Tuesday Briefing: An Israeli Warning to Hezbollah

Top Israeli officials have warned that increased Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel carried out from Lebanon could prompt a powerful response, as Israeli troops waged street battles against Hamas in Gaza.

“Heightened aggression and increased attacks by Iranian-backed Hezbollah on Israel demand of Israel to remove such a threat,” Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet and former defense minister, told the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, in a phone call, according to a statement by Gantz’s office. That echoed remarks made a day earlier by the chief of staff of Israel’s military, who said that continued violence by the militia risked pushing his forces to make a “very clear change” in the confrontation. Follow our live updates.

In Gaza, the Israeli military said it had taken control of the area surrounding the former headquarters of Hamas in Gaza City, and that its forces were engaged in intense battles in three areas where it said the group still had “strongholds.”

Those include regions in the south where the U.N. has warned of a humanitarian disaster, raising fears of a potential mass displacement into Egypt.

On the ground: The Israeli military now controls the area in Gaza City surrounding Palestine Square, home to the headquarters for Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in the enclave, said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman. Israeli forces are now focused, he said, on fighting in three areas: Jabaliya and Shajaiye in northern Gaza, and Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza.

No end in sight: Israel, under international pressure to wind down its campaign in Gaza, is resisting setting a deadline for ending the war.

The Russian military targeted the Ukrainian capital yesterday with the most intense salvo of ballistic missiles in months. The attack came as Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, traveled to Washington on an urgent mission to press for continued U.S. military aid.

Hours earlier, a video circulated of President Vladimir Putin sipping champagne in Moscow and celebrating waning Western support for Kyiv. He declared that Ukraine had “no future.”

Context: Russia has ramped up its attacks on Kyiv over the last few weeks, including with a wave of drone attacks and strikes using its bomber fleet. Britain’s defense intelligence agency said the attacks were “probably the start of a more concerted campaign by Russia aimed at degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.”

What’s next: Zelensky is scheduled to meet with President Biden and congressional leaders today. With Biden’s request for additional funding for Ukraine stalled in Congress, American assistance is now in doubt.

After several maritime clashes with Chinese vessels in recent months, the Philippines invited journalists on one of its ships, which provides fuel to Filipino fishermen in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Mathematicians have discovered an “einstein,” a unique shape that can tile an infinite flat surface in a pattern that does not repeat. Since then, do-it-yourselfers have found ingenious ways to put it to use. Take a look at these creative renditions.

The colonial era entered its death throes after World War II, when dozens of states in Asia and Africa threw off the European colonial leaders who had exploited local lands and their inhabitants for economic gain.

More than a half-century later, a broad battle over colonialism and its legacy has restarted. Most recently, pro-Palestinian protesters have denounced a “settler colonial” Israel, with Palestinians cast as the dark-skinned Indigenous people and Israelis as white oppressor interlopers.

My colleague Roger Cohen explored the term “colonizer” and how — in debates from Israel to Africa to America — it has become a powerful accusation.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan

P.S. Amanda Taub, who writes The Interpreter newsletter, wrote about her six-part series on women in India.

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Correction: Yesterday’s newsletter incorrectly referred to Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher and an outfielder. He is a designated hitter, not an outfielder.