Wednesday Briefing

After the blast in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday.Credit…Abbas Salman/EPA, via Shutterstock

Blast in Beirut kills senior Hamas leader

The deputy head of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, and two leaders of its armed wing were killed in an explosion in Lebanon that the group attributed to Israel. Israel has refused to discuss the matter, but two senior U.S. officials said that Israel was responsible for the strike.

Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said that seven members of the group had been killed in the strike in a suburb of Beirut, the Lebanese capital. Videos from the scene show at least one car engulfed in flames in front of a high-rise building as dozens of people gathered in the area.

One U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal conversations, said it was most likely the first of many covert strikes that Israel will carry out against Hamas officials or operatives with any connections to the deadly Oct. 7 assault that killed 1,200 people.

Al-Arouri: A founder of Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, he was elected as the deputy chairman of the group’s political bureau in October 2017 and held the official role of head of Hamas in the West Bank. Regional security officials said that al-Arouri was typically in Beirut, where he served as a sort of ambassador to the militant group Hezbollah.

What else to know:

  • Israel’s military said that it had begun withdrawing some troops from Gaza, part of a planned pullout of several thousand soldiers. It did not offer details. But heavy fighting appeared to continue, with the military saying that it had conducted several targeted operations across Gaza in the last few days, which it said had killed “dozens” of Hamas fighters.

  • A day after a landmark ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, the country’s leaders appeared to want to avoid any immediate constitutional crisis during wartime.

The Ukrainian Air Force said about 100 missiles were used in the attack. Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Russia hammers Kyiv with missiles

Russian missiles and drones pummeled Kyiv yesterday morning, officials said, in a large-scale attack on the Ukrainian capital and other cities that killed at least five people and injured nearly 130 others. The barrage came one day after Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, promised to retaliate for a Ukrainian assault on a Russian city.

The Ukrainian Air Force said the attack involved about 100 missiles, including hypersonic weapons that fly at several times the speed of sound. It was the latest in an escalating cycle of air assaults between the two countries.

Moscow claimed that Ukraine retaliated hours later, firing at least eight missiles on the Russian city of Belgorod in an attack that a local official said had killed one civilian and injured four others.

Analysis: Both sides appear to be justifying the airstrikes as retaliation for previous attacks, in an escalating exchange of violence that risks causing more civilian casualties.

The Japan Airlines plane burning on the tarmac at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Credit…Issei Kato/Reuters

A ‘miracle’ in Japan after a jet explodes in flames

A Japan Airlines plane collided with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft while landing at Haneda Airport in Tokyo yesterday, causing the passenger jet to burst into flames. All 367 passengers and 12 crew members on the airliner were safely evacuated, the airline said.

Five Coast Guard members, who were en route to deliver supplies to Western Japan, which had been affected by a recent powerful earthquake, were killed in the accident.

Quotable: “It was a miracle that all the passengers got off,” one aviation expert said.

Earthquake: The death toll rose to at least 55 yesterday, the authorities said.


Around the World

Credit…Terry Graham for The New York Times
  • A strained power grid and red tape on construction have slowed Britain’s economy.

  • Ethiopia signed a preliminary port deal with Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northwestern Somalia, which may inflame tensions in the region.

  • The government is driving growth in India through infrastructure spending, with long-term investment by businesses stagnant and foreign money falling.

  • Jimmy Lai, a veteran pro-democracy figure in Hong Kong, pleaded not guilty to national security charges.

From the U.S.

Credit…Adam Glanzman for The New York Times
  • Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, resigned after accusations of plagiarism and what some called her insufficient response to antisemitism on campus.

  • More women who are not pregnant are ordering abortion pills just in case, especially in states where access is threatened.

  • Federal prosecutors charged Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, with accepting bribes in exchange for helping Qatar’s government.

What Else Is Happening

  • Frederik, Denmark’s next king, is part of a younger generation of royals who have embraced contemporary stances, chiefly the fight against climate change.

  • Kimberlee Singler, a Colorado woman who was accused of murdering two of her children, was arrested in London.

A Morning Read

Credit…via David Aaron

A dinosaur fossil — resembling a Tyrannosaurus rex, but approximately the size of a pickup truck — is currently listed for sale for $20 million at an art gallery in London. It has raised a question that has come to obsess, and polarize, paleontologists: Is the dinosaur simply a young T. rex, or does it represent a different but related species known as a Nanotyrannus?

The dispute is now rippling through auction houses and galleries, where some see the T. rex name as a valuable brand — with a price to match.

Lives Lived

The photographer Peter Magubane, who documented the cruelties of apartheid in South Africa, died at 91.


Nou Mestalla: After a 15-year delay, will the stadium finally be built in Valencia?

Jennifer Hermoso: The Spanish soccer star testified about the unwanted kiss given to her by the country’s former soccer boss.

Scouting on a budget: Women’s soccer finds savvy ways to thrive.

Travis Kelce: A plan was hatched to make the American football player “as famous as the Rock.” It began much sooner than you might have expected.



‘Library joy’

Mychal Threets, a 33-year-old librarian, wants you to let go of any lingering notion of the library as a dry, humorless place lorded over by rigid pedants. He makes videos about what he calls “library joy,” telling stories about the everyday happenings at the Northern California library where he works.

“It’s being able to see people love their local library and just have the wholesome moments,” he said. Apart from offering a dose of joy, the videos — which have garnered millions of views — remind people that libraries offer much more books: access to the internet, the opportunity to check out baking equipment, video games and instruments, and a place to exist for people who have nowhere else to go.

Threets has adopted a line from one of his favorite childhood characters, Arthur Read, a mild-mannered aardvark from a book and animated series: “Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card.” (He even has Arthur Read’s library card tattooed on his arm.)


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

Cook: Bake fish with mushrooms and ginger.

Sweat: Get fit without going broke.

Read: The historian Jill Burke’s new book explores 16th-century beauty secrets.

Listen: A playlist to kick-start your new year.

Cleanse: What happens to your body during Dry January.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Take our quiz to see how well you know these worlds built by fantasy authors.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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