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Thursday Briefing – The New York Times


After hitting targets in neighboring Pakistan, Iraq and Syria with missiles, Iran has played up not only its military capabilities but its determination to strike enemies at will. Iran’s show of strength was meant to reassure conservatives domestically and militant allies abroad as well as to warn Israel, the U.S. and terrorist groups that Iran will retaliate if attacked, according to two Iranians affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.

According to Iran, the attack in Syria targeted Islamic State; the one in Pakistan struck another terrorist group, Jaish al-Adl; and the one in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region was aimed at what Tehran says is an Israeli base for intelligence gathering.

Yet for all the missiles and belligerent words, Iran once again appeared to stop short of a major escalation that might further inflame a regional conflict centered on the war in Gaza. Analysts say that Iran wanted the attacks to be measured, flexing its muscles without getting into a direct fight with Israel, the U.S. or their allies.

Quotable: “We are a missile power in the world,” Iran’s defense minister, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, told reporters, according to state media. “Wherever they want to threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will react, and this reaction will definitely be proportionate, tough and decisive.”

Response: Pakistani forces earlier today carried out strikes inside Iran, responding one day after Iranian forces attacked what they said were militant camps in Pakistan.

Displaced Palestinians sheltering at the Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, fled the grounds late Tuesday night and early yesterday morning amid intense fighting nearby, according to videos and news footage.

About 7,000 people are believed to have been sheltering on the hospital grounds, according to the U.N. Many displaced Palestinians now in southern Gaza have relocated several times since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7.

The fighting around Nasser has raised fears that Israeli troops might be advancing toward the hospital. By midmorning yesterday, ground forces nearby appeared to have withdrawn.

Context: Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes, and Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza in November in a move that Gaza health officials said put the hospital out of service at the time. The raid on Al-Shifa revealed a stone-and-concrete tunnel shaft below the hospital.

Details: Only 15 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are even partially functional, according to the W.H.O., and Nasser has been treating double its usual caseload, with as many as 700 patients a day.

A Kenyan judge said that Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, a former taxi driver turned doomsday cult leader, must undergo a mental health evaluation before prosecutors formally charge him with the murders of 191 children. Mackenzie denies the allegations.

The charges relate to the discovery last April of mass graves in the Shakahola Forest of southeastern Kenya, where hundreds of people had come to follow Mackenzie’s teachings. The Kenyan authorities say that he told members of his church to starve themselves to death to meet Jesus, and more than 400 bodies were exhumed from the forest.

Watching “Oppenheimer,” Catie Edmondson, a reporter for The Times, wondered: How did the president get the $2 billion secret project past Congress?

After six months of digging through archives, she writes, “It turns out that when Congress voted to fund the bomb, there was no debate and no discussion” on the creation of a weapon of mass destruction.

Unbeaten at halfway: Could Leverkusen really have an invincible season?

Challenging Red Bull: McLaren aims to carry its Formula 1 momentum into 2024.

No “quiet please”: At the Australian Open, a courtside bar with plenty of noise.

Tuesday was the first snowy day in New York City in almost two years, and many people, including Omari Francis, above, were delighted to venture out into the once common winter snowscapes. Our photographer captured their looks: toasty puffer jackets, a floral duster coat and one exposed midriff.

In Melbourne, Australia, the sun is out. Simbarashe Cha, who explores street style around the world for The Times, observed a mostly black palette and tattoos that reminded him of Berlin on sleepy summer streets. See his photos here.

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

Reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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