Morning Headlines: 11/20/23
Israel and Hamas appear to be nearing an international-brokered deal for the release of some of the roughly 240 hostages the militant group captured from Israel and hid in Gaza after an Oct. 7 surprise attack.
According to reports, under the latest proposal—led by Egypt, Qatar, and the US—Hamas would release a number of women and children hostages in exchange for the release of roughly the same number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. A short pause in fighting is expected to be part of the deal, though the length of the potential pause is reportedly a sticking point in negotiations.
Meanwhile, at least 31 premature babies and 2,500 civilians, patients, and staff were evacuated from northern Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, which Israeli forces raided last week and said they discovered the presence of a Hamas command center inside (see previous write-up).
Separately, Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels (see overview) seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Red Sea, taking 25 crew members hostage. The militant group warned it will continue to target Israeli-linked ships until the Israel-Hamas war ends.
See updates on the war here.
Rosalynn Carter Dies
Former US first lady Rosalynn Carter died Sunday at the age of 96 at her home in Plains, Georgia, due to complications from dementia. Her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, survives Rosalynn at the age of 99.
The Georgia-born future first lady ran the office of her husband's family peanut business before actively assisting him with campaigns for state senate, governor, and president. As first lady, Carter championed women's rights and became the first to establish a policy office in the West Wing. Amid her broad advocacy, Carter took a special focus on mental health (see efforts) and later established the philanthropic Carter Center alongside her husband. In 1999, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2001.
She became the second-longest living former first lady after Bess Truman (97), but the two Carters hold the record for the longest presidential marriage in US history. See her life in photos here.
Starship Makes Progress
SpaceX's second test flight of its massive 400-feet-tall Starship vehicle hit new milestones Saturday before ending in a pair of unscheduled explosions after launching from Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Starship, designed to carry NASA astronauts to the moon and Mars, is the world's tallest and most powerful launch system. The uncrewed vehicle crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. See the video here.
The test flight was considered a success by SpaceX as the vehicle traveled farther than and exhibited improvements from an initial attempt in April, which also ended in an explosion. The latest attempt lasted roughly eight minutes rather than four minutes. Unlike in the first flight, all of the 33 methane-fueled Raptor engines on the Super Heavy first-stage booster ignited, and the spacecraft successfully separated from the booster, achieving a goal for the second attempt and reaching an altitude of 92 miles.
SpaceX said the booster and spacecraft likely self-destructed due to a midflight issue and it hopes to use data for future improvements. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a review before SpaceX can proceed with another launch. See a Starship overview here.