Israel pummels Gaza as Biden condemns Hamas
Israel said its military had regained control over its border towns yesterday as it continued to hammer Gaza with airstrikes, reducing some buildings to rubble.
President Biden, in a televised address to Americans from the White House, pledged military assistance to Israel, including rockets to replenish its Iron Dome interceptor system. He said that 14 U.S. citizens had been killed, and called Hamas’s actions “pure unadulterated evil.”
Biden added that the U.S. would help provide intelligence to save Hamas-captured hostages, who include American citizens, but did not suggest that U.S. troops would assist directly. Hamas, which is believed to have taken around 150 Israeli hostages since Saturday, threatened to kill a captive each time Israel struck Gaza without warning. Hamas confirmed that two of its senior officials had been killed by strikes.
Israel approved the call-up of an additional 60,000 reservists, raising the total number mobilized so far to 360,000, the most in such a short period since the country’s founding. It is not yet clear if or when Israel will order a ground invasion of Gaza.
On the border: The scale of the horror unleashed on towns and villages near Gaza is coming into focus. In one kibbutz a mile and a half from Gaza, New York Times journalists saw more than a dozen bloated bodies lying on the ground and Israeli soldiers carrying slain residents. The Israeli military said it had recovered the bodies of around 1,500 Palestinian assailants since Saturday morning, offering one of the first clear indications of the size of the assault.
The toll: In all, at least 1,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed in Israel. Health officials in Gaza said that 900 Palestinians have been killed, including 260 children, and 4,500 others have been wounded in the last four days, though it was unclear how many were civilians.
Diplomacy: The U.N.’s top human rights official condemned the “horrifying mass killings” and executions Palestinian armed groups are accused of committing. But he warned that Israel’s announcement of a “complete siege” of Gaza would exacerbate “already dire” conditions in the impoverished coastal enclave.
Video: Our Visual Investigations team looked at how an attack in Sderot, Israel, unfolded.
China’s real estate crisis claims another giant
The embattled property developer Country Garden, once China’s largest homebuilder, said yesterday that it was unable to repay a loan and expected to miss upcoming overseas debt payments.
The announcement is effectively a statement from Country Garden that it is likely to default, with roughly $187 billion in liabilities. Country Garden is one of the biggest casualties of China’s imploding real estate market, which has sent Evergrande, another giant property developer, into bankruptcy.
What’s next: The company said “its top operational priority” was to ensure the delivery of apartments it sold but has not yet built, which is also a priority for the Chinese government.
Engineering a bird-flu-resistant chicken
Scientists have used the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR to create chickens that have some resistance to avian influenza, according to a new study. The study suggests that genetic engineering could potentially be a tool for reducing the toll of bird flu, a group of viruses that pose grave dangers to both animals and humans.
But there are potential risks, scientists said. Some breakthrough infections still occurred, and when the scientists edited just one chicken gene, the virus quickly adapted. That suggests that care must be taken to avoid driving further evolution of the virus, the study’s authors said.
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Culture has come to a standstill
We are now almost a quarter of the way through what might be the least culturally innovative century in the past 500 years, my colleague Jason Farago argues.
Today’s culture is far less capable of change. Hollywood studios have hedged their bets with intellectual property. Even independent directors have stuck with narrative and visual techniques born in the 1960s. Furnish an apartment lately? Whether you’re shopping at Restoration Hardware or on Alibaba, you’re probably just buying replicas of European antiques.