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Friday Briefing – The New York Times

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Israeli soldiers have encircled Gaza City, the Israeli military said yesterday, waging “face-to-face battles” with Hamas as they push forward with what officials have predicted will be a long and bloody ground invasion.

As the ground invasion has escalated and airstrikes have continued, Israel has come under increasing international pressure to cease the campaign, or at least temporarily pause the fighting with Hamas, to allow humanitarian aid into the enclave.

White House officials said that when the secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, arrives in Israel today he will urge the Israeli government to agree to a series of brief cessations of military operations in Gaza. The “humanitarian pauses,” as American officials are calling them, are meant to allow for hostages to be released safely and for aid to be distributed. The request is different from an overall cease-fire, which the Biden administration believes would benefit Hamas.

Israeli officials have consistently rejected calls to stop or temporarily pause the fighting, saying they have yet to achieve their goal of destroying Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza.

The Israeli military said yesterday that it had struck over 12,000 targets in Gaza since the beginning of the war. More than 9,000 people in Gaza have died in the Israeli airstrikes, according to Gazan officials.

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Ukraine’s top commander has acknowledged that his forces are locked in a “stalemate” with Russia along a front line that has barely shifted, despite months of fierce fighting, and that no significant breakthrough was imminent. It was the most candid assessment so far by a leading Ukrainian official of the military’s stalled counteroffensive.

“Just like in the First World War, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate,” the commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, told The Economist. The general said that modern technology and precision weapons on both sides were preventing troops from breaching enemy lines, and called for advances in electronic warfare as a way to break the deadlock.

The Bank of England held interest rates at the highest levels in 15 years yesterday amid signs that the economy was weakening. The bank, which kept rates at 5.25 percent, said that interest rates would need to remain high for an “extended” period.

The economy is expected to flatline for most of the next two years, the bank said in projections that accompanied the rate decision. Specifically, the bank forecast that data would show that the economy was stagnant in the third quarter of this year, would grow 0.1 percent in the final three months of the year and then would remain about flat into 2025.

High inflation also looks to be a stubborn problem. Expectations for the inflation rate in 2024 and 2025 are now slightly higher than they were a few months ago.

The $60 billion art market is blazing hot, but after an unusually weak spring auction season, major auction houses are offering concessions and pricing some of their top items more conservatively.

One expert said that there was a noticeable increase in guarantees from auction houses and third parties, which provide sellers with a confirmed minimum sales price on a piece of art. In another noticeable downshift, the rampant speculation in the ultracontemporary market for young artists born since 1975 has decreased, one expert said.

What is behind this more cautious market? Magnus Resch, an art market economist, said that higher interest rates and the global uncertainty caused by the major wars in Europe and the Middle East may be to blame.

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