Israel cuts the Gaza Strip in two
Israel’s military said yesterday that it had encircled Gaza City, effectively splitting the Gaza Strip in half. Israel said the move would make it harder for Hamas to retain control of the area.
Israel has described Gaza City, in the northern part of the enclave, as a center for Hamas’s military operations. “It’s close-quarters urban warfare,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman. “A lot of infantry working there.”
The extent of the fighting was unclear because of a communication blackout late Sunday in Gaza, but phone and internet connectivity appeared to be gradually returning yesterday. Israel said it had struck 450 targets overnight Sunday in Gaza.
As Israel’s military pushed ahead, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Turkey on the final stop of a Middle East tour. Blinken told reporters that the Biden administration was working “very aggressively on getting more humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” adding, “I think you’ll see in the days ahead that that assistance can expand in significant ways.”
Trump testifies at his fraud trial
Donald Trump took the stand yesterday in New York in a civil fraud trial in which he is accused of fraudulently inflating the value of his business assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance deals. In testimony both ranting and rambling, Trump acknowledged that he had helped assemble documents on the value of his properties and that he had lowered the value of one property because he “thought it was too high.”
While Trump’s testimony appeared to undercut his efforts to distance himself from the valuing of properties, he also testified at times that he had not intervened. He sought to minimize the financial statements’ importance, saying that the bankers he used paid very little attention to them.
Courtroom clash: The trial’s outcome will be decided by Justice Arthur Engoron, who chided Trump several times yesterday, asking him to keep his remarks short and telling him, “This is not a political rally.” Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination to challenge President Biden in next year’s election.
What’s at stake: New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who brought the case, has asked that Trump pay $250 million and that he and his sons be permanently barred from running a business in the state.
China has a new economic plan
China’s political leaders, under pressure to support the country’s fragile recovery, are slowly steering the economy on a new course. In the past, they relied on real estate and local debt to drive growth. But now they’re investing more heavily in manufacturing, particularly in fast-growing industries like electric cars and semiconductors, and increasing borrowing by the central government.
Analysis: China’s investment push might stir more growth in the coming months, partly offsetting troubles in the housing sector. But more borrowing by the central government, as a replacement for local borrowing, will do little to defuse the long-term drag on growth caused by accumulating debt.
U.S.-China talks: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will hold meetings this week with her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng, in San Francisco. The meetings will lay the groundwork for expected talks between President Biden and China’s president, Xi Jinping.
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Afghanistan’s cricket stars
The members of Afghanistan’s cricket team have become unlikely heroes of the Cricket World Cup, which is underway in India. They have defeated England, the defending world champions, and some of the team’s stars are so popular that entire stadium sections roar their names.
The team’s status stands in contrast to that of the nation’s government, which has become a pariah state since the Taliban’s takeover two years ago. The Taliban regime is not recognized internationally, so the team plays under the banner and anthem of the republic that was toppled in 2021. So far, the bizarreness of the circumstances has been drowned out by the team’s success.