November 24, 2023
Israel releases 33 Palestinians from West Bank prison as part of cease-fire swap
A Palestinian official says 33 Palestinians have been released by Israel from a West Bank prison. Their release came shortly after Hamas released 24 hostages who had been held captive in Gaza for weeks, including 13 Israelis, 10 people from Thailand and one from the Philippines. It was the first stage in a swap under a four-day cease-fire deal. Advertisement THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Friday released 24 hostages who had been held captive in Gaza for weeks, including 13 Israelis, 10 people from Thailand and one from the Philippines, according to Qatar, in the first stage in a swap for Palestinians prisoners in Israel under a four-day cease-fire deal. Advertisement The agreement opened the way for sorely needed aid to flow into Gaza for beleaguered residents. It was also a moment of hope for families in Israel and elsewhere worried about loved ones taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which triggered the war. With the truce’s start Friday morning, Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians saw quiet for the first time after seven weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment, which has killed thousands, driven three-quarters of the population from their homes and flattened vast swaths of residential areas. Rocket fire from Gaza fighters into Israel went silent as well. The freed Israeli hostages included eight Women — six of them in their 70s and 80s — and three children. Their release was to be followed in the evening by the freeing of at least 39 Palestinian prisoners — 24 women, including some convicted of attempted murder for attacks on Israeli forces, and 15 teenagers jailed for offenses like throwing stones. But joy at the deal has been tempered — among Israelis by the fact that not all hostages will be freed and among Palestinians by the briefness of the pause. The short truce will leave Gaza mired in humanitarian crisis and under the threat that fighting could soon resume. Israel says the cease-fire could be extended if more hostages are released, but it has vowed to resume its massive offensive once the truce ends. That has clouded hopes that the deal could eventually help wind down the conflict, which has fueled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank and stirred fears of a wider conflagration across the Middle East. First hostages freed After nightfall Friday, a line of ambulances emerged from Gaza through the Rafah Crossing in Egypt, carrying the freed hostages, according to live footage on Egypt’s state-run Al-Qahera TV. Israel’s Channel 13 showed an older woman exiting an ambulance alongside young girl, then walking slowly into a building. An Egyptian medical team held another older woman’s arms as she walked. At a plaza dubbed “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv, a crowd of Israelis cheered as news of the release was announced. The Israeli MILITARY later confirmed that the hostages had returned to Israel and were undergoing medical checks before being moved to hospitals to be reunited with their families. The Foreign Ministry of Qatar, which played a key role mediating with Hamas in the long negotiations over the deal, said 13 Israelis, 10 Thai and one Filipino were freed. The Thai prime minister earlier said in a tweet that 12 Thai nationals were freed. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy. Advertisement The plight of around 240 people taken captive during Hamas’ attack has been wrenching in Israel, raising anger among some families that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not doing enough to bring them home. Under the deal, at least 50 are to be released, though it is not clear if the Thai and Filipino captives would be included in that count. Israeli is to free 150 Palestinian prisoners. Israel said the four-day truce can be extended an extra day for every additional 10 hostages freed. “I’m excited for the families that are going to hug their loved ones,” Shelli Shem Tov, the mother of 21-year-old Omer Shem Tov, told Israeli’s Channel 12 at the square. “I’m jealous, and I’m sad, mostly sad that Omer is not coming home yet.” In the West Bank, thousands gathered near the Israeli military’s Ofer prison, awaiting the release of Palestinian prisoners, some waving Palestinian flags in celebration. police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an advocacy group, Israel is currently holding 7,200 Palestinians, including about 2,000 arrested since the start of the war. Israel holds many for months without charge in administrative detention. Most of those who are tried are put before military courts that almost never acquit defendants and often don’t follow due process, Human Rights groups say. Cease-fire Palestinians say a longer cease-fire is needed to recover from the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. But Friday’s halt in fighting brought the uprooted population a moment to catch their breath after weeks of fleeing bombardment across the tiny coastal enclave and trying to find increasingly scarce food, water and other basic supplies. Advertisement After the truce began Friday morning, an increased flow of aid promised under the deal began. Four trucks of fuel and four trucks of cooking gas entered from Egypt, as well as 200 trucks of relief supplies, Israel said. Since the war began, Israel barred all imports into Gaza, except for a trickle of supplies from Egypt. Its ban on fuel, which it said could be diverted to Hamas, caused a territory-wide blackout. Hospitals, water systems, bakeries and shelters have struggled to keep generators running. Amid food shortages, U.N. officials had warned in recent weeks of potential starvation. During the truce, Israel agreed to allow the delivery of 34,340 gallons of fuel per day — still only a small portion of Gaza’s estimated daily needs of more than 1 million liters. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crowded into the southern portion of the territory, with more than 1 million living in U.N. schools-turned-shelters. For those originally from the south, the calm brought a chance to visit homes they had fled and retrieve some belongings. Advertisement To the hundreds of thousands who evacuated from northern Gaza to the south, Israel issued a warning not to return. Northern Gaza has been the focus on Israel’s ground assault. In leaflets dropped around the south, the Israeli military said it would block such attempts, saying the “the war has not ended yet.” Still, hundreds of Palestinians could be seen walking north Friday. Two were shot and killed by Israeli troops and another 11 were wounded. An Associated Press journalist saw the two bodies and the wounded as they arrived at a hospital. Sofian Abu Amer, who had fled Gaza City, said he decided to risk heading north to check on his home. “We don’t have enough clothes, food and drinks,” he said. “The situation is disastrous. It’s better for a person to die.” Advertisement Israel’s northern border with Lebanon was also quiet on Friday, a day after the fighter Hezbollah group, an ally of Hamas, carried out the highest number of attacks in one day since fighting there began Oct. 8. Hezbollah is not a party to the cease-fire agreement but was widely expected to halt its attacks. A longer peace? The war erupted when several thousand Hamas fighters 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 soldiers. The hope is that “momentum” from the deal will lead to an “end to this violence,” said Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, which served as a mediator along with the United States and Egypt. But hours before it came into effect, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops that their respite would be short and that the war would resume with intensity for at least two more months. Netanyahu has also vowed to continue the war to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities, end its 16-year rule in Gaza and return all the hostages. Advertisement The Israeli offensive has killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Women and minors have consistently made up around two-thirds of the dead, though the latest number was not broken down. The figure does not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north, where communications have broken down. The ministry says some 6,000 people have been reported missing, feared buried under rubble. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and fighters in its death tolls. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters, without presenting evidence for its count. Originally Published: Nov 24, 2023 at 6:23 am
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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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