The New York Times 2024-02-28 04:54:34

Middle East Crisis : A Second Day of Aid Airdrops Underscores the Urgency of Gazans’ Need

The airdrops delivered meals and supplies, the Jordanian military says.

Jordan ramped up coordination with international partners to airdrop food and other supplies to people in Gaza this week, in a challenging effort that underlined the desperate need in Gaza as aid groups have warned of growing restrictions on their ability to distribute supplies.

Planes from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France joined a Jordanian airdrop operation along the coast of Gaza on Tuesday, the Jordanian military said in a statement. It was the first time Egypt had airdropped aid to Gaza since the start of the war, and also appeared to be a first for the U.A.E.

Jordanian and French planes also airdropped aid on Monday, releasing ready-made meals and other supplies over several sites in Gaza, the Jordanian military said.

Aid groups typically drop supplies by air only as a last resort, given the inefficiency and relative cost of the method compared with road deliveries, as well as the dangers of navigating air space over a conflict zone and the risk to people who could potentially be hit as supplies fall to the ground if a safe drop zone cannot be established.

Some of the aid delivered on Monday was dropped with parachutes over the sea, but the Jordanian military said some aid was dropped without them on Tuesday, forcing planes to fly at a lower altitude.

Despite the limitations of airdrops, France said it was ramping up its work with Jordan because Gaza’s “humanitarian situation is absolutely urgent,” according to a French foreign ministry statement.

“With a growing number of civilians in Gaza dying of hunger and disease,” the statement said, there need to be more avenues for aid deliveries, including the port of Ashdod in Israel, north of Gaza.

Video footage from Monday showed a cluster of parachutes falling into the sea near Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza. Men in small boats paddled out through choppy water to retrieve the aid, watched by a crowd of hundreds who scrambled for the packages once they had reached the shore.

Alaa Fayad, a veterinary student who shot footage of the scene on the beach that he posted online, said the aid did not amount to much. “It was sad seeing people I know well running and crowding to get aid that’s not nearly enough,” he said.

The French Air Force plane that participated in Monday’s airdrop, alongside three planes from its Jordanian counterpart, dropped more than two tons of food and hygiene supplies, the French foreign ministry said.

That amount is much smaller than what can be carried in a single truckload of supplies, and overall represents just a fraction of what the United Nations says is needed by Gaza’s more than two million residents.

Jordan began airdropping aid in November and has completed more than a dozen missions since, largely to resupply its field hospitals in Gaza. At least one airdrop mission was jointly carried out with France in January, one with the Netherlands in February, and one with aid supplied by Britain last week.

In previous airdrops, Jordan said it had coordinated its efforts with the Israeli authorities, who have insisted on inspecting all aid entering Gaza. The Israeli military confirmed that it had approved Monday’s airdrop.

Calls for internationally coordinated airdrops have intensified as aid groups simultaneously warn that the hunger crisis in Gaza is reaching a tipping point and that some obstacles to traditional aid distribution have become insurmountable.

Last week, the World Food Program suspended food deliveries to northern Gaza, saying that despite extreme needs there, it could not safely operate amid gunfire and the “collapse of civil order” in recent days. The W.F.P. and other United Nations aid agencies have repeatedly warned that their access to northern Gaza was being systematically impeded by Israeli authorities, calling on the government to ease its restrictions. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.

The suspension of W.F.P. deliveries in an area where they are needed most indicates that, despite their many limitations, airdrops may be one of the few viable options remaining to quickly get food to northern Gaza, according to Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Middle East policy analyst who grew up in the enclave. Jordan’s airdrops, he said, have set a “critical precedent” for the feasibility of the approach.

“Simply wishing for a cease-fire or simply wishing for better Israeli cooperation” is not enough, Mr. Fouad Alkhatib said. “We need action right now.”

Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Nader Ibrahim contributed reporting.

The U.S. announces $53 million in additional aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

The United States will provide $53 million in additional aid to support humanitarian programs that are delivering desperately needed assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, officials said on Tuesday.

The new package will bring the total amount of U.S. aid delivered to Gaza during the conflict to $180 million, according to White House officials.

“There’s no question that much more aid is needed to address the critical and urgent needs on the ground,” John F. Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters at a White House press briefing on Tuesday. “That’s why President Biden and the entire team continue to work every day to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, while also prioritizing the safety of civilians and aid workers.”

Mr. Kirby also said that providing more humanitarian aid to Gaza was a critical part of the American push for a temporary cease-fire, which would allow for hostages taken during the Hamas-led attack in Israel on Oct. 7 to be released.

Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, announced the new aid package during a trip to the Middle East.

The funding would support organizations, such as the World Food Program, that are helping to combat severe water shortages and the spread of infectious diseases exacerbated by overcrowding at shelters, according to a statement from the agency, known as U.S.A.I.D.

In a video message from outside a W.F.P. warehouse in Amman, Jordan, Ms. Power described “catastrophic levels of food insecurity” in Gaza and “bureaucratic bottlenecks,” adding that aid workers were not able to do their jobs “without being shot at and killed.”

The W.F.P. said last week that it was suspending food deliveries to northern Gaza because it could not operate safely amid gunfire and the “collapse of civil order.” And Israel has blocked considerable aid from reaching the enclave, leaving airdrops with meager supplies one of the few viable methods of delivery.

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

Hamas plays down talk that a cease-fire deal could come soon.

After President Biden expressed cautious optimism on Monday about the prospect of a cease-fire in Gaza by next week, Hamas on Tuesday played down suggestions that it was close to reaching an agreement with Israel.

Basem Naim, a Hamas spokesman, said in a text message that Hamas had yet to formally receive “any new proposals” since senior Israeli officials met with Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. mediators in Paris last week to advance a possible deal.

In Paris, Israeli officials discussed a proposal in which roughly 40 hostages could be freed during a roughly six-week cease-fire, which they hope to reach before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in less than two weeks. In exchange, the officials said, Israel would free Palestinian prisoners — including some serving heavy sentences for terrorism, a notable concession aimed at persuading Hamas to make a deal.

Hamas’s political leaders have long insisted publicly that any new deal to release the more than 100 hostages still being held in Gaza must lead to a permanent cease-fire. Israel has said it will not compromise on its goal of toppling Hamas in Gaza, suggesting it is not ready to declare a long-term truce despite growing international pressure to do so.

Another Hamas official, Ahmad Abdelhadi, said that the group was sticking to its demands and that leaks about the talks were designed to put pressure on Hamas to soften its position.

Hamas “is not interested in any concessions that do not lead to a complete and total cessation of the aggression against our people,” Mr. Abdelhadi said in an interview with al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese broadcaster, televised on Tuesday. “We are not interested in engaging with what’s been floated, because it does not fulfill our demands,” he added.

Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, also expressed caution on Tuesday, saying it could not comment on Mr. Biden’s view that negotiators were nearing an agreement. The talks have not reached a breakthrough, although mediators remain optimistic, said Majed al-Ansari, the spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry.

“The efforts are ongoing, all the parties are conducting regular meetings,” Mr. al-Ansari told reporters in Doha, the capital. “But for now, while we certainly hope it will be achieved as soon as possible, we don’t have anything in our hands so as to comment on that deadline.”

At a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said that negotiators had “made significant progress” last week and were continuing to push for an agreement that would pause the fighting and release the remaining hostages in Gaza.

“We are trying to push this deal over the finish line,” Mr. Miller said. “We do think it’s possible.”

But he added, “Ultimately, some of this comes down to Hamas and whether Hamas is willing to agree to a deal that would provide significant benefits to the Palestinian people that they claim to represent.”

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas’s political wing, met with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, on Monday to discuss the negotiations. Mr. Haniyeh accused Israel of dragging its feet in the talks and warned that time was running out, according to a Hamas statement about the meeting.

Michael Levenson contributed reporting.

The Red Crescent pauses some missions in Gaza after Israeli forces detained its medics.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society has suspended emergency medical missions for two days in part of Gaza after Israeli forces intercepted a humanitarian convoy evacuating patients from a hospital, interrogating and detaining medical workers.

The Red Crescent and U.N. officials said they had cleared arrangements for the joint Sunday night evacuation mission with the Israeli authorities in advance. Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. aid office in Geneva, said on Tuesday that Israel had known the details of the route, the vehicles and the identities of those traveling in the convoy.

But after the convoy left Al-Amal Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, carrying 24 patients who required surgery, it was nevertheless stopped by Israeli forces.

The soldiers ordered patients and aid workers out of the vehicles, forced paramedics to strip out of their clothes and held the convoy for seven hours, U.N. officials said. One of those detained was released hours later, the Red Crescent said.

In a statement, the Israeli military said that it had stopped the convoy “following intelligence that raised the possibility” that Hamas members were traveling in it. It said it had questioned the Red Crescent workers because of “information regarding their possible involvement in terrorist activity.” It did not say what that information was.

During its monthslong ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israel has detained thousands of men, women and children in large sweeps, stripping them in public before taking them to Israel where they are held incommunicado for weeks or months and interrogated.

The latest incident led the Red Crescent to announce on Monday that it would suspend “all humanitarian coordination procedures on medical missions” in Gaza for the first time since Israel began its military offensive on Oct. 7, meaning it would pause missions to areas where it must arrange its movements with Israeli troops. The group criticized “the lack of commitment and respect of the Israeli occupation forces to the procedures and coordination mechanisms agreed upon.”

It was not the first time personnel with the Red Crescent, one of the main medical aid groups operating in Gaza, came under attack by Israeli forces, said Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the group.

“In most of the missions, despite prior coordination and approval from the Israeli side, our teams are targeted,” she said in an interview. “They are have been shot at — we have martyrs; paramedics have been killed while on coordinated missions — or repeatedly detained.”

Earlier this month, a missing 6-year-old Palestinian girl and the two Red Crescent rescuers who went looking for her were found dead in Gaza City. The aid group said the rescuers — Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun — had been killed by Israeli fire after their ambulance was bombed, “despite prior coordination” of their movements with the Israeli military. The Israeli military has not commented on the deaths.

In December, Israeli forces shot at a United Nations convoy of armored vehicles as it was returning from delivering aid in northern Gaza, U.N. officials said at the time. The convoy was driving along a route designated by the Israeli military, the U.N. said. No one was injured.

On Tuesday, the U.N. humanitarian team for the Palestinian territories said the interception of the Al-Amal convoy was “not an isolated incident.”

“Aid convoys have come under fire and are systematically denied access to people in need,” it said in a statement. “Humanitarian workers have been harassed, intimidated or detained by Israeli forces and humanitarian infrastructure has been hit.”

The mission to Al-Amal on Sunday was the first since Jan. 21, when the hospital was cut off by intense fighting. In the intervening month the hospital was attacked 40 times, resulting in the death of at least 25 people, the U.N. reported.

Israel signals a willingness to free high-profile Palestinians, officials say.

In a major shift, Israeli negotiators have signaled that Israel could release a group of high-profile Palestinian prisoners serving lengthy jail terms in exchange for the freedom of some of the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza, officials say.

The change in Israeli negotiating strategy, which has not been announced publicly, is significant because it could help persuade Hamas to release Israeli soldiers captured in October and agree to a deal that would temporarily pause the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

International efforts to reach a truce had stalled over Israel’s refusal to release Palestinians convicted of murder and to commit to a permanent cease-fire, two of the measures that Hamas is holding out for.

Now, Israeli negotiators have privately agreed to a U.S. proposal that would see five female Israeli soldiers released for 15 Palestinians convicted of major terrorism charges, according to two officials with knowledge of ongoing mediation efforts. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions, which came during a meeting with officials from Egypt, Qatar and the United States in Paris last week.

The idea is seen as the basis for negotiations with Hamas, which has not responded to the proposal. The Israeli government had previously avoided such a concession partly because the release of Palestinians convicted of major acts of terrorism, even in exchange for Israeli hostages, would attract significant domestic criticism.

Asked about the negotiators’ position, the office of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, declined to comment.

Other elements of a possible deal — including the length of a cease-fire and Hamas’s demand for a complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Gaza — are still under discussion.

Still, the idea could add momentum to the talks, as officials race to complete a deal before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in about two weeks. An Israeli delegation was expected to arrive in Qatar as soon as Monday to continue negotiations with international mediators. According to one of the officials, Israeli intelligence officers believe that Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, has become more amenable in recent weeks to a deal that, in theory, would allow for only a temporary truce — hoping that it would become permanent once in place.

The idea is part of a wider U.S. proposal that would allow for the release of 40 of the roughly 100 hostages who were captured in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks and believed still to be alive in Gaza. They include five female Israeli soldiers and civilians, including sick, wounded and older people. It does not include male Israeli soldiers, whose release will be the subject of a separate negotiation, one of the officials said.

Seven of the 35 civilian prisoners set to be released are women that Israel said should have been released during the last cease-fire and prisoner swap in November. For the release of those seven women, Israel has proposed releasing 21 Palestinian detainees, the same three-to-one ratio observed during the earlier exchange.

It would release more Palestinians for each of the remaining hostages, including six for every civilian man age 50 and older and 12 for every sick or wounded man. For each of the five female Israeli soldiers in captivity, Israel would release three “heavy” prisoners — those believed responsible for major attacks — and 15 others.

Israel has often agreed to lopsided prisoner exchanges in conflicts with Hamas. In 2011, it released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure the freedom of one captured soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting from Washington.

The war was a factor in the Michigan presidential primary.

Reverberations from the war in the Gaza Strip were playing out on Tuesday in a distant American election being closely watched by the White House.

Many Democratic voters in Michigan, home to the largest percentage of Arab American voters of any state, signaled their unhappiness with the Biden administration’s support for Israel by withholding their backing for President Biden in the presidential primary.

Before the election, a homegrown campaign called Listen to Michigan pushed for Michiganders to vote “uncommitted” instead of voting for Mr. Biden. An hour after the last polls closed at 9 p.m. Eastern, the percentage of “uncommitted” voters was sitting at about 15 percent and was expected to increase as results came in from Wayne County, the state’s largest county and the home of most of the state’s Arab American population.

While Mr. Biden won Michigan’s primary by a significant margin, the movement aimed to warn him that he must change his stance on Gaza or face repercussions in November’s general election. The threat was most urgent in Michigan, which was vital to Mr. Biden’s 2020 victory and has lately tilted toward Donald J. Trump in polls, but risked reverberating across the country.

Representatives from Listen to Michigan claimed a victory within minutes of the polls closing. Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for the group, announced at a watch party that “uncommitted” had already topped 11,000 votes — roughly Mr. Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a target that organizers said they wanted to surpass.

Layla Elabed, the group’s campaign manager, suggested the organizers might protest Mr. Biden at the Democrats’ nominating convention in August.

Mr. Biden did not mention the “uncommitted” vote or the organized protest of his Gaza policy in a statement on Michigan’s results released by his campaign.

Anjali Huynh and Nicholas Nehamas contributed reporting.

Local Israeli elections may offer a glimpse of the political mood.

Israel held local elections on Tuesday, the first time that voters have gone to the polls since the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 and the war in Gaza reshaped Israeli society and prioritized security on the national agenda.

People across the country were picking municipal and regional officials, responsible for issues like education, garbage disposal and park cleaning, in a vote delayed from Oct. 31 because of the war. Results are not expected for a few days because absentee ballots need to be tallied.

As polls closed at 10 p.m. local time, roughly 3.2 million votes had been cast, representing a turnout of just over 49.5 percent, according to the Interior Ministry’s election information center. That is lower than the last such election, in 2018, which saw turnout at 56.2 percent.

The Israeli site Ynet reported that police had opened 62 files of alleged election fraud or public disturbance on Tuesday, and had arrested 18 people across the country.

While the election is not be a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who opinion polls suggest is historically unpopular — more candidates than in previous elections have chosen not to advertise connections to his party, Likud, according to Ariel Finkelstein, a researcher at the Jerusalem-based nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, which could be a sign of his declining support.

“Today the thing that concerns Israelis most is personal security,” Mr. Finkelstein said. Though responsibility for security lies with the national government, candidates have responded to the national situation by campaigning on security matters, he said.

The focus on security is a marked shift from before the war, when Israel was gripped by a political and legal crisis over Mr. Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judicial system in ways that would weaken the country’s Supreme Court.

Many leaders from the protest movement that fought the overhaul had planned to run in municipal elections, Mr. Finkelstein said. While he estimated that those candidates were still running in about 20 of the 242 local government entities holding elections on Tuesday, he said the issues had changed.

Protests against Mr. Netanyahu have only recently been gathering strength after a pause in large-scale demonstrations after Oct. 7. In a poll conducted in late January by the Israel Democracy Institute, a majority of respondents said they wanted national elections to be held sooner than their scheduled date in about three years.

Mr. Netanyahu has been pushing back against the idea of holding national elections during a war. Ben-Dror Yemini, a columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, wrote on Tuesday that the local elections showed there was no need to wait to hold a national vote.

An additional reminder of the changes since Oct. 7 is that parts of the country near the borders with Lebanon and Gaza are not scheduled to vote until November. Most people who were living near Gaza have not returned to their homes since the attack, and areas near Lebanon have been evacuated as cross-border conflicts with the armed group Hezbollah have escalated.

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

The U.S. treasury secretary urges Israel to restore economic ties to the West Bank.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Tuesday that she had personally urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to increase commercial engagement with the West Bank, contending that doing so was important for the economic welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Ms. Yellen’s plea was outlined in a letter that she sent to Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday. It represented her most explicit public expression of concern about the economic consequences of the war between Israel and Hamas. In the letter, Ms. Yellen said, she warned about the consequences of the erosion of basic services in the West Bank and called for Israel to reinstate work permits for Palestinians and reduce barriers to commerce within the West Bank.

“These actions are vital for the economic well-being of Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Ms. Yellen said at a news conference in Brazil ahead of a gathering of finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations.

Ms. Yellen said she told Mr. Netanyahu that she was concerned Israel’s actions were “seriously impairing the West Bank economy, reducing income, and also at the same time having an adverse impact on Israel.”

The letter came as the cabinet of the Palestinian Authority, which administers part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, submitted its resignation on Monday in hopes that it could overhaul itself and potentially take over the administration of Gaza after the war there ends. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas are also resuming in Qatar this week as mediators from that nation, along with the United States and Egypt, work on a deal to release some hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Israel’s agreeing to a temporary cease-fire.

Senior Biden administration officials have been trying to mediate a resolution to the conflict in Gaza, which health authorities there say has killed approximately 29,000 Palestinians. Ms. Yellen has largely been focused on tracking the economic implications of the war and managing the sanctions that the Treasury Department has imposed on Hamas and those who are involved in its network of finances.

While the Biden administration has been concerned about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, it is increasingly worried that economic unrest in the West Bank could fuel violence and further deteriorate living standards there. The war has already taken a toll on Israel’s economy, which contracted by nearly 20 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Ms. Yellen’s letter emphasized the steps that the United States has taken to disrupt the financial networks of Hamas and how Israel benefits from an economically stable West Bank. She also said that the suspension of permits for workers from the West Bank had led to significant unemployment while harming Israel’s economy.

The Treasury secretary called on Israel to ensure that tax revenue was making its way to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Since Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the Israeli government has been withholding tax revenues that it collects on behalf of Palestinians. Traditionally, that money has been distributed back to the Palestinian Authority, which used it to fund its operating budget. Israel has previously frozen and then released that tax revenue during periods of conflict with the Palestinians.

The White House national security communications adviser, John Kirby, said last month that President Biden had discussed with Mr. Netanyahu the need to ensure that the tax revenues were available to pay salaries for Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

Ms. Yellen said on Tuesday that she was encouraged that revenue was starting to make its way to the West Bank. That money has started to flow following an agreement between Israeli and Palestinian officials earlier this month to use Norway as a temporary intermediary to transfer the tax funds that Israel had frozen.

“The United States has urged the Israeli government to release clearance revenue to the Palestinian Authority to fund basic services and to bolster the economy in the West Bank,” Ms. Yellen said. “I welcome news that an agreement has been reached and funds have started to flow. This must continue.”

The Treasury secretary said that the war in Gaza had not yet had a significant impact on the global economy. She also addressed another conflict, Russia’s war in Ukraine, that has disrupted food and energy markets over the last two years and called on Western allies to provide more aid to Ukraine.

Ms. Yellen expressed support for the idea of using Russia’s $300 billion in frozen central bank assets to support Ukraine and suggested that seizing those funds could be a viable option.

“I also believe it is necessary and urgent for our coalition to find a way to unlock the value of these immobilized assets to support Ukraine’s continued resistance and long-term reconstruction,” Ms. Yellen said. “While we should act together and in a considered way, I believe there is a strong international law, economic, and moral case for moving forward.”

Economic leaders from the Group of 7 nations have been debating several options for how they can legally use Russia’s money to benefit Ukraine. Ms. Yellen said that seizing the assets directly would be the “simplest possibility” but that doing so would require legislation in the United States and in Europe to make such an act permissible.

Israel submits a report on measures to prevent genocide in Gaza, as ordered by the U.N.’s top court.

The Israeli government said on Monday that it had submitted a progress report demanded by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N.’s highest court, on measures it ordered Israel to take last month to prevent the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and to allow more humanitarian aid into the enclave.

The filing from Israel, whose contents were not made public, came after several human rights groups issued statements on Monday accusing Israel of violating the court’s legally binding order. Because the court does not have an enforcement mechanism, the rights groups also called on other countries to pressure Israel to comply and to stop providing it with weapons.

In an interim ruling on Jan. 26 in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide, the court ordered Israel to immediately implement six measures to limit harm to Palestinian civilians and report back within a month. The measures included taking all steps within Israel’s power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and enabling the provision of “urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

The International Federation for Human Rights said that Israel had “utterly failed” to comply with the court’s order and that violence against Palestinian civilians had “continued unabated.”

Similar condemnations were issued by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which cited data from the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showing that even as the risk of famine grew, Israeli restrictions on aid distribution remained in place and the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza dropped significantly in the weeks after the court’s order.

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and Palestine, said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusations made by the human rights groups. It has previously denied responsibility for the lack of aid reaching civilians. The Israeli military’s top lawyer recently found “unacceptable conduct” by Israeli forces in Gaza, including some that appeared criminal, and warned commanders to prevent violations of international law that would damage Israel’s standing.

Airwars, a nonprofit watchdog that monitors civilian deaths in conflict zones, released a report on Monday that detailed “patterns of harm” for Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the two weeks following the court’s interim ruling.

Civilians in Gaza were reported killed each day during that time period, Airwars said. It identified five incidents in which civilians waiting to receive humanitarian aid were killed or injured, and six in which health care workers or emergency medical workers were killed.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, about 3,700 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the court’s ruling on Jan. 26. The ministry said that as of Monday, more than 29,000 people had been killed since the start of the war.

Protests erupt over who must serve in the military as Israel’s Supreme Court takes up the issue.

Credit…Ronen Zvulun/Reuters and Leo Correa/Associated Press

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday, when the high court began to hear arguments on whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should be conscripted into the country’s military.

As throngs of protesters demanded equal military service for all, groups of Haredim — as the ultra-Orthodox are known in Hebrew — blocked a road, dancing and singing as they lobbied to remain exempt from the draft that populates Israel’s armed forces.

Most young Jews serve at least two years in the military after leaving school in Israel, but the Haredi population has long been exempt from conscription so they can study Jewish law and scripture at government-subsidized seminaries.

The Haredim for decades have fought to remain exempt, and their reluctance to serve has irritated secular Israelis who are required to protect the nation.

But as of mid-December, more than 2,000 Haredim had joined the military since the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7, reflecting a modest shift in attitudes.

Nearly 30 percent of the ultra-Orthodox public now supports the idea of military service, 20 points higher than before the war, according to a December poll by the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem-based research group.

The Times of Israel reported that the high court on Monday gave the Israeli government until March 24 to explain why the military should not begin drafting ultra-Orthodox students.

In Ukraine, Russia Is Inching Forward Death by Death

As the Russian military launched its offensive on the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka last fall, Ukrainian troops noticed a change in their tactics as column after column of Russian forces were ravaged by artillery fire.

Russian forces divided their infantry formations into smaller units to avoid being shelled, while the amount of Russian airstrikes increased to hammer the city’s defenses.

It was one of several adjustments the Russians made to help reverse their fortunes after a disastrous first year. But these changes were obscured by one glaring fact: The Russian military was still far more willing to absorb big losses in troops and equipment, even to make small gains.

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Hunger, Terrorism and the Threat of War: Somalia’s Year of Crises

Abdi Latif Dahir and Brian Otieno traveled to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to interview the country’s president and spoke to almost two dozen officials and citizens.

A 10-year defense and economic deal with Turkey to protect its seacoast and bolster its naval force. An agreement with the United States to construct five military bases for over $100 million. An enhanced defense cooperation accord with Uganda to boost the fight against the terrorist group Al Shabab.

The three security pacts signed by Somalia in recent days underscore the increasing perils the Horn of Africa nation faces both internally and externally.

Internally, the nation confronts the persistent threat of Al Shabab, the Qaeda affiliate that has remained resilient even as the departure date for African Union peacekeeping forces — whose offensives helped put the group on the back foot — looms in December.

The map of Somalia shows Somaliland and highlights Mogadishu. It also shows neighboring Ethiopia and its capital, Addis Ababa.

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Red Army Faction Fugitive Wanted for Decades Is Arrested in Germany

One of Germany’s most wanted fugitives was arrested on Monday after living in plain sight in Berlin, just miles from the seat of government that the police say she fought to overthrow in the 1990s.

The woman, Daniela Klette, who had evaded the police for decades, was wanted in connection with the bombing of a prison in 1993. The police say they believe she was a guerrilla with the Red Army Faction, originally know as the Baader-Meinhof gang, Germany’s most infamous postwar terrorist group.

During her time in hiding, the police say, Ms. Klette and two accomplices, Ernst-Volker Staub and Burkhard Garweg, who are also wanted in connection with Red Army Faction activities, committed at least 13 violent robberies, netting them about two million euros (a little more than $2.1 million).

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Ego, Putin or Jets? Reasons for Orban’s Stance on Sweden Perplex Many.

It took 19 months of broken promises and belligerent rhetoric for Hungary to finally ratify Sweden’s entry into NATO.

Why all the foot-dragging, many observers wondered, when Hungary was going to approve the Nordic country’s membership of the military alliance anyway?

That question has perplexed even members of Hungary’s governing party, Fidesz, according to Peter Ungar, an opposition legislator. He said he had been approached by one Fidesz lawmaker, in the run-up to Monday’s vote in Parliament to accept NATO’s expansion, and asked: “‘What the hell is going on with Sweden?’”

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Lead-Tainted Applesauce Sailed Through Gaps in Food-Safety System

Christina Jewett and

This article was reported in collaboration with The Examination, a nonprofit newsroom that covers global public health.

Cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches sold in grocery and dollar stores last year poisoned hundreds of American children with extremely high doses of lead, leaving anxious parents to watch for signs of brain damage, developmental delays and seizures.

The Food and Drug Administration, citing Ecuadorean investigators, said a spice grinder was likely responsible for the contamination and said the quick recall of three million applesauce pouches protected the food supply.

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Kremlin Warns Against NATO Ground Intervention in Ukraine

A provocative comment by President Emmanuel Macron of France about the possibility of putting troops from NATO countries in Ukraine has prompted a warning from the Kremlin and hurried efforts by European leaders to distance themselves from the suggestion.

The fractured messaging underscores how Ukraine’s allies are struggling to agree on new ways to help Kyiv as resolve weakens in the United States and Russia advances on the battlefield.

The Kremlin warned Tuesday that a ground intervention by any NATO country would lead to a direct clash between the Western military alliance and Russian forces, fraught with potential dangers, and called the open discussion of such a step as “a very important new element.”

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India Zoo Official Gave Revered Names to 2 Lions. He Was Punished.

The lions look bemused or even bored in photos but not unhappy. Sita and Akbar had been living together for years. Now in a captive-breeding program in India’s eastern state of West Bengal, they are as married as animals can be.

But many of the humans around them are upset. On Saturday, the authorities suspended a high-ranking forestry official who had overseen the animals for naming the lioness Sita, after a revered Hindu goddess, and her mate Akbar, after a medieval Muslim emperor.

Amid an atmosphere of heightened religious and political tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the country, the lions’ names drew an outcry. Lakshman Bansal, an official of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a far-right group linked to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, said that when he read the lions’ names in a Bengali newspaper it “felt provocative.”

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Hungary’s Parliament Approves Sweden’s NATO Bid After Stalling

Hungary’s Parliament voted on Monday to accept Sweden as a new member of NATO, sealing a major shift in the balance of power between the West and Russia set off by war in Ukraine.

The vote allowed Sweden, which has long been nonaligned, to clear the final hurdle that had blocked its membership in NATO and held up the expansion of the military alliance.

Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, whose Fidesz party has a large majority in Parliament, has maintained cordial relations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia despite the war in Ukraine and had stalled for 19 months on putting Sweden’s NATO membership to a vote in the 199-member legislature.

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The NATO Welcoming Sweden Is Larger and More Determined

BERLIN — Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago was an enormous shock to Europeans. Used to 30 years of post-Cold War peace, they had imagined European security would be built alongside a more democratic Russia, not reconstructed against a revisionist imperial war machine.

There was no bigger shock than in Finland, with its long border and historical tension with Russia, and in Sweden, which had dismantled 90 percent of its army and 70 percent of its air force and navy in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After the decision by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to try to destroy a sovereign neighbor, both Finland and Sweden rapidly decided to apply to join the NATO alliance, the only clear guarantee of collective defense against a newly aggressive and reckless Russia.

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Russian Court Jails Leading Rights Advocate for ‘Discrediting’ Military

A Moscow court sentenced the co-chairman of Memorial, the Russian rights group that was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, to two and a half years in prison on Tuesday for “discrediting” Russia’s military by voicing his opposition to the war in Ukraine.

Although the Kremlin ordered his group liquidated in late 2021, the co-chairman, Oleg Orlov, 70, chose to stay in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine two years ago and has continued to criticize his government despite a climate of increasing repression.

In November 2022, Mr. Orlov, one of Russia’s most prominent rights campaigners, wrote an article headlined “They Wanted Fascism. They Got it,” in which he blamed President Vladimir V. Putin and the wider Russian public for the “mass murder of the Ukrainian people” and for dealing “a very heavy blow to Russia’s future.”

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Developers Who Leveled ‘Britain’s Wonkiest Pub’ Ordered to Rebuild

The Crooked House, a pub in England’s West Midlands that was demolished last year after a suspicious fire, could soon be rising from the rubble after its owners were ordered to restore the pub to its former lopsided glory.

The tavern, known as “Britain’s wonkiest pub” for its slanting walls and floors, was sold to a private developer in July 2023. Around two weeks later, the pub caught fire in a suspected arson attack and the developers who had bought it brought in the bulldozers. Locals were outraged. With the support of local politicians, they launched a public campaign to see the building restored and someone held accountable for its destruction.

Now, they may be one step closer to those goals becoming a reality. South Staffordshire Council, the local authority for the area where the pub once stood, on Tuesday ordered the owners to rebuild the pub within three years, restoring it using original materials and with its original character maintained.

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For Car Thieves, Toronto Is a ‘Candy Store,’ and Drivers Are Fed Up

Vjosa Isai drove around Toronto in a Volkswagen Passat with 290,000 miles on it, a vehicle not coveted by car thieves, to report this article.

Whenever Dennis Wilson wants to take a drive in his new SUV, he has to set aside an extra 15 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to remove the car’s steering wheel club, undo four tire locks and lower a yellow bollard before backing out of his driveway.

His Honda CR-V is also fitted with two alarm systems, a vehicle tracking device and, for good measure, four Apple AirTags. Its remote-access key fob rests in a Faraday bag, to jam illicit unlocking signals.

As a final touch, he mounted two motion-sensitive floodlights on his house and aimed them at the driveway in his modest neighborhood in Toronto.

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Where Hostage Families and Supporters Gather, for Solace and Protest

A week after Hamas-led terrorists stormed his kibbutz and kidnapped his wife and three young children, Avihai Brodutch planted himself on the sidewalk in front of army headquarters in Tel Aviv holding a sign scrawled with the words “My family’s in Gaza,” and said he would not budge until they were brought home.

Passers-by stopped to commiserate with him and to try to lift his spirits. They brought him coffee, platters of food and changes of clothing, and welcomed him to their homes to wash up and get some sleep.

“They were so kind, and they just couldn’t do enough,” said Mr. Brodutch, 42, an agronomist who grew pineapples on Kibbutz Kfar Azza before the attacks on Oct. 7. “It was Israel at its finest,” he said. “There was a feeling of a common destiny.”

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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’

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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Can Gabriel Attal Win Over France?

Gabriel Attal, 34, is a new kind of French prime minister, more inclined to Diet Coke than a good Burgundy, at home with social media and revelations about his personal life, a natural communicator who reels off one-liners like “France rhymes with power” to assert his “authority,” a favorite word.

Since taking office in early January, the boyish-looking Mr. Attal has waded into the countryside, far from his familiar haunts in the chic quarters of Paris, muddied his dress shoes, propped his notes on a choreographed bale of hay, and calmed protesting farmers through adroit negotiation leavened by multiple concessions.

He has told rail workers threatening a strike that “working is a duty,” not an everyday French admonition. He has shown off his new dog on Instagram and explained that he called the high-energy Chow Chow “Volta” after the inventor of the electric battery. He has told the National Assembly that he is the living proof of a changing France as “a prime minister who assumes his homosexuality.”

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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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In Latin America, a New Frontier for Women: Professional Softball in Mexico

Reporting from Mexico City and León, Mexico

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In many parts of Latin America, baseball is a popular and well-established sport with men’s professional leagues in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others. But women wanting to play baseball’s cousin — softball — professionally had only one option: to leave. They had to go to the United States or Japan.

Until now.

In what is believed to be a first in Latin America — a region where men often have more opportunities than women, particularly in sports — a professional women’s softball league has started in Mexico. On Jan. 25, when the inaugural season began, 120 women on six teams got to call themselves professional softball players, many for the first time.

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Why the Cost of Success in English Soccer’s Lower Leagues Keeps Going Up

Geoff Thompson knows there are plenty of people who want to buy what he has to sell. The phone calls and emails over the last few weeks have left no doubt. And really, that is no surprise. Few industries are quite as appealing or as prestigious as English soccer, and Mr. Thompson has a piece of it.

It is, admittedly, a comparatively small piece: South Shields F.C., the team he has owned for almost a decade, operates in English soccer’s sixth tier, several levels below, and a number of worlds away, from the dazzling light and international allure of the Premier League. But while his team might be small, Mr. Thompson is of the view that it is, at least, as perfectly poised for profitability as any minor-league English soccer club could hope to be.

South Shields has earned four promotions to higher leagues in his nine years as chairman. The team owns its stadium. Mr. Thompson has spent considerable sums of money modernizing the bathrooms, the club shop and the private boxes. There is a thriving youth academy and an active charitable foundation. “We have done most of the hard yards,” Mr. Thompson said.

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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

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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

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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Tras 19 meses, el Parlamento húngaro aprueba la candidatura sueca a la OTAN

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El Parlamento de Hungría votó el lunes a favor de aceptar a Suecia como nuevo miembro de la OTAN, sellando así un importante cambio en el equilibrio de poder entre Occidente y Rusia que fue desencadenado por la guerra en Ucrania.

La votación permitió que Suecia, no alineada desde hace mucho tiempo, sorteara el último obstáculo que bloqueaba su ingreso en la OTAN y frenaba la expansión de la alianza militar.

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Las deportistas de México alcanzan una nueva frontera: el softbol profesional

Reportando desde Ciudad de México y León, Mexico

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En muchas partes de América Latina, el béisbol es un deporte popular y bien establecido, con ligas profesionales masculinas en México, República Dominicana y Venezuela, entre otros países. Pero las mujeres que querían jugar el deporte primo del béisbol —softbol— de forma profesional solo tenían una opción: marcharse. Debían irse a Estados Unidos o Japón.

Hasta ahora.

En lo que se cree es el primer caso en América Latina —una región donde los hombres suelen tener más oportunidades que las mujeres, particularmente en los deportes— se ha creado una liga profesional de softbol femenino en México. Desde el 25 de enero, cuando comenzó la temporada inaugural, 120 mujeres en 6 equipos pudieron llamarse a sí mismas jugadoras profesionales de softbol, muchas por primera vez.

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Incendio en Valencia: hay al menos 9 muertos

Un día después de que un incendio arrasara un complejo de viviendas de gran altura en la ciudad española de Valencia, que derivó en la muerte de al menos 9 personas, los investigadores policiales intentaban determinar por qué las llamas se habían extendido por los dos edificios en menos de una hora.

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Las primeras sospechas recayeron en los materiales de construcción, pero era difícil determinarlo, ya que las dos estructuras permanecían tan calientes que los bomberos no pudieron entrar en los edificios sino hasta alrededor del mediodía del viernes, horas después de haber llegado al lugar durante la noche anterior.

Luis Sendra, decano del Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de la Comunidad Valenciana, dijo que los investigadores tendrían que esperar a que las estructuras se enfriaran para poder precisar si el revestimiento exterior podría haber contribuido a avivar el fuego. Afirmó que los huecos entre el aislamiento y el revestimiento podrían haber facilitado la propagación de las llamas.

“Es pronto para saber la causa exacta”, dijo Sendra. “Pero por la rapidez con que se extendió, podría haber mucha similitud con Grenfell en Londres”.

Setenta y dos personas murieron en el incendio de Grenfell, que consumió un edificio de apartamentos de gran altura en el oeste de Londres en 2017. Se habían utilizado materiales inflamables en el revestimiento de ese edificio, lo que aceleró la propagación del fuego.

En una rueda de prensa celebrada el viernes por la mañana, Carlos Mazón, presidente de la Comunidad Valenciana, anunció un periodo de luto de tres días y afirmó que siete bomberos habían resultado heridos en el incendio.

El gobierno de la comunidad autónoma había anunciado a primera hora del viernes que 10 personas habían fallecido en el incendio, pero de acuerdo con información que apareció en los medios de comunicación españoles más tarde ese mismo día, citando fuentes policiales, se afirmaba que el número de muertes se había revisado y eran nueve, y una persona desaparecida.

En unas imágenes dramáticas que circularon en los medios de comunicación españoles se veía a un bombero saltando desde el séptimo piso a una colchoneta de seguridad en el suelo. Dos residentes también fueron rescatados de un balcón tras quedar atrapados por el fuego; mientras los bomberos contenían las llamas con mangueras, los residentes trepaban de balcón en balcón para llegar a una plataforma de rescate elevada por un camión de bomberos.

El complejo residencial de Valencia, la tercera ciudad más grande de España, estaba formado por un edificio de 14 plantas y otro más bajo, y tenía un total de 138 viviendas, según Sendra.

Un equipo de 15 agentes forenses de la policía nacional está llevando a cabo una investigación sobre el incendio. Tampoco estaba claro el origen del incendio.

Aún no se sabía con claridad qué materiales se utilizaron en el exterior de los edificios. Sendra declaró a los medios de comunicación que el uso de aluminio en las fachadas de los edificios estaba permitido por la normativa de construcción española, pero que el uso de poliuretano como aislante no lo estaba.

Tampoco quedaba claro si se había utilizado poliuretano. Sin embargo, Esther Puchades, vicepresidenta del Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos Industriales de Valencia, afirmó en un comunicado que “todos los indicios apuntaban al poliuretano como el causante de la voracidad de las llamas y el color del humo”.

Un comunicado del colegio señaló que algunos de los materiales de la fachada de los edificios contenían plástico que se incendió con rapidez, pero añadía: “No podemos asegurar que sea un material en concreto hasta que no acabe la investigación”.

Pep Benlloch, presidente de la asociación de vecinos de la zona, dijo en una entrevista en la cadena de televisión Antena 3 que en el complejo vivían muchos extranjeros, entre ellos ucranianos, pero que, en un principio, había estado vacío durante mucho tiempo debido a los precios prohibitivos por el auge de la construcción.

La policía y el ayuntamiento señalaron que no podían confirmar inmediatamente cuántas de las viviendas estaban habitadas en el momento del incendio. El complejo se construyó durante el auge inmobiliario de mediados de la década de 2000, según Sendra.

Un residente de 67 años que solo dio su nombre de pila, Pep, dijo el viernes a los medios de comunicación españoles que había salido de su vivienda con su esposa poco después de que se declarara el incendio.

“Cogí la cartera, el móvil, y logré salir del infierno”, dijo el hombre, hablando fuera del hotel donde ha sido alojado temporalmente.

Jorge, quien vive en el barrio de Campanar, dijo que había salido a dar un paseo cuando vio el incendio y se unió a un pequeño grupo de personas que contemplaba con horror cómo el edificio era consumido por las llamas.

Inmediatamente empezó a grabar; hizo un video del edificio en llamas, con el sonido de gritos de fondo, que publicó en las redes sociales

“Olía a plástico quemado”, dijo Jorge, quien solo dio su nombre de pila, en una entrevista.

El ayuntamiento de Valencia señaló en un comunicado que se había instalado una locación de asistencia en un edificio cercano para ofrecer apoyo práctico y psicológico a los residentes sobrevivientes.

El presidente del gobierno de España, Pedro Sánchez, visitó el viernes el lugar del incendio, agradeció a los trabajadores de emergencia y ofreció “trasladar nuestra solidaridad, nuestro cariño y nuestra empatía” a las familias afectadas por el fuego.

“La prioridad ahora”, dijo, “es la búsqueda de víctimas”.

Emily Schmallcolaboró con reportería.

Los burros de África son codiciados por China. ¿Puede el continente protegerlos?

Durante años, las empresas chinas y sus contratistas han estado sacrificando millones de burros en toda África, codiciando la gelatina de las pieles de los animales que se procesa para fabricar medicinas tradicionales, dulces populares y productos de belleza en China.

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Pero la creciente demanda de gelatina ha diezmado las poblaciones de burros a un ritmo tan alarmante en los países africanos que los gobiernos están tomando medidas para frenar el comercio, en su mayor parte no regulado.

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