Friday Briefing: Gaza Cease-Fire to Begin Today

The Qatari government, which has brokered negotiations between Israel and Hamas, said a four-day pause in fighting in Gaza would begin this morning, followed by the hostage and prisoner releases. The events could lead to a significant diplomatic breakthrough in the war, now in its seventh week. Here’s the latest.

Israel and Hamas have been negotiating to clinch the final details of the agreement to exchange at least 50 women and children held in Gaza for 150 Palestinian women and minors imprisoned in Israeli jails. The agreement was announced on Wednesday, but the talks have snagged on key details, underscoring the fragility of the deal and the intense mutual mistrust.

Continued fighting: Israeli airstrikes and ground troops pummeled northern Gaza amid the countdown to the pause in fighting. Numerous clashes were reported in Jabaliya, an area just north of Gaza City that Israeli officials have called a stronghold of Hamas.

Details: A spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry told reporters that the pause in fighting would begin at 7 a.m. Gaza time. A first group of 13 hostages would be released starting at 4 p.m. along with an undisclosed number of Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas’s military wing confirmed in a statement that the cease-fire would begin at 7 a.m. The Israeli prime minister’s office did not confirm the timing, but said it had received an initial list of the names of hostages who would be released and had contacted their families.

Past swaps: Roughly three Palestinian prisoners will be returned for every one Israeli hostage. Israeli governments have long been determined to bring back captured civilians and soldiers — even at steep costs. Here is a look at how these deals have played out.

The World Health Organization has requested that China share detailed information about a recent increase in respiratory illnesses in children. Chinese media reports have described long lines and overcrowding at pediatric hospitals.

Doctors have said that the wave this year appeared to be more severe. Chinese officials have attributed the illnesses to known pathogens such as influenza, the coronavirus behind the pandemic and mycoplasma pneumoniae, a common bacterium that typically causes mild illness. But some reports have described crowds of children at hospitals with pneumonia, without specifying the exact cause of illness.

Background: During the outbreaks of SARS in 2003 and of the coronavirus, China’s surveillance and reporting of infectious diseases drew global scrutiny and criticism. Officials covered up early cases both times and stonewalled requests from outside health officials, including the W.H.O., for more information and access to patient data.

U.S. officials said they had expressed concerns to the Indian government about a thwarted plan to kill a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, months after Canada accused New Delhi of being involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia in June.

News outlets reported on Wednesday that the Biden administration had told the Indian government it had information possibly linking New Delhi to the failed attempt to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a vocal advocate of Sikh separatism.

The White House’s National Security Council said that the issue had “been raised by the U.S. government with the Indian government,” and India’s foreign ministry issued a statement that acknowledged discussing the matter with the U.S. There has been no public accusation.

Geoffrey Holt lived a quiet life in a trailer park in a small New Hampshire town, blending in with its 4,000 residents while mostly keeping to himself. When he died in June at 82, his will revealed a secret: He was a multimillionaire. And he had decided to leave all his wealth — $3.8 million — to the town.

The Netflix series “Squid Game,” about wealthy VIPs watching the poor and desperate compete to the death for a payout, wasn’t subtle, our critic James Poniewozik writes. But it had something to say, and it did so with style.

For those craving a real-life adaptation, you’re in luck. Or maybe not.

The new reality show spinoff, “Squid Game: The Challenge,” obviously loses all the murder. It keeps the drama’s kaleidoscopic set design, its outfits and many of its competitions. Unfortunately, it also loses everything its inspiration had that cut to the jugular — in particular, the commentary about how capitalism pits ordinary people in gladiatorial combat.

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