Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.

A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied international pressure to call off Israel’s planned ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost Gazan city where over a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. “Those who want to prevent us from operating in Rafah are basically telling us: Lose the war. It’s true that there’s a lot of opposition abroad, but this is exactly the moment that we need to say that we won’t be doing a half or a third of the job,” Netanyahu said. Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman report for the New York Times.

Israeli forces will expand military operations in Rafah if hostages held by Hamas are not returned by the start of Ramadan, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said yesterday. The Muslim holy month is expected to start on March 10 or 11, and Gantz’s comments appear to be the clearest deadline yet for Israeli military action in the southern Gaza city. “The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know — if by Ramadan our hostages are not home — the fighting will continue to the Rafah area,” Gantz said, adding, “We will do so in a coordinated manner, facilitating the evacuation of civilians in dialogue with our American and Egyptian partners to minimize civilian casualties.” 

Hamas’s demands for a hostage deal are “delusional” and need to be “close to reality,” Israel’s Coordinator for the Captives and the Missing, Gal Hirsch, told CNN. “We want a deal very much and we know we need to pay prices. But Hamas’s demands are disconnected from reality – delusional,” Hirsch said. He said there is “nothing more important” than bringing Israeli hostages home, but that “We are ready to stop warfare by ceasefires, not to stop the war.” 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has opened historic hearings into the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state. The session, expected to last for six days, follows a request by the U.N. General Assembly for a non-binding advisory opinion into Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. Judges will likely take months to issue an opinion. At the start of the hearings today, Palestinian foreign minister Riayd al-Maliki accused Israel of apartheid and urged the court to declare that Israel’s occupation is illegal and must end immediately and unconditionally. Mike Corder reports for AP News.

Israel formalized its opposition to what it called the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, saying any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations. Netanyahu brought the “declaratory decision” to a vote in cabinet, which unanimously approved the measure. Reuters reports.

Gaza’s Nasser hospital has ceased to function after “a week-long siege followed by the ongoing raid,” the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has said. “Both yesterday and the day before, the WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners. There are still about 200 patients in the hospital. At least 20 need to be urgently referred to other hospitals to receive health care,” W.H.O. head Tedros Ghebreyesu said. The Israeli military said no deaths have occurred as a result of its actions and that its troops had been told to keep the hospital running. BBC News reports. 

At least 18 people have died following an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza yesterday, according to a spokesperson for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, which received the victims. Dozens of others were injured, the spokesperson and another doctor at the hospital said. Most of those killed and wounded were children, the two health officials added. Abeer Salman and Mohammed Tawfeeq report for CNN.


Talks to reach a ceasefire agreement were “not very promising in recent days,Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said. “The pattern in the last few days [is] not really very promising but, as I always repeat, we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” he told world leaders at the Munich Security Conference, stressing that a truce should not be dependent on a deal to release the hostages held by Hamas. “This is the dilemma that we’ve been in and unfortunately that’s been misused by a lot of countries – that in order to get a ceasefire, it’s conditional to have the hostage deal,” he said. James Gregory reports for BBC News.

Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi told the Munich Security Conference yesterday that Israel is responsible for displacing millions of civilians in Gaza and that Jordan “should not be responsible for cleaning Israel’s mess” by accepting people into its borders. What we see in Gaza is a devastating war, mass murder, destruction of the livelihood of 2 million people, pushing people to the abyss, destroying hospitals, killing journalists, medics, humanitarian workers. We have got to frame things in the right context,” Safadi said, when asked if Jordan would accept displaced Palestinians. Celine Alkhaldi and Jennifer Hauser report for CNN.


Israel accused Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of trivializing the Holocaust when he likened Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Nazi genocide. “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” Lula said during the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said it would summon the Brazilian ambassador for a reprimand over the remarks, which Netanyahu described as “disgraceful and grave.” Reuters reports. 


The United States does not support the upcoming Security Council resolution proposed by Algeria calling for an immediate ceasefire, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has confirmed. 

The U.S. Special Envoy for humanitarian aid said on Friday that Israeli military strikes on Palestinian police officers were hampering the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip. David Satterfield said Israeli strikes in recent days had killed multiple police officials who were escorting U.N. aid convoys in Gaza. “We’re working with the Israeli government, with the Israeli military, in seeing what solutions can be found here because everyone wants to see the assistance continue,” Satterfield said. “No one wants to empower Hamas.” Gaya Gupta reports for the New York Times.


The United States struck five Houthi military targets including an undersea drone in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday, CENTCOM announced yesterday. It is believed to be the first time that the Houthi fighters have used an underwater drone since they began their campaign against ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eden on Oct. 23. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.

Iran is privately urging Hezbollah and other armed groups to exercise restraint against U.S. forces, according to officials in the region. U.S. officials say the message might be having some effect. As of Saturday, Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria had not attacked U.S. forces for more than 13 days – an unusual lull since the start of the war in Gaza. Susannah George, Dan Lamothe, Suzan Haidamous, and Mustafa Salim report for the Washington Post.

Israel carried out covert attacks on two major natural gas pipelines inside Iran this week, disrupting the flow of heat and cooking gas to provinces with millions of people, according to two Western officials and a military strategist affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. While Israel has long targeted military and nuclear sites inside Iran, blowing up part of the country’s energy infrastructure marked an escalation in the covert war and appeared to open a new frontier, officials and analysts said. Farnaz Fassihi, Eric Schmitt, Ronen Bergman and Julian E. Barnes report for the New York Times.


President Biden blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden has said Russia would face “devastating” consequences if Navalny died in prison, and on Friday said his administration was “looking at options” after being asked about additional sanctions against Moscow over Navalny’s death. Jacob Knutson reports for Axios.

Hungarian officials declined to meet with a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers over the weekend who had visited to press the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to approve Sweden’s accession into NATO. The snub was the latest effort by Orban to show he will not submit to outside pressure over NATO’s long-stalled expansion. Andrew Higgins reports for the New York Times.

China is increasing maritime law enforcement and will carry out “regular patrols” near a group of frontline islands controlled by Taiwan, as tensions rise after two Chinese fishermen drowned during a pursuit by Taiwan’s coast guard who accused them of trespassing. The move is aimed at “further maintaining the order of operations in the relevant waters and protecting the lives and property of fishermen,” a spokesperson for China’s coast guard said. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the deaths caused “strong indignation” and there is no such thing as “prohibited or restricted waters.” Nectar Gan and Wayne Chang report for CNN.

Some 90,000 people attended a rally in Mexico’s capital yesterday, protesting against proposed changes to the electoral authority ahead of June’s presidential elections. The opposition accuses current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of attempting to weaken the National Electoral Institute (INE), an autonomous, non-partisan body. Since winning the presidency in 2018, Obrador has pushed to reform the INE, which he says is biased and corrupt. BBC News reports. 

Thailand’s convicted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been released from a police hospital on parole, where he had been serving a one-year jail sentence for corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin, a 74-year-old billionaire, was detained as soon as he arrived in Thailand last August from 15 years in self-imposed exile. Thaksin’s original eight-year term was commuted to one year by Thailand’s king, and Thai authorities said Thaksin was eligible for parole due to his age and health issues. BBC News reports. 

China offered to support long-time strategic partner Hungary on public security issues, going beyond trade and investment relations, as the two countries mark their 75th year of diplomatic relations, Chinese Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong told President Orban last week, the official Xinhua news agency said. Liz Lee and Ryan Woo report for Reuters.

Dozens of people have died in a tribal dispute in Papua New Guinea’s remote Highlands region. The victims were shot dead during an ambush in the Enga province over the weekend, a national spokesperson told the BBC.


Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from Avdiivka, a key eastern town besieged by Russian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the decision was taken to save soldiers’ lives and blamed faltering Western weapons supplies. Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday it had taken “full control” of the town, which Putin called an “important victory.” President Biden blamed the decision on congressional inaction in passing a foreign aid package, including funding for Ukraine. Jaroslav Lukiv reports for BBC News.

The Kremlin has been running a disinformation campaign to undermine Zelenskyy, including by orchestrating the recent split with Ukrainian Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, documents shown to the Washington Post show. Putin’s administration ordered a group of Russian political strategists to use social media and fake news articles to push the theme that Zelenskyy “fears that he will be pushed aside, therefore he is getting rid of the dangerous ones,” resulting in thousands of social media posts and hundreds of fabricated articles circulating in Ukraine and across Europe that tried to exploit rumored tensions between the two Ukrainian leaders. The files expose the scale of the Kremlin propaganda targeting Zelenskyy with the aim of dividing and destabilizing Ukrainian society.


A New York judge ordered former President Trump to pay nearly $355 million in penalties for falsely inflating the value of his real estate properties. Speaking at a rally in Michigan on Saturday, Trump said, “our court system is a mess” and that Judge Engoron’s decision was a “lawless and unconstitutional atrocity that sets fire to our laws like no one has ever seen in this country before.” A GoFundMe has been launched to help Trump’s legal expenses, which has raised $415,462 at the time of writing. Rachel Scully reports for The Hill.