 47 countries were reporting serious and deadly measles outbreaks, compared with 16 countries in June 2020. Nigeria is currently facing the largest diphtheria outbreak in its history, with nearly 600 deaths so far. Twelve countries are reporting circulating polio virus. Many of the children who missed their shots have now aged out of routine immunization programs, and account for nearly half of all child deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses, according to the organization Gavi, which helps fund vaccination in low- and middle-income countries.

Protecting those children will require a costly vaccination blitz.


Asia Pacific

A soldier stood guard after a fire at a shopping center in Karachi, Pakistan.Credit…Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
  • A shopping mall fire killed 10 people in Karachi, where fire safety is a persistent problem.

  • Ahead of a presidential election in January, Taiwan is preparing for Chinese disinformation.

  • Here’s why Han Kwang-song, a North Korean soccer prodigy, vanished and re-emerged.

  • A growing number of Chinese migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • From Opinion: China’s declining birth and marriage rates are seemingly being driven by women who no longer accept the costs that family and children require.

Around the World

Inspecting a damaged building and compound in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday.Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
  • After a “record” drone attack on Kyiv, a Ukrainian strike on a power station in Russian-held territory cut power to towns and cities.

  • The Wagner mercenary group has been a powerful security force in the Central African Republic, but the death of its leader has Russia and the U.S. competing for influence there.

  • Sierra Leone declared a nationwide curfew on Sunday after a failed attack on an armory in Freetown, the capital.

Other Big Stories

  • Shoulder-fired rockets carry a known risk of brain injury. U.S. troops are still training with them.

  • After one of the worst anti-immigrant riots in Ireland’s recent history, donors gave more than 330,000 euros to a Brazilian immigrant who stopped the stabbing that incited it.

  • Hungary has one of the most beautiful soccer stadiums in Europe because its autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orban, is a fan and former semipro player.

A Morning Read

Adama Adaku is one of the hairdressers who were trained as mental health ambassadors.Credit…Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

The World Health Organization classifies its Africa region as the one with the highest suicide rate in the world, with some of the lowest public expenditures on mental health. A nonprofit initiative is aiming to change that.

Hair salons are already a favored gathering place for women. By offering mental health training to hairdressers in West and Central African cities — where counseling remains barely accessible, let alone accepted — the plan could provide relief to hundreds of clients.


Credit…Photo illustration by Anthony Gerace

The Beatles, A.I. and pop music’s bleak future

The Beatles’ latest single, “Now and Then,” was made possible with artificial intelligence tools that isolated John Lennon’s vocals from an old, muddied recording. The song was topping the charts in Britain and the U.S. within days of its release this month, pointing to a future where no golden goose need ever stop laying eggs, my colleague Peter C. Baker writes.

Much of the conversation about A.I. tools and art has focused on what “new” material a computer program can generate on its own. But the successful rollout of “Now and Then,” Peter writes, suggests a more plausible path for A.I. and the business of culture: making it easier to monetize existing content that is already profitable. There’s no reason not to picture a future in which our favorite entertainers are endlessly re-presented to us, hampering investment in innovations and experiments that result in novel art.

Read his column here.


Credit…Kelly Marshall for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Roscoe Betsill. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

Cook: This version of Cantoneseginger-scallion steamed fish takes just 25 minutes.

Watch: “Fallen Leaves” is a magical rom-com by the Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki.

Read: Audrey Salkeld was “the world’s pre-eminent expert in Everest history.”

Visit: Paju Book City, northwest of Seoul, is a euphoric celebration of book publishing.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. Two Times podcast hosts recorded an interview with the chief executive of OpenAI. Two days later, he was fired.

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