November 23, 2023
Israel-Hamas truce deal for hostage release hits last-minute snag
The diplomatic breakthrough promised some relief for more than 1.7 million Palestinians who have fled their homes under weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as families in Israel fearful over the fate of loved ones captured during Hamas’ October 7 attack that triggered the war. Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, announced the delay late on Wednesday, without providing a reason. The ceasefire had originally been due to start at 10am local time (8am GMT) on Thursday. Israeli media reported that some final details are still being worked out. The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which played a key role in mediating with Hamas, said early on Thursday that a new time for the agreement to go into force would be announced “in the coming hours”. The US and Egypt also helped negotiate the deal. The agreement had raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, now in its seventh week, which has levelled vast swathes of Gaza, fuelled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank, and stirred fears of a wider conflict across the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a nationally televised news conference that the war would resume after the truce expires, with the goal of destroying Hamas’ MILITARY capabilities, ending its 16-year rule in Gaza and returning all of the estimated 240 captives held in Gaza by Hamas and other groups. “The war is continuing. We will continue it until we achieve all our goals,” Mr Netanyahu said, adding that he had delivered the same message in a phone call to US President Joe Biden. Washington has provided extensive military and diplomatic support to Israel since the start of the war. If implemented, the deal temporarily freezes both sides at a delicate moment. Israeli troops hold much of northern Gaza and say they have dismantled tunnels and much of Hamas’ infrastructure there. On Wednesday, Israeli forces revealed what they said was a major Hamas hideout in a tunnel beneath Shifa Hospital. The territory’s largest medical centre has been at the heart of a fierce battle of narratives over both sides’ allegedly reckless endangerment of civilians. Israel meanwhile ordered the full evacuation of the Indonesian Hospital in the north, Dr Munir al-Boursh, a health ministry official inside the facility, told Al-Jazeera television. He said hospital officials were trying to organise buses to evacuate some 200 patients, including older adults and children with burn injuries. Fighting has raged outside the hospital for days, and hundreds of people have already been evacuated to the south. Despite the advances in the north, Israeli officials acknowledge that much of Hamas’ infrastructure remains intact. Israel has threatened to launch wider operations in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people who fled the north have crammed into overflowing UN-run shelters with dwindling food, water and basic supplies. For Hamas, the ceasefire would provide an opportunity to regroup after weeks of apparently heavy losses. Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, who is believed to be alive and in hiding in Gaza, is likely to claim the release of Palestinian prisoners as a major achievement and declare victory if the war ends. Under the truce deal, 50 hostages will be freed in stages, in exchange for the release of what Hamas said would be 150 Palestinian prisoners. Both sides will release Women and children first, and Israel said the truce would be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed by Hamas. The return of hostages could lift spirits in Israel, where their plight has gripped the country. Families of the hostages have staged mass demonstrations to pressure the government to bring them home. Qatar said the ceasefire would allow a “larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid” to enter Gaza, including fuel, but it gave no details on actual quantities. Israel cut off all fuel imports at the start of the war, causing a territory-wide blackout and leaving homes and hospitals reliant on generators, which have also steadily been forced to shut down. Mr Netanyahu said the deal includes a provision for the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the hostages in captivity. Israel’s justice ministry published a list of 300 prisoners eligible to be released, mainly teenagers detained over the past year for rock-throwing and other minor offences. The war erupted when several thousand Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel, killing at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking scores of hostages, including babies, women and older adults, as well as Israeli soldiers. Israel has a long history of agreeing to prisoner swaps with militant groups, and Hamas is expected to demand a large number of high-profile Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldiers. Weeks of Israeli air strikes in Gaza, followed by a ground invasion, have killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory. It does not differentiate between civilians and militants, though some two thirds of the dead have been identified as women and minors. The ministry said that as of November 11 it had lost the ability to count the dead because of the collapse of large parts of the health system, but that the number has risen sharply since then. Some 2,700 people are missing and believed buried under rubble. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters, though it has presented no evidence for its count. Three quarters of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been displaced in the war. Many, if not most, will be unable to return home because of the vast damage and the presence of Israeli troops in the north. Get all the latest news from around the country Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country
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Israel has entered its fourth week of war against Hamas after the group infiltrated the country on October 7.

Israel conducted its most intense ground operation in Gaza overnight, attacking about 150 underground targets, according to IDF.

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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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