In 1968, he married Elizabeth Jones. Along with his wife and their daughter Darcy, he is survived by another daughter, Rebecca Harris Deane; a son, William Proctor Harris; four grandchildren; and his sister, Susan Harris Molnar.

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Israeli Ground Forces Attack Gaza, Escalating Conflict

Israeli ground forces carried out attacks in the Gaza Strip early Friday in a dramatic escalation of a conflict with Palestinian militants that had been waged by airstrikes from Israel and rockets from Gaza.

It was not immediately clear if the Israeli advance was a limited incursion against Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, or the start of a full-fledged invasion akin to the one in 2014 that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, confirmed that “there are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces as well,” but provided no further details.

What appeared to be the first stages of a ground campaign in Gaza left Israel in an unprecedented position — fighting Palestinian militants on its southern flank as it sought to head off its worst civil unrest in decades.

The ground attack followed another day of clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets of Israeli cities, with the authorities calling up the army reserves and sending reinforcements of armed border police to the central city of Lod to try to head off what Israeli leaders have warned could become a civil war.

Taken together, the two theaters of turmoil pointed to a step change in the grinding, decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While violent escalations often follow a predictable trajectory, this latest bout, the worst in seven years, is rapidly evolving into a new kind of war — faster, more destructive and capable of spinning in unpredictable new directions.

In Gaza, an impoverished coastal strip that was the crucible of a devastating seven-week war in 2014, Palestinian militants fired surprisingly large barrages of enhanced-range rockets — some 1,800 in three days — that reached far into Israel.

Israel intensified its campaign of relentless airstrikes against Hamas targets there on Thursday, pulverizing buildings, offices and homes in strikes that have killed 103 people including 27 children, according to the Gaza health authorities.

Six civilians and a soldier have been killed by Hamas rockets inside Israel.

Egyptian mediators arrived in Israel Thursday in a sooner-than-usual push to halt the spiraling conflict.

Most alarming for Israel, though, was the violent ferment on its own sidewalks and streets, where days of rioting by Jewish vigilantes and Arab mobs showed no sign of abating.

The unrest in several mixed-ethnicity cities, where angry young men stoned cars, set fire to mosques and synagogues, and attacked each other, signaled a collapse of law and order inside Israel on a scale not seen since the start of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, 21 years ago.

The violence follows a month of boiling tensions in Jerusalem, where the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes coincided with a spate of Arab attacks against Israeli Jews, and a march through the city by right-wing extremists chanting “Death to Arabs.”

The jarring violence this week caused Israeli leaders, led by President Reuven Rivlin, to evoke the specter of civil war — a once unthinkable idea. “We need to solve our problems without causing a civil war that can be a danger to our existence,” Mr. Rivlin said. “The silent majority is not saying a thing, because it is utterly stunned.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Lod, a working-class city with a mixed Arab-Israeli population that has emerged as the center of the upheaval. Hulks of burned-out cars littered streets.

On Thursday, a Jewish man was stabbed as he walked to a synagogue there, but survived.

“There is no greater threat now than these riots,” said Mr. Netanyahu, who vowed to deploy the Israel Defense Forces to keep the peace in Lod. A day earlier, he described the violence as “anarchy” and said: “Nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs, and nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews.”

To secure Lod, the government brought in thousands of armed border police from the occupied West Bank, and imposed an 8 p.m. curfew, but to little effect.

Arab residents, who account for about 30 percent of the town’s 80,000 people, continued a campaign of stone-throwing, vandalism and arson, while Jewish extremists arrived from outside Lod, burning Arab cars and property. Arab protesters erected flaming roadblocks.

As night fell there were signs that the violence might escalate when a large convoy of armed Jews in white vans moved into town.

Palestinian leaders, however, said the talk of civil war by Jewish leaders was a distraction from what they called the true cause of the unrest in Lod — police brutality against Palestinian protesters and provocative actions by right-wing Israeli settler groups.

“The police shot an Arab demonstrator in Lod,” said Ahmad Tibi, the leader of the Ta’al party and a member of Israel’s Parliament. “We don’t want bloodshed. We want to protest.”

Mr. Tibi said that Mr. Netanyahu, who has frequently aligned with far-right and nationalist parties to stay in power, had only himself to blame for the political tinderbox that has exploded with such ferocity across Israel.

The trouble started on Monday, when a heavy-handed police raid at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam, located atop a site also revered by Jews — set off an instant backlash.

But beyond the images of police officers flinging stun grenades and firing rubber bullets inside the mosque, Palestinian outrage was also fueled by much wider, decades-old frustrations.

Human Rights Watch recently accused Israel of perpetrating a form of apartheid, the racist legal system that once governed South Africa, citing a number of laws and regulations that it said systematically discriminate against Palestinians. Israel vehemently rejected that charge. But its security forces are now confronted with a swelling wave of fury from the country’s Arab Israeli minority, which complains of being treated as second-class citizens.

“‘Coexistence’ means that both sides exist,” said Tamer Nafar, a famous rapper from Lod. “But so far there is only one side — the Jewish side.”

The rocket attacks from Gaza are also quantitatively and qualitatively different from the last war in 2014. The more than 1,800 rockets Hamas and its allies have fired at Israel since Monday already represent a third of the total fired during the seven-week war in 2014.

Israeli intelligence has estimated that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian militant groups have about 30,000 rockets and mortar projectiles stashed in Gaza, indicating that despite the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the coastal territory, the militants have managed to amass a vast arsenal.

The rockets have also demonstrated a longer range than those fired in previous conflicts, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

They have also proven more effective. In the 2014 war, they killed a total of six civilians inside Israel, the same number killed in the last three days.

Those casualties appeared to be product of Hamas’s new tactic of firing more than 100 missiles simultaneously, thwarting the American-financed Iron Dome missile-defense system, which Israeli officials say is 90 percent effective at intercepting rockets before they land inside Israel.

Gaza residents have no such protection against Israeli airstrikes, which crushed three multistory buildings in the strip after residents were warned to evacuate. Israeli officials said that the buildings housed Hamas operations and that they were striving to limit civilian casualties, but many Gaza residents viewed the Israeli attacks as a form of collective punishment.

Thursday was supposed to be a day of celebration for Palestinians as they marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a day when Muslims typically gather to pray, wear new clothes and share a family meal. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at dawn outside the Aqsa Mosque, some waving Palestinian flags and a banner showing an image of Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas.

In Gaza, though, it was a somber day of funerals, fear and missile strikes. Some families buried their dead, others laid out prayer mats beside buildings recently destroyed in Israeli airstrikes, and still others came under attack from Israeli drones hovering overhead.

“Save me,” pleaded Maysoun al-Hatu, 58, after she was wounded in a missile strike outside her daughter’s house in Gaza, according to a witness. An ambulance arrived moments later, but it was too late. Ms. al-Hatu was dead.

American and Egyptian diplomats were heading to Israel to begin de-escalation talks. Egyptians mediators played a key role in ending the 2014 war in Gaza, but this time there is little optimism they can achieve a quick result.

Israeli military officials have said their mission is to stop the rockets from Gaza, and the military moved tanks and troops into place along the border with Gaza on Thursday in preparation for the ground invasion.

The decision to extend the campaign is ultimately political. Analysts said that a ground operation would likely incur high casualties.

But the political calculation grew more complicated on Thursday after the collapse of negotiations between opposition parties seeking to form a new government.

Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist former settler leader who opposes Palestinian statehood, pulled out of the talks, citing the state of emergency in several Israeli cities.

His withdrawal increases the likelihood of Israel holding a general election later this summer — in what would be its fifth in just over two years. And the collapse of the talks appears to benefit Mr. Netanyahu, making it impossible for opposition parties to form an alliance large enough to oust him from office.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, is serving as caretaker prime minister until a new government can be formed.

On the Palestinian side, the indefinite postponement last month of elections by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, created a vacuum that Hamas is more than willing to fill.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Lod, Israel; Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City; Patrick Kingsley, Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Myra Noveck from Jerusalem; Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel; Mona el-Naggar and Vivian Yee from Cairo; Megan Specia from London; and Steven Erlanger from Brussels.

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Before diplomacy begins, Israel opts for brute force against Hamas.

As the United States and Egyptian mediators headed to Israel to begin de-escalation talks, the antagonists were weighing delicate internal considerations before agreeing to discussions on ending the violence.

But even before the mediators got to work, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to have calculated that brute force was required first.

Early Friday, Israeli ground troops entered Gaza — a major move of escalation against the Hamas militants who have been launching hundreds of rockets at Israel. It was unclear how long the Israelis would remain, but the move could extend the conflict and significantly increase the number of dead and wounded on both sides.

For the Palestinians, the indefinite postponement of elections last month by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, created a vacuum that Hamas is more than willing to fill. Hamas argues that it is the only Palestinian faction that, with its large stockpile of improved missiles, is defending the holy places of Jerusalem, turning Mr. Abbas into a spectator.

President Biden has spoken to Mr. Netanyahu and repeated the usual formula about Israel’s right to self-defense, and he has dispatched an experienced diplomat, the deputy assistant secretary of state Hady Amr, to urge de-escalation on both sides.

The Biden administration also has resisted calls at the United Nations Security Council for an immediate discussion of the crisis, arguing that Mr. Amr and other diplomats need at least a few days to work toward a possible solution.

A proposal to convene an urgent meeting on Friday by the 15-member council was effectively blocked by the United States, diplomats said. Criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians is widespread among members of the United Nations, and the United States has often stood alone in defending its key Middle East ally.

In Washington, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, when asked about American objections to a Security Council meeting, told reporters on Thursday that “we are open to and supportive of a discussion, an open discussion, at the United Nations,” but wanted to wait until early next week.

“This, I hope, will give some time for the diplomacy to have some effect and to see if indeed we get a real de-escalation,” Mr. Blinken said.

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In Gaza, cheers turned into desperation and fear.

GAZA CITY — On Tuesday evening, Gazans celebrated as they heard the whoosh of rockets sent toward Israel.

But by Wednesday morning the cheers had stopped, as Gazans saw the aftermath of what some described as the most intense airstrikes since cross-border Israeli-Palestinian hostilities flared again this week.

In one neighborhood, near Zeitoun and Sabra, residents inspected their homes and neighborhoods for damage, and desperately sought information about where the missiles might strike next.

“I felt that the hits were random,” said Nadal Issa, 27, the owner of a bridal shop.

Hamas and other militants have been exchanging fire with Israel since Monday. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 16 children as of Wednesday night, officials said. In Israel, at least six civilians have been killed, including one child.

In Gaza, some said they had never felt anything as harrowing as the surge of Israeli strikes that came Wednesday morning.

Some said it felt as if blast waves were hitting their face and body, as if their block were under attack. Disoriented, they staggered to windows to look outside.

“My two children woke up, and they asked me, ‘What’s going on?’” Mr. Issa said. Thinking quickly, he reminded them that the holiday marking the end of Ramadan was near. “I told them these are celebrations for Eid.”

Mohammed Sabtie, a 30-year-old motorcycle mechanic, was among the Gazans who left their homes after the airstrikes subsided on Wednesday morning to see the damage.

“The sound was very, very horrific,” Mr. Sabtie said. “It was like a state of war. It was the first time I ever heard anything like this.”

Was he scared? Yes, he said, but also glad to see Palestinians fighting back.

“Our ambitions are not war,” Mr. Sabtie said. “Our ambitions are security and peace. We have to do this. We don’t want to be hit and insulted. We want to hit back.”

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What to Know About Gaza’s Rocket Arsenal

CAIRO — They smuggle the parts or make their own, aided with know-how from Iran. They repurpose plumbing pipes scavenged from abandoned Israeli settlements and components culled from dud Israeli bombs. They assemble the rockets underground or in dense neighborhoods that the Israelis are reluctant to strike.

Despite Israel’s vaunted surveillance capability and overwhelming military firepower next door, Palestinian militants in Gaza have managed to amass a large arsenal of rockets with enhanced range in the 16 years since Israel vacated the coastal enclave it had occupied after the 1967 war.

Hamas, the militant group that has run Gaza since 2007 and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, has parlayed the arsenal into an increasingly lethal threat, as seen in the most recent upsurge of hostilities with the Israeli military. By Thursday, Israeli officials said, the militants had fired about 1,800 rockets.

The arsenal pales in comparison to the vast destructive powers of Israel’s air force. But to Israelis, the rockets are the tools of what their country and many others including the United States regard as a terrorist organization, embedded among the nearly two million Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza.

Michael Armstrong, an associate professor of operations research at Brock University in Canada, found a significant increase in the rate of fire. Using numbers from the Israel Defense Forces, Mr. Armstrong, who studies these weapons, cited 470 rockets fired from Gaza during the first 24 hours of the most recent escalation compared to a peak of 192 rockets per day in 2014 and 312 in 2012.

Hamas, he says, also launched more long-range attacks with 130 rockets fired at Tel Aviv late Tuesday, representing close to 17 percent of all fired until that point. In 2014 that rate was at eight percent and in 2012 at less than one percent.

“We still don’t know if Hamas has more long-range rockets, or if they are choosing to use their best stuff first,” Mr. Armstrong said.

Michael Herzog, an Israel-based international fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, said Israeli military and intelligence officials are now far more concerned about the abilities of the militants to produce rockets they once had to import.

“The focus of I.D.F. targeting now is on the production facilities so that when this round of fighting ends, there will not only be less rockets but also less production capabilities for making them,” Mr. Herzog said.

The Gaza militants have openly attributed their success to help supplied by Iran, which Israel regards as its most potent foreign adversary. Iranian officials, too, are not shy about their relationship with Hamas.

Speaking to a large gathering in May 2019, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, could not have been more explicit in acknowledging Iran’s critical role in assisting Hamas.

“If it wasn’t for Iran’s support,” he said, “we would not have had these capabilities.”

Along with providing smuggled weapons and equipment, Iran has been focused on training to help Hamas upgrade local production, extend the range of rockets and improve their accuracy, according to both Palestinian and Israeli officials and experts.

“It is a huge improvement going from firing one or two rockets at a time to launching 130 rockets in five minutes,” said Rami Abu Zubaydah, a Gaza-based military expert, referring to the frequency of fire seen in the past few days.

“Most weapons are now manufactured in Gaza, using technical expertise from Iran,” he said.

While still having to rely on smuggling parts and raw materials, Hamas leaders say the group has engineered creative workarounds to overcome tighter border controls and surveillance.

A 50-minute documentary broadcast by the Qatari-owned television channel Al Jazeera in September showed rare scenes of Hamas militants recovering dozens of Israeli missiles that had not detonated in previous strikes on Gaza.

They brought the remnants into what looked like a hidden manufacturing facility, carefully extracted the explosives packed inside and recycled some of the parts. The same documentary also showed militants digging up old water pipes from where Israeli settlements used to sit and repurposing the empty cylinders in the production of new rockets.

Referring to the repurposed plumbing pipes, while speaking in another gathering in 2019, Mr. Sinwar said, “There is enough there to manufacture rockets for the coming 10 years.”

Nada Rashwan, John Ismay and Rick Gladstone contributed reporting.

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Overlooked No More: Usha Mehta, Freedom Fighter Against British Rule in India

Mehta and her colleagues were regularly chased by a police van, forcing them to shift from place to place to hide their location. To avoid further risk, they had a recording station separate from the broadcast station and for a period aired messages across two transmitters.

“So far we were conducting movements, but now we are conducting a revolution,” Ram Manohar Lohia, a founder of the Congress Socialist Party, said in one broadcast, adding, “Our hatred is for an administration which seeks to perpetuate human injustice.”

After the official All India Radio — which other activists referred to as “Anti-India Radio” — jammed their broadcasts, Mehta and her crew persistently tried to retaliate. But their luck fell short on Nov. 12, 1942, when they were caught after a technician betrayed them by revealing their location.

“When finally the government traced them down, the police were knocking on the door where they were running this underground radio,” her nephew Ketan Mehta, a prominent Bollywood filmmaker, said in a video call from Mumbai. “And she asked all the others to leave, but she continued to broadcast until they broke down the door.”

More than 50 officers stormed through the three bolted doors. Mehta and another activist were arrested; two others were caught in the following days. After a prolonged investigation, time in solitary confinement and a five-week trial, Mehta was jailed until March 1946.

“I came back from jail a happy and, to an extent, a proud person, because I had the satisfaction of carrying out Bapu’s message, ‘Do or die,’” she said, using a term of respect for Gandhi that means “father,” “and of having contributed my humble might to the cause of freedom.”

Usha Mehta was born on March 25, 1920, in Saras, a village in the western state of Gujarat, to Gheliben Mehta, a homemaker, and Hariprasad Mehta, a district-level judge under the British Raj. Throughout her upbringing, members of Usha’s family were involved in India’s independence struggle.

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As Ethiopia Fights in Tigray Region, a Crackdown on Journalists

NAIROBI, Kenya — One Ethiopian journalist was taken away by police officers as his distraught 10-year-old daughter clung to him. Another fled the country after she said armed men ransacked her home and threatened to kill her.

And a foreign reporter working for The New York Times had his press credentials revoked, days after he interviewed victims of sexual assault and terrified residents in the conflict-torn Tigray region of northern Ethiopia.

Six months into the war in Tigray, where thousands have died amid reports of widespread human rights abuses, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has sought to quell critical coverage of the conflict with a campaign of arrests, intimidation and obstruction targeting the independent news media, according to human rights campaigners and media freedom organizations.

broke with tradition by not taking questions from the press. In his acceptance speech, he accused social media platforms of sowing discord in Ethiopia.

the BBC, Agence-France Press, the Financial Times and The New York Times.

Since November, the Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the arrests of at least 10 journalists and media workers who were held for periods from a few days to two months related to their coverage of the conflict in Tigray.

Last week, government officials confirmed that they had revoked the accreditation of Simon Marks, an Irish reporter based in Ethiopia working for The New York Times.

million people and led to charges of ethnic cleansing, news media coverage has become a “very sensitive” topic for the government, said Befeqadu Hailu, an Ethiopian journalist imprisoned for 18 months by the previous regime.

In the early days of the fight, at least six Ethiopian reporters working for local media in Tigray were arrested. Later, the authorities turned against Ethiopians working with international news outlets. In December, Kumerra Gemechu, a cameraman with Reuters, was detained and held without charge for 12 days before being released.

killing Dawit Kebede, a reporter who was shot dead in the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle, ostensibly for flouting the curfew.

In February, armed men ransacked the home in Addis Ababa of Lucy Kassa, a freelance reporter for the Los Angeles Times and other outlets. In an interview, Ms. Lucy, who has since fled to another country, said the men appeared to be government agents, knew what story she was working on and warned her to stop. They confiscated a laptop and flash drive that she said contained evidence that soldiers from the neighboring country of Eritrea were fighting in Tigray, though Ethiopia had insisted at the time that this was untrue.

The government said in a statement at the time that Ms. Lucy had not legally registered as a journalist.

In March, the Ethiopian government permitted several news organizations to travel to Mekelle, but then detained the Ethiopians working for them for several days.

two stories published by The Times in the following weeks.

Last week, after appeals by The Times were declined, the head of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority confirmed Mr. Marks’s accreditation had been canceled at least until October. Officials told Mr. Marks that The Times’ coverage of Ethiopia had “caused huge diplomatic pressure” and that senior government officials had authorized the decision to cancel his papers.

“It is deeply disappointing that a Nobel Peace Prize recipient would try to silence an independent press,” said Michael Slackman, The Times’s assistant managing editor for international. “We encourage the government to rethink this authoritarian approach and instead work to foster a robust exchange of information. It can start by reissuing Mr. Marks’s credentials and freeing any journalist being detained.”

The next test of Ethiopia’s openness is likely to be the June 5 election, the first for Mr. Abiy since being appointed prime minister in 2018.

Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, referred questions about Mr. Marks to the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority.

In a telephone interview, Yonatan Tesfaye, the deputy head of the broadcast authority, confirmed that Mr. Marks’s credentials had been revoked. He added that while they did consult other government institutions, including law enforcement, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority made the decision independently.

He said the authority was also examining the work of Ethiopian journalists for potential violations of Ethiopian law.

“We want the media to take the context we are in and we want them to operate respecting the rule of law that the country has,” he said.

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More Scientists Urge Broad Inquiry Into Coronavirus Origins

A group of 18 scientists stated Thursday in a letter published in the journal Science that there is not enough evidence to decide whether a natural origin or an accidental laboratory leak caused the Covid-19 pandemic.

They argued, as the U.S. government and other countries have, for a new investigation to explore where the virus came from.

The organizers of the letter, Jesse Bloom, who studies the evolution of viruses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University, said they strove to articulate a wait-and-see viewpoint that they believe is shared by many scientists. Many of the signers have not spoken out before.

“Most of the discussion you hear about SARS-CoV-2 origins at this point is coming from, I think, the relatively small number of people who feel very certain about their views,” Dr. Bloom said.

issued a report claiming that such a leak was extremely unlikely, even though the mission never investigated any Chinese labs. The team did visit the Wuhan lab, but did not investigate it. A lab investigation was never part of their mandate. The report, produced in a mission with Chinese scientists, drew extensive criticism from the U.S. government and others that the Chinese government had not cooperated fully and had limited the international scientists’ access to information.

The new letter argued for a new and more rigorous investigation of virus origins that would involve a broader range of experts and safeguard against conflicts of interest.

Recent letters by another group of scientists and international affairs experts argued at length for the relative likelihood of a laboratory leak. Previous statements from other scientists and the W.H.O. report both asserted that a natural origin was by far the most plausible.

Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, said he signed the new letter because “the recent W.H.O. report on the origins of the virus, and its discussion, spurred several of us to get in touch with each other and talk about our shared desire for dispassionate investigation of the origins of the virus.”

“I certainly respect the opinion of others who may disagree with what we’ve said in the letter, but I felt I had no choice but to put my concerns out there,” he said.

Another signer, Sarah E. Cobey, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, said, “I think it is more likely than not that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from an animal reservoir rather than a lab.”

But “lab accidents do happen and can have disastrous consequences,” she added. “I am concerned about the short- and long-term consequences of failing to evaluate the possibility of laboratory escape in a rigorous way. It would be a troublesome precedent.”

The list of signers includes researchers with deep knowledge of the SARS family of viruses, such as Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina, who had collaborated with the Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli in research done at the university on the original SARS virus. Dr. Baric did not respond to attempts to reach him by email and telephone.

often cited paper in March 2020 that dismissed the likelihood of a laboratory origin based largely on the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. “We do not believe any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” that paper stated.

Speaking for himself only, Dr. Relman said in an interview that “the piece that Kristian Anderson and four others wrote last March in my view simply fails to provide evidence to support their conclusions.”

Dr. Andersen, who reviewed the letter in Science, said that both explanations were theoretically possible. But, “the letter suggests a false equivalence between the lab escape and natural origin scenarios,” he said. “To this day, no credible evidence has been presented to support the lab leak hypothesis, which remains grounded in speculation.”

Instead, he said, available data “are consistent with a natural emergence of a novel virus from a zoonotic reservoir, as has been observed so many times in the past.” He said he supported further inquiry into the origin of the virus.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, has criticized the politicization of the laboratory leak theory.

She supports further investigation, but said that “there is more evidence (both genomic and historical precedent) that this was the result of zoonotic emergence rather than a laboratory accident.”

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