Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.

A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news 


Talks between Israel and Hamas over the release of Israeli hostages have stalled, dimming hopes that a ceasefire and hostage-prisoner exchange deal could be reached before Ramadan begins in a few days, according to several people briefed in the conversations. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that while the United States was disappointed an agreement had not been reached, mediators were still confident in the parameters of the deal they had helped negotiate, saying, “It is just a matter of getting Hamas to sign on.” An official in the region said the main sticking point in discussions remains the duration of a ceasefire, with Hamas demanding a permanent ceasefire during or after three phases of hostage releases, which Israel refuses to agree to. Ronen Bergman, Edward Wong, and Julian E. Barnes report for the New York Times.

The Israeli government has advanced plans for more than 3,400 new home settlements in the West Bank. Around 70% of the homes will be built in Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, with the rest in nearby Kedar and Efrat, south of Bethlehem. Far-right Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich has said the construction is a response to a recent deadly Palestinian attack near Maale Adumim. “The enemies try to harm and weaken us but we will continue to build and be built up in this land,” he wrote in a post on X. The Palestinian Authority condemned both the new plans and Smotrich’s remarks. David Gritten reports for BBC News.

Almost 40% of aid missions coordinated by the U.N. were denied or impeded by Israel last month, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said yesterday. While there was a 48% increase in the overall number of coordinated humanitarian missions facilitated by Israeli authorities across Gaza in February compared to January, OCHA said their effectiveness was “undermined by a cessation in operations to the north, and an overall decline in the security of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers,” adding that frequent and prolonged border crossing closures have also hampered aid delivery. Kareem Khadder, Ibrahim Dahman, Celine and Alkhaldi report for CNN.


South Africa submitted an urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday asking the court to order additional emergency measures against Israel to prevent famine in Gaza. In its application, South Africa said that Palestinians in Gaza are facing starvation and asked the court to order all parties cease hostilities and release all hostages and prisoners. “The threat of all-out famine has now materialized. The court needs to act now to stop the imminent tragedy by immediately and effectively ensuring that the rights it has found are threatened under the Genocide Convention are protected,” South Africa warned. It also asked the court to immediately take “effective measures” to address “famine and starvation” in Gaza. Reuters reports.

Turkey’s Red Crescent is sending its biggest aid shipment yet to Gaza via Egypt, with a ship carrying around 3,000 tons of food, medicine, and equipment leaving for the Egyptian port of Al-Arish today. Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo said in a post on X, “This aid will keep the hopes of Palestinians alive on the eve of Ramadan.” Reuters reports.


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined a meeting with U.K. National Security Adviser Tim Barrow and Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz yesterday, in a nod of legitimacy to Gantz who visited London against the wishes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The English readout issued by Gantz’s office said that Israel will support solutions to the humanitarian aid crisis that do not lead to the assistance being diverted to Hamas. In Hebrew, Gantz’s office said he emphasized during the meeting that Israel remains committed to dismantling Hamas and will do so in accordance with international law, although the readout made no mention of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gantz also met with British foreign secretary David Cameron earlier yesterday, who “pressed Israel to increase the flow of aid,” the British Foreign Office said. Jacob Magid reports for The Times of Israel.

Sweden has initiated a meeting with Israel’s foreign ministry and several E.U. member states as well as others “to convey the urgent need to improve humanitarian access to Gaza,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said today. “The life and health of children in Gaza must be protected,” Kristersson said. Reuters reports. 


More than three dozen House Democrats wrote to President Biden expressing a “deep sense of urgency and alarm” that an Israeli invasion of Rafah could violate his requirement that U.S. military aid be used in accordance with international law, according to Axios. Citing a memorandum that Biden signed last month requiring recipients of U.S. aid to provide “credible and reliable written assurances” it will comply with international law, the lawmakers urged Biden to “use every tool” to ensure that recipients “are held accountable to the commitments demanded.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken has until March 25 to certify that Israel has signed the commitment sought by the memorandum, after which the weapons transfers to Israel would be suspended if such certification is not provided. 

The United States has quietly approved and delivered over 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel since the war in Gaza began on Oct. 7, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, small arms, and other lethal aid, U.S. officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing. The figure, which has not been previously reported, is the latest indication of Washington’s deep involvement in the war, even as top U.S. officials and lawmakers express concerns about Israel’s military tactics. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.


A Lebanese newspaper linked to the Iran-backed Hezbollah group claims that Israel has set a March 15 deadline for a diplomatic deal pushing the group’s forces from southern Lebanon, after which it is prepared to escalate the ongoing border clashes into a war. It follows Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant yesterday telling the U.S. Special Envoy to the region Amos Hochstein that the cross-border attacks are bringing Israel closer to a decision regarding military action in Lebanon. Gianluca Pacchiani reports for The Times of Israel.


The Houthi group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a commercial vessel off the coast of Yemen yesterday that killed three people, the first fatalities from Houthi attacks since the group began targeting ships late last year. One Vietnamese and two Filipino crew members died in the attack, and two others were seriously injured, a spokesperson for the Barbados-flagged bulk carrier ship True Confidence said. A Houthi spokesperson said the group had warned the ship’s crew before firing missiles. Gaya Gupta and Matthew Mpoke Bigg report for the New York Times.

Following the Houthi attack which killed three people, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said it “conducted self-defense strikes against two unmanned aerial vehicles in a Houthi controlled area of Yemen that presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.” 

The U.S. Department of Treasury yesterday placed sanctions on two shipping companies and two vessels that have been illicitly transporting goods on behalf of a Houthi “financial facilitator” named Sa’id al-Jamal. The sanctions aim to disrupt the flow of money from Iran to the Houthis. Alan Rappeport reports for the New York Times.


China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said today the United States is “anxious” over China and criticized Europe’s policy towards Beijing. Speaking at a press conference, Wang said, “The challenge facing the U.S. lies within itself and not with China. If you’re focused on suppressing China, you’ll inevitably hurt yourself.” He also warned of the possible escalation in the Russia-Ukraine war, celebrated the strong ties between Beijing and Moscow, and echoed comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the risk of elongated conflict in Ukraine. Brian Spegele and Austin Ramzy report for the Wall Street Journal

Zimbabwe’s government has condemned the fresh sanctions the United States imposed against the country’s president and senior officials on Monday. Washington accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the others on its list of corruption and human rights abuses, which a spokesperson for Mnangagwa called “defamatory” and “gratuitous slander” against Zimbabwe’s leaders and people. In a statement, the deputy chief secretary in Mnangagwa’s communications team, George Charamba, demanded the United States lift the “illegal coercive measures.” Gloria Aradi reports for BBC News.

Pressure is mounting on Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down and call an election as civil unrest grips his country. According to a State Department spokesperson, the Biden administration has urged Henry to expedite the appointment of a transition council to pave the way for an election. “We are not calling on him or pushing for him to resign, but we are urging him to expedite the transition,” the spokesperson said yesterday. A person familiar with the matter said member states from the Caribbean Community held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss security measures and evaluate transitional authority options if Henry steps down. José de Córdoba and Kejal Vyas report for the Wall Street Journal.

Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso said they will form a joint force to fight jihadist threats in their countries. Speaking yesterday in a televised speech, Niger’s army chief Moussa Salaou Barmou announced that the joint force would be operational as soon as possible, without giving details of its size. The countries also announced they are leaving the West African economic bloc ECOWAS, having already been suspended as members. Basillioh Rukanga reports for BBC News

The Maldives yesterday said China will provide it with “military assistance,” the latest sign that the country’s pro-China shift is well underway following the election of President Mohamed Muizzu last year. The Maldivian Defense Ministry said it signed an agreement with Beijing Monday “on China’s provision of military assistance” and that the deal would foster “stronger bilateral ties.” Details of what the assistance would entail were not released, but the ministry said the deal was “gratis,” meaning given for free. Helen Regan reports for CNN.

Criticizing laws or chanting anti-government slogans is sufficient to jail someone for sedition in Hong Kong, an appeal court ruled today, in a landmark case brought under a colonial-era law increasingly used to crush dissent. The court upheld a 40-month sentence for pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi, the first person tried under the city’s sedition law since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Kanis Leung reports for ABC News.


Fatal explosions rocked Ukraine’s southern port city of Odessa yesterday as President Volodymr Zelenskyy was meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Ukraine’s navy said five people were killed and Zelenskyy said the strike had left an unspecified number of people “dead and wounded.” The BBC reports that no members of either delegation were injured. Zelenskyy accused Russia of “not caring who they target,” saying Moscow had “either gone crazy or they don’t control what their terrorist army is doing.” In a statement, Russia’s defense ministry said, “The goal has been achieved. The target has been hit.” George Wright reports for BBC News.

Lithuanian intelligence agencies reported today that Russia has enough resources to fight Ukraine at the current intensity for at least two more years, owing to high oil prices, sanctions evasion, and state investment. “Moscow is able to evaluate the lessons learned and improve its combat effectiveness,” the agencies added in the report that was embargoed for release today. Andrius Sytas reports for Reuters.


The Department of Defense is examining whether debris that a fisherman found off the coast of Alaska last week is from a spy balloon. The find on Friday comes just over a year since an American fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States. “The debris is currently at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and has been transferred to a DoD facility,” Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said in an emailed statement yesterday. “We do not know why the balloon was in the waters off the coast of Alaska nor are we going to characterize it at this time,” Gough said. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.