Greece Opens Its Doors to International Tourists

The first signs of the tourism season creeping back to life were visible at Greece’s ports and airports on Saturday as the country officially opened its doors to international visitors.

After lifting quarantine requirements for dozens of countries last month, the Greek authorities expanded the eligibility to more nations on Friday and relaxed some restrictions. Travelers must present a certificate of vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid or a negative PCR test.

The first flights arriving at Athens International Airport came from France, Germany, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia and Switzerland, with most visitors heading for the Greek islands. Hundreds lined up for ferries at the country’s main port of Piraeus, near the capital, joining Greeks taking advantage of the ending of a ban on travel between the country’s regions.

Heraklion Airport on Crete was buzzing for the first time in months, with Germans, French and Israelis among the first arrivals, and the authorities said they expected 10,000 arrivals on the island over the next three days. Mykonos and Santorini, two of the country’s most popular summer destinations, welcomed just a handful of flights, as hotel occupancy remains set at around 30 percent for May. But hopes are high for the summer, with bookings for July close to 90 percent.

Two fire engines sprayed celebratory jets of water over aircraft arriving from Qatar on Friday while sounding their sirens. Boats similarly greeted the arrival of cruise ships to Crete.

The mood was upbeat on many islands, where a vaccination drive has been ramped up with the aim of inoculating hundreds of thousands of permanent residents by the end of June, in time for peak tourism season.

The country, having suffered heavy economic losses last year because of the pandemic, is determined to save its summer tourist season. Last month, when some restrictions were lifted, a third wave of coronavirus infections was in full force, and hospitals were facing high pressure.

About 14 percent of people in the country have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The virus has sickened more than 373,000 people in Greece, and more than 11,300 have died.

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Covid Live Updates: Vaccinated Americans Can Go Maskless, C.D.C. Says

drop mask-wearing in most situations. But the guidance came with caveats and confusion, and it sent state and local officials, as well as private companies, scrambling to decide whether and when to update their own rules.

There was plenty of cause for celebration, too, for many Americans weary of restrictions and traumatized by more than a year of a pandemic that has killed more than 583,000 people in the United States and more than 3.3 million around the world.

“We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said as she announced the shift at a White House news conference on Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Fully vaccinated people are still told to cover their faces when flying or taking public transit, when visiting health care facilities, and in congregate settings like prisons and homeless shelters.

The recommendations came as a surprise to many people in public health. They offered a stark contrast with the views of a large majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by The New York Times, who said that until many more Americans were vaccinated, there would be too many chances for vaccines, which are not 100 percent effective, to fail.

“Unless the vaccination rates increase to 80 or 90 percent over the next few months, we should wear masks in large public indoor settings,” said Vivian Towe, a program officer at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, an independent nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.

The new recommendations also caught state officials and businesses by surprise and raised a host of difficult questions about how the guidelines would be carried out. Some states lifted mask mandates immediately, while others took a more cautious approach.

Most of the state officials who responded immediately to the shift were Democrats, and they used the moment to stress the need to get vaccinated to take advantage of greater freedom. Half of the country’s governors — most of them Republicans — had already lifted mask mandates in some form.

On Thursday, the governors of New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia, and the mayors of New York City and Washington, D.C., all Democrats, said that they were taking the new guidance under advisement before adopting it. Los Angeles County also said that it and the State of California were reviewing the new guidelines. In deference to local authorities, the C.D.C. said vaccinated people must continue to abide by existing state, local or tribal laws and regulations, and to follow local rules for businesses and workplaces.

After the new guidance was announced, at least seven states led by Democrats began to lift mask mandates: Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Others had yet to weigh in publicly.

In Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee, who usually wears a mask while speaking at his news conferences, began his gathering on Thursday by removing it. He said the state was immediately incorporating the new federal guidance.

“This is a heck of a benefit for people who have been annoyed by this mask,” Mr. Inslee said. “This is a really good reason to get vaccinated. That shot is a ticket to freedom from masks.”

Yet the C.D.C. guidance leaves a number of issues unaddressed. There was no specific language about masking in schools, for instance. And an even broader question remains unclear: Who knows who is justified in claiming the new freedoms?

“I think the challenge is that it’s impossible to determine who is vaccinated and who is not vaccinated,” said Gov. David Ige of Hawaii, where a mask mandate will stay in place.

About 64 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated. And vaccination rates have been falling, although the campaign to inoculate 12- to 15-year-olds has just begun. Ohio has created a weekly state lottery that would give five people $1 million each in return for being vaccinated. People who receive a vaccine are issued a white paper card, but online scammers have sold forged versions of those.

The guidance seemed to catch many retailers by surprise. Macy’s, Target and the Gap said they were still reviewing it, while Home Depot said it had no plans to change its rules requiring customers and workers to wear masks in its stores.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union, representing thousands of grocery store workers, criticized the C.D.C. for failing to consider how the new policy would affect workers who have to deal with customers who are not vaccinated.

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon emphasized that the state would not be operating on an honor system. She said that the health department would soon provide guidance for businesses, employers and others “to allow the option of lifting mask and physical distancing requirements after verifying vaccination status.”

Administering a coronavirus shot during a vaccination day for homeless people in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Thursday.
Credit…Raul Martinez/EPA, via Shutterstock

BUENOS AIRES — For most of the past year, Uruguay was held up as an example for keeping the coronavirus from spreading widely as neighboring countries grappled with soaring death tolls.

Uruguay’s good fortune has run out. In the last week, the small South American nation’s Covid-19 death rate per capita was the highest in the world, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

As of Wednesday, at least 3,252 people had died from Covid-19, according to the Uruguayan Health Ministry, and the daily death toll has been about 50 during the past week.

Six out of the 11 countries with the highest death rates per capita are in South America, a region where the pandemic is leaving a brutal toll of growing joblessness, poverty and hunger. For the most part, countries in the region have failed to acquire sufficient vaccines to inoculate their populations quickly.

Contagion rates in Uruguay began inching up in November and soared in recent months, apparently fueled by a highly contagious variant first identified in Brazil last year.

“In Uruguay, it’s as if we had two pandemics, one until November 2020, when things were largely under control, and the other starting in November, with the arrival of the first wave to the country,” said José Luis Satdjian, the deputy secretary of the Health Ministry.

The country with the second-highest death rate per capita is nearby Paraguay, which also had relative success in containing the virus for much of last year but now finds itself in a worsening crisis.

Experts link the sharp rise in cases in Uruguay to the P.1 virus variant from Brazil.

“We have a new player in the system and it’s the Brazilian variant, which has penetrated our country so aggressively,” Mr. Satdjian said.

Uruguay closed its borders tightly at the beginning of the pandemic, but towns along the border with Brazil are effectively binational and have remained porous.

The outbreak has strained hospitals in Uruguay, which has a population of 3.5 million.

On March 1, Uruguay had 76 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. This week, medical professionals were caring for more than 530, according to Dr. Julio Pontet, president of the Uruguayan Society of Intensive Care Medicine who heads the intensive care department at the Pasteur Hospital in Montevideo, the capital.

That number is slightly lower than the peak in early May, but experts have yet to see a steady decline that could indicate a trend.

“It is still too early to reach the conclusion that we’ve already started to improve, we’re in a high plateau of cases,” Dr. Pontet said.

Despite the continuing high number of cases, there is optimism that the country will be able to get the situation under control soon because it is one of the few in the region that has been able to make quick progress on its vaccination campaign. About a quarter of the population has been fully immunized.

“We expect the number of serious cases to begin decreasing at the end of May,” Dr. Pontet said.

At a bookstore in San Francisco in March. Until the pandemic, there had seldom been a cultural push for mask wearing in the United States.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Once Americans return to crowded offices, schools, buses and trains, so too will their sneezes and sniffles.

Having been introduced to the idea of wearing masks to protect themselves and others, some Americans are now considering a behavior scarcely seen in the United States but long a fixture in other cultures: routinely wearing a mask when displaying symptoms of a common cold or the flu, even in a future in which Covid-19 isn’t a primary concern.

Such routine use of masks has been common for decades in other countries, primarily in East Asia, as protection against allergies or pollution, or as a common courtesy to protect nearby people.

Leading American health officials have been divided over the benefits, partly because there is no tidy scientific consensus on the effect of masks on influenza virus transmission, according to experts who have studied it.

Nancy Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that the science exploring possible links between masking and the emission or transmission of influenza viruses was nuanced — and that the nuances were often lost on the general public.

Changi Airport in Singapore this week. The airport outbreak began with an 88-year-old member of the airport cleaning crew who was fully vaccinated but who tested positive for the virus on May 5.
Credit…Wallace Woon/EPA, via Shutterstock

SINGAPORE — Singapore said on Friday that it would ban dining in restaurants and gatherings of more than two people to try to stem a rise in coronavirus cases, becoming the latest Asian nation to reintroduce restrictions after keeping the illness mostly in check for months.

The new measures came after the city-state recorded 34 new cases on Thursday, a small number by global standards, but part of a rise in infections traced to vaccinated workers at Singapore Changi Airport.

The airport outbreak began with an 88-year-old member of the airport cleaning crew who was fully vaccinated but who tested positive for the virus on May 5. Co-workers who then became infected later visited an airport food court, where they transmitted the virus to other customers, officials said.

None of the cases linked to the airport outbreak are believed to have resulted in critical illness or death, according to officials.

In all, 46 cases have been traced to the airport, the largest of about 10 clusters of new infections in the country.

“Because we do not know how far the transmission has occurred into the community, we do have to take further, more stringent restrictions,” said Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore’s coronavirus task force. The measures will be in effect for about one month beginning on Sunday.

According to preliminary testing, many of those infected were working in a zone of the airport that received flights from high-risk countries, including from South Asia. Several have tested positive for the B.1.617 variant first detected in India, which the World Health Organization has said might be more contagious than most versions of the coronavirus.

Singapore health officials said that of 28 airport workers who became infected, 19 were fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the only two approved for use in Singapore.

“Unfortunately, this mutant virus, very virulent, broke through the layers of defense,” Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told a virtual news conference on Friday.

Mr. Ong also said that the rise in cases “very likely” means that a long-delayed air travel bubble with Hong Kong would not begin as scheduled on May 26.

Singapore, a prosperous island hub of 5.7 million people, saw an explosion of infections among migrant workers living in dormitories, but a two-month lockdown and extensive testing and contact tracing contained the outbreak. Although Singapore has kept much of its economy open, its vaccination effort has not moved as quickly as many expected: less than one-quarter of the population has been fully inoculated.

Changi Airport, which served more than 68 million passengers in 2019, is operating at 3 percent of capacity as Singapore has paused nearly all incoming commercial traffic. Employees there work under strict controls, wearing protective gear and submitting to regular coronavirus tests.

Singapore joins Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries that have struggled to contain new outbreaks fueled in part by variants. But Paul Ananth Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said that the rise in cases was not overly worrying.

“The reason for my optimism is that we now have effective vaccines, better diagnostics, proven treatments and even potential prophylactic agents,” he said. “If these are employed in a targeted approach, it is unlikely that we will end up with the same problems we had last year.”

Workers moved oxygen cylinders for transport at a factory in New Delhi on Sunday. The city has now received enough oxygen to share its supply.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

After shortages in oxygen in New Delhi led to scores of people dying in hospitals, officials said there was now enough supply in the Indian capital to start sharing a surplus of the lifesaving gas to needier parts of the country.

For weeks, the New Delhi government appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a larger share of India’s oxygen reserves, with the battle for air ending up in the nation’s highest court.

On Thursday, just days after receiving the amount it had requested, New Delhi’s second-highest official, Manish Sisodia, said the city’s demand had fallen and its excess supply should be reallocated.

“The number of cases is coming down, hospital bed occupancy is coming down, and demand for oxygen, too, is down,” Mr. Sisodia told The New York Times.

It was an indication that the crisis in the capital might be reaching a peak.

The oxygen shortage in New Delhi began in April and has been linked to dozens of deaths, in and out of hospitals.

Health care facilities and crematories were overwhelmed, and medical professionals and residents were left scrambling for scarce resources.

Thousands of people in the city of 20 million stood in line at oxygen refilling stations, bringing cylinders into hospitals for friends and family or hoarding them at home in case the need arose.

The rise of new coronavirus infections in India has slowed. But, in pattern seen in nation after nation battered by the virus, death rates often plateau a few weeks later. And with the virus spreading in low-income rural areas, the overall crisis shows no sign of abating.

As of Wednesday, the official death toll surpassed 258,000, although experts suspect the true number to be much higher.

As the smoke from New Delhi crematories starts to clear, dozens of bodies have surfaced along the holy Ganges River in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Krishna Dutt Mishra, an ambulance driver in the Bihari village of Chausa, said that poor people were disposing of bodies in the river because the cost of cremations had become prohibitively expensive.

On Friday, the Indian news media showed bodies wrapped in cloth of the saffron color, considered auspicious in Hinduism, buried in shallow graves on the sandy banks of the Ganges River in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Indian National Congress party, called for a High Court investigation, saying that what was happening in Uttar Pradesh was “inhuman and criminal.”

A woman from the Guatemalan Maya community in Lake Worth, Fla., at a Covid vaccine center last month.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Latino adults in the United States have the lowest rates of Covid-19 vaccination, but among the unvaccinated they are the demographic group most willing to receive the Covid shots as soon as possible, a new survey shows.

The findings suggest that their depressed vaccination rate reflects in large measure misinformation about cost and access, as well as concerns about employment and immigration issues, according to the latest edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor.

Earlier polls had suggested that skepticism about the vaccine was widespread among Latinos, but the latest survey showed that hesitation is declining.

Nearly 40 percent of all the unvaccinated Latinos responding to the survey said they feared they would need to produce government-issued identification to qualify. And about a third said they were afraid that getting the shot would jeopardize either their immigration status or that of a family member.

Their responses also pointed to the importance of community-based access. Nearly half said they would be more likely to be vaccinated if the shots were available at sites where they normally go for health care.

A protest in Utah last year. Some readers expressed hope that the rule change would prompt people to get vaccinated but others worried about “cheaters.”
Credit…Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Throughout the pandemic, few topics have touched so raw a nerve in the United States as mask wearing. Confrontations have erupted from state capitols to supermarket checkout aisles, and debates raged over whether mask mandates violate First Amendment rights.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provoked a flood of reaction with its announcement on Thursday that Americans who are fully vaccinated may stop wearing masks or maintaining social distance in most indoor and outdoor settings. Here’s a sampling, edited for length and clarity, of how Times readers reacted to the news on Facebook and on our website:

“I think this is a good incentive for the hesitators. Hopefully they’ll want to participate in activities (the ones that require proof of vaccination) maskless, so perhaps this will be an incentive, as they see others in the community enjoying life more.” writes Jerry B., on Facebook.

“Very, very few people have been wearing masks for the past 6 months. Covid is a real risk — I certainly don’t want it — but our cases have dropped precipitously, even with minimal masking. This announcement is welcome — the world will not end if people stop masking,” writes Stephen from Oklahoma City.

“I see the need for this policy change, but I fear that the cheaters — those who are not vaccinated but pretend to be — will be the ruin of us all,” writes Cary in Oregon.

“I have my doubts about the incentivization bit,” writes Andrew from Colorado Springs, Colo. “I figure it will simply mean that suddenly everyone’s been fully vaccinated, true or not. That said, as a double-shotted person, I figure my chances of being taken out by an anti-vaxxer are now less than my chances of being taken out by a texting driver. I’m down with that.”

“What’s to stop anti-masker/anti-vaxxer contrarians from mingling unmasked with the vaccinated population? I have little trust in this,” writes Mary Beth in Santa Fe, N.M.

“I am fully vaccinated and caught Covid anyway. I do think it made my symptoms more mild, but you can bet your bippy I’m going to be wearing my mask when I am out of quarantine.” — writes Jaime P., on Facebook.

What do you think about the guidance? Join the conversation.

Kevin Hayes contributed research.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Sunday.
Credit…Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said on Wednesday that he would pardon “any Floridian” who violated mask or social distancing mandates.

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, made the announcement during an appearance on the Fox News program “Ingraham Angle,” just a day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted its guidelines to allow vaccinated people to skip wearing masks in most places.

The show’s host, Laura Ingraham, first interviewed Mike and Jillian Carnevale, the owners of a Broward County gym, who said they had been arrested for violating a county mask mandate. Mr. DeSantis then said their case was “a total overreach.”

Widely seen as positioning himself as a 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Mr. DeSantis throughout the pandemic has criticized coronavirus restrictions and mandates.

Mr. Carnevale said he and Ms. Carnevale were arrested three times after violating Broward County’s mask mandate. Mr. Carnevale was charged with two second-degree misdemeanors and if convicted would face a 120-day jail sentence, and Ms. Carnevale was charged with one second-degree misdemeanor, facing 60 days in jail, said Cory Strolla, a lawyer representing the couple.

Last month, Mr. DeSantis issued an executive order prohibiting businesses from requiring patrons or customers to show vaccination documentation, or risk losing grants or contracts funded by the state. Norwegian Cruise Line, which is requiring all guests and crew members to be vaccinated, said it was considering skipping Florida ports over the order.

A coronavirus contact tracer and case investigator working at a community testing site in Davis, Calif.
Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

The Biden administration on Thursday outlined how it will spend $7 billion to expand the nation’s public health workforce, adding tens of thousands of jobs to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and future outbreaks, including disease investigators, contact tracers and epidemiologists.

Over $4 billion will go to state and local health departments to help with their Covid-19 response, the White House said in a news release, allowing them to “quickly add staff.” Hiring would include vaccine and test administrators, data scientists, epidemiologists and school nurses who can work to vaccinate teens and children in the coming months. Some of the hiring will boost the ranks at the Epidemic Intelligence Service, the vaunted arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that investigates disease outbreaks.

“Though many threats have increased in complexity and scale in recent years, our nation’s public health workforce has gotten smaller,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said at a White House news conference Thursday. “This support will immediately add more staff in health departments across the country.”

C.D.C. leaders have long complained of neglect and underfunding, saying that lawmakers typically only send more resources to the agency when there is a dire public health emergency. Other federal health agencies, particularly the National Institutes of Health, are significantly better funded. Many local health departments have also been short on funding for years.

State and local governments would be able to decide how they use the money, which was allocated through the American Rescue Plan, said Carole Johnson, the Biden administration’s testing coordinator.

The funding underscored a sharp contrast with the Trump administration, which routinely sought to cut off congressional funding for the C.D.C. and stifle its independence within the Department of Health and Human Services.

And it offered relief for local health departments that have been sapped by low morale, firings and harassment. One challenge, though, might be finding enough qualified people to fill new job openings.

Ms. Johnson said money could also go to increasing the number of “disease intervention specialists,” or health workers who would conduct contact tracing, work on case management and help with outbreak investigations. And $400 million would go to a new partnership between the C.D.C. and AmeriCorps, a sprawling national service organization. Called Public Health AmeriCorps, the program would form a “pipeline” for public health workers.

The administration was providing another $3 billion to a new C.D.C. grant program to help smaller local health departments keep staff. The grants would allow those hired to help with the coronavirus pandemic to “continue their careers beyond the pandemic as public health professionals,” the White House said.

“We really are asking grantees to prioritize recruiting from communities they serve and backgrounds that are underrepresented,” Ms. Johnson said.

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Live Updates: Israel Deploys Ground Troops to Shell Gaza

the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Hamas then began firing into Israel with the increasingly potent rockets it has built with the aid of Iran, and Israel responded with air attacks on Hamas and other militant targets in Gaza.

The Biden administration has called for peaceful resolution, while insisting that the rocket attacks on Israel must stop and refraining from any public criticism of Israel.

But the two entrenched sides did not appear ready to cede ground.

“The Americans are talking to me, the Egyptians are talking to me,” Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, said during a video meeting with local council heads, “but I remain focused on the reason we went out on this campaign: to make Hamas and Islamic Jihad pay a price.”

Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

The most surprising turn has been the violence between Jews and Arabs who have lived side by side in Israeli cities, with reports of gangs of people from one group pummeling members of another. Riots, stone throwing and protests continued overnight.

By Friday morning, the Israeli authorities reported that eight Israelis, including one soldier, had been killed. Palestinian health officials reported the death toll in Gaza at 119.

The crisis has come at a time when Israel’s political leaders are struggling to form a government after four inconclusive elections in two years. Mr. Netanyahu’s attempt to build a majority coalition in the Israeli Parliament failed, and his rival, Yair Lapid, had been invited to try to form a government.

A building in Gaza City on Thursday that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.
Credit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

GAZA CITY — The taxi was loaded with everything the family would need for Eid al-Fitr, a holiday of feasts and cookies and new clothes that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had, even before the assault by ground forces on Friday, transfigured into a time of explosions and fear.

In their four suitcases, the al-Hatu family — mother, father, son and daughter — had made sure to pack kaak filled with date paste, the biscuits traditionally shared among friends and family during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

But they also brought enough clothing and food for several days — no one knew when it might be safe to go back home. Until then, to try to escape the airstrikes, they were going to stay with another daughter, on Al Mughrabi Street, a five-minute drive away.

They had all agreed: It would feel safer if they were all together, said the son, Mohammed al-Hatu, 28.

They were still unloading the taxi driver’s white Skoda sedan outside their temporary home shortly before noon on Wednesday when the first drone attacked.

Mr. al-Hatu’s sister had already lugged one suitcase inside. Mr. al-Hatu, who had been carrying another, staggered into the doorway of the building, bleeding, and collapsed.

Out on the street, their father, Said al-Hatu, 65, and the taxi driver lay dead. A few yards away, their mother, Maysoun al-Hatu, 58, was alive, but desperately wounded.

“Save me,” she begged Yousef al-Draimly, a neighbor who had rushed downstairs, he recounted. “I need an ambulance. Save me.”

An ambulance came, but Ms. al-Hatu did not make it.

Less than a minute after the first strike, a second drone strike ruptured the street, killing two more men: a worker at a laundry on the block and a passer-by. Another man, a barber whose shop was next to the laundry, was so badly wounded that his leg had to be amputated.

On Thursday, the first day of Eid al-Fitr, and the fourth day of the worst conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in years, Gaza City was silent with fear, except when it was loud with terror: the sudden smash of Israeli airstrikes, the whoosh of militants’ rockets arcing toward Israel, the shouts of people checking on one another, the last moans of the dying

Jordanian protesters gathered near the Israeli embassy in Amman, the capital, this week.
Credit…Khalil Mazraawi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

AMMAN, Jordan — Thousands of protesters in Jordan, Israel’s western neighbor, marched toward the border on Friday morning, chanting slogans in solidarity with the Palestinians and waving Palestinian flags as Jordanian riot police guards surrounded them.

“We are here. Either we go down, or they will have to carry us back,” they chanted, videos posted to social media showed. “To Palestine, to Palestine. We are going to Palestine. We are going in millions as martyrs to Palestine.”

Arriving in buses and cars, the protesters called on Jordan’s government to open the border, where it has stepped up security in recent days amid the growing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Before the protesters could reach the demarcation line, however, the riot police blocked their path, social media videos and photos at the scene showed.

Jordanians have been protesting near the Israeli Embassy in Amman for several days, some of the largest expressions of solidarity for the Palestinians in a region that has otherwise reacted mildly if at all to the outbreak of violence. Protesters have called on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador.

Jordan’s 1994 treaty normalizing relations with Israel produced a chilly-at-best peace between the two countries, and the latest conflict has strained it further. This week, Jordan summoned the Israeli chargé d’affaires in Amman to condemn Israeli “attacks on worshipers” around the Aqsa Mosque compound in the walled Old City of Jerusalem, which played a major role in setting off the current conflict.

The conflict is taking a growing toll as Israeli military strikes, Palestinian rocket attacks and street violence continue.

Israeli soldiers near the border between Israel and Gaza on Friday.
Credit…Amir Cohen/Reuters

As 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 shelled Gaza — a potentially major move of escalation against the Hamas militants who have been launching hundreds of rockets at Israel.

For the Palestinians, the indefinite postponement of elections last month by the Palestinian Authority 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. The American leader also dispatched an experienced diplomat, the deputy assistant secretary of state Hady Amr, to urge de-escalation on both sides.

The Biden administration 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 Israel, 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.

Rockets launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip on Friday.
Credit…Anas Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Palestinian militants have fired some 1,800 rockets from Gaza at Israel this week, far more than in previous clashes, according to Israeli officials, who on Thursday expressed surprise at the size of the barrage and the range of some of the rockets.

Israel’s “Iron Dome” antimissile system has shot down many of the rockets, and many others have struck places where they could do little damage. But some of the rockets, which are unguided, have hit populated areas, blowing up buildings and cars and killing seven people in Israel.

The increasingly sophisticated arsenal of rockets is the primary weapon of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. Other groups there, like Islamic Jihad, also have them. Israeli intelligence estimates there are 30,000 rockets and mortar projectiles stockpiled in Gaza.

Hamas was believed before this week to have rockets with ranges approaching 100 miles, and many more with shorter ranges. Israel’s largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, as well as its primary airport, Ben Gurion airport, are within 40 miles of Gaza. The airport has been closed to incoming passenger flights because of the danger, with flights diverted to Ramon airport to the southeast.

But rockets have also been fired at Ramon, more than 110 miles from the nearest part of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman said the rockets aimed at that airport were a new type that could travel 155 miles, putting all of Israel within range of Gaza. The claim could not be verified, and it was not clear how many of the new rockets the group had.

In the past, many of the rockets fired from Gaza were smuggled in from Egypt, or assembled locally from smuggled parts. But in recent years, most have been made in Gaza, with technical assistance from Iran that Hamas has openly acknowledged.

A tunnel in 2018 that Israel said was dug by the Islamic Jihad group at the Israel-Gaza border.
Credit…Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

As the Israel Defense Forces strike Gaza with jets and drones, a key target has been a network of tunnels underneath the Palestinian-controlled territory that the militant Islamic group Hamas is known to use for deploying militants and smuggling weapons.

A spokesman for the Israeli military described the complex network as a “city beneath a city.”

The tunnels were also the main rationale that Israel gave for its ground invasion of Gaza during its 2014 battle with Hamas. Israel’s leaders said afterward that they had destroyed 32 tunnels during the 2014 operation, including 14 that penetrated into Israeli territory.

At the time of that fighting, the Israel Defense Forces took reporters into a 6-foot-by-2-foot tunnel running almost two miles under the border to show the threat posed by the tunnels, and the difficulty that Israel has in finding and destroying them.

Here is an excerpt from what they reported:

Tunnels from Gaza to Israel have had a powerful hold on the Israeli psyche since 2006, when Hamas militants used one to capture an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange.

The tunnels can be quite elaborate. The tunnel toured by journalists was reinforced with concrete and had a rack on the wall for electrical wiring. It also featured a metal track along the floor, used by carts that removed dirt during the tunnel’s construction, that could be used to ferry equipment and weapons, the Israeli military said.

Israeli officials acknowledge that it is a difficult technological and operational challenge to destroy all of the subterranean passageways and neutralize the threat they pose. The tunnels are well hidden, said the officer who conducted the tour, and some tunnels are booby-trapped.

A damaged building in Petah Tikva, Israel, that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

There is no simple answer to the question “What set off the current violence in Israel?”

But in an episode of The Daily this week, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times’s Jerusalem correspondent, explained the series of recent events that reignited violence in the region.

In Jerusalem, nearly every square foot of land is contested — its ownership and tenancy symbolic of larger abiding questions about who has rightful claim to a city considered holy by three major world religions.

As Isabel explained, a longstanding legal battle over attempts to forcibly evict six Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem heightened tensions in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of violence.

The always tenuous peace was further tested by the overlap of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a month of politically charged days in Israel.

A series of provocative events followed: Israeli forces barred people from gathering to celebrate Ramadan outside Damascus Gate, an Old City entrance that is usually a festive meeting place for young people after the breaking of the daily fast during the holy month.

Then young Palestinians filmed themselves slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jew on a light rail, videos that went viral on TikTok.

And on Jerusalem Day, an annual event marking the capture of East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, groups of young Israelis marched through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to reach the Western Wall, chanting, “Death to Arabs,” along the way.

Stability in the city collapsed after a police raid on the Aqsa Mosque complex, an overture that Palestinians saw as an invasion on holy territory. Muslim worshipers threw rocks, and officers met them with tear gas, rubber tipped bullets and stun grenades. At least 21 police officers and more than 330 Palestinians were wounded in that fighting.

Listen to the episode to hear how these clashes spiraled into an exchange of airstrikes that has brought Israeli forces to the edge of Gaza — and the brink of war.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Israeli-Palestinian Crisis, Reignited

Rockets, airstrikes and mob violence: Why is this happening now, and how much worse could it get?

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Singapore Brings In New Covid Restrictions After Airport Outbreak

SINGAPORE — Singapore said on Friday that it would ban dining in restaurants and gatherings of more than two people to try to stem a rise in coronavirus cases, becoming the latest Asian nation to reintroduce restrictions after keeping the illness mostly in check for months.

The new measures came after the city-state recorded 34 new cases on Thursday, a small number by global standards, but part of a rise in infections traced to vaccinated workers at Singapore Changi Airport.

The airport outbreak began with an 88-year-old member of the airport cleaning crew who was fully vaccinated but who tested positive for the virus on May 5. Co-workers who then became infected later visited an airport food court, where they transmitted the virus to other customers, officials said.

None of the cases linked to the airport outbreak are believed to have resulted in critical illness or death, according to officials.

might be more contagious than most versions of the coronavirus.

Singapore health officials said that of 28 airport workers who became infected, 19 were fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the only two approved for use in Singapore.

“Unfortunately, this mutant virus, very virulent, broke through the layers of defense,” Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told a virtual news conference on Friday.

migrant workers living in dormitories, but a two-month lockdown and extensive testing and contact tracing contained the outbreak. Although Singapore has kept much of its economy open, its vaccination effort has not moved as quickly as many expected: less than one-quarter of the population has been fully inoculated.

Changi Airport, which served more than 68 million passengers in 2019, is operating at 3 percent of capacity as Singapore has paused nearly all incoming commercial traffic. Employees there work under strict controls, wearing protective gear and submitting to regular coronavirus tests.

Singapore joins Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries that have struggled to contain new outbreaks fueled in part by variants. But Paul Ananth Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said that the rise in cases was not overly worrying.

“The reason for my optimism is that we now have effective vaccines, better diagnostics, proven treatments and even potential prophylactic agents,” he said. “If these are employed in a targeted approach, it is unlikely that we will end up with the same problems we had last year.”

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Delta will require that new employees be vaccinated.

Delta Air Lines will require new hires to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but will exempt current employees from that mandate, making it one of the first major corporations to embrace such a requirement.

“Any person joining Delta in the future, a future employee, we’re going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company,” Ed Bastian, the airline’s chief executive, said in a CNN interview on Thursday evening.

While current employees will be exempt, Mr. Bastian said that he expected 75 to 80 percent of the airline’s work force to be vaccinated anyway and that he would “strongly encourage” the rest to do so. Unvaccinated employees could face some restrictions, such as not being allowed to work on international flights, he added.

For large corporations, such decisions are thorny. On one hand, requiring vaccinations for all employees would lower the anxiety of workers returning to the office and help the country reach herd immunity, which would support the economic rebound. On the other, it raises privacy concerns and could risk a backlash or even litigation.

In January, Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, told employees in a video forum that he supported the idea but added that the carrier could not “realistically be the only company” to do so. No one followed suit, and United never acted.

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Colonial Pipeline paid 75 Bitcoin, or roughly $5 million, to hackers.

Colonial Pipeline paid its extortionists roughly 75 Bitcoin, or nearly $5 million, to recover its stolen data, according to people briefed on the transaction.

The payment came after cybercriminals last week held up Colonial Pipeline’s business networks with ransomware, a form of malware that encrypts data until the victim pays, and threatened to release it online. Colonial Pipeline pre-emptively shut down its pipeline operations to keep the ransomware from spreading and because it had no way to bill customers with its business and accounting networks offline.

The shutdown of the company’s network, which includes 5,500 miles of pipeline that supplies nearly half the gas, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast, triggered a cascading crisis that led to emergency meetings at the White House, a jump in gas prices, panic buying at the gas pumps, and forced some airlines to make fuel stops on long-haul flights.

The ransom payment was first reported by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for Colonial declined to confirm or deny that the company had paid a ransom.

first reported that Colonial had shut down its pipeline partly because its billing systems were taken offline and it had no way to charge customers.

Many organizations across the United States, including police departments, have opted to pay their ransomware extortionists rather than suffer the loss of critical data or incur the costs of rebuilding computer systems from scratch.

In a separate ransomware attack on the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, hackers said the price the police offered to pay was “too small” and dumped 250 gigabytes of the department’s data online this week, including databases that track gang members and social media preservation requests.

“This is an indicator of why we should pay,” the cybercriminals, called Babuk, said in a post online. “The police also wanted to pay us, but the amount turned out to be too small. Look at this wall of shame,” they wrote, “you have every chance of not getting there. Just pay us!”

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

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737 Max Jet Will Resume Flights After Electrical Fix, Boeing Says

Boeing says it has received approval from U.S. aviation authorities for proposed fixes to an electrical problem that grounded a portion of its troubled 737 Max fleet for more than a month. The approval is welcome news for the handful of affected airlines in the United States, where the industry is preparing for a busy summer.

The 737 Max plane was initially grounded in March 2019 after a pair of crashes, separated by months, in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Last November, the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the fleet to fly again provided that Boeing and airlines updated the Max’s flight control software and rerouted some electrical wiring, among other changes.

In December, the plane carried paying passengers in the United States for the first time since the crashes. But last month, Boeing said it had notified 16 airlines and other customers of a potential electrical problem with the Max and recommended that they temporarily stop flying some planes.

Boeing and the F.A.A. said last month that the latest electrical issue was unrelated to the 2019 grounding directive.

said in a notice that the electrical power systems on a new 737 Max 8 airplane “did not perform as expected” during routine tests before it was delivered to an airline. It said the same issue affected certain models of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9.

Specifically, the notice, known as an airworthiness directive, said design changes to support panels in the Max’s flight deck, or cockpit, had resulted in “insufficient electrical grounding of installed equipment.”

The problem could have resulted in loss of critical functions and other problems on the flight deck, the notice said. It directed Boeing to send comments about proposed modifications by mid-June.

Boeing said in a brief statement on Wednesday that it had received final approval from the regulator for the proposed modifications and issued “service bulletins for the affected fleet.” Airline manufacturers typically issue service bulletins to notify a plane’s owner about a change or improvement in a component.

Boeing also said that airlines were preparing to return the affected jets to service and that it planned to resume deliveries of the plane. The company did not provide a timeline or further details.

reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Boeing also appeared to make progress this week on another issue affecting a different model of plane, the 777. Dozens of 777 planes equipped with a Pratt & Whitney engine were grounded worldwide in February after one suffered an engine failure over Colorado. Video of the episode was startling, though the pilots landed the plane safely and no injuries were reported.

After that engine failure, the F.A.A. required that all fan blades in that type of engine be inspected. On Wednesday, the agency’s administrator, Steve Dickson, said the agency was also requiring that manufacturers strengthen the engine cowling, or housing. The “exact timing and requirements” of such a fix had not been determined, the agency said in a statement.

The 2019 crashes aboard the 737 Max killed 346 people and deeply damaged Boeing’s once-sterling reputation. The company later fired its chief executive and paid billions of dollars in fines, settlements and lost orders.

In January, Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in a legal settlement with the Justice Department stemming from the 737 Max debacle. The agreement resolved a criminal charge that had centered on the actions of two employees who withheld information from the F.A.A. about changes made to software that was later implicated in both crashes.

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Live Updates: Jews and Arabs Clash in Israel’s Streets

more of the forces into the streets on Thursday after another night of unrest.

Credit…Ammar Awad/Reuters

In one seaside suburb south of Tel Aviv, dozens of Jewish extremists took turns beating and kicking a man presumed to be Arab, even as he lay motionless on the ground. To the north, in another coastal town, an Arab mob beat a man they thought was Jewish with sticks and rocks, leaving him in a critical condition. Nearby, an Arab mob nearly stabbed to death a man believed to be Jewish.

Tamer Nafar, a Palestinian rapper considered one of the symbols of Lod mourned the terrible rupture inside the community.

“Maybe we look at the word coexistence differently,” he said. “But so far there is only one side, the Jewish side.”

The Aqsa raid might have been the spark for the current round of hostilities, but the fuel was years of anger from Israel’s Arab minority, who make up about 20 percent of the population. They have full citizenship, but rights advocates say they are victims of dozens of discriminatory regulations.

“The way that we are treated is as though we shouldn’t be here,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian political analyst from Haifa, a city in northern Israel.

A burnt vehicle is seen after violent confrontations between Israeli Arab demonstrators and police in Lod, Israel, on Wednesday.
Credit…Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

LOD, Israel — The hulks of burned out cars and trucks litter the streets of the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Lod, the epicenter of three nights of violence inside Israeli cities that have fed fears the country could be careening toward a civil war.

When the violence spread on Monday from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to Gaza, an uneasy coexistence in Lod, deep inside central Israel, abruptly ruptured.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency in the town of about 80,000 people and imposed a night curfew from Wednesday. Armed border police, brought in from the occupied West Bank, were deployed.

But the curfew did little to calm the atmosphere, and both Jews and Arabs described a terrifying night on Wednesday. Arab residents, who account for about 30 percent of the town’s population, protested while Jewish extremists came from outside Lod and burned Arab cars and property.

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

Shirin al-Hinawi, a 33-year-old Arab resident of Lod who works for the Israeli food company Osem, said her house was charred when rioters threw a Molotov cocktail into her yard on Wednesday night. She lamented that the police did not come to protect her family.

“We ran out of the house without clothes on. It was burning,” she said. “We are not living in Gaza. I’m an Israeli citizen and we didn’t do anything,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The latest eruption of Israeli-Arab warfare bears many of the hallmarks of past conflicts: round after round of Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and salvos of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. But this time a distinctly different type of violence has spilled over into Israeli cities, some of them with mixed Jewish and Arab populations living closely intertwined lives.

It was this unusual outburst of street clashes inside Israel that prompted the president to warn of a civil war and the prime minister to call for an end to “lynchings” by Arab and Jewish mobs that have run amok.

Ramat Eshkol, a hardscrabble neighborhood near the old city of Lod, has been one of the hottest flash points of violence in Lod. A community of young Orthodox Jews moved there in recent years with Arab neighbors in shared apartment buildings. Israeli flags flying out the windows mark some of the Jewish apartments.

Arab youths in Lod, inflamed by the clashes at the Aqsa compound in Jerusalem and by a long history of discrimination and generations-old fear of displacement, began protesting on Monday night outside a mosque in the old quarter and were dispersed by police who used stun grenades and tear gas, residents said.

That ignited a broader flare-up that then spread to other mixed Jewish-Arab towns and cities in Israel.

By the end of the night on Monday, an Arab man was fatally shot when dozens of stone-throwing protesters approached a building with Jewish residents. Since then, at least four synagogues have been burned as well a religious school and a military training academy.

Yousef Ezz, 33-year-old Arab truck driver from Lod, said his truck was burned on Wednesday night.

“People have lost all their faith. This is their last stop,” he said. “I will live and die here and my children will live or die here.”

Tahael Harris, a 27-year-old a Jewish woman who lives in a shabby building with a mix of Arab and Jewish citizens opposite the school that was burned, said that for the last three nights, she and her husband and two children have been holed up at home behind locked doors while mobs of Arabs were setting cars on fire and throwing stones.

On Wednesday night, the violence ramped up and the family heard live gunfire.

“There is a feeling it’s only getting worse,” she said. “Before, it was quiet, not perfect, but we were good neighbors. I don’t know where they were last night. I don’t want to ask because I’m scared to hear the answer,” she said, fearing her own neighbors were among the attackers.

Palestinian Muslims performing Eid al-Fitr prayers in the Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday.
Credit…Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press

Muslims around the world marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, a day typically filled with prayer, celebration and feasting. But for many Palestinians, the moment was a somber one amid escalating clashes with Israel that have killed scores in just a few days.

Tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem at dawn to mark Eid al-Fitr, days after Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians there in one of the triggers to the current round of violence. That episode quickly spiraled into a deadly conflict as Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets and Israel carried out airstrikes on the territory.

The Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam, located in a complex in the Old City of Jerusalem that is revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians. On Wednesday, tens of thousands of worshipers stood in lines and then bowed in prayer.

Some waved Palestinian flags and a banner showing an image of Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip. Across the region, in prayers in Jordan and Turkey, some of those gathered to mark Eid waved Palestinian flags in solidarity.

In Gaza, days of Israeli airstrikes had killed more than 80 people by Thursday morning, according to Palestinian health officials. At least six Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza into Israel by Hamas militants and their allies.

In one photo from Gaza on Thursday, three Palestinian men laid their mats alongside buildings that had been destroyed by recent airstrikes and bowed in prayer as the sun rose over the crumbling heap of concrete and tangled metal.

Elsewhere in Gaza, funerals were held throughout the morning for those killed in the strikes.

The nearly deserted Ben Gurion airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on Thursday.
Credit…Gil Cohen-Magen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Airlines in Europe canceled flights to Israel on Thursday as violence in the Middle Eastern nation escalated, and arriving flights were being diverted to Ramon International Airport in southern Israel.

Airlines in the United States had begun canceling flights on Wednesday.

British Airways said it had canceled its flights between London and Israel on Thursday. “The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority​, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” the airline said in a statement.

Lufthansa, the German airline, said it was suspending flights to Israel until Friday. Virgin Atlantic said it had canceled its service between London and Tel Aviv on Thursday morning. And the Spanish airline Iberia canceled its flight to the city on Thursday from Madrid, Reuters reported.

Flights arriving in Israel that would typically land at Ben-Gurion Airport, about 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, were being diverted to Ramon Airport, Israel’s second-largest international airport, the Jerusalem Post said.

El Al Airlines, the Israeli national airline, confirmed on its website that most of its incoming flights would land at Ramon airport, in the south of Israel, instead of Ben-Gurion. Outgoing flights were still due to leave from Ben-Gurion, El Al said on its website. It said on Wednesday that customers with travel booked before May 19 would be able to reschedule without being subject to fees.

United Airlines, American Airlines Delta Air Lines canceled flights to and from Tel Aviv on Wednesday, and in some cases waived change fees for customers with planned trips through May 25.

Deadly violence between Palestinians and Israel continued to take a toll on Thursday, including clashes in city streets, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as “anarchy.”

A damaged house in Ashkelon, Israel, on Wednesday.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

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

Both Israel and Hamas first have to find ways to spin a narrative of victory for their publics, analysts say, but the task will be easier for Hamas than for Israel.

Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has to calculate the impact of the fighting on his own political fortunes, made more complicated by the internal unrest between Jews and Israeli Arabs in numerous cities inside Israel. The crucial decision for Israel is whether “victory” requires sending ground troops into Gaza, which would 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 aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Thursday.
Credit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

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.”

Israeli forces patrolling Acre, a mixed Arab-Jewish town in northwest Israel, on Thursday.
Credit…Jalaa Marey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Violence in Israel could have “significant economic repercussions” if it leads to sustained conflict between Jewish and Arab citizens, the Fitch credit ratings agency said Thursday.

The warning from Fitch, whose views influence the interest rates paid by the Israeli government and Israeli corporations, was an indication of how rioting and mob attacks in cities like Lod could undercut the country’s recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic.

Fitch, noting that the Israeli economy has withstood past conflicts, said damage to the government’s creditworthiness would be limited “unless there is a substantial and sustained escalation in violence.”

If persistent strife prompts bond investors to demand higher interest rates on Israeli government debt, borrowing costs for businesses and consumers would also rise and act as a brake on growth.

Fitch and other ratings agencies consider Israeli government bonds to be a relatively safe investment, but the country already pays a premium because of what Fitch called its “hostile geopolitical environment.”

Fitch said that violence involving Arab Israelis, who make up about one-fifth of the population, represents a particular risk. In recent days Jewish and Arab citizens have clashed in the worst violence in decades in Israeli cities, in some cases dragging people from their vehicles and beating them severely.

The violence will make it more difficult for the leading political parties to form a stable government following elections in March that produced a stalemate. And the fighting will hurt the Israeli tourism industry, Fitch said.

The fighting will also hinder Israel from benefiting from better relations with other countries in the region, Fitch said. “The prospect of improved regional relations has receded further with the latest clashes,” Fitch said.

The United States Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018.
Credit…Valery SharifulinTASS, via Getty Images

The United States Embassy in Jerusalem has warned its staff members and their families to stay close to home or near bomb shelters because of the heightened threat of rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza, barely 40 miles away.

The warning, issued on Wednesday and posted on the embassy’s website, came as the crisis engulfing Israel and the Palestinian territories escalated to the most violent in years.

“Rockets continue to impact the Gaza periphery and areas across Southern and Central Israel,” read the alert. It advised diplomats and their relatives to remain in safe surroundings at least until May 17.

The embassy itself is contentious, having been moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by President Donald J. Trump three years ago over the strenuous objections of the Palestinians, who saw the change as an endorsement of Israel’s claim to the entire city as its capital. Israel captured the eastern part of the city in the 1967 war, and its occupation is not internationally recognized.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital under a long-proposed two-state solution to the conflict. Most foreign embassies in Israel remain in Tel Aviv, partly because of Jerusalem’s disputed status.

While the Biden administration has pledged a more evenhanded approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than that of its predecessor, which heavily favored the Israeli side, there is no expectation the embassy will be moved back to Tel Aviv.

The embassy was part of a jarring juxtaposition when it held a celebratory opening on May 14, 2018. While Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and other American officials were toasting the relocation, Israeli soldiers and snipers were using tear gas and live gunfire to drive back hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza side of the border.

Several Islamist terror organizations take their name from Al-Aqsa, a holy site in Jerusalem., 
Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Instagram removed some posts and restricted access to other content that used hashtags related to the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after mistakenly associating the name with a terrorist organization, according to an internal company message.

The error, acknowledged by Facebook, which owns Instagram, added a new irritant to the crisis roiling Jerusalem and spreading elsewhere in Israel and the occupied territories. The crisis began over an Israeli police crackdown around the mosque, which is built atop a site holy to Muslims and Jews.

Facebook said in the message that while “Al-Aqsa” often refers to the mosque, “it is also unfortunately included in the names of several restricted organizations.” Although the company did not identify those groups, the State Department has designated the Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as a foreign terrorist organization, and several other groups with “Al-Aqsa” in their names have had sanctions imposed on them by the United States.

As a result, the company said, some content related to the Aqsa Mosque was mistakenly removed or restricted.

“I want to apologize for the frustration these mistakes have caused,” a Facebook employee who works on the issue of “dangerous organizations” wrote to employees in an internal message that Facebook shared with The New York Times. “I want to reaffirm that these removals are strictly enforcement errors. We understand the vital importance of the Al-Aqsa mosque to Palestinians and the Muslim community around the world.”

The restrictions, previously reported by BuzzFeed News, had fueled criticism that Instagram and other social media platforms were censoring Palestinian voices after a raid by the Israeli police on the mosque left hundreds of Palestinians and a score of police officers wounded.

Facebook’s internal message said the company was making changes to ensure that the term “Al-Aqsa” by itself does not prompt restrictions or removals.

“These mistakes are painful, erode the trust of our community and there is no easy fix for that,” the Facebook employee wrote. “While I cannot promise that future errors will not occur — I can promise that we are working earnestly to ensure that we are not censoring salient political and social voices in Jerusalem and around the world.”

Twitter, which had also been accused of unfairly blocking Palestinian content, said in a statement that it used a combination of technology and people to enforce its rules.

“In certain cases, our automated systems took enforcement action on a small number of accounts in error through an automated spam filter,” Twitter said in a statement. “We expeditiously reversed these actions to reinstate access to the affected accounts.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel declared a state of emergency in the city of Lod on Wednesday. His political opponents blame him for the rising violence.
Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JERUSALEM — When it’s guns doing the talking, Israel’s usual political clamor typically shushes up.

This time? It’s different.

As the conflict with Gaza inflicted more death on Wednesday, a political rival of Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the prime minister for the escalating violence and said he was working to replace him.

Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the opposition, said the conflict “can be no excuse for keeping Netanyahu and his government in place,” He added, “They are exactly the reason why he should be replaced as soon as possible.”

The crisis, in which dozens have been killed, has occurred at a key moment in Israeli politics.

After Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a government following the fourth elections in two years, Mr. Lapid was given his chance. Yet the bloodshed makes Mr. Lapid’s efforts to forge a coalition government both simpler and more difficult.

On one hand, Mr. Netanyahu’s detractors have even more incentive to oust him. But the violence has highlighted the profound differences between the parties of the anti-Netanyahu camp, which span the political spectrum from left to right.

“If the opposing ideologies meant they had one hand tied behind their back,” said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “now they have both hands tied behind their back.”

President Biden condemned the rocket attacks on Israel and said the United States’ position was that Jerusalem should be “a place of peace.”
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden said that he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “for a while” on Wednesday amid escalating fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, and asserted his “unwavering support” for Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

“My hope is that we will see this coming to a conclusion sooner than later,” Mr. Biden said in response to questions from reporters.

According to a readout of the call released by the White House, Mr. Biden “condemned” the rocket attacks on Israel and added that the United States’ position is that Jerusalem be “a place of peace.”

Mr. Biden also said that his administration’s national security and defense officials had been and would stay “in constant contact” with their counterparts in the Middle East.

The White House added that during the phone call Mr. Biden had updated Mr. Netanyahu on the United States’ diplomatic engagement with Palestinian officials and other nations in the Middle East.

The call between the two leaders came on the same day that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke over the phone with Mr. Netanyahu.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday offered “ironclad support” for Israel’s self-defense in a phone conversation with Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister.

Andrew Yang, a candidate for New York City mayor, said early this week that he was “standing with the people of Israel.”
Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times

New York City has the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel. And while the city’s mayor has no formal foreign-policy powers, the position often affords opportunities to showcase New York’s posture toward Israel.

But wholehearted, uncritical support for Israel is no longer automatic among officials or candidates — a dynamic that has been brought to the fore amid the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Andrew Yang, a leading candidate to be the city’s next mayor, issued a statement early this week saying that he was “standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” and adding, “The people of N.Y.C. will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

Then came the backlash.

At a campaign stop, Mr. Yang was confronted about his statement and its failure to mention the Palestinians, including children, who were killed in Israeli airstrikes. He was uninvited from an event to distribute food to families at the end of Ramadan.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who has condemned the “occupation of Palestine,” called Mr. Yang’s statement “utterly shameful” and noted that it had come during the Muslim holy month.

Mr. Yang acknowledged that volunteers with his campaign had been upset by his statement. And on Wednesday he released a new one, admitting that his first was “overly simplistic” and “failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering on both sides.”

“I mourn for every Palestinian life taken before its time, as I do for every Israeli,” he said.

His clarification reflects a reality that what was once a given in New York City politics — unquestioning support for Israel — has become a much more complicated proposition for Democratic candidates.

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