The New York Times 2024-02-14 06:14:49

Middle East Crisis: Cairo Talks on a Gaza Cease-Fire Are Extended

The extended talks in Cairo will involve lower-level officials, a U.S. official says.

Negotiations in Cairo over a possible agreement to pause the fighting in Gaza have been extended for another three days, according to an Egyptian official briefed on the talks, after a first day of high-level negotiations on Tuesday ended without an agreement.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations, said the tenor of the talks was positive.

The talks over the next three days will involve lower-level officials, who will continue discussing a new framework for a deal, one that would ensure a certain number of hostages would be released and that the fighting would be halted for a certain number of weeks, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic talks.

Hamas and Israel have each rejected formulas proposed recently. Last month, a broad framework for an agreement was sketched out in Paris by representatives of the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. That proposal included a six-week cease-fire and the exchange of hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Hamas came back with a counterproposal that demanded the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and envisioned trading Hamas’s remaining 136 hostages for thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including people serving long sentences. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, dismissed the counterproposal, saying he would never “surrender to the ludicrous demands of Hamas.”

So far, the multilateral talks in Cairo have not been able to bridge the gap, and the urgency of the diplomacy has grown as Israel has announced plans to press its ground offensive into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where roughly half the territory’s population has sought refuge, many sheltering in tents with little food, water and medicine.

President Biden had dispatched the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to join the talks. Mr. Burns met on Tuesday with the head of Israel’s intelligence agency, the prime minister of Qatar and high-level Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to Egyptian media. Qatar has acted as a mediator for Hamas.

A third person briefed on Tuesday’s talks, also speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy, said that while some progress had been made, the sides remained far apart on a key point — the number of prisoners to be released for each hostage freed.

Israel had been reluctant to participate in the talks in the first place, reflecting Mr. Netanyahu’s ambivalence about continued negotiations with Hamas and its representatives, the first U.S. official said.

Fear of ‘a slaughter’ in Rafah build as negotiators race for a deal.

International concern mounted on Tuesday over Israel’s plan to press its ground offensive into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where nearly half of the territory’s population has sought refuge, as mediators raced to broker an agreement to pause the fighting.

President Biden sent the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to join the talks in Cairo, and said that he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to “push this forward” over the past month.

The negotiations came as the United Nations, the United States and other countries have expressed increasing alarm about the prospect of an Israeli incursion into Rafah, where about 1.4 million people are sheltering, many in tents, without adequate food, water and medicine.

Mr. Netanyahu has ordered the military to draw up plans to evacuate civilians from the city, but many Palestinians say that no place in the territory is safe. Mr. Biden has said that the United States opposes an Israeli invasion of the city without a “credible plan” to protect civilians from harm.

“Military operations in Rafah could lead to a slaughter in Gaza,” Martin Griffiths, the top U.N. aid official, said on Tuesday. “They could also leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door.”

As the warnings grew, negotiators in Cairo tried to hammer out an agreement between Israel and Hamas that would free the remaining hostages in Gaza and halt the fighting for at least six weeks. Mr. Burns was meeting with the head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, the prime minister of Qatar and Egyptian officials, according to Al Qahera, an Egyptian state-owned television channel.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian official briefed on the talks said that the negotiations would continue for another three days.

John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said on Tuesday that the talks were “moving in the right direction” but declined to provide details. Israel and Hamas, however, remain far apart in their publicly stated positions and have shown no signs of budging. Israel, for one, has said it will not stop fighting in Gaza until Hamas is crushed and the hostages are freed.

“Nothing is done until it is all done,” Mr. Kirby told reporters at the White House.

Asked about whether the United States believes that the American hostages in Gaza are still alive, he said, “We don’t have any information to the contrary.”

The expected Israeli advance into Rafah has led to mounting pressure on Egypt, which controls a major border crossing into the city.

Rather than opening its border to give Palestinians a refuge from the expected onslaught, Egypt has reinforced its frontier with Gaza, saying it will not let refugees cross the border into Sinai.

There have been fears that any Israeli military action that sends Gazans spilling into Egyptian territory could jeopardize the decades-old peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, an anchor of stability in the Middle East. But on Monday, Egypt offered assurances that the treaty would stand.

Mr. Netanyahu has described Rafah as Hamas’s last stronghold. On Monday, after Israeli forces freed two hostages held in the city in a nighttime commando operation, he said that “only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages.”

But the rescue operation coincided with a wave of Israeli strikes that killed dozens in Rafah, Gazan health authorities said, pointing to the risks to civilians of a full-scale invasion of the city. Pressure is mounting, too, from within Israel, where groups like the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum have appealed to the government to reach an agreement for their freedom.

“The eyes of 134 hostages are upon you,” the group said on Tuesday in a statement directed to the Mossad chief and the head of Shin Bet, who are in Cairo for talks. “Do not give up and do not return without a deal.”

Officials of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court have warned of catastrophic consequences if Israeli forces were to invade the city.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said that an incursion into Rafah would jeopardize the delivery of essential aid through the city’s border crossing with Egypt.

The United Nations, he indicated, would play no part in Israel’s evacuation plans.

“We will not be party to forced displacement of people,” Mr. Dujarric said. “As it is, there is no place that is currently safe in Gaza.”

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that he was “deeply concerned” about a full-scale ground offensive in Rafah, and hinted at the possibility of prosecution for war crimes.

“All wars have rules and the laws applicable to armed conflict cannot be interpreted so as to render them hollow or devoid of meaning,” he said on social media.

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting.

Maps: Tracking the Attacks in Israel and GazaSee where Israel has bulldozed vast areas of Gaza, as its invasion continues to advance south.

A Hezbollah attack injures 2 Israelis as a push to reduce tensions intensifies.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, fired missiles into northern Israel on Tuesday that injured at least two people, emergency officials said, amid a fresh diplomatic push to end months of clashes along the border.

Hezbollah said that it had launched two separate attacks into Israel — one aimed at Israeli soldiers and the other at a police building in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona.

A 15-year-old boy and a 47-year-old woman were seriously wounded in Kiryat Shmona, according to Magen David Adom, Israel’s nonprofit emergency medical service. They had gotten out of the car they were traveling in when an anti-tank missile hit nearby, only to be injured when another landed, said Ofir Yehezkeli, Kiryat Shmona’s deputy mayor.

Israel and Hezbollah — an ally of Hamas in Gaza — have engaged in near-daily cross-border strikes since the deadly Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. The clashes have displaced more than 150,000 people from their homes on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border.

The United States and others have engaged in diplomatic efforts to reduce the tensions. A Western diplomat said on Tuesday that France had presented a proposal to Israel, Lebanon’s government and Hezbollah. The French proposal was first reported by Reuters.

The proposal details a 10-day process of de-escalation and calls for Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters to a distance of 10 kilometers (six miles) from Lebanon’s border with Israel, according to the diplomat, who is involved in the talks and who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive deliberations. The diplomat said that France’s foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, presented the proposal in writing to Lebanon’s government last week while on a visit to the country.

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the government had received the proposal. The French Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In recent weeks, Israel has warned that unless a diplomatic solution is reached, it would have to use military force to stop Hezbollah’s attacks in order to allow for tens of thousands of Israelis to return to their homes.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, dismissed the messages conveyed by Western “delegations” coming to Lebanon, saying they were focused only on protecting Israel.

In a televised speech, he said his armed group would keep fighting as long as the war in Gaza continues.

“You escalate, we escalate,” he said in an apparent warning to Israel.

Patrick Kingsley, Roger Cohen and Cassandra Vinograd contributed reporting.

France imposes sanctions on West Bank settlers, joining the U.S. and Britain.

France imposed sanctions on dozens of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, accusing them of committing acts of violence against Palestinians. It was one of the largest rounds of penalties levied against Israelis in the West Bank to date and follows Britain and U.S. restrictions imposed on four settlers this month.

France’s foreign ministry said it had banned 28 settlers from entering France or any of its territories, calling on Israel’s government to pursue legal action against them.

The French government said that the West Bank settlements were illegal under international law and incompatible with the creation of a Palestinian state, a position held by many nations but that Israel disputes. Israel’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the French government’s statement, which did not name the individuals being placed under sanctions.

Since Oct. 7, when Hamas-led attacks on Israel ignited the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers have raised the tempo of unauthorized moves to expand their footprint on the West Bank, according to a report last month by Peace Now, an Israeli advocacy group.

Settlers have been fencing off open areas in the part of the West Bank that is under complete Israeli control in order to impede Palestinian herders, the report said, adding that several of the settlers outposts and roads are on privately owned Palestinian land in violation of Israeli law.

The settlers’ encroachments have heightened tensions in the West Bank, where violence and Israeli military raids were on the rise even before the war broke out. Palestinian militias have carried out shooting attacks against Israelis. Extremist Israeli settlers have rampaged through Palestinian villages, setting fire to property. The Israeli military has mounted frequent raids that have often turned deadly, arresting thousands.

Britain on Monday imposed sanctions involving financial and travel restrictions on four Israeli settlers in the West Bank in what it said was a “bid to tackle continued settler violence which threatens West Bank stability.”

On Feb. 1, the United States had imposed financial sanctions on four men it said were connected with “escalating violence against civilians in the West Bank.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli financial institutions had frozen the bank accounts of the four men placed or were in the process of doing so, and that there could be broader implications of the sanctions if they made international institutions leery that dealings with Israel could inadvertently involve them in sanctions evasion.

Canada has also said it would impose sanctions on Israeli settlers who incite violence in the West Bank.

The governing coalition that took power under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2022 is the most right-wing and religiously conservative government in the country’s history. It supports settlement expansion and includes extremist settlers who want to annex some or all of the West Bank. Israel has in the past retroactively authorized settlements it had previously seen as illegal.

Most countries view all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be a violation of international law. Israel captured the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and Gaza, from Jordan in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. Palestinians see that land as part of a future independent state, made steadily less viable by settler expansion.

The settler population grew by 3 percent last year to stand at around 517,000, and it has grown by over 15 percent in the past five years, according to a report based on Israeli government figures issued by a pro-settler group, West Bank Population By comparison, there are roughly three million Palestinians living in the West Bank, which comprises Samaria and Judea.

South Africa asks the U.N.’s top court to act against Israel’s plans for Rafah.

With Israel continuing to warn that it plans a ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice in The Hague to issue new constraints on Israel’s military offensive to prevent genocide.

In a filing on Monday, the South African government said that it was “gravely concerned” by Israel’s planned ground advance into Rafah, where more than a million Gazans have sought shelter, which it said “has already led to and will result in further large-scale killing, harm and destruction.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who has described Rafah as Hamas’s last stronghold, said on Sunday that a ground invasion would move forward there as soon as Israel completed plans for the more than a million people sheltering in the city to be allowed to move to safety.

In December, South Africa filed a case with the International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s highest court, accusing Israel of genocide and asking the court to step in with emergency orders.

In response, the court ordered Israel last month to ensure that its actions would not lead to genocide and to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. But the court did not order a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip. The process of considering whether Israel is committing genocide could take the court several years.

In its request on Monday, South Africa argued that a ground invasion of Rafah would be in breach of the court’s January orders and that the court should consider further emergency measures, though it did not lay out what it believed those should be.

The court said that it had asked Israel for comment. Under court rules, the judges will have to consider South Africa’s request as a matter of priority. That could mean scheduling a hearing or issuing a new order as early as Monday. The court is also starting a six-day hearing on another issue involving Israel on Monday.

Israel’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but Israel has rejected accusations of genocide.

On Monday, Israeli forces freed two hostages held in the city in a nighttime commando operation, which was accompanied by a series of airstrikes. The health ministry in Gaza said at least 67 people had been killed in the strikes. Overall, the ministry says, more than 28,000 people in Gaza have been killed.

After the rescue mission, Mr. Netanyahu said that “only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages.”

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

Israel orders an evacuation of the largest hospital in Khan Younis, Gazans say.

As explosions sounded nearby, Israeli forces on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of one of the last functioning hospitals in the Gaza Strip, according to two doctors and the Gazan health ministry, raising fears that troops would attempt to storm a facility crowded with patients and displaced people.

Adding to the terror of those inside the hospital, Israeli forces fired on people who tried to flee the medical compound on Tuesday, with some being killed or injured, the doctors said.

The scope of the evacuation order at the hospital, the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, was not immediately clear. Two doctors said the Israeli military had given assurances that patients and medical staff could stay at the hospital. But one of the doctors said the military announced on Tuesday, using a loudspeaker attached to a drone, that everyone had to leave immediately and that an attack was imminent.

“The situation is very dangerous,” said Khaled Al-Serr, a general surgeon at the hospital. He said that the Israeli military had indicated just a day earlier that the hospital, which has been surrounded by Israeli ground forces for weeks, was safe.

The surrounding city of Khan Younis has been a focus of Israel’s invasion of southern Gaza, with airstrikes killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers shooting people in the streets, according to the Gazan health ministry and Palestinian news media reports. Many Gazans who fled Israel’s military offensive in northern and central Gaza had sought shelter in Khan Younis, only to be forced to flee again as Israeli forces advanced deeper into the strip.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to questions about the evacuation order and about the allegation that its forces had shot at those trying to flee.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday that “intense fighting in Khan Younis, particularly near Nasser and Al Amal Hospitals,” continued to jeopardize the safety of medical staff.

The Israeli military says that Hamas uses hospitals as a cover for its operations, a claim that the group and medical officials have denied. Palestinians have sought shelter at hospitals even though Israeli forces have regularly launched strikes on and around them and in some cases raided hospital compounds.

Nahed Abu Taeema, the head of surgery at Nasser Hospital, said that explosions from airstrikes had grown closer to the hospital and more intense over the past few days. “But we won’t leave the hospital without our patients,” he said.

Amid the confusion over the evacuation order, many doctors and nurses, along with their family members who were sheltering at the hospital, had begun to pack their belongings and prepare to flee, Dr. Al-Serr said, even as leaving presented its own set of dangers.

There are about 8,000 people inside Nasser, he said, including badly wounded patients who have limb injuries and would be difficult to transport.

The situation inside the hospital has grown increasingly dire. Israeli strikes nearby caused fires that spread to the hospital’s medical equipment storage facility and supply warehouse, burning both nearly completely, said Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Gazan health ministry. Sewage has flooded into the emergency department, hindering the treatment of patients and threatening further spread of disease, he said.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization said that one of its teams was denied access to the hospital on Sunday. The head of the agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote on social media that he was “deeply concerned about the safety of patients and health personnel due to the intensifying hostilities in the vicinity of the hospital,” and warned that hospitals and health workers “MUST be protected at all times.”

Aaron Boxerman, Rawan Sheikh Ahmad and Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.

A U.S. aid bill for Israel and Ukraine faces Republican opposition in the House.

A buzz saw of Republican opposition in the House is threatening to kill the $95 billion aid package for Israel and Ukraine that the Senate overwhelmingly passed early Tuesday, leaving proponents of the emergency aid legislation scrounging for unorthodox ways to push the bill over the finish line.

Hours before the Senate approved the bill in a lopsided 70-to-29 vote, Speaker Mike Johnson suggested he would not allow the aid package to receive a vote on the House floor. The measure would provide an additional $14.1 billion for Israel’s war against Hamas, $60.1 billion for Kyiv and almost $10 billion for humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Palestinians in Gaza.

“House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement on Monday night, adding: “In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson rejected a bipartisan border bill crafted in the Senate, saying the crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border needed to be more severe.

Senators often hope that an overwhelming vote on a bill in their chamber will jam the House to take up its legislation. And hours after the Senate approved the aid package, President Biden sought to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Johnson, urging him from the White House to bring the bill “to the floor immediately.”

The hostile landscape in the House means that the foreign aid bill’s only path through the House may be for a bipartisan coalition like the one in the Senate — including more mainstream, national security-minded Republicans — to come together and use extraordinary measures to force action on it.

Proponents of sending aid have discussed the idea of steering around opposition from Mr. Johnson and the far right by using a maneuver known as a discharge petition. That allows lawmakers to force legislation to the floor if they can gather the signatures of a majority of the House — 218 members — calling for the action.

Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, suggested that enough Republicans in the House who are set to retire at the end of this year could help pull the bill across the finish line.

“Last time I checked, there’s about 40 of them that aren’t coming back,” Mr. Tillis said.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Tuesday after the bill’s passage that he hoped to speak privately with Mr. Johnson and urge him to put the aid package to a vote.

“I will say to Speaker Johnson I am confident that there is a large majority in the House who will vote for this bill,” he said.

The State Department is assessing reports of civilian harm in Gaza from U.S.-made arms

The State Department is reviewing reports of harm to Gazan civilians by Israel’s military as part of a new U.S. program that tracks cases in which foreign militaries use U.S.-made weapons to injure or kill civilians.

A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, told reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration was “reviewing incidents” in the Gaza war under what it calls Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance, which The Washington Post reported was established last August, several weeks before Hamas led sweeping attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.

The policy was instituted to create greater accountability for the use of American weapons by U.S. allies and partners. It aims to improve assessments of military incidents involving civilians and to create recommendations based on them but does not include automatic triggers for policy responses or penalties.

Mr. Miller suggested that the review was not likely to lead to short-term changes in America’s military support for Israel, which has become a polarizing political issue for the White House. The Biden administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress for weapons sales to Israel since the war began, and the Senate passed a foreign aid package on Tuesday that included more than $14 billion in aid for Israel, though the bill still faces uncertainty in the House.

“That process is not intended to function as a rapid response mechanism,” Mr. Miller said. “Rather, it is designed to systematically assess civilian harm incidents and develop appropriate policy responses to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future.” He added that it also intended to promote “military operations in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

The State Department has not publicly discussed details of the policy before. But President Biden mentioned it in a Feb. 8 national security memorandum.

That memorandum instructed the secretaries of State and Defense to, among many other things, provide an assessment within 90 days of credible reports determining whether U.S.-supplied weapons had been used in ways that did not follow “established best practices for mitigating civilian harm.” It also ordered them to catalog any “incidents reviewed pursuant to the Department of State’s Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance.”

From one war zone to another: A Syrian family is stranded in Gaza.

Ameera Malkash, a 40-year-old mother of three, fled one war only to find herself in another.

In 2012, Ms. Malkash was living in Damascus and was desperate to escape the civil war in Syria. She and her husband, Elian Fayyad, made a fateful decision: They would seek safety in Gaza, which he had left when he was 17.

“The war was getting very close to where I lived with my family,” Ms. Malkash recalled about Syria at the time. “The bombardments were very intense and very close.”

Now war has come to them again. After Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks prompted Israel to launch a retaliatory military offensive, Ms. Malkash and her children fled their home in southern Gaza for a makeshift refugee camp set up in a school. Then, as Israeli forces intensified their attacks in the south, she and her children sought refuge at a shelter in central Gaza. (Mr. Fayyad, her husband, died of cancer soon after the family arrived in Gaza in 2012.)

“There is no life here, no future,” Ms. Malkash said by phone recently. She left school after seventh grade and has never worked. Even before the war, she said, she lived on charity in Gaza, which has long been blockaded by Israel and Egypt and where even longtime residents struggled to find work.

Since the war began, many people who held foreign passports have left Gaza after their countries secured permission from the Israeli government. But that did not include Syrians, leaving Ms. Malkash and her children trapped — like more than two million others in Gaza.

Ms. Malkash and her children, who were living in Al Qarara, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, first took shelter at the nearby Al Hinawi school, run by the United Nations, along with more than 5,000 others.

Her eldest son, Solaiman, 16, began suffering from severe stomach pains, but the nearest hospital turned him away because it was receiving “too many casualties,” she recalled. “They gave him some medicine and dispatched him.”

Solaiman recovered, but Ms. Malkash said she feared for the health of her children. U.N. officials report soaring cases of diarrhea, respiratory infections, meningitis and other illnesses in Gaza.

Ms. Malkash, whose Syrian passport has expired, said she would apply for a Palestinian passport after the war so she can leave Gaza for good. But she doesn’t know where to go. Syria was not an option, she said.

“Things in Gaza have always been harsh, but things in Syria have been extremely bad too,” Ms. Malkash said. She recently spoke to her sister-in-law there, who said she hadn’t had a decent meal in three years.

As the war rages, Ms. Malkash dreams of simple pleasures in a new home. “I want a place where I can feel alive and enjoy peace,” she said.

A Tunnel Offers Clues to How Hamas Uses Gaza’s Hospitals

Gaza’s hospitals have emerged as a focal point in Israel’s war with Hamas, with each side citing how the other has pulled the facilities into the conflict as proof of the enemy’s disregard for the safety of civilians.

In four months of war, Israeli troops have entered several hospitals, including the Qatari Hospital, Kamal Adwan Hospital and Al-Rantisi Specialized Hospital for Children, to search for weapons and fighters. But Al-Shifa Hospital has taken on particular significance because it is Gaza’s largest medical facility, and because of Israel’s high-profile claims that Hamas leaders operated a command-and-control center beneath it. Hamas and the hospital’s staff, meanwhile, insisted it was only a medical center.

Al-Shifa’s value as a military target was not immediately clear in the days after the Nov. 15 raid, even after the Israeli military released the tunnel video that was used to create the 3-D model seen here.

But evidence examined by The New York Times suggests Hamas used the hospital for cover, stored weapons inside it and maintained a hardened tunnel beneath the complex that was supplied with water, power and air-conditioning.

Classified Israeli intelligence documents, obtained and reviewed by The Times, indicate that the tunnel is at least 700 feet long, twice as long as the military revealed publicly, and that it extends beyond the hospital and likely connects to Hamas’s larger underground network.

According to classified images reviewed by The Times, Israeli soldiers found underground bunkers, living quarters and a room that appeared to be wired for computers and communications equipment along a part of the tunnel beyond the hospital — chambers that were not visible in the video released by the Israeli military.

The Israeli military, however, has struggled to prove that Hamas maintained a command-and-control center under the facility. Critics of the Israeli military say the evidence does not support its early claims, noting that it had distributed material before the raid showing five underground complexes and also had said the tunnel network could be reached from wards inside a hospital building. Israel has publicly revealed the existence of only one tunnel entrance on the grounds of the hospital, at the shack outside its main buildings.

The Israeli military says that it moved carefully because the tunnel was booby-trapped and ran out of time to investigate before it destroyed the tunnel and withdrew from the hospital. Israeli and Qatari officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel had to leave the hospital to comply with the terms of a temporary ceasefire in late November.

American officials have said their own intelligence backs up the Israeli case, including evidence that Hamas used Al-Shifa to hold at least a few hostages. American intelligence also indicates that Hamas fighters evacuated the complex days before Israeli forces moved into Al-Shifa, destroying documents and electronics as they left.

Hospitals are protected under international law, even if they provide medical care for combatants, but their use for other acts that are “harmful to the enemy” can make them legitimate targets for military action. But any action must weigh the expected military advantage against the expected harm to civilians.

Al-Shifa, Israeli officials have argued, is an example of Hamas’s willingness to use hospitals as cover and turn civilians into human shields. But critics say it is also an example of the toll on civilians when Israeli forces surround and raid hospitals to pursue Hamas fighters or rescue hostages, operations that can cut off doctors from fuel and supplies and residents from urgently needed medical care.

Five premature babies died at Al-Shifa before the raid “due to lack of electricity and fuel,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which helped organize the evacuation of 31 other infants.

“We all know that the health care system is or has collapsed,” Lynn Hastings, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, has told reporters.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage. Since the start of the war, more than 28,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials there.

In the face of international opprobrium over its raids on hospitals, Israel has publicized evidence that it says shows that Hamas hid fighters among the ill and injured, and held hostages in the facilities. The Israeli military said that before entering Al-Shifa, it warned the buildings’ occupants, opened evacuation routes and sent Arabic-speaking medical teams along with the soldiers.

Hamas and Gazan health officials say the hospitals have served only as medical facilities. But beyond accusing the Israeli military of planting evidence at hospitals, Hamas and Gazan officials have not directly refuted the evidence presented by Israel.

The Israeli military said it apprehended dozens of “terror operatives” at Kamal Adwan Hospital in December, and released videos, at the time, of men carrying weapons. A spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza said that Israeli forces had asked the hospital’s administrators to hand over the weapons of its security guards.

After the raid on the Qatari Hospital, the commonly used name for the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, the Israeli military showed a video on Nov. 5 of what it said was the entrance to “a tunnel that was being used for terror infrastructures” on the hospital’s grounds.

But the video appears to show something else: a water storage area built in 2016, when the hospital was constructed, according to engineering plans and images from the hospital’s construction reviewed by The Times.

The Israeli military declined to provide additional imagery to support its assertion that this was a tunnel entryway or part of a tunnel complex.

Just before the Al-Shifa raid, Israeli forces entered Al-Rantisi hospital, on Nov. 13, soon after its remaining patients and staff had left. Within days, the military released two videos that showed weapons and explosives it said it found there, and a room where it said hostages had been kept. The health ministry in Gaza disputed the assertions made in the videos and said the weapons were planted.

One of the videos released by Israel showed troops rushing into the hospital and appearing to find explosives, weapons and the hostage room. In the other, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, chief spokesman for the Israeli military, showed off guns, explosives and other weapons that he said were found in the basement of the hospital.

The video included footage of a piece of paper taped to a wall in the hospital’s basement. Admiral Hagari said the paper — a grid with Arabic words and numbers within each square — could be a schedule for guarding hostages “where every terrorist writes his name.”

The Gazan health ministry said it was nothing more than a work schedule. But the calendar begins on Oct. 7, the day of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, and an Arabic title written at the top uses the militants’ name for the assault: “Al Aqsa Flood Battle, 7/10/2023.”

Given its size and history, taking control of Al-Shifa was always a more important goal for the Israeli military than the other smaller facilities.

There is substantial independent evidence that Hamas constructed a vast tunnel network across Gaza. Senior Israeli defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, estimate the network is between 350 and 450 miles — extraordinary figures for a territory that at its longest point is only 25 miles. The officials estimate there are thousands of entrances to the network.

There is also established documentation that Hamas used Al-Shifa before the war to mask some of its activities. During Israel’s three-week war with Hamas in 2008, armed Hamas fighters in civilian clothing were seen roaming Al-Shifa’s corridors and killing an Israeli collaborator, according to a Times correspondent reporting in Gaza at the time. Six years later, during the next round of fighting, the militants routinely held news conferences at the hospital and used it as a safe meeting place for Hamas officials to speak with journalists.

After that war, Amnesty International reported that Hamas had used abandoned areas of Al-Shifa, “including the outpatients’ clinic area, to detain, interrogate, torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects, even as other parts of the hospital continued to function as a medical center.”

Israel’s critics, though, countered with statements made at the time by two Norwegian doctors, who described themselves as pro-Palestinian activists and had worked in Gaza during the 2014 war. They insisted that they saw no Hamas presence at Al-Shifa.

Israel has also released video footage, taken by the hospital’s own security cameras, which it says shows two hostages being brought to Al-Shifa shortly after being abducted in the Oct. 7 attack.

The Al-Shifa tunnel was discovered by following ducts that ran underground from air-conditioning units that were powered by the hospital’s electricity supply and mounted on one of its buildings, officials said. Israeli soldiers also found evidence that the hospital’s water supply was being fed to the tunnel.

The Israeli military has also displayed weapons and other equipment it said were found inside Al-Shifa, including grenades placed near an MRI machine. Among the cache presented to journalists were belongings that Israeli officials said had been taken from hostages, including a bag emblazoned with the name Be’eri, a kibbutz attacked by Hamas.

The military also said it found weapons in Al-Shifa’s parking lot, and a Toyota vehicle identical to those used in the Oct. 7 attack and loaded with the same equipment that militants carried during the raid, including guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Israeli officials speculated that it was a spare vehicle not used in the attack.

Some of what the Israeli military has shown so far does not wholly match the description of a terrorist headquarters that it offered ahead of its ground invasion of Gaza on Oct. 27.

Underneath Al-Shifa, the Israeli military wrote in a lengthy post on its website, “lies a labyrinth of tunnels and underground compounds used by Hamas’s leaders to direct terrorist activities and rocket fire and to manufacture and store a variety of weapons and ammunition.”

There may no longer be a way to directly assess that claim. Israeli forces remained at Al-Shifa for a little more than a week.

Hours before Israeli forces left the hospital on Nov. 24, soldiers lined the tunnel with explosives and destroyed it in a blast that sent plumes of smoke high into the air and rocked buildings on the ground above.

A ‘Democracy Party’ Like No Other: One of the World’s Biggest Elections

The young women and men moved from booth to booth, asking questions about the political hopefuls’ track records and visions for the country. A few steps away, first-time voters practiced casting their ballots in pretend voting booths. And onstage, talk show guests discussed how to make an informed choice in backing a candidate.

This gathering of more than a thousand people one recent Sunday in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, was a prelude to a celebration that is widely known here as “Pesta Demokrasi,” or Democracy Party.

Otherwise known as Election Day, it’s when tens of millions of people across this vast archipelago of thousands of islands head to polling stations that are sometimes decorated with balloons, garlands and flowers, and manned by officials dressed up as Spider-Man, Batman, Thor or other superheroes. After voting for presidential, parliamentary and local legislative candidates, people camp out near their polling places with food as they wait for early counts to trickle in. The next “party” is on Wednesday.

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As U.S. Weighs Aid, Ukraine Turns to European Allies for Support

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President Volodymyr Zelensky is redoubling his diplomatic outreach to Europe in the hopes of starting to fill the void left by months of American indecision, as the debate over providing renewed military assistance for Ukraine continues to play out in Washington.

The Ukrainian leader was quick to praise the bipartisan group of U.S. senators who approved $60 billion in assistance for his nation at a moment when Ukrainian soldiers are struggling with a shortage of weapons and ammunition, saying “continued U.S. assistance helps to save human lives from Russian terror.”

Reaction across the Ukrainian political spectrum was similar — seeking to express gratitude to those who are standing by the government in Kyiv, while being cautious not to say anything that could in any way jeopardize the debate going forward. The aid package must still make it through the Republican-led House, where the speaker, Mike Johnson, said he would ignore it.

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How John Travolta Became the Star of Carnival

Jack Nicas and Dado Galdieri reported this article among the giant puppets of the Carnival celebrations in Olinda, Brazil

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It was near the start of one of Brazil’s most famous Carnival celebrations, in the northern seaside city of Olinda, and the town plaza was jammed with thousands of revelers. They were all awaiting their idol.

Just before 9 p.m., the doors to a dance hall swung open, a brass band pushed into the crowd and the star everyone had been waiting for stepped out: a 12-foot puppet of John Travolta.

Confetti sprayed, the band began playing a catchy tune and the crowd sang along: “John Travolta is really cool. Throwing a great party. And in Olinda, the best carnival.” (It rhymes in Portuguese.)

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Deadliest Cholera Outbreak in Past Decade Hits Southern Africa

Sandra Mwayera wailed as her older brother slouched next to her in the back seat of a car — he had died from cholera as he waited for treatment among dozens of others outside a hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

“My brother! My brother! Why have you abandoned me?” she pleaded. “Come back, please. Come back!”

In neighboring Zambia, inside the 60,000-seat National Heroes Stadium in the capital, Lusaka, rows of gray cots lined rooms at a makeshift treatment center where 24-year-old Memory Musonda had died. Her family said they were not informed until four days later — the government buried her, and they have yet to locate her grave.

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Its Forces Depleted, Myanmar Junta Says It Will Enforce a Military Draft

For more than three years, Myanmar’s biggest cities have remained under the unyielding grip of the military junta. But the streets of places like Yangon were uncharacteristically quiet Monday evening as a sense of fear pervaded the country.

Residents had a new reason to avoid contact with soldiers on patrol: Over the weekend, the regime said that it was invoking a decades-old law to start drafting young men and women into the army, setting off widespread alarm across the country.

The regime’s forces have been depleted in recent months as they battle a growing insurgency by pro-democracy rebels and armed ethnic groups. The move to conscription to beef up the forces’ ranks suggested that the junta was on the defensive and growing desperate.

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Lost Images Reveal the History of Rio’s Carnival

Rafael Cosme was at a Rio de Janeiro antique fair six years ago when he found a pile of film negatives on the ground. No one wanted them, the vendor said. They were $2.

“I carried home two bags of negatives thinking: What am I doing with my life?” he recalled.

So began Mr. Cosme’s obsession with the lost and discarded photos of his city’s past. Since that morning in 2018, he has collected more than 150,000 film photos and negatives, nearly all shot by amateurs, that tell the story of Rio de Janeiro from the 1890s to the 1980s, one flash in time at a time.

In his work, he has noticed that one theme keeps popping up more than any other.


It is Rio’s annual collective exhalation — a four-day eruption of art and music, costumes and joy — that began again on Saturday.

The celebration has come to define Rio around the world, while also becoming an influential driver of the city’s culture.

“There is no researching this city without going through Carnival,” Mr. Cosme said.

But through the photos, taken over decades by photographers whose names are lost to history, he could see how Carnival had changed with the city, and vice versa.

From 100-year-old prints with a sepia tint to 60-year-old saturated Kodachrome slides, the images revealed changing trends in society, humor, fashion, drug use and sexual liberalization.

Taken by amateurs with the cameras of their day, the photos often have a ragged beauty to them, compared with today’s digital perfection, and also a special intimacy.

“I realized there are endless stories I could tell about this city,” Mr. Cosme said about his discovery of Rio’s lost photos. “Because inside every house, inside every closet, there is a box with revelations.”

Carnival, a days-long celebration ahead of the Christian observance of Lent, arrived in Brazil with the Portuguese colonizers, and for centuries retained traditions from Europe. It was a costume party of sorts, where revelers would hide their identities to play pranks on neighbors.

By the middle of the 19th century, Brazilians began adding music, dancing and revelry in the street. By the turn of the 20th century, it was a full-fledged party.

Around that time, Rio’s rich elites began parading around the city during Carnival in open cars, according to Maria Clementina Pereira Cunha, a historian who has written books about Rio’s Carnival.

It was partly a way to show off their wealth, she said. But when suburbanites began pooling money to rent cars to parade around, too, the trend fell out of fashion with elites and died in the 1930s.

Even with its constant evolution, Carnival remained a costume party. The photos show that many people, particularly among Brazil’s poor, crafted creative outfits at home using what they could find.

“Mothers sewed and embroidered so their children would look well presented at Carnival,” Ms. Pereira Cunha said. “That’s why they wanted their photograph taken.”

Costumes also were satirical and playful, sometimes referring to pop culture and current events — references that are not always so clear today.

One of the most popular costumes was men dressing as women. They were designed to be a joke, often playing up sexist tropes, and the costumes fell out of favor over time.

Clown costumes were long popular, but over the decades they grew more sinister. People who wore them often tried to scare other revelers.

Eventually, men from Rio’s suburbs created a style called “bate bola,” or roughly “slam ball,” a costume that involved menacing clowns who slammed balls tied to ropes against the street. This type of costume, seen in the fifth image below, became renowned for frightening children and is still common today.

By the 1910s, people began carrying glass bottles of a scented ether-based liquid that provided a brief euphoric high. Later the bottles gave way to pressurized cans. They were called “lança perfume,” or “perfume throwers.”

Revelers would spray the concoction into crowds or at strangers, often to flirt, said Felipe Ferreira, a Carnival historian at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

The government banned the sprays in 1961, but a stronger version is still used illegally today.

Look closely at these photos to see people carrying the bottles and cans.

The 20th century also brought “blocos,” or street bands, which became an integral part of Brazilian Carnival, and still are today. They are each a social club of sorts that play music on the street, with drums, horns and often matching outfits.

They frequently marched through the city, fueling impromptu parties, with different blocos offering differing styles of music, costumes and themes.

By the late 1920s, the so-called samba schools arrived. These were formal groups of samba musicians and dancers who performed increasingly elaborate shows that told stories through costumes, lyrics and dance.

They were made up of largely Black residents of poorer neighborhoods, and they focused on celebrating their Afro-Brazilian heritage.

As they became Rio’s most popular Carnival attraction, the city shut down a main avenue for the schools’ parades, adding large decorations and bleachers, as seen in the photos below. The schools, meanwhile, adopted even more extravagant costumes and floats.

Today the parade remains the centerpiece of Rio’s Carnival, held in a dedicated stadium built in 1984.

Produced by Craig Allen, Gray Beltran and Diego Ribadeneira.

Lis Moriconi contributed reporting.

Finland’s New President Faces Unexpected First Test: Not Russia, but Trump

Educated in the United States and deeply pro-American, Finland’s president-elect, Alexander Stubb, looked perfectly poised to lead his nation into a stronger trans-Atlantic partnership and redefine its role in the global order as a newly minted NATO member.

Instead, he will enter office next month at a time when U.S. politics has once again thrown the durability of that relationship — and the wisdom of European nations counting on it — into question.

For weeks, the two candidates in Finland’s runoff presidential elections, which Mr. Stubb won on Sunday, had played up their pro-NATO credentials and tough views on Russia. Then the former U.S. president Donald J. Trump threatened that, if re-elected, he would let Russia “do whatever the hell they want” against NATO allies that do not contribute sufficiently to collective defense.

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She Survived an Airstrike That Killed Her Entire Family in Gaza

Who Are the Major Players After Pakistan’s Stunning Election?

The stunning election success of a party whose leader is in jail has set off a political crisis in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 240 million people.

The stakes are high: Pakistanis face soaring inflation and costs of living, frequent blackouts, resurgent terrorist attacks and tense relations with their neighbors.

Here are the critical figures competing for power.

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Pope and Argentine President Appear to Find Some Common Ground

President Javier Milei of Argentina, who before taking office ridiculed Pope Francis as an “imbecile” and accused him of violating the Ten Commandments, met with the pontiff on Monday for an hourlong conversation that the Vatican described as “cordial.”

The Vatican said in a statement that the two leaders had spoken at a private meeting about their shared will to further strengthen relations and had addressed the Milei government’s program to counter the economic crisis in Argentina, where the annual inflation rate is at 211 percent.

On social media, Mr. Milei’s office posted a photograph of the pope with the president and the president’s sister, Karina Milei, one of his closest advisers.

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What to Know About Indonesia’s Election

The numbers are staggering.

More than 100 million people are expected to vote, many for the first time. They’ll do so in booths across thousands of islands and three time zones, hammering nails into ballots to mark their choices. And within hours, if history is any guide, the world will know the outcome of the biggest race of the day: the one for Indonesia’s presidency.

Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, will hold its general election on Wednesday. Election Day is a national holiday, and on average, about 75 percent of eligible voters have turned out. In addition to the president, voters are choosing members of Parliament and local representatives.

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An Outburst by Trump on NATO May Push Europe to Go It Alone

Long before Donald J. Trump threatened over the weekend that he was willing to let Russia “do whatever the hell they want” against NATO allies that do not contribute sufficiently to collective defense, European leaders were quietly discussing how they might prepare for a world in which America removes itself as the centerpiece of the 75-year-old alliance.

Even allowing for the usual bombast of one of his campaign rallies, where he made his declaration on Saturday, Mr. Trump may now force Europe’s debate into a far more public phase.

So far the discussion in the European media has focused on whether the former president, if returned to office, would pull the United States out of NATO.

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‘This Is Where I Want to Be’

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When Ayelet Khon moved back to the Kfar Azza kibbutz with her husband two months after the brutal Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, the first thing she did was hang a string of rainbow-colored lights up on the front patio.

At night, when darkness drenches this community, the twinkling colors are the only lights visible.

“We are going to keep these lights on and never turn them off — even if we’re out for the evening — they are lights of hope,” Ms. Khon said she told her husband, Shar Shnurman.

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Manhattan or Pulau Rhun? In 1667, Nutmeg Made the Choice a No-Brainer.

Richard C. Paddock and

Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, along with the photographer Nyimas Laula, spent three days on Pulau Rhun to document life on the remote island.

The isles of Manhattan and Pulau Rhun could hardly be farther apart, not just in geography, but also in culture, economy and global prominence.

Rhun, in the Banda Sea in Indonesia, has no cars or roads and only about 20 motorbikes. Most people get around by walking along its paved footpaths or up steep stairways, often toting plastic jugs of water from the numerous village wells or sometimes lugging a freshly caught tuna.

But in the 17th century, in what might now seem one of the most lopsided trades in history, the Netherlands believed it got the better part of a bargain with the British when it swapped Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam, for this tiny speck of land.

Map locates the Maluku Islands in eastern Indonesia. It also locates Pulau Rhan, an island in the Banda Island group, which is part of the Maluku Islands.

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Discontent and Defiance on the Road to Pakistan’s Election

Christina Goldbaum and

The reporters traveled along a famed highway in Pakistan’s most heated political battleground to understand how Pakistanis are feeling before a national election on Thursday.

The highway is the most politically charged slice of a politically turbulent country. It winds 180 miles from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, through the fertile plains of Punjab Province to Lahore, the nation’s cultural and political heart.

For centuries, it was known only as a sliver of the Grand Trunk Road, Asia’s longest and oldest thoroughfare, linking traders in Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. But in Pakistan, this stretch of the smog-drenched highway has become the stage for major rallies and protests led by nearly every famed civilian leader the country has had.

As Pakistan heads into national elections on Thursday, the road is buzzing. Politics dominates the chatter between its vendors and rickshaw drivers, their conversations seeped in a culture of conspiracy, cults of political personality and the problems of entrenched military control.

The map highlights the Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad to Lahore in Pakistan . The towns of Gujar Khan, Jhelum, Wazirabad and Gujranwala along the road are also located.

Nearly every day, hundreds fill the street — its overpasses plastered in green, red and white political posters — to rally for their side. Many more, their preferred party effectively disbanded amid a military crackdown, quietly curse the authorities before an election widely viewed as one of the least credible in the country’s history.

The newsstand just off the main highway in Gujar Khan is little more than a metal chair with newspapers fanned out carefully in a circle. Men gathered around the stand, chatting as they drank their morning tea and electric rickshaws rumbled by. Every day, the papers arrive with a new political advertisement splashed across their front page, said the vendor, Abdul Rahim, 60. But he has not been swayed by any of their catchy slogans or artful headshots.

Like many people across Pakistan, he has become fed up with the country’s political system. After former Prime Minister Imran Khan ran afoul of the country’s powerful military and was ousted by Parliament in 2022, infighting seemed to consume the country’s political and military leaders. All the while, people like Mr. Rahim were getting crushed by the worst economic crisis in Pakistan’s recent history, which sent inflation soaring to nearly 40 percent last year, a record high.

“For five years, I’ve been worrying about how to put food on the table — that’s all I’ve spent my time thinking about,” Mr. Rahim said.

Three governments, led by three different parties, have been in power since inflation began to surge in 2019. None were able to put the economy back on track, Mr. Rahim and some men gathered around the stand explained.

“The rulers are becoming richer, their children are becoming richer and we are becoming poorer every day,” Abid Hussein, 57, a nearby fruit stall vendor, piped in. “This is the worst period in my lifetime in Pakistan.”

The fliers are hidden at major intersections in Jhelum, wedged between the fruits and sunglasses of vendors’ carts and surreptitiously handed out to passers-by. They have a photo of Mr. Khan in the top left corner along with his party’s new slogan: “We will take revenge with the vote.”

Most of the campaigning for Mr. Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., has taken place in these shadows after the military started a monthslong intimidation campaign.

“They are working to crush the party. But they can’t because the party is in the hearts of the people,” the provincial assembly candidate in Jhelum, Yasir Mehmood Qureshi, said as he stood in a large, shaded yard surrounded by around two dozen supporters.

The military’s crackdown was designed to sideline the populist Mr. Khan, but most analysts say it has instead increased his support. While his popularity had plummeted as the economy declined in his last months in office, he now has a cultlike following. Supporters see him — and by extension themselves — as wronged by the military leaders who they believe orchestrated his ouster.

“We are frustrated,” one P.T.I. supporter, Momin Khan, 25, said. “Everyone is angry.”

The young men sat on a dead patch of grass at the edge of a field in Wazirabad, half-watching a cricket match. Bored with the game, Umer Malik, 28, pulled out his phone and began scrolling through TikTok. Within a few seconds, there was a video showing a P.T.I. gathering with the words “Vote Only Khan,” another mocking the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or P.M.L.N., the party seen as favored by the military in this election, and one slow-motion shot of Mr. Khan walking through a crowd.

“Every third video is about political stuff,” Mr. Malik muttered.

Mr. Malik and his friends had been captivated by the flood of political content created by P.T.I. in the past few years. The videos explained in layman’s language how Pakistan’s military had kept an iron grip on power. They taught the history of the military’s several coups. They slammed the generals for Mr. Khan’s ouster.

That content, outside the reach of state censorship, had stirred a political awakening for their generation, which makes up around half of the country’s electorate. While young people in Punjab would once take voting instructions from elders who had been promised projects like new roads by party leaders, they are now casting votes for whomever they prefer.

“The old era is over,” said Abid Mehar, 34, whose parents are staunch P.M.L.N. voters, while he supports P.T.I. “We will vote by our conscience.”

It was nearly midnight when the leaders of P.M.L.N. appeared at the rally in Gujranwala. Hundreds of party supporters crammed into rows upon rows of seats, cheering and clapping as fireworks lit up the sky. Political songs blasted from speakers: “Nawaz Sharif, he will build Punjab!” “Nawaz Sharif, he will save the country!”

Mr. Sharif’s near-certain return to power has offered a redemption of sorts. He has served as prime minister three times — never completing a single term. Twice he was ousted after falling out with the military. Then, in 2017, he was toppled by corruption allegations.

But for a military bent on gutting P.T.I., Mr. Sharif was seen as perhaps the only politician who could counter Mr. Khan’s popular appeal. After spending four years in exile, Mr. Sharif was allowed to return to the country in October to shore up P.M.L.N.’s support.

“When he returned, it revived the party,” said Ijaz Khan Ballu, a P.M.L.N. campaigner in Gujranwala. “All these votes for P.M.L.N. are really votes for Nawaz Sharif.”

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Welcome to ‘Dalifornia,’ an Oasis for China’s Drifters and Dreamers

To find the dance circle in the bed-and-breakfast’s courtyard, drive north from the bedsheet factory converted into a crafts market, toward the vegan canteen urging diners to “walk barefoot in the soil and bathe in the sunshine.” If you see the unmanned craft beer bar where customers pay on the honor system, you’ve gone too far.

Welcome to the Chinese mountain city of Dali, also sometimes known as Dalifornia, an oasis for China’s disaffected, drifting or just plain curious.

The city’s nickname is a homage to California, and the easy-living, tree-hugging, sun-soaked stereotypes it evokes. It is also a nod to the influx of tech employees who have flocked there since the rise of remote work during the pandemic, to code amid the picturesque surroundings, nestled between snow-capped, 10,000-foot peaks in southwest China, on the shores of glistening Erhai Lake.

Map locates the city of Dali in southwest China, on the shores of Erhai Lake.

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

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.

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The Friar Who Became the Vatican’s Go-To Guy on A.I.

Before dawn, Paolo Benanti climbed to the bell tower of his 16th-century monastery, admired the sunrise over the ruins of the Roman forum and reflected on a world in flux.

“It was a wonderful meditation on what is going on inside,” he said, stepping onto the street in his friar robe. “And outside too.”

There is a lot going on for Father Benanti, who, as both the Vatican’s and the Italian government’s go-to artificial intelligence ethicist, spends his days thinking about the Holy Ghost and the ghosts in the machines.

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Cleaning Latrines by Hand: ‘How Could Any Human Do That?’

When he came to fully realize exactly what his parents and older brother did for a living, and what it likely meant for his own future, Bezwada Wilson says he was so angry he contemplated suicide.

His family members, and his broader community, were manual scavengers, tasked with cleaning by hand human excrement from dry latrines at a government-run gold mine in southern India.

While his parents had tried hard to hide from their youngest child the nature of their work as long as they could — telling Mr. Bezwada they were sweepers — as a student Mr. Bezwada knew his classmates viewed him with cruel condescension. He just didn’t know the reason.

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A Child of Another War Who Makes Music for Ukrainians

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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Playing Soccer in $1.50 Sandals That Even Gucci Wants to Copy

The wealthy pros of Ivory Coast’s national soccer team were resting in their luxury hotel last week, preparing for a match in Africa’s biggest tournament, when Yaya Camara sprinted onto a dusty lot and began fizzing one pass after another to his friends.

Over and over, he corralled the game’s underinflated ball and then sent it away again with his favorite soccer shoes: worn plastic sandals long derided as the sneaker of the poor, but which he and his friends wear as a badge of honor.

Shiny soccer cleats like his idols’? No thanks, said Mr. Camara, a lean 18-year-old midfielder, as he wiped sweat from his brow.

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Russian Skaters Stripped of Olympic Gold, Setting Up New Fight for Medals

International skating’s governing body on Tuesday sought to put an end to a two-year-old controversy by revising the disputed results of a marquee figure skating competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But in stripping Russia of its victory in the team event, awarding the gold medal to the United States and denying Canada the bronze it had been expecting, the sport may have only set the stage for yet another protracted legal fight.

The revised finishes were announced by the skating body, the International Skating Union, one day after the teenage Russian star Kamila Valieva was banned for four years for doping. Disqualifying Valieva, a 15-year-old prodigy who had led Russia to an apparent victory, had the most immediate effect on the Olympic team standings: elevating the U.S. to gold and Japan to silver, while, surprisingly, dropping Russia just enough that it could still claim the bronze.

Within hours, Russia’s Olympic committee, already furious about Valieva’s ban, announced that it would appeal any outcome that denied it the team gold. Canadian officials quickly threatened to appeal the ruling as well. That left skating officials and the International Olympic Committee, which had chosen not to award medals in the team event until Valieva’s doping case was resolved, wondering how they could at last arrange a “dignified Olympic medal ceremony” for an ugly dispute that appeared nowhere near its end.

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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.

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Depardieu Sexual Assault Suit Dropped Over Statute of Limitations

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.

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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.

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Ricardo Martinelli, refugiado en la embajada de Nicaragua, promete hacer campaña desde ahí

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Mientras Panamá se preparaba para su ruidosa temporada de Carnaval, las celebraciones del fin de semana se producían en medio de un extraño drama político que tiene lugar en la capital.

Un expresidente, quien también es uno de los principales candidatos en las elecciones presidenciales de mayo de este año, se refugió en la embajada de Nicaragua en Ciudad de Panamá con sus muebles, incluidos un sofá y un escritorio, así como su perro, Bruno.

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Australia introduce el derecho laboral a ‘desconectarse’

Cuando estén fuera del horario laboral y el jefe los esté llamando por teléfono, los trabajadores australianos —que ya figuran entre los más descansados y satisfechos del mundo— podrán pronto tocar la opción “rechazar” para entregarse mejor al dulce llamado de la playa.

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En lo que significó un nuevo refuerzo contra el flagelo del exceso de trabajo, el Senado australiano aprobó el jueves un proyecto de ley que podría otorgarles a los trabajadores el derecho a ignorar llamadas y mensajes fuera del horario laboral sin temor a represalias. Ahora el documento regresará a la Cámara de Representantes para su aprobación definitiva.

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Lo que revelan los videos de soldados israelíes: burlas y destrucción

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Un soldado israelí levanta el pulgar ante la cámara mientras maneja una excavadora por una calle de Beit Lahia, en el norte de Gaza, empujando un auto maltrecho hacia un edificio medio derruido.

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Ecuador adopta el ‘noboísmo’ como respuesta a la violencia

Annie Correal y Federico Rios reportaron desde Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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Luego de que el mes pasado el presidente de Ecuador declarara la guerra a las bandas criminales, soldados con rifles de asalto han inundado las calles de Guayaquil, una ciudad de la costa Pacífico que ha estado en el epicentro de la espiral de violencia del país, un fenómeno que ya lleva algunos años.

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De los buses y los autos hacen bajar a los hombres, en busca de drogas, armas y tatuajes de pandillas. Patrullan las calles para hacer cumplir un toque de queda nocturno. La ciudad está ansiosa, sus hombres y jóvenes son posibles objetivos de soldados y oficiales de policía que tienen la orden de derribar a las poderosas bandas que se han aliado con los carteles internacionales para convertir a Ecuador en un centro del comercio mundial de drogas.

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