Monday Briefing: Israeli anger at Netanyahu grows

Plus, the new end-of-the-world fiction.
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Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

April 1, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering mass protests in Israel and a water crisis in India’s Silicon Valley.

Plus, a new genre prepares us for the world’s end.

A large crowd of demonstrators holding up Israeli flags and microphones are surrounded by an orange cloud of smoke.
Anti-government protesters yesterday in Jerusalem. Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Unrest in Israel grew as cease-fire talks were set to restart

An Israeli delegation was scheduled to arrive in Cairo yesterday to participate in talks for a cease-fire, a senior Israeli official said. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, thousands took to the streets on consecutive days to protest Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Protesters outside the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem yesterday called for early elections in one of the most significant demonstrations against Netanyahu’s government since the start of the war. On Saturday, thousands in Tel Aviv held a separate anti-government protest. Netanyahu is facing mounting anger from citizens who believe he has put his political survival ahead of their broader interests. The backlash came as he was scheduled to have surgery for a hernia last night.

A senior official said that Israel’s war cabinet would convene to discuss issues related to the talks, including the question of displaced Palestinians returning to their homes in northern Gaza. In an interview, a senior Hamas official said Israel was refusing to allow Gazans to go back to the north en masse.

Humanitarian officials are warning that only a cease-fire in the monthslong conflict would allow enough aid into Gaza to avert a looming famine. Aid has remained at a trickle, despite the International Court of Justice ordering Israel to allow deliveries to continue “unhindered.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded by saying that great lengths had been taken to facilitate the flow of aid.

A Times photographer went along on a Gaza aid airdrop. This is what he saw.

Vatican: In an annual message during Easter Sunday Mass, Pope Francis called for “an immediate cease-fire.”

Men in blue uniforms and white hazmat suits lean over a body on the ground. They are surrounded by parked cars.
The defection of Maksim Kuzminov was a coup for Ukraine. Rafa Arjones/Informacion.Es, via Reuters

A defector’s killing raises fears of Russian hit squads

The death in February of Maksim Kuzminov — a Russian pilot who defected last summer, delivering a helicopter and secret documents to Ukraine — has raised wider concerns.

Kuzminov was killed in Villajoyosa, Spain, a seaside resort town. The location of his death suggests that Russia’s European spy networks continue to operate and are targeting enemies of the Kremlin, despite concerted efforts to dismantle them after Russia invaded Ukraine. One expert said that Russia’s intelligence services are operating at a level of aggressiveness at home and abroad that is reminiscent of the Stalin era.

“It was a clear message,” a senior Spanish police official said of the killing. Kuzminov was shot six times and run over with a car; the killers also used ammunition that was a standard of the former Communist bloc. While there’s no evidence directly implicating Russia, senior police officials said the killing bore hallmarks of similar attacks linked to the Kremlin.

People fill weathered plastic buckets with water that is coming out of a series of taps, lined up in a row.
Water being poured from a tanker truck in Bengaluru. Atul Loke for The New York Times

A bastion of India’s tech industry is facing a water crisis

Bengaluru — the Silicon Valley of South Asia — has a problem that all the software in the world can’t solve: It’s desperately in need of water. Schools lack water to flush toilets. Washing machines have gone quiet. Showers are being postponed, and children with only dirty water to drink are being hospitalized with typhoid fever.

The region gets plenty of rain. The problem is arthritic governance and failed environmental stewardship. As the city rushed toward the digital future, tripling its population to 15 million since the 1990s and building a lively tech ecosystem, water management fell behind and aquifers were drawn dry by the unchecked spread of urban wells — as many as 500,000.

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MORE TOP NEWS

Jean-Michel Sibelle, a farmer, holding a chicken in his coop.
Jean-Michel Sibelle is known for his Bresse chickens. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Climate

Culture

MORNING READ

A man with a microphone in an all-white outfit holds his hands out, surrounded by dancers in pink and purple against a pink and purple backdrop.
Karan Aujla at the Juno Awards. Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Karan Aujla, 27, became the first Punjabi artist to win an award at the Juno Awards, a marquee event for Canada’s music industry.

His music has bubbled to the top of what some industry watchers are calling the “Punjabi wave,” a cohort of artists who are blending South Asian sounds with influences from rap and hip-hop, and collaborating with Western stars to reach new audiences.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

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ARTS AND IDEAS

An illustration of a cityscape in ruins with three small insets layered on top of it, showing, from left to right, a forest fire, a broken glacier and a fleet of ships.
Anuj Shrestha

Novels that prepare us for the end of the world

A new kind of disaster fiction is serving as scenario planning for real global crises. Its ancestors are geopolitical epics, 19th century social novels and cyberpunk, but this is a new breed — call it the apocalyptic systems thriller, or A.S.T., for short.

The currency of the A.S.T. is plausibility. It can be counterfactual, but never fantastical. It has to feel true. The thriller tropes, the chases and the explosions that are often a part of these stories must be anchored by real-world knowledge. It’s entertainment, but it’s also meant to enlighten the decision makers who might grab a hardcover at an airport bookstore.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Two halves of an egg salad sandwich stacked on top of each other.
Christopher Testani for The New York Times

Cook: This classic, deli-style egg salad requires only a few kitchen staples.

Plan: The bachelorette party is getting a makeover, with many opting for wellness retreats instead of booze-fueled parties.

Listen: These six podcasts offer practical hiking advice, true stories of survival and poetic tributes to the wilderness.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Justin

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions at briefing@nytimes.com.

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