Hassan Diab, who, along with his cabinet, resigned after the port explosion.

There had been hope that Mr. Mikati would bring some stability as his new government took shape. But at the same time, tensions over the port investigation grew deeper.

The blast at the port was caused by the sudden combustion of some 2,750 tons of volatile chemicals that had been unloaded into the port years before, but more than a year later no one has been held accountable.

The judge investigating the explosion, Tarek Bitar, has moved to summon a range of powerful politicians and security officials for questioning, which could result in criminal charges against them.

Hezbollah has grown increasingly vocal in its criticism of Judge Bitar, and his inquiry was suspended this week after two former ministers facing charges lodged a legal complaint against him.

Families of the victims condemned the move, with critics saying that the country’s political leadership was trying to shield itself from accountability for the largest explosion in the turbulent country’s history.

On Monday, the judge had issued an arrest warrant for Ali Hussein Khalil, a prominent Shiite member of Parliament and a close adviser to the leader of the Amal party. The warrant leveled serious accusations against Mr. Khalil.

“The nature of the offense,” the document read, is “killing, harming, arson and vandalism linked to probable intent.”

On Tuesday, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah issued some of his most scathing criticism of Judge Bitar, accusing him of “politically targeting” officials in his investigation and calling for a protest on Thursday.

When Hezbollah followers joined the protests to call for the judge’s removal, witnesses said, the sniper shots rang out.

Ben Hubbard reported from Beirut, and Marc Santora from London. Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad and Asmaa al-Omar from Beirut, and Vivian Yee and Mona el-Naggar from Cairo.

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Restoration of Kabul’s Closed Airport Begins as Some Afghan Aid Resumes

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s plunge into chaos, isolation and near-destitution under its newly ascendant Taliban rulers appeared to slow on Thursday, with the first significant moves to salvage Kabul’s inoperable airport, an increased flow of U.N. aid and word that international money transfers had resumed to the country, where many banks are shuttered.

But these developments did not signal any diminished suspicion toward the Taliban, the hard-line movement of Islamic extremists, many of them on terrorist watch lists, who seized power last month after two decades of war against an American-led military coalition and the government the United States had propped up.

And despite expectations that the Taliban leaders now ensconced in Kabul’s presidential palace would formally announce the makeup of a new government on Thursday, the anticipated announcement was delayed.

ended on Monday night. The airport remained closed to the public on Thursday, its hangars strewn with debris and some aircraft damaged by shrapnel, bullets and vandalism, but the Taliban permitted reporters inside, where security personnel and technicians from Qatar who had been sent to help reopen the airport were busy.

Teams of Qataris ferried back and forth in armored Land Cruisers at the airport’s VIP terminal under a giant billboard of Ashraf Ghani, the former president who fled abroad on Aug. 15 as Taliban fighters entered Kabul all but unopposed.

“The airport will open very soon,” said Daoud Sharifi, the chief operating officer of Kam Air, Afghanistan’s largest privately owned airline, which basically shut down even before the Taliban triumphed more than two weeks ago.

Western Union announced that it was resuming money transfers to Afghanistan, enabling customers from 200 countries and territories to “once again send money to their loved ones in the country.” Western Union, which had halted the transfers a few weeks ago, took the step as the U.S. Treasury Department said American financial institutions could process personal remittances.

Such remittances from the Afghan diaspora, a crucial source of income and foreign currency in Afghanistan, had basically stopped. At the same time, financial institutions in the United States and elsewhere have prevented the Taliban from gaining access to Afghan government bank reserves and other financial assets.

The dearth of cash in Afghanistan has become an acute source of desperation, seen in the lines of customers queued outside banks in the prelude and aftermath of the Taliban takeover. It also represents a quandary for the United States, which does not want to be seen as penalizing ordinary Afghans, many of them still in shock over the abrupt U.S. departure.

their origin story and their record as rulers.

Despite the Taliban’s effort to project an image of responsibility in reopening Kabul’s airport, enormous challenges remain not just for that facility but for basic aviation security. Most foreign carriers are now avoiding Afghanistan’s air space, depriving it of yet another important source of income: overflight fees, which countries charge airlines for permission to fly over their territory.

Both of Afghanistan’s carriers — Kam Air and the state-owned Ariana Airlines — are crippled for now.

In a recent interview from Doha, Qatar, Farid Paikar, the chief executive of Kam Air, said his airline had been reeling from heavy losses in the months leading up to the tumult during the Kabul airport evacuation, which left two of its aircraft damaged. He also said the airport’s aviation control systems had been damaged and that many Kam Air employees, including foreign pilots, engineers and technicians, had been forced to flee.

“It will take so long to reactivate all these systems and the terminal,” Mr. Paikar said. “The international community should help us with this, but I don’t know if they will be interested.”

A former Ariana official said three of that carrier’s four aircraft had been damaged at the Kabul airport, along with many computer and aviation systems.

An interview with an airport security guard who managed to flee to Doha in the evacuation offered a vivid account of the scene the day after Kabul fell to the Taliban, basically describing it as a total breakdown in authority.

The security guard, Gulman, who identified himself by only one name for fear of reprisal, said crowds of Afghans had poured onto the tarmac, clambering to board any departing flights. Windows of grounded Kam Air planes were cracked and seats torn apart, he said.

But the biggest blow to the airport’s viability, he said, were the employees who joined the frenzy of others scrambling to leave: security guards, airline crews and air traffic controllers who abandoned their posts.

Gulman said he had arrived at work expecting to inspect bags at his scanner as usual. Instead, he found every other luggage scanner abandoned and the uniforms of his colleagues scattered on the floor.

For half an hour, Gulman said, he stood at his usual post, debating what to do before another colleague arrived and convinced him that the two of them — having gotten past the crowds at the airport gate because of their security guard uniforms — should also board a flight.

Sharif Hassan and Najim Rahim contributed reporting.

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Israeli Police Round Up More Than 1,550 Suspects in Mob Violence

JERUSALEM — More than 1,550 people have been arrested over the past two weeks, the Israeli police said on Monday, on suspicion of involvement in the recent outbreak of mob violence between Arabs and Jews that convulsed cities across Israel.

Announcing the start of an even more concerted arrest campaign, the police said in a statement that thousands of police and border police officers had spread out across the country “to bring the rioters, criminals and all those involved in the disturbances to justice.”

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the police, said that 70 percent of those arrested were Arab citizens of Israel while 30 percent were Jewish. About 150 suspects have already been charged, the police said.

“The majority of incidents that took place were carried out by Arab Israelis who took to the streets and attacked Jewish civilians and police officers,” he said.

the worst intercommunal violence Israel has seen in decades, the outburst of assaults, arson and vandalism spread to other mixed cities in northern Israel and the Arab towns of the Galilee, while Bedouin Arabs torched and ambushed Jews’ cars with stones on the roads in the southern Negev desert.

Over several nights, Arab and Jewish gangs sought out targets. Several victims on both sides were beaten unconscious; one Jewish man was badly burned; and at times the unrest turned lethal.

looming eviction of six Palestinian families from homes claimed by Jewish landlords has contributed to the unrest, and where the police continue to disperse sporadic protests.

The police have come in for harsh criticism from both Jewish and Arab witnesses and victims of the mob violence. Many said they had tried to call the police as their properties came under attack during the disturbances but got no response.

Mr. Rosenfeld said that at that time too many incidents were occurring simultaneously and that it was impossible to place an officer by every door.

The government called in hundreds of border police officers from the occupied West Bank to restore order in Lod.

When crime involved only Arab citizens, as both perpetrators and victims, the police showed little interest, said Ms. Touma-Sliman, the lawmaker, adding, “we’ve been pleading for years for them to take action.”

Only now, she said, when the violence affected the Jewish population, were the police talking about gathering video footage from security cameras and using other technological means to locate and identify suspects.

“I have lost confidence in the police,” she said. “They will have to earn it.”

On Monday alone, the police said, they had arrested 74 suspects, including dozens who had thrown stones, fireworks and firebombs and assaulted officers in Jerusalem and Arab-populated areas of central Israel. They said they had also seized illegal weapons, including an M16 assault rifle, and ammunition.

Three Israeli Jews, including a minor, 16, were charged on Monday for what the prosecution called the “attempted terrorist murder” of an Arab Israeli driver in Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb. He was dragged from his car and beaten almost to death at the height of the intercommunal violence.

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Israeli Ground Forces Attack Gaza, Escalating Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Couple Who Defaced $400,000 Painting in South Korea Thought It Was a Public Art Project

SEOUL — The couple saw brushes and paint cans in front of a paint-splattered canvas at a gallery in a Seoul shopping mall. So they added a few brush strokes, assuming it was a participatory mural.

Not quite: The painting was a finished work by an American artist whose abstract aesthetic riffs on street art. The piece is worth more than $400,000, according to the organizers of the exhibition that featured the painting.

Now it’s hard to tell where the artist’s work ends and the vandalism begins. “Graffitied graffiti,” a local newspaper headline said last week.

Either way, the piece, “Untitled,” by John Andrew Perello, the graffiti artist known as JonOne, is now a magnet for selfies. And on social media, South Koreans are debating what the vandalism illustrates about art, authorship and authenticity.

The artwork is displayed with paint cans, brushes and shoes that the artist used when he worked on it, one of the exhibition’s organizers, Kang Wook, said in an interview. He added, “There were guidelines and a notice, but the couple did not pay attention.”

Some social media users have echoed Mr. Kang’s reasoning. Others say the sign was confusing and the couple should not be blamed.

A few suggest that the incident itself was a form of contemporary art, or that the couple’s abstract brush strokes — three dark-green blotches covering an area about 35 inches by 11 inches — have improved the piece.

The debate is notable in part because the crime was not intentional and the painting can be restored, said Ken Kim, an art restoration expert in Seoul who has seen the vandalized work.

The painting is part of “Street Noise,” an exhibition that opened at Lotte World Mall in Seoul in February and features about 130 artworks by an international group of more than a dozen graffiti artists. Mr. Kang said the staff at the mall noticed on March 28 that the painting had been vandalized, and identified the couple by checking security footage.

The couple were arrested but released after the police determined that the vandalism was accidental, the local news media reported. Mr. Kang said the couple told the police that they had thought the artwork was open to public participation.

The couple have not been identified and could not be reached for comment.

The artist, JonOne, said in an interview on Wednesday that he was disappointed and angry that his work had been “defaced,” although some people have said the publicity could work in his favor.

“Art should be religious,” he said. “You don’t paint on a church.”

JonOne said the vandalism of his work in Seoul reminded him of growing up in New York City and the feeling that his talent was not appreciated.

As a teenager, he would sign his graffiti with the tag “JonOne.” His style later became more abstract, although he continued to use graffiti lettering as the foundation for his work. Now 57 and living in Paris, he has described his aesthetic as “abstract expressionist graffiti,” a nod to Jackson Pollock and other American artists who redefined modern painting in the years after World War II.

Julien Kolly, a gallerist in Zurich who specializes in graffiti art and has exhibited JonOne paintings over the years, said that they often prompted strong reactions from viewers.

“Some are full of praise and others think that a child could do better,” he said. “Of course, I am in the first category.”

Mr. Kolly said that he wondered why the couple who vandalized “Untitled” in Seoul thought they could “intervene” in an artwork that was hanging in a gallery — but also that he did not think they intended to “destroy” it.

“I can understand that people may have thought that they could, at the very least, do better than the artist by participating in this work,” he added.

Mr. Kang said a decision about whether to restore “Untitled” would be made before the exhibition ends on June 13. The restoration could cost about $9,000, he added, and the insurance company may find the couple partially liable for the cost.

“But we are concerned,” he added, “because there are many comments saying that the artwork should not be restored, and remain as it is.”

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A Graffiti Artwork in South Korea Was ‘Graffitied.’

SEOUL — The couple saw brushes and paint cans in front of a paint-splattered canvas at a gallery in a Seoul shopping mall. So they added a few brush strokes, assuming it was a participatory mural.

Not quite: The painting was a finished work by an American artist whose abstract aesthetic riffs on street art. The piece is worth more than $400,000, according to the organizers of the exhibition that featured the painting.

Now it’s hard to tell where the artist’s work ends and the vandalism begins. “Graffitied graffiti,” a local newspaper headline said last week.

Either way, the piece, “Untitled,” by John Andrew Perello, the graffiti artist known as JonOne, is now a magnet for selfies. And on social media, South Koreans are debating what the vandalism illustrates about art, authorship and authenticity.

The artwork is displayed with paint cans, brushes and shoes that the artist used when he worked on it, one of the exhibition’s organizers, Kang Wook, said in an interview. He added, “There were guidelines and a notice, but the couple did not pay attention.”

Some social media users have echoed Mr. Kang’s reasoning. Others say the sign was confusing and the couple should not be blamed.

A few suggest that the incident itself was a form of contemporary art, or that the couple’s abstract brush strokes — three dark-green blotches covering an area about 35 inches by 11 inches — have improved the piece.

The debate is notable in part because the crime was not intentional and the painting can be restored, said Ken Kim, an art restoration expert in Seoul who has seen the vandalized work.

The painting is part of “Street Noise,” an exhibition that opened at Lotte World Mall in Seoul in February and features about 130 artworks by an international group of more than a dozen graffiti artists. Mr. Kang said the staff at the mall noticed on March 28 that the painting had been vandalized, and identified the couple by checking security footage.

The couple were arrested but released after the police determined that the vandalism was accidental, the local news media reported. Mr. Kang said the couple told the police that they had thought the artwork was open to public participation.

The couple have not been identified and could not be reached for comment.

The artist, JonOne, said in an interview on Wednesday that he was disappointed and angry that his work had been “defaced,” although some people have said the publicity could work in his favor.

“Art should be religious,” he said. “You don’t paint on a church.”

JonOne said the vandalism of his work in Seoul reminded him of growing up in New York City and the feeling that his talent was not appreciated.

As a teenager, he would sign his graffiti with the tag “JonOne.” His style later became more abstract, although he continued to use graffiti lettering as the foundation for his work. Now 57 and living in Paris, he has described his aesthetic as “abstract expressionist graffiti,” a nod to Jackson Pollock and other American artists who redefined modern painting in the years after World War II.

Julien Kolly, a gallerist in Zurich who specializes in graffiti art and has exhibited JonOne paintings over the years, said that they often prompted strong reactions from viewers.

“Some are full of praise and others think that a child could do better,” he said. “Of course, I am in the first category.”

Mr. Kolly said that he wondered why the couple who vandalized “Untitled” in Seoul thought they could “intervene” in an artwork that was hanging in a gallery — but also that he did not think they intended to “destroy” it.

“I can understand that people may have thought that they could, at the very least, do better than the artist by participating in this work,” he added.

Mr. Kang said a decision about whether to restore “Untitled” would be made before the exhibition ends on June 13. The restoration could cost about $9,000, he added, and the insurance company may find the couple partially liable for the cost.

“But we are concerned,” he added, “because there are many comments saying that the artwork should not be restored, and remain as it is.”

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