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Ceasefire Takes Hold in Gaza Ahead of Hostage Release, Aid Enters Enclave

An Israeli soldier clears an armored personnel carrier, near Israel’s border after leaving Gaza, during the temporary truce between the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and Israel, in Israel, Nov. 24, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Combat between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters halted on Friday for the first time in seven weeks in a temporary truce ahead of the planned release of Israeli hostages held by the terrorists in exchange for jailed Palestinians.

No big bombings, artillery strikes, or rocket attacks were reported, although Hamas and Israel both accused each other of sporadic shootings and other violations. Both said the war would resume on full throttle as soon as the truce was over.

Above northern Gaza’s combat zone, viewed from across the fence in Israel, there was no sign of the warplanes that have thundered through the sky for weeks, explosions on the ground, or the contrails of Hamas rocket fire. Just one plume of smoke was visible in the early afternoon.

Columns of Israeli tanks rolled away from the Gaza Strip’s northern end, while aid trucks entered from Egypt at the southern end.

The four-day ceasefire, which began at 7 am (0500 GMT), involves the release of 50 women and children hostages held by Hamas terrorists, in return for 150 Palestinian woman and teenagers held in Israeli jails. The first 13 hostages and 39 Palestinians were due to be freed later on Friday.

Israel says it could be extended beyond four days if more hostages are freed at a rate of at least 10 per day, and a Palestinian source has said up to 100 could ultimately go free.

Additional aid is to flow into Gaza, which has been under weeks of Israeli bombardment.

Hamas confirmed that all hostilities from its forces would cease. But Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing, later stressed that this was a “temporary truce.”

In a video message, he called for an “escalation of the confrontation … on all resistance fronts,” including the West Bank.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed a similar return to fighting: “This will be a short pause, at the conclusion of which the war [and] fighting will continue with great might and will generate pressure for the return of more hostages.”

Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, after Hamas terrorists burst across the border fence into southern Israel on Oct. 7, murdering 1,200 people and seizing about 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Since then, Israel has waged air strikes and ground operations, with the stated goal of destroying the Palestinian terrorist group. According to Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians have been killed during the Israeli military campaign.

Israel has told displaced Gazans not to attempt to return to the northern part of Gaza, the focus of its ground campaign since the start of this month.

Gaza residents said the Israelis had dropped leaflets warning people not to travel north and have fired over the heads of some people who were trying to get back into Gaza City.

Sirens sounded in two southern Israeli villages warning of possible incoming Palestinian rockets. An Israeli government spokesman said Hamas had fired rockets in violation of the truce but there were no reports of damage.

Fighting had raged in the hours leading up to the truce, with officials inside the enclave saying a hospital in Gaza City was among the targets bombed. According to the Israeli military, Hamas has used hospitals in Gaza to house their command centers and weaponry. The European Union has lambasted the terror group for using hospitals as “human shields.”

The temporary truce came about amid international concern over the fate of the hostages and the plight of Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza. Israel has rejected calls for a full ceasefire, arguing it would benefit Hamas, a position backed by the United States.

The 13 first hostages were expected to be released around 1400 GMT to the Red Cross and an Egyptian security delegation, then brought out through Egypt for transfer to Israel, Egyptian security sources said. In exchange Israel will release 24 women and 15 teenagers in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said.

The head of the Palestinian Authority’s prisoners’ commission, Qadura Fares, said that as soon as Israel received the hostages at the Rafah crossing, Israel‘s prisons’ authority would move the Palestinian prisoners to the Red Cross.

Under the agreement, desperately-needed aid began to be delivered to Gaza. By mid-morning, 60 trucks carrying aid had crossed from Egypt at the Rafah border point, according to Gaza border authorities.

Two of the first trucks to enter sported banners that said, “Together for Humanity.” Another said: “For our brothers in Gaza.”

Egypt has said 130,000 liters of diesel and four trucks of gas will be delivered daily to Gaza and that 200 trucks of aid would enter Gaza daily.

A Palestinian official familiar with the truce talks told Reuters that only three trucks of aid out of 100 trucks had reached the northern Gaza Strip so far.

“This is grave foot-dragging,” the official said.

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Israeli Actress Shira Haas Stars in New ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ Trailer

Shira Haas in the new trailer for “Captain America: Brave New World.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Marvel Studios debuted the first teaser for “Captain America: Brave New World” on Friday and it shows Israeli actress Shira Haas as an Israeli superhero alongside the other stars of the film, including Anthony Mackie, Harrison Ford, Sebastian Stan and Giancarlo Esposito.

The upcoming superhero movie is the fourth film in the “Captain America” ​​franchise but the first movie to star Mackie’s character, Sam Wilson, as the new Captain America. Esposito plays the villain in the new film and the final moments of the trailer also gives audiences a first look at Red Hulk catching Captain America’s vibranium shield.

“After meeting with newly elected US President Thaddeus Ross, played by Harrison Ford in his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, Sam finds himself in the middle of an international incident,” said a synopsis from Marvel Studios. “He must discover the reason behind a nefarious global plot before the true mastermind has the entire world seeing red.”

Marvel announced in September 2022 that Haas will star in “Captain America: Brave New World” as an Israeli superhero named Sabra, whose real name is Ruth Bat-Seraph. The character, who first appeared in the Marvel comics in 1980, is an Israeli mutant who serves as a member of the Israeli Police and an agent for the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency. Her superpowers include superhuman strength, speed, a regenerative healing power and the ability to charge others by transferring her life energy to them. “Sabra” is a term in Hebrew used to describe someone who is native to Israel.

Since Marvel’s announcement in 2022, supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel tried, unsuccessful, to urge Marvel to drop Haas from the film. They also threatened to boycott the new “Captain America” movie if it includes the Emmy-nominated actress, who credits include the popular Netflix shows “Shtisel” and “Unorthodox.” In response to all the backlash, which intensified after the start of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, Marvel Studios said in a statement that it would take a “new approach” to the Sabra character in the upcoming Captain America film. Marvel add that “while our characters and stories are inspired by the comics, they are always freshly imagined for the screen and today’s audience.”

Marvel did not elaborate further on its approach to the Sabra character but Israel’s Mako reported on Friday that Haas’s role in the film was in fact expanded and she was given additional parts in the movie.

At the end of 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” Steve Rogers, the original Captain America played by actor Chris Evans, passed the torch to Mackie’s character when he decided to return to the past and live out the remainder of his life peacefully with his partner Peggy Carter. He gives his famous shield to his good friend Sam Wilson, making him the new Captain America. In the television miniseries “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” which streams on Disney Plus, Wilson at first declines to become the new Captain America and it was announced that another person would take on the role, a new character in the Marvel Universe named John Walker. But by the end of the series, the title was stripped from Walker, and Wilson decided to take the title upon himself, transforming him from “The Falcon” to “Captain America.”

Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Brave New World” opens in US theaters on Feb. 14, 2025.

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Delta Permits Only US Pins on Flight Attendants After Palestinian Flag Pins Called ‘Hamas Badges’

Delta Air Lines planes are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport on the July 4th weekend in Queens, New York City, U.S., July 2, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Delta Air Lines announced this week that effective July 15, flight attendants will only be permitted to wear pins of the US flag on their uniforms after a recent incident involving two flight attendants who wore Palestinian flag pins that mislabeled as “Hamas badges.”

On Tuesday, a user on X posted two images of Delta Airlines flight attendants wearing Palestinian pin flags and in the caption described them as “Hamas badges” and also referenced 9/11.

“Since 2001 we take off our shoes in every airport because [of] a terrorist attack in US soil,” the post said. “Now imagine getting into a @Delta flight and seeing workers with Hamas badges in the air. What do you do?” The photos in the tweet showed flight attendants on separate flights on different days — a male flight attendant on a Boston to West Palm Beach flight on July 5 and a female flight attendant on an Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale flight that took place days after, according to

Delta’s official X account replied to the post, saying, “I hear you as I’d be terrified as well, personally. Our employees reflect our culture and we do not take it lightly when our policy is not being followed.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is the country’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, criticized Delta for the “racist anti-Palestinian tweet” on Wednesday. CAIR demanded an apology, urged Delta to educate its staff members better, and said Delta’s response supports the original tweet’s false claim that a “Palestinian flag pin worn by a flight attendant was a ‘Hamas badge.’”

The Palestinian flag, which represents the Palestinian people, features black, white and green horizontal stripes, with a red triangle on the left side. The Hamas terrorist organization has its own flag, which has a green background with white writing of the Shahada, an Islamic declaration of faith.

The Delta post on X has since been deleted. The airline said in a statement on Thursday that the “mistakenly posted comment on X” was removed “because it was not in line with our values and our mission to connect the world.”

“The team member responsible for the post has been counseled and no longer supports Delta’s social channels. We apologize for this error,” a spokesperson of the airline added.

Whether this racist post on Delta’s X account was approved or unauthorized, Delta must apologize and take steps to educate its employees about this type of dangerous anti-Palestinian racism. Bigotry against Palestinian-Americans is absolutely out of control in workplaces and at…

— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) July 10, 2024

Delta said neither of the flight attendees who wore the Palestinian flag pins have been fired since they “both were compliant with Delta uniform guidelines.” The airline is also in contact with the flight attendants “to offer support.”

“However … Delta is shifting its pin allowance policy effective July 15,” the airline announced. “Beginning then, only US flags will be permitted to be worn on uniforms. Previously, pins representing countries/nationalities of the world had been permitted. We are taking this step to help ensure a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment for all. We are proud of our diverse base of employees and customers and the foundation of our brand, which is to connect the world and provide a premium experience.”

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US State Department Spokesperson Shuts Down Suggestion Israel Responsible for Majority of Oct. 7 Casualties

An Israeli soldier stands during a two-minute siren marking the annual Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day, at an installation at the site of the Nova festival where party goers were killed and kidnapped during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, in Reim, southern Israel, May 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller shut down a conspiracy theory floated by a Palestinian journalist that Israel killed most of its own civilians who died during the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

During a State Department press briefing on Thursday, Said Arikat — the Washington bureau chief for Al Quds, a Palestinian daily newspaper — asked if the department believed that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed the majority of civilians on Oct. 7, citing a report recently published by the left-wing Israeli outlet Haaretz. The article alleged that the IDF approved of the controversial Hannibal Directive, a military protocol which reportedly sanctions use of maximum force to prevent soldiers from being taken hostage, even if it results in increased civilian and military casualties.

Arikat asked Miller if the report changed or influenced the State Department’s :position or perspective on what happened [on Oct. 7].”

“Israel may be responsible for killing a majority of people that died,” Arikat added. 

Miller gave a testy retort to Arikat’s attempt to seemingly shift the blame of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. The spokesperson asserted that Hamas, which rules Gaza Gaza, is responsible for the vast majority of Oct. 7 casualties.   

“I don’t think that there’s any question that it was Hamas that was responsible for the overwhelming number of deaths on Oct. 7,” Miller responded.

Watch as Al Quds reporter pressed Matthew Miller, saying “Israel—responsible for killing a majority of people that died [on Oct. 7th].”

Miller immediately shuts him down.

— Eyal Yakoby (@EYakoby) July 11, 2024

Haaretz obtained documents and soldier testimony claiming that the IDF launched the Hannibal Directive on Oct. 7. According to Haaretz, the IDF ordered the directive as a response to being “overwhelmed” by the sheer number of Hamas terrorists flooding into southern Israel.

The IDF has launched internal investigations into what transpired on Oct. 7.

“The aim of these investigations is to learn and to draw lessons which could be used in continuing the battle. When these investigations are concluded, the results will be presented to the public with transparency,” the military said in a statement.

Israel first approved the Hannibal Directive in 1986 in response to IDF members being taken hostage by enemy forces such as Hezbollah. The IDF officially repealed the controversial procedure in 2016, saying it would instead create new orders better tailored to the various situations that soldiers may find themselves in.

Critics of Israel have falsely claimed that the Haaretz article suggests that the IDF intentionally killed Israelis Oct. 7 in an apparent attempt to defend Hamas’ brutal invasion of the Jewish state.

Arikat has been an outspoken critic of Israel, accusing the IDF of deliberately killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

During a May press briefing, Arikat said that Hamas was not motivated by an “ancient desire to eliminate Jews.” Miller, who was conducting the briefing, responded that Hamas has repeatedly proclaimed it is “committed to the destruction of the state of Israel and committed to the death of the Israeli people.”

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