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Israel-Gaza Fighting Flares for a Second Day

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The most violent conflict in more than a year between Israel and Gaza militants extended into a second day on Saturday, with airstrikes that destroyed residential buildings and killed five people in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Israeli military said it had hit two Gaza residences belonging to operatives of the militant group Islamic Jihad that it described as weapons stores. Military officials said that prior warnings were given, and that the residential buildings were evacuated before the strikes.

Islamic Jihad and other smaller Palestinian militant groups in Gaza fired rockets mostly at Israeli towns closest to the edge of the territory.

The renewed tensions highlighted the challenge of preventing flare-ups in Israel and the occupied territories when both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are divided and politically weak, international attention is elsewhere and there is little hope of ending the 15-year blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt.

“There is no end in sight for this cycle, and no actor seems to wish to construct any more stable alternative,” said Prof. Nathan J. Brown, an expert on the Middle East at George Washington University.

This round of fighting, which began on Friday with Israeli airstrikes, has mainly pitted Israel against Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza. Hamas, the dominant militia in Gaza, has so far stayed away from direct involvement, raising hopes that the conflict would not escalate into a larger war. Yet, no cease-fire appeared imminent, despite early mediation efforts by foreign diplomats and the United Nations.

The five Palestinians killed on Saturday brought the death toll over two days to 15, according to health officials in Gaza. One of those killed on Friday was a 5-year-old girl.

The only power plant in Gaza halted operations because of a freeze on fuel deliveries from Israel, further reducing power across large parts of the territory.

The battles began on Friday when Israel preemptively launched airstrikes to foil what it said was an imminent attack from Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Earlier in the week, Israel had arrested a senior Islamic Jihad figure in the West Bank, leading to threats of reprisals from the group. Israel said its airstrikes aimed to stop the group from following through on those threats.

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One airstrike on Friday killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, and prompted the group to return fire with several rocket and mortar barrages that sent thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters overnight Friday.

Since an 11-day war in May last year, Israel has persuaded militias in Gaza to avoid violence by offering 14,000 work permits to Palestinian laborers in the territory — the highest since Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007.

Roughly two million people live in Gaza and most receive no direct benefit from the new permits. But the permits nevertheless provide a crucial financial lifeline to thousands of families in the enclave, where nearly one in two are unemployed and only one in 10 have direct access to clean water, according to UNICEF. Complex medical treatment is often unavailable.

Wary of losing that concession, particularly while it is still rebuilding military infrastructure damaged during the last war, Hamas has avoided a major escalation all year in Gaza while still encouraging unrest and violence in Israel and the West Bank.

But Islamic Jihad, which, unlike Hamas, does not govern Gaza, is less motivated by small economic concessions.

Rockets and other projectiles fired from Gaza hit at least two Israeli towns on Saturday, wounding at least two soldiers and a civilian, according to Israeli officials and news reports. But the majority of Palestinian rockets either fell on open areas or were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, according to the Israeli military.

The escalation is at least the sixth surge in violence in the strip since Hamas took control in 2007, prompting Israel and Egypt to begin their blockade. Israel is not prepared to end the blockade while Hamas is in power, and Hamas does not recognize Israel and refuses to end its armed activities.

In the absence of a formal peace process to end the conflict, the repeated rounds of violence in Gaza, as well as intermittent bursts of back channel diplomacy, are considered alternative ways to renegotiate the terms of the Gaza blockade.

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“Absent anything more lasting, both sides resort to violence not to defeat the other side — much less eliminate it — but just to adjust the terms, and also to play to home audiences,” said Mr. Brown, the Middle East expert.

This escalation in Gaza can be linked back to a recent spike in violence across Israel and the West Bank several months ago.

Rising Palestinian attacks on civilians in Israel in April and May led to an increase in Israeli raids on the West Bank, particularly in areas where Israeli officials said the attackers and their abettors came from.

The Israeli campaign resulted in almost nightly arrests across the West Bank over the past several months, and culminated in the arrest this week of Bassem Saadi, a senior Islamic Jihad figure.

The escalation was also a reminder of the long shadow of Iran over Israeli and Palestinian affairs. While Tehran’s nuclear program is seen by Israel as the biggest threat, it also exerts regional influence by providing financial and logistical help to militant proxies across the Middle East like Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza.

Providing support to Palestinian militant groups allows Tehran to destabilize Gaza, the West Bank and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, analysts said. This can distract Israel from acting on other fronts, including against Iranian-affiliated targets in Syria or in Iran itself.

Israel’s opening strikes in Gaza occurred while Islamic Jihad’s leader, Ziad al-Nakhala, was visiting Tehran to meet the group’s Iranian patrons — a factor that may have contributed to the group’s refusal to walk back its threat to avenge Israel’s arrest campaign in the West Bank.

“Due to their full dependency on the Iranians, they have to do what the Iranians are telling them to do,” said Kobi Michael, a national security expert at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The crisis has provided a first major test for Yair Lapid, Israel’s caretaker prime minister who took office last month after his predecessor’s government collapsed.

The military operation is a risky gambit for Mr. Lapid, a centrist often derided for lacking security experience by his main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, who now leads the opposition.

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The escalation gives Mr. Lapid the chance to prove his security credentials to the Israeli electorate, but it also leaves him open to accusations that he is endangering both Israeli and Palestinian lives.

In Gaza, mourners were already counting the costs of the escalation and grieving the loss of human life.

Relatives of Alaa Qadoum, the 5-year-old girl killed in an airstrike on Friday, wrapped her body in a white shroud and Palestinian flags, images showed, leaving her face uncovered to allow mourners to kiss her before her burial on Friday. A bright pink bow tied most of her hair back.

Israel has in the past blamed militants for civilian deaths, saying they often station their rocket launchers and bases close to civilian homes and infrastructure.

In a briefing for international reporters at a military base near the Gaza border in late July, senior Israeli military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity under army rules, presented maps showing the routes of what they said were parts of a militant tunnel network, including sections running beneath roads around a major university in Gaza.

The length and scope of the fighting will partly depend on Hamas’s involvement.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the political bureau of Hamas, said on Friday that the group was “open to all directions.” On Saturday, he said he had spoken to mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.

But on Saturday, an Israeli military spokesman, Ran Kochav, told Israeli public radio that the fighting would last for at least a week.

Raja Abdulrahim, Carol Sutherland and Fady Hanona contributed reporting.

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A journalist since 1994, he also founded DMGlobal Marketing & Public Relations. Glover has an extensive list of clients including corporations, non-profits, government agencies, politics, business owners, PR firms, and attorneys.

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MAN ON A MISSION: Jackson State Football Coach Deion Sanders

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(JACKSON, MS) – His name is being heard all over the football world. This time, he’s not the star player. This time, Deion Sanders is the coach. And he is the coach at an HBCU, Jackson State. The school’s history goes back to 1877 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Natchez has a wicked history. Thousands of Blacks were buried there in a mass grave now covered by peaches.

Nonetheless, it is simply wonderful that Coach Sanders has lent himself to such a worthy effort. His sharing of his expertise with the young people in the football program speaks volumes.

According to the Tigers’ website: “Deion Sanders has always been a game-changer. In his tenure as Head Football Coach of Jackson State University, Sanders has again changed the game for Tiger Football, the Department of Athletics, the University as a whole, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, College Football, and the Nation.

An unprecedented calendar year of 2021 showed the power of the influence of Sanders and the brand of Jackson State University coming together as one, seemingly in perfect alignment.

As the Southwestern Athletic Conference played a spring 2021 football season due to the coronavirus, the number 21 Sanders donned on his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career became immersed at JSU.

Sanders, named as the 21st head coach in the proud history of JSU football on September 21, 2020, led the Tigers in his first game as head coach on February 21, 2021. A 53-0 win began the Coach Prime era that was a touch point of the elevation of JSU football and the University into becoming one of the most impactful and recognizable brands nationwide.” READ MORE

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Team Dream: 82 AND 77-YEAR OLD BLACK FEMALE SWIMMERS MAKE HISTORY AFTER COMPETING IN NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES

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(PLANTATION, FL) – Ann Smith (age 82) and Madeline Murphy Rabb (age 77) are two African American swimmers who recently competed in the 2022 National Senior Games and were the only Black women to compete in their age group.

Their love for swimming is deep and is a part of a documentary film profiling their passion for swimming as girls who didn’t let barriers to swimming stop them from seeking their sports dreams. Their story is a reminder of the days of segregation where Blacks often could not swim in pools saved for whites.

A documentary short called Team Dream from award-winning filmmaker Luchina Fisher follows their story and will debut at Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival in August (and then on BET in the fall) thanks to Procter & Gamble’s initiative Widen the Screen and Queen Collective.

Despite being omitted from the history books, Africans and African Americans have a long history of swimming. Team Dream sheds light on the lack of access to pools for Blacks during segregation that resulted in fewer Blacks learning how to swim.

About the Director
Luchina Fisher is an award-winning writer, director, and producer whose work is at the intersection of race, gender, and identity. She can discuss why this film is important to her, how she found Ann and Madeline, and the importance of breaking down the stereotype that “Blacks can’t swim.”

About Widen The Screen
Widen The Screen is an expansive content creation, talent development, and partnership platform that celebrates creativity and enables Black creators to share the full richness of the Black experience. “Only when we Widen The Screen to Widen Our Views can we all broaden the spectrum of images we see, the voices we hear, the stories we tell, and the people we understand.”

About Queen Collective
In 2018, P&G, Queen Latifah, Flavor Unit Entertainment, and Tribeca Studios launched the Queen Collective, a mentoring and talent development program designed to give women filmmakers of color a platform to share important stories from their unique perspectives. Now in its fourth year, the Queen Collective is enabling a record number of female directors and other creatives to produce their original documentaries and scripted pieces to share their perspectives through film.

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Liz Cheney Is Ready to Lose. But She’s Not Ready to Quit.

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — It was just over a month before her primary, but Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming was nowhere near the voters weighing her future.

Ms. Cheney was instead huddled with fellow lawmakers and aides in the Capitol complex, bucking up her allies in a cause she believes is more important than her House seat: Ridding American politics of former President Donald J Trump and his influence.

“The nine of us have done more to prevent Trump from ever regaining power than any group to date,” she said to fellow members of the panel investigating Mr. Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. “We can’t let up.”

The most closely-watched primary of 2022 has not become much of a race at all. Polls show Ms. Cheney losing badly to her rival, Harriet Hageman, Mr. Trump’s vehicle for revenge, and the congresswoman has been all but driven out of her Trump-loving state, in part because of death threats, her office says.

Yet for Ms. Cheney, the race stopped being about political survival months ago. Instead, she’s used the Aug. 16 contest as a sort of a high-profile stage for her martyrdom — and a proving ground for her new crusade. She used the only debate to tell voters to “vote for somebody else” if they wanted a politician who would violate their oath of office. Last week, she enlisted her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, to cut an ad calling Mr. Trump a “coward” who represents the greatest threat to America in the history of the republic.

In a state where Mr. Trump won 70 percent of the vote two years ago, Ms. Cheney might as well be asking ranchers to go vegan.

“If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay,” she said in an interview this week in the conference room of a Cheyenne bank.

The 56-year-old daughter of a politician who once had visions of rising to the top of the House leadership — but landed as vice president instead — has become arguably the most consequential rank-and-file member of Congress in modern times. Few others have so aggressively used the levers of the office to attempt to reroute the course of American politics — but, in doing so, she has effectively sacrificed her own future in the institution she grew up to revere.

Ms. Cheney’s relentless focus on Mr. Trump has driven speculation — even among longtime family friends — that she is preparing to run for president. She has done little to dissuade such talk.

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At a house party Thursday night in Cheyenne, with former Vice President Dick Cheney happily looking on under a pair of mounted leather chaps, the host introduced Ms. Cheney by recalling how another Republican woman, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy when doing so was unpopular — and went on to become the first female candidate for president from a major party.

The attendees applauded at the parallel, as Ms. Cheney smiled.

In the interview, she said she was focused on her primary — and her work on the committee. But it’s far from clear that she could be a viable candidate in the current Republican Party, or whether she has interest in the donor-class schemes about a third-party bid, in part because she knows it may just siphon votes from a Democrat opposing Mr. Trump.

Ms. Cheney said she had no interest in changing parties: “I’m a Republican.” But when asked if the G.O.P. she was raised in was even salvageable in the short term, she said: “It may not be” and called her party “very sick.”

The party, she said, “is continuing to drive itself in a ditch and I think it’s going to take several cycles if it can be healed.”

Ms. Cheney suggested she was animated as much by Trumpism as Mr. Trump himself. She could support a Republican for president in 2024, she said, but her redline is a refusal to state clearly that Mr. Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.

Asked if the ranks of off-limits candidates included Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whom many Republicans have latched onto as a Trump alternative, she said she “would find it very difficult” to support Mr. DeSantis in a general election.

“I think that Ron DeSantis has lined himself up almost entirely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s very dangerous,” Ms. Cheney said.

It’s easy to hear other soundings of a White House bid in Ms. Cheney’s rhetoric.

In Cheyenne, she channeled the worries of “moms” and what she described as their hunger for “somebody’s who’s competent.” Having once largely scorned identity politics — Ms. Cheney was only the female lawmaker who wouldn’t pose for a picture of the women of Congress after 2018 — she now freely discusses gender and her perspective as a mother.

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“These days, for the most part, men are running the world, and it is really not going that well,” she said in June when she spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

In a sign that Ms. Cheney’s political awakening goes beyond her contempt for Mr. Trump, she said she prefers the ranks of Democratic women with national security backgrounds to her party’s right flank.

“I would much rather serve with Mikie Sherrill and Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin than Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, even though on substance certainly I have big disagreements with the Democratic women I just mentioned,” Ms. Cheney said in the interview. “But they love this country, they do their homework and they are people that are trying to do the right thing for the country.”

Ms. Cheney is surer of her diagnosis for what ails the G.O.P. than she is of her prescription for reform.

She has no post-Congress political organization in waiting and has benefited from Democratic donors, whose affections may be fleeting. To the frustration of some allies, she has not expanded her inner circle beyond family and a handful of close advisers. Never much of a schmoozer, she said she longed for what she recalled as her father’s era of policy-centric politics.

“What the country needs are serious people who are willing to engage in debates about policy,” Ms. Cheney said.

It’s all a far cry from the Liz Cheney of a decade ago, who had a contract to appear regularly on Fox News and would use her perch as a guest host for Sean Hannity to present her unswerving conservative views and savage former President Barack Obama and Democrats.

Today, Ms. Cheney doesn’t concede specific regrets about helping to create the atmosphere that gave rise to Mr. Trump’s takeover of her party. She did, however, acknowledge a “reflexive partisanship that I have been guilty of” and noted Jan. 6 “demonstrated how dangerous that is.”

Few lawmakers today face those dangers as regularly as Ms. Cheney, who has had a full-time Capitol Police security detail for nearly a year because of the threats against her — protection few rank-and-file lawmakers are assigned. She no longer provides advance notice about her Wyoming travel and, not welcome at most county and state Republican events, has turned her campaign into a series of invite-only House parties.

What’s more puzzling than her schedule is why Ms. Cheney, who has raised over $13 million, has not poured more money into the race, especially early on when she had an opportunity to define Ms. Hageman. Ms. Cheney had spent roughly half her war chest as of the start of July, spurring speculation that she was saving money for future efforts against Mr. Trump.

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Ms. Cheney long ago stopped attending meetings of House Republicans. When at the Capitol, she spends much of her time with the Democrats on the Jan. 6 panel and often heads to the Lindy Boggs Room, the reception room for female lawmakers, rather than the House floor with the male-dominated House G.O.P. conference. Some members of the Jan. 6 panel have been struck by how often her Zoom background is her suburban Virginia home.

In Washington, even some Republicans who are also eager to move on from Mr. Trump question Ms. Cheney’s decision to wage open war against her own party. She’s limiting her future influence, they argue.

“It depends on if you want to go out in a blaze of glory and be ineffective or if you want to try to be effective,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has his own future leadership aspirations. “I respect her but I wouldn’t have made the same choice.”

Ms. Cheney is mindful that the Jan. 6 inquiry, with its prime-time hearings, is viewed by critics as an attention-seeking opportunity. She has turned down some opportunities that could have been helpful to her ambitions, most notably proposals from documentary filmmakers.

Still, to her skeptics at home, Ms. Cheney’s attacks on Mr. Trump have resurrected dormant questions about her ties to the state and raised fears that she has gone Washington and taken up with the opposition, dismissing the political views of the voters who gave her and her father their starts in electoral politics.

At a parade in Casper last month, held while Ms. Cheney was in Washington preparing for a hearing, Ms. Hageman received frequent applause from voters who said the incumbent had lost her way.

“Her voting record is not bad,” said Julie Hitt, a Casper resident. “But so much of her focus is on Jan 6.”

“She’s so in bed with the Democrats, with Pelosi and with all them people,” Bruce Hitt, Ms. Hitt’s husband, interjected.

Notably, no voters interviewed at the parade brought up Ms. Cheney’s support for the gun control bill the House passed just weeks earlier — the sort of apostasy that would have infuriated Wyoming Republicans in an era more dominated by policy than one man’s persona.

“Her vote on the gun bill hardly got any publicity whatsoever,” Mike Sullivan, a former Democratic governor of Wyoming who intends to vote for Ms. Cheney in the primary, said, puzzled. (Ms. Cheney is pushing independents and Democrats to re-register as Republicans, as least long enough to vote for her in the primary.)

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For Ms. Cheney, any sense of bafflement about this moment — a Cheney, Republican royalty, being effectively read out of the party — has faded in the year and a half since the Capitol attack.

When she attended the funeral last year for Mike Enzi, the former Wyoming senator, Ms. Cheney welcomed a visiting delegation of G.O.P. senators. As she greeted them one by one, several praised her bravery and told her keep up the fight against Mr. Trump, she recalled.

She did not miss the opportunity to pointedly remind them: They, too, could join her.

“There have been so many moments like that,” she said at the bank, a touch of weariness in her voice.



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