Hamas releases two more hostages


Stay informed with free updates

Good morning.

Hamas has freed two more of the more than 200 hostages its militants captured during a deadly assault on southern Israel earlier this month, as diplomatic efforts to contain the escalating tensions in the Middle East continue.

The release of Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, takes the number of hostages freed to four, following the handover of mother and daughter Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Shoshana Raanan by the militants on Friday. Yesterday Israel raised its estimate of the numbers of hostages captured by Hamas to 222.

The two elderly women were seized from the kibbutz of Nir Oz by Hamas militants who over-ran towns across southern Israel on October 7. Their husbands, who were also kidnapped, remain in Hamas’s hands.

US president Joe Biden welcomed the release and urged Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call to facilitate a “continuous flow of urgently needed humanitarian assistance” to Gaza, which is under siege by Israeli forces.

Biden also updated Netanyahu on new US military deployments to the region as part of “ongoing efforts at regional deterrence”, the White House said in a statement last night.

French president Emmanuel Macron landed today in Israel for meetings with Netanyahu and other senior government officials. He also plans to speak to Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president.

The fate of the hostages is one of several factors holding back Israel’s highly anticipated ground offensive.

Army officials indicated yesterday that the military operation is on schedule. “We are well prepared for the ground operations in the south,” said Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi.

“There are tactical, operative, strategic considerations that have provided additional time, and troops who have more time are better prepared, and that is what we are doing now.” Here’s the latest on the Israel-Hamas war.

  • Splits in Israel’s war cabinet: Israel’s prime minister, defence minister and army chief insisted there was “unity of purpose” among them as signs of discord grew over the course of the war with Hamas.

  • Lebanon: Residents in Israel’s northern neighbour are stocking up on food, fuel and emergency supplies as fears intensify that the Israel-Hamas war will engulf them. Some of those who can are fleeing abroad.

  • Lessons of 9/11: Israel is in danger of repeating the mistakes of America’s war on terror, but it has much less margin for error, warns Gideon Rachman.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • UNSC: US secretary of state Antony Blinken will travel to New York to take part in a ministerial meeting at the United Nations Security Council about the Middle East.

  • Company earnings: Google’s parent company Alphabet, Coca-Cola, Verizon, General Electric, 3M, General Motors, Kimberly-Clark, Spotify, Halliburton, Visa and Texas Instruments report results.

  • Congress: Nine Republicans have declared an interest in becoming Speaker in the House of Representatives and a vote could happen as early as today. 

As the Financial Times launches a newsletter on central banking, join Chris Giles and his international colleagues on October 25 1-2pm GMT for a subscriber-exclusive webinar to unpick lessons from central banks’ battle against inflation. Register for your ticket now and send in your questions for the panel.

Five more top stories

1. Taiwan’s leading presidential candidate has blasted China over a probe of Apple supplier Foxconn. Vice-president Lai Ching-te, the candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive party and frontrunner for the January polls, accused Beijing of unfairly targeting the Taiwanese company ahead of an election early next year. The comments were made at a campaign event earlier today. Here’s more on what Lai said.

2. PwC’s revenue growth lagged behind its Big Four rivals Deloitte and EY in its latest financial year. The accounting and consulting firm brought in record global revenues of $53.1bn in the year to June 30. But like other Big Four firms, PwC’s business growth slowed last year as clients pulled back on consulting work amid economic uncertainty and a drought of merger and acquisition activity.

3. Barclays shares fell sharply this morning after it reported a steep drop in third-quarter profit and lowered its UK growth outlook. Chief executive CS Venkatakrishnan also announced an investor update to come alongside its full-year results in February which will reallocate capital within the group, provide new financial targets and result in “material” restructuring charges. The shares fell to their lowest level this year.

4. María Corina Machado, an economic liberal who favours widespread privatisation, has claimed victory in an opposition primary to pick a candidate for next year’s Venezuelan presidential election, despite being banned from running for office by President Nicolás Maduro’s government. Sunday’s primary took place days after the US eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, gas and mining sectors in a major policy shift. Here’s more on the results.

5. International migration to rich countries reached an all-time high last year, driven by global humanitarian crises and demand for workers, the OECD said yesterday. The Paris-based organisation estimated 6.1mn new permanent migrants moved to its 38 member countries last year, 26 per cent more than in 2021. Preliminary figures for 2023 suggested a further increase, the OECD said.

The Big Read

Workers pour liquid metal at an iron foundry in Eisenberg, the biggest town in Donnersbergkreis
Workers pour liquid metal at an iron foundry in Eisenberg, the biggest town in Donnersbergkreis

While its European neighbours are growing, Germany’s economy is stuck in a rut. Its exports and manufacturing output are in decline, inflation is suppressing consumer demand and the construction industry is reeling from high interest rates. Nowhere is this stagnation more evident than in Donnersbergkreis. The once-prosperous industrial district is struggling to adapt to the slow demise of petrol-powered cars and high energy costs.

We’re also reading . . . 

Chart of the day

Line chart of US companies as percentage of MSCI All-Country World index showing US stocks dominate global markets

The so-called “magnificent seven” — Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Alphabet, Nvidia and Tesla — have driven all of the gains in global stocks this year. The gains have punctured the predictions of investors who had argued bargain valuations would help other markets around the world catch up with the US.

Take a break from the news

An illustration showing various Paris landmarks, people milling about and some French words in speech bubbles
© Agathe Bray-Bourret

Speaking French is not enough. To function in today’s Paris, you also need to know some Parisian — a language that mixes the city’s French linguistic tics with English, Arabic and the backwards slang dialect of verlan. FT Globetrotter offers a crash course in an ever-shifting dialect that expresses the city’s cosmopolitan cool.

Additional contributions from Grace Ramos and Benjamin Wilhelm

Recommended newsletters for you

Working It — Everything you need to get ahead at work, in your inbox every Wednesday. Sign up here

One Must-Read — The one piece of journalism you should read today. Sign up here


Source link