Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Live Updates - The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know: The funeral for some of those people killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday. Credit… ...


The funeral for some of those people killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday.
Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

International pressure to bring an end to the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas militants mounted on Sunday, even as local health officials said an Israeli airstrike in Gaza overnight killed more than two dozen people, the single deadliest attack of the current hostilities.

The dead included women and children, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Rescue workers combed through the rubble of three buildings flattened in the airstrike as the hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians escalated to levels not seen since a 2014 war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no clear end in sight to the violence. “It will take some time,” he said on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday.

With the conflict stretching into its seventh straight day, the United States stepped up its diplomatic engagement and the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the conflict in public for the first time on Sunday.

Secretary-General António Guterres was the first of nearly two dozen speakers on the agenda of the meeting, led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, which holds the council’s rotating presidency for the month of May.

“This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace,” Mr. Guterres said. “Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately.”

Palestinian and Israeli diplomats used the meeting as a high-profile forum to vent longstanding grievances, in effect talking past each other with no sign of any softening in an intractable conflict nearly as old as the United Nations itself.

Riad Al Malki, the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, implicitly rebuked the United States and other powers that have defended Israel’s right to protect itself from Hamas rocket attacks, asserting that Israel is then “further emboldened to continue to murder entire families in their sleep.”

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke after Mr. Malki, rejected any attempt to portray the actions of Israel and Hamas as moral equivalents. “Israel uses missiles to protect its children,” Mr. Erdan said. “Hamas uses children to protect its missiles.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, The United States ambassador to the United Nations, said President Biden had spoken with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had also been engaging with his counterparts in the region. She called on Hamas to stop its rockets barrage against Israel, expressed concerns about intercommunal violence and warned against incitement on both sides.

“The human toll of this past week has been devastating,” she said, and added, “it’s time to end the cycle of violence.”

Mr. Netanyahu of Israel vowed late Saturday to continue striking Gaza “until we reach our targets,” suggesting a prolonged assault on the coastal territory even as casualties rose on both sides.

In separate calls on Saturday, President Biden conferred with Mr. Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, about efforts to broker a cease-fire. While supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas militants, Mr. Biden urged Mr. Netanyahu to protect civilians and journalists.

Even before Sunday morning’s attack, Israeli airstrikes had intensified over the weekend, with an attack on a house in a refugee camp in Gaza that killed 10 members of an extended family, including women and children, and another that destroyed a high-rise that housed media outlets including The A.P. and Al Jazeera.

Israeli defense officials said the building housed military assets belonging to Hamas and they provided advance warning to civilians in the building to allow evacuation. No casualties were reported in that strike.

At least 192 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Gaza, including at least 58 children, according to Palestinian health authorities, and 12 Israelis had died in Hamas rocket attacks.

Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Over the past week, the 15-member U.N. Security Council met privately at least twice to discuss ways of reducing tensions. But efforts to reach agreement on a statement or to hold an open meeting had faced resistance from the United States, Israel’s biggest defender on the council.

American officials said they wanted to give mediators sent to the region from the United States, Egypt and Qatar an opportunity to defuse the crisis.

But with violence worsening, a compromise was reached for a meeting on Sunday.

Security Council meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian issue have often ended inconclusively and served mainly as a platform for supporters of both sides to air their grievances. But they have also demonstrated the widespread view among United Nations members that Israel’s actions as an occupying power are illegal and that its use of deadly force is disproportionately harsh.

A building on fire in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike overnight.
Credit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

The violence showed no sign of abating on Sunday, as Israel made the single deadliest airstrike yet on Gaza in the weeklong bombing campaign, and the number of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza approached 3,000.

The Israeli bombing in Gaza City killed at least 33 people, including 12 women and eight children, and wounded 50 others, according to Palestinian health authorities. They said the toll was likely to climb as rescuers picked through the rubble searching for victims and survivors.

Israel’s military acknowledged civilian deaths in the strike.

An Israeli aircraft “struck underground military infrastructure belonging to Hamas terror organization which was located under the road in the relevant area,” an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said. “The underground military facility collapsed, causing the foundations of the civilian house above to collapse as well, causing unintentional casualties. The aim of the I.D.F. strike was military infrastructure.”

In a separate strike, the Israeli military said it had bombed the home of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, in the southern town of Khan Younis. It released a video of the bombing.

At least 192 people — most of them civilians, including 58 children — have been killed by Israeli planes, drones and artillery since the campaign began on Monday, Palestinian officials said.

Israel says it has killed 75 Palestinian militants, primarily Hamas operatives, and accuses the group of using civilians as human shields. In airstrikes that claimed civilian casualties, Israel has often described the targets as weapons caches or militant operations centers.

In Israel, 12 people have been killed by Hamas rockets, Israeli authorities say.

Israeli forces have hit more than 1,500 targets, causing serious damage to Hamas infrastructure, including the network of tunnels it uses to move people and weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials said at a press briefing after a meeting of the security cabinet.

“Hamas’s underground has gone down the drain,” he said. “The metro has turned from a strategic asset to a death trap for the terrorists.”

He described Israeli fores as “doing everything we can to minimize as much as possible any harm to civilians.”

Far more rockets have been fired at Israel than in any week of previous conflicts, and some of them have greater range than Hamas’ arsenal has demonstrated in the past. Israeli officials have admitted to being surprised by the reach and intensity of the barrage. Hamas, which has had help from Iran in building increasingly sophisticated rockets, claimed this week that some had a range of 155 miles, far enough to reach any point in Israel.

Israel has intercepted about 1,100 rockets, military officials said on Sunday.

The Israeli military said on Sunday that it had destroyed several underwater drones, unmanned submarines operated by Hamas, at their base on the Mediterranean coast. The drones, armed with explosives, were intended for use against offshore gas drilling rigs, according to Israeli officials.

Israeli ground forces on Friday near the border with Gaza.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

Speaking on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said there was no clear end in sight to the violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet,” he said, adding, “It will take some time.”

Mr. Netanyahu defended his nation’s bombing and shelling of Gaza, which Palestinian authorities say has killed at least 192 people, including 58 children. At least 12 Israelis have died in rocket attacks fired from Gaza, the territory controlled by the militant group Hamas.

Israel has faced wide condemnation from international press organizations for blowing up a building on Saturday that housed the offices of international media organizations including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israeli forces warned in advance of the attack, and there were no casualties reported.

Israeli officials claimed that the building harbored military assets for Hamas. Speaking on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu provided no clear evidence to support that claim, and also did not confirm whether he presented any evidence of this assertion during a conversation with Mr. Biden.

“It’s a perfectly legitimate target,” he said, adding that Israeli forces “unlike Hamas, take special precautions to tell people ‘Leave the building, leave the premises.’”

On the killings of Palestinian children, Mr. Netanyahu pointed the blame at Hamas, saying the organization uses civilians as human shields.

“We are targeting a terrorist organization that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians, using them as human shields,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to hit the terrorists themselves, their rockets, their rocket caches and their arms, but we’re not just going to let them get away with it.”

He said Israel does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. “They’re sending thousands of rockets on our cities with the specific purpose of murdering our civilians from these places,” he said. “What would you do?”

As the worst violence in years rages between the Israeli military and Hamas, each night the sky is lit up by a barrage of missiles streaking across the sky and the projectiles designed to counter them.

It is a display of fire and thunder that has been described as both remarkable and horrifying.

The images of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system attempting to shoot down missiles fired by militants in Gaza have been among the most widely shared online, even as the toll wrought by the violence only becomes clear in the light of the next day’s dawn.

“The number of Israelis killed and wounded would be far higher if it had not been for the Iron Dome system, which has been a lifesaver as it always is,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said this week.

The Iron Dome became operational in 2011 and got its biggest first test over eight days in November 2014, when Gaza militants fired some 1,500 rockets aimed at Israel.

While Israeli officials claimed a success rate of up to 90 percent during that conflict, outside experts were skeptical.

The system’s interceptors — just 6 inches wide and 10 feet long — rely on miniature sensors and computerized brains to zero in on short-range rockets. Israel’s larger interceptors — the Patriot and Arrow systems — can fly longer distances to go after bigger threats.

The Iron Dome was recently upgraded, but the details of the changes were not made public.

It is being tested like never before, according to the Israeli military.

“I think it will not be a big mistake to say that even last night there were more missiles than all the missiles fired on Tel Aviv in 2014,” Major General Ori Gordin, commander of Israel’s home front, said during a news conference on Sunday. “Hamas’s attack is very intense in terms of pace of firing.”

Militants in the Gaza Strip have fired nearly 3,000 missiles, the Israeli Air Force said on Sunday, noting that about 1,150 of them had been intercepted.

“Despite the layers of defense, there is never 100 percent defense,” Gen. Gordin said. “Sometimes the aerial defense will miss or not be able to intercept, and sometimes people will not get into shelters or lay on the ground and sometimes a whole building will collapse.”

A man mourned the loss of his wife and three children after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday.
Credit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

Seven days can seem an eternity for those caught in the middle of a deadly conflict. And the past week has already yielded a catalog of lethal flash points in a region where memories of bloodshed run deep.

For Israelis, the visceral horror of the latest conflict gained a human face when a 5-year-old boy was killed by a rocket from Gaza.

For Palestinians, that moment may have come when at least 10 members of a single extended family were killed by an Israeli airstrike in a Gaza refugee camp.

As the civilian suffering deepens, several attacks stand out as seminal moments in a conflict that has transformed with startling speed, polarizing Israeli society like seldom before and spurring mob violence on both sides that has fanned fears of civil war.

Here are a few of the major flash points:

Credit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times
  • On Saturday, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a well-known 12-story building in Gaza City that housed some of the world’s leading media organizations including The A.P. and Al Jazeera. The destruction of the al-Jalaa tower drew global criticism that Israel was undermining press freedom. On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces tweeted that the building was “an important base of operations” for Hamas military intelligence. But The A.P. said it had operated from the building for 15 years and had no indication that Hamas was operating there. There were no casualties.

  • Among the victims of an Israeli airstrike over the weekend at a refugee camp that killed at least 10 Palestinians were eight children. Mohammed al-Hadidi said his wife, along with their sons Suhaib, 14, Yahya, 11, Abdelrahman, 8, and Wissam, 5, were killed, as were her brother’s four children and her sister-in-law. Only a five-month-old baby boy, Omar, was pulled from the rubble alive. The attack magnified growing criticism against Israel’s military for the number of children that have been killed in airstrikes on Gaza. Outrage has been fanned on social media where images of children’s bodies have circulated, along with the video of wailing infant being comforted by his father.

Credit…Corinna Kern for The New York Times
  • A 5-year-old Israeli boy, Ido Avigal, was killed on Wednesday when a rocket fired from Gaza made a direct hit on the building next door to his aunt’s apartment, where he was visiting with his mother and older sister. He had been sheltering in a fortified safe room. Nearly 3,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza this week.

  • The conflict began last Monday when weeks of simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters, the police and right-wing Israelis escalated, against the backdrop of a longstanding local battle for control of a city sacred to Jews, Arabs and Christians. Among the main catalysts was a raid by the Israeli police on the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on of Islam’s holiest sites, in which hundreds of Palestinians and a score police officers were wounded. Militants in Gaza responded by lobbing rockets at Jerusalem, spurring Israel to respond with airstrikes.

  • The root of the latest escalation was intense disputes over East Jerusalem. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from gathering near one of the city’s ancient gates during the holy month of Ramadan, as they had customarily. At the same time, Palestinians faced eviction by Jewish landlords from homes in East Jerusalem. Many Arabs called it part of a wider Israeli campaign to force Palestinians out of the city, describing it as ethnic cleansing.

  • Part of the backdrop for the fighting are intense political struggles for leadership of Israel and the Palestinians. After four inconclusive elections in Israel in two years, no one has been able to form a governing coalition. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on trial on corruption charges, has been able to remain in office, and hopes Israelis will rally around him in the crisis. In Palestinian elections that were recently postponed, Hamas hoped to take control of the Palestinian Authority, and has positioned itself as the defender of Jerusalem.

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transcript

Israel Strikes Gaza Tower Housing A.P. and Other News Media

An Israeli airstrike destroyed a prominent building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The Israel Defense Forces said it gave an advanced warning for civilians to evacuate.

We are shocked and horrified that the Israelis would target the building that housed A.P.‘s bureau in Gaza. They long knew that A.P.’s bureau was there, and they targeted it. Now, fortunately, we had a warning, and we were able to get our journalists out. We narrowly escaped a huge loss of life. We had 12 journalists in that building. And those brave journalists not only got out, but they were able to salvage much of our equipment because it’s important that we continue to tell this story. You see, that building provided the best vantage point for the world to see the events in Gaza, and now that building is destroyed. And we will work hard to continue to tell the world the important events of Gaza, and we will keep our journalists safe.

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An Israeli airstrike destroyed a prominent building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The Israel Defense Forces said it gave an advanced warning for civilians to evacuate.CreditCredit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

The prominent 12-story building in Gaza City that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday not only housed the offices of media organizations including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

It also offered a vantage point for the world on Gaza, as A.P. cameras positioned on the roof terrace captured Israeli bombardments and Palestinian militants’ rocket attacks during periodic flare-ups in fighting — including over the past week.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today,” the A.P.’s president, Gary Pruitt, said in a statement following the Israeli attack.

The leveling of the al-Jalaa tower, which occurred as fighting between Israelis and Palestinians spiraled on several fronts, drew condemnations from across the world. The Israel Defense Forces said that its fighter jets struck the tower because it also contained military assets belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.

No casualties were reported from the strike.

Mr. Pruitt called on the I.D.F. to present evidence to support its allegation, adding that the news agency had operated from the building for 15 years.

“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” he said. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

On Sunday, the I.D.F. tweeted that the building was “an important base of operations” for Hamas military intelligence, where it “gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper I.D.F. operations.”

The I.D.F. — which frequently accuses Hamas of using civilians as shields — provided advance warning to civilians in the building to allow evacuation. The A.P. reported that the owner of the building, Jawad Mahdi, was “told he had an hour to make sure everyone has left the building.”

In the minutes before the airstrike, Mr. Mahdi was filmed desperately pleading with the Israeli Army, asking them to allow four journalists who had been filming an interview — with the father of four children slain in an Israeli strike on a refugee camp on Saturday morning — an extra 10 minutes to retrieve their belongings.

An Israeli soldier told him: “There will be no 10 minutes.”

Minutes later, the building was destroyed, engulfed in a plume of black smoke.

The A.P. said that it “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” and that a dozen journalists and freelancers inside the building evacuated before the strike. The building also housed apartments on the lower floors.

Press freedom groups said that the strike — coming a day after the Israeli Army erroneously told foreign media that ground troops had entered Gaza — raised concerns that Israel was interfering with independent reporting on the conflict. In a statement, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists questioned whether the I.D.F. was “deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.”

A White House spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, tweeted that the United States had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the strike and warned that “indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures” would violate international law.

After the strike, journalists from other news organizations gathered near the rubble. Heba Akila, an Al Jazeera journalist who had been broadcasting from the tower when the warning call was made, said: “This is clearly to silence the truth and the voices of journalists.”

The Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Our Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley, examined the events that have led to the past week’s violence, the worst between Israelis and Palestinians in years. A little-noticed police action in Jerusalem was among them. He writes:

Twenty-seven days before the first rocket was fired from Gaza this week, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, brushed the Palestinian attendants aside and strode across its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers to the faithful from four medieval minarets.

It was the night of April 13, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was also Memorial Day in Israel, which honors those who died fighting for the country. The Israeli president was delivering a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site that lies below the mosque, and Israeli officials were concerned that the prayers would drown it out.

Here is his full account of that night and the events that later unfolded.

A pro-Palestinian protest near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday.
Credit…Gamal Diab/EPA, via Shutterstock

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas stretched into its seventh day, pro-Palestinian demonstrations were held in cities around the world, even as leaders across Europe expressed concern about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators in Washington marched from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol in protest of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and what they said was an inadequate response from the United States.

“People think they can be neutral about this. That’s absolutely wrong,” said Alexandra-Ola Chaic, 17, who traveled to the rally from Burke, Va., with her family, which is of Palestinian descent. “We have to do what we can to make this an issue that receives political support.”

The crowd that gathered was diverse in age and background, and included many families with young children.

Ruth Soto, 25, from Northern Virginia, came with her sister to show solidarity with Palestinians. She said the displacement of Palestinians felt personal to her because her family fled war in Central America to come to the United States illegally.

“We’ve seen the struggle, being displaced from your home,” she said. “This is a way we can help them.”

In London, a pro-Palestinian march on Saturday attracted thousands of protesters, and similar demonstrations were held in cities around the world.

At the same time, there was growing concern about a rise in attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions.

France banned a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris, citing the “sensitive” international context and the risk of acts of violence against synagogues and Israeli interests in the French capital.

Paris protest organizers pressed ahead on Saturday despite the ban. The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the rally, which had drawn about 3,000 people, Agence France-Presse reported.

This past week, German protesters attacked synagogues, burned Israeli flags and marched through the streets chanting slurs against Jews.

Felix Klein, a German official tasked with countering anti-Semitism, said: “It is appalling how obviously Jews in Germany are being held responsible here for actions of the Israeli government in which they are completely uninvolved.”

Britain experienced a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the past week, a charity said on Saturday.

Credit…Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue

The Community Security Trust, a charity that records anti-Semitic threats, said it had received more than 50 reports of Jews across Britain being threatened and verbally abused in the past week — a 490 percent increase from the previous seven days. It said it believed that many more attacks had gone unreported.

Offensive phrases and slogans about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been shouted at Jewish people of all ages, including children, said Dave Rich, the charity’s director of policy. “When the conflict in Israel reaches this level of intensity, we always see increases in anti-Semitic incidents,” he said.

A staff member of the World Health Organization receives a Covid vaccine in March in Gaza City.
Credit…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Israel’s airstrikes and shelling of Gaza have stopped all Covid-19 vaccinations and testing in the Palestinian enclave and raise the risk of super-spreading as civilians cram into shelters for safety, United Nations officials said.

In an interview over Zoom on Friday as the sound of Israeli explosions shook their headquarters, the leaders of the U.N. Palestinian relief agency’s operations in Gaza and the head of the World Health Organization’s Gaza sub-office said they feared that a severe worsening of Covid-19 infections would be a side-effect of the death and destruction from the latest surge in hostilities.

The number of people in Gaza sickened from Covid-19 had been “just leveling off, and then this hit,” said the U.N. agency official, Matthias Schmale. “It is a grim situation.”

He said that unvaccinated Gazans were crowding into the schools run by his agency, known as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, because the Israelis do not intentionally target those buildings — in effect making them bomb shelters. Now, Mr. Schmale said, those schools “could turn into mass spreaders.”

Last month, severe and critical cases of Covid hit record highs in Gaza, which health experts attributed to the proliferation of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first identified in Britain. In early May, Doctors Without Borders reported that the territory’s infections were topping 1,000 a day.

Sacha Bootsma, the W.H.O. official, said that before the vaccinations had stopped, 38,000 people in Gaza had received at least one dose of vaccine. That is less than 2 percent of the population of two million. Russia’s Sputnik vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were given at three Gaza hospitals, and AstraZeneca’s vaccine was being administered at smaller health centers.

But now, Ms. Bootsma said, “People are not daring to visit health facilities. We are fearing this will have a major negative impact.”

By contrast, more than 60 percent of the Israeli population has received at least one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and more than 55 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. However, the pace of vaccinations has slowed tremendously in recent months.

Under Covax, the international collaboration to provide vaccines to poor parts of the world, Gaza is supposed to receive enough vaccine to protect 20 percent of its population, the officials said.

But the deliveries, flown to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport and then sent by land across the border to Gaza, have been indefinitely suspended because air service into Israel has been curtailed by the hostilities. Assuming they resume soon, it still remains unclear when Gaza’s border crossings might reopen.

“The biggest problem now is the borders are closed,” Mr. Schmale said. “Even if there were a delivery, we would not be able to receive any supplies.”

Israeli ground forces at the Gaza border on Friday.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

Israel’s top military spokesman on Saturday apologized to foreign journalists for wrongly announcing early Friday that Israeli troops had entered the Gaza Strip in a ground attack, insisting that it was an “honest mistake,” even after Israeli news outlets called it a deliberate deception aimed at luring Hamas fighters into Israeli gun sights.

Early Friday, the I.D.F. announced on Twitter that “air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” It later clarified that statement to say ground troops were firing into Gaza from Israel.

The spokesman, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said he understood the “frustration” of journalists who reported as fact what turned out to be fiction. But he sought to assure Western reporters in Israel that no one was trying to turn them into tools of the Israeli military.

“Despite conspiratorial reports to the contrary in both international and Israeli press, this was not some elaborate attempt to manipulate the media in order to achieve a tactical victory,” General Zilberman wrote in a letter to the Foreign Press Association’s president, Andrew Carey of CNN.

“By definition and our guiding belief system, the I.D.F. Spokesperson’s Unit does not engage in psychological warfare and is tasked with conveying only the truth to the public, a mission we have devotedly undertaken for more than seven decades.”

Gen. Zilberman added no new details to explain how his office misled foreign journalists or why it had taken hours to correct itself. But he reiterated that the Israeli military’s relationship with foreign news organizations was “of paramount importance to us” and was “based on mutual trust and respect.”

The possibility that the military had used the international news media to kill fighters in Gaza prompted sharp objections from several news organizations.

“If they used us, it’s unacceptable,” said Daniel Estrin, N.P.R.’s correspondent in Jerusalem. “And if not, then what’s the story — and why is the Israeli media widely reporting that we were duped?”

For its part, the Foreign Press Association on Saturday protested an Israeli attack on a Gaza office tower that housed the offices of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, saying in a statement that it “raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press to operate.”

A new round of deadly violence erupted in the Middle East over the past week, as Israeli airstrikes hit targets in Gaza and the militant group Hamas launched rockets at cities inside Israel.

A damaged building in Petah Tikva, Israel, that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

There is no simple answer to the question “What set off the current violence in Israel?”

But in a recent episode of The Daily, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times’s Jerusalem correspondent, explained the series of recent events that reignited violence in the region.

In Jerusalem, nearly every square foot of land is contested — its ownership and tenancy symbolic of larger abiding questions about who has rightful claim to a city considered holy by three major world religions.

As Isabel explained, a longstanding legal battle over attempts to forcibly evict six Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem heightened tensions in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of violence.

The always tenuous peace was further tested by the overlap of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a month of politically charged days in Israel.

A series of provocative events followed: Israeli forces barred people from gathering to celebrate Ramadan outside Damascus Gate, an Old City entrance that is usually a festive meeting place for young people after the breaking of the daily fast during the holy month.

Then young Palestinians filmed themselves slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jew, videos that went viral on TikTok.

And on Jerusalem Day, an annual event marking the capture of East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, groups of young Israelis marched through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to reach the Western Wall, chanting “Death to Arabs” along the way.

Stability in the city collapsed after a police raid on the Aqsa Mosque complex, an overture that Palestinians saw as an invasion on holy territory. Muslim worshipers threw rocks, and officers met them with tear gas, rubber-tipped bullets and stun grenades. At least 21 police officers and more than 330 Palestinians were wounded in that fighting.

Listen to the episode to hear how these clashes spiraled into an exchange of airstrikes that has brought Israeli forces to the edge of Gaza — and the brink of war.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Israeli-Palestinian Crisis, Reignited

Rockets, airstrikes and mob violence: Why is this happening now, and how much worse could it get?

About 100 worshipers were injured on Sunday evening, some of them seriously, when a seating structure collapsed inside a crowded new synagogue in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

At least 600 people were packed into the temple in Givat Zeev to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, officials said. The congregation belongs to the Karlin Hasidic group, an ultra-Orthodox branch of Judaism.

Local officials told Israeli media that the synagogue was not yet completed or authorized for occupancy. The authorities had advised against large gatherings because of the ongoing rocket attacks.

At least 54 people were hurt seriously enough when a set of bleachers crumpled to be taken to hospitals, Israel’s national medical service, Magen David Adom, reported. It said that at least five of them were seriously injured. Many of the seriously wounded were transported by helicopter, partly because military roadblocks are exerting unusually tight control over road traffic.

The more lightly injured were treated at the scene, as hundreds of emergency personnel converged on the synagogue.

The incident came 16 days after a crush of ultra-Orthodox worshipers killed 45 people at a pilgrimage site in northern Israel.



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