Wednesday Briefing: Israel in Rafah; Negotiators in Cairo

Israel sent tanks into Rafah yesterday and seized control of the border crossing with Egypt, halting the flow of aid. Delegations from Israel and Hamas also arrived in Cairo to resume talks on a proposed deal for a cease-fire.

Here’s the latest.

Israel’s operation did not appear to be the long-threatened full ground invasion. The Israeli military called it “a very precise” counterterrorism operation. It said it had gone into the city to destroy Hamas infrastructure used in an attack that killed four Israeli soldiers over the weekend near another border crossing, this one from Israel into Gaza.

The head of a hospital in Rafah said that 27 bodies and 150 wounded people had been brought to his facility since the start of the incursion.

Rafah’s so-called safe zone: The area Israel has designated as a safe zone for Gazans fleeing the city is neither safe nor equipped to receive them, U.N. and European officials said yesterday. The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement that the area was “already overstretched and devoid of vital services.”

Updates on cease-fire talks: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under pressure from the U.S. and other allies to agree to a cease-fire, said that while he had sent a delegation back to the talks, “in tandem, we continue waging the war on Hamas.”

Stormy Daniels, a porn star who received $130,000 to keep silent about her account of having had sex with Donald Trump, testified yesterday in his Manhattan trial. She spoke in excruciating detail about an encounter that she said left her shaking and bewildered — and the hush-money payment that bought her silence.

Her account and the subsequent payment — which she received in 2016 from Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — are at the heart of the case. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up the payment. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied that the sexual encounter ever happened.

When prosecutors finished with Daniels, the defense’s questioning was immediately combative. A Trump lawyer sought to paint Daniels as a liar driven by greed. She is expected to return to the stand tomorrow.

Daniels’s often explicit testimony prompted lawyers for Trump to seek a mistrial. The judge denied their request.

Daniels’s account: She described in deep detail a 2006 evening with Trump that began with a dinner invitation and progressed to sex. That night, she said, Trump dangled an appearance on “The Apprentice” in front of her and told her not to worry about the fact that he was married.

From inside the courthouse: “Her derision toward Trump is very clear, and the tension in the courtroom during her testimony about him is the highest it has been at this trial so far,” my colleague Jonah Bromwich reported.

Ukraine’s security services said yesterday that they had stopped a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top military and political figures. Two Ukrainian colonels accused of participating in the plot have been arrested on suspicion of treason.

Ukrainian intelligence said in a statement that the plot had involved a network of Russian intelligence agents — including the two colonels. They were tasked with identifying people close to Zelensky’s security detail who could take him hostage and later kill him.

But pockets of resistance are growing in some major cities: Women are gathering in bars, salons and bookstores to question misogynistic tropes and debate their place in a country that wants to choose it for them.

Lives lived: Kris Hallenga was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer at 23 and spent years working to educate young people about early detection. She died at 38.

  • No surprise needed: Some couples are rejecting traditional engagements and opting for joint proposals instead.

  • London real estate: Many opt to live on houseboats, which can be cheaper than an apartment on land. But as canals fill up, boat life is becoming less attainable.

  • Deep conversation: Sperm whales use a much richer set of sounds than was previously known, scientists said, calling it a “phonetic alphabet.”

On Monday night, celebrities strutted at the Met Gala, which is known as the fashion party of the year. The event drew around 400 people and raised about $26 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute — millions more than other major New York City galas bring in.

Zendaya appeared on the red carpet in two different dresses. Cardi B required eight ushers to arrange her voluminous skirt. Gigi Hadid said her dress bore 2.8 million beads.

“It’s the most condensed time when we get to see public figures dress up in the wildest outfits and peacock around for the entire world to see,” said Vanessa Friedman, our fashion critic.

See more unforgettable looks — and photos from cocktail hour.

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