Your Thursday Briefing: A Journalist Killed in the West Bank

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Good morning. We’re covering the killing of an Al Jazeera journalist, China’s uncertain wheat harvest and rising religious violence in India.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot in the head while reporting in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Al Jazeera, citing Palestinian authorities, said Israeli forces shot her during a raid. The news network said it held the government and military accountable. Israel’s military said that it was not clear who shot her, and that it was investigating the possibility that blame could lie with Palestinian gunmen.

Another journalist there said that there had not been any confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army when the shots were fired toward the journalists. She said she believed that they had been targeted.

Details: Abu Akleh was wearing a protective vest that identified her as a member of the news media, video showed. Another Al Jazeera journalist, also wearing a protective vest, was shot in the back.

Profile: Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Middle East.

Context: In the wake of several attacks by Palestinians that have killed 19 Israelis and foreigners since late March, the Israeli military has been carrying out raids into Jenin. At least three of the suspected perpetrators of the recent attacks were from the area.

Politics: Israel gained a measure of political stability on Wednesday, after Raam, a small Arab party, said it would rejoin the fragile governing coalition.

Ukraine’s wheat exports have been mostly halted since Russia’s invasion, while drought has damaged crops in India, East Africa and the U.S.

Now China’s harvest is uncertain. In March, the country’s agriculture minister said the wheat crop would be the worst on record because of torrential rains last fall.

The country’s coronavirus lockdowns have interrupted farming and delayed fertilizer imports. High energy prices have reduced global fertilizer production, and many farmers around the world are using less, contributing to smaller harvests.

Background: Wheat prices are up nearly 80 percent since July. Regions that rely on Russian and Ukrainian crops are dealing with particularly high commodity prices, like Germany, where food costs are driving record inflation.

Stakes: China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of wheat, and its nervousness about its own stocks could ripple through the global supply chain. A poor harvest could further increase global food prices, compounding hunger and poverty.

State of the war:


When conflicts have spilled into violence in recent months, the authorities enacted swift, one-sided punishments on Muslims. They sent bulldozers into their neighborhoods, demolishing shops and homes, circumventing legal processes and skipping full investigations.

“I fear that we are in the stage of perpetual violence,” said Asim Ali, a researcher who has studied the rise of Hindu nationalism.

Analysis: National right-wing groups have called for violence against Muslims, emboldened by the silence of the country’s top leaders. They are increasingly turning religious occasions into political events, promoting a Hindu-first vision of India that relegates minorities to second-class citizens.

History: In the past, such clashes, while often deadlier, were usually set off by a local issue and were contained to a single area. Now, thanks to social media, the right-wing provocations inspire local groups across the country.

Sedition: India’s top court paused the use of a colonial-era sedition law that has been used to quash dissent. Hundreds of people jailed under the law became eligible for bail.

Israeli soldiers had long denied killing prisoners after capturing an Arab seaside town in 1948, days after Israel’s creation. A new documentary provides fresh evidence, reopening a debate about the country’s foundational story.

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event. It is also almost certainly the kitschiest. This year’s competition takes place this week in Turin, Italy, where nations are going head-to-head for the (non-monetary) glory of a win, as well as an official winner’s trophy shaped like a 1950s microphone. Here’s what you need to know.

66: Years since the contest started in 1956. (It was initially a friendly competition between public service television broadcasters.)

40: Countries participating in this year’s contest. In an unusually political move, the organizers have barred Russia from competing “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine.”

1974: Year in which Abba won the competition, with the song “Waterloo.”

183 million: Total viewers of last year’s contest.

Three: Maximum length in minutes for each song, according to the contest’s rules.

33,938: Population of the smallest country competing — San Marino, a landlocked enclave within Italy.


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