Israel and Hamas resume fighting
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Israel and Hamas are back at war. For a week, there was a pause in the fighting. Hamas released 105 hostages it was holding, and Israel freed 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees. But that pause was day-to-day. There are still some 100 hostages. And today, Israel is again carrying out airstrikes in southern Gaza, and Hamas is again firing rockets into Israel. We go now to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who is in Israel reporting from Tel Aviv. Hey, Eleanor.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.
KELLY: What happened? Why did the cease-fire break down?
BEARDSLEY: Well, Israel accused Hamas of violating it by shooting rockets overnight. And Hamas says Israel refused its latest offer of a hostage prisoner exchange. So at 7:00 this morning, the truce was over. And within the first hours, Israel said it struck more than 200 targets in Gaza, and Gazan health officials said at least a hundred people had been killed. Today, an Israeli army spokesman spoke in Arabic in a message on its Telegram and YouTube channel, telling Gazans that Hamas is using them as human shields and hiding among them.
And the army published an interactive evacuation map to show civilians how to get away from targeted areas. But with internet, cell service and electricity going out all the time in Gaza, it's not sure how effective that would be. Israel also dropped leaflets urging civilians to leave areas that were being targeted. But, you know, Mary Louise, in the first couple of months of the war, we saw Israel still striking areas that told people to go to. So we don't know if any area is safe.
KELLY: And just what does it feel like where you are? What were you seeing? What were you hearing today?
BEARDSLEY: Well, today felt a lot more tense. You know, for days, we've been seeing these videos on television and on social media of these joyful reunions of families with the hostages and the prisoners who have been released. And today I heard booming in the sky over Tel Aviv. That was the Iron Dome air defense system kicking in to shoot down rockets. And it sounded like thunder. And I took a trip to the south today, and we saw smoke puffs in the sky where rockets were shot down. And there were several announcements on the car radio of incoming rockets. And just a few miles away in Gaza, NPR's longtime producer Anas Baba said, just as people were starting their day, Israel started bombing. He says he saw a house hit. Here he is.
ANAS BABA, BYLINE: The families that's neighboring the target house, most of them, they were just, like, screaming in the streets. And their faces are covered with dust, with a gray dust. They were screaming that we didn't know anything. We didn't understand what's happened.
KELLY: And, Eleanor, what are Israelis you're speaking with saying? What is their understanding of the situation?
BEARDSLEY: You know, here in Tel Aviv, you have many of the families of the hostages, and they gathered daily to demonstrate. And they are saying that the top priority should be getting all of the hostages out before the war continues. But I was in the southern city of Beersheba this afternoon, and people were much more resolute. This southern city is a place that has been consistently targeted by Hamas rockets over the years. And this is what 46-year-old Solomon Elhanov told me just outside of a shopping mall.
SOLOMON ELHANOV: (Non-English language spoken).
BEARDSLEY: He says, we have to finish this story because we've been suffering for many years, and this has to be the end of Hamas in Gaza. He said the time has come to deal with it once and for all. He said, we have one of the strongest armies in the world, and there's no other option.
KELLY: And, Eleanor, we have been tracking U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the region all week. He was just stepping on a plane to leave when this truce ended. Is that right?
BEARDSLEY: Absolutely. You know, the U.S. has been pushing both sides to extend the truce, but today the fighting started up again.
KELLY: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting today in Tel Aviv. Thank you.
BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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