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Monday Briefing: Israel Pulls Some Troops from Southern Gaza

WorldAsiaMonday Briefing: Israel Pulls Some Troops from Southern Gaza

The Israeli military said it withdrew a division of ground troops from southern Gaza yesterday. The move raised questions about its plans as the war reached the six-month mark — Israeli media reported that the withdrawal meant there were no Israeli troops actively maneuvering in southern Gaza.

It was unclear what the latest drawdown of forces meant for the prospect of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. Israel has significantly reduced the number of troops it has on the ground over the past several months. Only a fraction of the soldiers that it had deployed in the territory earlier in the war remain.

Israel has routed Hamas in much of Gaza, and fighting seems to have slowed. But the conflict is being drawn out by Israel’s reluctance to either hold ground it has captured or transfer its control to an alternative Palestinian leadership.

The withdrawal came as international mediators were set to meet in Cairo to pick up stalled negotiations on a temporary cease-fire and the release of hostages held in the enclave. At the same time, concerns have mounted that Iran will retaliate for an Israeli strike in Syria that killed senior commanders of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

Mexico severed its diplomatic ties with Ecuador on Friday after Ecuadorean police arrested an Ecuadorean politician, Jorge Glas, who had been granted political asylum in Mexico’s embassy in Quito, the capital. The next day, Nicaragua also announced it was suspending its diplomatic relationship with Ecuador, characterizing the arrest as “neo-fascist political barbarity.”

That arrest, which Mexico described as a “violation” of its sovereignty, capped days of growing tensions between the countries. Ecuador has considered Glas, a former vice president, a fugitive, and said its police force was acting on an arrest warrant for him.

Glas: He was convicted of bribery in two separate cases and fled to the embassy after facing more embezzlement charges.

Rwanda observed the 30th anniversary of the devastating genocide in the central African country, a 100-day rampage in which extremists from the ethnic Hutu majority killed 800,000 people — most of them ethnic Tutsis, a minority group.

The daylong tribute included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place for the remains of over 250,000 victims. “Rwanda was completely humbled by the magnitude of our loss, and the lessons we learned are engraved in blood,” President Paul Kagame, who led Tutsi rebels during the genocide, said yesterday.

Context: Rwanda has made impressive gains in maternal mortality, poverty, education and health access. But ethnic divisions persist under Kagame, an iron-fisted president who has ruled the country ever since the genocide. He is up for election this year and is expected to win another seven-year term.

Personal color analysis is popular on social media, where people pay big for consultations. The trend has devoted fans, but skeptics don’t think it’s worth nearly $500 to be told they look pasty in blue.

The Australia Letter: All hail the banh mi.

Today, a total solar eclipse will move across North America. The path of totality — the strip where the moon will completely obscure the sun — begins in Mazatlán, Mexico. It crosses over more than a dozen U.S. states, from Texas to Maine, and ends in Newfoundland, Canada.

Millions plan to watch the few minutes when the moon entirely blocks out the sun and darkness swallows the light. (At least, they hope to: Anxiety is building with cloudy forecasts.)

Some enthusiasts booked hotel rooms years ahead, and many took time off work to see the awe-inspiring event. “It is a present reminder to everyone, on the same day, that life can be magical,” my colleague Elizabeth Dias wrote.

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