The New York Times 2024-02-15 00:24:53

Middle East Crisis: Israel Strikes in Lebanon After Deadly Rocket Attack

A member of the war cabinet warns that Israel could strike at the Lebanese military.

Israel carried out extensive and lethal airstrikes in southern Lebanon on Wednesday in response to a deadly rocket attack on northern Israel, escalations in recent fighting that threaten to derail diplomatic efforts to prevent a major expansion of the war in the Gaza Strip.

The rocket attack from Lebanon was the second in two days to cause casualties in northern Israel, striking a military base near the city of Safed — beyond the border zone Israel has evacuated for months because of the fighting. A soldier was killed, the military said, identifying her as serving with Israel’s border protection service. Eight other people were wounded, according to Magen David Adom, the emergency medical service.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia allied with Hamas, the armed group Israel been battling in Gaza for more than four months. Hezbollah and Israel have launched dozens of tit-for-tat strikes across the border, fueling fears that the exchanges could expand to a full-fledged second front in the war.

Within hours of the rocket attack, Israel’s military said that it had carried out strikes against “a series of Hezbollah terrorist targets,” including compounds and control rooms. Lebanese broadcasters showed images and videos of smoke plumes and destruction. The state news agency reported that strikes hit at least eight areas, killing a woman and her two children; Hezbollah said that three of its fighters had also been killed, and a senior official with the group, Hashem Safieddine, vowed a response.

On Wednesday night, Lebanon’s state media reported that an Israel drone strike on an apartment building killed four more people in Nabatieh, in southern Lebanon, all members of the same family. The regional governor said that amid the escalating violence, schools and government offices in Nabatieh would be closed on Thursday.

Israeli officials have warned repeatedly that they would take much stronger military action in Lebanon if the cross-border violence continued; Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and 2006 in response to such attacks.

Benny Gantz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency war cabinet, said on Monday that Israel could target the Lebanese military in addition to Hezbollah. Any incursion into Lebanon or strikes on the Lebanese military would mark a major escalation in the conflict.

“It is important that we be clear — the one responsible for the fire from Lebanon is not only Hezbollah or the terrorist elements that carry it out, but also the government of Lebanon and the Lebanese state that allows the shooting from its territory,” Mr. Gantz said, adding: “There is no target or military infrastructure in the area of ​​the north and Lebanon that is not in our sights.”

The Israeli military’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, cautioned that “this is not the time to stop” striking Hezbollah — which, like Hamas, is backed by Iran — and warned that “there is still a long way to go.”

Hezbollah has been equally defiant. Hassan Nazrallah, the group’s leader, said on Tuesday, “You escalate, we escalate.”

The latest strikes threatened to derail diplomatic efforts by the United States and others to defuse the cross-border tensions. A Western diplomat said on Tuesday that France had presented a proposal to Israel, Lebanon’s government and Hezbollah. The French proposal details a 10-day process of de-escalation and calls for Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters to a distance of about six miles from the border, according to the diplomat, who is involved in the talks and who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations.

The clashes between Hezbollah and Israel have displaced more than 150,000 people on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border since the war with Hamas began.

Mr. Netanyahu has been wary of opening a second front while the Israeli military continues to press its invasion of Gaza, but he has faced calls from some of the displaced residents and political hard-liners — including some in his own far-right governing coalition — to take stronger action.

Avigdor Liberman, a former top adviser to Mr. Netanyahu who now leads an opposition party, accused the government of waving a “white flag” at Hezbollah by failing to take strong enough steps to stop the rocket attacks.

“The war cabinet surrendered to Hezbollah and lost the north,” he wrote on social media on Wednesday after the attack on Safed.

Israel’s military said that the rockets from Lebanon had landed in the areas of Netu’a, Manara and a military base near Safed, a city of nearly 40,000 people, about eight miles south of the border. Four Israeli military bases sit near Safed, and rocket warnings there are not uncommon, but fatalities and direct hits are rare, said Tamir Engel, a spokesman for the city.

In early January, Hezbollah fired rockets toward a small military base in the area. The group said that it was retaliating for the assassination days earlier of a senior Hamas commander in Lebanon; Israel said at the time that the attack had caused no casualties.

Euan Ward, Adam Sella and Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

The W.H.O. expresses concern that Nasser Hospital could soon cease to function.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday expressed fears that an important hospital serving southern Gaza might soon stop functioning, saying that it had been cut off by fierce fighting and that Israel had refused to allow in medical resupply missions, an allegation the Israeli military has denied.

The hospital, the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, has been surrounded for more than a week by Israeli forces, and on Tuesday the Israeli military ordered civilians sheltering there to evacuate. A video shared on social media on Wednesday and verified by The New York Times showed crowds of people carrying belongings and bedding leaving Nasser Hospital as explosions are heard in the background.

In the intensifying hostilities, at least 10 civilians have reportedly been killed, a perimeter gate demolished and two warehouses holding stocks of medicines largely destroyed, according to Rik Peeperkorn, the W.H.O.’s representative for the West Bank and Gaza.

The W.H.O. last had access to the hospital, the largest in southern Gaza and one of the few still functioning in the territory, on Jan. 29, Dr. Peeperkorn said. Speaking by video link from Rafah, in southern Gaza, he said the W.H.O. had applied to Israel to conduct two missions in the last five days to resupply the hospital with medicine and to assess its condition, but Israel had denied both requests.

“Without this support, and without being able to access this hospital, it might well become nonfunctional,” Dr. Peeperkorn said.

On Monday, after the head of the W.H.O. said that an agency team had been denied access to Nasser Hospital, COGAT, the Israeli body that coordinates policy for the Palestinian territories, said that the agency had “never submitted a coordination request” and that the W.H.O. should avoid “baselessly accusing” Israel.

Nasser Hospital was treating about 400 patients on Wednesday, including roughly 80 in intensive care and 35 who were receiving dialysis, Dr. Peeperkorn said. But any movement outside the complex was dangerous because of fighting in the area, he added, and it was unclear where civilians should go because other hospitals were overcrowded.

Al-Najjar Hospital, the main medical center in Rafah, to the south of Khan Younis, was treating more than 300 patients in a facility with 65 beds, leaving many to receive treatment on the floor, he said. Al-Najjar had served only as a primary health center before the war began on Oct. 7.

United Nations agencies and the W.H.O. have been obstructed by Israel’s repeated denials, delays and postponements of proposed aid convoys, Dr. Peeperkorn said. U.N. officials have reported that northern Gaza has been largely cut off from assistance this year. But since January, he said, Israel has facilitated fewer than half the proposed aid convoys to the south.

“Even when there is no cease-fire,” Dr. Peeperkorn said, “humanitarian corridors should exist so that W.H.O., the U.N. and parties can do their job.”

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

Reports that Israel has stopped taking part in cease-fire talks anger hostages’ families.

As talks continued in Cairo toward an Israel-Hamas cease-fire, Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told his negotiators not to take part, infuriating some family members of hostages still in Gaza who say that the government is not doing enough to rescue their relatives.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office did not directly confirm or deny the reports, instead issuing a statement saying that Hamas had not made any new proposal, but that “a change in Hamas’s position will allow progress in the negotiations.”

Mr. Netanyahu later posted on social media that “strong military pressure and very tough negotiations” would be key to freeing more of the remaining hostages seized during the Hamas-led assault on Israel on Oct. 7. He praised the Israeli military operation that freed two hostages held by Hamas in Rafah on Monday.

Officials from Israel and the United States met this week with Hamas mediators from Qatar and Egypt to discuss a possible deal to trade hostages for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and to suspend the four-month war in Gaza.

Those talks are still underway in Cairo, but, according to Israeli news outlets, Mr. Netanyahu told Israel’s representatives not to return to Cairo.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, the main alliance of the hostages’ family members, responded to the reports by protesting outside the homes of Mr. Netanyahu; Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister; and Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, on Wednesday evening.

“This decision amounts in effect to sacrificing knowingly all of the hostages’ lives,” the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said in a statement.

The group has mounted increasingly aggressive protests against Mr. Netanyahu’s government to urge it to prioritize the release of their family members. More than 130 hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 remain in Gaza, including at least 30 who are believed to have died, according to the Israeli security services.

Other family members have said that the Israeli military should continue its war against Hamas until it has reached its goals, even if that means their relatives must remain in captivity.

Officials have said that in negotiations, Israel and Hamas were far apart on the number of imprisoned Palestinians who would be exchanged for the hostages and on the duration of a cease-fire. Hamas has demanded an end to the war and the withdrawal of Israeli troops, while Israel insists that it will only agree to a temporary pause in the fighting.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called on Wednesday for Hamas to speed up an exchange of hostages for prisoners to spare Palestinian people further “catastrophe” in the war, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.

The F.B.I. director makes a secret trip to Israel.

Christopher A. Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made an unannounced trip to Israel on Wednesday to meet with officials from the country’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the F.B.I. said.

As part of the visit, his first to Israel since the Hamas-led terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, Mr. Wray also spoke with F.B.I. agents working in Israel, the bureau said in a statement on Wednesday, stressing the importance of their efforts to counter threats from Hezbollah and Hamas. The United States designates both as terrorist groups.

Mr. Wray spoke with officials from Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency; Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the F.B.I.; and the Israeli National Police, according to a person familiar with his trip to Israel, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Details of the trip were made public after Mr. Wray had departed Israel.

The F.B.I. has been working closely with its counterparts in Israel after the attacks on Oct. 7, which Israeli authorities say killed about 1,200 people. About 250 others, including American dual nationals, were abducted in the attacks. The F.B.I. has opened cases involving crimes against Americans committed by Hamas or others.

“The F.B.I.’s partnership with our Israeli counterparts is longstanding, close and robust,” Mr. Wray said in a statement, “and I’m confident the closeness of our agencies contributed to our ability to move so quickly in response to these attacks, and to ensure our support is as seamless as possible.”

The United States has created a C.I.A. task force to help Israel hunt down Hamas’s top leaders while America’s spy agencies have also raised the priority of intelligence collection on Hamas. The C.I.A. has also been heavily involved in negotiations for the release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and its allies, and President Biden has dispatched the agency’s director, William J. Burns, to join the cease-fire talks in Cairo.

After the visit, Mr. Wray headed to Germany for the Munich Security Conference.

Relatives of Gaza hostages rally in The Hague to draw attention to a war crimes complaint against Hamas.

Relatives of hostages being held in Gaza flew from Israel to The Hague on Wednesday on an emotional trip designed to draw attention to a complaint filed a day earlier against the leaders of Hamas at the International Criminal Court, accusing them of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including hostage-taking, killings and acts of sexual violence.

The hostage families, numbering about 100 people and accompanied by two former hostages who were released in November, said they had come to try to make sure that justice would be done. The case is being led by the legal team of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, an Israeli nongovernmental organization advocating for the release of the captives, and the Canada-based Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights.

“The goal of so many families coming here together is to give backup to the complaint,” said Amit Levy, 21, the brother of Naama Levy, 19, who was seen in a harrowing video soon after her abduction from Nahal Oz being dragged by her hair from the back of a jeep in Gaza, her sweatpants bloodied.

“Those responsible must pay some kind of price,” Mr. Levy said.

After arriving in the Hague, the families appeared at a rally in support of their cause in a square near the court, holding up portraits of the captives, as hundreds of supporters stood under umbrellas in the driving rain, waving Israeli flags and chanting, “Bring them home now!”

“It is heartwarming to see,” said Moshe Or, 33, whose brother, Avinatan Or, 31, was kidnapped along with his partner, Noa Argamani, as they tried to flee from the Nova music festival.

“It’s important to use the international tools that are more often used against Israel,” he added, of the effort to seek international justice.

More than 250 people were abducted to Gaza during the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, mostly from border communities, army bases, and an outdoor music festival. About half remain in captivity, though Israel has confirmed that at least 31 are dead.

The Israeli government does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and is not a signatory to its founding treaty. But unlike the International Court of Justice, the top U.N. court where South Africa has filed a case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, the International Criminal Court allows people to bring cases against individuals suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, must now evaluate the evidence submitted to the court, based on the testimony of about 100 witnesses, according to Dana Pugach, a member of the hostage forum’s legal team. Some witnesses are expected to testify in person at The Hague.

The prosecutor will then decide whether to press charges against the accused Hamas leaders, who have not been publicly named by the legal team, and whether to issue arrest warrants.

“We came to sue Hamas,” said Shani Yerushalmi, 25, who was traveling with her sister May, 21. Their sister Eden, 24, was kidnapped from the music festival and remains in Gaza.

The sisters, who in recent months have gone with hostage family delegations to Paris and Washington, said they hoped their action would put pressure on Hamas and have some influence on world opinion. Their mother mostly stays home surrounded by friends, they said, and their father prays much of the time while they “do the journeys.”

Biden shields Palestinians in the U.S. from deportation.

President Biden on Wednesday shielded thousands of Palestinians in the United States from deportation for the next 18 months, using an obscure immigration authority as he faces mounting criticism over U.S. support for Israel in the Gaza war.

About 6,000 Palestinians are eligible for the reprieve under a program called Deferred Enforced Departure, which allows immigrants whose homelands are in crisis to remain in the United States and work legally.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Biden said that “many civilians remain in danger” in Gaza after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

“Therefore, I am directing the deferral of removal of certain Palestinians who are present in the United States,” he said.

The decision comes as Mr. Biden faces pressure over the war, particularly among Arab Americans who were once a reliable constituency for him. In recent weeks, pro-Palestinian groups have been demonstrating outside his campaign stops, chanting “Genocide Joe.”

While Mr. Biden’s criticism of the war has grown more forceful since the Oct. 7 attack, the United States has not signaled that it plans major policy changes such as putting conditions on billions of dollars in military aid to Israel.

Israel’s war against Hamas has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Much of Gaza has been left in ruins as Israel bombards the territory in retaliation for the attacks on Oct. 7, when Hamas killed more than 1,200 people in Israel.

Abed Ayoub, the executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, praised the decision to exempt Palestinians from deportation.

“There is a desperate need for this,” he said. “We see the situation in Gaza and Palestine is not getting better, and this is something that is welcome, and we are glad to see it implemented. We hope other measures can come into place.”

There are some exemptions to Mr. Biden’s order. Palestinians who have been convicted of felonies or those “who are otherwise deemed to pose a public safety threat” would not be protected from deportation, Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said in a statement.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed for a crackdown on Palestinians. Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, a former Trump administration official, introduced legislation in November that would have revoked visas from Palestinians and prevented them from receiving refugee status or asylum in the United States.

Mr. Biden’s decision to shield Palestinians from deportation has been in the works for some time. More than 100 staff members at the Department of Homeland Security signed an open letter to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, in the fall, saying the agency should extend some protections to Palestinians.

Some congressional Democrats have also called on the administration to find a way to protect Palestinians in the United States.

“In light of ongoing armed conflict, Palestinians already in the United States should not be forced to return to the Palestinian territories, consistent with President Biden’s stated commitment to protecting Palestinian civilians,” they wrote in November in a letter, which Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and others signed.

The lawmakers said the population should be covered under Deferred Enforced Departure or a similar program known as Temporary Protected Status, which has been used to help people from Venezuela, Afghanistan, Ukraine and elsewhere. (Deferred Enforced Departure is currently being used to help people from Hong Kong and Liberia.)

Ahilan Arulanantham, a director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, said the short-term practical effect was the same under both programs.

“Every qualifying individual would have protection from deportation and the ability to obtain employment authorization,” he said.

But he cautioned that the longer-term differences could be significant. Palestinians could be more at risk of having the protections lapse in 18 months because they are at the discretion of the president, Mr. Arulanantham said.

Temporary Protected Status, by contrast, requires agency officials at the Department of Homeland Security to assess the protections before they expire.

Earlier this month, Mr. Biden ordered financial and travel sanctions on four Israeli settlers accused of violent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. While the war is centered in Gaza, there is also growing violence in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967 and is home to more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

An Israeli minister blocks flour from reaching UNRWA in Gaza.

The Israeli finance ministry has blocked deliveries of food for Gaza because the shipments were intended to reach the main U.N. agency for Palestinians, Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Tuesday.

Mr. Smotrich, a hard-right settler leader, said in a statement that he had issued a directive not to transfer flour shipments to the agency, known as UNRWA, citing allegations that some of its employees were affiliated with Hamas, including 12 accused of participating in the armed group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Last week, a subcontractor handling the shipments for UNRWA received a call from Israel’s customs agency — which is housed in Mr. Smotrich’s ministry — ordering it not to process any UNRWA goods in its warehouse, said Juliette Touma, an UNRWA spokeswoman.

About 1,050 containers — much of it flour — have been held up at the Israeli port of Ashdod, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, told reporters on Friday. The amount was enough to feed 1.1 million Gazans for a month, he said. Mr. Lazzarini said UNRWA still has enough supplies to feed Gazans for three months, but only because the food is now being routed through Egypt rather than Israel.

Israel’s action once again put it at odds with the Biden administration, which has criticized the Israeli conduct of the war in increasingly blunt terms. “That flour has not moved the way that we had expected it would move, and we expect that Israel will follow through on its commitment to get that flour into Gaza,” Jake Sullivan, president Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

Mr. Smotrich said another aid distribution mechanism would be found “that would not reach Hamas,” which he said was utilizing UNRWA as a “key part of its war machine.” UNRWA has said it is investigating the allegations, but has stood by its work as essential humanitarian relief in a complex situation.

In an effort to get more aid into Gaza, American, British and European officials pushed last month for Israel to facilitate the entry of aid through Ashdod. Humanitarian aid already enters Gaza by land via the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, although it can be “very challenging to get deliveries going outside of Rafah north,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday.

Under the plan, shipments would arrive at Ashdod before entering the Strip through Kerem Shalom. After a visit from Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken last month, Israeli officials indicated that the initiative would proceed. But their signals came before the allegations were unearthed, and the proposal, for now, appears to have been complicated by Mr. Smotrich’s order blocking the shipments.

The move could also complicate Israel’s international standing. The International Court of Justice last month ordered the Israeli government to take action to prevent genocide in Gaza, including by ensuring the provision of more humanitarian aid to ease the enclave’s worsening humanitarian crisis.

Aid officials say far more relief is necessary to ease the humanitarian crisis affecting the more than two million Palestinian residents of Gaza amid dire shortages of food, water and medicine.

Roughly 1.7 million people in the territory have been displaced, many of whom are facing extreme hunger, according to the United Nations. More than one million people have squeezed in and around the southern city of Rafah, joining swelling tent cities near the Egyptian border.

Farnaz Fassihi and Erica L. Green contributed reporting.

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.”

Hundreds Flee One of Gaza’s Last Working Hospitals, Fearing Israeli Attack

Hundreds of displaced Palestinians fled one of the Gaza Strip’s last functioning hospitals on Wednesday, after the Israeli military ordered them to leave and threatened further action to stop what it said was Hamas activity there.

Thousands of Gazans have sheltered at the Nasser Medical Complex in the southern city of Khan Younis for weeks, and many are terrified that Israeli forces will bombard or storm the complex, said Mohammed Abu Lehya, a doctor there. Previous Israeli warnings to evacuate hospitals, including Al-Shifa, the largest in Gaza, have often preceded military raids.

Hanin Abu Tiba, 27, an English teacher sheltering at the hospital, described dire conditions inside, with food running out and aid convoys all but unable to deliver supplies. In text messages overnight, she said that she had seen an Israeli military vehicle outside the hospital gate.

“I’m terrified to leave the hospital and get shot,” she said. But inside the complex, she said, “the electricity is cutting out, and the water, and the canned food is almost gone. We don’t know what to do.”

Dr. Abu Lehya, in a WhatsApp message on Wednesday, called conditions at the hospital “beyond imagination.”

The tensions at the hospital played out as Israel carried out extensive airstrikes in southern Lebanon on Wednesday in response to a deadly rocket attack on northern Israel. The rocket attack struck a military base near the city of Safed, killing a soldier and wounding eight people, the Israeli authorities said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia allied with Hamas.

Israeli forces have been expanding their offensive in Khan Younis for weeks, saying they are targeting Hamas militants in the city. Israeli leaders have also vowed to invade Rafah, farther south, calling it Hamas’s last stronghold. More than a million people have sought shelter in Rafah, raising international alarm at what could happen should Israel begin a full-scale military operation there.

The Israeli military on Wednesday accused Hamas of conducting military activity on the grounds of Nasser hospital and said the area “was used to hold hostages.”

“We demand the immediate cessation of all military activity in the area of the hospital and the immediate departure of military operatives from it,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

The military also instructed civilians to evacuate, though it said it had not called on patients and medical staff to leave. It called for civilians sheltering at the hospital to go to “safer spaces” in southern and central Gaza, and said that Israel had “opened a secure route to evacuate the civilian population.”

A video shared on social media on Wednesday and verified by The New York Times showed crowds of people, many carrying belongings and bedding, leaving the hospital as explosions sounded in the background.

But many Palestinians and aid groups say that no place in Gaza is safe, and doctors at the hospital and the Gazan health ministry said that some people who tried to flee the hospital compound on Tuesday were shot at by Israeli soldiers, who killed some and wounded others.

The Israeli military did not respond to questions about those reports.

As Israeli troops approached the hospital, negotiators met in Cairo for a second day of discussions aimed at reaching an agreement that could pause the fighting and free the remaining hostages taken to Gaza during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on Israel. But Israel and Hamas do not appear to be close to a deal.

An Egyptian official briefed on the talks after a first day of high-level negotiations on Tuesday ended without an agreement described the tenor of the negotiations as positive.

On Wednesday, however, the Israeli news media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pulled the Israeli delegation from the talks — something that his office, in a statement did not directly address. But the statement said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed that Israel will not submit to Hamas’s delusional demands.”

The news reports infuriated a group representing relatives of the Israeli hostages, the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, which has been pressing Mr. Netanyahu to do more to secure the release of the captives. To pull out of the talks, the group said, would be to “consciously sacrifice the lives of the abductees.” It said it planned to protest outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, which partly administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Wednesday urged Hamas and Israel to reach an agreement, saying it could prevent a devastating Israeli incursion into Rafah.

“We call on everyone, especially the Hamas movement, to quickly complete the deal so that we can protect our people and remove all obstacles,” Mr. Abbas said in a statement reported by Wafa, the authority’s official news agency. Mr. Abbas leads Fatah, a political party that is a rival of Hamas.

With food, water and medicine in desperately short supply in Gaza, the Biden administration on Wednesday called on Israel to stop blocking flour shipments to UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency for Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Tuesday that he had issued a directive not to transfer flour to UNRWA, citing allegations that some of its employees were tied to Hamas, including 12 accused of having roles in the Oct. 7 attack and its aftermath.

About 1,050 containers, most filled with flour, were held up at the Israeli port of Ashdod, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, told reporters on Friday. That would be enough to feed 1.1 million Gazans for a month, he said.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said: “That flour has not moved the way that we had expected it would move. We expect that Israel will follow through on its commitment to get that flour into Gaza.”

At Nasser hospital, some medical workers were packing their belongings and preparing their families to flee.

“We are all scared,” said Dr. Mohammad Abu Moussa, a radiologist.

But Dr. Moussa said that even though he was worried about an assault on the hospital, he and his wife had decided to remain for now. They and their two surviving children — a third was killed in an airstrike in October — have been staying at the hospital for weeks.

“I have no other choice,” Dr. Abu Moussa said. “I don’t have anywhere to go in Rafah, and I have young children, and they can’t walk long distances like that.”

Nasser was treating about 400 patients on Wednesday, including about 80 in intensive care, with 35 on dialysis, said Rik Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization’s representative for the West Bank and Gaza.

The W.H.O. last had access to the hospital, the largest in southern Gaza, on Jan. 29, he said. He said that the W.H.O. had sought Israeli permission to carry out two missions in the last five days to resupply the hospital with medicine and to assess its condition, but that Israel had denied the requests.

“Without this support, and without being able to access this hospital, it might well become nonfunctional,” Dr. Peeperkorn said via video from Rafah.

The Israeli military has previously rejected accusations that it has blocked medical supply missions. On Monday, after the W.H.O. said that it had been denied access to the hospital, the Israeli agency that coordinates policy for the Palestinian territories said that the W.H.O. had “never submitted a coordination request.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said in a statement: “Nasser is the backbone of the health system in southern Gaza. It must be protected. Humanitarian access must be allowed.”

Reporting was contributed by Rawan Sheikh Ahmad, Aaron Boxerman, Adam Sella, Gaya Gupta, Johnatan Reiss, Patrick Kingsley and Erica L. Green.

Europe Wants to Stand on Its Own Militarily. Is It Too Little, Too Late?

As Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany broke ground for a new ammunition factory this week, he celebrated a move that should enable the country to restore its almost entirely depleted arsenal of artillery shells.

But despite his portrayal of the groundbreaking as another German response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began two years ago this month, it was also a reminder of how slow the European reaction has been. It will be a year before the new factory is able to produce 50,000 rounds annually, with hopes of doubling that in 2026.

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The U.K. Labour Party’s Worst Enemy Might Be Itself

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These days, the only thing that can stop the Labour Party, it seems, is the Labour Party.

For more than a year, the leader of Britain’s main opposition party, Keir Starmer, has sat on a double-digit lead in the polls over the Conservative Party. But a pair of embarrassing suspensions of Labour parliamentary candidates for their comments about Israel, a week after a messy reversal on climate policy, have thrown Mr. Starmer on the defensive, raising questions about his management skills and taking the spotlight off the long-suffering Conservatives.

“Keir has had a really good, long run but he’s not Man City,” said John McTernan, a political strategist, referring to the Manchester soccer club that is a perennial champion of Britain’s Premier League. “The question is, can he come back next week fighting?”

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In Venezuela, You’re a Critic One Day, and Arrested the Next

Of all the government critics, few thought that Rocío San Miguel would be the one to disappear.

Ms. San Miguel, 57, has long been one of Venezuela’s best known security experts, a woman who dared investigate her country’s authoritarian government even as others fled. She is also a moderate, has international recognition and appeared to have strong contacts in the secretive world of the Venezuelan military, qualities that her peers thought might protect her.

But late last week, Ms. San Miguel arrived at the airport outside Caracas with her daughter, bound for what a relative called a short trip to Miami, when she was picked up by counterintelligence agents. Soon after, her family began to disappear, too. The daughter, two brothers and two former romantic partners. Gone.

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A Feared Ex-General Appears Set to Become Indonesia’s New Leader

Indonesia’s defense minister, a feared former general who was removed from the army after he was found responsible for the kidnapping of political dissidents, appeared to be on track to win the presidential election outright on Wednesday, casting doubts on the future of one of the world’s most vibrant democracies.

The candidate, Prabowo Subianto, had a commanding lead in the three-way race for president, with more than 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies that have a history of accurately predicting the final results. The two other presidential candidates said it was too early to declare a winner.

If the projections are confirmed, Indonesia — the world’s third-largest democracy — will be left contending with a president who has said that the country needs neither elections nor democracy, who was barred from entering the United States for two decades because of his human rights record and who was long associated with Indonesia’s former dictator, Suharto.

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Austin, Speaking by Video, Reiterates U.S. Support for Ukraine

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, speaking by video, told defense ministers meeting in Brussels Wednesday that the United States would maintain its support for Ukraine, but he made no mention of a multibillion-dollar aid package that has yet to gain Congressional approval.

Mr. Austin delivered his remarks in a five-minute address via video link to a meeting of some 50 countries from the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which marshals military aid for the country.

“We will continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with both short-term and long-term support,” said Mr. Austin, who had canceled his trip to Brussels because of health issues. Seated behind a desk with the flags of the United States and Ukraine behind him, he added: “The countries of this coalition, including the United States, support Ukraine because it’s the right thing to do and because it is in our core national security interests.”

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A Palestinian Exile Champions an Arab Vision for Gaza

Adam Rasgon and

The reporters traveled to Abu Dhabi to meet Mohammed Dahlan at his compound on the grounds of an Emirati royal palace.

As the Gaza war rages, with civilian deaths soaring, few Arab leaders have publicly voiced their visions for the future of the battered enclave, fearing they will be accused of endorsing Israel’s actions.

But one influential Palestinian exile, in an interview with The New York Times, has provided public insight into the types of postwar plans that Arab leaders are privately discussing.

Mohammed Dahlan, an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, outlined one under which Israel and Hamas would hand power to a new and independent Palestinian leader who could rebuild Gaza under the protection of an Arab peacekeeping force.

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Ukraine, Struggling on Land, Claims to Deal Blow to Russia at Sea

Ukraine said on Wednesday that its forces had sunk a large Russian ship off the coast of Crimea before dawn, in what would be another powerful blow against the Russians at sea, as outgunned Ukrainian soldiers struggle to hold back bloody assaults on land.

The Ukrainian military released footage of the strike, which it said had resulted in the sinking of the 360-foot-long landing ship Caesar Kunikov, possibly complicating Russia’s logistical efforts in southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian claim could not be immediately confirmed, but when NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, was asked about the attack, he called Ukraine’s campaign on the Black Sea a “great achievement.”

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An English City Gave Soccer to the World. Now It Wants Credit.

As far as the man in the food truck is concerned, the patch of land he occupies in Sheffield, England, is about as humdrum as they come. To him, the spot — in the drab parking lot of a sprawling home improvement superstore, its facade plastered in lurid orange — is not exactly a place where history comes alive.

John Wilson, an academic at the University of Sheffield’s management school, looks at the same site and can barely contain his excitement. This, he said, is one of the places where the world’s most popular sport was born. He does not see a parking lot. He can see the history: the verdant grass, the sweating players, the cheering crowds.

His passion is sincere, absolute and shared by a small band of amateur historians and volunteer detectives devoted to restoring Sheffield — best known for steel, coal and as the setting for the film “The Full Monty” — to its rightful place as the undisputed birthplace of codified, organized, recognizable soccer.

Map locates Sheffield, Manchester and London in England. It also shows where Wembley Stadium is in northwest London.

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A Divided France Splits Over a National Hero

In a solemn ceremony, France paid its respects on Wednesday to Robert Badinter, the lawyer and former justice minister who came to represent the conscience of the nation, but sharp political conflicts shattered any show of unity.

The family of Mr. Badinter, a lifelong Socialist who led the campaign resulting in the 1981 abolition of capital punishment in France, demanded that neither the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, nor the far-left France Unbowed party founded by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, be allowed to attend the ceremony. Mr. Badinter died on Friday.

Between them, the two parties hold about 30 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, or the lower house of Parliament. A ceremony conceived to celebrate one man’s embodiment of the soul of France revealed instead a fissured country whose identity and essential values are contested.

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Why Farmers Are Marching Toward Delhi Again

Once again, India’s capital is bracing itself for a siege. Not by a foreign army but by an army of Indian farmers, streaming toward New Delhi from nearby states to protest government policies.

The farmers’ march has turned the city’s main points of entry into choke points, as the federal and local police go into overdrive: barricading highways by pouring concrete and stacking shipping containers to halt the advancing tractors.

The authorities have blocked the social media accounts of some protest leaders and even used drones that were once billed as an agricultural innovation to drop tear-gas grenades on the demonstrators.

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Sarkozy’s Prison Sentence Halved to 6 Months

A Paris appeals court upheld on Wednesday the 2021 conviction of former President Nicolas Sarkozy for illegally financing an election campaign but cut his sentence from one year to six months with a further six months suspended.

Mr. Sarkozy’s lawyer, Vincent Desry, immediately said that Mr. Sarkozy would appeal to France’s highest court. “Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy is fully innocent,” he said. “He has taken note of this decision and decided to appeal to the Court of Cassation.”

The appeal could take years to be resolved, ensuring that Mr. Sarkozy remains free for the foreseeable future. Whether he will ever serve time in prison remains an open question.

The former president, known for his irrepressible energy and blunt style, hurried out of court and did not take questions. He governed France between 2007 and 2012 and was sometimes dubbed “Sarko the American” for his initial embrace of free-market policies and a can-do meritocracy at some distance from the broad social protections of the French model.

Although his legal travails are many and various, he has remained an important political figure, with some influence over President Emmanuel Macron, who often turns to Mr. Sarkozy’s center-right Republicans party for support in Parliament.

The verdict on Wednesday centered on the “Bygmalion affair,” so called because Mr. Sarkozy is accused of turning to a public relations and event planning company of that name to hide the true cost of his failed 2012 re-election campaign. Under French law, spending on electoral campaigns is capped to ensure a level playing field.

Prosecutors argued that the company issued false invoices to hide overspending from political authorities.

In 2021, he was convicted in another case on charges of corruption and influence peddling for trying to obtain information illegally from a judge to whom he promised favors. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

That sentence was upheld last year on appeal but is being reviewed on Mr. Sarkozy’s further appeal by the Court of Cassation, meaning that the former president now has two cases pending before the highest court in the land.

Mr. Sarkozy is also facing charges of having financed his successful 2007 presidential bid in part with funds provided by the former regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. That trial is set to be begin early next year.

He is also under preliminary judicial investigation for having received over $500,000 from a Russian insurance company in 2020. The inquiry seeks to establish whether this was simply a consulting fee, which would be legal, or involved lobbying on behalf of Russian oligarchs, which may not be legal.

Mr. Sarkozy, 69, has persistently denied any wrongdoing and portrayed himself in the overspending case as far too busy with the affairs of the world to have been aware of the cost of rallies, sound systems and lighting in a whirlwind campaign.

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As China Tries to Present a Friendlier Image, a New Face Emerges

Faced with declining foreign investment at home, China has sought to soften its image in the United States and Europe and make nice with some of its neighbors. One Communist Party official has played an unusually prominent role in the shift in tone.

In New York, he told an audience of scholars and businesspeople that China did not seek to rewrite the United States-led global order. In Paris, he said that China’s modernization would benefit Europe and the world. In Beijing, he told the ambassador of India, a regional rival, that China hoped relations would “return to a healthy and stable” track.

The official, Liu Jianchao, heads the Communist Party’s diplomatic arm, a body that promotes the party’s ideology and influence abroad. His recent engagements suggest to analysts, however, that he has been auditioning for the role of China’s next foreign minister.

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Here’s How Mexicans Living Abroad Can Vote in This Year’s Election

Two women will face off for Mexico’s highest office in what is set to be a historic election this spring.

Mexicans will choose their first female president on June 2, and they will also vote to renew all 500 deputies for the lower chamber of Congress and the 128 members of the Senate. At the same time, 30 of the country’s 32 states will be holding elections — with 19,000 state and local offices up for grabs.

This is the first national election in which Mexico will allow residents living abroad to vote in person. More than 12 million citizens live outside the country, 97 percent of them in the United States, according to the Institute of Mexicans Abroad. But in order to vote, those citizens must first register by Feb. 20.

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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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    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.

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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.

    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.

    “In some ways she really is like the embodiment of TV history” in Japan, said Aaron Gerow, a professor of East Asian literature and film at Yale University.

    Ms. Kuroyanagi is distinguished above all by her longevity, but she was also a trailblazing woman in an overwhelmingly male environment.

    When she started as a variety show host in 1972, if she asked a question, “I was told I should just keep my mouth shut,” she recalled in a nearly two-hour interview in a hotel near the studio where she had taped three episodes earlier in the day.

    “I do think Japan has changed from that era,” she said.

    She has championed the deaf and is a good-will ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Yet critics say that despite her pioneering career, she has done little to advance women’s causes. “She is an icon for prosperous, good-old” Japan, wrote Kaori Hayashi, a professor of media studies at the University of Tokyo, in an email message.

    In the interview, Ms. Kuroyanagi did not dwell on the indignities of being the sole woman in many rooms. She said that in her 30s and 40s, men in the television industry asked her on dates or proposed marriage — offers that she implied were often unwelcome — and that she treated comments that might now be considered inappropriate as jokes.

    In a society that she said retained “feudalist” elements in gender relations, she advised women to bootstrap their way through their careers.

    “Don’t ever say you can’t do anything because you are a woman,” she said.

    Although she said she entered television because she wanted to appear in children’s programming to prepare for motherhood, she never married or had children. “With a unique job, it’s better to stay single,” she said. “It’s more comfortable.”

    Her first memoir, about her childhood attending an unusual progressive elementary school in Tokyo, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, published in 1981, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Last fall, she published a sequel recounting the harsh conditions in Japan during World War II, when some days all she had to eat were 15 roasted beans, and she and her mother cowered in a dugout to shelter from air raids over Tokyo.

    She said she was inspired to write the sequel in part by the images she saw coming out of Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Ms. Kuroyanagi plumbed her own memories of a wartime childhood, when her mother evacuated the family out of Tokyo to northern Japan.

    “Even though I haven’t said war is bad,” she said, “I want people to understand what it was like for a child to experience the war.”

    Ms. Kuroyanagi maintains a childlike quality herself. For the interview, she switched out of her signature onion hair bun, concealing her own hair under an ash-blond Shirley Temple-style curly bob wig, secured with an enormous black velvet bow.

    It is all part of a nonthreatening persona she has cultivated over the decades. “She’s kind of adorable and cute,” said Kumiko Nemoto, a professor of management in the School of Business Administration at Senshu University in Tokyo, where she focuses on gender issues. “She doesn’t criticize anything or bring up anything political or say any negative things.”

    That may be why, Gorbachev aside, Ms. Kuroyanagi has avoided interviews with politicians. “It’s too difficult for them to really tell the truth,” she said. “And I can’t make all of them all look good.”

    Although sometimes compared to Barbara Walters, the groundbreaking American newswoman, Ms. Kuroyanagi does not push her interview subjects too hard. Producers ask guests in advance what topics they want to avoid or promote, and Ms. Kuroyanagi tends to oblige.

    During the taping this week, her guest was Kankuro Nakamura VI, a sixth-generation Kabuki actor whose father and grandfather were also regular visitors on Ms. Kuroyanagi’s couch. Mr. Nakamura seemed to anticipate some questions about his family before they scrolled on to the teleprompter.

    “What I put the highest priority on is that I control the situation with guests so that the audience will not think the guest is a weird or bad person,” Ms. Kuroyanagi said. “If possible I want the audience to realize, ‘Oh, this person is quite nice.’”

    When Mr. Gorbachev appeared on her show in 2001, Ms. Kuroyanagi avoided politics. “It would have been a big deal for him,” she said. Instead, she asked him about his favorite poets, and he recited “The Sail,” by the 19th-century romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov. “I said I wished that if I asked such a question of any Japanese politician, it would be great if there was even one politician who could do that,” she said.

    As she has grown older, she has forthrightly faced the challenges of her own generation on the sound stage at TV Asahi, the home of her show for 49 years. Before his death in 2016, for example, Ms. Kuroyanagi interviewed Rokusuke Ei, the lyricist of the song “Sukiyaki.” He appeared in a wheelchair, clearly showing symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease. Ms. Kuroyanagi frankly discussed his illness with him.

    “Old people are definitely encouraged by her presence,” said Takahiko Kageyama, a professor of media studies at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto.

    With her speech noticeably slowed, Ms. Kuroyanagi said she was motivated to keep working to inspire older audiences. “To show that a person can appear on TV until I am 100 with a body that is OK and my mind still works,” she said, “if I can show that, I think that would be an interesting experiment.”

    Hisako Ueno and Kiuko Notoya contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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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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    En Venezuela, un día eres crítico y al siguiente estás detenido

    De todos los críticos del gobierno, pocos pensaban que Rocío San Miguel sería la que iba a desaparecer.

    San Miguel, de 57 años, durante mucho tiempo ha sido una de las expertas en seguridad más conocidas de Venezuela, una mujer que se atrevió a investigar al gobierno autoritario de su país incluso cuando otros huían. También es moderada, cuenta con reconocimiento internacional y parecía tener fuertes contactos en el hermético mundo del ejército venezolano, cualidades que sus colegas pensaban que podrían protegerla.

    El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

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    El Carnaval de Brasil solo empieza cuando llega John Travolta (el que mide 4 metros)

    Jack Nicas y Dado Galdieri reportaron este artículo entre los gigantescos muñecos de las celebraciones de Carnaval en Olinda, Brasil

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    Era casi el comienzo de una de las celebraciones más famosas del Carnaval en Brasil, en la ciudad costera de Olinda, al norte del país, y la plaza de la ciudad estaba repleta de miles de asistentes. Todos esperaban a su ídolo.

    Justo antes de las 9 p. m., las puertas de un salón de baile se abrieron de par en par, una banda de música se abrió paso entre la multitud y salió la estrella que todos habían estado esperando: un muñeco de John Travolta de cuatro metros.

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    Una redada israelí en Rafah rescata a 2 rehenes y mata a decenas, según las autoridades

    Las fuerzas de operaciones especiales israelíes asaltaron a primera hora del lunes un edificio de la ciudad de Rafah, en el sur de Gaza, y liberaron a dos rehenes que estaban en poder de Hamás, según informó el ejército, mientras Israel lanzaba una oleada de ataques en los que murieron decenas de palestinos en la ciudad, según el ministerio de Salud gazatí.

    El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

    La operación nocturna —solo la segunda vez que las fuerzas israelíes dicen haber rescatado a cautivos en Gaza— provocó alegría en Israel, donde el destino de más de 100 personas secuestradas durante el ataque dirigido por Hamás el 7 de octubre se ha convertido en una de las principales prioridades del país.

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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.

    El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

    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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