Morning news brief
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We're co-hosting the podcast today from Ramallah, a city near Jerusalem. Buildings of concrete and white stone spread out on the hillsides for miles around here. Ramallah is part of the West Bank, a largely Palestinian area, and Palestinian activists here have called for a general strike today. They're protesting Israel's military campaign southwest of here in Gaza, which, of course, is responding to the attack by Hamas.
Last evening, television screens here showed buildings blown apart in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp. Rows of bodies wrapped in white cloth lined the street outside a nearby hospital afterward. On CNN, Israeli Defense Force spokesperson Jonathan Conricus defended Israel's strike.
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JONATHAN CONRICUS: We were targeting an important military commander. Therefore, there could be no warning before we struck the target.
INSKEEP: NPR's Greg Myre is following this from Tel Aviv. Hey there, Greg.
GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: Why does Israel say it struck such a densely populated area?
MYRE: Well, they say the target was this top Hamas commander, Ibrahim Biari. Then they describe him as one of the key Hamas figures in the October 7 Hamas slaughter in Israel. The Israelis say Biari and dozens of other Hamas militants were in a tunnel network beneath the Jabalia camp, and they assess that Biari and many of these others were killed. Photos from the scene show these deep craters, and some analysts say this does point to the possibility, or even likelihood, that the airstrikes hit tunnels and forced them to collapse.
INSKEEP: OK, do Palestinians and Hamas admit to that?
MYRE: Well, we know they have tunnels. That's not in dispute. But the group says that Biari, the Hamas commander, was not there at the time of the strike and that Israel is intentionally killing Palestinian civilians. According to the interior ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, Israeli fighter jets unloaded at least six large bombs on the neighborhood. It's a scene of utter devastation. We see apartment blocks and homes just reduced to chunks of concrete. Palestinians are calling it one of the deadliest Israeli attacks yet, though we do not have reliable casualty figures.
INSKEEP: Is this strike at all connected with the Israeli ground troops who have now been moving in that area, so far as we know?
MYRE: Well, Steve, I think it potentially says a lot about what's coming. The Israeli troops have now reached the outskirts of Gaza City, the biggest city in the territory. It seems they're trying to push the Hamas fighters to squeeze them into Gaza City and then use airstrikes to hit them. The Israelis are also talking a lot about the Hamas tunnel network, saying this is where Hamas fighters are concentrated. And as we've seen, Israel is prepared to use powerful bombs to penetrate the tunnels.
But human rights groups are saying it's not acceptable to bomb in this way when so many civilians are present aboveground. The leading Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said in a statement that, quote, "not everything is allowed in war, including war on Hamas."
INSKEEP: OK, so that is one of the big stories today. Would you catch us up on another one, Greg? A lot of people are stuck in Gaza who want out, including Americans. Are they getting out now?
MYRE: So hundreds of people are lined up on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing, which is the boundary with Egypt. Now, these are foreign nationals who are trying to leave, have been trying to leave. And it appears this could happen today, though the emphasis is on could. The crossing has been used to allow some aid trucks into Gaza, but it has been closed for anyone trying to leave Gaza. There are several hundred U.S. passport holders who are among those stuck in Gaza and are desperately trying to get out. In addition, 81 people badly injured in Gaza will be allowed to go to Egypt to receive medical treatment, according to Palestinian officials. So there have been a number of false starts about the opening at the Rafah crossing, but there is hope that it will open today.
And one last thing - communications are again down in Gaza. This happened for about day and a half over the weekend, made it extremely difficult, for example, for ambulances to operate in the territory since nobody could contact them. And today, phone and internet service is again out in Gaza.
INSKEEP: NPR's Greg Myre in Tel Aviv. Greg, thanks so much.
MYRE: Sure thing, Steve.
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A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Donald Trump Jr. will testify today in the New York civil case charging his family with fraud.
INSKEEP: He is the first member of the Trump family to sit for questioning by the New York state attorney general during this particular trial. Eric Trump is scheduled for tomorrow. And the former president and his daughter Ivanka Trump are set to testify next week.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Andrea Bernstein is here to tell us what to expect. So Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump - why are they defendants here?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: So let me first say this is the case where a judge has already found that Donald Trump and the other defendants, including two of his older children, committed persistent and repeated business fraud by lying again and again about the value of their assets. At issue in this trial is whether there was a conspiracy to do this and how much, if anything, the Trumps owe New York state to right the wrong. According to the charging documents, quote, "the fraudulent scheme was integral to the business of the Trump Organization and required the participation of Mr. Trump and his children." Eric Trump is the main member of the Trump family running the company. Don Jr. has loosened his ties, spending time writing a book and speaking on the conservative circuit. And Ivanka has all but left the company, moving with her family to Florida.
MARTÍNEZ: OK, so there's been about a month of testimony already. What does that reveal about the second generation of Trumps?
BERNSTEIN: The Trump Organization is a family business. Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump were all executive vice presidents who were involved in running the company, commercial buildings, licensing foreign deals. And when then President Trump went to the White House in 2017, he turned over the day-to-day running of the business to his two oldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric. And we've seen in the trial that Don Jr. and Eric Trump approved statements of financial condition. Donald Trump Jr. was involved in commercial buildings like 40 Wall Street, which is one of the big buildings that come up often in the trial. The Trumps told one set of facts to their lenders about that building - that it was worth a lot - and another set to taxing authorities to save on taxes.
MARTÍNEZ: So what's at stake, then, for Don Jr. and Eric Trump?
BERNSTEIN: The AG wants to prevent Eric, Don Jr. and their father from ever running a business in New York again. And Don Jr. and Eric would be among the individuals responsible for paying 250 million back to the state if the judge rules in the AG's favor. I should say Ivanka Trump is not a defendant. She was a senior White House adviser to her father and left the company in early 2017. So her actions took place too long ago to be part of this case.
MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, will her brothers have to testify?
BERNSTEIN: Could take the Fifth Amendment, but because this is a civil case, the judge could use that against them to draw what's called an adverse inference about them. Another co-defendant, the former CFO Allen Weisselberg, answered many questions when he testified by saying, I don't recall. So you might see some of that.
MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, Don Jr. and Eric Trump - how have they responded to the AG's lawsuit?
BERNSTEIN: The family members have steadfastly maintained this is a normal way of conducting a real estate business in New York. Eric Trump recently posted on social media about the New York attorney general, Letitia James, saying, this is the corruption my father and our family is fighting in New York. The system is weaponized, broken and disgusting. Donald Trump Jr. said on a conservative news network, this is a kangaroo court.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Andrea Bernstein. Thanks a lot.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
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MARTÍNEZ: Today is the deadline set by the Pakistani government for all undocumented immigrants to leave or face deportation.
INSKEEP: Pakistan is home to over 1 million Afghans, some of whom have lived in this country for decades, fleeing war after war after war in Afghanistan and many who fled Taliban rule following the U.S. troop withdrawal just a couple of years ago. In the last few months, tens of thousands of those Afghans have been arrested and deported.
MARTÍNEZ: Rick Noack covers Afghanistan for The Washington Post. He joins me now from Kabul. Why is the Pakistani government asking these people to leave the country?
RICK NOACK: Good morning. Well, the Pakistani government portrays this as a decision that was long overdue. They say they've done far more than any other country for Afghan refugees. They've hosted millions who arrived over various waves of migrations since the 1970s. And they argue that this is a burden they can no longer carry. But this deportation drive also comes at a time when Pakistan's economy continues to sink deeper and deeper into crisis. And it comes amid concerns over a mounting number of suicide bombings and attacks in Pakistan that have been blamed on Afghans. So a lot of these refugees, they're being scapegoated as a result of that.
MARTÍNEZ: And the Afghans who are leaving Pakistan, what are you hearing from them?
NOACK: Well, a lot of the refugees who have left voluntarily over the last few weeks have said that they don't see a future in Pakistan if the country turns against them in that way. Many have stayed home over the past few weeks out of fear that the police could arrest and deport them. They didn't send their children to school. Many parents have lost their jobs. So it's obviously an extremely tough situation, but it's also a very tough decision for them to leave. Many have been in Pakistan for decades, and some were born in the country but never received citizenship. So they're heading to a country they have never been to, really into an unknown future.
MARTÍNEZ: And is that country, Afghanistan, prepared to receive so many people? I mean, if these people have no home in Pakistan and they're going to go to Afghanistan, can they handle them?
NOACK: Well, it's clear that there aren't many open jobs that are waiting for them. And there'll be girls, young women among those returnees who were able to get some education in Pakistan but who will now be returning to a country where schools and universities are closed for them. In terms of preparation, the Taliban-run government has announced that they will create reception camps where refugees can stay for some time. But so far, there's not a broader plan to reintegrate those people, really, into the economy.
MARTÍNEZ: What's the relationship between Pakistan and the Afghan government these days?
NOACK: Well, I think it's a lot tenser than either side would have hoped for two years ago when Pakistan really seemed to be, you know, one of the Taliban-run government's strongest advocates on the international stage. One of the top concerns for Pakistan right now is the deteriorating security situation in the country. And Pakistani authorities say that the Taliban-run government is, at least in part, to blame. They argue that many of the suicide bombers and attackers who've killed Pakistani civilians and soldiers in recent months are based in Afghanistan and that the Taliban isn't doing enough to detain them.
MARTÍNEZ: That's The Washington Post's Rick Noack in Kabul. Rick, thank you.
NOACK: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.