The New York Times 2024-03-13 10:24:42


First Aid Ship Heads to Gaza, but Far More Is Needed

A ship hauling more than 200 tons of food for the Gaza Strip left Cyprus on Tuesday morning, in the first test of a maritime corridor designed to bring aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who the United Nations says are on the brink of starvation.

The ship, named Open Arms, for the Spanish aid group that provided it, was the first vessel authorized to deliver aid to Gaza since 2005, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, which has supported the effort and describes it as a “pilot project” that could clear the way for more sea shipments.

The rice, flour, lentils, beans, and canned tuna, beef and chicken that it was hauling on a barge were supplied by World Central Kitchen, a charity founded by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish American chef. The United Arab Emirates was providing financing and logistical support for the operation, he said.

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Top Navalny Aide Attacked With Hammer Outside Home in Lithuania

The chief of staff to Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died last month in an Arctic penal colony, was attacked with a hammer and tear gas outside his home in Lithuania’s capital late Tuesday, according to Mr. Navalny’s press secretary, who said the police and an ambulance had been called to the scene.

Leonid Volkov, who served as one of Mr. Navalny’s top organizers, was pulling up to his house in Vilnius when the attack happened. At least one assailant smashed his car window, sprayed him with tear gas and began beating him with a hammer, Mr. Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, said in a statement released on X and in other comments she gave to Russian media.

Mr. Volkov survived the attack.

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‘Jamming’: How Electronic Warfare Is Reshaping Ukraine’s Battlefields

The Ukrainian soldier swore and tore off his headset. His video monitor had gone blurry at first, the landscape of shattered trees and shell craters barely visible, before blacking out completely. The Russians had jammed the signal of his drone as it was flying outside the town of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine.

“Some days everything goes smoothly, other days the equipment breaks, the drones are fragile and there is jamming,” said the soldier, who goes by the call sign DJ and was speaking from his underground outpost a few miles from the front line.

For a while, the Ukrainians enjoyed a honeymoon period with their self-detonating drones that were used like homemade missiles. The weapons seemed like an effective alternative to artillery shells for striking Russian forces.

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Middle East Crisis: First Sea Shipment of Aid Departs for Gaza

The ship is the first cleared to deliver supplies to Gaza by sea since 2005, an official says.

The first sea shipment of food for Gaza left the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Tuesday morning, officials said, the start of an untested maritime corridor to bring aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who the United Nations says are on the brink of starvation.

The ship was pulling a barge loaded with nearly 200 metric tons of rice, flour and other food from World Central Kitchen, a charity group. The ship, provided by the Spanish aid group Open Arms and named after it, is the first authorized to deliver supplies to Gaza by sea since 2005, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, which has supported the effort.

“It is a lifeline to civilians,” Nikos Christodoulides, the president of Cyprus, said on social media.

With Gaza under a near-total blockade and having undergone more than five months of Israeli bombardment, much of the enclave is at risk of famine, the United Nations has warned. Hunger is especially dire in the north, where U.N. agencies have mostly suspended aid operations, citing Israeli restrictions on convoys, security issues and poor road conditions.

Aid groups say that too little aid is getting into Gaza by land. That is prompting multinational efforts to deliver food and necessities by sea and air. The United States, Britain, the European Union and other governments said last week that they would establish a maritime corridor to bring aid to Gaza from Cyprus, and the U.S. military has announced plans to build a floating pier to facilitate the deliveries because Gaza does not have a functioning port.

But U.S. officials have said it could take 30 to 60 days to set up the floating pier, and aid groups and Gazan officials have said that sea shipments and airdrops are both cumbersome and cannot come close to supplying as much as trucks. Trucks carrying food into Gaza have been loaded with roughly 15 to 30 metric tons each, according to figures from the United Nations and other agencies, meaning that the amount coming by sea is far less than what enters Gaza by land in a single day.

About 100 trucks carrying food and other supplies entered Gaza each day in February, on average, through the two open land routes. But that is a fraction of what was going in by land before the war began in October.

Israel has insisted on inspecting shipments into Gaza and has argued that aid intended for civilians could be diverted by Hamas, but it says it does not restrict the amount of aid getting in. The Israeli government has said it supports the maritime corridor as long as shipments are inspected in Cyprus “in accordance with Israeli standards.”

Ms. von der Leyen told reporters in the Cypriot port of Larnaca last week that the first sea shipment was “a pilot project” and that others would soon follow.

It remained unclear how the World Central Kitchen shipment would be unloaded and distributed once the ship reached the shores of Gaza, a journey of about 240 miles from Cyprus. The group’s founder, José Andrés, the renowned Spanish American chef, said over the weekend that it had started to build a jetty in Gaza to receive the aid, but the group would not specify where the structure was located.

Construction of the jetty was “well underway,” Mr. Andrés said Tuesday on social media. “We may fail, but the biggest failure will be not trying!”

The usual sailing time between Cyprus and Gaza is 15 to 17 hours, officials and aid groups said, but they added that the Open Arms was likely to take longer because of its heavy load.

The ship was carrying rice, flour, lentils, dry beans, canned beans, canned tuna, canned beef and canned chicken, the group said. The United Arab Emirates was providing financing and logistical support for the operation, Mr. Andrés said.

Since October, organizers and Palestinian cooks working with World Central Kitchen have served more than 34 million meals in Gaza, according to the group. The organization has established 65 community kitchens in the territory, which are managed by Palestinians, and has plans for at least 35 more, Mr. Andrés said. About 350,000 meals are being served every day, but Mr. Andrés said he would like to distribute more than a million meals a day.

European officials welcomed the news of the ship’s departure.

“We have worked hand in hand not only with Cyprus, but with the United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Kingdom,” Ms. von der Leyen told European lawmakers on Tuesday. “When fully operational, this maritime corridor could guarantee a sustained, regulated and robust flow of aid to Gaza.”

Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.

The White House says Biden has set no ‘red lines’ on Israel’s Gaza offensive but repeats warnings on Rafah.

The White House denied on Tuesday that President Biden had set any “red lines” for Israel in its campaign against Hamas in Gaza but warned again that Israel should not attack the city of Rafah, the southernmost city in the enclave, without protections for more than a million people sheltering there.

“The president didn’t make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements,” said Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, referring to an interview Mr. Biden gave over the weekend in which he was asked whether he had a “red line” Israel should not cross in its prosecution of the war.

In the interview, with MSNBC, Mr. Biden rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza, saying that “he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost” and that “he’s hurting Israel more than helping Israel.”

Mr. Netanyahu later dismissed that contention as “wrong,” and on Tuesday he again defended Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian casualties. Speaking by video to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group based in Washington that is usually referred to as AIPAC, he said that Israel’s allies “cannot say you support Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas and then oppose Israel when it takes the actions necessary to achieve that goal.”

Mr. Biden, while trying to increase the pressure on Mr. Netanyahu, has insisted that U.S. support for Israel will remain steadfast. Mr. Sullivan, who met on Tuesday with Israel’s ambassador, Michael Herzog, declined to discuss reports that Mr. Biden, if Israel proceeded with the Rafah operation, might impose restrictions on how Israel can use the arms the United States is supplying it.

“We’re not going to engage in hypotheticals about what comes down the line, and the reports that purport to describe the president’s thinking are uninformed speculation,” Mr. Sullivan said.

But he repeated Mr. Biden’s view that Israel should not attack Rafah without explaining how it would protect the civilians who have taken refuge there.

The president believes there is a long-term path to stability and security for Israel, Mr. Sullivan said, but “that path does not lie in smashing into Rafah, where there are 1.3 million people, in the absence of a credible plan to deal with the population there. And again, as things stand today, we have not seen what that plan is.”

For his part, Mr. Netanyahu again vowed on Tuesday to attack Hamas in Rafah, despite warnings from the United States and other nations that a ground offensive there would have disastrous consequences for civilians in the city.

“To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm and reconquer Gaza, and then we’re back to square one. And that’s an intolerable threat that we cannot accept.”

More than a million Palestinians who have fled from fighting in other parts of the Gaza Strip — many of them obeying Israeli directives to move south for their safety — have crammed into temporary, often squalid shelters in Rafah, which is on the border with Egypt. People there and aid workers have described worsening crises of hunger, disease and desperate conditions, and Israel’s allies have increasingly urged the country to scale back its military campaign and allow more aid into Gaza.

Israeli officials have said they are developing a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah, and Mr. Netanyahu said on Tuesday, “We will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way.”

Although tensions between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu have increasingly emerged into public, analysts have questioned for months whether Israel can accomplish its objective of eradicating Hamas. In a report released Monday but written before the most recent tensions between U.S. and Israeli officials, American intelligence analysts raised doubts about the feasibility of that goal.

“Israel probably will face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, and the military will struggle to neutralize Hamas’s underground infrastructure, which allows insurgents to hide, regain strength and surprise Israeli forces,” the report said.

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

Israel and Hamas are not near a cease-fire deal, Qatar says.

Prospects for a potential cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas remained dim on Tuesday, as Hamas reiterated its demand for a permanent end to the fighting in Gaza and an official from Qatar, which has been helping to mediate the talks, said the two sides were “not near a deal.”

Israel and Hamas failed to reach an agreement on a temporary cease-fire before the start of the first day of fasting for Ramadan on Monday, and even though efforts to do so continued, a deal was not imminent, Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, told reporters.

“We are not near a deal, meaning that we are not seeing both sides converging on language that can resolve the current disagreements,” Mr. al-Ansari said, without going into detail. He added that he could not say when an agreement might be reached, adding that the situation in Gaza remained “very complicated.”

Negotiations — mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States — have been stalled for weeks. Hamas has demanded a comprehensive cease-fire and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israeli officials have repeatedly rejected the demands and expressed openness only to a temporary pause in the fighting coupled with the release of some hostages in return for Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

On Tuesday, a senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Mardawi, said his group was holding firm to its demands.

“Hamas’s main demands have been known from the beginning and there is no change to them: a complete and total cease-fire, a withdrawal of the occupation army, the return of displaced people to their homes and the provision of aid to our people,” Mr. Mardawi said in response to questions from The New York Times.

Mr. Mardawi said Hamas also wanted a “just deal” that would result in the exchange of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons for hostages held by militants in Gaza.

The Israeli government has said it must wipe out Hamas’s military and administrative capabilities in Gaza before agreeing to end the war. It also has said a key goal of the war is the return of all the hostages taken in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel also sent no signals on Tuesday that he was ready for a deal to halt fighting, even temporarily, as he again vowed to press a ground offensive into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians are trapped, despite pleas for restraint from the United States and other allies.

“To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm and reconquer Gaza, and then we’re back to square one. And that’s an intolerable threat that we cannot accept.”

In an interview with CNN later on Tuesday, Mr. al-Ansari said more pressure needed to be placed on both sides to help stop a spiraling humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where he said Palestinian civilians and hostages held by Hamas were “all living in the same conditions.”

Mr. al-Ansari said that Mr. Netanyahu was one of the people holding “the keys to securing a deal right now” and that pressure was needed from any country or entity that holds leverage over parties to the conflict, including the United States.

William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, alluded to the difficulty of bridging the gap between the two sides when he spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday after returning from his eighth overseas trip to negotiate the release of the hostages.

“I don’t think anybody can guarantee success,” he said. “What I think you can guarantee is that the alternatives are worse for innocent civilians in Gaza who are suffering under desperate conditions, for the hostages and their families who are suffering also under very desperate conditions, and for all of us.”

Hezbollah fires more than 100 rockets into Israel, drawing retaliation.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired more than 100 rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday morning, according to Israel’s military. It was one of the heaviest barrages in the months of cross-border strikes that have fed fears that the war in Gaza could expand to another front.

It was not immediately clear how many of the rockets landed or were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. Israel’s military said its fighter jets had retaliated by striking a number of sites linked to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a statement, Hezbollah said it had launched the volley in response to Israeli military strikes on Monday in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and as a show of support for Palestinians in Gaza.

The group is a key ally of Hamas, whose Oct. 7 attacks on Israel led to the war in Gaza. On Tuesday, Hezbollah said that its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, had met with top Hamas officials to discuss “the ongoing negotiations to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza and fulfill the resistance’s conditions.”

One of those officials was Khalil al-Hayya, who led Hamas’s delegation at recent cease-fire talks in Cairo. The United States, Egypt and Qatar had been pushing to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, on Monday, but the negotiations stalled.

Since Oct. 7, Hezbollah has been firing rockets into northern Israel on a near-daily basis. The Israeli military regularly responds with strikes against Hezbollah-linked targets inside Lebanon.

Both Hezbollah and Hamas are backed by Iran, and the clashes along Israel’s border with Lebanon have raised concerns that the war in Gaza could erupt into a wider regional conflict.

The violence has displaced about 80,000 Israelis from areas near the border with Lebanon; a similar number of Lebanese have fled their homes on the other side.

Israeli leaders have said that there are only two options for restoring calm in the conflict with Hezbollah: a diplomatic agreement that moves the militant group’s forces farther from the border or, failing that, a major military offensive aimed at achieving the same goal.

Gabby Sobelman, Euan Ward and Adam Sella contributed reporting.

The parents of a 19-year-old American-Israeli thought to be a hostage say he was actually killed on Oct. 7.

Itay Chen, a 19-year-old U.S. and Israeli citizen thought to have been taken hostage on Oct. 7, was in fact killed that day, his parents said on Tuesday.

The couple, Ruby and Hagit Chen, said that the Israeli military told them that it had intelligence indicating that their son, a service member, was killed while defending civilians on the border of Gaza during the Hamas-led invasion.

“Our hearts are broken,” the Chens said in a statement. “We loved him so much, and we would have done anything to bring him home alive.”

In an interview with The Times earlier this year, Itay’s father, Ruby Chen, described the young man as the “life of the party” and the “connector” of their family. A middle child, Mr. Chen said, Itay was multitalented and fun-loving, a Boy Scout who played basketball and, like many young people, loved his PlayStation.

Itay grew up in Israel, in the city of Netanya, just north of Tel Aviv, but his father said the family would frequently visit his own hometown, New York.

“I want to take him back to Coney Island,” he said. “I want to take him back to Madison Square Garden.”

Itay Chen had been counted as the youngest American hostage remaining in Hamas captivity. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a group representing families of the Israeli captives, said in a statement that his body was still being held by Hamas.

In their statement, Itay Chen’s parents thanked the Biden administration and members of Congress for their support. They added that they expected the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Biden to do “everything in their power” to bring Itay’s remains and the other hostages home.

Ruby Chen was part of a group of American families who met frequently with U.S. officials to push the White House to negotiate the release of their loved ones. Five other Americans are thought to still be hostages in Gaza, and their families have said that time is running out for them. At least 30 of the total remaining 136 hostages in Gaza are believed to be dead, according to Israeli intelligence.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt had hoped to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a cease-fire that would also allow the release of some of the hostages by the start of Ramadan, but no deal had come by the time the Muslim holy month began. Both sides have blamed each other for the lack of any progress on finalizing a deal; Israel has rejected Hamas’s demands for a comprehensive cease-fire, saying that without another hostage release, there will not be a pause in fighting.

Some relatives of Israeli hostages have demanded that Israeli officials take greater action to prioritize the release of their loved ones, mounting protests that have included storming Israeli Parliament meetings, blocking highways, conducting days-long marches and rallying outside Mr. Netanyahu’s house. Other families have said that the Israeli military should continue waging war against Hamas, even if it means their relatives remain in captivity.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said he joined the Chens in grieving for their son and reaffirmed his pledge to never stop working to bring the hostages home.

“In December, Itay’s father and brother joined me at the White House, to share the agony and uncertainty they’ve faced as they prayed for the safe return of their loved one,” Mr. Biden said.

“No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through,” he continued. “At the end of our meeting, they gave me a menorah — a solemn reminder that light will always dispel the darkness, and evil will not win.”

The Israeli government restricts West Bank Palestinians’ entry to Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

The Israeli government said this week that children and older adults would be the only Palestinians allowed to enter Israel from the West Bank to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Muslim access to the mosque has long been a point of contention as Israel has exerted tighter control in recent years over the compound, one of many restrictions Palestinians living under decades of Israeli occupation have had to endure.

The latest constraints, imposed by Israel’s agency overseeing policy for the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, dictate that only men older than 55, women older than 50 and children under 10 could pray on Fridays — the holiest day of the week for Muslims — at Al Aqsa, the third holiest site for Muslims, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ghassan Alian, an Israeli general who oversees COGAT, said in Arabic on Facebook on Monday that Palestinians coming from the West Bank would need a valid permit and confirmation of return, adding the arrangement would depend on the authorities’ assessment of the security situation.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office, said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the “tense security situation” at Al Aqsa prompted the Friday restrictions, though he later clarified in a message to The New York Times that they would apply every day.

Since the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks and Israel’s ensuing bombardment of Gaza, heavily armed Israeli police forces that guard many of the Old City’s gates have stopped Palestinians from entering the compound. Many Palestinians have feared what, if any, other constraints Israel could impose on the mosque, which can draw 200,000 people in one day from not just Jerusalem but the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Israel as a whole. Al Aqsa is part of the compound sacred to Jewish people, who call it the Temple Mount.

Mirit Ben Mayor, a spokeswoman for the Israeli police, said at the briefing on Tuesday that it would expand its presence in Jerusalem, the old city and the entrances to Al Aqsa on Friday.

Raja Abdulrahim and Adam Rasgon contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

The Israeli military acknowledges mistaking a bike for a weapon in a strike, but stands by the attack.

The drone footage shows two people walking down a road in Gaza, when they are suddenly blasted by an Israeli strike, their forms disappearing in the flash of an explosion.

Text appearing over the video, which was released by the Israeli military, described the scene as showing the “elimination of terrorists.” One person is labeled as holding a rocket-propelled grenade.

The person actually held a bicycle, the military acknowledged on Monday in response to questions from The New York Times, saying in a statement that it regretted the mistake in the video. The Israel Defense Forces still defended the strike, asserting that the two people were combatants, without providing its evidence.

“When the video was published, the bicycle carried by one of them was mistakenly marked as a rocket launcher,” the military said in a statement to The New York Times. “The I.D.F. regrets the marking error.”

The acknowledgment came after The Times asked the Israel Defense Forces about a Times analysis of the footage suggesting that one of the people was holding a bicycle instead of a weapon. The mistake had been first identified by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, an advocacy group that focuses on documenting and calling attention to potential human rights violations in Gaza.

The brief video clip, which the military released on March 3, shows two people walking in southern Gaza City, one with the bicycle and the other with what appears to be a white sack of flour. An annotation on the video incorrectly identifies the bicycle as an “RPG” or rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The date of the strike is unknown.

The Times analysis found that the dimensions of the object in the video were consistent with a bicycle and, at one point, the front wheel of the bike can be seen slightly turning. The handlebars of the bike are also visible. Additionally, underneath the bicycle the ground is disturbed as its tires roll forward, an effect that would not have happened had the object been a shoulder-mounted weapon.

Despite the error in identifying the bicycle as a weapon, the I.D.F. stood by its claim that the people targeted were combatants.

“During the several days leading up to the documented strike, armed terrorists used the route shown in the video in order to transfer ammunition and attack I.D.F. forces,” the statement said. “The strike took place after real-time identification of the people as armed terrorists, based on information gathered ahead of the strike.”

The statement said that the decision-making process behind the strike would be referred to military investigators who examine possible cases of misconduct by Israeli forces. Some human rights groups say that the Israeli military lacks the capacity for independent accountability and rarely penalizes soldiers for harming Palestinians. Israeli officials have defended the military’s efforts to limit harm to civilians and have opened investigations into some cases.

Mohammed Qreiqea, a researcher for Euro-Med, told The Times that, according to witnesses he spoke with, the people were returning from collecting aid. One of the people in the strike died, while the other suffered a lung puncture but survived, he said. Their families did not immediately respond to phone calls, and the Israeli military did not describe the condition of the two people targeted.

The strike was conducted on a road just a block away from Salah al-Din street, the main north-south highway in the Gaza Strip.

As of Tuesday evening in Israel, the video with the incorrect annotation remained on the Israeli military’s website and social media accounts.

Aaron Byrd contributed video production.

Germany helps evacuate dozens of children from a Gaza orphanage to the West Bank.

Nearly 70 children were evacuated from an orphanage in the southern Gazan city of Rafah and taken to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a charity involved in the effort said on Tuesday.

The charity, SOS Children’s Villages International, said it had worked “through diplomatic channels with all relevant authorities” to arrange to move the children, who were orphaned before the current war, to its orphanage in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The German Embassy in Israel said that it had assisted in the effort after a request for help in mid-November from SOS Children’s Villages. The embassy said that evacuating the orphans was a temporary measure to get the children “out of acute danger,” not an attempt to move them permanently.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s military or government about the operation, which the United Nations said took place with the approval of Israeli authorities. The German Embassy thanked Israel for “an important humanitarian gesture.”

More than a million Gazans have sought refuge in Rafah, many of them displaced previously and multiple times by Israeli military orders to move south for safety. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has for weeks vowed to push ahead with plans for a ground offensive in Rafah, prompting warnings from the United States and other allies, along with many aid groups, about the potential cost in civilian lives.

The 68 children were accompanied by 11 employees of SOS Children’s Villages and arrived in Bethlehem on Monday, the charity said.

“Even though the children are now relatively safe, we are still very concerned about all the other children and people who are still in grave danger in the Gaza Strip,” the organization said in a statement, noting that children continued to arrive at its orphanage in Rafah.

More than 30,000 people, including thousands of children, have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s assault on the enclave began, according to Gaza health authorities. At the beginning of February, UNICEF estimated that around 17,000 children in the enclave were unaccompanied or had been separated from their families.

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

Israel says it struck an area used by a high-ranking Hamas leader in Gaza.

Israel attacked an underground space used by Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, an Israeli military spokesman said Monday, adding that investigators were still analyzing the outcome of the strike.

Hamas, which has revealed little information about its senior military leaders since the war began, did not immediately comment.

The Israeli spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, emphasized that Israel had not finished verifying the results of the attack by Israeli warplanes, which he said had hit a location that has been used by Mr. Issa and another senior Hamas military official responsible for the group’s weapons.

If Mr. Issa were killed in the strike, he would be the highest-ranking Hamas commander to have been slain since the war began. His death would represent a victory for Israel, whose leaders have vowed to wipe out the Hamas leadership in Gaza — although Israel has killed many senior Hamas members in past decades, and the group has swiftly replaced them.

One of the most senior Hamas officials to have been confirmed dead since the start of the war is Saleh al-Arouri, a founder of the group’s armed wing who Hamas said was killed in an Israeli attack in Lebanon on Jan. 2. Although Israel’s campaign has battered Hamas over the last five months, its leader in Gaza and the presumed mastermind of the Oct. 7 attack, Yahya Sinwar, has eluded Israeli forces. Mohammed Deif, the top commander of the military wing, is also believed to be alive.

Admiral Hagari said the strike had been carried out on Nuseirat, in central Gaza, overnight between Saturday and Sunday. Israel conducted a particularly large number of strikes there that night, according to Arabic news media.

Admiral Hagari said that Mr. Issa helped plan the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack and was a part of “the main triangle of terror” in Gaza, alongside Mr. Sinwar and Mr. Deif.

Who are Hamas’s top leaders in Gaza?

Marwan Issa, who was the target of an Israeli strike in central Gaza over the weekend, is one of three leaders of Hamas in Gaza who Israel says were the main planners of the Oct. 7 attack, which killed over 1,200 people and led to the kidnapping of about 240 others, according to Israeli officials. It remained unclear on Tuesday whether the strike had hit him.

Here is what to know about the most senior Hamas leaders in Gaza:

Marwan Issa

Mr. Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, would be the highest ranking Hamas military official to be killed by Israel in recent years. Like many other senior Hamas military leaders in Gaza, Mr. Issa has kept a low profile, rarely appearing in public, in part to avoid targeted strikes like the one over the weekend that Israel’s military said hit an underground space he had used.

An Israeli army spokesman described Mr. Issa as having helped plan the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7. In addition to his military role, Mr. Issa served as a negotiator in talks that led to a cease-fire following a nearly two-week flare-up with Israel in 2021, as well as a deal in 2011, when one captive Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Yahya Sinwar

Mr. Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp, which was set up after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and has since become a permanent community, part of the wider city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. He founded a precursor to Hamas’s military wing, called Al Majd, and helped establish Hamas in 1987. At the time, he was responsible for identifying and punishing Palestinians suspected of infringing “morality” codes or collaborating with Israel.

In 1988, Mr. Sinwar was arrested by Israeli forces and sentenced to four life sentences for his role in killing four Palestinians suspected of working with Israel, according to Israeli court records.

Mr. Sinwar spent over 20 years in Israeli prison, and was released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011. Upon his return to Gaza, Mr. Sinwar slowly rose through the ranks of Hamas leadership, taking on a role akin to defense minister in 2012, and being elected to the top Hamas post in Gaza in 2017. He is known to be a hard-liner and developed a reputation for brutality, which earned him the nickname “the butcher of Khan Younis.”

Mohammed Deif

Mr. Deif, the enigmatic commander of Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, was also born in the Khan Younis refugee camp. As a young man, he joined Hamas around the time it was founded, and he quickly rose through the organization’s ranks, succeeding the founder of Hamas’s military wing, Salah Shehadeh, in 2002 after Mr. Shehadeh was killed in an Israeli strike. He orchestrated numerous attacks on Israel, including a series of suicide bombings in 1996. Known as Hamas’s top bomb maker, Mr. Deif also built Hamas’s military wing into a fighting force.

Mr. Deif has been at the top of Israel’s list of most-wanted terrorists for decades, and has evaded more than eight attempts on his life, according to Israeli intelligence. Israeli intelligence officials believe he lost an eye and was seriously injured in these attempts. In 2014, an Israeli airstrike killed one of his wives and their infant son.

Mr. Deif has not been seen publicly for years, and Israeli officials believe he has spent the past decades in Hamas’s warren of underground tunnels. Following the Oct. 7 attack, Mr. Deif said in a recorded message released by Hamas that the group had decided to launch an “operation” so that “the enemy will understand that the time of their rampaging without accountability has ended.”

The U.N. Security Council discusses sexual violence against Israeli women.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session on Monday — called jointly by the United States, Britain and France — to discuss accusations of sexual violence against Israeli women during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and against hostages held captive in Gaza.

The session follows a 23-page U.N. report, released on March 4, written by a team led by Pramila Patten, a special envoy on sexual violence and conflict. The team spent two weeks in Israel to look into the accusations.

The report found signs that sexual violence was committed in multiple locations on Oct. 7, including three sites where rape and gang rape likely occurred, and that hostages in Gaza were subjected to rape and sexual torture. The report said it was reasonable to believe sexual violence against hostages could be ongoing.

The report described a pattern of victims, mostly women, being naked and bound and shot and said that, “although circumstantial, such a pattern of undressing and restraining of victims may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence.”

In briefing the council about the key findings of the report, Ms. Patten called for a full-fledged human rights investigation by U.N. bodies, saying the scenes she encountered in Israel were “unspeakable violence perpetrated with shocking brutality resulting in intense human suffering.”

Ms. Patten said her findings do not “in any way legitimize further hostilities,” and reiterated calls of U.N. officials and nearly all members of the council, with the exception of the United States, for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the war between Hamas and Israel and the release of hostages, saying their families were “torn between hope and despair.”

Three Israeli women who were hostages in Gaza and suffered from sexual violence attended the session, along with family members of hostages, but they did not address the council.

Israel Katz, Israel’s foreign minister, spoke at the session, asking for Hamas to be declared a terrorist organization and sanctioned, and for the council and the U.N. to press for the immediate release of more than 100 hostages still being held in Gaza.

“The only ones responsible for these crimes against humanity is Hamas,” Mr. Katz said.

Diplomats from the 15-member council uniformly condemned sexual violence against Israeli women. But many also brought up the plight of Palestinian women suffering in Gaza, and raised concern about U.N. reporting that Palestinian women and men had been subject to sexual violence and threats of rape by Israeli forces in detention and during house raids.

Ms. Patten and her team also visited the West Bank to hear reports of sexual violence against Palestinians by Israeli security forces and settlers. The full report addressed the accusations, but did not focus on them because other U.N. bodies were working on that.

The Palestinian representative to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, also spoke at the session, saying that reports of sexual violence against Palestinian men and women had not led to a single Security Council meeting being convened, and that he hoped this meeting would mark a change and “more attention would be given by the Council to this matter in unbiased manner.”

Israel’s military lightly rebukes a general for a demolition at a university in Gaza.

Israel’s military has issued what amounts to a mild administrative sanction to one of its generals for ordering his troops to blow up a university building in Gaza without permission, adding to the complicated war record of a commander who has received praise and criticism for his role in the response to the Oct. 7 attack.

The reprimand of Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram over the demolition of a building at Israa University came in the form of a command note entered into his personnel file.

“The investigation found that the Hamas terrorist organization used the building and its surroundings for military activity against our forces, but the demolition of the building was done without the required approvals,” said an Israeli Defense Forces statement on Monday.

A command note carries relatively little weight as a form of sanction within Israel’s military, according to former military officials. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the military, later said that General Hiram was slated for a promotion.

Video that circulated online in January showed a multistory structure disappear in a cloud of smoke. Israa University, which posted the video on its Facebook page, said the demolished building housed graduate studies and undergraduate colleges. Other university buildings have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the war, including its training hospital, medical and engineering laboratories and cafeteria, the university said.

U.S. officials and others criticized Israel over the damage and the Israeli military said both the demolition and the approval process that led to it were “under review.” It also said that a preliminary investigation indicated that Hamas “used the compound and its surrounding area for military purposes.”

Israa University, near Gaza City, is one of several in the territory that have been devastated during Israel’s campaign against Hamas. The military campaign — which has included controlled demolitions by Israeli forces — has destroyed or damaged more than half of the buildings in Gaza, razing whole neighborhoods.

The Israeli military declined to make General Hiram available for comment.

General Hiram led Israeli troops in a battle to retake the village of Be’eri after Hamas and its allies surged across the border on Oct. 7, killing many civilians, abducting others and setting fire to homes.

Survivors of the attack said that, during the battle, an Israeli tank fired on a house where Hamas fighters were holding hostages. General Hiram later told The New York Times that he had authorized tank fire to end the standoff “even at the cost of civilian casualties.”

Since then, some people in Israel have praised him for bravery, while others have said that he recklessly endangered civilians. Only two of the 14 hostages in the house survived, although it was not clear how many had died because of tank fire.

U.K. Conservative Party Under Fire Over Donor’s Alleged Racist Remarks

Britain’s governing Conservative Party was under pressure Tuesday to return more than 10 million pounds to a donor who reportedly said that Diane Abbott, a prominent lawmaker, “should be shot,” and that looking at her made him “want to hate all Black women.”

According to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper, Frank Hester, a health care technology entrepreneur, made the comments in 2019, at a meeting held at the offices of his company, The Phoenix Partnership. He has apologized but has not confirmed the Guardian’s account of what he said.

Mr. Hester said on Monday that he “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbot in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor color of skin,” in a statement released by his firm that misspelled her last name.

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Zimbabwe, After Expelling U.S. Officials, Accuses Them of Promoting ‘Regime Change’

The government of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe detained, interrogated and deported officials and contractors working for the United States government last month, and this week accused them publicly of promoting “regime change” in their country.

The incident is the latest in the Zimbabwean government’s aggressive efforts to thwart both domestic and international challenges to its authority. The incumbent government claimed victory in a chaotic election last year that several independent observer missions said lacked fairness and credibility.

But it also points to a deeper tension over the United States’ proclaimed efforts to promote democracy around the globe. Some nations, including Zimbabwe, have accused America of meddling in their affairs and attempting to impose its values — as well as of hypocrisy, given the threats at home to its own democracy.

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The Royals Tried to Control Their Image Online. The Internet Had Other Ideas.

Trace back the digitally altered photograph of Catherine, Princess of Wales, and its roots lie in a tragedy of another Princess of Wales, Diana, whose death in 1997 predated the creation of Facebook by nearly seven years.

Diana’s fatal car accident, after a high-speed pursuit by photographers in Paris, left a lasting imprint on her sons, William and Harry. They grew up vowing not to take part in what they viewed as a pathological relationship between the royal family and the press, one in which they were the abused partners.

The rise of social media gave this younger generation of royals a way to bypass the tabloids they reviled, with popular platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where they could post carefully curated news and images of themselves, unmediated by the London papers or the lurking paparazzi.


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Ukraine-Backed Russian Exile Groups Stage Assaults on Moscow’s Turf

Ukraine staged a flurry of cross-border ground attacks with tanks and other armored vehicles and long-range drone strikes into Russia on Tuesday, assaults that appeared aimed at disrupting President Vladimir V. Putin’s re-election campaign messaging that the war had turned in Moscow’s favor.

Three armed groups of Russian exiles who operate in coordination with Ukraine’s military said they had crossed the border into southern Russia overnight and were fighting in border regions. Farther from the border, drone strikes hit a Russian oil refinery and fuel depot.

Throughout the war, Ukraine has struck targets inside Russia to disrupt military logistics, hit airplanes parked on runways and blown up railway bridges. The cross-border attacks, Ukrainian officials have said, are also intended to unnerve Russians and undermine Mr. Putin’s efforts to insulate them from the war.

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Citizenship Law That Excludes Muslims Takes Effect, India Says

Weeks before a national election, the Indian government has abruptly announced that it will begin enforcing a citizenship law that had remained dormant since late 2019 after inciting deadly riots by opponents who called it anti-Muslim.

The incendiary law grants Indian citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees and Christians from a few nearby countries. Muslims are pointedly excluded.

With a characteristic thunderclap, the government of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, made a short declaration on Monday night that it had finalized the details that would bring the law, known as the Citizenship Amendment Act, into force.

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Family Goes Missing After Heavy Rains Drench Western Australia

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Seven people are missing in Western Australia after swaths of the outback in the country’s largest and most sparsely populated state were drenched by more than 5.5 inches of rain in 24 hours over the weekend.

The record-breaking rain flooded sections of the Nullarbor Plain, a vast mostly barren area, closing off roads and cutting off the main rail link to the east, both crucial freight links.

“This is not typical weather for southeastern Western Australia,” a warning from the state Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.

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A Dutch Quandary Offers a Glimpse of a Deepening Problem for Europe

Just months ago, Geert Wilders was an anathema to most Dutch political parties.

A disruptive and divisive force on the far right for two decades, Mr. Wilders has said he wants to end immigration from Muslim countries, tax head scarves and ban the Quran. He has called Moroccan immigrants “scum.” His Party for Freedom has supported leaving the European Union.

But then Mr. Wilders won national elections convincingly in November. Nearly a quarter of Dutch voters chose his party, which won 37 of 150 seats in the House of Representatives, a huge margin by the standards of a fractious party system that rests on consensus and coalition building.

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Three Is Best: How China’s Family Planning Propaganda Has Changed


For decades, China harshly restricted the number of children couples could have, arguing that everyone would be better off with fewer mouths to feed. The government’s one-child policy was woven into the fabric of everyday life, through slogans on street banners and in popular culture and public art.

Now, faced with a shrinking and aging population, China is using many of the same propaganda channels to send the opposite message: Have more babies.

The government has also been offering financial incentives for couples to have two or three children. But the efforts have not been successful. The birthrate in China has fallen steeply, and last year was the lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Instead of enforcing birth limits, the government has shifted gears to promote a “pro-birth culture,” organizing beauty pageants for pregnant women and producing rap videos about the advantages of having children.

In recent years, the state broadcaster’s annual spring festival gala, one of the country’s most-watched TV events, has prominently featured public service ads promoting families with two or three children.

In one ad that aired last year, a visibly pregnant woman was shown resting her hand on her belly while her husband and son peacefully slept in bed. The caption read: “It’s getting livelier around here.”

The propaganda effort has been met with widespread ridicule. Critics have regarded the campaign as only the latest sign that policymakers are blind to the increasing costs and other challenges people face in raising multiple children.

They have also mocked the recent messaging for the obvious regulatory whiplash after decades of limiting births with forced abortions and hefty fines. Between 1980 and 2015, the year the one-child policy officially ended, the Chinese government used extensive propaganda to warn that having more babies would hinder China’s modernization.

Today the official rhetoric depicts larger families as the cornerstone of attaining a prosperous society, known in Chinese as “xiaokang.”

For officials, imposing the one-child policy also meant they had to challenge the deep-rooted traditional belief that children, and sons in particular, provided a form of security in old age. To change this mind-set, family planning offices plastered towns and villages with slogans saying that the state would take care of older Chinese.

But China’s population is aging rapidly. By 2040, nearly a third of its people will be over 60. The state will be hard pressed to support seniors, particularly those in rural areas, who get a fraction of the pension received by urban salaried workers under the current program.

Now the official messaging has shifted dramatically, highlighting the importance of self-reliance and family support.

Under the one-child policy, local governments levied steep “social upbringing fees” on those who had more children than allowed. For some families, these penalties brought financial devastation and fractured marriages.

As recently as early 2021, people were still being fined heavily for having a third child, only to find out a few months later, in June, that the government passed a law allowing all married couples to have three children. It had also not only abolished these fees nationwide but also encouraged localities to provide extra welfare benefits and longer parental leave for families with three children.

The pivot has prompted local officials to remove visible remnants of the one-child policy. Last year, local governments across various provinces systematically erased outdated slogans on birth restrictions from public streets and walls.

In a village in Shanxi Province in northern China, government employees took down a mural with a slogan that promoted the one-child policy.

But the slogans that the government would like to treat as relics of a bygone era are finding new resonance with young Chinese.

On social media, many Chinese users have shared photos of one-child policy slogans as witty retorts to what they described as growing societal pressure to have larger families. Some of the posts have garnered thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.

A Boring Capital for a Young Democracy. Just the Way Residents Like It.

Reporting from Belmopan, Belize

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Mention Belmopan, Belize’s capital that sits deep in the country’s interior, and many Belizeans will belittle the city as a bastion of pencil-pushing bureaucrats that’s not just dull, but also devoid of nightlife.

“I was warned, ‘Belmopan is for the newlyweds or the nearly deads,’” said Raquel Rodriguez, 45, owner of an art school, about the reactions when she moved to Belmopan from coastal, bustling Belize City.

Not exactly known as an Eden for young urbanites, Belmopan figures among the smallest capital cities anywhere in the Americas. It has only about 25,000 residents and a cluster of hurricane-proof, heavy-on-the-concrete, Maya-inspired Brutalist buildings.

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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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‘Decolonizing’ Ukrainian Art, One Name-and-Shame Post at a Time

Hiding for days in the basement of a kindergarten in Bucha, the Kyiv suburb that became synonymous with Russian war crimes, Oksana Semenik had time to think.

Outside, Russian troops were rampaging through the town, killing civilians who ventured into the streets. Knowing she might not make it out, Ms. Semenik, an art historian, mulled over the Ukrainian artworks she had long wanted to write about — and which were now in danger of disappearing.

That time spent holed up in Bucha was during the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion, but even then, two years ago, she had already seen reports of destroyed museums. Precious folk paintings by her favorite artist, Maria Primachenko, had gone up in flames. Moscow, she realized, was waging a war on Ukrainian culture.

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Murder and Magic Realism: A Rising Literary Star Mines China’s Rust Belt

For a long time during Shuang Xuetao’s early teenage years, he wondered what hidden disaster had befallen his family.

His parents, proud workers at a tractor factory in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, stopped going to work, and the family moved into an empty factory storage room to save money on rent.

But they rarely talked about what had happened, and Mr. Shuang worried that some special shame had struck his family alone.

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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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Canadian Skaters Demand Bronze Medals in Olympics Dispute

Nearly a month after international figure skating’s governing body revised the results of a marquee competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, stripping Russia of the gold medal and giving the United States team a long-delayed victory, a new fight about the outcome erupted on Monday.

Eight members of the Canadian squad that competed in the team competition in Beijing have filed a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport demanding that they be awarded bronze medals in the team event. The court announced the filing but revealed no details.

The Canadians, whose case was joined by their country’s skating federation and national Olympic committee, are expected to argue that figure skating’s global governing body erred when it revised the results of the competition in January after a Russian skater who had taken part, the teenage prodigy Kamila Valieva, was given a four-year ban for doping.

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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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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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Aparecen en EE. UU. nuevos sitios de noticias falsas vinculados a Rusia

En las últimas semanas han surgido, en medio de la crisis del periodismo estadounidense, una serie de sitios web cuyos nombres sugieren un énfasis en las noticias cercanas: D. C. Weekly, New York News Daily, Chicago Chronicle y, una publicación hermana más reciente, Miami Chronicle.

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

En realidad, no son organizaciones de noticias locales. Son creaciones rusas, según investigadores y funcionarios gubernamentales, diseñadas para imitar a las organizaciones de noticias reales con el fin de difundir la propaganda del Kremlin intercalándola en una mezcla a veces extraña de historias sobre delincuencia, política y cultura.

Aunque Rusia lleva mucho tiempo buscando maneras de influir en el discurso público de Estados Unidos, estas recientes organizaciones de noticias falsas —al menos cinco, hasta ahora— representan un salto tecnológico en sus intentos de encontrar nuevas plataformas para embaucar a lectores estadounidenses desprevenidos. Según los investigadores y las autoridades, estos sitios podrían ser los cimientos de una red en línea preparada para difundir desinformación antes de las elecciones presidenciales estadounidenses de noviembre.

Patrick Warren, codirector del Centro Forense de Medios de la Universidad de Clemson que ha revelado las actividades furtivas de desinformación rusa, afirmó que los avances en inteligencia artificial y otras herramientas digitales “han facilitado aún más esta tarea y han hecho que los contenidos sean aún más específicos”.

El sitio web del Miami Chronicle apareció por primera vez el 26 de febrero. Su eslogan afirma falsamente haber ofrecido “las noticias de Florida desde 1937”.

Entre algunas noticias verdaderas, el sitio publicó la semana pasada una nota sobre una “grabación de audio filtrada” de Victoria Nuland, subsecretaria de Estado para asuntos políticos de Estados Unidos, en la que habla de un cambio en el apoyo estadounidense a la asediada oposición rusa tras la muerte del disidente ruso Alexéi Navalny. La grabación es una burda falsificación, según funcionarios de gobierno que solo aceptaron hablar de manera anónima para poder comentar temas de inteligencia.

La campaña, según expertos y funcionarios, parece implicar a restos del imperio mediático controlado en su momento por Yevgeny Prigozhin, un antiguo socio del presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, cuya fábrica de troles, la Agencia de Investigación de Internet, interfirió en las elecciones presidenciales de 2016 entre Donald Trump y Hillary Clinton.

Prigozhin murió en un accidente aéreo a las afueras de Moscú en agosto tras liderar un breve levantamiento militar contra el ejército ruso, pero la continuidad de sus operaciones subraya la importancia que el Kremlin otorga a sus batallas informativas en todo el mundo. No está claro quién ha tomado el timón de esa operación.

“Putin sería un completo idiota si dejara que la red se desmoronara”, señaló Darren Linvill, socio de Warren en la Universidad de Clemson. “Necesita la red Prigozhin más que nunca”.

Los investigadores de Clemson revelaron las conexiones rusas detrás del sitio web D. C. Weekly en un informe en diciembre. Tras su revelación, empezaron a aparecer narrativas rusas en otro sitio que se había creado en octubre, Clear Story News. Desde entonces, han aparecido nuevos medios.

Los sitios web del Chicago Chronicle y del New York News Daily, cuyo nombre evoca claramente al famoso tabloide de la ciudad Daily News, se crearon el 18 de enero, según la Corporación de Internet para la Asignación de Nombres y Números, que supervisa los dominios.

Todos los medios utilizan el mismo software de WordPress para crear sus sitios y, por lo tanto, tienen diseños similares.

Los logotipos y nombres de los medios evocan una época pasada del periodismo estadounidense, en un intento por crear una apariencia de autenticidad. Un periódico real llamado The Chicago Chronicle funcionó de 1895 a 1907, antes de desaparecer por una razón muy familiar para los periódicos de la actualidad: no fue rentable.

Además, se actualizan periódicamente con las principales noticias de última hora, creando a primera vista la impresión de actualidad. Un artículo sobre la decisión de la Corte Suprema acerca de la elegibilidad de Trump para permanecer en la papeleta de las primarias en Colorado apareció en el sitio del Miami Chronicle pocas horas después de la decisión.

En otros aspectos, los sitios web están mal construidos, incluso incompletos en algunas secciones. Por ejemplo, la sección “Acerca de” del Miami Chronicle está llena de “Lorem ipsum”, el texto en latín que se utiliza como relleno estándar. Algunas imágenes del sitio tienen nombres de archivo del ruso original. (Ninguno de los sitios publica información de contacto que funcione).

El objetivo no es engañar a un lector perspicaz para que profundice en el sitio web y mucho menos que se suscriba, explicó Linvill. El objetivo es dar un aura de credibilidad a las publicaciones en las redes sociales que difunden la desinformación.

La labor sigue un patrón que el Kremlin ha utilizado antes: blanquear afirmaciones que aparecen primero en línea a través de organizaciones de noticias menores. Esas informaciones se difunden de nuevo en internet y aparecen en otras organizaciones de noticias, incluidas las agencias de noticias estatales y las cadenas de televisión rusas.

“La página solo está ahí con el fin de parecer lo suficientemente realista como para engañar a un lector ocasional haciéndole creer que está leyendo un artículo genuino, de marca estadounidense”, aseguró Linvill.

Según el estudio de Clemson, D. C. Weekly publicó varias narrativas del Kremlin a partir de agosto. Una de ellas incluía la falsa afirmación de que la esposa del presidente de Ucrania, Volodímir Zelenski, había comprado joyas con un valor de más de 1,1 millones de dólares en la tienda Cartier de Nueva York durante su visita a las Naciones Unidas en septiembre.

El sitio afirma contar con una plantilla de 17 periodistas, pero parecen ser personajes inventados. La biografía de la autora de esa nota, llamada Jessica Devlin, utilizó como imagen de perfil una fotografía de Judy Batalion, autora de un libro exitoso sobre mujeres judías que lucharon contra los nazis. Batalion dijo que nunca había oído hablar del sitio ni de la autora hasta que los verificadores de hechos se pusieron en contacto con ella.

Otros artículos que aparecen en los sitios parecen haber sido tomados de organizaciones de noticias reales, como Reuters y Fox News, o de agencias de noticias en inglés de medios de comunicación estatales rusos, como RT. Algunas historias han incluido por descuido instrucciones o respuestas de uno de los chatbots de OpenAI, según escribieron Linvill y Warren en el estudio.

Los artículos suelen recibir cientos de publicaciones en diversas plataformas, como X, antes conocida como Twitter; Facebook, y Telegram, así como Reddit, Gab y Truth Social, aunque es difícil medir el alcance exacto. En conjunto, en teoría podrían llegar a miles de lectores, incluso millones.

“Esto es sin duda un preludio del tipo de interferencia que veremos en el ciclo electoral”, concluyó Linvill. “Es barato, muy selectivo y obviamente eficaz”.

Jeanne Noonan DelMundo colaboró con este reportaje.

Steven Lee Myers cubre temas de desinformación para The New York Times. Ha trabajado en Washington, Moscú, Bagdad y Pekín, donde contribuyó a los artículos que ganaron el Premio Pulitzer por servicio público en 2021. También es autor de The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. Más de Steven Lee Myers

La ciudad natal de Gabriel García Márquez espera su último libro y más visitantes

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

Estatuas y murales llevan su imagen. Escuelas y bibliotecas tienen su nombre. Hoteles, barberías, clubes nocturnos y tiendas de reparación de bicicletas hacen referencias a su obra.

En la sofocante ciudad montañosa de Aracataca, en Colombia, es imposible caminar por una sola calle sin ver alusiones al más renombrado de sus viejos residentes: Gabriel García Márquez, el ganador del Premio Nobel de Literatura de 1982.

Por toda la ciudad se ven mariposas amarillas, un guiño a una de sus famosas imágenes literarias. La casa donde vivió de niño se ha convertido en un museo lleno de sus muebles originales, incluida la cuna donde dormía.

La biblioteca, llamada Biblioteca Pública Municipal Remedios La Bella, en honor al personaje Remedios, la bella, de su novela Cien años de soledad, tiene una vitrina que exhibe sus libros traducidos a varios idiomas.

Aracataca, que antes era una ciudad remota y pequeña de 40.000 habitantes asolada por el desempleo y la falta de servicios básicos, se ha transformado por su conexión con García Márquez, el autor más famoso de Colombia y uno de los titanes literarios del mundo.

Hace diez años, la ciudad no tenía mucho que ofrecer a los turistas y hacía poco por promocionar su conexión con el autor, más allá de un museo y una sala de billar que se denominaba a sí mismo como Billar Macondo, por el nombre de la ciudad ficticia de Cien años de soledad.

Pero desde la muerte de García Márquez, en 2014, ha aumentado el interés por él y por su ciudad natal, la cual inspiró algunas de sus obras más conocidas.

Muchos se refieren al escritor por su apodo, Gabo, y la ciudad se ha convertido en una especie de Gabolandia.

Si caminas por cualquier calle, encontrarás referencias evidentes al autor: carteles con su nombre, murales, estatuas, señales de tránsito y un montón de puestos que venden distintos productos, desde gorras de béisbol hasta tazas de café con la imagen de García Márquez.

Con la reciente publicación de su libro póstumo, En agosto nos vemos, los funcionarios y residentes de Aracataca tienen grandes esperanzas de que la nueva publicidad atraiga aún más turistas.

“Sí, se han visto cambios en todos los aspectos”, dijo Carlos Ruiz, director de un museo en el que el padre de García Márquez trabajó como operador de telégrafos. Él ha estado trabajando junto con el gobierno regional para impulsar el turismo literario en la ciudad.

“A través de Gabo lo que queremos es que Aracataca se fortalezca”, dijo Ruiz, y añadió que el año pasado la visitaron 22.000 turistas, frente a los 17.500 de 2019.

La ciudad celebra el cumpleaños de García Márquez todos los 6 de marzo, pero las festividades de este año fueron mayores, con más participantes y más actividades.

La celebración incluyó un concurso de relatos cortos y poesía y un espectáculo de danza a cargo de un grupo de niñas vestidas de mariposas amarillas. Una bibliotecaria se disfrazó de García Márquez para leer a los niños fragmentos de Cien años de soledad. Por la noche, un grupo de teatro representó El amor en los tiempos del cólera.

García Márquez no quería que se publicara su último libro, cuyos méritos literarios ya se están debatiendo. Pero, en su ciudad natal, la publicación ha generado un gran entusiasmo.

“Hay una expectativa grande, sobre todo porque en esta obra es una mujer la protagonista”, dijo Claudia Aarón, una maestra de escuela de 50 años.

“Qué bueno que la podamos disfrutar”, añadió, “que el gran nobel, nuestro maestro, todavía nos deja disfrutar su obra hasta después de fallecido”.

Aarón, quien iba vestida de amarillo chillón como muchos de los asistentes al concurso de poesía, recordó la última vez que el escritor vino a Aracataca, en 2007, y recorrió la ciudad en un carruaje de caballos.

“Eso fue apoteósico”, dijo. “Él con la esposa iban saludando como reina de pueblo y la gente se agolpaba”.

“Tantas cosas nos ayudan y nos motivan a seguir viviendo aquí, a luchar por esta cultura”, dijo Rocío Valle, de 52 años, otra maestra que asistió al concurso de poesía. “Gracias a Dios y gracias a Gabo”.

García Márquez nació en Aracataca en 1927 y fue criado por sus abuelos maternos hasta los ocho años, antes de mudarse a Sucre a vivir con sus padres.

Aunque su estancia en Aracataca fue relativamente breve, la ciudad se convirtió en la inspiración para la ciudad ficticia de Macondo. (En 2006 se realizó un referéndum para cambiar el nombre de Aracataca por el de Macondo, pero finalmente fracasó).

En sus memorias Vivir para contarla, el novelista recordaba que cuando regresó a Aracataca de joven “la reverberación del calor era tan intensa que todo se veía como a través de un vidrio ondulante”.

Hoy en día, en Aracataca, las obras de García Márquez se enseñan desde el preescolar, y se pide a los niños que hagan dibujos basados en sus cuentos, los cuales se leen en voz alta, dijo Aarón.

El miércoles, un grupo de adolescentes reunidos frente a una tienda dijeron que el legado del Premio Nobel de García Márquez los había inspirado a ser creativos e imaginativos en clase. También debatieron sobre cuál de sus obras era su favorita: La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada o Relato de un náufrago.

Alejandra Mantilla, de 16 años, dijo que se sentía orgullosa de ver a turistas de lugares tan lejanos como Europa y China visitar la ciudad, sobre todo porque Colombia sigue luchando por superar su reputación relacionada a las drogas y la violencia.

“Colombia es, de pronto, uno de los países que está como muy alejado por todo lo del narcotráfico y todo eso”, dijo. “Entonces, qué bueno que le dé una buena imagen al país”.

Iñaki Otaoño, de 63 años, y su esposa, que viven en España, se aseguraron de visitar Aracataca durante su viaje de un mes por Colombia. Otaoño dijo que ha leído todas las obras de García Márquez.

“Somos un poco monomaníacos de este señor”, dijo. “Había que conocer el sitio de lo que sale en el libro”.

También mencionó que pensaban comprar su nuevo libro cuando llegaran a Bogotá.

“Pues mejor comprarlo aquí en su país, ¿no?”, dijo.

El gobierno regional ha estado trabajando para reactivar un ferrocarril que pasa por Aracataca, que actualmente funciona solo para movilizar carbón, para transportar pasajeros como parte de una “ruta Macondo”. Además, se está construyendo un gran hotel con piscina y panadería.

El aumento del turismo ha proporcionado más oportunidades económicas.

Cuando Jahir Beltrán, de 39 años, perdió su empleo como minero del carbón, trabajó brevemente en construcción y agricultura, hasta que un amigo le sugirió trabajar como guía turístico.

Entonces empezó a estudiar la obra de García Márquez y contrató a un sastre que le hizo un uniforme para poder disfrazarse del coronel Aureliano Buendía, uno de los personajes más importantes de Cien años de soledad.

“Todo esos conocimientos, tanto del escritor como de la vieja Aracataca, me han servido para transmitírselo a los turistas”, dijo Beltrán, quien ahora trabaja a tiempo completo como guía turístico independiente.

Fernando Vizcaíno, banquero jubilado de 70 años, tuvo la idea de convertir su casa en un hostal hace unos seis años, cuando vio que empezaban a llegar un mayor número de visitantes. Lo bautizó como Casa Turística Realismo Mágico, y él y su esposa la decoraron con colores brillantes y muchas referencias a García Márquez.

Vizcaíno dijo que su padre era amigo de la familia del autor y llevaba y traía las cartas que los padres de García Márquez se escribían cuando eran jóvenes y perseguían un amor prohibido. Ese noviazgo inspiró El amor en los tiempos del cólera.

“Aquí en Aracataca es una persona que está viva todavía”, dijo.


La ayuda de World Central Kitchen de José Andrés podría salir a Gaza en unos días

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

El primer cargamento marítimo de ayuda humanitaria a Gaza —asistencia alimentaria de la organización World Central Kitchen— podría salir del país insular mediterráneo de Chipre en unos días, dijeron autoridades de la Unión Europea.

Ursula von der Leyen, presidenta del organismo ejecutivo de la UE, describió el cargamento como un “proyecto piloto” para un corredor marítimo de asistencia a Gaza, pero ofreció pocos detalles sobre cómo se llevaría a cabo ni en qué ubicación del territorio se entregaría.

El célebre cocinero español José Andrés, fundador de World Central Kitchen, publicó el viernes en las redes sociales imágenes en las que se veían plataforma de carga cargadas en un buque con los nombres de su grupo y de Open Arms, un organismo de asistencia español. Dijo que los planes para el envío estaban “en las fases finales” y que “desembarcaría en las playas de Gaza con 200 palés”. No quedó claro cómo se recogería o distribuiría la ayuda, si llegaba a Gaza.

Desde octubre, organizadores y cocineros palestinos que trabajan con la World Central Kitchen han servido más de 32 millones de comidas en Gaza, según ha declarado el grupo. Sus esfuerzos podrían ser impulsados por los planes del ejército de EE. UU. para construir un muelle flotante para llevar más ayuda a Gaza, y los anuncios el viernes del Reino Unido, la Unión Europea y otros países indicando que establecerían un corredor marítimo de asistencia al territorio.

La medida le daría al grupo un acceso clave a un suministro constante de alimentos, el cual les serviría para más que duplicar las raciones que sirven diariamente y ayudar incluso más a la población de la zona norte de Gaza, dijo José Andrés en una entrevista el jueves, luego de que Estados Unidos anunció los planes del muelle flotante.

“Estamos intentando hacer lo imposible”, dijo. “Merece la pena intentar lo imposible para alimentar a la población de Gaza”.

La organización ha establecido 65 cocinas comunitarias en Gaza gestionadas por palestinos locales y tiene planes de añadir al menos 35 más, dijo José Andrés. Cada día se sirven unas 350.000 raciones, pero, añadió, le gustaría distribuir más de un millón.

Llevar alimentos y ayuda a Gaza ha sido desalentador, dijo. World Central Kitchen ha recurrido a enviar alguna de sus ayudas mediante lanzamientos aéreos con la Real Fuerza Aérea Jordana.

José Andrés fundó la organización tras el terremoto de Haití de 2010, en el que fallecieron unas 300.000 personas. Desde entonces, ha asistido en numerosas catástrofes naturales y guerras en Estados Unidos y en el extranjero. En 2017, la asociación sirvió millones de raciones de comida a los puertorriqueños afectados por el huracán María, a los ucranianos damnificados por la guerra contra Rusia y, más recientemente, a personas que se enfrentaban a incendios en Chile y Texas, entre otros lugares.

“Tenemos que apuntar a la Luna, porque donde sea que caigamos, merece la pena el esfuerzo”, dijo.

La asociación es el mayor programa de alimentación de emergencia creado por un grupo de cocineros: ha servido más de 350 millones de raciones de comida desde su fundación. Su impacto es inmediato, pues José Andrés y su personal pueden establecer redes rápidamente, organizar cocinas en condiciones difíciles y conseguir ingredientes y equipos.

Las cocinas, como las de Gaza, suelen estar gestionadas por lugareños, que preparan su gastronomía. Muchas de esas recetas se recopilaron en el libro de cocina del World Central Kitchen que se publicó en septiembre.


Christina Morales es reportera de alimentación para el Times. Más de Christina Morales.

Monika Pronczuk es una reportera radicada en Bruselas. Se incorporó al Times en 2020. Más de Monika Pronczuk.

Un estudiante de una escuela normal rural murió tras un tiroteo de agentes de la policía de México

Agentes de policía mexicanos mataron a tiros a un estudiante de una escuela normal rural el jueves por la noche en la parte occidental del país. El episodio se produce en un momento de creciente tensión entre el gobierno y los estudiantes de la escuela, vinculada a una de las peores atrocidades de la historia reciente de México.

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

El tiroteo del jueves se produjo en el estado de Guerrero después de que agentes de la policía estatal intentaran detener una camioneta blanca que había sido denunciada como robada y fueran recibidos a tiros, según las autoridades estatales.

Las autoridades dijeron que, en el tiroteo que siguió, una de las personas que viajaba en el vehículo, Yanqui Kothan Gómez Peralta, de 23 años, recibió un disparo en la cabeza por parte de la policía y murió posteriormente en un hospital. Una segunda persona que viajaba en la camioneta fue detenida, y en el vehículo se encontraron un arma de fuego y drogas, según la policía.

El secretario general del gobierno de Guerrero, Ludwig Reynoso, dijo a la prensa tras el tiroteo que Gómez Peralta era estudiante de la Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, una escuela para formar profesores de una zona rural de Guerrero con un historial de activismo y protesta social.

En 2014, un grupo de 43 estudiantes de la escuela fue atacado por pistoleros, entre los que se encontraban agentes de la policía local cuyos mandos habían estado recibiendo órdenes directas de narcotraficantes locales, como demostró un conjunto de mensajes de texto, testimonios de testigos y archivos de investigación.

Los estudiantes fueron secuestrados y nunca se les volvió a ver. Una década después, solo se han identificado oficialmente los restos de tres cuerpos.

La escuela normal condenó el viernes la actuación de la policía en el encuentro con la camioneta, sugiriendo que fue un ataque no provocado.

“Acribillaron de manera cruel a uno de nuestros compañeros”, declaró la escuela en un comunicado. “Responsabilizamos de manera directa al gobierno estatal por el ataque armado”.

Funcionarios estatales dijeron que lamentaban la muerte ocasionada en el encuentro, pero explicaron que los agentes estaban respondiendo a un delito.

“No hay un ataque a un estudiante, puesto que no sabíamos que era un estudiante, sino a una persona que iba manejando un vehículo con reporte de robo y no se detiene ante el alto de la autoridad”, afirmó René Posselt, vocero del gobierno del estado de Guerrero.

El asesinato de Gómez Peralta se produjo días después de que un grupo de manifestantes embistiera las puertas de madera del Palacio Nacional, donde vive el presidente del país, exigiendo respuestas sobre la investigación del caso de los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos, que, según los manifestantes, el gobierno había paralizado.

El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador restó importancia a la protesta y la calificó de provocación.

Tras la muerte de Gómez Peralta, algunos estudiantes de la escuela normal protagonizaron una protesta en Chilpancingo, la capital del estado, prendiendo fuego a un vehículo policial.

José Filiberto Velázquez, sacerdote local y director del grupo de derechos humanos Minerva Bello en Guerrero, dijo que un tercer estudiante que se había bajado de la camioneta para ir a una tienda cercana alertó a la escuela de lo que había ocurrido.

Otros estudiantes llamaron entonces a Velázquez, quien rebatió la versión oficial de que los estudiantes atacaron primero a la policía.

“Es una ejecución extrajudicial para nosotros”, dijo Velázquez. “Resultado de una tendencia de abuso de autoridad, de brutalidad policíaca, que es ya una costumbre”

Santiago Aguirre, abogado principal que representa a las familias de los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos, afirmó que existe un patrón de uso desproporcionado de la fuerza letal por parte de las autoridades estatales de Guerrero, y añadió que las organizaciones de derechos humanos han documentado casos de agentes de policía que han plantado pruebas en las escenas de los crímenes.

“El llamado de cautela es a una investigación exhaustiva que no se realice con sesgos y que agote todas las líneas de investigación necesarias”, dijo Aguirre.

El viernes por la mañana, López Obrador expresó su consternación por el asesinato de Gómez Peralta y dijo que la fiscalía investigaría a fondo el incidente del jueves. También reiteró su intención de obtener respuestas sobre lo ocurrido a los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos.

“No vamos a responder con violencia de ninguna manera, por convicción, no somos represores”, dijo López Obrador, cuyo gobierno dirige la investigación sobre los estudiantes desaparecidos. “Saber lo que sucedió y castigar a los responsables y encontrar a los jóvenes, ese es mi compromiso y estoy en eso”.

La escuela normal y las familias de los estudiantes desaparecidos han criticado la gestión del gobierno en cuanto a esta investigación.

El año pasado, un grupo de expertos internacionales que había estado investigando el secuestro de los estudiantes anunció que ponía fin a su investigación y abandonaba el país después de que sus miembros dijeran que las fuerzas armadas mexicanas les habían mentido y engañado repetidamente sobre el papel de los militares en el crimen.

Un vocero del ejército mexicano dijo que la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional del país ya no estaba autorizada a hablar sobre el caso de los estudiantes desaparecidos.

“El que habla es el presidente sobre esto”, dijo.

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega es investigador-reportero del Times radicado en Ciudad de México. Cubre México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Más de Emiliano Rodríguez Mega


¿Cuáles son las pandillas que han invadido la capital de Haití y qué quieren?

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

Haití, nación del Caribe con una larga historia de turbulencia, está atravesando uno de sus peores periodos de caos.

Las pandillas cerraron el aeropuerto, saquearon puertos marítimos, edificios públicos y tiendas, y han atacado casi una decena de comisarías. Las carreteras están bloqueadas, lo que corta el suministro de alimentos, y 4600 reclusos fueron liberados tras el ataque a las prisiones.

El primer ministro, Ariel Henry, está varado en Puerto Rico mientras los pandilleros causan estragos, exigen su dimisión y asaltan decenas de camiones llenos de provisiones del Programa Mundial de Alimentos.

El estado de emergencia en torno a Puerto Príncipe, la capital, se prorrogó un mes más.

Con el gobierno al borde del colapso, Estados Unidos y los países del Caribe están trabajando para llegar a una resolución —incluido un plan para un gobierno de transición— que restablezca cierta apariencia de orden en la atribulada nación y permita que Henry pueda regresar al país.

Los expertos calculan que en Haití operan hasta 200 pandillas, unas 20 de ellas en Puerto Príncipe. Van desde pequeños grupos de unas pocas decenas de jóvenes que comparten pistolas hasta cuadrillas de unos 1500 hombres con sueldos semanales y armas automáticas que pertenecen a organizaciones jerarquizadas con jefes.

Dos organizaciones principales de pandillas, el G-Pèp y la Familia G-9, controlan muchos de los barrios más pobres de la capital. Los grupos delictivos y sus aliados a veces trabajan en colaboración, pero más a menudo se enfrentan.

Los grupos han estado históricamente vinculados a partidos políticos: el G-9 está afiliado al partido gobernante Haitian Tèt Kale, mientras que el G-Pèp tiende a apoyar a los partidos de la oposición.

El G-9 y sus aliados se han apoderado en gran medida de los puertos y de las carreteras que rodean el principal aeropuerto del país. Ha sido casi imposible conducir desde Puerto Príncipe a las ciudades del norte porque las pandillas han tomado la autopista norte-sur.

Henry abandonó el país la semana pasada para dirigirse a Kenia, donde firmó un acuerdo que allana el camino para que una fuerza multinacional dirigida por esa nación de África Oriental viaje a Haití y se enfrente a las bandas.

En su lugar, en ausencia de Henry, los líderes de las pandillas anunciaron una alianza informal llamada “Vivre Ensemble” o “Vivir Juntos” en español. Lanzaron ataques coordinados contra instituciones estatales con el objetivo de derrocar al gobierno actual e impedir el despliegue de la fuerza internacional.

“Quieren engullir barrios uno a uno”, declaró Nicole Phillips, abogada de derechos humanos especializada en Haití. “Cualquier gobierno que les permita hacerlo, eso es lo que quieren”.

Las bandas también esperan establecer un consejo de gobierno para dirigir el país, y quieren ayudar a elegir a sus miembros para poder ejercer el control, dijo Robert Muggah, quien investiga Haití para varias agencias de la ONU.

Las bandas tienen varios jefes en distintos barrios, pero en los últimos días un jefe llamado Jimmy Chérizier, a quien se conoce como Barbacoa, se ha convertido en la cara pública de la alianza Vivir Juntos.

Exagente de policía conocido por su crueldad, ha sido acusado de dirigir masacres. Su alianza de bandas, el G-9, dirige el centro de Puerto Príncipe y ha sido acusado de atacar barrios aliados con partidos políticos de la oposición, saquear viviendas, violar a mujeres y matar a personas al azar.

La llamó “revolución armada”.

Esta semana trató de adoptar un tono más conciliador, pidiendo disculpas a las personas cuyos hogares habían sido saqueados por las pandillas, incluida su propia alianza, durante los recientes disturbios.

“Nuestro primer paso en la batalla es derrocar al gobierno de Ariel Henry, como siempre hemos dicho, y luego nos aseguraremos de que el país tenga un Estado fuerte con un sistema judicial fuerte para luchar contra los corruptos”, dijo durante una conferencia de prensa. “Vamos a asegurarnos de que tener un sistema de seguridad fuerte que permita a todo el mundo circular a la hora que quiera y regresar cuando quiera”.

“Nuestro objetivo es ver otro Haití”.

Aunque no estaba claro si el enfoque más comedido del jefe de la pandilla era sincero o calculado, Muggah señaló que no dejaba de ser una postura nueva para Chérizier.

“Hemos visto cómo Chérizier y el G-9 han evolucionado en las últimas semanas hacia una retórica más política”, dijo Muggah. “Además de llamar a la rebelión y amenazar con la guerra civil si no se cumplen sus exigencias, están tratando de proponer soluciones en las que mantendrían su poder si, como mínimo, se les absolviera y se les brindara amnistia por todos los crímenes que han cometido.”

Kenia fue uno de los pocos países que respondieron a la petición internacional de ayuda de Haití.

Haití lleva ocho años sin celebrar elecciones. Su presidente fue asesinado hace casi tres años. Henry, primer ministro designado, es considerado en general un gobernante ilegítimo.

El Estado ha perdido credibilidad y poder, y las bandas han intervenido para llenar el vacío.

El año pasado, casi 5000 personas fueron asesinadas y otras 2500 secuestradas, según la ONU, un nivel de violencia que duplicó el del año anterior. Enero fue el mes más violento en dos años, con más de 800 personas asesinadas, según la ONU.

A fines de 2022, Henry pidió a la comunidad internacional que interviniera. Algunas naciones, entre ellas Estados Unidos, manifestaron poco interés, dado el sombrío historial de anteriores intervenciones internacionales en Haití.

Estados Unidos accedió a financiar la mayor parte del despliegue de 1000 agentes de policía kenianos, más otros procedentes de otras naciones, pero se ha retrasado por resoluciones judiciales kenianas.

A medida que las pandillas haitianas han crecido en tamaño y armamento, han ganado más territorio e infraestructuras importantes. Cobran tasas por pasar por determinadas carreteras y por recuperar camiones secuestrados, y exigen rescates para liberar a las víctimas de secuestros.

En los últimos años, los grupos violentos han empezado a extenderse a zonas rurales como Artibonite, a unos 100 km al norte de Puerto Príncipe y una de las principales regiones agrícolas de Haití. Las bandas invaden las granjas y dificultan —si no imposibilitan— que los agricultores viajen y vendan sus productos.

Es una pregunta complicada de responder.

“Ahora utilizamos la palabra ‘pandilla’ porque es práctica, todo el mundo la utiliza y la conoce, pero no capta lo que está ocurriendo”, afirmó Romain Le Cour, quien investiga sobre Haití para la Iniciativa Global contra el Crimen Organizado Transnacional, con sede en Ginebra.

La mayoría de los miembros de las bandas son hombres de unos 20 años que proceden de barrios urbanos empobrecidos donde escasean las oportunidades. A menudo están alineados con empresarios y políticos de élite que les pagan por todo, desde asegurar la carga hasta reunir manifestantes. Los partidos políticos han utilizado a los miembros de las pandillas en las elecciones para atraer votos o suprimirlos.

“En Haití existe una larga tradición de élites que intentan crear y alimentar grupos paramilitares que, en las últimas décadas, les han ayudado a servir a sus intereses y a utilizar la violencia para mantener el monopolio de algún producto básico o para algunos intereses políticos”, afirmó Diego Da Rin, investigador sobre Haití del International Crisis Group.

En Haití, el concepto de grupos armados irregulares se remonta a décadas atrás y han existido varios tipos de actores violentos en el país.

Durante la dictadura haitiana de François Duvalier, los grupos paramilitares conocidos como Tonton Macoutes eran famosos por su violencia y represión. En 1995, el presidente Jean-Bertrand Aristide ilegalizó los grupos paramilitares y disolvió las fuerzas armadas haitianas.

Antiguos soldados que originalmente formaban parte del movimiento de Aristide crearon más tarde grupos locales de autodefensa conocidos como “baz”, que a menudo seguían a líderes carismáticos y llegaron a gobernar partes de Puerto Príncipe.

Otros grupos paramilitares del pasado son el Frente para el Avance y el Progreso de Haití, de extrema derecha, y los chimères, que estaban afiliados a Aristide.

Ahora bien, la línea que separa a un baz de una banda suele ser borrosa.

Las personas hartas de la violencia de las bandas se han unido a un movimiento conocido como “bwa kale”, que anima a la justicia por mano propia. Han cometido asesinatos extrajudiciales y, en general, persiguen a los delincuentes, a menudo con el apoyo de la comunidad local.

Además, muchos miembros de una brigada ambientalista sancionada por el gobierno, conocida como B-SAP, se han vuelto contra el Estado, con lo que se ha sumado otro grupo de personas armadas.

La Policía Nacional de Haití se ha visto impactada por la salida de unos 3000 de sus 15000 empleados en los últimos dos años. Aunque Estados Unidos ha invertido casi 200 millones de dólares estadounidenses en el departamento, actualmente presenta escasez de armamento y carece de personal. El departamento posee 47 vehículos blindados, pero en una reciente visita de los investigadores de la ONU, menos de la mitad estaban operativos.

Andre Paultre colaboró con reportería desde Puerto Príncipe, Haití.

Frances Robles es una reportera de investigación que cubre Estados Unidos y América Latina. Es periodista desde hace más de 30 años. Más de Frances Robles