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Today’s top storiesIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israeli military to prepare to evacuate the southern Gazan city of Rafah, despite global alarm.
- NPR’s Eyder Peralta reports from Tel Aviv on the Up First podcast that the Israeli military says heavier airstrikes in Rafah overnight were part of diversionary tactics to free the hostages. The Israeli military, in an announcement early today local time, said Israel rescued two of the 136 hostages which Israel believes are still in Gaza. According to a hospital official in Gaza, at least 55 Palestinians were killed by the airstrikes.
- Before Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Kerem Shalom was the main commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza, with limited supplies reaching Gaza. Today, some Israelis are attempting to block aid trucks from reaching Gaza, despite warnings of famine from aid groups.
- NPR’s Daniel Estrin, Greg Myre, Eyder Peralta, and Hadeel Al-Shalchi are reporting from the region.
- NPR’s Stephen Fowler tells Up First that the White House issued a statement calling Trump’s words “unhinged.” NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Trump’s suggestion could undermine security and put American and European forces at risk. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress largely shrugged it off as “Trump being Trump.” Fowler adds that Trump falsely implies there are countries that haven’t paid their bills or owe the U.S. or NATO directly. He says NATO isn’t like a country club; it’s a group of countries committed to defending each other.
- NPR’s Asma Khalid, speaking to several immigration experts, says the answer is that it’s way too simple to think that any president can wave a magic wand and suddenly seal off the country’s borders. Khalid mentions that some Republicans are comparing a proposed asylum ban at the southern border to Trump’s Muslim travel ban. But the situation at the border revolves around asylum, not travel restrictions.
- Beyoncé used her appearance in a commercial to announce the release of new music. Her latest album, which is part two of her “Renaissance” project, is set to be released on March 29. High school football players who survived the Maui wildfires were honored at the big game. NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans ranks the best (and worst) Super Bowl 2024 commercials. Jesus made a return this year in the ‘He Gets Us’ ads. Here’s an NPR explainer on what they mean, and who funds them
Picture showSince March 2022, El Salvador’s state of emergency—triggered by a surge in gang violencevisually documents how El Salvador’s nearly two-year crackdown
I’m really intoValentine’s Day is on Wednesday, and NPR’s Fiona Geira’s timeless advice reminds us that grocery stores are ideal for dates.suggests amidst a sea of dating apps and restaurantsWhat are you really into? Fill out this form or leave us a voice note at 800-329-4273, and part of your submission may be featured online or on the radio.
3 things to know before you go1. Music power couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (a.k.a. Kasseem Dean) opened their extensive art collection “Giants” at the Brooklyn Museum will be open 2. A miniature surgical robot, named MIRA, has recently arrived at the International Space Stationdirecting its movements3. Jamaican and Bahamian officials are pushing back against the U.S. State Department dismissing claims
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