November 22, 2023
5 key takeaways on the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas
The deal reached by Israel and Hamas to release 50 hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting marks one of the most significant developments in the more than six-week war. But the implementation of the deal, set to go into effect this week, is taking place amid intense distrust, skepticism and concern. “There’s certainly no good faith when you’re negotiating with Hamas, a terrorist group that is holding toddlers and babies as hostage,” a senior U.S. official said in a call with reporters, briefing on the contours of the deal. The Israeli government said that the first group of hostages — identified as Women and children — will be released over a period of four days, “during which a pause in the fighting will be held.” “The contacts on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly,” Israeli National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi said in a statement. “The start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday.” Hamas is believed to be holding more than 200 hostages in the Gaza Strip, after kidnapping them during an unprecedented terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7. However, Biden administration officials have raised questions about whether Hamas knows where the remaining hostages are. Both the U.S. and Israel say Hamas should use the pause in fighting to deliver a full accounting, and they offered to extend the cease-fire if additional hostages are released. Humanitarian aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip are expected to scale up, absent the threat of bombs and gunshots, although aid groups say it won’t be nearly enough to meet the overwhelming need in the besieged enclave. Key to securing a deal to release the hostages was a days-long pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas, both to allow for the safe passage of hostages but also for the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Israel has rejected calls and pressure for any long-term cease-fire, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the pause in fighting does not mean that Israel is giving up its war goal of eliminating Hamas’s base in Gaza. Israel, with backing by the U.S., says that Hamas is likely to exploit any pause in fighting to regroup its MILITARY operations. And Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the military pressure Israel is putting on Hamas is part of its strategy toward securing the release of more hostages. Without military pressure “there will be no chance to secure the further release of other hostages,” . Still, the U.S. has put pressure on Israel to do more to protect civilian lives in Gaza, and it has raised concerns about Israel seeking to expand its military campaign into the south of the strip, where many Palestinians have fled from shelling and fighting in the north. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed over more than six weeks of war, and hundreds of thousands have been injured and displaced. Much of the population of more than 2 million are living in a dire humanitarian state, rationing water, food and medicine, and susceptible to communicable diseases such as diarrhea and skin diseases. For those facing homelessness, the temperature is dropping, and winter rain persists. Aid groups have issued desperate appeals for a more substantial cease-fire, which they say is necessary to actually curb the suffering in Gaza. Meeting the humanitarian need for aid during tactical pauses is “not realistic,” said Joel Weiler, from the French nongovernmental organization Médecins du Monde, speaking on a call with other aid groups and reporters Wednesday. “You can’t do anything in four hours. You can’t do anything in five hours. Distribution, in four hours? It’s just a dream. It’s not real. You can’t come from a jeep to Gaza and be able to do good distribution in four hours, in 10 hours, and even in five days.” The four-day pause in fighting is expected to cover the total 96 hours, an Israeli official told The Hill. Israel has offered to extend the pause in fighting by one day for every 10 hostages Hamas agrees to release. Hamas is not believed to have full control of all hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attacks. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an affiliated group, is also believed to have kidnapped some people, with reports that Gazan civilians may also have been involved in some cases. That has raised questions about whether Hamas can even account for all of the hostages being held within the Gaza Strip. Amid intensive negotiations between the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt with Hamas, the principal actors pushed Hamas to deliver a list of hostages the group was holding, their identifying information — ages, gender, nationalities — and proof of life. In fits and starts of communication over five weeks, Hamas struggled to produce the list — providing only 10 names by Nov. 9, officials say. “This was insufficient,” a senior U.S. official said, and the 50 names were provided a few days later after Qatar pressured Hamas. The official added that the U.S. expects Hamas to use the pause in fighting to further identify all the hostages that are being held in captivity, in particular women and children. Medical first responders and professionals in long-term care are preparing for the return of hostages to Israel, after they have been held in what has been described as a living hell. These people — to include toddlers, children and the elderly — were kidnapped while under violent assault, with some of these children and adults having witnessed the murder of their family members or Friends. Some were also wounded in the attacks, or already suffering from medical conditions such as dementia or cancer, according to advocates for the families. “The principles are to be professional, to be personal, and to be patient,” Hagai Levine, head of the medical team for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said of the care plan they are laying out. Levine said he spoke with Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Judith Raanan, 59 — two of the four people Hamas released in mid-October — about their recovery and how it can be applied to other hostages as they come out of Gaza. “The feeling that you get from darkness to light, you get from quietness to noise — which is good, you hear, but maybe it’s too much,” Levine explained of the extreme dissonance the hostages are likely to feel. “You’re not coming back to what you [were], your home, maybe there is no home anymore. Your family, maybe your family was murdered, it’s so complex … you have to be patient with the information you give them. You have to make sure they feel protected.” Israel is set to release 150 Palestinian prisoners, including women and minors, as part of the deal. These individuals were reportedly jailed for relatively low-level offenses. Israel’s public appears supportive of the deal and wants the government to do everything it can to get the hostages home, but Hamas is likely to try and exact a higher price for the men and Israeli soldiers it has kidnapped. The Israeli government in 2011 agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinians from Israeli jails in exchange for one soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas, Gilad Shalit. Among that group of Palestinian prisoners was Yahya Sinwar, the architect of the Oct. 7 attack who is in Gaza, and who Israel has singled out as a priority target of their military operation. “We will pursue Yahya Sinwar until we get to him,” Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, said late last month. And while Israel has signaled it’s not giving up its military assault against Hamas, there’s ever-increasing pressure for a longer-term cease-fire to be imposed. However, the U.S. is viewed as the only country that can pressure Israel to such terms, and the Biden administration has thus far opposed calls for a cease-fire. “As the U.N. General Assembly vote indicates, most countries now want a cease-fire, so do most U.N. agencies and the leadership of the United Nations,” said Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “The U.S. and other countries that have leverage and influence with Israel must step in.” However, President Biden has suggested Hamas can’t be trusted to accept a cease-fire. “Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again like they did before, to where they were cutting babies’ heads off … burning women and children alive,” he said last week. “And so, the idea that they’re going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic.”
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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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