The New York Times 2024-05-30 01:22:30


Middle East Crisis: Gaza Offensive Will Last at Least Through End of Year, Israeli Official Says

A senior Israeli official said that the war would last at least through the end of the year.

Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said Wednesday that he expected Israel’s military operations in Gaza to continue through at least the end of the year, appearing to dismiss the idea that the war could come to an end after the military offensive against Hamas in Rafah.

“We expect another seven months of combat in order to shore up our achievement and realize what we define as the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s military and governing capabilities,” Mr. Hanegbi said in a radio interview with Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster.

Israeli officials have told the public to expect a protracted campaign that would progress in phases toward lower-intensity fighting. Mr. Hanegbi’s assessment, however, appeared to be at odds with earlier projections by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in April that the country was “on the brink of victory” in its war against Hamas. In recent weeks, Israeli troops have repeatedly returned to areas of northern Gaza in an attempt to tamp down a renewed insurgency there by Hamas militants.

Israel faces rising pressure to wind down its campaign and reach a cease-fire deal with Hamas that would include the release of hostages held in Gaza. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister; the World Court has ordered Israel to rein in its offensive in Rafah; and the Biden administration has expressed frustration with the lack of a clear Israeli endgame for postwar Gaza.

The outcry has only sharpened in recent days, after an Israeli bombardment — which sparked a conflagration in an area where displaced Palestinians were sheltering — killed at least 45 people in western Rafah, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Israeli military said the airstrike had targeted two Hamas commanders and that it was looking into what could have caused the blaze.

Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said the incident demonstrated the dangers and challenges of waging war in a crowded area where Hamas is embedded with the civilian population. And he reiterated the Biden administration’s criticism that Israel has not laid the groundwork for Gaza’s governance and security after the war, and that Israel occupying and controlling the territory would not be viable.

“I think this underscores the imperative of having a plan for the day after because in the absence of a plan for the day after there won’t be a day after,” Mr. Blinken told reporters on Wednesday on a trip to Moldova. “If not, Hamas will be left in charge, which is unacceptable. Or if not, we’ll have chaos, lawlessness, and a vacuum.”

At least 290 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza and over 3,600 wounded since the ground invasion began in late October, according to military statistics. The military said another three soldiers were killed and three more seriously wounded on Tuesday in Rafah, where Israeli forces have been advancing in a long-anticipated assault.

Over one million Gazans have fled the city in the face of the onslaught, according to the United Nations. Israel has called the operation essential to take out Hamas forces arrayed in the city, while the Biden administration and human rights groups have voiced concern over the plight of the civilians who had sought shelter there.

Over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Hamas-led surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to Gazan health officials. Roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the attack, according to the Israeli authorities, and Palestinian militants took around 250 people back to Gaza as hostages.

Since the Israeli operation in the Rafah area began in early May, ground forces have slowly advanced toward the coast, with firefights generally confined to neighborhoods in eastern Rafah. But deadly strikes over the past few days appear to have targeted western Rafah and nearby areas where Israel has not formally ordered an evacuation. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed over the past few days in Rafah alone.

Two days after the strike in western Rafah that killed dozens, Gazan health officials said another bombardment had taken place, killing at least 21. The Israeli military denied striking within the borders of the Israeli-designated humanitarian zone for evacuees in al-Mawasi, which is northwest of the city of Rafah.

Edward Wong contributed reporting.

Israel declares it has ‘tactical control’ over a strategic Gaza corridor on the border with Egypt.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday night that it had taken “tactical control” over the Philadelphi Corridor — a sensitive strip of Gaza along its border with Egypt — in a move that could further tax Israel’s already strained ties with Cairo.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, said the zone was “Hamas’s oxygen tube” and had been used by the Palestinian armed group for “smuggling munitions into Gazan territory on a regular basis.” He said that Hamas had also built tunnels near the Egyptian border, calculating that Israel would not dare strike so close to Egyptian territory.

Israeli officials have said seizing the narrow, roughly nine-mile-long area holds crucial importance for preventing Hamas from rearming itself through cross-border smuggling. “It must be in our hands; it must be closed,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told reporters in December, after being asked whether Israel still intended to capture the zone.

An Israeli military official, who briefed reporters Wednesday on condition of anonymity to comply with military protocol, said that troops had identified at least 20 tunnels running from Gaza into Egypt, some of them only recently discovered.

But in briefing reporters later on Wednesday night, Admiral Hagari stopped short of claiming that the tunnels crossed the border.

“I can’t say now that all of these tunnels cross into Egypt,” he said. “We’ll inspect that, pass along the intelligence” to Egypt. The tunnel shafts in Gaza “are located in proximity to the border with Egypt, including in buildings and homes,” he added. “We’ll investigate and take care of each of those shafts.”

After the Israeli announcement, Egypt’s state-run Al-Qahera News channel quoted an unnamed senior official saying “there is no truth” to claims of tunnels under the border.

“These lies reflect the magnitude of the crisis facing the Israeli government,” the official said, adding, “Israel continues its attempts to export lies about on-the-ground conditions for its forces in Rafah in order to obscure its military failure and to find an escape for its political crisis.”

Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt tightly regulated how many troops either country could place in a series of zones — including the Philadelphi Corridor — in an attempt to create a buffer between the two sides.

Egypt has previously warned that an Israeli occupation of the border corridor would pose a “serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations.” On Monday, at least one Egyptian soldier was killed in a shooting incident with Israeli forces near the Rafah crossing; both sides have said they are investigating the matter.

Israeli troops are not present everywhere in the Philadelphi Corridor, the Israeli military official said, but they now had the ability to effectively cut off Hamas’s ability to move through tunnels under and near the border. During the operation, Israeli troops destroyed a tunnel network that ran for nearly a mile underground in eastern Rafah, Admiral Hagari said.

Egypt’s government has disputed that cross-border tunnels are a problem, saying that its own forces had eliminated them in recent years.

A limited number of Israeli forces had also deployed in the area of Tel al-Sultan, in western Rafah, the official said. That is the deepest advance into the city of Rafah confirmed by Israel since its ground offensive there began in early May.

Egypt and Israel have traded blame over who is responsible for the continued closure of the Rafah crossing, a key conduit for bringing aid into Gaza and allowing the sick and wounded to leave. Israeli troops captured the crossing in early May and Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian officials have been unable to strike a deal to resume operations there.

Emad Mekay and Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

A new cease-fire proposal circulates at the U.N., driven by outrage over Israel’s strike on a tent camp.

Seeking to harness the outrage over an Israeli strike on Sunday that set fire to an encampment and killed at least 45 displaced Palestinians, including children, many diplomats at the United Nations Security Council are backing a new resolution this week that would demand an immediate cease-fire and a halt to Israel’s military operations in the city of Rafah.

But they will have to overcome the objections of the United States, which has veto power on the Council and has signaled it will not support the resolution in its current form.

Algeria, the only Arab representative in the current makeup of the Security Council, drafted and circulated the one-page resolution, which says that “Israel, the occupying Power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah.” It calls for “an immediate cease-fire respected by all parties, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

The Council held back-to-back meetings on the war in Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday, first an emergency session behind closed doors about the strike on the encampment in Rafah and then a scheduled monthly open meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Algeria’s resolution was expected to go to a vote in the coming days.

“The human cost is self-evident and appalling,” Algeria’s ambassador, Amar Bendjama, told the Council on Wednesday. “These crimes speak for themselves.”

One U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the United States would block the current version of the resolution, which it views as unbalanced and problematic. He said that the United States had proposed a number of revisions.

In particular, the official said, the United States does not want to endorse a resolution that calls on Israel to completely halt its military offensive in Rafah, which Israeli commanders maintain is still a stronghold for the armed group Hamas. The Biden administration supports limited Israeli operations there.

As one of the five permanent members of the Council, the United States holds veto power and has wielded it against three previous cease-fire resolutions since the war started in October. In March, the United States allowed a resolution to pass that called for a humanitarian cease-fire for the month of Ramadan by abstaining from the vote.

In recent weeks, as the civilian toll in Gaza has mounted, U.S. officials have become more openly critical of Israel’s conduct of the war. At least 36,000 people have been killed in the Israeli bombardment and ground operations, according to the Gazan Ministry of Health, which does not differentiate between fighters and civilians in its count. Health officials have said a majority of the people killed are women, children and other noncombatants.

Gazan authorities say at least 45 people were killed in Sunday’s strike and its fiery aftermath as a fire tore through the Kuwait al-Salaam camp, where displaced people were living in tents. Among the casualties was a toddler whose burned and headless body was shown in a video verified by The New York Times.

“The continued pattern of significant civilian harm resulting from incidents like Sunday’s airstrikes undermines Israel’s strategic goals in Gaza,” Robert A. Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told the Council on Wednesday. Mr. Wood added Israel had the right to defend itself but also had “obligations to protect civilians.”

On Tuesday, senior Biden administration officials expressed horror over Sunday’s strike but said that it was not a part of a major ground operation and so did not cross President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel.

The Algerian resolution also cites an emergency ruling last Friday by the United Nation’s top court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The ruling ordered Israel to immediately halt its military operation in Rafah, though Israeli officials have argued its wording left some room for interpretation. The ruling came after arguments by South Africa, which late last year brought a case accusing Israel of genocide to the court.

Several Security Council diplomats said that they hoped to vote on the resolution soon to capture the momentum and outrage generated by the Sunday night strike and to prevent, if possible, harm to more civilians in Gaza. Drawn-out negotiations to appease the United States, the diplomats said, would send the wrong signal about the Council’s resolve to take action.

“This Council must express itself urgently on the situation in Rafah and demand an end to this offensive,” France’s ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière, said.

Israel used U.S.-made bombs in the strike that killed dozens in Rafah.

The bombs used in the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp for displaced people in Rafah on Sunday were made in the United States, according to weapons experts and visual evidence reviewed by The New York Times.

Munition debris filmed at the strike location the next day was remnants from a GBU-39, a bomb designed and manufactured in the United States, The Times found. U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to use more of this type of bomb, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.

The key detail in the weapon debris was the tail actuation system, which controls the fins that guide the GBU-39 to a target, according to Trevor Ball, a former U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, who earlier identified the weapon on X. The weapon’s unique bolt pattern and slot where the folding fins are stowed were clearly visible in the debris, Mr. Ball said.

The munition fragments, filmed by Alam Sadeq, a Palestinian journalist, are also marked by a series of numbers beginning with “81873.” This is the unique identifier code assigned by the U.S. government to Woodward, an aerospace manufacturer based in Colorado that supplies parts for bombs including the GBU-39.

At least 45 people in Kuwaiti Al-Salam Camp 1, which was built in early January, were killed by the blast and subsequent fires, according to the Gazan Health Ministry. More than 240 were wounded.

U.S. officials have been encouraging the Israeli military for months to increase the use of GBU-39 bombs in Gaza because they are generally more precise and better suited to urban environments than larger bombs, including U.S.-made 2,000-pound bombs that Israel routinely uses. President Biden said earlier this month that the United States was pausing a delivery of the larger bombs.

“The strike was conducted using two munitions with small warheads suited for this targeted strike,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, said during a news conference on Tuesday. The bombs contained 17 kilograms of explosive material, he said. “This is the smallest munition that our jets can use.”

In response to questions from The Times, the Israeli military declined to specify the munition used. The GBU-39 has a net explosive weight of about 17 kilograms, or 37 pounds.

Admiral Hagari said the military had taken steps to narrowly target two Hamas leaders, who he said were killed in the strike, and did not expect the munitions to harm nearby civilians. The bombs were dropped on sheds inside a camp for internally displaced people, and many tents were visible close by. Footage shows that the bombing set off deadly fires.

Admiral Hagari said the Israeli military’s investigation was continuing. He suggested the fire might have been sparked by a secondary explosion, which he said indicated there may have been weapons stored in the area.

“Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size,” Admiral Hagari said.

Frederic Gras, a French consultant on munitions, questioned the Israeli military’s reasoning. “Any explosion or detonation starts a fire as soon as flammable products are in the vicinity,” he said, noting that there are often many gas cylinders and lamps in such camps.

Video shot by witnesses after the attack shows the scale of suffering. People scream as they pull charred bodies from rubble while flames rage behind them. One man holds up the body of a headless child.

“The Israelis have said they used 37-pound bombs,” John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said at a briefing on Tuesday. “If it is in fact what they used, it is certainly indicative of an effort to be discreet and targeted and precise.”

Larry Lewis, a former Pentagon and State Department adviser who has written several federal reports on civilian harm, said it seemed as though the Israeli military had in this case taken steps to mitigate danger to civilians.

“Secondary explosions can be hard to anticipate,” Dr. Lewis said.

But he said he was troubled that in surveillance footage released by the military, four people appeared to be outside the targeted buildings before the strike. Dr. Lewis, currently an adviser with the Center for Naval Analyses, said the decision to strike at that time raises questions about whether the Israeli military “knew and accepted a possible civilian toll” or failed to notice the people, suggesting potential problems in its precautionary measures.

Wes J. Bryant, a retired American Air Force master sergeant who served on a task force critical of Israel’s use of weapons in Gaza, told The Times that he had dropped many GBU-39 bombs during his military service and that this strike was problematic.

“It indicates continued targeting negligence — either an unwillingness or inability to effectively safeguard civilians,” Mr. Bryant said. “When you use a weapon that’s intended as precision and low collateral damage in an area where civilians are saturated, it really negates that intended use.”

Neil Collier, Eric Schmitt and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting. Video production assistance by Ainara Tiefenthäler and Shawn Paik.

Aid groups in Rafah say Israel’s advance is pushing them out.

Israel’s offensive in the southern city of Rafah has strained medical and humanitarian services to the breaking point, aid workers say, with only one hospital still functioning and several aid operations forced to decamp to other parts of the Gaza Strip.

The health care crisis in the city has been compounded by the closure of emergency clinics and other services amid continued clashes and strikes that have killed dozens of civilians.

On Sunday, a strike that Israel said was aimed at a Hamas compound set ablaze a camp for the displaced in Rafah, killing 45 people, according to the Gazan health ministry. Another strike on Tuesday in Al-Mawasi, on the outskirts of Rafah, killed 21 people and injured dozens, the ministry said.

Among the aid operations that have shuttered this week are a field hospital run by the Palestinian Red Crescent, a clinic supported by Doctors Without Borders and kitchens run by World Central Kitchen.

“As Israeli attacks intensify on Rafah, the unpredictable trickle of aid into Gaza has created a mirage of improved access, while the humanitarian response is in reality on the verge of collapse,” 19 aid groups said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Some of the operations that were forced to move were in Al-Mawasi, where many civilians and aid workers went because Israel designated part of the area as a humanitarian safe zone. Israel’s military said after the strike on Tuesday that it had not fired on that zone. Videos verified by The New York Times indicate that the strike hit near, but not inside, the zone.

Aid workers have noted how difficult it is for people in Gaza to determine whether they are in a designated safe area, as many have limited access to mobile phones or the internet.

“Civilians are being massacred. They are being pushed into areas they were told would be safe only to be subjected to relentless airstrikes and heavy fighting,” Chris Lockyear, the secretary general of Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, called for safe routes for evacuees, more border crossings for aid and more field hospitals in Rafah.

“There is no medical capacity to deal with the successive massacres in Rafah and in northern Gaza,” he said.

Instead, emergency operations are closing. The Palestinian Red Crescent last night evacuated its Al Quds field hospital, according to a spokeswoman, Nibal Farsakh, because it was too close to recent strikes and artillery fire in Al-Mawasi.

Medical workers are now packing up the equipment there and trying to relocate to an area outside of Khan Younis, farther north, she said.

Seven of the Red Crescent’s ambulances are still operating in Rafah, she said. “But the problem is, where do they go?” she added. “There is no hospital that can handle this many casualties.”

Aid workers estimate that around five field hospitals — movable medical facilities that often use tents — are still operating in Rafah, but they described them as completely overwhelmed. The only regular hospital that remains is a maternity hospital in the Tal as-Sultan district, the same area where heavy fighting forced Doctors Without Borders to close a clinic.

Even getting the wounded to a place where they can be cared for is a challenge.

“The streets are full of debris from the destruction, and even more full of displaced people on the move,” Ms. Farsakh said. “This may be the hardest experience we have had.”

For much of the nearly eight-month conflict, Israeli authorities urged civilians to flee south toward Rafah, swelling its population to roughly 1.3 million before the offensive began. In the last three weeks, around one million have been forced to flee again, the U.N. says.

Patients who need urgent medical care outside of the Gaza Strip have been trapped for three weeks, since Israel seized the Rafah crossing with Egypt, according to recent statements by World Health Organization officials.

The W.H.O. said on Wednesday that it had managed to bring in fuel and medical supplies to meet the needs of some 1,500 patients at Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City in the north. But the overall trend is dire, the 19 aid agencies said: “Gaza’s health system has been effectively dismantled.”

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.

Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities around the world on Tuesday days after an Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza.

In Britain, a large protest gathered in central London chanting, “Blood on your hands” and, “Stop arming Israel” not far from Downing Street and the prime minister’s residence. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully but officers arrested 40 people at a breakaway protest that obstructed a highway, according to the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday, and three officers were injured.

In France, thousands of demonstrators converged on the Place de la République, in the heart of Paris, where they waved Palestinian flags and shouted, “We are all children of Gaza,” before spreading out through the city. Some of the protesters briefly blocked the ring road around the French capital. Others scuffled with riot police officers who fired tear gas to prevent demonstrators from approaching the Israeli Embassy.

In Mexico, clashes broke out between small groups of protesters hurling rocks and other objects at police officers outside the Israeli Embassy in Mexico City. Six police officers were injured, according to local news reports citing the capital’s authorities.

In Italy, protesters briefly blocked a train station in Bologna by descending on the tracks. Demonstrators also gathered in Karachi, Pakistan, to protest the Israeli strikes and to express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Mark A. Walsh contributed reporting.

‘All eyes on Rafah’ surges on social media after a deadly Israeli strike.

The slogan “All Eyes on Rafah” has ricocheted across social media this week following an Israeli strike in the Gazan city that killed dozens of civilians and provoked international outrage.

For months, the phrase has been a touchstone in the social and cultural dialogue around Israel’s war against Hamas in the region. It has periodically trended on social media, particularly as Israeli military attacks in the city — located in the southern Gaza Strip, along the Egyptian border — have escalated.

On Wednesday, the saying was once again trending, this time through what appears to be an A.I.-generated image showing a field of refugee tents spelling out “All Eyes on Rafah.” One version of the graphic has been shared more than 38 million times on Instagram.

The phrase may have originated in comments made in February by Rik Peeperkorn, who heads the World Health Organization’s office for Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Mr. Peeperkorn was speaking at a news conference as the Israeli military intensified its campaign in the southern Gaza strip.

“All eyes are on Rafah,” Mr. Peeperkorn said at the time.

The comment was almost immediately repurposed by pro-Palestinian and humanitarian groups to draw attention to Gaza and Rafah, which was one of the last remaining destinations for displaced Palestinians from other parts of the territory. Among them were Save the Children International, Oxfam and, later, pro-Palestinian lobbying groups like Jewish Voice for Peace.

The saying was also heard at pro-Palestinian protests that swept across Western universities earlier this month.

The deadly strike in Rafah on Sunday was quickly denounced by world leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said the attack had killed two Hamas officials, and he called the civilian deaths a “tragic accident.”

‘I’ll be strong for you.’ A former hostage awaits her husband’s release.

When Hamas released video last month of Keith Siegel, an American-Israeli hostage held in Gaza, it was the first sign in months that he was still alive. His wife, Aviva Siegel, couldn’t bring herself to watch it.

“It would be too difficult for me to see the sadness in Keith’s eyes,” Ms. Siegel said in an interview in New York last week, where she was meeting with António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations.

Ms. Siegel, 63, was held captive with her husband until late November, when she was one of 105 hostages released as part of a cease-fire deal. They were taken from their home at Kibbutz Kfar Azza on Oct. 7 during the Hamas-led attacks on Israel.

Nearly eight months into the war, the families of hostages have grown increasingly alarmed. Mr. Siegel, who is 65, has a medical condition, and Israeli soldiers have recently recovered the remains of several hostages in Gaza. For months, Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been trying to get Israel and Hamas to accept a deal for another cease-fire and exchange of captives.

Ms. Siegel understands the hostages’ experience like few others. “Knowing what they’re going through,” she said, “is too much for me to handle.”

She said that she and her husband of over four decades were moved more than a dozen times and were kept in apartments and tunnels, which felt particularly stifling.

Ms. Siegel said that they were denied food and water, while their captors ate, and that she lost over 20 pounds.

She said her captors would hit and push her, blindfold her and pull her by the hair. They shaved Mr. Siegel’s body to humiliate him, she said. The hostages were not allowed to talk.

The captors would play mind games with them, telling them that Israel had ceased to exist, Ms. Siegel said.

Ms. Siegel expressed empathy for Gazans and said she wished Israelis and Palestinians could eventually live alongside each other in peace. She has been alarmed by what she said was a global lack of focus on the hostages.

“Something really bad happened, and we need the world’s help,” she said.

Ms. Siegel often remembers her last conversation with Keith. When the time came for her release from Gaza, she initially refused to leave without him, she said, but soon realized she had to.

“I asked Keith to be strong for me, and I said, ‘I’ll be strong for you’ — and that’s what’s keeping me alive,” she said.

Nikki Haley writes ‘Finish them’ on an artillery shell in Israel.

Nikki Haley, the former Republican presidential candidate and U.N. ambassador during the Trump administration, wrote “Finish them” on an artillery shell in Israel this week.

Danny Danon, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and a member of the Israeli Parliament, shared a photo on social media on Tuesday showing Ms. Haley signing the shell. Her visit came just days after Israel drew international condemnation for a strike that killed dozens of Gazan civilians in a camp for displaced Palestinians.

“This is what my friend, the former ambassador Nikki Haley, wrote today on a shell during a visit to an artillery post on the northern border,” Mr. Danon wrote, declaring of the Israeli military, “The I.D.F. will win!”

Ms. Haley finished her inscription with a note that “America loves Israel always,” using a heart emoji for “loves.”

She signed the artillery shell not along the Gaza frontier, in the south, but near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, with which Israel also has a longstanding conflict. She also visited a kibbutz where Israelis were killed on Oct. 7, and her public remarks focused on Gaza.

Her trip included meetings with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, as well as with Yoav Gallant, the country’s defense minister, and Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet.

Ms. Haley’s message on the artillery shell drew denunciations from some commentators, including the author and columnist Wajahat Ali, who said in a video on TikTok: “If you think that Biden and Democrats are terrible on Gaza — I think they’ve been terrible — just know Republicans will be far, far worse, and I give you Nikki Haley.”

In an interview published Tuesday by the Israel Hayom newspaper, which is owned by the Republican donor Miriam Adelson, Ms. Haley said Israel had done nothing wrong in its invasion and bombardment of Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people. And she said the United States should continue to support it unconditionally.

“Israel, they’re the good guys,” she said. “And you know what I want Israelis to know? You’re doing the right thing. Don’t let anybody make you feel wrong.”

Israel’s military operations have killed more than 36,000 Gazans, including thousands of women and children, according to the Gazan health ministry. Many of the casualties, including those in the tent camp on Sunday, have been caused by bombs provided by the United States. President Biden recently withheld an arms shipment out of concern that it would be used in an offensive on the city of Rafah, where displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

When asked in the Israel Hayom interview about civilians who crossed into Israel during the Oct. 7 attacks, she said: “The rest of the world can’t say, ‘Oh, be nice to the Palestinians,’ when these are some of the people who murdered their brothers and sisters.” She added: “They don’t know who to trust. That’s not Israel’s fault. That’s the Palestinians’ fault now.”

Ms. Haley’s comments are in line with her history of support for Israel and rejection of international criticism of its actions. As U.N. ambassador, she accused the United Nations of “bullying” Israel and led the U.S. withdrawal of funding for an agency that helps Palestinian refugees.

She recently fell back in line behind Mr. Trump after previously refusing to endorse him, and Mr. Trump suggested he might bring her onto his team “in some form.”

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

Top U.S. officials say the deadly airstrike in Rafah, while tragic, did not cross Biden’s red line.

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in southern Gaza was a tragedy but that it did not violate President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel.

The bloodshed came after Mr. Biden warned earlier this month that the United States would block certain arms transfers if Israel targeted heavily populated areas in Rafah — a warning that has been tested regularly as the war has ground on.

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said the deaths were “devastating” but that the scale of the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy. “We don’t want to see a major ground operation,” Mr. Kirby told reporters. “We haven’t seen that.”

Israeli tanks were on the outskirts of the city “to try to put pressure on Hamas,” Mr. Kirby said. He also offered a measure of specificity about Mr. Biden’s warning to Israel, which critics have said was too vague.

“We have not seen them go in with large units and large numbers of troops in columns and formations in some sort of coordinated maneuver against multiple targets on the ground,” Mr. Kirby said. “Everything that we can see tells us that they are not moving in in a major ground operation in population centers in the city of Rafah.”

Mr. Biden has faced pressure from advocates and members of his own party to use his power to curtail arms to Israel as a way to influence its conduct in the war. The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, which raises questions about American responsibility as the death toll mounts.

The strike in Rafah on Sunday ignited a deadly fire and killed at least 45 people, including children, and wounded 249, according to the Gazan health ministry. It has prompted international outrage, including from leaders in the European Union, the United Nations, Egypt and China.

Vice President Kamala Harris, asked about Rafah on Tuesday, said “the word tragic doesn’t even begin to describe” the deaths. She did not answer a follow-up question about whether the strike crossed a red line for Mr. Biden.

Still, the Israeli military’s conduct was similar to what Mr. Biden said he would not tolerate when he warned, in an interview on CNN earlier this month, that the United States would not supply Israel with weapons to attack Rafah.

“I have made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet they’re not going to get our support if, in fact, they’re going into these population centers,” Mr. Biden said in the interview.

In that interview, Mr. Biden emphasized that the United States would still ensure Israel’s security, citing the Iron Dome missile defense system and his support for Israel’s “ability to respond to attacks.” But he said he would block the delivery of weapons that could be fired into densely populated areas of Rafah.

The area that was hit on Sunday was not included in evacuation orders that Israel issued in early May, and some Palestinians sheltering in the camp said they had believed it was a safe zone.

The Israeli military said that the target of Sunday’s strike was a Hamas compound, and that “precise munitions” had been used to target a commander and another senior official there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “tragic accident” that civilians were killed.

Around one million people have fled Rafah during Israel’s assault on the city, according to the United Nations, including many in the western part of the city and in the area around the camp that was struck on Sunday.

A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said the United States was watching Israel’s investigation of the incident closely.

“Israel has said that it might have been that there was a Hamas ammo dump near the area where they took the strike,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s a very important factual question that needs to be answered.”

The Israeli military’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told a news conference that Israeli jets had fired the “smallest munitions” that they could use and added that “our munitions alone could not have ignited a fire of this size.”

Israel invaded Gaza after the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7 killed some 1,200 people in Israel. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people, many of them women and children, according to health officials in Gaza.

World leaders, including Mr. Biden, have warned of the dangers of a major military operation in Rafah without a proper plan for evacuating the displaced Gazans taking refuge there.

Mr. Miller was able to provide little detail on hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Rafah in recent weeks.

“Some of them have gone back to Khan Younis,” he said. “Some of them have pushed into western Rafah. Some of them have gone to Mawasi. I don’t think there’s any one answer.” Mr. Miller said he did not know if Israel was assisting those people.

Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and an adviser to Palestinian leaders during past peace negotiations, said the White House was benefiting from its ambiguous descriptions on Mr. Biden’s “red line” for Israel’s military operation in Rafah.

“It’s definitely blurry and by design,” Mr. Elgindy said. “They don’t want to be pinned down. They don’t want to pin themselves down by identifying an exact point or line that gets across because Israel will absolutely cross that line. We’ve seen that over and over again.”

Erica L. Green contributed reporting from Washington, and Michael Crowley from New York.

U.S.-built pier for delivering aid to Gaza breaks apart in rough seas.

The temporary pier that the U.S. military constructed and put in place to provide much-needed humanitarian aid for Gaza has broken apart in rough seas, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The latest calamity to befall the pier endeavor punctuated a particularly grim several days in Gaza, where Israeli forces have ramped up attacks on the city of Rafah just two days after carrying out a deadly strike that killed dozens of people.

“Unfortunately, we had a perfect storm of high sea states, and then, as I mentioned, this North African weather system also came in at the same time, creating not an optimal environment to operate,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon deputy press secretary, said at a news conference.

Army engineers are working to put the pier back together and Defense Department officials hope that it “will be fully operational in just a little over a week,” she said.

In early March, President Biden surprised the Pentagon by announcing that the U.S. military would build a pier for Gaza. Defense officials immediately predicted that there would be logistical and security issues.

In the days after the pier became operational on May 17, trucks were looted as they made their way to a warehouse, forcing the U.N. World Food Program to suspend operations. After officials beefed up security, the weather turned bad. American officials had been hoping that the sea surges would not start until later in the summer.

On Saturday, heavy seas forced two small American military vessels that were part of the pier operation to beach in Israel. On Sunday, part of the pier broke off completely, including a wider parking area for dropping off supplies transported by ship, officials said. That part will have to be reconnected.

The pier is now being removed from the coast of Gaza to be repaired after getting damaged in the rough seas, Ms. Singh said. Over the next two days, it will be pulled out and taken to Ashdod, in southern Israel, for repairs.

She said that the fact that the pier, which cost $320 million, was able to get 1,000 metric tons of aid into Gaza before it broke apart demonstrates that it can work.

White House policy does not allow U.S. troops on the ground in Gaza, so the Pentagon was able to start but not finish the mission.

And as the pier project struggles, the situation in Gaza remains dire. Even before Sunday’s deadly Israeli strikes, more than 34,000 people had died and more than 77,000 people had been wounded, according to health officials in the territory.

Blinken Hints U.S. May Accept Ukrainian Strikes in Russia With American Arms

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken suggested on Wednesday that the Biden administration could be open to tolerating strikes by the Ukrainian military inside Russia using American-made weapons, saying that the United States would “adapt and adjust” its stance based on changing conditions on the battlefield.

Mr. Blinken said that the United States had neither encouraged nor enabled such attacks. But he said that the Ukrainians needed to make their own decisions on how to best defend themselves — a position he has stated before — and that the U.S. government had “adapted and adjusted as necessary” as the war evolves.

When asked by a reporter whether his words “adapt and adjust” meant the United States could support attacks by Ukraine with American-made weapons inside Russia, he said, “Adapt and adjust means exactly that” — meaning those words, signaling flexibility from Washington.

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From Allies and Advisers, Pressure Grows on Biden to Allow Attacks on Russian Territory

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President Biden is edging toward what may prove to be one of his most consequential decisions in the Ukraine war: whether to reverse his ban on shooting American weapons into Russian territory.

He has long resisted authorizing Ukraine to use U.S. weapons inside Russia because of concern it could escalate into a direct American confrontation with a nuclear-armed adversary.

Now, after months of complaints about the restrictions from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the White House has begun a formal — and apparently rapid — reassessment of whether to take the risk. Approving further uses of U.S. weapons would give Kyiv a way to conduct counterattacks on artillery and missile sites that now enjoy something of a safe haven just inside Russia.

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A Border Runs Through Their Families. Now It’s a Front Line.

Valerie Hopkins and Nanna Heitmann reported from Shebekino and Grayvoron, Russian towns just a few miles from the border with Ukraine.

When Valentina’s small town in Russia came under heavy bombardment in March by Ukrainian forces, her daughter Alla, who lives a short distance across the border near Kharkiv, would text her mother to make sure she was all right.

Now that Kharkiv and its surrounding region are under heavy attack by Russia, it’s Valentina who is checking with her daughter to make sure that everything is fine. The regular check-ins have continued as fighting intensified across the new front Russia opened this month.

“So she’s calling me asking, ‘Mom, how is it there? It’s so loud here. I think there’s something heading your way from our direction. Mom, be careful!’” said Valentina, a dual Russian-Ukrainian citizen who did not want to give her full name out of fear of repercussions for both herself and her daughter in Ukraine.

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South Africans Vote, Many Hoping for Change as Seismic as Mandela’s Rise

Tension, excitement and uncertainty consumed South Africa on Wednesday as millions cast their ballots in an election that could end the monopoly on power of the African National Congress, the party that has governed since leading the defeat of apartheid 30 years ago.

Volunteers with the party worked feverishly to hold onto their majority, shuttling voters to polling stations, extolling the party’s virtues from loudspeakers on pickup trucks and handing out the party’s bright yellow T-shirts. Top party officials chanted alongside these foot soldiers, as if rallying them for battle.

Pollsters have widely predicted that the party will win a plurality but draw less than 50 percent of the vote for the first time. If that happens, it will be forced to ally with one or more other parties in order to form a government and remain in power.

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South Africa’s Black Elites Sour on the President They Championed

Cyril Ramaphosa ascended to the presidency of South Africa several years ago carrying the excitement and optimism of the country’s rising Black professionals, who saw themselves in him: a measured businessman with intellectual gravitas. He seemed an antidote to the previous administration, which had blasted Black professionals as elitists complicit in the continued white domination of the economy.

But as voters head to the polls on Wednesday for the most consequential election in South Africa since the end of apartheid 30 years ago, Black professionals represent one of the grave threats to the precarious grip on power held by Mr. Ramaphosa and his party, the African National Congress, or A.N.C.

Polls predict that the party will receive below 50 percent of the national vote for the first time since the country’s first democratic election in 1994. And Black professionals could play a significant role in the A.N.C.’s demise.

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Can South Africa’s Opposition Parties Break Through?

Papi Mazibuko, a 50-year-old library assistant, decided it was time to switch teams and vote for the Democratic Alliance, the leading opposition party in the national elections in South Africa on Wednesday.

Houses on his street in the township of Evaton, south of Johannesburg, had been without power for two and a half years because of a broken transformer. The government, led by the African National Congress, or A.N.C., failed to fix it.

The neighboring municipality, run by the Democratic Alliance, had a good record of delivering basic utilities. So Mr. Mazibuko rallied neighbors to a campaign event last year that featured John Steenhuisen, the party’s leader, who has been met with skepticism by some Black voters because he is white.

“We want service delivery,” said Mr. Mazibuko, who had been an A.N.C. member since his teens. He added that even if “a white man can deliver, then so be it.”

Opposition parties see this year as their best chance to break the political dominance of the A.N.C., which has comfortably won all six national elections since the first democratic vote 30 years ago. South Africa’s opposition has long failed to inspire voters, political analysts say.

This year, though, many polls predict that the A.N.C. will fall below 50 percent of the national vote. A record 51 opposition parties on the national ballot are trying to sell South Africans on the idea that the country would be better off without the A.N.C. in charge.

The options are diverse: from the center-right Democratic Alliance, which wants to scrap economic policies that give preferences to nonwhite South Africans, to the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest party, which advocates an aggressive redistribution of wealth to the nation’s Black majority.

Many new, small parties have entered the arena, some catering to particular ethnic and social groups, others emphasizing specific issues like closing the borders or implementing the death penalty.

The biggest wild card is the uMkhonto weSizwe Party launched last December and led by Jacob Zuma, former president of the A.N.C. and the country. Mr. Zuma was recently barred from serving in Parliament because of a criminal conviction. But he still leads his party and could draw disaffected A.N.C. voters who might otherwise have stayed home, said Wayne Sussman, a South African election analyst.

The question remains whether these parties will move South Africans in enough numbers to break the A.N.C.’s stranglehold. Some in the opposition argue that their experience running cities shows they can govern the country better than the A.N.C.

Yet, even though the A.N.C. has lost popularity because of corruption and poor leadership, South Africans say that their alternatives are no better.

A little more than a quarter of South Africans trust the A.N.C., but trust in opposition parties was even lower at 24 percent, according to a 2021 poll by the independent research organization Afrobarometer.

The Democratic Alliance, which won nearly 21 percent of the votes in the last election, and the Economic Freedom Fighters, which was at nearly 11 percent, have been polling only slightly higher than those numbers before Wednesday’s contest. Mr. Zuma’s party has drawn over 10 percent in some polls. Still, they all trail the A.N.C., which is polling in the low 40s, down from the 58 percent it won in 2019.

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Volcano Erupts in Iceland, Spewing Lava 150 Feet Into the Air

A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted on Wednesday for the fifth time since December, cracking the Sundhnjukar mountain ridge open with spectacular force and sending lava spewing 150 feet into the air.

The meteorological office said it received indications of a possible eruption about two hours before it occurred at 1 p.m. local time in Grindavik, prompting the civil defense agency to immediately urge guests at the Blue Lagoon — the geothermal spa that is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations — to evacuate.

“Evacuate, Evacuate!” read a text message sent to the nearly 800 guests staying at the Blue Lagoon and surrounding hotels. Civil defense sirens installed in February rang out as visitors scrambled to leave.

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Former Intelligence Chief Tapped as Next Dutch Prime Minister

The Netherlands will be getting a new prime minister, with the four right-wing parties that are forming a government finally naming their pick, more than six months after the elections.

The parties selected a top justice official, Dick Schoof, 67, on Tuesday. They will now continue work on forming a cabinet, naming ministers and state secretaries, with the aim of finalizing a government in about four weeks.

The choice of Mr. Schoof — the highest-ranking official at the Ministry of Justice and Security and a former counterterrorism chief, who has no political experience or party affiliation — reflects an attempt to govern the Netherlands differently after more than 13 years under Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s leadership.

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Latest North Korean Offensive: Dumping Trash on South Korea From the Sky

North Korea has resumed an unusual operation to show its displeasure with South Korea: dumping trash from the sky across the world’s most heavily armed border.

Between Tuesday night and Wednesday, the South Korean military said that it found 260 balloons drifting across the Demilitarized Zone, the buffer between the two Koreas. Soon, residents across South Korea, including some in Seoul, the capital, reported seeing plastic bags falling from the sky.

The authorities sent chemical and biological terrorism response squads, as well as bomb squads, to inspect the payloads. But they only found garbage, like cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, used paper and shoes, and what looked like compost. The South Korean military said the garbage was released by timers when the balloons reached its airspace.

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New Delhi Sweats Through Its Hottest Recorded Day

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New Delhi recorded its highest temperature ever measured on Wednesday — 126 degrees Fahrenheit, or 52.3 degrees Celsius — leaving residents of the Indian capital sweltering in a heat wave that has kept temperatures in several Indian states well above 110 degrees for weeks.

In New Delhi, where walking out of the house felt like walking into an oven, officials feared that the electricity grid was being overwhelmed and that the city’s water supply might need rationing.

The past 12 months have been the planet’s hottest ever recorded, and cities like Miami are experiencing extreme heat even before the arrival of summer. Scientists said this week that the average person on Earth had experienced 26 more days of abnormally high temperatures in the past year than would have been the case without human-induced climate change.

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Logging in Canada’s Most Famous National Park to Save It From Wildfires

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Reporting from Alberta, Canada

The loggers’ work was unmistakable.

Flanked by dense forests, the mile-long, 81-acre expanse of land on the mountainside had been stripped nearly clean. Only scattered trees still stood, while some skinny felled trunks had been left behind. A path carved out by logging trucks was visible under a light blanket of snow.

The harvesting of trees would be routine in a commercial forest — but this was in Banff, Canada’s most famous national park. Clear-cutting was once unimaginable in this green jewel in the Canadian Rockies, where the longstanding policy was to strictly suppress every fire and preserve every tree.

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Divisions Set to Deepen in Georgia After Foreign Influence Law Passes

The moment the Parliament of Georgia put its final seal of approval Tuesday night on a contentious law aimed at keeping closer tabs on organizations funded from abroad, protesters surrounding the building erupted with screams, boos, and whistles.

Many were stunned, and some were in tears, fearing that the law could change the trajectory of their country for years to come, aligning it more with Russia than with the European Union they want to join.

“It is a new chapter in our life,” said Tamar Kintsurashvili, 54, who runs a nongovernmental organization that aids media organizations in Georgia, referring to what protesters have called the “Russian law,” saying it resembles one the Kremlin adopted to rein in its critics. “We know Russian experience. We know how they are operating.”

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A Show That Makes Young Japanese Pine for the ‘Inappropriate’ 1980s

The younger generation has frequently called out Japan’s entrenched elders for their casual sexism, excessive work expectations and unwillingness to give up power.

But a surprise television hit has people talking about whether the oldsters might have gotten a few things right, especially as some in Japan — like their counterparts in the United States and Europe — question the heightened sensitivities associated with “wokeness.”

The show, “Extremely Inappropriate!,” features a foul-talking, crotchety physical education teacher and widowed father who boards a public bus in 1986 Japan and finds himself whisked to 2024.

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Amateur Historians Heard Tales of a Lost Tudor Palace. Then, They Dug It Up.

For generations, residents of Collyweston — a village in central England snuggled up against the River Welland — passed down stories of a grand Tudor palace, of royal processions through the valley below, of the mother of a king who had called it home.

Over hundreds of years, the stories persisted, even as memory of the palace’s whereabouts faded. But the lore suddenly came to life when a handful of amateur historians unearthed portions of the long-lost palace, buried under a few feet of soil. Historians from the University of York have verified their findings.

“We are a small village with a small group of enthusiasts, and what we’ve basically achieved here is nothing short of a miracle,” said Chris Close, 49, the chairman of the Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society. “You know, it’s not every day you get to dig up a part of your country’s past.”

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When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

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Reporting from a movie screening in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, Senegal.

The two teenagers on the screen trudging through the endless dunes of the Sahara on their way to Europe were actors. So were the fellow migrants tortured in a bloodstained Libyan prison.

But to the young man watching the movie one recent evening in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the cinematic ordeal felt all too real. His two brothers had undertaken the same journey years ago.

“This is why they refused to send me money to take that route,” said Ahmadou Diallo, 18, a street cleaner. “Because they had seen firsthand how dangerous it is.”

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Dancing Past the Venus de Milo

Reporting from Paris and dancing through the Louvre

I fell in love with the Louvre one morning while doing disco moves to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” in the Salle des Cariatides.

The museum, a former medieval fortress and then royal palace, had not yet opened, and I was following instructions to catwalk and hip bump and point in the grand room where Louis XIV once held plays and balls.

The sun cast warm light through long windows, striping the pink-and-white checkered floor and bathing the marble arms, heads and wings of the ancient Grecian statues around me.

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Noisy, Gaudy and Spiritual: Young Pilgrims Embrace an Ancient Goddess

Chris Buckley and

Chris Buckley, Amy Chang Chien and Lam Yik Fei spent four days walking parts of two pilgrimages in central and southern Taiwan. On the journey, they interviewed around 20 pilgrims.

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In a din of firecrackers, cymbals and horns, a team of devotees carried the shrouded wooden statue of a serene-faced woman, holding her aloft on a brightly decorated litter as they navigated through tens of thousands of onlookers.

As the carriers nudged forward, hundreds of people were lined up ahead of them, kneeling on the road and waiting for the moment when the statue would pass over their heads.

Some wept after it did; many smiled and snapped selfies. “I love Mazu, and Mazu loves me,” the crowd shouted.


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In Western Ukraine, a Community Wrestles With Patriotism or Survival

It was sunset when Maj. Kyrylo Vyshyvany of the Ukrainian Army stepped into the yard of his childhood home in Duliby, a village in western Ukraine, just after his younger brother, also a soldier, had been buried. Their mother was still crying in the living room.

“I can already see that she’ll be coming to visit him every day,” he said that day.

He was right, but he would not be by her side. A few days after the funeral, in March 2022, he was killed in a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian military base and buried next to his brother, Vasyl.

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The Architect Who Made Singapore’s Public Housing the Envy of the World

The high-rise apartments — some with panoramic views of Singapore’s tropical cityscape — are airy, light-filled and spacious enough to comfortably raise a family. They are also public housing units, and for decades, were emphatically affordable, giving Singapore an enviable rate of homeownership.

Now, however, at least a few of the apartments are being sold at a price that would have been unthinkable not long ago: more than $1 million.

“I’m sad to see that — because public housing must equal affordability,” said Liu Thai Ker, the urban planner who gets much of the credit for creating the country’s widely lauded approach to housing its citizens.

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First, He Conquered Paris. Now, a Japanese Chef Wants to Become a Brand.

In cooking, timing is everything. So much so that if the chef Kei Kobayashi spots diners heading to the restroom as he sends a dish out from the kitchen, he stops them. Nature’s call can wait; his culinary offerings should be tasted at peak flavor.

Such imperiousness and exactitude align with what Mr. Kobayashi, the first Japanese chef to earn three Michelin stars for a restaurant in Paris, said he had learned from one of his earliest mentors in France: The chef is king.

“Unless you commit to your worldview to this extent, you won’t be able to be a chef,” Mr. Kobayashi, 46, said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

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After Her Sister Wed at 11, a Girl Began Fighting Child Marriage at 13

When they were children, Memory Banda and her younger sister were inseparable, just a year apart in age and often mistaken for twins. They shared not only clothes and shoes, but also many of the same dreams and aspirations.

Then, one afternoon in 2009, that close relationship shattered when Ms. Banda’s sister, at age 11, was forced to wed a man in his 30s who had impregnated her.

“She became a different person then,” Ms. Banda recalled. “We never played together anymore because she was now ‘older’ than me. I felt like I lost my best friend.”

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A Portrait Artist Fit for a King (but Not a President)

Update: The portrait of King Charles III was unveiled on Tuesday.

Few famous Britons, it seems, can resist the chance to be painted by Jonathan Yeo. David Attenborough, the 97-year-old broadcasting legend, is among those who have recently climbed the spiral stairs to his snug studio, hidden at the end of a lane in West London, to pose for Mr. Yeo, one of Britain’s most recognized portrait artists.

Yet when it came to painting his latest portrait, of King Charles III, the artist had to go to the subject.

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A Novelist Who Finds Inspiration in Germany’s Tortured History

She became a writer because her country vanished overnight.

Jenny Erpenbeck, now 57, was 22 in 1989, when the Berlin Wall cracked by accident, then collapsed. She was having a “girls’ evening out,” she said, so she had no idea what had happened until the next morning. When a professor discussed it in class, she said, it became real to her.

The country she knew, the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, remains a crucial setting for most of her striking, precise fiction. Her work, which has grown in acuity and emotional power, combines the complications of German and Soviet history with the lives of her characters, including those of her own family members, whose experiences echo with the past like contrapuntal music.

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The Capital of Women’s Soccer

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A little more than an hour before the game begins, the gates outside the Johan Cruyff Stadium swing open and a thousand or so fans rush inside. Some scurry to the turnstiles. Others wait patiently at the merchandise stalls, anxious to buy a jersey, a scarf, a commemorative trinket.

The busiest and longest line, though, forms outside a booth offering fans the chance to have a photo taken with their heroes. Within a couple of minutes, it snakes all the way back to the entrance, populated by doting parents and spellbound preteens hoping they arrived in time.

They have come to see the most dominant women’s soccer team on the planet. Barcelona Femení has been Spanish champion every year since 2019. It has not lost a league game since last May, a run during which eight of its players also lifted the Women’s World Cup. On Saturday, the team can win its third Women’s Champions League title, which crowns the best professional team in Europe, in four seasons.

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The Premier League’s Asterisk Season

With five minutes left in his team’s penultimate game of the Premier League season, Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola found the tension just a little too much. As a rival striker bore down on his team’s goal, Guardiola — crouching on his haunches on the sideline — lost his balance and toppled over onto his back.

Lying on the grass and expecting the worst, he missed what may yet prove to be the pivotal moment in the Premier League’s most enthralling title race in a decade.

But the striker did not score. His effort was parried by goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, sending Manchester City above its title rival Arsenal in the standings and positioning it, if it can win again on Sunday, to become the first English team to win four consecutive championships.

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Soccer’s Governing Body Delays Vote on Palestinian Call to Bar Israel

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, on Friday postponed a decision to temporarily suspend Israel over its actions during the conflict in Gaza, and in the West Bank, saying it needed to solicit legal advice before taking up a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association.

The motion calling for Israel’s suspension referred to “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza,” and cited violations of FIFA’s human rights and discrimination statutes.

Responding to emotionally charged addresses at FIFA’s annual congress by the head of the Palestinian soccer body, Jibril Rajoub, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, said the urgency of the situation meant he would convene an extraordinary meeting of FIFA’s top board on July 25.

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Scandal Brought Reforms to Soccer. Its Leaders Are Rolling Them Back.

The 12-page report was intended to save soccer’s governing body, FIFA, in its moment of existential crisis.

Filled with reform proposals and drawn up by more than a dozen soccer insiders in December 2015, the report was FIFA’s best chance to show business partners, U.S. investigators and billions of fans that it could be trusted again after one of the biggest corruption scandals in sports history.

In bullet points and numbered sections, the report championed high-minded ideas like accountability and humility. It also proposed concrete and, for FIFA, revolutionary changes: transparency in how major decisions were reached; term limits for top leaders and new limits on presidential power; and the abolition of well-funded committees widely viewed as a system of institutional graft.

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Ahead of Olympics, World Anti-Doping Agency Faces a Trust Crisis

Two months before the Olympics are scheduled to begin in Paris, the global agency tasked with policing doping in sports is facing a growing crisis as it fends off allegations it helped cover up the positive tests of elite Chinese swimmers who went on to compete — and win medals — at the last Summer Games.

The allegations are particularly vexing for the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has long billed itself as the gold standard in the worldwide movement for clean sports, because they raise the specter that the agency — and by extension the entire system set up to try to keep the Olympics clean — cannot be trusted.

Athletes are openly questioning whether WADA can be relied upon to do its core job of ensuring there will be a level playing field in Paris, where some of the same Chinese swimmers are favorites to win more medals.

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La última ofensiva de Corea del Norte: arrojar basura a Corea del Sur

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Corea del Norte ha reanudado una inusual operación para mostrar su descontento con Corea del Sur: arrojar basura desde el cielo a través de la frontera más armada del mundo.

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Entre el martes por la noche y el miércoles, el ejército surcoreano dijo haber encontrado 260 globos a la deriva a través de la Zona Desmilitarizada, el amortiguador entre las dos Coreas. Pronto, residentes de toda Corea del Sur, incluidos algunos de Seúl, la capital, informaron haber visto bolsas de plástico cayendo del cielo.

Las autoridades enviaron escuadrones de respuesta al terrorismo químico y biológico, así como escuadrones antibombas, para inspeccionar las cargas. Pero solo encontraron basura, como colillas de cigarrillos, botellas de agua de plástico, papel y zapatos usados, y lo que parecía abono. El ejército surcoreano dijo que la basura fue liberada por temporizadores cuando los globos alcanzaron su espacio aéreo.

En los últimos años, Corea del Norte ha adoptado una postura militar cada vez más beligerante. Su inusual ofensiva de esta semana llevó a Corea del Sur a enviar una alerta por teléfono celular a los residentes que viven cerca de la frontera intercoreana para que se abstuvieran de realizar actividades al aire libre y tuvieran cuidado con los objetos no identificados que caen del cielo. Surgió cierta confusión cuando el mensaje de alerta incluyó la frase autogenerada en inglés “Air raid preliminary warning (Alerta previa de ataque aéreo)”. El gobierno dijo que solucionaría el error.

“Actos como este por parte de Corea del Norte son una clara violación del derecho internacional y una grave amenaza para la seguridad de nuestro pueblo”, dijo el ejército surcoreano en un comunicado el miércoles. “Emitimos una severa advertencia a Corea del Norte para que detenga esta operación antihumanitaria y sucia”.

Los globos norcoreanos llegaron a Corea del Sur días después de que Pionyang acusara a los desertores norcoreanos que viven en Corea del Sur de “esparcir panfletos y varias cosas sucias” sobre sus condados fronterizos y prometiera tomar “medidas de respuesta”.

“Pronto se esparcirán montones de papel de desecho y suciedad por las zonas fronterizas y el interior” de Corea del Sur, declaró el sábado Kim Kang Il, viceministro de Defensa norcoreano. “Se experimentará directamente cuánto esfuerzo se requiere para eliminarlos”.

Durante las décadas de Guerra Fría que siguieron a la guerra de Corea de 1950-53, los dos países libraron una feroz guerra psicológica, bombardeándose mutuamente con emisiones de propaganda y enviando millones de folletos propagandísticos a través de la frontera.

Estas operaciones subían y bajaban dependiendo del estado de ánimo político en la península coreana. Las dos Coreas acordaron reducir su duelo propagandístico tras una cumbre histórica en 2000, en la que acordaron promover la reconciliación. Las naciones volvieron a reafirmar ese acuerdo cuando el líder del Norte, Kim Jong-un, y el presidente de Corea del Sur, Moon Jae-in, se reunieron en 2018.

Pero los desertores norcoreanos y los activistas conservadores del Sur continuaron enviando globos al Norte. Sus globos llevaban minibiblias, billetes de dólar, memorias USB de ordenador que contenían telenovelas surcoreanas y panfletos que llamaban “cerdos”, “vampiros” y “mujeriegos” a Kim y a su padre y a su abuelo, quienes gobernaron el Norte antes que él.

Según sus defensores, estos globos ayudaron a acabar con el bloqueo informativo y el culto a la personalidad que Corea del Norte impuso a su pueblo.

Corea del Norte se ofendió, hasta el punto de que su ejército disparó cañones antiaéreos para derribar los globos de plástico que se dirigían al norte. En 2016, tomó represalias enviando globos cargados de colillas de cigarrillos y otros desperdicios, así como panfletos en los que llamaba “bruja malvada” a la entonces líder surcoreana, Park Geun-hye. Unos años más tarde, afirmó que los globos procedentes del Sur eran portadores del virus de la COVID-19.

En 2021, Corea del Sur promulgó una ley que prohibía la difusión de folletos propagandísticos en Corea del Norte. El gobierno dijo entonces que los globos no hacían más que provocar al Norte y además creaban basura en el Sur porque algunos globos nunca llegaban a cruzar la frontera.

Pero el año pasado, el Tribunal Constitucional de Corea del Sur anuló la ley, calificándola de infracción inconstitucional de la libertad de expresión.

El miércoles, Corea del Norte admitió haber enviado globos de basura al Sur —y prometió enviar más— para ejercer su propia “libertad de expresión”.


Choe Sang-Hun es el jefe de la corresponsalía de The New York Times en Seúl. Cubre noticias de Corea del Norte y del Sur. Más de Choe Sang-Hun

Venezuela, que estuvo abierta a unas elecciones limpias, da marcha atrás

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Funcionarios venezolanos rescindieron una invitación a la Unión Europea para observar las próximas elecciones presidenciales del 28 de julio, otra clara señal de que es poco probable que el presidente Nicolás Maduro ceda el poder a pesar de permitir que un candidato de la oposición se presente contra él.

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Tras meses de intensificación de la represión por parte del gobierno de Maduro —que prohibió a aspirantes legítimos presentarse a las urnas, encarceló a opositores políticos y reprimió a la sociedad civil—, la autoridad electoral del país sorprendió a muchos en abril cuando permitió al exdiplomático Edmundo González inscribirse como candidato de la oposición.

El gobierno venezolano se ha visto asfixiado por las sanciones impuestas por Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea a la vital industria petrolera del país, y algunos expertos afirman que Maduro permitió que González se presentara solo porque podría ayudarle a convencer a Washington y a sus aliados para que suavizaran las sanciones.

El presidente del Consejo Nacional Electoral, Elvis Amoroso, dijo en una emisión televisada que estaba rescindiendo la invitación hasta que la UE levantara “las sanciones coercitivas, unilaterales y genocidas impuestas a nuestro pueblo”.

“Sería inmoral permitir su participación conociendo sus prácticas neocolonialistas e intervencionistas contra Venezuela”, agregó.

La UE dijo en un comunicado que “lamenta profundamente la decisión unilateral” del consejo electoral y pidió al gobierno que reconsidere su decisión.

La economía de Venezuela implosionó hace casi una década, provocando uno de los mayores desplazamientos del mundo en la historia de América Latina: más de siete millones de venezolanos han abandonado el país, contribuyendo a una oleada migratoria hacia el norte que se ha convertido en un tema dominante en la campaña presidencial de EE. UU.

Tres encuestas realizadas en el interior del país mostraron que la mayoría de los encuestados pensaba votar por González. Pero hay dudas generalizadas de que Maduro permita que se hagan públicos esos resultados, o que los acepte si se hacen públicos.

Este año, el gobierno de Maduro ya ha detenido y encarcelado a 10 miembros de la oposición. Otros cinco tienen órdenes de arresto y están escondidos en la Embajada de Argentina en Caracas, la capital de Venezuela.

Una propuesta en la legislatura también permitiría al gobierno suspender la campaña de la oposición en cualquier momento. Muchos venezolanos que viven en el extranjero no han podido registrarse para votar debido a los costosos y engorrosos requisitos.

Maduro, de 61 años, es el heredero político del movimiento socialista de Hugo Chávez en Venezuela, y ha consolidado el poder desde que ganó el cargo por primera vez en 2013. Controla funcionalmente el poder legislativo, el ejército, la policía, el sistema judicial, el consejo electoral, el presupuesto del país y gran parte de los medios de comunicación, así como las violentas bandas paramilitares llamadas colectivos.

Él y su círculo íntimo también han sido acusados de abusos sistemáticos contra los derechos humanos que constituyen crímenes de lesa humanidad, incluidos homicidios, tortura y violencia sexual.


Rusia intensifica una campaña encubierta de sabotaje en Europa

Las autoridades de inteligencia de Estados Unidos, y de sus aliados, están monitoreando un aumento en las operaciones de sabotaje de bajo nivel en Europa que, aseguran, forman parte de una campaña rusa para socavar el apoyo a las iniciativas bélicas de Ucrania.

La mayoría de las operaciones encubiertas han sido incendios provocados o intentos de incendio en varios lugares como un almacén ubicado en Inglaterra, una fábrica de pinturas en Polonia, unas casas en Letonia y, lo más extraño, una tienda Ikea en Lituania.

Sin embargo, también fueron arrestadas personas acusadas de ser agentes rusos bajo los cargos de planear atentados contra bases militares estadounidenses.

Aunque las acciones puedan parecer aleatorias, para las autoridades de seguridad estadounidenses y europeas forman parte de una iniciativa coordinada de Rusia para frenar las transferencias de armas a Kiev y crear la apariencia de que en Europa hay una oposición cada vez mayor al apoyo hacia Ucrania. Y, según las autoridades, la rama de inteligencia militar de Rusia (GRU, por su sigla en ruso) está dirigiendo la campaña.

Hasta ahora, los ataques no han interrumpido el flujo de armamento a Ucrania y, de hecho, muchos de los objetivos atacados no están relacionados de manera directa con la guerra. Sin embargo, según algunas autoridades de seguridad, Rusia intenta sembrar el miedo y obligar a las naciones europeas a aumentar la seguridad en toda la cadena de suministro de armas, para sumar costos y ralentizar el ritmo de las transferencias.

La OTAN y los líderes europeos han advertido sobre esa amenaza creciente. La primera ministra de Estonia, Kaja Kallas, declaró la semana pasada que Rusia estaba realizando una “guerra en la sombra” contra Europa. El primer ministro de Polonia, Donald Tusk, anunció la detención de 12 personas acusadas de llevar a cabo “golpizas, incendios provocados e intentos de incendio” para la inteligencia rusa.

Y el primer ministro de Noruega, Jonas Gahr Store, afirmó que Rusia representa “una amenaza real y grave”, después de que su país advirtió sobre posibles ataques contra productores de energía y fábricas de armas.

En medio de la creciente preocupación por el sabotaje, los embajadores de la OTAN tienen programado reunirse el próximo mes con Avril Haines, directora de inteligencia nacional de Estados Unidos. Haines ofrecerá un informe de inteligencia sobre la guerra de Rusia en Ucrania, pero también hablará de la campaña encubierta de sabotaje que Moscú ha desplegado en Europa.

Las autoridades de seguridad no afirmaron que sus datos de inteligencia vinculan el sabotaje con el GRU, pero los servicios de espionaje de Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido han penetrado a profundidad en el GRU. Antes de la guerra en Ucrania, Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido divulgaron documentos desclasificados de inteligencia que exponían varios planes del GRU para crear falsos pretextos que justificaran la invasión rusa.

A pesar de la reputación que tiene el GRU de tomar riesgos, autoridades de seguridad estadounidenses y europeas señalaron que Rusia estaba actuando con cierta cautela con sus sabotajes. Quiere dirigir la atención hacia los incendios misteriosos, pero no tanto como para que se le responsabilice de manera directa.

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Andrea Kendall-Taylor, exfuncionaria de los servicios de inteligencia estadounidenses, afirmó que el plan de Rusia podría tener como objetivo debilitar la determinación europea. Aunque ese resultado puede ser dudoso, la otrora funcionaria mencionó que era importante que Europa y Estados Unidos se unieran para responder a la campaña de sabotaje.

“La estrategia de Rusia consiste en dividir y vencer”, afirmó Kendall-Taylor, quien es colaboradora en Center for a New American Security, un centro de investigación. “En este momento, no es una estrategia muy costosa para Rusia porque todos estamos respondiendo por separado. Por eso es importante que, con el tiempo, colectivicemos la respuesta”.

Con la esperanza de hacer precisamente eso, diplomáticos británicos y de otras naciones europeas han presionado a países para que denuncien las operaciones encubiertas rusas de manera más agresiva.

En marzo sucedió uno de los primeros actos de sabotaje recientes atribuidos a Rusia: el incendio de un almacén en Londres. Según las autoridades, había una conexión entre el almacén y la iniciativa de suministro a Ucrania, pero se han divulgado pocos detalles.

Funcionarios de seguridad informados sobre el incidente comentaron que agentes del GRU utilizaron un edificio diplomático ruso en Sussex, Inglaterra, para reclutar a gente de la zona con el fin de ejecutar el incendio. Cuatro hombres británicos fueron acusados de incendio provocado en el ataque y uno de ellos fue acusado de ayudar a un servicio de inteligencia extranjero.

En respuesta, el Reino Unido expulsó a un oficial del Ejército ruso que trabajaba para los servicios de inteligencia y cerró varios edificios diplomáticos rusos, incluido el centro de operaciones del GRU en Sussex.

Según los funcionarios de seguridad, el uso de reclutas locales ha sido un sello distintivo de la reciente campaña de sabotaje. Funcionarios estadounidenses y europeos señalaron que esto se hace, en parte, para que los ataques sean más difíciles de detectar y que parezcan el resultado de la oposición nacional al apoyo a Ucrania.

Los actos de sabotaje en Europa, relacionados con Rusia, no son desconocidos. En 2014, la inteligencia militar rusa hizo estallar un depósito de municiones en la República Checa, aunque el país no culpó públicamente a Rusia sino hasta siete años después.

En 2018, los gobiernos europeos expulsaron a espías rusos de sus capitales después de que un exfuncionario de inteligencia ruso fue envenenado en Salisbury, Inglaterra, y tomaron la misma medida tras la invasión de Rusia a Ucrania en 2022. Las expulsiones redujeron de manera dramática la capacidad de los rusos para organizar ataques, afirmó Max Bergmann, director del Programa de Europa, Rusia y Eurasia en el Centro de Estudios Estratégicos e Internacionales.

“Se interrumpieron mucho las actividades de inteligencia rusa en Europa”, comentó Bergmann. “Eso las puso en pausa y la guerra en Ucrania consumió a la inteligencia rusa. Ahora ha recuperado su punto de apoyo y es probable que se esté movilizando para volver a intensificar sus actividades”.

Julian E. Barnes cubre las agencias de inteligencia estadounidenses y asuntos de seguridad internacional para el Times. Ha escrito sobre temas de seguridad durante más de dos décadas. Más de Julian E. Barnes

La mortal antesala de las primeras elecciones libres en Sudáfrica

El fotógrafo, quien reside en Sudáfrica, donde creció, pasó los primeros años de su carrera documentando el final del apartheid. Trabaja para The New York Times desde 1997. Tomó estas fotos en 1994 para The Associated Press.

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Hace 30 años, los sudafricanos negros votaron por primera vez mientras el país celebraba el monumental nacimiento de una democracia. Mientras escribo estas líneas, Sudáfrica está bañada por la cálida luz del sol invernal y los sudafricanos son libres.

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Ese día, el 27 de abril de 1994, cambió la vida de todos los habitantes del país. Yo estaba allí. Pero solo lo recuerdo vagamente.

Sin embargo, recuerdo vívidamente el costo en vidas humanas que condujo a ese día victorioso, ya que lo que equivalía a una guerra por poderes alimentada por elementos del Estado del apartheid enfrentó a grupos étnicos entre sí. Quienes esperaban que el derramamiento de sangre hiciera descarrilar las negociaciones democráticas lo llamaron, convenientemente, violencia de personas negras contra personas negras.

Pasaron cuatro años entre la salida de Nelson Mandela de la cárcel y las primeras elecciones reales. En ese tiempo, mientras el gobierno del apartheid resolvía lentamente los términos de su disolución con los líderes políticos que durante tanto tiempo había intentado reprimir, 14.000 personas murieron de forma violenta.

Puede que muchos sudafricanos hayan optado por olvidar. Puede que los más jóvenes simplemente no lo sepan. Pero esto es lo que vi en los meses anteriores a la votación.

Barrios enteros fueron abandonados mientras la gente huía de sus casas. Cadáveres sin nombre ensuciaban las calles vacías durante horas antes de que los vagones de la morgue los recogieran, expuestos en carreteras sin asfaltar como advertencia para que todos los vieran.

Nueve días antes de las elecciones, el país ardía. Era el último esfuerzo entre facciones enfrentadas. El Partido de la Libertad Inkatha —un poderoso movimiento político y cultural zulú— se preparaba para boicotear la votación, alegando que el nuevo acuerdo otorgaba muy poco poder a territorios como KwaZulu, donde había gobernado durante mucho tiempo. Los cadáveres se amontonaban.

Ese día, 18 de abril de 1994, me encontraba en la calle Khumalo de Thokoza, un municipio negro al este de Johannesburgo.

A mi izquierda yacía Ken Oosterbroek, herido de muerte, mientras que a mi derecha, Greg Marinovich se agarraba el pecho, aferrándose a la vida. Amigos y compañeros fotógrafos que habían dedicado sus carreras a documentar los violentos estertores del apartheid yacían muertos y heridos.

Entre 1990 y 1994, cerca de 700 personas murieron en Thokoza, y cientos en esa misma calle. Fue una de tantas. Hoy, un monumento en la calle Khumalo lleva los nombres de los muertos, incluido el de Ken.

Cuando visité el monumento a finales de 2016, servía de refugio a personas sin hogar, que dormían junto al muro de mármol con inscripciones. Desde entonces ha sido rehabilitado por antiguos miembros de las Unidades de Autodefensa, residentes —principalmente partidarios del Congreso Nacional Africano de Mandela— que defendían sus comunidades de los seguidores del Partido de la Libertad de Inkatha.

Macdonald Mabizela, de 48 años, que entonces era un combatiente adolescente y ahora es conserje, explicó cómo habían ahuyentado a los vagabundos, limpiado el monumento y reconstruido parte del muro perimetral que se había derrumbado después de que alguien chocara contra él.

Nelson Mandela se dirigió a la nación esa noche, haciendo un llamamiento a la calma y al fin del derramamiento de sangre, un acto presidencial antes de convertirse en mandatario. Poco después, el Partido de la Libertad Inkatha anunció que participaría en las elecciones. Las papeletas se habían impreso sin un hueco para el partido. Rápidamente se añadieron calcomanías. Era la cruda evidencia de lo cerca que había estado Sudáfrica de una guerra civil.

Los sudafricanos votaron, y fue un día pacífico, eso es lo que recuerdo. Lo documenté, y lo que debería haber sido una experiencia que cambiaba mi vida se perdió en mi memoria. Acababa de enterrar a un amigo y otro se recuperaba de tres heridas de bala. Voté en Katlehong, a unos seis minutos en carro de donde mataron a Ken, envié mi película a la oficina de The Associated Press y fui a sentarme al lado de Greg. Los dos días de votaciones transcurrieron como algo borroso, sin que yo apenas estuviera presente.

Los sudafricanos volverán a votar esta semana, en unas elecciones nacionales menos previsibles que ninguna otra desde 1994. Es importante recordar el pasado en momentos como este y honrar a quienes pagaron el precio más alto mientras las figuras políticas negociaban su camino hacia el poder y la democracia.


Joao Silva es un fotógrafo del Times en Sudáfrica. Más de Joao Silva

Un deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea sepultó a 2000 personas

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Más de 2000 personas fueron sepultadas vivas por el deslizamiento de tierra que asoló el viernes un pueblo y un campo de trabajo de Papúa Nueva Guinea, en las remotas tierras altas del norte del país, según informaron el lunes las autoridades a las Naciones Unidas.

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Funcionarios del gobierno visitaron el lugar de la catástrofe el domingo. Y aunque el número oficial de víctimas mortales pasó de unas pocas decenas a 670, advirtieron de que al parecer todavía había muchas más víctimas de las esperadas bajo los escombros.

[Las imágenes por satélite muestran el tamaño del deslizamiento de tierra].

Un deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea sepultó a 2000 personas – The New York Times

“El deslizamiento de tierra sepultó a más de 2000 personas vivas y causó grandes destrozos en edificios, huertos de alimentos y tuvo un gran impacto en el sustento económico del país”, declaró Lusete Laso Mana, funcionario del centro nacional de catástrofes, en una carta a Naciones Unidas.

La carta subrayaba que las labores de rescate seguían siendo un reto. La carretera principal a la zona está bloqueada, decía la carta, y el terreno sigue inestable porque el agua fluye bajo las rocas, desplaza la tierra y “representa un peligro continuo tanto para los equipos de rescate como para los sobrevivientes”.

La región, en la provincia de Enga, está densamente poblada y se encuentra cerca de la mina de oro de Porgera, operada por Barrick Gold, empresa con sede en Canadá, en colaboración con Zijin Mining, un grupo chino. Es una zona de terreno selvático, remoto y difícil, en un país de unos 12 millones de habitantes que se sitúa justo al norte de Australia. Papúa Nueva Guinea es un país tropical, dividido por líneas tribales, étnicas y lingüísticas, rico en recursos naturales pero en gran medida subdesarrollado, lo que lo hace especialmente vulnerable a las catástrofes naturales, que ocurren con frecuencia.

[El deslizamiento de tierra se produjo en una zona poblada].

Los funcionarios de la ONU han seguido de cerca la situación. Y con el último cálculo en mano, hicieron hincapié en que la necesidad de ayuda sería a largo plazo y complicada.

“Esta situación requiere una actuación inmediata y apoyo internacional para mitigar nuevas pérdidas y proporcionar ayuda esencial a los afectados”, declaró Anne Mandal, vocera de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones de la ONU.

Durante el fin de semana, la organización calculó que, además del número de muertos y desaparecidos, más de 250 casas habían sido abandonadas por temor a nuevos desprendimientos, lo que dejó aproximadamente 1250 personas desplazadas.

Llegar hasta los sobrevivientes ha resultado ser un reto enorme. Un convoy de ayuda llegó a la zona el sábado por la tarde para entregar carpas y agua, pero no alimentos. El domingo, el gobierno local consiguió alimentos y agua para unas 600 personas, según la ONU, pero el equipo pesado seguía sin llegar, lo que obligó a la gente a buscar cadáveres entre escombros peligrosos e inestables con pequeñas palas y horcas.

Las disputas tribales también han agravado los riesgos para la seguridad tras la catástrofe.

Ruth Kissam, organizadora comunitaria de la provincia de Enga, dijo que habían caído rocas gigantes de las tierras de una tribu a un pueblo residencial ocupado por otra tribu.

“Habrá tensión”, dijo. “Ya hay tensión”.

Incluso antes de la catástrofe, la región había sufrido enfrentamientos tribales que llevaron a la gente a huir de los pueblos circundantes, y muchos acabaron concentrados en la comunidad sepultada por el deslizamiento de tierra. En septiembre del año pasado, gran parte de Enga estaba bloqueada por el gobierno y bajo toque de queda, sin vuelos de entrada o salida.

Ahora, mientras prosigue la búsqueda de muertos y vivos, la ira y la violencia se han intensificado.

El sábado por la mañana estalló una pelea entre dos clanes, que acabó con muertos y decenas de casas incendiadas, según Serhan Aktoprak, jefe de misión de la oficina de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones en Papúa Nueva Guinea. Añadió que la amenaza de violencia dificulta la entrega de ayuda.

Los funcionarios de Papúa Nueva Guinea también hicieron hincapié en la necesidad de mantener la calma.

“Tras la inspección realizada por el equipo, se determinó que los daños son grandes y requieren acciones inmediatas y de colaboración por parte de todos los actores”, decía la carta de los funcionarios del gobierno que visitaron el lugar.

El deslizamiento de tierra se produjo en el pueblo sobre las 3 a. m. del viernes, cuando muchos residentes dormían. Algunas de las rocas que sepultaron casas y cortaron una carretera principal eran más grandes que contenedores de transporte. Incluso en una región en la que son frecuentes las fuertes tormentas y los sismos, el deslizamiento de tierra ha suscitado intensas muestras de dolor dentro y fuera del país, incluida la Casa Blanca.

“Jill y yo estamos desconsolados por la pérdida de vidas y la devastación causada por el deslizamiento de tierra en Papúa Nueva Guinea”, dijo el presidente Joe Biden en un comunicado tras el desastre. “Nuestras oraciones están con todas las familias afectadas por esta tragedia y con todos los socorristas que se ponen en peligro para ayudar a sus conciudadanos”.

Christopher Cottrell colaboró con reportería.


Damien Cave es corresponsal internacional del Times y cubre la región Indo-Pacífica. Reside en Sídney, Australia. Más sobre Damien Cave