Monday Briefing: Plans for Gaza’s Future

Development agencies and Middle Eastern businesses have been meeting to discuss the eventual reconstruction of Gaza and to develop plans for its long-term economic future. They seek to transform Gaza into a commercial hub centered on trade, tourism and innovation.

But those plans are far removed from today’s dire reality. Israel has been bombarding the enclave for months. It is still weighing whether to invade Rafah, the southern city where more than a million displaced Gazans are sheltering.

And there is no end to the war in sight, even though diplomacy continues. Yesterday President Biden spoke to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss a possible cease-fire deal, and top diplomats from the U.S. and France traveled to the Middle East for more talks. Once the fighting ends, the transformation would cost tens of billions of dollars. The damage to Gaza’s crucial infrastructure has reached $18.5 billion, according to the World Bank and the U.N.

The plan centers on a series of projects, including a deepwater port, a desalination plant, an online health care service and a transportation corridor connecting Gaza with the West Bank. The most forward-looking components, such as a new currency to replace the Israeli shekel, assume the establishment of Palestinian autonomy, which Netanyahu has vowed to resist.

Last week, courts in Britain and Germany saw first-of-their-kind espionage cases against China: Six people were charged with spying for Beijing in three separate cases. Two — a hawkish young Briton and a German of Chinese descent — were assistants to lawmakers.

China experts said that the charges suggested that European countries were stepping up their response to Beijing’s espionage — rather than that Beijing was ramping up its spying. Europe “has lost patience with China,” said one researcher, who had recently served as an adviser to the European Commission on China.

The Dutch and Polish authorities also raided the offices of a Chinese security equipment supplier as part of an E.U. crackdown on what it sees as unfair trading practices. This month, Sweden also expelled a Chinese journalist who had been a resident of the country for two decades, saying that the reporter posed a threat to national security.

What’s next: Xi Jinping, China’s leader, will travel to Europe next month. He will skip Britain and Germany, instead visiting Hungary and Serbia, China’s last two staunch allies on the continent. He will also head to France.

Some Ukrainians who had been prisoners of war in Russia are returning to the country with physical and psychological wounds. They have spoken of enduring relentless beatings, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence, and mock executions — torture so extreme that one expert described it as a systematic, Russian state-endorsed policy.

But Ukraine is sending them back to active duty after only a few months off, and often without having undergone adequate treatment. “I started having flashbacks, and nightmares,” said one soldier, who returned to training after spending nine months being tortured in Russian captivity. He was then diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Details: Nearly 3,000 Ukrainians have been released from Russian custody since the 2022 invasion. More than 10,000 more remain.

My colleague Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke with Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s opposition party, in “The Interview,” our new series.

“There is a reason why everything is happening, and the reason is Hamas,” he said. “The reason is not Israel.” Read their full conversation.

  • Heavy metal in hijabs: The band Voice of Baceprot has electrified Indonesians with progressive songs about female empowerment and pacifism. Now the group is taking its music to the West.

  • Stand down: The academic Beth Linker is challenging the conventional wisdom about proper posture.

  • Culinary diplomacy: The meals enjoyed by U.S. dignitaries visiting China can send subtle geopolitical signals.

A decade ago, The Times introduced the Upshot, a section devoted to explaining “politics, policy and everyday life.” More than 5,000 articles later, the Upshot has been many things to many readers. To celebrate its 10th birthday, we’ve collected 100 stories that embody the section.

We have the Fried Calamari Index, a measure of food trendiness; a three-dimensional curve that predicts the economic future; how 8,000 different American demographic groups vote; the evolution of women in stock photos; and 96 more analytical, visual and data-driven stories. Take a look.

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