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


Israel’s war cabinet met yesterday to discuss hostage deal negotiations, according to an Israeli official. The meeting comes ahead of a planned Israeli offensive into Rafah. Following the deliberations, an Egyptian delegation will travel to Israel today to discuss “security coordination,” the official said, adding that discussions included talks for a hostage deal that could avert a planned Israeli offensive in Rafah. Loveday Morris and Lior Soroka report for the Washington Post.

Israel stepped up airstrikes on Rafah overnight after saying it would evacuate civilians from the city and launch a full-scale assault. Medics in Gaza reported five Israeli airstrikes on Rafah early yesterday, killing at least six people. According to a government spokesperson, Israel’s war cabinet also yesterday discussed “how to destroy the last vestiges, the last quarter of Hamas’ battalions, in Rafah and elsewhere,” indicating Israel is continuing to weigh up its Rafah plans. Nidal Al-Mughrabi reports for Reuters


The U.S. military yesterday began construction of a floating pier and causeway for humanitarian aid offshore of Gaza. When completed, the pier could help aid workers deliver as many as two million meals a day to the enclave, Defense Department officials said. Some U.S. military officials have privately expressed concerns about the project, and the Defense Department’s press secretary said the military was looking into a mortar attack on Wednesday that caused minimal damage in the region where some pier work is supposed to be done. Helene Cooper reports for the New York Times

Washington is seeking answers from Israel about reports of mass graves at two hospitals in Gaza. “We have been in touch at multiple levels with the Israeli government. We want answers,” White House national security adviser Sullivan said. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.

The State Department’s Arabic-language spokesperson has resigned, citing her opposition to U.S. policy on Israel’s war in Gaza. Hala Rharrit’s departure marks at least the third resignation in the department since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Kanishka Singh reports for Reuters.

More arrests were made as pro-Palestinian protests spread yesterday to colleges across the United States, bringing the total number of people detained to more than 500. Dozens of arrests late Wednesday pushed the University of Southern California to cancel its main commencement ceremony on May 10, citing security concerns. Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Jennifer Hassan, Richard Morgan, and Karin Brulliard report for the Washington Post


A joint statement released yesterday by the United States and seventeen other countries called for the release of hostages held in Gaza. “We strongly support the ongoing mediation efforts in order to bring our people home. We reiterate our call on Hamas to release the hostages, and let us end this crisis so that collectively we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region,” the statement reads. The countries include Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. 

A Belgian aid worker in Gaza was killed in an Israeli strike, the Belgian government said yesterday. In a statement, Belgium’s development minister said Abdallah Nabhan, 33, and his son, 7, were killed after a bombardment by the Israeli army in the eastern part of Rafah. In a post on X, Belgian foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said, “I will summon the Israeli ambassador to condemn this unacceptable act & demand an explanation.”


Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah today struck an Israeli military convoy in a disputed area along the border, killing an Israeli civilian, the group and the Israeli military said. Hezbollah said its fighters ambushed the convoy shortly before midnight yesterday, destroying two vehicles. The Israeli military said the ambush injured an Israeli civilian doing infrastructure work, and that he later died of his wounds. AP News reports. 


The United States is finalizing one of its largest Ukraine military aid packages to date, according to two U.S. officials. The contracts could include up to $6 billion worth of weapons and equipment for Kyiv’s forces, and could be finalized and announced as soon as today, the officials said. The funding will dip into the $61 billion in Ukraine funding signed by President Biden on Wednesday, and would include Patriot air defense munitions, artillery ammunition, drones, counter-drone weapons, and air-to-air missiles to be fitted on fighter planes. Paul Mcleary and Lara Seligman report for POLITICO.


Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting in Beijing. Blinken said he challenged Xi on China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, saying Russia would “struggle” without China. Xi earlier told Blinken that China and the United States should be “partners, not rivals,” and avoid engaging in “vicious competition.”  BBC News reports. 

The Pentagon will withdraw dozens of Special Operations forces from Chad in coming days, U.S. officials said yesterday. It comes days after the Biden administration announced the withdrawal of over 1,000 U.S. military personnel from Niger in the coming months, marking the second major blow in a week to U.S. security and counterterrorism policy in West and Central Africa. The Pentagon is being forced to draw down troops in response to the two governments’ demands to renegotiate the rules and conditions which the U.S. military can operate. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday appealed for stronger European defense, warning, “There is a risk our Europe could die.” “We’ve had decades of under-investment,” Macron said, adding that Europeans should give preference to buying European military equipment. Echoing past calls to find a third way between the U.S. and China, he said Europe must show that “it’s never going to be a vassal for the United States” when it “speaks to other regions of the world.” Clea Caulcutt reports for POLITICO; NBC reports via Reuters.

Foreign states are targeting British universities to undermine national security in higher education, Britain’s security agency MI5 warned yesterday. No direct reference has been made to any state, but Parliament’s intelligence and security committee warned last year that China could be gaining undue influence in British academic research. Nathan Williams reports for BBC News.


Tennessee’s governor yesterday said he planned to sign a bill this week that would allow school staff members to carry concealed handguns on school grounds. “What’s important to me is that we give districts tools and the option to use a tool that will keep their children safe in their schools,” Bill Lee said at a press conference yesterday. At least 26 states have laws permitting school staff to possess guns on school grounds, with some exceptions, according to gun violence prevention group, Giffords Law Center. Zoë Richards reports for NBC News.


The Supreme Court yesterday appeared poised to allow former President Trump’s Jan. 6 trial to proceed, though the timing of when that could occur is unclear. The court seemed unlikely to accept either Trump’s broad claim of absolute immunity for all official acts, or the special counsel’s position that former presidents have no guarantee of immunity for their official acts. Instead, a majority of justices seemed to be looking for a way to provide at least some narrow protections for presidents, with some conservative justices concerned about hampering the power of future presidents. In contrast, the court’s liberal three justices as well as Justice Amy Coney Barrett stressed that a president is not above the law. Ann E. Marimow reports for the Washington Post; John Fritze, Tierney Sneed, and Marshall Cohen report for CNN.

Former President Trump’s hush money trial is continuing today. Prosecutors wrapped up their direct testimony with David Pecker, who was on the stand for three days describing how he worked with Trump and Cohen to suppress damaging press stories about Trump throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Judge Merchan’s next gag order hearing will take place on Thursday, May 2, following the prosecution filing a motion arguing that Trump has violated his gag order four more times over the past few days. Jeremy Herb, Lauren dal Valle, Kara Scannell, Nicki Brown, and Brynn Gingras report for CNN.