The New York Times 2024-02-19 22:39:48

Middle East Crisis: Crew Abandons Cargo Ship After Houthi Missile Attack

The attack on the ship appeared to be one of the Houthis’ most damaging.

The crew of a cargo ship in the Red Sea was forced to abandon ship after it came under attack on Monday from the Houthi militia in Yemen, who have been firing missiles at ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in what the group says is a campaign to pressure Israel to end its war in the Gaza Strip.

The attack on the ship, the Rubymar, appeared to be one of the Houthis’ most damaging so far. Most of the armed group’s missile and drone assaults on ships have failed to inflict serious damage.

But the strike on Monday night, involving two anti-ship ballistic missiles launched from Yemen between 9:30 and 10:45 p.m., according to the U.S. military, was enough to drive the crew off the vessel. The military’s Central Command said that one of the missiles struck the Rubymar, “causing damage” and prompting the crew to make a distress call.

A warship that is part of a U.S.-led coalition, as well as another merchant ship, responded to the call, and the crew was taken “to a nearby port by the merchant vessel,” Central Command said in a statement.

A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said in a statement on Monday that the militia had fired “a number of missiles” at the vessel, severely damaging it, bringing it to a “complete halt” and leaving it “at risk of sinking.” The New York Times could not verify those claims.

An employee who answered the phone at the Rubymar’s management office in Lebanon, GMZ Ship Management, confirmed that the attack had taken place and that the crew had abandoned ship, but said the company would not provide further information until the crew reaches a safe port.

A British government maritime agency also reported that a ship had come under attack about 30 nautical miles south of al-Mokha in Yemen, prompting the crew to abandon it. The agency did not identify the ship.

The Houthis, an Iran-backed militia that controls much of northwestern Yemen, have carried out dozens of attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden over the past few months, portraying the attacks as a campaign to pressure Israel to end its siege on Gaza.

Initially, they said they were attacking ships owned by Israelis or sailing to and from Israeli ports, but they have targeted ships unrelated to Israel and going to other destinations. In early January, the United States and Britain formed a military coalition that has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen in an attempt to deter the attacks, and since then the Houthis have vowed to target American and British ships as well.

The Rubymar sails with a Belize flag, but its registered owner is based in Britain, according to Equasis, a maritime database.

Mr. Sarea, the Houthi military spokesman, said the Houthis “will not hesitate to take more military measures” against “all hostile targets in defense of beloved Yemen and in confirmation of the position of support for the Palestinian people.”

Though most of the group’s attacks have caused limited damage, they have still upended global shipping. Yemen overlooks the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a key shipping lane that leads to the Suez Canal. Hundreds of ships are now avoiding the Suez Canal and sailing an extra 4,000 miles around Africa, burning fuel, inflating costs and adding about 10 days of travel in each direction.

The U.S.-led coalition has repeatedly hit missiles and launchers in Yemen and intercepted drones and missiles, but so far it has failed to halt the attacks. The United States struck five Houthi targets, including an underwater drone, over the weekend.

On Monday, the European Union announced that it was launching its own operation to counter the threat posed by the Houthis, with plans to accompany vessels and protect them against attacks in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and nearby waterways.

“The European Union is responding swiftly to the necessity to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement.

Israel is discussing new limits on access to an important mosque in Jerusalem.

The Israeli government is discussing whether to increase restrictions on access to an important mosque in Jerusalem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, leading to predictions of unrest if the additional limits are enforced.

Cabinet ministers discussed on Sunday whether to bar some members of Israel’s Arab minority from attending prayers at the Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan, according to two officials briefed on the deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a sensitive matter.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that a decision on the matter had already been reached, without saying what it was. But the two officials said a final decision would be made only after the government received recommendations from the security services in the coming days.

Israel has long limited access to Al Aqsa for Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and since the start of the Gaza war, it has imposed extra restrictions on Arabs in Israel. But some had hoped those limits would be largely lifted for Ramadan, which starts in early March.

The mosque complex is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because it was the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity that remain central to Jewish identity. By Muslim tradition, it was the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and tens of thousands of Muslims visit the mosque every day during Ramadan.

Israeli police raids at the site, riots there by young Palestinians and visits by far-right Jewish activists have often been a catalyst for wider violence, including a brief war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

The move to further restrict access was promoted in the Israeli cabinet by Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right minister for national security, who has long pushed for greater Jewish control over the site and less Muslim access to it. In recent days, he had warned that Muslim worshipers might use access to the mosque to display support for Hamas, the armed group whose Oct. 7 terrorist attack prompted Israel to launch airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza.

Analysts say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wary of angering Mr. Ben-Gvir because his ruling coalition depends on Mr. Ben-Gvir’s support. But Arab leaders as well as some Jewish Israelis have warned that by allowing Mr. Ben-Gvir to dictate policy at the mosque, Mr. Netanyahu ‌could inflame an already volatile situation‌, as well as‌ undermine freedom of worship.

The move would be “liable to pour unnecessary oil on the fire of violence,” Waleed Alhwashla, an Arab Israeli lawmaker, wrote on social media.

Dan Harel, a former deputy chief of staff in the Israeli military, said in a radio interview that the move would be “unnecessary, foolish and senseless” and might “ignite the entire Muslim world.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s office declined to comment.

Gabby Sobelman and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

The Aqsa Mosque site has long been a fuse in conflicts between Jews and Muslims.

If the Israeli government moves to restrict access for some of its Arab citizens to Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Arab leaders warn of potential conflict. The mosque is one of the holiest structures in the Islamic faith, and is a chronic flashpoint in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

The 35-acre site that encloses the mosque is known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews as the Temple Mount. The site is part of the Old City of Jerusalem, and is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

In Arabic, “aqsa” translates as farthest, and in this case it is a reference to Islamic scripture and its account of the Prophet Muhammad traveling from Mecca to the mosque in one night to pray and then ascending to heaven.

The mosque, which can hold 5,000 worshipers, is believed to have been completed early in the eighth century and faces the Dome of the Rock, the golden-domed Islamic shrine that is a widely recognized symbol of Jerusalem. Muslims consider the whole compound to be holy, with crowds of worshipers filling its courtyards to pray on holidays.

For Jews, the Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as Har Habayit, is the holiest place because it was the site of two ancient temples — the first was built by King Solomon, according to the Bible, and was later destroyed by the Babylonians; and the second stood for nearly 600 years before the Roman Empire destroyed it in the first century.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has classified the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls as a World Heritage Site, meaning it is regarded as “being of outstanding international importance and therefore as deserving special protection.”

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City, from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, then annexed the area. Israel later declared a unified Jerusalem to be its capital, though that move has never been internationally recognized.

Under a delicate status quo arrangement, an Islamic trust known as the Waqf, funded and controlled by Jordan, continued to administer Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as it had done for decades, a special role reaffirmed in Israel’s 1994 peace treaty with Jordan.

Israeli security forces maintain a presence on the site and they coordinate with the Waqf. Jews and Christians are allowed to visit, but unlike Muslims, are prohibited from praying on the grounds under the status quo arrangement. (Jews pray just below the sacred plateau at the Western Wall, the remnants of a retaining wall that once surrounded the Temple Mount.)

Tensions over what critics call the arrangement’s discrimination against non-Muslims have periodically boiled over into violence.

Israeli military operations reduce the functioning of two hospitals in southern Gaza to nearly nothing.

An Israeli raid last week has reduced one of Gaza’s biggest hospitals to little more than a shelter for a small, terrified crew of patients and medical staff, while health officials warned on Monday that food and fuel supplies were almost gone at another hospital that has endured a nearly monthlong siege in the same city, Khan Younis.

Israel says it is rooting out Hamas activity at the medical centers, which it says Hamas has used to hide military operations — accusations it has made about multiple hospitals in Gaza, backing up some claims with evidence of Hamas tunnels. Hamas and health officials deny those charges, and aid groups have called on Israel to respect international laws protecting hospitals from attack.

It was not possible to verify statements made by either the Israeli military or the health ministry.

At Nasser Medical Complex, Gaza’s second-largest hospital, 14 patients were evacuated in a United Nations mission on Sunday, the World Health Organization said. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said 18 more were evacuated on Monday. The United Nations said negotiations were continuing for the Israeli military to allow the remaining patients — numbering more than 150, according to the World Health Organization — to be evacuated.

The exodus was prompted by a raid on Thursday by Israeli troops who entered the hospital and detained what Israel said was hundreds of people, including some it said had taken part in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Thousands of displaced Palestinians sheltering there evacuated before and during the raid.

Caring for the remaining patients are 15 health care workers, with no tap water, little food and oxygen, few medical supplies and no electricity except a backup generator that maintains some lifesaving equipment, the W.H.O. said. The W.H.O.’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Sunday that Nasser was no longer functional.

The Gaza health ministry said that Israeli forces had arrested 70 medical personnel, including the director of surgery, and that eight patients had died at Nasser for lack of oxygen.

Israel has emphasized that it raided the hospital to stop Hamas activity. It said that, along with detaining the people it accused of participating in the Oct. 7 attack, it had discovered weapons in the medical complex and evidence tied to the attack.

The Red Crescent said on Monday that the situation at the other hospital in Khan Younis, Al-Amal, was “highly dangerous” after 28 days of siege, with food nearly exhausted and the fuel powering lifesaving equipment running low. It said the hospital had been attacked repeatedly and was shelled by Israeli forces on Sunday, and that Israeli troops had arrested 12 medical and administrative staff members.

A spokesman for the Israeli military referred a request for comment about Al-Amal to Israel’s agency overseeing relations with Gaza, which did not immediately comment.

On Monday, Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent, said the Israeli military had bombed the area around Al-Amal multiple times, damaging the hospital building and terrifying those inside. She said Israeli troops had shot at the hospital’s water desalination station, disabling it and leaving Al-Amal with less than three days’ supply of drinking water. About 180 people are inside, including patients, medical staff and displaced people, she said.

Video the Red Crescent posted on social media on Monday showed people in the group’s uniforms moving through the darkened hospital, using flashlights as they walked past beds in the hallways. In another video posted on Instagram on Sunday, a young man in medical scrubs described conditions at the hospital, saying Al-Amal had been under siege for so long that he had stopped counting.

“Our biggest dream is to just be able to stand by the windows. To see the sun, the streets. But, unfortunately, we can’t do that,” said the man, Saleem Aburas, whose Instagram account identifies him as a relief coordinator with the Red Crescent. “Because standing by the window means death. The occupation’s snipers are shooting at anything that moves inside the hospital.”

Eight times in a row, the Red Crescent said on Sunday, aid groups had asked Israeli forces for safe passage to deliver food, medical supplies, fuel and generator fuel to Al-Amal. Eight times, it said, they had failed to get that guarantee.

The state of the two hospitals was compounding an already dire situation for the territory’s health system, which the United Nations and aid groups have said is collapsing after Israel’s repeated attacks on hospitals.

Nada Rashwan and Ameera Harouda contributed reporting.

Palestinians tell the International Court of Justice that Israeli policies amount to ‘colonialism and apartheid.’

Representatives of the Palestinians argued at the United Nations’ top court on Monday that Israel’s decades-long occupation had violated international law and subjected Palestinians to what one said was a choice among “displacement, subjugation or death.”

The arguments began six days of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague over the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories beginning in 1967, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The proceedings, which were scheduled months before the war in Gaza began on Oct. 7, have gained added urgency amid that conflict, the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian war.

The court is scheduled to hear from representatives of more than 50 nations, including some of Israel’s allies, such as the United States and Britain, as well as critics, including China and Russia.

Israel is not participating in the oral arguments. It has said it does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction over its activities in the West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister’s office put out a statement on Monday calling the proceedings “an effort designed to infringe on Israel’s right to defend itself against existential threats.” The statement also said the hearing is “part of the Palestinian attempt to dictate the results of the diplomatic settlement without negotiations.”

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, opened the proceedings by telling the court that Israel had subjected Palestinians to decades of “colonialism and apartheid.”

“There are those who are enraged by these words,” he said. “They should be enraged by the reality we are suffering.”

Members of the large Palestinian team, which included prominent American, British and French lawyers, laid out a panoply of what they said were violations of international law over the past six decades. They said that 139 countries had recognized the state of Palestine, yet the continuing occupation and annexation of those territories was met with silence and impunity.

“Silence is not an option,” Paul Reichler, an American lawyer on the team, told the 15-judge bench. The court had the power to bring change “by upholding the law, which is all the state of Palestine asks you to do,” he said.

Riyad Mansour, a Palestinian-American diplomat, addressed the judges through tears, his voice breaking several times. He said that with the war in Gaza, Israeli breaches of international law had reached their most inhuman level, “in which no town, no village, no sanctity had been spared” from destruction.

“It is so painful to be a Palestinian today,” he said.

The court, the United Nations’ highest judicial body, is expected to issue an advisory opinion after the hearings, although it could take weeks to reach one. It will not be legally binding, and Israel has ignored opinions from the court before. But the proceeding this time comes amid growing international pressure on Israel to halt fighting in Gaza, which began after Hamas-led attacks on Israel last October.

The proceedings this week are separate from a case brought by South Africa that accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a charge Israel denies. Last month, the court ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in the territory, without ruling on whether genocide was occurring.

Still, the timing of this week’s hearings could contribute to an uncomfortable spotlight on Israel’s policies when questions about Palestinian statehood are top of mind for diplomats internationally as negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza continue.

The U.N. General Assembly first asked the court to consider Israel’s activities in Palestinian territories more than two decades ago. In 2004, the court concluded in an advisory opinion that a wall that Israel was building around the territories violated international law, although Israel ignored the finding.

Human rights groups view the proceedings this week as a long-delayed opportunity to address questions about the Israeli occupation, what they consider discriminatory practices that violate international law and Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

“Governments that are presenting their arguments to the court should seize these landmark hearings to highlight the grave abuses Israeli authorities are committing against Palestinians,” said Clive Baldwin, the senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch, which says it has documented abuses amounting to illegal persecution and apartheid.

An attempt in the Israeli Parliament to expel an opposition lawmaker falls short.

A far-left Israeli lawmaker, Ofer Cassif, has narrowly avoided being expelled from Parliament after he backed efforts to charge Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice.

Of Israel’s 120 lawmakers, 85 voted to expel Mr. Cassif — just short of the 90 required to oust a member of the Knesset, as the Parliament is known in Hebrew. Eleven lawmakers voted against the motion, and the remaining did not vote.

Right-wing lawmakers began proceedings against Mr. Cassif, a Jewish member of Hadash, a predominantly Arab political alliance, after he signed an online petition in January that accused Israel of taking “systematic and thorough steps to wipe out the population of Gaza.”

Oded Forer, a right-wing opposition lawmaker, called Mr. Cassif’s efforts “treasonous,” accusing him of endangering Israel’s security and of backing Hamas’s attacks on Israel. Mr. Forer then led efforts to expel Mr. Cassif through a law enacted in 2016 — and never previously enforced — that allows for the impeachment of lawmakers who back “armed struggle” against Israel.

Mr. Cassif was suspended from Parliament in October for 45 days after criticizing the government’s conduct of the war.

Though he survived permanent expulsion on Monday, supporters had said the effort to oust him had already highlighted the shrinking space for dissent in wartime Israel.

“The attempt to oust him is simply political persecution,” Haaretz, the main left-leaning newspaper in Israel, said in an editorial published the day before the vote. The editorial also called the effort “an antidemocratic act meant to serve as a precedent for ousting all of the Knesset’s Arab lawmakers.”

Several prominent Arab Israeli politicians were detained by the police for several hours in November as they prepared to hold a rally to protest Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

Johnatan Reiss and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.

Lula recalls Brazil’s ambassador to Israel, escalating a dispute over his war critiques.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil recalled his ambassador to Israel on Monday, as tensions escalated between the countries over the Brazilian leader’s sharp remarks against Israel’s war on Hamas.

Mr. Lula summoned the ambassador, Frederico Meyer, back to Brazil “for consultations,” according to a statement from the country’s foreign ministry.

Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, reprimanded Mr. Meyer on Monday about comments in which Mr. Lula compared Israel’s actions in the war to the Holocaust.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments,” Mr. Lula told reporters during the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Sunday. But, he then added, “it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Also on Monday, Mr. Katz said Mr. Lula was not welcome in the country until he takes back his remarks.

Citing “the seriousness” of statements made by Israeli officials, Brazil’s foreign minister, Mauro Vieira, also summoned the Israeli ambassador for a meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, according to the statement.

Mr. Lula’s recall of his envoy does not represent a permanent rupture in diplomatic relations, as Brazil’s Embassy in Israel will remain open. But the discord does highlight a growing rift between Israel and countries that have been reluctant to align themselves in support of its military action in Gaza, most notably South Africa and Brazil.

Inside Aleksei Navalny’s Final Months, in His Own Words

Confined to cold, concrete cells and often alone with his books, Aleksei A. Navalny sought solace in letters. To one acquaintance, he wrote in July that no one could understand Russian prison life “without having been here,” adding in his deadpan humor: “But there’s no need to be here.”

“If they’re told to feed you caviar tomorrow, they’ll feed you caviar,” Mr. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, wrote to the same acquaintance, Ilia Krasilshchik, in August. “If they’re told to strangle you in your cell, they’ll strangle you.”

Many details about his last months — as well as the circumstances of his death, which the Russian authorities announced on Friday — remain unknown; even the whereabouts of his body are unclear.

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Shaken by Grisly Killings of Women, Activists in Africa Demand Change

A wave of gruesome killings of women across several African countries in recent weeks has prompted outrage and indignation, triggered a wave of protests and precipitated calls for governments to take decisive action against gender-based violence.

Kenyans were shocked when 31 women were killed in January after they were beaten, strangled or beheaded, activists and police said. In Somalia, a pregnant woman died this month after her husband allegedly set her on fire. In the West African nation of Cameroon, a powerful businessman was arrested in January on accusations, which he has denied, of brutalizing dozens of women.

The upsurge in killings is part of a broader pattern that got worse during economic hard times and pandemic lockdowns, human rights activists say. An estimated 20,000 gender-related killings of women were recorded in Africa in 2022, the highest rate in the world, according to the U.N. Experts believe the true figures are likely higher.

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U.N. Held a Conference on Afghanistan. Taliban Officials Boycotted It.

DOHA, Qatar — Taliban officials sent a defiant message to Western nations, donors and Afghan women’s groups this week, refusing to attend a conference hosted by the United Nations to discuss humanitarian crises facing Afghanistan and cooperation on human rights issues.

The two-day conference, which began on Sunday, was the second of its kind. It was held to try to chart a course forward for international engagement with the country. But the Taliban administration took issue with the inclusion of some groups at the meeting. Attended by special envoys from 25 countries and regional organizations, the conference is aimed at increasing international engagement with Afghanistan and developing a more coordinated response to the problems afflicting the war-torn nation.

The Taliban administration, the de facto rulers of Afghanistan since 2021, had been invited to the conference but at the last minute the group said it would not attend. In a statement, the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it should be the sole official representative of Afghanistan for talks with the international community and only then could engage in frank discussions. Inclusion of others would hinder progress, the statement added.

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Ursula von der Leyen Seeks Second Term as Top E.U. Official

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“Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”

The answer to the famous question — attributed to Henry Kissinger, but probably apocryphal — has been easier to answer over the past four years than ever before: You call Ursula von der Leyen.

President of the European Commission since 2019, Ms. von der Leyen has emerged as the face of Europe’s response to major crises, and on Monday she announced that she would seek a second five-year term.

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Navalny’s Widow Pledges to Carry On Opposition Leader’s Work

The widow of Aleksei A. Navalny said on Monday that she would carry on her husband’s work to challenge President Vladimir V. Putin’s autocratic rule, presenting herself for the first time as a political force and calling on his followers to rally alongside her.

Mr. Navalny’s sudden death in prison, which was announced by the Russian authorities on Friday, left a vacuum in a decimated Russian opposition. His supporters had wondered whether his wife, Yulia Navalnaya — who long shunned the spotlight — might step in, despite immense challenges, to fill the void.

In a video released on Monday, Ms. Navalnaya, 47, signaled that she would. She said she was appearing on her husband’s YouTube channel for the first time to tell his followers that the best way to honor his legacy was “to fight more desperately and furiously than before.”

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U.S. Strike Killed Afghans Recruited to Fight for Iran

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It was a memorial for the “martyrs” killed when the U.S. struck military bases in Syria, according to Iranian state television.

A small crowd sat in rows of folding chairs, men in the front and women in the back, at the main cemetery in Tehran, the Iranian capital, earlier this month. Children milled around and a young man passed a box of sweets. A man recited prayers through a microphone.

But the 12 fallen men weren’t Iranians. They were Afghans, according to other soldiers and local media reports, part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, a largely overlooked force that dates to the height of the Syrian civil war a decade ago. To help President Bashar al-Assad of Syria beat back rebel forces and Islamic State terrorists, Iran at the time began recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight, offering $500 a month, schooling for their children, and Iranian residency.

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Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian Territories Draws Focus of U.N. Court

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The International Court of Justice began hearing arguments on Monday on the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. It is the first time the world’s highest court has been asked to give an advisory opinion on the issue, which has been the subject of years of debates and resolutions at the United Nations.

The hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague are focusing on decades of Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But the arguments have gained urgency amid the deadliest-ever Israeli-Palestinian war, in Gaza, and less than a month after the court ordered Israel in a separate case to restrain its attacks in Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, opened the proceedings by telling the court that Israel had subjected Palestinians to decades of discrimination, leaving them with the choice of “displacement, subjugation or death.”

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Dozens Killed After Gunfight in Papua New Guinea

More than two dozen people were killed in a gunfight on Sunday in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea, where deadly violence between more than a dozen tribal groups has been escalating. The precise cause of the latest episode remained unclear.

“What I’ve been briefed on thus far is that a situation occurred in the early hours of yesterday, Sunday the 18th, in Enga where a gun battle between warring tribes ensued,” David Manning, the police chief of Papua New Guinea, told reporters, referring to Enga Province.

Officials initially reported a death toll of more than 50, but that number was revised down to 26, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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Against a Canvas of Despair, Gaza’s Artists Trace Their Struggle

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The incessant buzzing of an Israeli drone fills the room.

On one large wall, scenes of death and desperate rescues by hand through twisted metal and crushed rock play out on a video loop. A large mound of rubble — metal rods, bricks and broken plaster — extends nearly the length of the exhibition hall.

Along blue walls meant to evoke Gaza’s sky and sea hang paintings that mostly evoke life before Israel’s intense bombardment and invasion: Palestinian still lifes, native cactuses, music, cats and cows, and even one Catwoman.

The map locates The Philadelphia Museum in the West Bank, north of Jerusalem, as well as Shababek, a gallery in Gaza City.

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Israelis, Newly Vulnerable, Remain Traumatized and Mistrustful

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, Army Base Julis, Tel Aviv, and Beersheba to try to get a sense of Israel’s mood four months into the war against Hamas.

After the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7, Doron Shabty and his wife and their two small children hid in Sderot, near the border with Gaza, and survived. A reservist in the infantry, he went into the army the next day.

He just returned after more than 100 days in Gaza, having lost friends. Mr. Shabty, 31, who sees himself on the political left, said he felt no sense of revenge, even if other soldiers did. Nor did he justify every act of the Israeli military, expressing sorrow over the many thousands of Gazans killed in the fight against Hamas.

But he said he felt certain that to restore Israelis’ faith in their country’s ability to protect them, there cannot be a return to the situation of Oct. 6. “We can’t live with an armed Gaza — we just can’t do that,” he said. “And in order to disarm Gaza, you need to pay a terrible price.”

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The Father, the Son and the Fight Over Their King

Old World
Young Africa

The Father, the Son and the Fight Over Their King

The riot police appeared out of nowhere, charging furiously toward the young protesters trying to oust King Mswati III, who has ruled over the nation of Eswatini for 38 years. The pop of gunfire ricocheted through the streets, and the demonstrators started running for their lives.

Manqoba Motsa, a college student, and his fellow Communists quickly slipped into disguise, pulling plain T-shirts over their red hammer-and-sickle regalia. They ducked down a sloped street and raced away, thinking that, somehow, they had escaped.

The map locates Eswatini in southern Africa. It is bordered by the country of South Africa to the north, west, south, and southeast.

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The Death Throes of a Ukrainian City

Marc Santora and Tyler Hicks traveled with civilian volunteers to villages under Russian bombardment on the outskirts of Avdiivka, and with Ukrainian military units in the area, to report this article.

Even from a few miles away, the death rattle of another Ukrainian city echoed through the mist and fog. Russian warplanes were dropping more thousand-pound bombs on Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, reducing an already battered city to rubble and ashes.

Since Jan. 1, President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces have dropped around one million pounds of aerial bombs on an area encompassing just 12 square miles, according to estimates by Ukrainian officials and British intelligence.

Avdiivka fell to the Russians on Saturday, after some of the most horrific and destructive fighting of the two-year-old war. In the end, Russia’s superior firepower and manpower overwhelmed Ukrainian forces over many months, even as Russia incurred a staggering number of casualties.

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A Stunned Russian Opposition in Exile Considers a Future Without Navalny

The death of Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s main opposition leader, has stunned Russian dissidents. But it is also spurring some hope that in its desperate moment, the opposition to President Vladimir V. Putin will be able to unite like never before.

Doing so will be a challenge, given the often aloof approach of Mr. Navalny’s movement and the disparate assembly of other leading opposition Russian figures: nearly all of them in exile, and none with his broad national appeal.

Among them is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch who fell out with Mr. Putin, spent 10 years in prison and in London became one of his most prominent opponents in exile. Then there is Maxim Katz, a YouTube influencer and a former poker champion, who is based in Israel. There is also Ilya Yashin, a longtime liberal politician who is serving an eight-year sentence for publicizing Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

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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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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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‘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.

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Architect Embraces Indigenous Worldview in Australian Designs

Jefa Greenaway will never forget the first time he heard his father’s voice. It was in 2017, when he was watching a documentary about Indigenous Australians’ fight to be recognized in the country’s Constitution.

“It was poignant, surreal,” Mr. Greenaway recalled. “In one word: emotional.”

In the film, his father, Bert Groves, an Indigenous man and a civil rights activist born in 1907, recounts how he was prevented from pursuing an education because of the size of his skull, a victim of phrenology, the pseudoscience that lingered in Australia into the 20th century.

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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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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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La salud de Navalny se vio perjudicada por las condiciones carcelarias

Alexéi Navalny se presentaba a sí mismo como invencible, utilizando constantemente su característico humor para dar a entender que el presidente Vladimir Putin no podría doblegarlo, por terribles que fueran sus condiciones en prisión.

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Pero detrás de esa cara valiente, la realidad era evidente. Desde su encarcelamiento a principios de 2021, Navalny, la figura más formidable de la oposición rusa, y sus colaboradores indicaron constantemente que sus condiciones eran tan sombrías que lo estaban matando a cámara lenta.

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La disputa territorial entre Belice y Guatemala sigue siendo una preocupación en la región

Simón Romero y Alejandro Cegarra pasaron varios días en Belice, viajando en barco hasta el río Sarstoon y atravesando el país en auto para hablar con la gente sobre el conflicto con Guatemala.

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El barco se abrió paso entre los manglares, un enmarañado laberinto de ramas cubiertas de espinas que cobijaban jaguares y ruidosos monos aulladores. Las señales de nuestros GPS señalaban que estábamos en Belice, el país centroamericano de habla inglesa donde piratas británicos se instalaron hace siglos.

Pero algunos miembros del ejército guatemalteco, vestidos con camuflaje y boinas, nos vieron. Se acercaron en su propia embarcación, empuñaron fusiles y acercaron los dedos índices a los gatillos.

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Alexéi Navalny, crítico de Putin, muere en prisión, según las autoridades rusas

Andrew E. Kramer y

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Alexéi Navalny, activista anticorrupción que durante más de una década lideró la oposición política en la Rusia del presidente Vladimir Putin, murió el viernes en una prisión en el círculo polar ártico, informaron las autoridades rusas.

Su muerte fue anunciada por el Servicio Penitenciario Federal de Rusia, que declaró que Navalny, de 47 años, perdió el conocimiento el viernes luego de dar un paseo en la prisión a la que fue trasladado a finales del año pasado. La última vez que se le vio fue el jueves, cuando compareció en una audiencia judicial por videoconferencia; sonreía tras los barrotes de una celda y hacía bromas.

[El video a continuación muestra imágenes del medio de comunicación ruso SOTA en donde aparece Alexéi Navalny riendo y haciendo bromas entre rejas durante su última comparecencia ante el tribunal a través de una conexión de video].

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Ucrania afirma que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil hipersónico

Ucrania dijo tener pruebas de que Rusia utilizó por primera vez un nuevo misil de crucero hipersónico en un ataque la semana pasada, algo que, de confirmarse, podría plantear otro nuevo desafío a las ya abrumadas defensas aéreas del país.

Un análisis preliminar de fragmentos de misil realizado por el Instituto de Investigación Científica y Peritaje Forense de Kiev, organismo dirigido por el gobierno, concluyó que se había utilizado un misil 3M22 Zircón en un ataque llevado a cabo el 7 de febrero contra ciudades de toda Ucrania. Según el instituto, en los escombros se encontraron marcas típicas del misil.

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Rusia oculta su número de bajas. Estas son las pistas que tenemos

El verdadero número de bajas en Rusia por su invasión a Ucrania es un secreto a voces. El Kremlin mantiene una política de silencio y muchos rusos no hablan públicamente por miedo a las repercusiones.

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Pero se cree que el número de rusos heridos en combate es abrumador.

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