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Israel to Release another 42 Palestinian Women, Children from Prison

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 Another 42 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are to be released on Saturday as part of the agreement between the Israeli government and the Islamist Hamas movement, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.

Israel will initially transfer the detainees to Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank for medical examinations by International Red Cross staff, according to the newspaper, which cited Israeli prison officials.

Al Jazeera reported that the prisoners to be released include 18 women and 24 teenage boys.

As a condition of the agreement, Hamas militants must first release Israeli hostages being held in Gaza before the Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli custody, according to the report.

After their release, the Palestinians are to return to the places where they previously lived, for example in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

The first group of Palestinian prisoners consisted of minors and women held in Israeli prisons on offences ranging from stone-throwing to attacks on police officers, including some who were arrested but never faced trial, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. (dpa/NAN)

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February Ends with Extreme Heat – WMO

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The UN weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), says February saw more extreme heat and unusually high temperatures in both hemispheres.

Summarising the state of the climate, it said the month ended with extreme heat in the southern hemisphere where it is summer, while high temperatures atypical of the northern hemisphere winter prevailed.

Parts of North and South America, northwest and southeast Africa, southeast and far eastern Asia, western Australia and Europe all saw record-breaking temperatures, either on a daily basis or for all of February.

“The anomalous heat is consistent with the persisting warming observed since June 2023, with seven consecutive new global monthly temperature records, including January 2024,” Alvaro Silva, a climatologist working with the WMO, said in a statement.

Global sea surface temperatures were record high. While the El Niño weather pattern “has stoked temperatures in some parts of the world, human induced climate change is the long-term major contributing factor,” he added.

Conversely, a large part of northwestern Canada, central Asia – and from southern central Siberia to southeastern China – witnessed exceptional cold during the last week of the month.

The meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere finished officially at the end of February.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) raised increasing concern on Friday that more refugees would cross into Chad from Darfur in the coming weeks amid a worrying lack of food and other essentials.

Almost a year since the start of the civil war between rival militaries in Sudan, neighbouring Chad urgently needs more humanitarian aid and significant development investment, the agency reported, especially in its eastern areas which are hosting the refugee influx.

This investment will allow the country to continue its generous open-door stance towards refugees.

“Chadian officials are concerned that many more hungry Sudanese families will come in the next weeks,” said Kelly Clements, UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner, who is in the country to review the relief operation.

“The country is committed to keeping its borders open, despite the fragility of this region.

“But, doing so will put even more strain on Chad, which has so graciously been hosting refugees from Sudan’s war – now raging almost a year – and other refugees still here from earlier emergencies.” (NAN)

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More Than 30,000 Killed in Gaza Strip War – UN Officials

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More than 30,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its military offensive in October, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

Volker Türk quoted the number during a meeting of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The head of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also used the figure in a post on X, formerly twitter.

“The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 30,000 a large majority women and children.

Over 70,000 Palestinians have been injured,” he wrote.

“This horrific violence and suffering must end.

Ceasefire.”

Neither Türk nor Tedros quoted a source.

An official confirmation from the health authorities in Gaza, who usually post the figures daily, is expected later.

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian militants from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations killing of more than 1,200 people inside the Jewish state on October 7. (dpa/NAN)

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Saudi Arabia places Orders for 120 Helicopters with Airbus

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Saudi Arabia’s The Helicopter Co. (THC) has ordered up to 120 Airbus helicopters.

Also, the German helicopter emergency medical services operator, DRF Luftrettung, placed orders for up to 10 Airbus H145 helicopters.

The airline manufacturer made the disclosure on Wednesday.

The companies signed the deals at the HAI Heli-Expo currently taking place at Anaheim Convention Centre in southern California, according to Airbus.

Airbus’s framework agreement with THC, a premier provider of commercial helicopter services and fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, will include up to 120 Airbus helicopters of various types.

These will be delivered over the next five years to seven years.

The deal included a firm order for eight H125s along with 10 H145s that were converted options from an earlier contract.

This brought THC’s total Airbus helicopter fleet to 60. Twenty-five of the 60  are already in service.

The new H125 helicopters would support the delivery of THC’s range of services in areas including aerial work and tourism.

Furthermore, DRF Luftrettung’s orders for up to 10 H145 helicopters include seven firm orders and three options. (dpa/NAN)

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