First Thing: Israel ‘intentionally starving’ Palestinians, UN rights expert says

<span>Palestinian children line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip.</span><span>Photograph: Fatima Shbair/AP</span>
Palestinian children line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip.Photograph: Fatima Shbair/AP

Good morning.

Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians and should be held accountable for war crimes and genocide, according to the UN’s leading expert on the right to food.

Hunger and severe malnutrition are widespread in the Gaza Strip, where about 2.2 million Palestinians face severe shortages as Israel destroys food supplies and severely restricts the flow of food, medicines and other humanitarian supplies. Aid trucks and Palestinians waiting for humanitarian relief have come under Israeli fire.

“There is no reason to intentionally block the passage of humanitarian aid or intentionally obliterate small-scale fishing vessels, greenhouses and orchards in Gaza – other than to deny people access to food,” Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden said Israel had agreed to stop its military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas studies a draft proposal for a truce. Reuters reports that a source close to the talks in Paris says the draft includes a Palestinian prisoner-Israeli hostage exchange at a ratio of 10 to one.

  • What has Hamas said about Biden’s comments? A Hamas official told Reuters that Biden’s words about a halt to fighting in Gaza were premature, and did not match the situation on the ground, adding there were still “big gaps that need to be bridged”.

  • What has Israel said? Israeli media reports that an unnamed senior Israeli official has said he doesn’t understand “what [Biden’s] optimism is based on”.

Macron refuses to rule out sending troops into Ukraine, in call to galvanise Europe

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, said yesterday he refused to rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine, but that no consensus existed on such an action.

At a meeting of 20 mainly European leaders in Paris convened by Macron to ramp up the European response to the Russian military advances inside Ukraine, he said: “There is no consensus to officially back any ground troops. That said, nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we can to make sure that Russia does not prevail.”

He said past shibboleths such as sending long-range missiles and planes had been cast aside, adding “people used to say give them just sleeping bags and helmets” and that “we must do whatever we can to obtain our objective”.

It is the first time nation states have so openly discussed providing troops to support Ukraine’s depleted military.

  • What else did Macron say? At the end of the meeting, he warned: “There is a change in Russia’s stance. It is striving to take on further territory and it has its eyes not just on Ukraine but on many other countries as well, so Russia is presenting a greater danger.”

Slave Play writer criticises star casting as Kit Harington to feature in its West End run

The writer of Slave Play, the controversial Broadway production about race and sexuality that caused protests and broke Tony nomination records, has criticised commercial theatre’s dependency on casting celebrities, saying it turns performances into a “Disney World attraction”.

Jeremy O Harris said star casting – hiring big-name TV, film and even social media stars to perform in the West End and on Broadway – could dilute the theatre experience and was no guarantee of success.

“There’s a lot of people making theatre now who think commercial theatre can only be made if you have someone who’s on the biggest TV show or the biggest movie ever, with the marquee name as the reason for you to buy the ticket. I don’t believe in that,” Harris said.

“It’s something that takes away from great theatre because people treat it like a Disney World attraction, where the play is background to the amusement of seeing their favourite celebrity in front of them.”

  • Who is next cast in Slave Play? Slave Play will come to the Noël Coward theatre in London from 29 June to 21 September and will feature its own star name from the world of television: Kit Harington, best known to Game of Thrones fans as Jon Snow.

In other news …

  • Joe Biden joked that a potential 2024 endorsement by Taylor Swift was “classified” as he made a rare media appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Going into this year’s presidential election, Biden is seeking additional ways to reach out to voters, and his arrival was apparently a surprise to the audience.

  • Sean Combs, the rapper known as Diddy, was sued on Monday by a music producer who accused him of sexual assault and forcing him to have sex with prostitutes. The suit, filed in federal court in New York, accuses Combs of repeated instances of unsolicited groping and sexual touching.

  • Two bodies have been found south-west of Sydney during the search for missing couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies. The discovery came four days after a serving New South Wales police officer, Beau Lamarre, 28, was charged with the murders of the couple.

  • Manhattan prosecutors on Monday asked the judge in Donald Trump’s criminal case relating to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to impose a gag order on the former president, seeking to bar him from attacking potential witnesses and revealing juror identities.

  • Flight control engineers expect to lose contact with the private US moon lander Odysseus on Tuesday, cutting short the mission five days after its sideways touchdown. The company behind the spacecraft, Intuitive Machines, said it remained to be seen how much scientific data could be lost as a result.

Don’t miss this: ‘Am I a poor lover, am I ugly?’ Eric Clapton letters reveal details of George Harrison love triangle

Deeply heartfelt and revealing letters from Eric Clapton to Pattie Boyd while she was married to George Harrison are to be sold at auction, laying bare one of rock’s most notorious love triangles. Boyd was a model and an icon of swinging London in the 1960s, and married Harrison in 1966 after meeting him on the set of the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. Towards the end of the decade, Harrison and Clapton began writing music together, and Clapton became besotted with Boyd. In a 1970 letter, part of a lot of Boyd’s possessions being sold by Christie’s from 8 to 21 March, Clapton – with impeccable penmanship – beseeches Boyd: “What I wish to ask you is if you still love your husband, or if you have another lover?”

Climate check: vast swaths of US will be exposed to polluted air by 2054, says report

Vast swaths of the continental US will be exposed to unhealthy, polluted air by 2054, according to an alarming report. Researchers at First Street Foundation, a non-profit that analyzes climate risk, found that one in four Americans are already exposed to air that is deemed “unhealthy” by the Air Quality Index (AQI), which provides daily air quality readings. That number is expected to grow by 50% in the next few decades, with an estimated total of 125 million Americans experiencing dangerous air pollution by the middle of the century.

Last Thing: Elon Musk finally pays $2,000 bill owed by Tesla to jilted California bakery after press coverage of fiasco

A California bakery that said Tesla did not pay an order worth thousands of dollars has declared the outstanding bill settled, after billionaire Elon Musk said he would “make things good” after press coverage of the incident. Musk’s company Tesla had ditched an order for 4,000 mini pies from Giving Pies, a bakery in San Jose. Owner Voahangy Rasetarinera said it received a last-minute order for 2,000 pies from Tesla on Valentine’s Day, then Tesla doubled the order to 4,000 pies – before ultimately canceling it without paying.

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