showcasing skateboarders. “People are quite fragile at the moment. Advertisers don’t want to be too saccharine or too clever but are trying to find that right tone.”

Many companies advertising during the Games are running campaigns that they had to redesign from scratch after the Olympics were postponed last year.

“We planned it twice,” said Mr. Carey of Optimum Sports. “Think about how much the world has changed in that one year, and think about how much each of our brands have changed what they want to be out there saying or doing or sponsoring. So we crumpled it up, and we started over again.”

FIFA World Cup in Qatar in late 2022 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, both of which have put the advertising industry in a difficult position because of China’s and Qatar’s poor records on human rights.

First, though, ad executives just want the Tokyo Games to proceed without incident.

“We’ve been dealing with these Covid updates every day since last March,” said Kevin Collins, an executive at the ad-buying and media intelligence firm Magna. “I’m looking forward to them starting.”

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Taliban Try to Polish Their Image as They Push for Victory

KABUL, Afghanistan — In June, when the Taliban took the district of Imam Sahib in Afghanistan’s north, the insurgent commander who now ruled the area had a message for his new constituents, including some government employees: Keep working, open your shops and keep the city clean.

The water was turned back on, the power grid was repaired, garbage trucks collected trash and a government vehicle’s flat tire was mended — all under the Taliban’s direction.

Imam Sahib is one of dozens of districts caught up in a Taliban military offensive that has swiftly captured more than a quarter of Afghanistan’s districts, many in the north, since the U.S. withdrawal began in May.

It is all part of the Taliban’s broader strategy of trying to rebrand themselves as capable governors while they press a ruthless, land-grabbing offensive across the country. The combination is a stark signal that the insurgents fully intend to try for all-out dominance of Afghanistan once the American pullout is finished.

have begun to muster militias to defend their home turf, skeptical that the Afghan security forces can hold out in the absence of their American backers, in a painful echo of the country’s devastating civil war breakdown in the 1990s.

report. Some homes there were burned down by the Taliban, residents said.

“The Taliban burned my house while my family was in the house,” said Sirajuddin Jamali, a tribal elder. “In 2015, a military base was under siege and we provided food and water for them, but now the Taliban are taking revenge,” Mr. Jamali sobbed. “Do they do the same in any area the Taliban take?”

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the accusations of burning down homes was under investigation.

The group’s public responses, though rarely sincere, play directly into a strategy meant to portray the insurgents as a comparable option to the Afghan government. And they ignore the fact that local feuds drive large amounts of the war’s violence, outweighing any official orders from the Taliban leadership.

On the battlefield, things are shifting quickly. Thousands of Afghan soldiers and militia members have surrendered in past weeks, forfeiting weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles as the Taliban take district after district. Government forces have counterattacked, recapturing several districts, though not on the scale of the insurgents’ recent victories.

But little reported are Taliban losses, aside from the inflated body counts announced by the Afghan government’s Ministry of Defense. The Taliban, with their base strength long estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000 fighters, depending on the time of year, have taken serious casualties in recent months, especially in the country’s south.

The casualties are primarily from the Afghan and U.S. air forces, and sometimes from Afghan commando units.

Mullah Basir Akhund, a former commander and member of the Taliban since 1994, said that cemeteries along the Pakistani border, where Taliban fighters have long been buried, are filling up faster than in years past. Pakistani hospitals, part of the country’s unwavering line of support for the insurgents, are running out of bed space. During a recent visit to a hospital in Quetta, a hub for the Taliban in Pakistan, Mr. Akhund said he saw more than 100 people, most of them Taliban fighters, waiting to be treated.

But despite tough battles, the weight of a nearly withdrawn superpower, and the Taliban’s own leadership issues, the insurgents continue to adapt.

Even as they seek to conquer the country, the Taliban are aware of their legacy of harsh rule, and do not want to “become the same pariah and isolated state” that Afghanistan was in the 1990s, said Ibraheem Bahiss, an International Crisis Group consultant and an independent research analyst.

“They’re playing the long game,” Mr. Bahiss said.

Reporting was contributed by Asadullah Timory in Herat, Taimoor Shah in Kandahar, Ruhullah Khapalwak, Farooq Jan Mangal in Khost and Zabihullah Ghazi in Jalalabad.

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E.U. and Britain Move to Impede Belarus’s Access to Air Travel

Airlines are often forced to adjust operations in response to major disruptions, geopolitical and otherwise. This month, for example, several U.S. airlines canceled flights to and from Israel as a conflict there escalated. Some carriers also adjusted procedures, including adding fueling stops, after the hacking of a fuel pipeline company that serves airports on the East Coast of the United States.

In 2014, nearly 300 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, where hostilities were raging, on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. Western governments blamed the Russian government and Russian-backed rebels fighting the Ukrainian government, while Moscow denied involvement. The Netherlands sued Russia in the European Court of Human Rights last year in an effort to secure evidence that would be useful to families of the victims.

From 2017 until this year, Qatar Airways was forced to avoid airspace over Saudi Arabia and several neighboring countries after they imposed an air, land and sea embargo against Qatar. In some cases, that meant flying longer routes around the Arabian Peninsula. The neighbors accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Qatar has denied those accusations.

The movement to isolate Belarus will have little effect on U.S. passenger airlines, which rarely fly over the country, according to Flightradar24. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the forced landing of the Ryanair flight, calling it a “shocking act” that “endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the safety of U.S. flights over Belarus should be assessed.

But cargo carriers could be affected. On Sunday, for example, more than a dozen flights operated by U.S. airlines flew over Belarus, according to Flightradar24, including five by FedEx, four by UPS and two by Atlas Air.

In a statement, UPS said that its network remained unaffected, but that it was “evaluating other flight route options that will provide for the safety of our crews and aircraft, as well as maintain service for our customers” in case it had to make changes. FedEx said it was “closely monitoring the issue.”

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations and the European Cockpit Association said in a statement that aviation authorities should investigate what had happened and “take swift measures” to prevent similar disruptions. They described Sunday’s episode as a “hazard to the safety of passengers and crew.”

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Israel and Hamas Agree to End Brief War

JERUSALEM — After more than 10 days of fighting that has taken hundreds of lives and inspired protests and diplomatic efforts around the world, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire on Thursday, officials on both sides said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that his security cabinet had voted unanimously to accept an Egyptian proposal for an unconditional cease-fire, which took effect early Friday morning.

A senior Hamas official based in Qatar confirmed in a telephone interview that the group had agreed to the truce.

The agreement, mediated by Egypt, is expected to conclude an intensive exchange in which Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, fired rockets into Israel and Israel bombed targets in Gaza.

nine truces came and went before the 2014 conflict ended.

The agreement could at least offer a period of calm to allow time to negotiate a longer-term deal but the deeper issues are rarely addressed.

Even if the cease-fire holds, its underlying causes remain: the battle over land rights in Jerusalem and the West Bank, religious tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem and the absence of a peace process to resolve the conflict. Gaza remains under a punishing blockade by Israel and Egypt and the West Bank remains under occupation.

Although the conflict forged a rare moment of unity among Palestinians across the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, it remains unclear whether it will significantly alter their standing.

Adam Rasgon, Isabel Kershner and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting from Jerusalem, Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City, and Katie Rogers from Washington.

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Germany’s foreign minister, visiting Israel, calls for an end to the fighting.

Germany’s foreign minister called for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel on Thursday and pledged his country’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself against what he called “massive and unacceptable attacks” from Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

“The fact that we see that Hamas has already fired rockets in the south of Israel since we arrived is an indication for us of how serious the situation in which the people of Israel find themselves is,” said the minister, Heiko Maas, during a brief visit to the region to speak with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

He met with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, at the airport in Tel Aviv shortly after his arrival.

“The number of victims is raising daily. That is very concerning and the reason we are supporting international efforts to reach a cease-fire,” Mr. Maas said, adding that his diplomatic efforts were supported by Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and the United States.

Twitter before leaving Germany: “The international community can help bring about an end to the violence and a lasting cease-fire. And we must talk about how we can find a way back to a peace agreement.”

European leaders have called for an end to the conflict, mindful of the tensions that it threatens in their home countries. France and Germany have seen pro-Palestinian demonstrations turn violent, with attacks on local Jewish institutions and memorials. Governments fear that such internal violence will worsen the longer the conflict lasts.

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Past Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Periods Didn’t Always Hold

Under growing international pressure, Israel and Hamas are said to be edging toward a cease-fire that could end their deadliest conflict since a 2014 war. But the history of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities is littered with agreements that have failed to resolve the underlying disputes.

Past cease-fires between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, have usually gone in stages, beginning with an agreement that each side will stop attacking the other, a dynamic that Israelis call “quiet for quiet.”

That means Hamas halting rocket attacks into Israel and Israel ceasing bombardment of Gaza.

Pauses in the fighting are usually followed by other steps: Israel easing its blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian relief, fuel and other goods to enter; Hamas reining in protesters and allied militant groups that attack Israel; and both sides exchanging prisoners or those killed in action. So far, this time, Israel has not used ground forces in Gaza.

But bigger challenges — such as a more thorough rehabilitation of Gaza and improving relations between Israel, Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian party that controls the West Bank — have remained elusive over the past several rounds of violence.

the devastating toll on Palestinian civilians and the extensive damage to homes, schools and medical facilities in Gaza, the current conflict has been more limited than the wars Israel and Hamas waged in 2008 and 2014, when Israeli troops entered Gaza. In past conflicts, fierce fighting has erupted in the days before and after cease-fires as both sides sought to strike decisive blows.

In July 2014, six days after the Israeli Army began bombarding Gaza, Egypt proposed a cease-fire that Israel agreed to. But Hamas said that it addressed none of its demands, and the cycle of rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes resumed after less than 24 hours.

Egypt announced another cease-fire two days later, but Israel then sent in tanks and ground troops and began firing into Gaza from the sea, saying that its aim was to destroy tunnels that Hamas uses to carry out attacks. Over the next several weeks, Israeli forces periodically paused their attacks to allow humanitarian aid, but the fighting continued.

nine truces came and went before the 2014 conflict ended, after 51 days, with more than 2,000 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis killed.

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Biden Tells Netanyahu He Expects ‘Significant De-Escalation Today’

President Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the White House principal deputy press secretary told reporters onboard Air Force One.

“Our focus has not changed,” the press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said. “We are working towards a de-escalation.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre said Mr. Biden wanted the situation to reach a “sustainable calm.”

She said the call, which came before the president departed from Washington to address graduates at the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday morning, did not reflect a shift in administration policy as it pertains to a cease-fire.

“This is what we have been calling for for the past eight days,” she said.

Still, the president’s call to the Israeli leader added to a growing chorus of international parties urging the Israeli military and Hamas militants to lay down their weapons as the conflict stretched into its 10th day.

the deadliest fighting in Gaza since 2014.

The Israeli Army’s airstrikes have killed at least 219 Palestinians, including dozens of children, according to the Gaza health ministry. They have also destroyed homes, roads and medical facilities across the territory. Hamas militants continued to fire rockets into Israeli towns on Wednesday, sending people scurrying for shelter. The barrage from Hamas has killed at least 12 Israeli residents.

tweeted on Tuesday that the attacks against Hamas would “continue as long as necessary to restore calm to the citizens of Israel.”

the humanitarian crisis has deepened for the two million people inside Gaza.

The United Nations said that more than 58,000 Palestinians in Gaza had been displaced from their homes, many huddling in U.N.-run schools that have in effect become bomb shelters. Israeli strikes have damaged schools, power lines, and water, sanitation and sewage systems for hundreds of thousands of people in a territory that has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt for more than a decade. Covid-19 vaccinations have stopped, and on Tuesday an Israeli strike knocked out the only lab in the territory that processes coronavirus tests.

“There is no safe place in Gaza, where two million people have been forcibly isolated from the rest of the world for over 13 years,” the U.N. emergency relief coordinator in the territory, Mark Lowcock, said in a statement.

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Gaza War Deepens a Long-Running Humanitarian Crisis

GAZA CITY — The nine-day battle between Hamas militants and the Israeli military has damaged 17 hospitals and clinics in Gaza, wrecked its only coronavirus test laboratory, sent fetid wastewater into its streets and broke water pipes serving at least 800,000 people, setting off a humanitarian crisis that is touching nearly every civilian in the crowded enclave of about two million people.

Sewage systems inside Gaza have been destroyed. A desalination plant that helped provide fresh water to 250,000 people in the territory is offline. Dozens of schools have been damaged or closed, forcing some 600,000 students to miss classes. Some 72,000 Gazans have been forced to flee their homes. And at least 213 Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of children.

The level of destruction and loss of life in Gaza has underlined the humanitarian challenge in the enclave, already suffering under the weight of an indefinite blockade by Israel and Egypt even before the latest conflict.

demonstrations began peacefully but led to clashes in some places in the West Bank Outside Ramallah, a group of Palestinians who had gathered separately from the protesters set fires on a major thoroughfare and later exchanged gunfire with Israeli soldiers, officials said. Three Palestinians were killed.

Rocket fire from Palestinian militants has also harmed Israeli infrastructure, damaging a gas pipeline and pausing operations at a gas rig and at two major Israeli airports.

But the damage was incomparable to that in Gaza.

Until Monday evening, Al Rimal health clinic in central Gaza City housed Gaza’s only coronavirus test laboratory. Doctors and nurses there administered hundreds of vaccinations, prescriptions and screenings a day to more than 3,000 patients.

But on Monday night an Israeli airstrike hit the street outside, sending shrapnel into the clinic, shattering windows, shredding doors, furniture and computers, caking rooms in debris and wrecking the virus lab.

adherence to the international laws of war, which bar the targeting of purely civilian sites and limit acceptable collateral damage to that which is proportionate to any military advantage.

according to a report last year by the United Nations, have left Gaza with “the world’s highest unemployment rate” and more than half of its population living below the poverty line.

By Monday, Israeli bombs had destroyed 132 residential buildings and rendered 316 housing units uninhabitable, according to Gaza’s Housing Ministry.

One airstrike essentially destroyed the Hala al Shawa clinic in northern Gaza which also provides primary health-care services and vaccinations, while another damaged four ambulances nearby, the Health Ministry said.

The blast from a third airstrike broke windows in operating rooms, forcing the clinic to transfer surgery patients to other hospitals, said Abdelsalam Sabah, the ministry’s hospitals director. A separate airstrike caused some structural damage to the nearby Indonesian hospital, he added. A piece of shrapnel flew into the emergency room at the Gaza Eye Hospital, nearly wounding a nurse, he said.

The strike on Al Rimal clinic in Gaza City also damaged the administrative offices of the Hamas-run Health Ministry, said Dr. Majdi Dhair, director of the ministry’s preventive medicine department.

One ministry employee was hospitalized and in serious condition after shrapnel struck him in the head, Dr. Dhair said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“This attack was barbaric,” he said. “There’s no way to justify it.”

Reporting was contributed by Patrick Kingsley and Myra Noveck from Jerusalem; Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel; and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Tzur Hadassah.

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Biden Voices Support for a Cease-fire in a Call With Israel’s Netanyahu

President Biden expressed support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on Monday during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

In a readout of Mr. Biden’s call, White House officials said the president “expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.”

The statement fell short of an immediate demand for an end to Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza, which has been met with rocket fire by Hamas from Gaza into Israel. The White House also said Mr. Biden “reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”

The Biden administration had previously avoided the use of the term “cease-fire,” with top officials like Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken talking instead about the need for a “sustainable calm” and others talking about the need for “restraint.”

letter led by Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia on Sunday calling for “an immediate cease-fire.”

On Monday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that the administration would not reveal all the details of Mr. Biden’s communications with leaders in the conflict. “Our approach is through quiet, intensive diplomacy,” she said. “That is how we feel we can be most effective.”

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Violence in Israel Shakes Trump’s Boast of ‘New Middle East’

WASHINGTON — It was, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed in September, “the dawn of a new Middle East.”

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Trump was announcing new diplomatic accords between Israel and two of its Gulf Arab neighbors, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

“After decades of division and conflict,” Mr. Trump said, flanked by leaders from the region in a scene later replayed in his campaign ads, the Abraham Accords were laying “the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”

Eight months later, such a peace remains a distant hope, particularly for the Middle East’s most famously intractable conflict, the one between Israel and the Palestinians. In fiery scenes all too reminiscent of the old Middle East, that conflict has entered its bloodiest phase in seven years and is renewing criticism of Mr. Trump’s approach while raising questions about the future of the accords as President Biden confronts what role the United States should play now in the region.

a January 2020 Trump peace plan proposing to create a Palestinian state, on terms heavily slanted toward Israeli demands, the accords intentionally “separated” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Israel’s relations with the Arab world, Mr. Greenblatt said.

They “took away the veto right for the Palestinians for the region to move forward,” he added.

Others noted that, before agreeing to the accords, the U.A.E. extracted from Mr. Netanyahu a pledge to hold off on a potential annexation of swaths of the West Bank, a move that had the potential to set off a major Palestinian uprising. (Trump officials also opposed such an annexation and Mr. Netanyahu might not have followed through regardless.)

Dennis Ross, a former Middle East peace negotiator who served under three presidents, called the accords an important step for the region, but said the violence in Israel’s cities and Gaza illustrated how “the Palestinian issue can still cast a cloud” over Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors.

“The notion that this was ‘peace in our time’ obviously ignored the one existential conflict in the region. It wasn’t between Israel and the Arab states,” Mr. Ross said.

a statement last week, the U.A.E.’s foreign affairs ministry issued a “strong condemnation” of Israel’s proposed evictions in East Jerusalem and a police attack on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, where Israeli officials said Palestinians had stockpiled rocks to throw at Israeli police.

Last month, the U.A.E. also denounced “acts of violence committed by right-wing extremist groups in the occupied East Jerusalem” and warned that the region could be “slipping into new levels of instability in a way that threatens peace.”

Bahrain and other Gulf states have condemned Israel in similar tones. A statement on Friday from the U.A.E.’s minister of foreign affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, called on “all parties,” not only Israel, to exercise restraint and pursue a cease-fire.

One former Trump official argued that public pressure on Israel by countries like the U.A.E. and Bahrain carry more weight after the accords, coming as they do from newly official diplomatic partners. None of the governments who are party to the accords are playing a major role in efforts to secure a cease-fire, however — a responsibility assumed in the past by Egypt and Qatar.

changed longstanding U.S. policy by declaring that the United States did not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. (The Biden administration intends to reverse that position once a review by government lawyers is complete.)

Mr. Trump also moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, officially recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, in a move that infuriated Palestinians who have long expected East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future state they establish.

“Trump opened the door for Israel to accelerate home demolitions, accelerate settlement activity,” Ms. Hassan said. “And when that happens and you see Israel acting upon it, that’s when you see the Palestinian resistance.”

Former Trump officials note that expert predictions of a Palestinian eruption during Mr. Trump’s term, particularly after the embassy relocation, never came to pass, and suggest that Mr. Biden’s friendlier approach to the Palestinians — including the restoration of humanitarian aid canceled by Mr. Trump — has emboldened them to challenge Israel.

Even some Trump administration officials said any suggestions that the accords amounted to peace in the Middle East were exaggerated.

“During my time at the White House, I always urged people not to use that term,” Mr. Greenblatt said.

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