(1) 4-day truce begins in Israel-Hamas war
A four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war took effect early Friday, setting the stage for the exchange of dozens of hostages held by militants in Gaza in return for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. The halt in fighting promised some relief for Gaza’s 2.3 million people, who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as families in Israel fearful for the fate of loved ones taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.
Also Read | Israel-Hamas truce LIVE updates
The cease-fire kicked off at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and is to last at least four days. During this period, Gaza’s ruling Hamas group pledged to free at least 50 of the about 240 hostages it and other militants took on Oct. 7. Hamas said Israel would free 150 Palestinian prisoners. The deal also provides for more aid to reach southern Gaza, where Palestinians are facing severe shortages of food, water, medicine and electricity.
Not long after the cease-fire took effect, trucks carrying fuel and other supplies could be seen entering the terminal at the Rafah crossing from Egypt, where they were transferred to other trucks that would carry them into Gaza.
Both sides will release women and children first. Israel said the truce would be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed. The first 50 hostages being released are Israeli citizens, including some who have a second nationality, according to a Hamas official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the details with the media. The official would not comment on media reports that Hamas had also agreed to release non-Israelis, including 23 Thai nationals. Thailand’s foreign minister told reporters in Bangkok he had not yet been able to confirm the reports.
The truce-for-hostages deal was reached in weeks of intense indirect negotiations, with Qatar, the United States and Egypt serving as mediators. If it holds, it would mark the first significant break in fighting since Israel declared war on Hamas seven weeks ago.
The war erupted when several thousand Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel, killing at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking scores of hostages, including babies, women and older adults, as well as soldiers. Hamas is expected to demand a large number of high-profile prisoners in return for soldiers.
The Israeli bombardment, now in its seventh week, has killed more than 14,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which resumed its detailed count of casualties in Gaza from the war. The ministry had stopped publishing casualty counts since Nov. 11, saying it had lost the ability to do so because of the health system’s collapse in the north. The chart below shows the daily cumulative deaths since October 20. Over 6,000 children and 4,000 women have been killed in the past seven weeks.
The new numbers were not fully broken down, but women and minors have consistently made up around two-thirds of the dead. The figures do not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north. The ministry says some 6,000 people have been reported missing, feared buried under rubble.
(2) Uttarkashi tunnel collapse rescue dangerous, may take a long time
Workers have been trapped for days after a portion of the under-construction tunnel on the Uttarakhand Char Dham route collapsed on November 12, cutting off its exit.
On day 14 of the multi-agency rescue mission, officials shifted focus to two alternatives — manual drilling through the remaining 10- or 12-metre stretch of the rubble or, more likely, drilling down 86 metres from above.
The first visuals of the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand since November 12 emerged on Tuesday after an endoscopic camera was sent in through the six-inch pipe which was drilled through the debris blocking the tunnel on Monday.
The area of entrapment, measuring 8.5 metres in height and 2 kilometres in length, is in the built-up portion of the tunnel, meaning that the workers are relatively safe and have access to the electricity and water supply.
“This operation could take a long time,” National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain said at his media briefing. At the disaster site, international tunnelling expert Arnold Dix repeated his promise of getting the workers out “by Christmas”, which is a month away.
(3) Sam Altman returns to OpenAI
Sam Altman will return as CEO of OpenAI along with former President Greg Brockman days after their shock exit. OpenAI confirmed the news in a statement on X saying it has reached an “agreement in principle” with Altman as CEO and a new board with Bret Taylor as chairman, Larry Summers and Adam D’Angelo.
A source spoke to The Verge sharing that this is the initial form of the board which will appoint a new formal board of up to nine people to change the governance of OpenAI. Microsoft will reportedly have a seat on the new and expanded board with Altman himself.
Altman posted on X stating, “i love openai, and everything i’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. when i decided to join msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w satya’s support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”
Altman’s ouster had started a revolt at the company with nearly all of its more than 700 employees threatening to quit in a letter that demanded the resignation of the board and reinstatement of Altman and Brockman.
(4) Australia wins sixth World Cup title
Australia won a record-extending sixth 50-overs World Cup title after opener Travis Head, the player of the match, smashed a magnificent century to fashion their six-wicket victory in Sunday’s final against the tournament’s form team India.
Put into bat, India rode battling half-centuries by KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to post a below-par 240 all out in exactly 50 overs at a packed Narendra Modi Stadium. Australia suffered a top order wobble of their own but Head’s 137 off 120 balls saw them romp home with seven overs to spare in match that never reached great heights.
Around 93,000 predominantly Indian fans sat mostly in deathly silence as the home team, who had won 10 matches in a row to make the final, succumbed to their first loss of the tournament in the all-important summit clash. The six-wicket triumph reiterated Australia’s cricketing pedigree.
Australia saved its best for the last and the ICC ODI World Cup 2023-win pips everything, a chuffed-up captain Pat Cummins said during the post-match presentation at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.
Earlier this year, Australia had won the World Test Championship in July against the same opponent - India.
India are without a global title since the 2013 Champions Trophy. India won the World Cup title in 1983 and 2011. Its last major success was winning the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in 2013.
(5) Rajasthan records a 71.64% voter turnout on Saturday
Rajasthan recorded a voter turnout of 71.64% in the Assembly election on Saturday, November 25, with the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP locking horns in a tightly contested campaign. The polling passed off peacefully, barring a few incidents of clashes and violence mainly between supporters of the rival parties.
On Saturday, the highest turnout of 87.79% was reported from Pokhran in Jaisalmer, followed by 85.15% in Tijara of Alwar and 83.5% in Bari of Dholpur. Among the districts, Jaisalmer recorded the highest of 82.37%, followed by Hanumangarh with 80.31% and Baran with 79.96%. Among the districts, Jaisalmer and Hanumangarh recorded the highest turnout of 76.57% each, followed by Dholpur with 74.11%.
This year’s voter turnout, however, is lesser than the turnout in the previous two assembly elections in 2018 and 2013, which recorded a turnout of 75.04% and 74.06%, respectively. The bar graph below shows the voter turnout for the assembly election since 1980.
There were more than 5.25 crore registered voters in the 199 constituencies, while 1,862 candidates were in the fray. The results will be declared on Sunday, December 3.