The New York Times 2024-01-31 22:17:49

Widening Mideast Crisis: Iran Says It Doesn’t Want War as U.S. Weighs Response to Lethal Drone Strike

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Gaza City Feb. 1, 12:12 a.m.

Iran is ‘not looking for war,’ the head of the Revolutionary Guards says.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday that Tehran was “not looking for war,” appearing to signal that it would not escalate tensions with the United States. But he also warned that Iran was prepared to respond if attacked.

“We hear threatening words from American officials,” Gen. Hossein Salami, the chief commander of the powerful military organization, was quoted as saying by Iranian state news media. “You have tested us and we know each other — we will not leave any threat unanswered.”

The comments came after President Biden said on Tuesday that he had decided on a U.S. response to the weekend drone attack that killed three American soldiers and injured more than 40 others at a remote military outpost in Jordan. The United States has said that one or more Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq was behind the attack, the deadliest of more than 160 such strikes targeting American forces in the Middle East since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in October.

Mr. Biden did not specify what the U.S. response would be. Some Republican lawmakers have urged him to attack Iran directly, although Mr. Biden emphasized again on Tuesday that he was determined to avoid a broader regional conflict, telling reporters: “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East.”

In an apparent sign that Iran was trying to tamp down tensions, Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful regional militias linked to Iran, made the surprising announcement on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations in Iraq, where it operates. A statement by the group indicated that it had come under pressure from Iran and Iraq to stop attacks on U.S. troops.

The Pentagon has said that Kata’ib Hezbollah was most likely responsible for the deadly attack on U.S. troops in Jordan.

But on Wednesday, John F. Kirby, spokesman for President Biden’s National Security Council, said the picture was somewhat less clear-cut.

“We believe that the attack in Jordan was planned, resourced and facilitated by an umbrella group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which contains multiple groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah,” he said.

When asked whether Kata’ib Hezbollah had a primary role in the attack, he said, “This certainly has the earmarks of the kinds of things Kata’ib Hezbollah does.” But, he added, “The attribution that our intelligence community is comfortable with is that this was done by the umbrella group.”

Iran has denied ordering attacks on U.S. forces, including the drone strike in Jordan, saying that the Axis of Resistance — the loose network of Iranian-backed groups operating in the Middle East — act independently to oppose “aggression and occupation.”

In a meeting with government officials on Wednesday, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said that the United States should “stop using the language of threats” and focus on achieving a political solution to the regional crisis.

“Iran’s response in the face of any threats will be decisive and immediate,” IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, quoted Mr. Abdollahian as saying.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

A U.S. strike takes out a Houthi surface-to-air missile.

The United States military said it had struck and destroyed a surface-to-air missile on Wednesday that Iranian-backed Houthi militants were preparing to launch from Yemen.

“U.S. forces identified the missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that it presented an imminent threat to U.S. aircraft operating in the region,” the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The United States has launched at least a dozen strikes against targets in Yemen since Jan. 11 in response to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, most of them intended to destroy missiles and launchers capable of damaging ships.

The Houthis, an armed Shiite group that controls the west of Yemen, say they are attacking ships in solidarity with Palestinians who have been killed in an Israeli offensive against another Iran-backed militia, Hamas, which controlled the Gaza Strip. The Houthis and Hamas share the goal of destroying Israel.

The Houthis have mounted more than 30 attacks, hijacking one ship and damaging others. Last week, one of its missiles set fire to an oil tanker, the Marlin Luanda, which sailed under the flag of the Marshall Islands and is owned by a Bermuda company.

A U.S. official said that Wednesday’s strike on the Houthi surface-to-air missile was not part of the campaign that President Biden has approved to retaliate against other Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that the United States blamed for the attack in Jordan on Sunday that killed three American service members.

The U.S. strike on Wednesday came a day after another missile launched from the area in Yemen controlled by the group flew in the direction of the U.S. destroyer Gravely before it was shot down, the military said.

On Wednesday, the Houthis published a statement claiming they had fired several missiles at an American destroyer in the Red Sea. The group promised to continue attacks aimed at crippling navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden “until a cease-fire is achieved in — and food and medicine are allowed in — to the besieged Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip.”

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Chicago becomes the largest U.S. city to approve a cease-fire resolution.

The Chicago City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, making it the largest city in the United States to do so.

Mayor Brandon Johnson broke a 23-to-23 tie to ensure passage of the resolution.

Before the council discussion, residents and activists spoke passionately about their support of a cease-fire, cheering and clapping for their peers. Mr. Johnson at one point cleared the council chamber to lower the volume of dissent while Debra Silverstein, the council’s only Jewish member, spoke in opposition to the resolution.

Similar debates have played out in communities nationwide as the passions ignited by the war in Gaza have reverberated through American politics. But the issue has been particularly contentious in Chicago and its suburbs. On Tuesday, hundreds of Chicago Public School students walked out of class in support of the resolution.

“You serve a county that is home to the largest population of Palestinians in America, Palestinians who have been here because they were exiled for the last 75 years,” a resident said during the public-comment session that preceded the council discussion and vote. “For four months, you’ve heard us loud and clear, and it’s a shame that it’s taken this long.”

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights activist, attended the meeting in support of the resolution. He is one of many Black religious leaders across the country who have called on President Biden for a cease-fire.

Alderman Daniel La Spata, a sponsor on the resolution, acknowledged on Wednesday that the city’s vote would not directly affect international policy.

“We vote with solidarity,” Mr. La Spata said. “We vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”

But despite the emotions surrounding the issue, council members held a largely restrained and respectful discussion.

“I think some of the arguments here on the floor defy some logic,” Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said, adding: “We all want peace, as we said, but how can we want peace and be against cease-fire?”

The topic has been contentious among city leadership since the Oct. 7 attacks. Ms. Silverstein won passage of a resolution condemning Hamas a week after the attack and on Wednesday she lamented that similar language was not part of this resolution as well.

“We all want an end to the bloodshed and an end to the war,” Ms. Silverstein said during Wednesday’s meeting. “But it is vital to understand what caused the conflict, and we should pass a resolution that addresses the issue responsibly.”

Around 70 cities in the country, including San Francisco, Seattle and Detroit, have passed resolutions on the war, with at least 47 of those calling for an immediate cease-fire, according to Reuters.

Donor countries voice support for the U.N. agency for Palestinians despite Israel’s accusations.

Key donors to the United Nations agency that aids civilians in Gaza have signaled that they will continue to support the organization under the right conditions despite Israeli accusations that some of its employees were involved with terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.

That support, which comes as the Israeli government has called for the international community to defund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, suggests that an appetite could exist among donors to resolve the agency’s funding crisis.

At least 12 countries, including the United States and Germany, the two biggest donors, have said they are temporarily suspending funding after the Israeli government made its initial allegations. The United Nations said on Friday that it had fired nine employees and started an investigation.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said in comments posted on Tuesday that it was crucial for the United Nations to conduct the investigation, ensure accountability and take steps to prevent a repetition, but he also emphasized the importance of the organization’s work.

“There is no other humanitarian player in Gaza who can provide food, water and medicine at the scale that UNRWA does,” the spokesman, Matthew Miller, told reporters. “We want to see that work continued.” The State Department on Tuesday downplayed the immediate significance of the suspension.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel made the opposing argument on Wednesday, saying, as Israeli officials long have, that UNRWA should be dissolved and other agencies should take up its work.

“UNRWA officials were complicit in the massacre, and I think it’s time that the international community and the U.N. itself understand that UNRWA’s mission has to end,” he told a group of visitors in Jerusalem, in a video released on social media by his office.

Mr. Miller did not say when the U.S. government might make a decision about financing the agency, whose leaders have said will soon run out of funds.

That timing could prove to be a problem for UNRWA, given the slow pace of U.N. investigations.

The United Nations has informed donor countries that it will take at least four weeks to conduct its investigation, according to two diplomats familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, conveyed that message at a meeting with donor countries in New York this week, one of the diplomats said.

That time frame would be quicker than usual. Probes conducted by the U.N.’s top auditing body, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, typically take many months and involve interviews with staff members, site visits and a forensic review of U.N.-issued computers, telephones, and other equipment, according to Vladimir Dzuro, a former senior investigator in the office.

U.N. agencies, including Unicef, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization warned this week in a joint statement that any pause in funding for UNRWA would have “catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza.” For weeks, U.N. leaders have warned that ordinary people trapped in the war zone are facing hunger and rampant disease.

“Withdrawing funds from UNRWA is perilous and would result in the collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza,” it said.

The Israeli government has for years said it wanted to disband UNRWA, which it regards as a front for Hamas. Still, some military leaders say they fear that, in its absence, the responsibility for distributing aid in Gaza would likely fall to Israel’s government.

Donor countries made individual decisions to suspend aid to UNRWA, and it is not clear that they would act in concert in response to the U.N.’s investigation.

A spokesman for Germany’s foreign ministry, Sebastian Fischer, said this week that the government would wait to see what the investigation yields before making a decision. Still, Mr. Fischer said the investigation is important because UNRWA’s work is so vital. “We are not abandoning the Palestinian civilian population,” he told journalists.

The European Union, which pledged $114 million to UNRWA in 2022, has not suspended funding, and its top diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles, said on Wednesday that it was critical to preserve the agency’s “irreplaceable role.”

For its part, Norway, a donor that has not suspended aid, will try to persuade other donors to think about the wider implications of a funding cut to UNRWA, the country’s foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, said.

Mr. Eide said it was worrying that for some donor countries the allegations of misdeeds by a dozen employees of the agency had become a reason to suspend funding. This approach “amounts in a sense to a collective punishment of millions of Palestinians,” he said.

His argument echoed the views expressed by some officials in aid agencies, who have noted that, in the past, donors have maintained funding to U.N. missions and agencies even when investigations had proven that staff members were guilty of serious crimes.

Aaron Boxerman in Jerusalem, Christopher F. Schuetze in Berlin and Henrik Pryser Libell in Oslo contributed reporting.

The Kata’ib Hezbollah militia says it will stop attacks, hinting at pressure from Iran and Iraq.

In a surprise move, an Iran-linked militia in Iraq that U.S. officials say may have been responsible for a lethal drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan over the weekend announced on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations in Iraq under pressure from the Iraqi government and from Iran.

The announcement came shortly after President Biden said that he had decided how to respond to the attack in Jordan on Sunday that left three U.S. soldiers dead, though he did not say what that response would be. His comment raised fears in Iraq about a possibly retaliatory U.S. attack on its territory.

The militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah, or Brigades of the Party of God, is the largest and most established of the Iran-linked groups operating in Iraq. It has spearheaded a majority of the some 160 attacks on U.S. military installations in Iraq and Syria that have occurred since Israel began its ground operations in Gaza, acting in response to the Oct. 7 attack Hamas led from the enclave.

The U.S. military has about 2,500 troops in Iraq advising and training the Iraqi Army and about 900 in Syria, supporting the Kurdish Syrian Defense forces in their fight against the Islamic State.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance, a network of Iran-backed groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and occasionally farther afield. (Kata’ib Hezbollah is separate from the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.)

The Pentagon said in the days after the drone attack in Jordan that Kata’ib Hezbollah was likely responsible. But a White House spokesman, John F. Kirby, said Wednesday that American intelligence agencies believed that it was a larger umbrella network, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, that “planned, resourced and facilitated” the drone strike.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is part of that network, he said, but he would not say specifically whether the group played a role in the attack.

The other two Iraqi groups that are believed to have been involved in strikes on U.S. targets — Harakat al Nujaba and Sayyid Shuhada — have not announced they will halt attacks.

The leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said in a statement: “We announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces — in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” It was the first time that the militia had publicly declared a suspension of operations.

The statement made clear that Iran had pressured the group to stop the attacks on U.S. troops and that Kata’ib Hezbollah was not happy about it. The group made a point of suggesting that it chooses its own targets and timing, rather than following Iran’s orders.

“Our brothers in the Axis, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they do not know how we conduct our Jihad, and they often object to the pressure and escalation against the American occupation forces in Iraq and Syria,” the statement said.

Asked about Kata’ib Hezbollah’s announcement, a Defense Department spokesman, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, said at a Pentagon briefing: “I don’t have a specific comment to provide other than actions speak louder than words.”

He added: “I’m going to refrain from editorializing on those kinds of comments after 160-plus attacks against U.S. forces.”

Interviews with Iraqi and Iranian officials close to both governments suggest that there were intensive negotiations in recent days aimed at pushing Kata’ib Hezbollah to stop its attacks.

Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, started pushing for a halt several weeks ago, according to senior government advisers. He was endeavoring to start negotiations on an eventual withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military presence in Iraq, but the American side had not wanted to negotiate while under fire, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.

The United States eventually did agree to start talks without a guarantee the attacks would stop, but with a clear push in that direction.

Kata’ib Hezbollah and other groups had ignored the Iraqi government’s request to stand down, but once the attack in Jordan on Sunday took American lives, Mr. Sudani demanded a complete halt from Kata’ib Hezbollah. Mr. Sudani reached out directly to Iran, according to a military strategist for the Revolutionary Guards who works closely with the Axis groups in Iraq.

Mr. Sudani made the argument that he was trying to negotiate what Iran most wanted — to end the U.S. troop presence in Iraq — and that Kata’ib Hezbollah’s attacks were undermining his government’s ability to do so, according to the Iranian military strategist and a senior Iraqi official, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations.

An Iraqi government spokesman, Hisham al-Rikabi, painted much the same picture. “Kata’ib Hezbollah’s decision came as a result of the action taken by the prime minister internally and externally, to prevent escalation, and to ensure the smooth completion of negotiations on completing the process of the international coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq,” he said.

Mr. al-Rikabi added: “We hope that all parties will listen to the government’s call in order to reduce tension and ensure that there are no hot spots of tension in the region, and in Iraq in particular.”

Involved in the negotiations were senior officials in Mr. Sudani’s government who are close to Iran, according to Iraqi and Iranian officials close to their respective government leaders. Among those involved in the negotiations were former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the leaders of two armed groups that have not targeted U.S. forces: Qais al-Khazali and Hadi al-Ameri. Participating in the talks on the Iranian side was Gen. Esmail Qaani, the leader of the Quds Force, a division of the Revolutionary Guards that works with Axis groups outside Iran.

Reporting was contributed by Falih Hassan from Baghdad, Farnaz Fassihi from New York and Eric Schmitt and Michael D. Shear from Washington.

An Israeli charity that helps Palestinians grapples with the Oct. 7 attacks.

Nearly every week for a decade, Iri Kassel picked up sick Palestinian children at Israel’s Erez border crossing with Gaza and drove them with their guardians to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

But on Oct. 7, the crossing was raided by Palestinian militants who blasted the passport control booths and magnetic scanners as they stormed into southern Israel.

The deadly attacks plunged Israel into all-out war in Gaza and disrupted the work of Road to Recovery, the Israeli nonprofit organization that Mr. Kassel volunteers for, which has ferried more than 1,500 Palestinian patients a year to Israeli hospitals.

Several of the group’s volunteers died in the Hamas-led attack, including Vivian Silver, a prominent peace activist who was killed in her home at Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel. Others were taken hostage, like Oded and Yocheved Lifshitz, a couple in their eighties from Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border. Dozens more lost loved ones or were evacuated from their homes near Gaza.

The organization’s staff and volunteer drivers were devastated. “It was a blow to the stomach,” Mr. Kassel said. Even for those who survived the attacks, he said, there was “an almost physical pain.”

Road to Recovery was founded in 2010 by Yuval Roth, a peace activist whose brother had been kidnapped and killed nearly 20 years earlier by Hamas militants. The group helps Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank access medical treatment in Israel, where health services are among the most advanced in the region.

In order to be treated in Israel, Palestinian families have to navigate several obstacles. The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health must agree to absorb the cost of the treatment. Then, families have had to obtain permission from Hamas to exit Gaza, and from Israel to cross the border.

Once they are inside Israel, the cost of traveling to a hospital can be prohibitive for many Palestinian families. That is where Road to Recovery comes in.

Yael Noy, the organization’s chief executive, said its work is as much about humanitarian aid as it is about fostering personal connections between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Palestinians see Israelis as soldiers at checkpoints, and many Israelis don’t see Palestinians at all,” she said in an interview. “These rides are an opportunity for a clean, direct human encounter.”

Mr. Kassel, 77, a retired educator, said he rarely discussed politics directly with Palestinians he picked up, although the conflict surfaced in numerous ways. Once, he drove a family to a hospital during a flare-up in hostilities between Israel and Hamas. “I found myself explaining what they should do in case sirens go off, signaling Hamas rocket fire,” he said. Later, after he had driven them back to Gaza, he heard from the family that their house had been damaged by an Israeli attack.

Some of the drives pass in silence. Conversations are often stilted because of the language barrier. Still, volunteers say they have formed relationships with Palestinian families.

The morning after the Oct. 7 attacks, as gunfights still raged in towns near Gaza, volunteers showed up at the crossing with the West Bank to pick up sick Palestinian children. The group’s work has continued in the West Bank, even as Israel has all but banned crossings from Gaza.

Some volunteer drivers say that, since the attacks, friends have called them naïve or radical for continuing to help Palestinians. The group says donations have slowed, as even Israelis who support its work prioritize giving to other initiatives.

Mr. Kassel said that while he admired friends who continued to volunteer, it was now too hard for him to do so. “I know that people in Gaza are enduring huge suffering: their houses and economy are ruined, they’ve become refugees again, medical care is almost nonexistent,” he said. “But emotionally,” he added, “I feel angry and hurt — even betrayed.”

Still, Ms. Noy said, the group has signed up some new volunteers. In the West Bank, it is back to running its usual number of daily rides. Several volunteers who were evacuated from their homes near Gaza have changed their routes, and now drive from their temporary hotel accommodations to pick up Palestinian patients at a crossing near Bethlehem.

“It’s a way of holding on to hope,” Ms. Noy said. “When we help Palestinians heal, we also heal ourselves.”

Israeli forces opened fire on the grounds of another hospital in Gaza, an aid group says.

Israeli forces stormed the grounds of another hospital in Gaza after bombing the area around it for nine consecutive days, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Tuesday.

The besieged facility, the Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, is run by the Red Crescent and located inside a compound that is home to the local headquarters of the aid group and to one of its ambulance centers.

Thousands of displaced people were sheltering at the compound when Israeli forces moved tanks into the hospital’s front yard, fired live ammunition and smoke grenades and ordered people to leave the premises, the Red Crescent said. Earlier in the day, the organization said at least one displaced person had been killed and nine others injured by heavy shelling and gunfire around the compound.

In a statement, the Israeli military denied that it had operated “inside” the Al-Amal Hospital on Tuesday or called for its evacuation but did not answer specific questions about actions in and around the broader hospital compound.

The Israeli military has accused Hamas of operating command and control centers inside hospitals in Gaza and has raided health care facilities up and down the strip. Those include Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya, Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia and Al-Khair Hospital near Khan Younis. Hamas, Palestinian officials and hospital workers have denied Israel’s claims.

The Israeli military made similar accusations last week about Hamas militants operating from within the Al-Amal Hospital. The Red Crescent firmly denied the allegation, saying in a statement that Israel’s “siege and its consequences are a blatant violation of international agreements” to protect medical and humanitarian missions.

Those consequences have been particularly dire for some 7,000 displaced people who have been forced to take shelter around the hospital, the aid group said.

On Monday alone, the Red Crescent reported that the hospital’s surgical ward had ceased operations because of a lack of oxygen supplies, that two displaced people were killed while trying to retrieve the body of a third and that emergency teams were having trouble reaching the wounded because of gunfire.

Late Tuesday evening, the aid group announced that a baby girl at the hospital had died because of the lack of oxygen supplies. “Occupation vehicles have retreated from the vicinity of Al-Amal Hospital,” the Red Crescent added in a separate statement, “while shelling and gunfire continue in the hospital’s surroundings.”

Biden says he has decided on a response to a lethal militia attack in Jordan.

President Biden said on Tuesday that he had decided on a U.S. response to the drone attack on a remote outpost in Jordan on Sunday that killed three American soldiers and injured more than 40 others, leaving unstated what that decision was.

Asked by reporters outside the White House whether he had decided on a response to the lethal attack, Mr. Biden said, “Yes” but declined to provide further details.

John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, refused to elaborate on Mr. Biden’s remarks other than to say it was “very possible” that the United States would carry out “a tiered approach” — “not just a single action, but potentially multiple actions” over a period of time.

Biden administration officials have blamed an explosives-laden drone, most likely launched by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, for the attack — the most deadly of the more than 160 militia attacks the Pentagon says U.S. forces have come under in the region since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza nearly four months ago.

Mr. Biden has vowed to retaliate and has met twice this week with his national security aides to discuss targets in Syria, Iraq and Iran. He could order strikes on Iran’s proxy forces, a major escalation of the whack-a-mole attacks the United States has conducted in recent weeks in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Or Mr. Biden could opt to attack the Iranian suppliers of drones and missiles, perhaps including inside Iranian territory, which poses a much higher risk. His first targets could well be members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, many of whom are based in Syria and Iraq, officials said.

Mr. Biden emphasized on Tuesday that he was seeking to avert a broader regional conflict, telling reporters as he prepared to depart for a fund-raising swing in southern Florida: “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.”

Analysts at the Pentagon and its Central Command continued their investigation on Tuesday into how the drone evaded air defenses at the small resupply base, Tower 22, in northeast Jordan, near its borders with Iraq and Syria.

A major contributing factor was that the enemy drone was mistaken for an American surveillance drone returning to the remote resupply base, and air defenses failed to shoot it down before it slammed into a living quarters early Sunday while troops were still asleep in their beds, U.S. officials said on Monday.

“This could very well have been a combat identification problem,” said Thomas Karako, who directs the missile defense project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

About 350 Army and Air Force personnel are deployed to the Tower 22 outpost. It serves as a logistics and resupply hub for Al Tanf garrison in nearby southeastern Syria, where U.S. troops work with local Syrian partners to fight remnants of the Islamic State.

The Pentagon on Monday identified the dead soldiers as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga.; Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga. The three were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, an Army Reserve unit based in Fort Moore, Ga.

The U.S. Army Reserve said on Tuesday it had posthumously promoted Specialists Sanders and Moffett to the rank of sergeant “in recognition of their exceptional courage, dedication and leadership.”

Mr. Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III are expected to receive the remains of the three soldiers on Friday at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware.

As fighting rages in Gaza City, some residents are forced to move again.

Several weeks after Israel partly withdrew from the northern Gaza Strip, intense clashes have broken out between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants, sending weary residents on treacherous journeys in search of safety.

On Sunday evening, deafening booms ripped through Gaza City, the enclave’s most populous city before the war, and powerful explosions lit up the night sky, residents said. The fighting came after a period of relative quiet for some residents of the north.

“The situation was calm, but then there was violent bombing, shelling, and clashes,” Ghada Ikrayyem, 23, a solar panel technician, said in an interview. “It was extremely dangerous.”

Ms. Ikrayyem had been living with her parents and nine siblings on the grounds of a gutted tailor shop in Gaza City, sleeping without pillows or blankets for most of the past month.

Hamas fighters have tried to re-establish themselves in recent weeks in parts of northern Gaza captured by Israel, according an Israeli security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. The Israeli army has sought to prevent Hamas from regrouping, and clashes have ensued, the official said.

The fighting indicates that even though the Israeli military said it has dismantled Hamas’s command structure in the north, the group has continued to pose a challenge for Israel.

On Monday morning, an Israeli drone flew over Gaza City and called on residents to relocate. Ms. Ikrayyem and her family gathered their belongings and joined a procession of people flowing south. At first they had no destination, but then a family friend across town agreed to take them in, even though the friend was already hosting 40 people.

“We’re exhausted,” Ms. Ikrayyem said. “We’ve just been going from place to place. It doesn’t stop.”

Since the start of the war, nearly two million people in Gaza have been displaced, many of them multiple times. The constant relocation has been particularly hard on large families, who have struggled to find space in crowded shelters or in the homes of friends and relatives.

Even the quieter days before the latest round of fighting were tiring, Ms. Ikrayyem said. She described walking long distances to collect drinking water, cooking food on a makeshift stove and waiting in line for an hour to use a restroom.

“The simplest things have become real challenges,” she said.

Ms. Ikrayyem said some foods were available but skyrocketing prices had made them difficult to afford. Her family, she said, was subsisting mainly on rice, but they had recently tried bread made from flour mixed with animal feed — a practice that has surfaced in recent weeks in the north.

Food shortages in northern Gaza have been particularly severe, with insufficient aid trucks reaching Gaza City and the surrounding towns, according to U.N. officials.

When the war ends, Ms. Ikrayyem and her family are hoping to leave Gaza because life there has become unbearable, she said.

“There’s barely anything left here,” she said. “It will take so many years to rebuild what was lost — the schools, the universities, the institutions, the homes.”

The Farmers’ Protests Have Become a Wildfire. He Was the Spark.

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Jérôme Bayle had spent seven nights on a major French highway, leading a group of aggrieved farmers in protest, when the prime minister arrived, dressed in his Parisian blue suit and tie, to thank them for “making France proud” and announced he would meet their demands.

Before camera flashes and outstretched microphones, Mr. Bayle told Prime Minister Gabriel Attal that he had seen the standoff as a match between two teams — the revolting farmers, led by Mr. Bayle, and the government, led by Mr. Attal.

“I don’t like losing,” said Mr. Bayle, dressed decidedly more casually, with a baseball hat on his head, turned backward. The thick crowd around him chuckled. It was clear his team had won.

Mr. Bayle, 42, a former professional rugby player, is widely credited with sparking a national protest movement of farmers that this week brought their grievances to the capital, blocking highways into Paris, despite fresh pledges on Tuesday from Mr. Attal to shield them from “unfair competition.”

Unsatisfied, the farmers say they will continue the disruptions to call attention to what they call the insufferable hardships of growing food to feed the French nation.

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With Fate of Ukraine’s Top General in Question, All Eyes Turn to Zelensky

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He deftly defended his country in Europe’s largest ground war in decades, stalling Russia’s invasion and then pushing it back with everything at hand: natural barriers like rivers, aging weapons and lethal drones, trickery and elements of surprise.

But the fate of Ukraine’s top commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, now appears to be hanging by a thread — not over his standing in the army, where he is well regarded, but over tensions with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president’s frustrations have mounted since it became clear in the fall that Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive, a push that started with high hopes for Ukraine and its backers, had failed. The fighting has since bogged down in bloody, static trench warfare.

Should Mr. Zelensky dismiss the general, it could create a host of problems for him both in the war and at home. Although Mr. Zelensky embodies his country’s resistance to Russian aggression to many of his supporters abroad, the general is widely hailed as a hero in Ukraine.

His portrait hangs in coffee shops and bars. Online, he is the subject of countless patriotic memes. Public opinion polls over the fall showed his popularity exceeded Mr. Zelensky’s — a reason, analysts and opposition politicians have said, for the men’s increasingly strained relationship, though the general has never voiced political ambitions.

Military analysts have credited the general with preparing the army in the weeks and days before the invasion, even as Mr. Zelensky’s government publicly downplayed the odds of a Russian attack. General Zaluzhny oversaw not only the defense of the capital, Kyiv, but also the campaigns that thwarted the initial invasion and retook hundreds of square miles.

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In Northern Ireland, a Knotty Brexit Problem Is on the Brink of Being Solved

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Almost two years of political gridlock. Decision-making paralyzed. Rising tension in a place where peace remains fragile even after the end of decades of sectarian strife.

There are few places where the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union been felt more sharply than in Northern Ireland.

But on Wednesday there were rising hopes that one of Brexit’s most poisoned legacies has been eased — at least for now — by a new plan that should bring the territory’s political parties back into government.

In a dry, 76-page document published on Wednesday — coincidentally the four-year anniversary of Brexit coming into effect — the British government laid out the details of the deal it has struck with the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., to end its boycott of the power-sharing assembly in Belfast.

Crucially, the government said it would reduce checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, addressing the biggest source of tension within the D.U.P., whose mainly Protestant supporters want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Unionists had argued that the post-Brexit imposition of customs checks on goods arriving by sea from Britain had driven a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

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Donors Rally Behind UNRWA, as U.N. Seeks to Restore Confidence

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After days of sharply criticizing the U.N. agency charged with assisting Palestinian civilians, donor countries signaled on Wednesday that they would continue to support the organization under the right conditions and stressed its essential role in delivering lifesaving aid as widespread starvation and disease loom in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.

At least 12 countries, including the United States and Germany, the two biggest donors, have temporarily suspended funding after the Israeli government circulated allegations that employees of the group, known as UNRWA, participated in the Oct. 7 attacks.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, stressed on Wednesday that the funding pause for the agency was temporary and praised the agency’s work, comments that suggested an appetite could exist among donors to resolve the funding crisis.

“We know that this agency provides lifesaving services under incredibly challenging circumstances in Gaza and it contributes to regional stability and security,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday afternoon.

“For this reason, and for the sake of millions of Palestinian civilians who depend on UNRWA’s services, it is vital that the U.N. take quick and decisive action to hold accountable anyone guilty of heinous actions and to strengthen oversight of UNRWA’s operations and begin to restore donor confidence.”

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With Aid Stalled, Ukraine Scrambles to Make Ends Meet

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Short of cash as well as personnel and equipment for its war against Russia, Ukraine’s government says it has cobbled together financing to last several months without long-stalled aid from the United States and Europe. But further delays would trigger an all-but-certain economic crisis, officials and analysts say.

Government workers might not get paid or lose their jobs. Retirees, already living close to a subsistence level, could slip deeper into poverty if their pensions are not topped up to keep pace with inflation. Museums and theaters — as well as government research institutes and universities — could be forced to shut their doors.

Restaurants, department stores and a host of other businesses currently remain open in Ukrainian cities away from the front line. But without enough financial aid, the ripple effects would quickly be felt across the economy, as the government runs out of cash to support a wide range of people and institutions.

Along with artillery shells, missiles and drones, Russia’s war in Ukraine is fought in the economies of both countries. Western sanctions are intended to curb Moscow’s resources, and Western aid is aimed at sustaining Ukraine. An economic crisis in Ukraine could severely undermine its ability to successfully fight the war, experts say.

“It’s the economy that wins wars,” said Orysia Lutsevych, head of the Ukrainian program at Chatham House, a London-based research group.

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E.U.’s Hungary Problem Looms Large Ahead of Crucial Ukraine Summit

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European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, hoping to approve a landmark multibillion euro fund for Ukraine that will help keep the country afloat for the next four years, no matter what happens on the battlefield, or in the U.S. Congress threatening to cut support.

The only thing standing in their way is Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Again.

A compromise with Mr. Orban, who has demanded an annual veto on the spending, has remained elusive, meaning that the unanimity required for such a deal among the 27 E.U. states still seems out of reach. If Mr. Orban continues to stand in the way, E.U. leaders have made clear they are ready do whatever is necessary to support Ukraine and are prepared to work around him — or even to punish him.

Yet even if the remaining 26 leaders are not forced to go ahead without Mr. Orban, a larger problem is now firmly front and center: What will the E.U. do about its Hungary problem?

For a small country that accounts for just 1 percent of the bloc’s economic output, Hungary has been a big headache.

It has been at loggerheads with the E.U. for years over its transgressions against E.U. norms and values pertaining to the rule of law. And it has consistently slowed, shaved or stymied a range of European ambitions, including some sanctions against Russia as well as Sweden’s bid to enter NATO.

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Ukraine and Russia Exchange Hundreds of Prisoners of War

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Russia and Ukraine announced the exchange of hundreds of prisoners of war on Wednesday, resuming the carefully choreographed trading of captives only a week after Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane that it said was carrying dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war on their way to be exchanged.

The cause of the crash, which occurred in Russia’s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine last week, remains unknown. Ukrainian officials have neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, have called for an international investigation and said that the Russians had offered no conclusive evidence that prisoners were on the flight.

After the crash, families of Ukrainian prisoners worried publicly that the episode might imperil one of the few diplomatic channels left between the two countries, making it less likely that they would see their loved ones again.

But the process of exchanging prisoners, while at times slowed down, has endured even during the most trying moments of a war that has stretched on for nearly two years.

The trade on Wednesday was the 50th exchange between the two nations since the war began, and more than 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have returned home, according to Ukrainian officials. While Russia has not disclosed a total number, at least 1,200 soldiers have been returned, according to statements by the country’s officials.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who announced the trade in a statement on social media, said 207 soldiers and civilians had been returned. The returnees range in age from 20 to 61.

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‘We Are Not Very Far From an Explosion’

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Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

As the world focuses on the war in Gaza, pressure is mounting on the West Bank.

Israelis and Palestinians live worlds apart, separated often by a single road — or roadblocks.

They are united only by a sense of growing anger and resentment.

One recent morning in Huwara, a Palestinian man maneuvered a front-end loader back and forth, clearing rocks and rubble that Israel Defense Forces soldiers had piled into a roadblock. Four young soldiers looked on, fingers tensed on triggers, as the machine’s claws heaved shattered masonry from clutching mud. A crowd of approving Palestinian onlookers gathered.

The barrier, put in place to prevent access to a main street that has been a battleground over the past year, has infuriated the 7,000 inhabitants of this town in the northern West Bank, who are now accustomed to eking out survival as Israeli forces close stores and control their every movement. The mayor, Moin Damidi, told me that Huwara has become a ghost town. Surrounded by Israeli settlements and traversed by the major north-south highway, it has also become a center of violence. “The greater the pressure, the bigger the explosion,” he said.

Jihad Odeh, a city official, pointed at the soldiers. They opened and closed the road 10 times in the past year, he said. “The roadblock is for the settlers, to make them feel comfortable on our main street.”

Almost a year ago, a Palestinian militant shot and killed two settlers as they drove through Huwara. In response, settlers swarmed down from the adjacent hilltop settlement of Yitzhar. They burned cars, businesses and homes, killing at least one Palestinian and injuring many more. The I.D.F., nominally responsible for keeping order, did not prevent the riot, and in the aftermath many right-wing politicians celebrated it. Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, called for Huwara to be “wiped out,” and not by lawless settlers — “the state of Israel should do it,” he said.

In Huwara, Israeli soldiers are seen as the settlers’ army. Smotrich, under a coalition deal struck in early 2023 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, oversees the administration of settler affairs in the West Bank. He himself lives in the West Bank, in a settlement called Kedumim, a 15-minute drive from Huwara. Israel’s minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is also a settler who lives in a suburb of Hebron.

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What Is Going on at Machu Picchu?

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Hundreds of tourists were stranded near Machu Picchu, Peru’s most-visited site, over the weekend after demonstrators blocked railway and bus routes to the site and shut down local shops and restaurants in Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, in the country’s Cuzco region. Some visitors posted videos on social media pleading for help. The police evacuated about 700 tourists on Saturday. Many left without seeing the site.

The protesters had taken to the streets on Thursday to demand the government rescind a contract that allows a company to sell tickets to Machu Picchu for the first time. Tickets had previously been sold through the office of culture in Cuzco, which is controlled by the regional government.

Protesters agreed to a 24-hour “truce” on Tuesday to take part in talks with government officials. While Machu Picchu is officially open, train service to Aguas Calientes and buses that take tourists to the citadel remain suspended. The U.S. Embassy advised travelers who want to try to reach the site by other means to make sure they take enough food and any medicine they might need.

Machu Picchu, believed to be a 15th-century getaway for Incan royalty, received some 2.2 million visitors last year, below prepandemic levels of 4.6 million. Peru has been trying to encourage tourists to visit other ancient sites in part to prevent overcrowding, which UNESCO has warned could damage parts of its structure.

Protesters include tour operators, guides, activists and residents in the region of Cuzco. They are opposed to a private company profiting from sales of tickets to Machu Picchu and claim that the company, Joinnus, an events marketing platform, was chosen to administer the sales last year through a corrupt deal with the culture minister, Leslie Urteaga, which she denies.

Elvis La Torre, the mayor of Aguas Calientes, said that the government did not consult local authorities or residents about the new online system.

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In His Second Sentencing in Two Days, Imran Khan Gets 14 Years

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Just a day after he was sentenced to a decade in prison, former Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan on Wednesday was ordered jailed for 14 years in a separate case, dealing him another heavy blow in his bitter feud with the country’s powerful military.

The new sentence, handed down eight days before a scheduled national election in which Mr. Khan’s party has been battered by a widening crackdown, came in a case involving state gifts. His wife, Bushra Bibi, also received a 14-year sentence. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

In announcing the verdict at the high-security prison where Mr. Khan, 71, has been held for months, the judge also said that the former prime minister and his wife would be barred from holding office for 10 years.

Mr. Khan questioned the fairness and impartiality of the trial during the hearing on Wednesday. He asked the judge: “Why are you in a hurry to announce the verdict? I have not even recorded my final statement.” Mr. Khan then exited the courtroom, and the judge announced the sentence in his absence.

His lawyers said they would appeal the verdict. They have also said they will appeal the 10-year sentence that Mr. Khan received on Tuesday, in a case involving state secrets.

“These cases are not trials; this is a drama,” Syed Ali Zafar, a senior legal aide to Mr. Khan, told reporters. “The Constitution and the law have been violated; there is no doubt that this punishment will be suspended soon.”

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Thai Court Rules Progressive Party’s Reform Push Violated Constitution

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The most popular political party in Thailand won its following last year, and the ire of the conservative establishment, by campaigning to end military rule and to weaken the draconian law that prohibits criticism of the country’s monarchy.

But on Wednesday the Move Forward Party and its push for change were dealt a severe blow. Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that the party’s proposal to scale back the royal defamation law violated the Constitution because it was an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. It ordered Move Forward to stop all activities related to amending the law.

The verdict, in effect, lays out explicitly that the royal defamation law is sacrosanct for Thailand’s conservative establishment, a nexus of royalists, military officials and wealthy elites. Their motives were already clear last year, when they moved quickly to block Move Forward’s leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, from becoming prime minister, pushed the party into the opposition even though it won the general election and installed a coalition of allies into power.

Wednesday’s ruling leaves Move Forward vulnerable to more legal challenges, which could pave the way for its eventual disbandment. It could also set the stage for a showdown between Thailand’s progressive opposition and the establishment. Move Forward and its supporters argue that the royal defamation law — known as Article 112 — needs to be amended because it is being used as a political weapon, while the establishment says that any change to the law could lead to abolishing the monarchy altogether.

These faultlines were exposed in 2020 when tens of thousands of people took to the streets after the Constitutional Court disbanded the Future Forward Party, the predecessor of Move Forward. Protesters called for checks on the king’s power, breaking a social taboo in a country where the monarch has always been revered.

The court ruled that the pledge to change the law made by Mr. Pita and Move Forward during last year’s election campaign was a move designed to overthrow Thailand’s political system “with the king as a head of state.”

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Zuma’s Enduring Appeal Threatens His Old Allies’ Hold on South Africa

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When the African National Congress suspended former President Jacob Zuma this week, a top party official portrayed him as a traitor to the ongoing struggle for Black prosperity in South Africa and a symbol of corruption that the organization is looking to move past.

But to Vincent Mthembu, a longtime A.N.C. activist on the local level, Mr. Zuma was the only hope for the party, which has governed South Africa for 30 years, and the country.

“He is the people’s president,” Mr. Mthembu, who owns a construction business in Johannesburg, said on Tuesday. “Whatever that he was doing was enriching Black people.”

Many countries seem to have their Donald J. Trumps these days — brash, populist leaders who, no matter how many corruption allegations or legal troubles they face, attract fiercely loyal supporters.

Mr. Zuma, 81, a former president of both the party and the republic, might well fill that role in South Africa.

Mr. Zuma provoked the A.N.C. suspension by openly campaigning for a competing political party, with critical national and provincial elections just months away. The A.N.C.’s unprecedented move to sideline him will test the enduring popularity and pull of a former freedom fighter who easily won two presidential elections but resigned under pressure six years ago.

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If It Isn’t Perfect, Is It Still K-Pop?

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What comes to mind when you hear the word “K-pop”? Is it the global boy band phenomenon BTS, wearing studded jackets and dancing in perfect sync? Or the girl group Blackpink, performing at Coachella in trendy fashions and perfectly curled hair?

How about an “independent music collective” of casually dressed people, crowded around a mixing board in a one-room studio, across the street from a Seoul restaurant specializing in fried chicken?

“Give me some more bass,” said Omega Sapien, a vocalist with electric-green hair and grills, swaying his hips and grunting to the beat. The studio was cluttered with art, vinyl records, dumbbells and other odds and ends. Another singer lay prone nearby, nursing a bad hangover.

For Balming Tiger, this is daily life as an alternative K-pop band. Their music, a fusion of diverse genres from electro to hip-hop, is funky and edgy. Their look, unkempt and grungy, is far from the professional styling of the groups that most of the world associates with K-pop.

But they claim that label, too. K-pop is any music that comes out of South Korea, according to Omega Sapien. “Everything in that realm is K-pop,” he said.

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For New Moms in Seoul, 3 Weeks of Pampering and Sleep at a Joriwon

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Four mothers sat quietly in the nursing room around midnight, breastfeeding their newborn babies. As one mother nodded off, her eyelids heavy after giving birth less than two weeks earlier, a nurse came in and whisked her baby away. The exhausted new mom returned to her private room to sleep.

Sleep is just one of the luxuries provided by South Korea’s postpartum care centers.

The country may have the world’s lowest birthrate, but it is also home to perhaps some of its best postpartum care. At centers like St. Park, a small, boutique postpartum center, or joriwon, in Seoul, new moms are pampered for a few weeks after giving birth and treated to hotel-like accommodations.

Fresh meals are delivered three times a day, and there are facials, massages and child-care classes. Nurses watch over the babies around the clock.

New moms are summoned from their rooms only when it is time to breastfeed in the communal nursing room, where they are watched by the nurses. Women who choose not to breastfeed are free to spend their time focused on healing. (The babies are kept in the nursery throughout the day, though mothers can request their newborns be sent to their rooms at any time.)

Staying at a joriwon can cost from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the length of stay, which is often 21 days, the amount of time it takes for a woman’s body to heal after childbirth, according to Korean custom. But the centers weren’t always so luxurious, said Soohyun Sarah Kim, 46, the owner of St. Park.

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London’s Highline Will Echo Its New York Inspiration, With Local Notes

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The derelict rail bridge stretches across a busy north London street, green foliage peeking out of the gaps between the beams overhead, where bright blue paint flakes from rusting steel.

Farther east, the railway’s grand Victorian-era arches span a small slice of park wedged between two streets, where tents belonging to homeless people, a discarded mattress and broken bottles are scattered about.

While the elevated train line and some of the areas it cuts through may look neglected now, if all goes according to plan, it will become the site of the Camden Highline, a planned public park that aims to turn this disused stretch of the city into a thriving green space.

“They’re all unloved bits of Camden,” said Simon Pitkeathley, the chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited, the business improvement district behind the initiative, of the areas that will one day provide the ground-level entrances to the Highline.

Strolling along the route of the planned park, which will sit some 25 feet above the streets, allows for a different view of London. Up here, the air feels fresher and the bustle below fades away as the view stretches over a patch of north London peppered with homes and office buildings.

Map locates the proposed Camden Highline in Camden Town in north central London. It also locates the town of King’s Cross, east of Camden Town.

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An Italian Town Full of the Elderly Wants to Feel Young Again

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As the traveling brass band ended San Giovanni Lipioni’s annual holiday concert with a rendition of Wham’s “Last Christmas,” the gray-haired villagers seated in the old church of the central Italian hill town gazed dotingly at the few young children clapping to the music.

“Today there is a little movement,” Cesarina Falasco, 73, said from the back pew. “It’s lovely. It’s different.”

San Giovanni Lipioni used to be known — if at all — for the discovery in its countryside of a third-century B.C. Samnite bronze head, a rare Waldensian Evangelical community and an ancient annual pageant with pagan roots that venerates a circular cane garlanded in wild cyclamen flowers. (“It represents the female genital organ,” said a tourism official, Mattia Rossi.)

But decades of emigration have shrunk the population to 137 full-time residents, and in 2023, San Giovanni Lipioni became the town with the oldest average population in Italy, a country with one of the oldest average populations in the world. While that national designation has prompted existential angst — heightened by warnings from Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (the country was “destined to disappear” unless it got busy) and Pope Francis (“the future of the nation is at stake”) — the town has embraced its creaky distinction as a lifeline.

Map locates the the town of San Giovanni Lipioni in the Abruzzo region of Italy, as well as the town of San Salvo, also in Abruzzo. It also locates the region of Molise, south of Abruzzo, and the cities of Bologna, and Ribordone in northern Italy.

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New Utopian Enclave? Or a Testament to Inequality?

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Simon Romero and

Reporting from Guatemala City

Leer en español

Try going for a stroll in much of Guatemala City: It is a pedestrian’s nightmare.

Motorcycles speed down crowded sidewalks. Rifle-grasping guards squint at each passerby, sizing up potential assailants. Smoke-belching buses barrel through stop signs.

But tucked within the chaotic capital’s crazy-quilt sprawl, there is a dreamlike haven where none of that exists.

In the City of Cayalá, a utopian domain created by one of Guatemala’s richest families, the streets are quiet and orderly, the stores are upscale and the homes attainable — if only to families from the country’s small, moneyed elite, or foreigners, like the American diplomats stationed at the huge newly built United States embassy nearby.

Evoking the feel of a serene Mediterranean town, Cayalá features milky white buildings with red-tile roofs, a colossal civic hall with Tuscan columns, cafes and high-priced restaurants, colonnade-lined plazas and walkable, stone-paved boulevards. All of this is open to the public — except for the gated sections where about 2,000 families live.

“In 20 years, Cayalá will be just like La Rambla,” said Andrés García Manzo, a restaurateur who lives in one of Cayalá’s secluded villas, drawing a comparison to Barcelona’s legendary pedestrian-friendly promenade. “You can walk everywhere here in peace.”

But critics say it is largely a playground for the well-off, hard to reach by public transit, environmentally devastating and has attracted significant investment even as other parts of crime-ridden Guatemala City fall into decay.

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‘Frozen Garlic!’ Taiwan Likes Its Democracy Loud and Proud

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Chris Buckley and

Chris Buckley and Amy Chang Chien visited rallies in several cities and counties in Taiwan and interviewed dozens of voters, politicians and performers. It was fun.


Huang Chen-yu strode onto an outdoor stage in a southern Taiwanese county, whooping and hollering as she roused the crowd of 20,000 into a joyous frenzy — to welcome a succession of politicians in matching jackets.

Taiwan is in the final days of its presidential election contest, and the big campaign rallies, with M.C.s like Ms. Huang, are boisterous, flashy spectacles — as if a variety show and a disco crashed into a candidate’s town hall meeting.

At the high point of the rally, the Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, Lai Ching-te, was introduced to the crowd in Chiayi, a county in southern Taiwan. Ms. Huang roared in Taiwanese, “Frozen garlic!”

The phrase “dongsuan” sounds like “get elected” and, yes, also like “frozen garlic.” Ms. Huang and another M.C. led the crowd of supporters, now on their feet, in a rapid-fire, call-and-response chant: “Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic! Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic!” Then they sped up: “Lai Ching-te! Lai Ching-te! Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic! Frozen garlic! Frozen garlic!”

For Ms. Huang, the event, days before Taiwan’s election on Saturday, was one of at least 15 rallies she would have led by the end of this campaign season.

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A Child of Another War Who Makes Music for Ukrainians

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When the owner of an underground club in Kyiv reached out to Western musicians to play in Ukraine, long before the war, there were not so many takers.

But an American from Boston, Mirza Ramic, accepted the invitation, spawning a lasting friendship with the club’s owner, Taras Khimchak.

“I kept coming back,” Mr. Ramic, 40, said in an interview at the club, Mezzanine, where he was preparing for a performance during a recent tour of Ukraine.

The country, he said “is one of the places that has welcomed me most and been the most supportive of my music.” And so especially after the Russian invasion two years ago, he added, “I wanted to come now, to show my support in these hard times.”

Mr. Ramic, born in Bosnia, is a child of war himself. At 11, he lost his father in the shelling of his hometown, Mostar, and spent years as a refugee, moving from country to country with his mother as she struggled to find a way to survive.

They lived in Zagreb, Croatia; Tunis; and Prague, before moving to the United States, first to Arizona, and eventually Boston. There, he finished his education and began a career as a musician, forming an electronic band, Arms and Sleepers, with a college friend, Max Lewis.

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A Woman Who Shows Age Is No Barrier to Talk Show Stardom

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Pushing a walker through a television studio in central Tokyo earlier this week, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi slowly climbed three steps onto a sound stage with the help of an assistant who settled her into a creamy beige Empire armchair.

A stylist removed the custom-made sturdy boots on her feet and slipped on a pair of high-heeled mules. A makeup artist brushed her cheeks and touched up her blazing red lipstick. A hairdresser tamed a few stray wisps from her trademark onion-shaped hairstyle as another assistant ran a lint roller over her embroidered black jacket. With that, Ms. Kuroyanagi, 90, was ready to record the 12,193rd episode of her show.

As one of Japan’s best-known entertainers for seven decades, Ms. Kuroyanagi has interviewed guests on her talk show, “Tetsuko’s Room,” since 1976, earning a Guinness World Record last fall for most episodes hosted by the same presenter. Generations of Japanese celebrities across film, television, music, theater and sports have visited Ms. Kuroyanagi’s couch, along with American stars like Meryl Streep and Lady Gaga; Prince Philip of England; and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. Ms. Kuroyanagi said Gorbachev remains one of her all-time favorite guests.

Ms. Kuroyanagi, who jokes that she wants to keep going until she turns 100, is known for her rapid-fire chatter and knack for drawing out guests on topics like dating, divorce and, now, increasingly, death. Even as she works to woo a younger generation — the Korean-Canadian actor and singer Ahn Hyo-seop, 28, appeared on the show this month — many of her guests these days speak about the ailments of aging and the demise of their industry peers.

Having survived World War II, she broke out as an early actor on Japanese television and then carved out a niche as a feel-good interviewer with a distinctive style that is still instantly recognized almost everywhere in Japan. By fashioning herself into a character, rather than simply being the person who interviewed the characters, she helped establish a genre of Japanese performers known as “tarento” — a Japanized version of the English word “talent” — who are ubiquitous on television today.

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They Thought They Knew Death, but That Didn’t Prepare Them for Oct. 7

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At 76, David Weissenstern has collected the remains of the dead for most of his adult life. But after the Oct. 7 attacks, in which Hamas-led fighters killed about 1,200 people along Israel’s border with Gaza, he can no longer stand the smell of grilled meat. The odor, he says, reminds him too much of burned human flesh.

His son Duby Weissenstern, 48, has lost track of time after working successive days and nights to recover those killed on Oct. 7. He now marks time in relation to that date.

And his son-in-law Israel Ganot, 32, now gags at the smell of food that has turned rotten. He was in the second wave of recovery workers who reached bodies that had been trapped under rubble for weeks.

All three men are part of ZAKA, an Israeli nonprofit founded in 1995 whose name is the Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification. Its black-and-yellow vests have become synonymous with bus bombings and shootings in Israel, and its members are often first and last on the scene, rushing to collect every drop of blood and bone fragment for burial, sometimes even before the police arrive.

Made up of more than 3,000 volunteers, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, the group says it is driven by a holy mission to give families closure after the violent death of loved ones.

But there is little closure for the volunteers.

The work, they say, can be psychologically taxing, with many not even beginning to cope with the trauma of Oct. 7. And they are frequently called upon to recount what they saw by Israeli government officials and journalists, which can re-traumatize them, psychologists say.

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The Year in People: Our 12 Favorite Saturday Profiles of 2023

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A teenager jailed in Egypt, determined to bear witness to the abuses he suffered during years of detention. A proponent of peace in Colombia, shadowed by death threats. A father in India, fighting his own patriarchal impulses to give his two daughters a better life.

With reports from six continents and 34 countries, the Saturday Profile in 2023 revealed people making a difference, mostly under the radar. Every week, our correspondents often sought out not the famous nor the powerful, but the unheralded with stories worth hearing.

A Muslim cleric in Ukraine, now a medic on the front lines of the war. An anticorruption whistle-blower in Bangkok, with (he’d be the first to admit) a disreputable past. A scientist and hair salon owner in Paris, dedicated to styling curly hair.

Some of our subjects spoke to top news trends, like Africa’s first heat officer; an ex-fisherman devoted to persuading fellow Senegalese not to migrate to Europe; and a rap producer in France, who lost his voice to A.L.S. and was experimenting with artificial intelligence to replace it.

All our subjects, from a teenage rapper in Chile to an 87-year-old climate scientist in Canada staring the “death zone” in the face, are leading lives of purpose. And whatever their passions — from protesting to sewage to lakes to batik to contemporary dance to legal marijuana — all our subjects are memorable characters.

Here are our 12 favorite Saturday Profiles of the year.

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For Archbishop of Canterbury, Heading Anglican Church Is ‘High-Wire Act’

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When the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, welcomed friends to sing Christmas carols at his London residence last week, his remarks ran, as they often do, to his coronation of King Charles III in May.

The vaulted chamber in which his guests were gathered, he told them, had been used to rehearse the ceremony twice a week over four months. Members of his staff were assigned to play Charles and other royals in a rotating cast. “I always played the archbishop,” he said dryly.

Then he ran through the script a few times with the actual king. “We practiced putting it on and screwing it down,” Archbishop Welby said later of the 17th-century St. Edward’s Crown. “It’s a wobbly old thing.”

But on coronation day, before a hushed assembly of 2,300 and a worldwide television audience of hundreds of millions, the archbishop made one conspicuous error: He bent down after placing the crown to inspect whether it was sitting level on the sovereign’s head, an unscripted move that made him look vaguely like a carpenter inspecting his work. “I got it right,” he recalled. “I just didn’t trust myself.”

Such matter-of-factness is typical of Justin Portal Welby, a trim, affable 67-year-old clergyman who wears the trappings of his weighty post — the archbishop of Canterbury also serves as the Primate of All England and spiritual leader of 85 million Anglicans worldwide — with an almost gossamer lightness. The Church of England’s looser formality means he is known as Mr. Welby, but his aides simply call him Justin.

It’s not that the archbishop isn’t high-minded. He reached for his iPad to share a quote from the midcentury American theologian and lawyer, William Stringfellow, about the “moral power of death” triumphing over earthly empires (translation: “don’t kid yourself,” Mr. Welby said). But he also cheerfully noted that he drives a seven-year-old Volkswagen Golf and confessed to getting a speeding ticket.

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FIFA Convictions Are Imperiled by Questions of U.S. Overreach

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Nearly a decade after police officers marched world soccer officials out of a luxury hotel in Zurich at dawn, revealing a corruption scandal that shook the world’s most popular sport, the case is at risk of falling apart.

The dramatic turnabout comes over questions of whether American prosecutors overreached by applying U.S. law to a group of people, many of them foreign nationals, who defrauded foreign organizations as they carried out bribery schemes across the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the case. Then in September, a federal judge, citing that, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to soccer corruption. Now, several former soccer officials, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

Emboldened by the vacated convictions, they are asking that their records be wiped clean and their money returned.

Their hopes are linked to the September cases, in which the two defendants benefited from two recent Supreme Court rulings that had rejected federal prosecutors’ application of the law at play in the soccer cases and offered rare guidance on what is known as honest services fraud. The defendants in the soccer trial had been found to have engaged in bribery that deprived organizations outside the U.S. of their employees’ honest services, which constituted fraud at the time. But the judge ruled that the court’s new guidance meant that those actions were no longer prohibited under American law.

That blow to the case, which federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are contesting, could turn the story of world soccer’s deep-seated corruption — detailed in a 236-page indictment, and proved through 31 guilty pleas and four trial convictions — into one equally about the long arm of American justice reaching too far.

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Depardieu Sexual Assault Suit Dropped Over Statute of Limitations

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A sexual assault lawsuit filed against Gérard Depardieu by a French actress has been dropped because it was past the statute of limitations, prosecutors in Paris said on Monday, but the French actor is still under investigation in a separate case.

In the lawsuit that was dropped, the actress Hélène Darras had accused Depardieu of groping her on the set of “Disco,” a comedy released in 2008. Her suit had been filed in September but was made public only last month, shortly before she appeared in a France 2 television documentary alongside three other women who also accused Depardieu of inappropriate comments or sexual misconduct.

The documentary, which showed Depardieu making crude sexual and sexist comments during a 2018 trip to North Korea, set off a fierce debate in France that prompted President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of actors, directors and other celebrities to defend Depardieu, splitting the French movie industry.

Depardieu, 75, has denied any wrongdoing, and he has not been convicted in connection with any of the accusations against him.

On Monday, the Paris prosecutor’s office said that Darras’s suit was dropped in late December because the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged assault, an outcome that was widely expected — including by the actress herself. She told Agence France-Presse in December that she still “wanted to respond to the defense that plays down our allegations by saying they’re ‘just’ witness accounts.”

In France, adult victims of sexual assault have six years after an alleged crime to file a lawsuit.

Another lawsuit, filed in Spain by Ruth Baza, a Spanish journalist who has accused Depardieu of kissing and groping her without her consent when she was in Paris in 1995, could face a similar fate.

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An Olympic Dream Falters Amid Track’s Shifting Rules

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Maximila Imali, a top Kenyan sprinter, did not lose her eligibility to compete in the Paris Olympics because she cheated. She did not fail a doping test. She broke no rules.

Instead, she is set to miss this year’s Summer Games because she was born with a rare genetic variant that results in naturally elevated levels of testosterone. And last March, track and field’s global governing body ruled that Ms. Imali’s biology gave her an unfair advantage in all events against other women, effectively barring her from international competition.

As a result, Ms. Imali, 27, finds her Olympic dream in peril and her career and her livelihood in limbo.

Unless she is willing to suppress her testosterone levels through medication — which she is not — or she prevails in an appeal she has filed challenging the new regulations, she and other intersex athletes will be barred from competing in all running, jumping and throwing events under the increasingly restrictive and contentious rules that govern women’s track and field.

The legality of those rules has been disputed as they have evolved, and as sports governing bodies attempt to balance fair play in women’s sports with the complicated issues of biological sex and gender identity. But the application of the regulations continues to cause confusion for those affected: rule changes sometimes made with little or no warning; careers forcibly switched abruptly or ended at their peak; and embarrassment, humiliation and fears about personal safety.

“They are destroying our talent, and our dignity,” Ms. Imali said in a recent video interview about her appeal. She said she should not be punished for the way she was born because she had done nothing wrong.

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Luis Rubiales, Ex-Chief of Spanish Soccer, to Face Trial Over World Cup Kiss

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Luis Rubiales, Spain’s onetime soccer chief, is due to be tried over his nonconsensual kiss of a star player during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony last summer after a judge recommended on Thursday that he face a court’s judgment in a high-profile case that has upended the sport in Spain.

The judge also recommended that Mr. Rubiales and three officials with the Royal Spanish Football Federation, soccer’s governing body in the country — including Jorge Vilda, who was fired as the women’s team coach in the wake of the incident — be tried on charges of coercion for exerting pressure on the player, Jennifer Hermoso, to show support for Mr. Rubiales in the immediate aftermath of the kiss.

The judge concluded that the kiss by Mr. Rubiales, after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, Australia, “was nonconsensual and was a unilateral and surprise act.” The judge also found that even if the kiss was more celebratory than sexual in nature, Mr. Rubiales’s behavior was within the bounds of the “intimacy of sexual relations” and he should be held to account.

Public prosecutors and Ms. Hermoso now have 10 days to formalize their accusations, and then a trial will take place. If found guilty of sexual assault, Mr. Rubiales would face a prison sentence of one to four years.

Mr. Vilda filed an appeal regarding the judge’s findings on Thursday. As a result, the judge is required to gather further testimony about the matter. All of the accused have three days to appeal the judge’s recommendations.

The ruling was the culmination of a pretrial inquiry, presided over by the judge, Francisco de Jorge, in which witnesses including Ms. Hermoso, officials and other players gave evidence regarding sexual assault accusations against Mr. Rubiales in a closed-door hearing that ended on Jan. 2. The judge also examined videos of the kiss from numerous angles and a video recorded on a bus after the medal ceremony, in which Ms. Hermoso initially seemed to make light of the incident.

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Italian Culture Official Investigated in Stolen Art Case

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A deputy culture minister in Italy is under investigation, accused of laundering stolen goods, in particular a Baroque painting that had been reported stolen from a castle in Piedmont, Italy, a decade ago.

The deputy minister, Vittorio Sgarbi, who is an art historian and critic, as well as a media personality, has said he is innocent.

The tale of the investigation began in 2013, when, according to police documents, a painting was reported stolen from the castle, which had been a restaurant for a time. Eight years later, in 2021, Mr. Sgarbi featured a painting called “The Capture of St. Peter,” attributed to the 17th-century artist Rutilio Manetti, from his own collection, in an exhibit that he curated in Lucca, Tuscany.

This month, prosecutors in the central Italian town of Macerata confiscated “The Capture of St. Peter,” saying in a statement issued with Italy’s art theft police that they believe that the painting reported stolen from the castle in Piedmont and the painting Mr. Sgarbi exhibited are one and the same. Mr. Sgarbi, though under investigation, has not been charged with a crime.

The inquiry comes after an investigation of the reported theft of the Piedmont painting by the daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano and “Report,” an investigative television program on the national broadcaster RAI 3, interviewing restorers and associates of Mr. Sgarbi.

The owner of the castle told the reporters and said in a police statement that the painting went missing shortly after a man had visited the castle and offered to buy the artwork, which she had refused to sell. The man was identified in the television investigation as a former collaborator and friend of Mr. Sgarbi.

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Surgen detalles sobre personal de la ONU acusado de ayudar a Hamás en un ataque

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A uno se le acusa de secuestrar a una mujer. Otro habría repartido munición. Un tercero fue descrito como participante en la masacre de un kibutz en la que murieron 97 personas. Y se dice que todos eran empleados de la agencia de ayuda de Naciones Unidas que escolariza, alberga y alimenta a cientos de miles de palestinos en la Franja de Gaza.

Las denuncias figuran en un expediente proporcionado al gobierno de Estados Unidos en el que se detallan las acusaciones de Israel contra una decena de empleados del Organismo de Obras Públicas y Socorro de las Naciones Unidas que, según afirma, desempeñaron un papel en los atentados de Hamás contra Israel del 7 de octubre o durante sus repercusiones.

La ONU dijo el viernes que había despedido a varios empleados tras ser informada de las acusaciones. Pero poco se sabía de las acusaciones hasta que el informe fue examinado el domingo por The New York Times.

Estas acusaciones son las que han llevado a ocho países, entre ellos Estados Unidos, a suspender el pago de parte de la ayuda a la UNRWA, como se conoce al organismo, mientras la guerra sume a los palestinos de Gaza en una situación desesperada. Más de 26.000 personas han muerto allí y casi dos millones han sido desplazadas, según funcionarios gazatíes y de la ONU.

Los trabajadores de la UNRWA han sido acusados de ayudar a Hamás a organizar el ataque que desencadenó la guerra en Gaza, o de prestarle ayuda en los días posteriores. Según las autoridades israelíes, ese día murieron unas 1200 personas en Israel y unas 240 fueron secuestradas y trasladadas a Gaza.

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El abrumador trabajo de verificar datos en Medio Oriente

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En las frenéticas primeras horas del 7 de octubre, entre el llanto de las sirenas y noticias de tiroteos a lo largo de la frontera sur de Israel, Achiya Schatz se apresuró con su niño pequeño y su esposa, que estaba embarazada, a resguardarse en un refugio antibombas cerca de Tel Aviv.

No se quedó mucho tiempo.

Los primeros informes del ataque de Hamás ya se estaban mezclando con rumores, inundando las redes sociales y grupos de chat privados, convirtiéndose en una masa cargada de emoción y en gran medida no verificada. Schatz, uno de los investigadores de desinformación y verificadores de datos más conocidos en Israel, se apresuró a volver a su computadora en casa, sabiendo que tenía poco tiempo para detener la propagación de las falsas afirmaciones.

De alguna manera, ya era demasiado tarde.

Desde el ataque inicial, los vigilantes de desinformación en la región han sido abrumados por narrativas infundadas, medios manipulados y teorías de conspiración. El contenido se ha difundido en enormes volúmenes a gran velocidad: fragmentos de videojuegos y reportajes antiguos haciéndose pasar por imágenes actuales, intentos de desacreditar fotos auténticas como generadas artificialmente, traducciones inexactas y acusaciones falsas distribuidas en múltiples idiomas.

En la niebla de la guerra, los rumores y las mentiras son especialmente peligrosos, pues son capaces de adoptar la apariencia de hechos y afectar decisiones. Los verificadores de datos y analistas de la desinformación están destinados a ser parte de la defensa, y ofrecer una evaluación clara de la evidencia disponible.

Sin embargo, el trabajo es difícil incluso para los profesionales experimentados, quienes enfrentaron resistencia mientras luchaban contra narrativas falsas y engañosas a través de múltiples elecciones y una pandemia. En Medio Oriente, donde los sitios web de verificación de datos y la investigación de la desinformación son relativamente recientes y a menudo están mal financiados, los desafíos se han multiplicado.

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Una inesperada amenaza a la estabilidad de Haití: un grupo ambiental armado

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En Haití, debido al incremento en el número de asesinatos y secuestros, ahora hasta los policías abandonan el país.

En vista de que no hay un presidente electo en el poder y la percepción generalizada sobre el primer ministro es que es ilegítimo, ahora se escuchan clamores que piden la destitución del gobierno por parte de un grupo inesperado: una brigada de oficiales armados cuya supuesta tarea es proteger áreas expuestas a peligros ambientales.

Esta semana, integrantes armados y uniformados de la brigada se enfrentaron a fuerzas gubernamentales en el norte de Haití, con lo que exacerbaron las tensiones en una nación de por sí volátil donde las pandillas han tomado el control de grandes sectores de la capital, Puerto Príncipe, además de sembrar el caos en áreas rurales.

El grupo ambiental, llamado Brigada para la Seguridad de Áreas Protegidas (conocido como B-SAP), enfureció cuando el primer ministro despidió a su líder. El miércoles, oficiales del grupo intentaron invadir la oficina local de aduanas y las unidades de la Policía Nacional de Haití enviadas a contener el ataque los detuvieron con gases lacrimógenos.

Algunos analistas han mostrado su preocupación porque ciertos líderes del grupo expresaron públicamente su lealtad a Guy Philippe, antiguo comandante de la policía y golpista que hace poco regresó a Haití después de cumplir una condena de seis años en una prisión federal estadounidense.

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Propuestas de alto al fuego y negociación de rehenes entre Israel y Hamás: lo que hay que saber

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El director de la CIA está preparado para dar un nuevo impulso a las negociaciones sobre la liberación de rehenes en Gaza y un alto al fuego prolongado, según funcionarios estadounidenses, quienes dijeron que el director de la agencia se reunirá con altos funcionarios israelíes, egipcios y cataríes en Europa.

Los funcionarios esperan zanjar las discrepancias entre Israel y Hamás, especialmente en dos cuestiones: la duración de cualquier pausa en los combates y el destino de los líderes de Hamás en Gaza, según funcionarios informados sobre las conversaciones.

Esta es la situación actual.

Una tregua de una semana en noviembre permitió la liberación de más de 100 de los rehenes secuestrados en el ataque de Hamás del 7 de octubre sobre Israel; 240 prisioneros palestinos fueron liberados como parte de ese acuerdo. Desde entonces, ambas partes han adoptado posiciones aparentemente inamovibles para otro acuerdo similar.

Las conversaciones han avanzado de manera errática, y el líder de la agencia israelí de inteligencia el Mosad se ha reunido con funcionarios cataríes tanto en Catar como en Europa. Muchos de los líderes políticos de Hamás residen en Catar. Egipto, que colinda con la Franja de Gaza, también ha desempeñado un papel clave.

William Burns, el director de la CIA, se reunirá con altos funcionarios israelíes, egipcios y cataríes, de acuerdo con funcionarios estadounidenses. Dijeron que la aparente disposición de Israel a acordar un cese de hostilidades más larga como parte de cualquier liberación adicional de rehenes ha creado una nueva oportunidad para las negociaciones.

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Israel sopesa liberar rehenes o destruir a Hamás

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Tras más de cien días de guerra, el avance limitado de Israel para desmantelar a Hamás ha generado dudas en el alto mando militar sobre la viabilidad a corto plazo de alcanzar los principales objetivos bélicos del país: erradicar a Hamás y liberar también a los rehenes israelíes que aún permanecen en la Franja de Gaza.

A estas alturas de la guerra, Israel ha establecido el control sobre una parte de Gaza menor de lo que había previsto en un principio en los planes de combate desde el comienzo de la invasión, que fueron revisados por The New York Times. Ese ritmo más lento de lo previsto ha llevado a algunos mandos a expresar en privado su frustración por la estrategia del gobierno civil para Gaza y los ha llevado a concluir que la libertad de los más de 100 rehenes israelíes que aún permanecen en Gaza solo puede conseguirse por medios diplomáticos y no militares.

El doble objetivo de liberar a los rehenes y destruir a Hamás es ahora mutuamente incompatible, según las entrevistas con cuatro altos mandos militares, que hablaron bajo condición de anonimato porque no se les permite hablar públicamente de sus opiniones.

También existe un conflicto entre el tiempo que Israel necesitaría para erradicar por completo a Hamás —una larga lucha en la red de túneles del grupo— y la presión, ejercida por los aliados de Israel, para acabar con la guerra con rapidez en medio de una espiral de muertes de civiles.

Los generales afirmaron además que una batalla prolongada destinada a desmantelar por completo a Hamás quizá costaría la vida de los rehenes israelíes retenidos en Gaza desde el 7 de octubre, cuando militantes de Hamás invadieron Israel, mataron a alrededor de 1200 personas y secuestraron a cerca de 240 individuos, según estimaciones israelíes.

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