Thursday Briefing – The New York Times


Two explosions at a memorial for Iran’s former top general, Qassim Suleimani, killed at least 103 people and wounded an additional 211, according to Iranian officials, sowing fear in a country where domestic unrest and the prospect of a spiraling regional war have left many on edge. The attack came at a time of heightened anxiety in Iran and across the region.

Iranian officials told state media that a pair of bombs that had been placed in bags in the city of Kerman exploded, as a procession of people made its way there to commemorate the fourth anniversary of General Suleimani’s death. The architect of the axis of regional militias backed by Iran’s hard-line government, he was killed in an American drone strike.

The attack in Iran has led to finger-pointing, confusion and speculation after no group took responsibility. Officials in the government blamed the two countries that Tehran has long cast as archenemies, the U.S. and Israel. International intelligence experts and analysts said the attack bore the hallmarks of terrorist groups, not of Israel.

First person: “I heard the explosion 25 meters away from me,” a witness said. “On the ground, there were all women and children like withered flowers.”

The killing of Saleh al-Arouri, a top Hamas leader, deprives the militant group of one of its most skilled tacticians. He helped route money and weapons to Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Middle East and integrated the group more tightly into Iran’s network of forces committed to fighting Israel, according to analysts.

But it is not certain that his death, though a setback, will be a debilitating blow to the organization, which has rebuilt again and again after the assassinations of its leaders and has remained agile enough to plot the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in southern Israel. Israel has not taken responsibility for his killing.

His assassination also further internationalizes Israel’s war against Hamas, significantly raising the stakes for countries that host Hamas officials and putting new pressures on the group that could, if sustained, transform it.

Context: Israel’s overwhelming offensive in Gaza has significantly weakened the military strength of Hamas there. Al-Arouri’s position, as Hamas’s de facto ambassador to Iran and Hezbollah, meant that he would have had an important role in the group’s efforts to rebuild militarily with help from foreign backers.

In Israel: The Supreme Court postponed the enactment of a law that makes it harder to remove a prime minister from office, a setback for Benjamin Netanyahu.

Amid an escalating cycle of air assaults, Russia and Ukraine announced a mutual release of hundreds of prisoners of war, the biggest exchange between the two countries since the start of the conflict nearly two years ago. The deal was brokered by the United Arab Emirates, which has tried to cast itself as a neutral intermediary.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that 234 of its soldiers had returned from captivity, while President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on social media that 224 of his country’s soldiers and six civilians had come back.

Naomi, 37, had been starving herself for 26 years. With each inpatient admission for anorexia, she gained weight. Each time, the extra weight felt unbearable, and she lost it soon after discharge. Treatment wasn’t helping, and so doctors allowed her to stop, no matter the consequences. But is a “palliative” approach to mental illness really ethical?

Wayne Rooney departs Birmingham City: Is it time for his first break in 22 years?

The best of the rest: The standout players in the Premier League’s bottom half.

Carlos Sainz targets stability: Why would Ferrari look elsewhere?

Bull’s-eye: When Luke Littler, 16, isn’t playing Xbox, he’s winning against the world’s best darts players.

The Times’s Well desk is kicking off the year with the 6-Day Energy Challenge, which focuses on the elements in your life that can affect how energized you feel.

The most recent entry focuses on food, with a simple task: Notice how the foods you eat make you feel. Two hours after a meal or a snack, jot down any sensations you’re experiencing and rate your energy level.

If the results have you wanting to make a change, Well has some ideas on tweaks you can make to your diet. For example: Fill your plate with foods rich in fiber, complex carbs and protein, which can slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and help prevent fatigue.

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