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Up First Briefing: ICJ finds Gaza genocide case 'plausible'; bipartisan border deal

Patrick Post

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's Top Stories

The International Court of Justice is set to issue a provisional order on the case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. South Africa brought the case to the U.N.'s top court two weeks ago, arguing that Israel's military response to the October 7 attacks by Hamas had gone beyond warfare to genocide.

  • The final decision on whether Israel is guilty of genocide is expected to take years of litigation, but the provisional order may put into place measures to protect Palestinians. NPR's Lauren Frayer explains on Up First that those could be anything from a halt in fighting to a call for Israel to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza. 
  • Israel rejected the charges, citing self-defense against Hamas, and listed the efforts it made issuing evacuation orders and providing aid to civilians in Gaza.
  • Palestinians shared witness accounts of an attack at a U.N. facility with NPR. Thousands of civilians are trapped in hospitals and U.N. shelters as Israeli troops encircle the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

A bipartisan Senate deal to pair border enforcement measures with aid for Ukraine and Israel could be falling apart, largely thanks to former President Donald Trump. The deal was close to being finalized after months of negotiating.

  • Republicans must now decide whether it's worth defying Trump to secure the border and take the policy win. Or, as NPR's Eric McDaniel tells Up First, "risk a potential Biden political win, credit for deal-making and taking action on immigration reform."

The Biden administration is pausing a decision on approving a Louisiana liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project, that would be the country's largest natural gas export project. This delay allows the Department of Energy to review if these plants are in the "public interest," considering their impact on the climate, public health and the economy.

  • Climate activists are applauding the decision. NPR's network reporter Halle Parker of WWNO in New Orleans spoke to Roishetta Ozane, who's been opposing the project for years. She told Parker that the decision "signals the Biden administration is finally listening. Parker reports that the Louisiana LNG project review's duration is uncertain, with a pause expected until completion, potentially extending through November and the election.

Today's Listen

Matt Rourke / AP

Housing is unaffordable for a record half of U.S. renters, according to a new report by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. The biggest jump in unaffordability since 2019 was for households making $30,000 to $74,999 a year, though researchers saw increases across every income category. While the double-digit rent hikes of the peak pandemic years may finally be easing, experts say the cooling housing market isn't likely to help those struggling the most. Read the story or listen to it here.

Weekend Picks

/ Courtesy of Prime Video
Courtesy of Prime Video

Movies: Origin, Ava DuVernay's adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson's best-selling book Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents, is a "is a story of ideas, made deeply personal," says NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour.

TV: The Amazon drama Expats follows several privileged, disconnected American women (including one played by Nicole Kidman) living in Hong Kong. It also hasa rather stormy backstory.

Books: Time correspondent Simon Shuster, who spent months embedded with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Russia's invasion unfolded, details the president's transformation in his new book, The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky.

Music: Sleater-Kinney's new album, "Little Rope," is the rock band's way of reckoning with fresh societal turmoil and personal tragedy.

Games: If you're wondering how to prepare for next month's highly-anticipated release of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, NPR ranked the franchise's best spinoff games, books and more.

Quiz: This week's NPR News quiz will test your knowledge of Oscar snubs, flying airplane doors and more than one slimy creature. Good luck!

Before You Go

/ David Arbour/Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
David Arbour/Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

  1. It got so cold in Texas last week that alligators were found frozen underwater — and still breathing. While the gators' behavior stunned social media, experts say it's totally normal.
  2. The Omicron coronavirus subvariant JN.1 is now the most prevalent COVID-19 variant in the United States and around the world and is behind the most recent surge in the virus.
  3. The ex-head of Spain's soccer federation Luis Rubiales may face a criminal trialfor forcibly kissing the Spanish soccer player Jenni Hermoso during the Women's World Cup ceremony last year.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit

Anandita Bhalerao
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.