Israeli ground forces shell Gaza.
Published: 2021-05-14 12:39 am
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Israeli ground forces shell Gaza.

Image(image)
Israeli artillery firing toward Gaza.Credit...Dan Balilty for The New York Times

Israeli ground forces attacked the Gaza Strip early this morning in an escalation of the conflict that has so far killed 103 Palestinians and seven Israelis, according to the local authorities. Children have been among the casualties on both sides.

An Israeli military spokesman initially said “there are ground troops attacking in Gaza,” but later clarified that Israeli troops had not entered the strip, suggesting the possibility of artillery fire from outside. It was not immediately clear if the attack was the prelude to a ground invasion aimed at Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza.

A crucial decision for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is whether Israel’s definition of victory requires sending in ground troops. That would extend the conflict and significantly increase the number of dead and wounded on both sides.

While violent escalations often follow a predictable trajectory, this latest bout between Israel and the Palestinians, the worst in seven years, is rapidly evolving into a new kind of conflict — faster, more destructive and capable of spinning in unpredictable new directions. Within Israel’s cities, clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs have given way to warnings from Israeli leaders of a possible civil war.

On the ground: Our reporter describes the aftermath of drone strikes on an ordinary street of cinder block and concrete buildings in Gaza. “There was life here, but now it’s horror,” said one resident. “It’s not a normal feeling, to see a guy dying in front of you.”

Weaponry: Gaza’s rockets — made, despite a blockade, from smuggled parts or repurposed plumbing pipes — pale in comparison to the destructive powers of Israel’s air force. For Israelis, these rockets are the tools of a terrorist organization; for many Palestinians, they symbolize rightful resistance to Israeli dominance and occupation.

Eid al-Fitr: Muslims around the world marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, a day typically filled with prayer, celebration and feasting. But for many Palestinians, the moment was a somber one.

Go deeper: The latest episode of “The Daily” explores why this is happening now, and how much worse it could get.

Refugees in Mekelle, the capital of Ehiopia’s Tigray region, in March.Credit...The New York Times

Six months into the war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where thousands have died amid reports of widespread human rights abuses, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sought to quell critical coverage of the conflict by targeting the independent news media, according to human rights organizations.

Press freedoms have deteriorated in the wake of Abiy’s military operation in the northern region, which began on Nov. 4. Within hours, the internet there was shut down, and journalists were blocked from entering. The authorities have since detained at least 10 local journalists without charges, holding them for periods from a few days to two months over their coverage of the conflict.

Quote: “It’s a sharply disappointing state of affairs given the hope and optimism of early 2018 when Abiy became prime minister,” said Muthoki Mumo, a representative for sub-Saharan Africa for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Details: Last week, government officials confirmed that they had revoked the accreditation of Simon Marks, an Irish reporter for The Times who is based in Ethiopia, days after he had interviewed victims of sexual assault and other terrified residents in the region.

Basking in the sun in Bryant Park in New York City.Credit...Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Credit...Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
  • In the past five years, over 130 U.S. personnel — spies, diplomats, soldiers and others — have experienced mysterious episodes that caused brain injuries, often in China or Cuba. Above, the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The Biden administration is investigating the cases, which have proved to be more numerous than previously believed.

  • Officials in Cameroon sentenced two transgender women to five years in prison after they were found guilty of “attempted homosexuality” and public indecency. It is part of a crackdown on gay and transgender people in the West African nation.

  • The Taliban pushed toward Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, last week, leaving a motley crew of border force soldiers as the last government forces standing between them and the city.

  • David Cameron, the former British prime minister, appeared before a parliamentary committee, showing little contrition over the approaches he made to high-ranking officials on behalf of a struggling finance company that employed him.

Credit...Mathilde Vidal
  • A new study says that sterile workers of one ant species seem to serve as matchmakers by physically carrying their royal sisters to neighboring nests, allowing queens-to-be to avoid inbreeding.

  • Divvying up the vast assets of the Gateses’ marriage could have implications for philanthropy.

  • A British railroad operator has sparked outrage after sending an email to employees offering a link to a “one-off payment” to thank them for working through the pandemic. It was a security test, meant to gauge their ability to spot messages faked by hackers.

Credit...Tariro Mzezwa/The New York Times

The pandemic was the first time that many of Harlem’s gospel church choirs were not able to sing together, in person, on Sundays. To bring back music last fall, Bethel Gospel Assembly created small pods of singers who would spread out in the sanctuary, above.

Listen to a recording of the choir performing the pastor’s favorite hymn, “It Is Well,” during a recent rehearsal. To transport you into this church, we built a 3-D model of its sanctuary and embedded 3-D audio in it — a first for The Times.

Philip Galanes writes a Times column called Social Q’s. He frequently gets a version of the same question: “How can I deal with the tensions around the resumption of social life?” Many people are ready to return to prepandemic activities, while others are not or may disagree about which safety measures to take.

Philip’s main advice: “Be nice to yourself, take care of the people you love and be as compassionate as you can.” That includes being honest about disagreements — and doing so in person or by phone rather than by text.

In one such case, parents new to town were loath to let their daughter play with kids who didn’t follow masking or social distancing protocols. Philip suggested keeping play dates outdoors, where there’s strong evidence that her risk of infection would be very low. Or they could venture beyond the neighborhood to find “parks, playgroups or after-school activities that prioritize safety.”

It’s OK to take it easy. As the author Celeste Headlee told NPR, “We have been under such a cognitive load over the past year or so that there just may not be the space for two things in one day.”

Credit...Con Poulos for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.
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