Tuesday Briefing: Israel’s strike on Rafah kills 45

Plus, the toll in the Papua New Guinea landslide grows
Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

May 28, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering Israel’s offensive in Rafah and the death toll from the Papua New Guinea landslide.

Plus, an A.I. arm.

Smoke rising from burned debris at a displacement camp.
The destruction after an Israeli strike on a camp for displaced people in Rafah. Jehad Alshrafi/Associated Press

An Israeli strike on Rafah killed at least 45 people

The day after an airstrike killed dozens of displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, called the deaths a “tragic accident” and accused Hamas of hiding among the general population.

“For us, every uninvolved civilian who is hurt is a tragedy,” he said. “For Hamas, it’s a strategy. That’s the whole difference.”

The Israeli military said that the target of the strike had been a Hamas compound, and that it killed two Hamas officials. But an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that an initial investigation had concluded that the strike, or shrapnel from it, might have unexpectedly ignited a flammable substance at the site.

At least 45 people were killed, according to the Gaza health ministry, including 23 women, children and older people. The ministry said that 249 people were wounded. Witnesses and survivors described a terrifying scene of tents in flames and burn victims.

The strike came two days after a 13-2 ruling by the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to stop its Rafah offensive. President Emmanuel Macron of France said that he was “outraged” by the airstrike in Rafah, adding, “These operations must stop.”

Aid: The flow of aid into Gaza has shrunk so much in May that humanitarian officials say that the threat of widespread starvation is more acute than ever.

People digging at the site of a landslide.
The site of a landslide in Papua New Guinea on Sunday. Steven Kandai, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Papua New Guinea landslide buried thousands

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in a landslide that smothered a village and work camp on Friday in Papua New Guinea’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the U.N.

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and near the Porgera gold mine. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, and reaching survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge.

Rows of dark-blue solar panels extending.
A solar and wind farm in Weifang, China. Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

How China came to dominate clean energy technology

Western countries have long pursued green technology — in 1970, Jimmy Carter, the U.S. president, put solar panels on the White House. But no country has come close to matching the scale and tenacity of China’s support.

In 2022, China accounted for 85 percent of the world’s clean energy manufacturing investment, and it controls over 80 percent of every step of solar panel manufacturing.

China’s unrivaled production of clean energy technology is built on an earlier cultivation of the chemical, steel, battery and electronics industries. This is how it got there.

In the U.S., President Biden is trying to make Chinese electric vehicles prohibitively expensive to protect the domestic industry. But Donald Trump has promised that if he is elected, he will slam the brakes on the E.V. transition.

MORE TOP NEWS

A television monitor showing an image of a North Korean rocket launch.
A news broadcast of North Korea’s rocket launch in Seoul. Pool photo by Ahn Young-Joon

MORNING READ

A GIF of a woman in a black dress looking down at her black-and-white prosthetic arm as the hand does a full rotation.
Sarah de Lagarde with her A.I. arm. Alice Zoo for The New York Times

Sarah de Lagarde lost her arm in a subway accident in London two years ago. Her prosthetic replacement is powered by artificial intelligence, and the more she uses it, the better it gets at predicting what she wants to do — making morning coffee, straightening her hair or snuggling with her daughter.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times.

ARTS AND IDEAS

Actors onstage for a performance. Three people wearing white sit against a wall while a woman looks out a window over a planter filled with flowers.
“The Witch of Konotop” at the Ivan Franko theater in Kyiv, Ukraine. Nicole Tung for The New York Times

A wartime box-office success in Ukraine

The lines for the show snake down the block, with people waiting for up to seven hours to buy tickets at the theater in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine. There, theatergoers are flocking to see “The Witch of Konotop,” a gloomy play based on a classic 19th-century Ukrainian novel, to make sense of life during war.

The play dramatizes the story of a Cossack leader as he tries to root out witches that local townspeople believe are responsible for a drought. The action takes place against the backdrop of a military threat from czarist Russia.

The play’s success underlines a renewed interest in Ukraine’s cultural heritage since Russia’s invasion began, while capturing the fear that people are living under. “Tragedy comes and takes everything from you, your love and your home,” said Mykhailo Matiukhin, an actor in the production.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Small rectangular cucumber sandwiches stacked on a white plate.
David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Cook: Little details make simple herbed cucumber sandwiches feel special.

Care: TikTok “skinfluencers” have rediscovered Bag Balm, a moisturizer for cows.

Read: The Winner” is a lusty tennis novel.

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

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

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