Thursday Briefing

A man inspecting the rubble from an Israeli strike in central Gaza on Monday.Credit…Adel Hana/Associated Press

Can Israel really dismantle Hamas?

Skepticism is growing over one of Israel’s key objectives: to eliminate Hamas, the Islamist political and military organization that maintains control over the Gaza Strip. Increasingly, critics such as President Emmanuel Macron of France are questioning whether resolving to destroy such a deeply entrenched organization was ever realistic.

Since Hamas first emerged in 1987, the group has survived repeated attempts to eliminate its leadership. Experts say the organization’s very structure was designed to absorb such contingencies. In addition, Israel’s devastating tactics in the Gaza war threaten to radicalize a generation of new recruits. The Israeli military estimates that it has so far killed about 8,000 Hamas fighters out of a force of between 25,000 and 40,000.

The group’s top echelon is believed to be sheltering, along with most of Hamas’s fighters and its remaining Israeli hostages, in deep tunnels. Although the Israeli army has said that it demolished at least 1,500 shafts, experts consider the underground infrastructure largely intact.

Quotable: Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said that Hamas was quickly replacing its top commanders. “From a professional point of view, I must give credit to their resilience,” he said. “I cannot see any signs of collapse of the military abilities of Hamas nor in their political strength to continue to lead Gaza.”

In other news from the war:

  • Israeli officials have threatened action on a second front, along the border with Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah has fired rocket barrages into Israel.

  • Despite an international push for a cease-fire, both Israel and Hamas, at least in public, have staked out seemingly intractable conditions.

  • Hamas and other armed groups have fired about 12,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing 15 people in addition to those killed on Oct. 7, according to the Israeli government.

Nearly 400 children have been successfully repatriated.Credit…Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times

Ukraine’s stolen children

From the start of the invasion, the Russian authorities purposefully removed children from Ukraine. Some were wounded or orphaned in bombardments on Ukrainian towns and villages. Some were left homeless after parents were detained. And some have returned to tell their stories.

Ukraine says it has verified the names of more than 19,000 children who have been transferred to Russia or Russian-controlled territory. Over recent months, 387 children have been tracked down by relatives and brought back home, with the help of the charity Save Ukraine and SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine, among others.

Their accounts have helped officials and investigators build a picture of a Russian effort to remove children from Ukraine — often under the pretext of rescuing them from the war zone — to turn them against their homeland and into loyal Russian subjects.

Foreign diplomacy: Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Moscow yesterday on a trip intended to reinforce economic and defense ties.

The New York Times headquarters on 8th Avenue.Credit…Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

A multibillion dollar copyright case

The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, opening a new front in the legal battle over the unauthorized use of published work to train artificial intelligence technologies. The newspaper is the first major U.S. media organization to sue the companies over copyright issues associated with its written works.

The lawsuit, which does not include an exact monetary demand, says the defendants should be held responsible for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” related to the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.” The suit also calls for the companies to destroy any training data and chatbot models that use copyrighted material from The Times.

Details: The lawsuit contends that millions of Times articles were used to train automated chatbots, which now compete with the news outlet. The complaint cites several examples in which a chatbot provided users with near-verbatim excerpts from Times articles that would otherwise require a paid subscription to view.


Around the World

Credit…Fred Ramos for The New York Times
  • U.S. officials are struggling to contend with the chaos at the border with Mexico, as thousands of migrants arrive every day.

  • Canada may expand the right of terminally ill people to medically end their lives to include those whose only medical condition is mental illness.

  • Storms killed at least nine people in Australia over the holidays, officials said.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
  • The Michigan Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump to appear on the state’s primary ballot in February, but left the door open for a new challenge to bar him from a later ballot.

  • A coronavirus variant called JN.1 has now become the most common strain of the virus spreading across the U.S.

  • A statue of Shakira, the Colombian singer, was unveiled in Barranquilla, the city where she grew up.

  • The South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, who starred in “Parasite,” was found dead in Seoul yesterday. The police said they were investigating the death as a suicide.

What Else Is Happening

  • AstroForge, a private company, wants to mine an asteroid — and it wants to keep the details a secret.

  • Some American parents are giving their children a last name other than the father’s.

A Morning Read

Credit…Sam Bush for The New York Times

At a time when museums around the world are grappling with how to attract new audiences, the tiny Crab Museum, in Margate, England, uses humor to lure in visitors.

One example: A deeply silly diorama shows one crab holding a pint of beer and another clutching a cricket bat. (A sign explained that the species live in different parts of the world so “it would be misleading to depict them in a realistic natural setting.”)

Lives Lived

Jacques Delors, a hard-driving French politician who became the chief architect of a more unified Europe, has died at 98.


Brand Paris Saint-Germain: How Michael Jordan helped make it cool.

Jose Mourinho: The future or a Roman relic?

A Basque-only ‘philosophy’: Why some are calling for change at Athletic Bilbao.


Credit…Anna Anthropy

A place to express themselves

Transgender people have turned to video games, some with robust character creators, as places where they can safely explore their gender identities, given the array of tools to modify a character’s appearance and a virtual world that readily accepts those changes.

Nearly a decade before she came out as a transgender woman, Anna Anthropy, now a professor of game design, was wearing a dress in the world of Animal Crossing on the Nintendo GameCube. She left virtual bread crumbs for her family about information she was not prepared to share as a teenager.

“We were all playing in the same town, and I had chosen a female character,” she said. “It wasn’t something we talked about, but it was my way of seeing a version of my family where I was the right gender.”


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

Cook: Savor the Thai flavors of this salmon and rice dish.

Groove: Our critics recommend these music collections for a blast from the past.

Read: The year’s best graphic novels.

Abstain: Considering dry January? Set yourself up for success.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

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

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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