Thursday Briefing: Biden Backs Israel on the Hospital Blast

President Biden yesterday after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Biden blames a Palestinian group for the hospital blast

During a wartime visit to Israel, President Biden said yesterday that U.S. intelligence showed that the deadly explosion at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City yesterday was caused by Palestinian fighters.

“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he said, appearing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council said that “our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information, is that Israel is not responsible.”

Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli airstrike. The Israel Defense Forces said the explosion was caused by an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group allied with Hamas. Neither side’s account could be independently verified, and the precise death toll is unclear. These graphics offer a detailed look at the hospital blast.

Aid: Biden announced $100 million in U.S. aid to help civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and said he had secured a commitment from Israel to allow food, water and medicine to be delivered from Egypt. Long lines of trucks waited yesterday at the Rafah border crossing to deliver aid.

Outrage: Protests spread in cities across the Middle East, bringing defiant crowds to embassies and consulates of countries that demonstrators said were complicit in the humanitarian crisis facing Gaza.

The leaders of China and Russia hailed each other as “old” and “dear” friends.Credit…Louise Delmotte/Associated Press

Putin gets star treatment in Beijing

At the Belt and Road Forum yesterday, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, gave a prominent role to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who was treated as the guest of honor and often pictured by Xi’s side. The two leaders also met for three hours.

Putin, at the start of his meeting with Xi, said that China and Russia needed to coordinate their foreign policies more closely, given what he called the “current difficult conditions.” Though Putin’s visit has yet to yield any new economic deals with China, the Russian leader was able to present himself as a global power broker despite Western efforts to isolate him. He also met with other Asian leaders.

Two contrasting trips: The Xi-Putin meeting in Beijing, coming as President Biden visited Israel, showed how the global political landscape has been redrawn by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and how that change is on full display in the war in Gaza. Russia and China have refused to condemn Hamas, and instead criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, especially its decision to cut off water and electricity in Gaza and the civilian death toll there.

A handout photo from 2017, provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry, shows the U.S. Army Tactical Missile System.Credit…Agence France-Presse, via South Korean Defence Ministry/Af

A new weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal

Ukraine used newly supplied U.S. long-range missiles, known as ATACMS, to strike two air bases in Russian-occupied territory on Tuesday. Special operations forces said the attack damaged runways and destroyed nine helicopters, an antiaircraft missile launcher and an ammunition depot.

Yesterday, President Vladimir Putin downplayed the new weapons as a U.S. mistake that would only prolong “Ukraine’s agony,” adding that the new weapons were easy to “fend off.” But Russian military bloggers loosely affiliated with the Kremlin noted the devastating impact of the first use of the missiles, which have a limited range of only 100 miles.


Asia Pacific

Shuttered stores in Shenzhen in November 2022. “Zero Covid” measures led many businesses to close.Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times
  • China’s G.D.P. grew 1.3 percent in the third quarter when compared with the three previous months, more than expected.

  • Intelligence chiefs from the U.S. and its allies vowed to do more to counter Chinese efforts to steal technology, which are increasingly trained on Silicon Valley.

  • The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has apologized for racist comments in her 2002 autobiography “Infinity Net.”

Around the World

Representative Jim Jordan at Capitol Hill yesterday.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times
  • Jim Jordan, a hard-right Republican, lost a second vote to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Unlicensed people are posing as lawyers in Kenya, a scam that has become more common amid inflation and higher taxes.

  • Mike Pence’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is facing financial problems, including debt of $620,000.

  • Liberia’s closest election in two decades is heading to a runoff after neither the president nor his main opponent secured a majority.

Other Big Stories

  • The British Museum unveiled a $12 million project to plug holes in its records and its online catalog to prevent theft of artifacts.

  • Researchers expect deaths from stroke to increase by about 50 percent worldwide, reaching 9.7 million deaths annually in 2050.

  • As Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour heads to 26 international destinations, the tourism markets in Europe and Australia are cashing in.

A Morning Read

Credit…Annie Ling for The New York Times

When Rudy Lee’s mother immigrated from Malaysia to Canada, she brought along heirloom mahjong sets. But she neverwanted him to learn how to play, fearing it might foster a propensity for gambling. But over the years, the wealth-obsessed game — with a tile called the faat coi, literally “get rich” — has created an invaluable bond between them.


Many tech companies developing A.I. have shrouded their projects in secrecy.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Shining a light on how A.I. works

This week, Stanford researchers are unveiling the Foundation Model Transparency Index, a scoring system that rated 10 large A.I. language models — among them OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Meta’s LLaMA 2 — on how transparent they are.

Companies typically don’t release information to the public about how their chatbots are trained, as millions of people incorporate A.I. tools into their daily lives. Researchers found that LLaMA 2 was the most transparent, with a score of 53 percent. GPT-4 received the third-highest score, 47 percent.

As my colleague Kevin Roose put it, “we can’t have an A.I. revolution in the dark.”

Researchers hope the rating system can help bring it into the light.


Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Prepare roasted broccoli, which you can add to a grain bowl or a simple pasta dish.

Read “Some People Need Killing,” about the campaign of extrajudicial murders under Rodrigo Duterte, by the Philippine journalist Patricia Evangelista.

Watch the animated sci-fi saga “Scavengers Reign,” in which humans are the invasive species.

Cut down on food waste with these tools and tips.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

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

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