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Daniel Estrin

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Updated on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET

In Iraq and Syria, news of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death has stirred a mix of responses — from joy to disbelief to dread.

Since President Trump announced this weekend that Baghdadi died during a U.S. military operation in Syria, analysts have been grappling with the implications for the militant organization that has now lost its main chief in addition to all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria.

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After weeks of raucous, jubilant protests and sometimes violent attempts to quell them, there was celebration in the streets of Beirut today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language).

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Lebanon's mass street protests resemble other outpourings of anger in places like Chile and Ecuador. But the Lebanese never miss an excuse to party.

Faced with years of war, Lebanese have coped with strife by using satire, humor and lots of dancing. This thawra or revolution, as anti-government protesters in Lebanon call it, is no different. It's accompanied by clever handwritten signs, profanity-laced chants and even "Baby Shark" singalongs.

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This is what Lebanon sounds like tonight.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in foreign language).

As the five-day cease-fire along Turkey's border with Syria continues to falter, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) tells NPR he thinks the deal is "really terrible."

Our small NPR reporting team arrived in Syria just in time to witness a historic moment in the long-running civil war. But we didn't think we would have to rush out so quickly.

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The United States military and Kurdish militias were allies for five years fighting against ISIS. Now that has changed. President Trump unexpectedly pulled U.S. troops from near the Syria-Turkey border, and the Kurds were left to fend for themselves.

Turkey's defense ministry says the country's forces have captured a Syrian border city after clashes with Kurdish-led militias. But a Syrian monitoring group said the fight was still ongoing.

Turkish officials said on state media Saturday that the strategic town of Ras al-Ayn, which sits on the northeastern part of the border, has been "brought under control." Several surrounding villages have also been overtaken, the officials said.

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, faces his toughest political battle for survival in years, as the country holds unprecedented repeat elections Tuesday.

This is the second time Israelis are going to the polls in less than six months. Netanyahu, 69, forced the do-over in a last-minute move, just weeks after April elections, because he secured a narrow win but failed to build a parliament majority.

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The Trump administration has shown unwavering support for the Israeli government, except for one major criticism: China's growing influence in the Israeli economy.

Chinese companies have invested in strategic Israeli infrastructure, from shipping to electricity to public transportation, and they have bought up millions of dollars in stakes in cutting-edge technology startups.

Where Israel sees an opportunity to access the world's second-largest economy, the United States sees security threats posed by its main adversary.

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It takes a few seconds: Palestinians place electronic ID cards on a sensor, stare at the aperture of a small black camera, then walk past panels fanning open to let them through.

Israel is upgrading its West Bank checkpoints with facial recognition technology to verify Palestinians' identities as they cross into Israel. The new system, which began rolling out late last year, eases their passage with shorter wait times — but is drawing criticism about the role the controversial technology plays in Israel's military control over Palestinians.

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Now for a view of the Gaza Strip that few people get. It's what a tourist might see if tourists were allowed; they haven't been since Hamas militants took over Gaza 12 years ago.

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The fake license plates, forged passports and concealed surveillance camera were locked away in the musty archives of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency for 50 years. Now they are touring the U.S. in a traveling exhibition about the Mossad's legendary capture of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann.

But one object crucial to the mission's success is not on display: the needle used to inject a sedative into Eichmann's arm before he was smuggled onto a plane back to Israel to stand trial.

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In Israel, the new education minister has caused an uproar by saying gay conversion therapy works. The practice has been widely discredited. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

For over a decade, the Gaza Strip — controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas, blockaded by its neighbors, difficult to leave — has amounted to an experiment in human isolation.

Now there is a new escape route. Egypt suddenly opened its border with Gaza in May 2018, and, facing increasingly unbearable living conditions, tens of thousands of Gazans are believed to have crossed that border and scattered across the world, in the latest chapter in a mass exodus of migrants out of the troubled Middle East.

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When it came down to a final issue for Israeli voters to ponder before Tuesday's elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an extraordinary campaign pledge: If re-elected, he said on Saturday, he would annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Such a move would represent a dramatic, far-right policy change for Israel, staking a permanent claim over lands Palestinians demand for their own state.

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