Tuesday Briefing: Israel Orders Rafah Evacuations

Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, yesterday, as the military told about 110,000 people there to evacuate. Hours later, the political leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the group had accepted a cease-fire proposal from Qatar and Egypt.

The full details of the proposal were unclear, but the conflict remains unresolved. Comments by Hamas and Israeli officials made it clear that Haniyeh was not referring to the plan that Israel had recently put forward.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the proposal did not meet Israel’s demands. Israel’s war cabinet had also decided unanimously to “continue with its action in Rafah in order to exert military pressure on Hamas,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Thousands of people were leaving Rafah yesterday, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which said that there had been “escalating Israeli airstrikes” in areas east of the city. A sense of panic coursed through the city, as prices for food and fuel skyrocketed.

Context: Israel seems set to invade Rafah, despite pressure from the country’s closest allies, including the U.S., arguing that doing so would take a heavy toll on civilians. An Israeli military spokesman would not say when troops might enter the city, but described the evacuation as part of Israel’s plans to dismantle Hamas and to free hostages taken on Oct. 7.

U.S. campus protests: Columbia University canceled its main commencement ceremony after weeks of student protests over the war.

Russia said that it would hold military exercises with troops near Ukraine to practice for the possible use of battlefield nuclear weapons. The move increases tensions with the West and was Russia’s most explicit warning that it could use such weapons in Ukraine. NATO called the announcement “irresponsible.”

Russian officials claimed the exercises were in response to comments from the West. The Kremlin’s spokesman directly referenced a recent interview with President Emmanuel Macron of France, in which he repeated his refusal to rule out the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine, and alluded to comments made by the British foreign minister.

Details: These nuclear weapons, often referred to as “tactical,” are designed for battlefield use and have smaller warheads than the ones meant to target cities.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, pressured China to help resolve the war in Ukraine yesterday during President Xi Jinping’s visit to France. She said Beijing should “use all its influence on Russia to end its war of aggression” and said Xi had played “an important role in de-escalating Russia’s irresponsible nuclear threats.”

Trade: China’s manufacturing boom and flagging domestic demand also came up. Tensions are rising in Europe over a massive export push from China, and von der Leyen took a firm line, saying, “The world cannot absorb China’s surplus production.”

Generations of immigrants to New York City have played soccer on Sundays at a park in Queens. Teams are loosely organized around national identity, and the community that has grown around the fields offers a sense of home.

“We are new in this city and it helps to share our experiences with others,” a 36-year-old who recently arrived from Venezuela said. “Sometimes people come just to talk.”

The long-building rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake has exploded into acrimony and unverifiable accusations.

Over the weekend, the two rappers released song after song, attacking each other over race, appropriation, sexual and physical abuse, body image, misogyny, hypocrisy, generational trauma and more.

The beef may be good for business. Each song racked up millions of streams. Three that Lamar made available are expected to land near the top of next week’s Billboard singles chart.

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