November 25, 2023
Hostages released by Hamas have returned to Israel, Israeli military says
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Hamas released 13 Israelis and four foreigners late Saturday in the second round of swaps under a cease-fire deal, the Israeli MILITARY said, after the militant group initially delayed the exchange for several hours and claimed that Israel had violated the terms of a truce deal. Shortly after midnight, the Israeli military said the released hostages, including four Thais, had been transferred to Israel. They were being taken to hospitals for observation and to be reunited with their families. Israel was to free 39 Palestinians later Saturday as part of the deal that ultimately went through after international mediation efforts. The Israeli hostages released Saturday by Hamas included seven children and six women, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced. Most of the released hostages were from Kibbutz Be’eri, a community Hamas militants ravaged during their Oct. 7 cross-border attack, a spokesperson for the kibbutz said. The children ranged in age from 3 to 16, and the Women ranged from 18 to 67. It was a bittersweet moment for the residents of Be’eri. A kibbutz spokesperson said all the released hostages either had a family member killed in the Oct. 7 rampage or had left a loved one in captivity in Gaza. The mother of one of the released hostages, 12-year-old Hila Rotem, remained in captivity, the spokesperson said. Another, Emily Hand, is a girl whose father believed her to be dead for weeks before finding out she was held as a hostage. The last-minute delay had created a tense standoff on the second day of what’s meant to be a four-day cease-fire. By nightfall, as the hostages should have emerged from Gaza, Hamas alleged that the aid deliveries permitted by Israel fell short of what was promised and that not enough of it was reaching northern Gaza — the focus of Israel’s ground offensive and main combat zone. Hamas also said not enough veteran prisoners were freed in the first swap on Friday. “This is putting the deal in danger,” Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, said in Beirut. But Egypt, Qatar and Hamas itself later said obstacles had been overcome, and Hamas listed six women and 33 teenage boys it said were expected to be released by the Israelis. Two women, Maysoun Jabali and Israa Jaabis, were imprisoned in 2015 after being convicted of carrying out attacks on Israelis. Jaabis suffered severe burns during the incident. While uncertainty around some details of the exchange remained, there was some optimism, too, amid earlier scenes of joyous families reuniting on both sides. On the first day of the cease-fire, Hamas released 24 of the roughly 240 hostages taken during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war, and Israel freed 39 Palestinians from prison. Those freed in Gaza were 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and a Filipino. Overall, Hamas is to release at least 50 Israeli hostages, and Israel 150 Palestinian prisoners, during the four-day truce — all women and minors. Israel has said the truce can be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed — something U.S. President Joe Biden said he hoped would occur. Separately, a Qatari delegation arrived in Israel on Saturday to coordinate with parties on the ground and “ensure the deal continues to move smoothly,” according to a diplomat briefed on the visit. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details with the media. The start of the pause brought quiet for 2.3 million Palestinians reeling from relentless Israeli bombardment that has killed thousands, driven three-quarters of the population from their homes and leveled residential areas. Rocket fire from Gaza militants into Israel also went silent. War-weary Palestinians in northern Gaza returned to the streets, crunching over rubble between shattered buildings and at times digging through it with bare hands. At the Indonesian hospital in Jabaliya, besieged by the Israeli military earlier this month, bodies lay in the courtyard and outside the main gate. For Emad Abu Hajer, a resident of the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza City area, the pause meant he could again search through the remains of his home, which was flattened in an Israeli attack last week. He found the bodies of a cousin and nephew, bringing the death toll in the attack to 19. His sister and two other relatives are still missing. “We want to find them and bury them in dignity,” he said. The United Nations said the pause enabled it to scale up the delivery of food, water, and medicine to the largest volume since the resumption of aid convoys on Oct. 21. It was also able to deliver 129,000 liters (34,078 gallons) of fuel — just over 10% of the daily pre-war volume — as well as cooking gas, a first since the war began. In the southern city of Khan Younis, a long line of people with containers waited outside a filling station. Hossam Fayad lamented that the pause in fighting was only for four days. “I wish it could be extended until people’s conditions improved,” he said. For the first time in over a month, aid reached northern Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 61 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies headed there on Saturday, the largest aid convoy to reach the area yet. The U.N. said it and the Palestinian Red Crescent were also able to evacuate 40 patients and family members from a hospital in Gaza City to a hospital in Khan Younis. In Tel Aviv, several thousand people packed a central square called “the square of the hostages,” awaiting news of the second release. “Don’t forget the others because it’s getting harder, harder and harder. It’s heartbreaking,” said Neri Gershon, a Tel Aviv resident. Some families have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of not doing enough to bring hostages home. In the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, the family of 16-year-old Wael Mesheh was frantically getting the house ready for his homecoming as part of the second swap. “We are going to hug him so tight,” his mother, Hanadi Mesheh, said by phone. The first group of freed Israelis included nine women and four children ages 9 and under. They were taken to Israeli hospitals for observation and were declared to be in good condition. Hours later, 24 Palestinian women and 15 teenage boys held in Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and east JERUSALEM were freed. The teenagers had been jailed for minor offenses like throwing stones. The women included several convicted of trying to stab Israeli soldiers. “It’s a happiness tainted with sorrow because our release from prison came at the cost of the lives of martyrs and the innocence of children,” said one released prisoner, Aseel Munir al-Titi. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an advocacy group, Israel is holding 7,200 Palestinians, including about 2,000 arrested since the start of the war. On Saturday, at least two Palestinians were injured at a tense West Bank checkpoint where Israel was to free prisoners. Israeli security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinians gathered at Beitunia checkpoint. It was not clear how the two were injured. The war erupted when several thousand Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking scores of hostages, including babies, women and older adults, as well as soldiers. Related Articles “We will return immediately at the end of the cease-fire to attacking in Gaza, operating in Gaza,” Herzi Halevi, Israeli chief of staff, told soldiers. Israeli leaders have said they won’t stop until Hamas, which has controlled Gaza for the past 16 years, is crushed. Israeli officials have argued that only military pressure can bring the hostages home. But the government is under pressure from hostages’ families to prioritize the release of the remaining captives. The Israeli offensive has killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza government. Women and minors have consistently made up around two-thirds of the dead. The figure does not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north, where communications have broken down.
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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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