Middle East

U.N. Security Council Urges Israel And Hamas To De-Escalate Conflict

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NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with reporter Daniel Estrin, who is covering the conflict in Israel and Gaza from Tel Aviv.


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Kelly McEvers in for Arun Rath. The United Nations Security Council today issued a statement, not a resolution, urging Israel and Hamas to de-escalate a conflict that's now in its fifth day. Rockets from Gaza continued to target Israeli cities and Israel is launching airstrikes against targets in Gaza. Health officials in Gaza say the number of people killed by Israeli attacks passed 130, with over 1,000 people wounded. We'll hear from NPR's Emily Harris in Gaza in a just moment. But first we're going to Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. And Daniel, how much pressure is Israel under right now to end these attacks?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: The international pressure is certainly growing. The U.N.'s Security Council statements today was the first time it has spoken out since the offensive began. It called for a cease-fire and for the resumption of peace talks. And the U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, also told the Israeli defense minister he was concerned about the risk of further escalation. And Britain's foreign minister spoke with his Israeli counterpart and said Israel had a right to defend itself from rockets but that quote "the whole world wanted to see de-escalation." And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel said yesterday that no international pressure would stop Israel from stopping rocket fire on Israelis.

MCEVERS: Of course, this rocket fire from Gaza continued to hit Israel today. But some also overshot and hit cities in the West Bank, where Palestinians live. What happened there?

ESTRIN: The Israeli army said a rocket hit a Palestinian house in Hebron, which is actually a city where many Hamas operatives live. Palestinians in Hebron, though, said that it landed in an open field. To other rockets landed near Bethlehem, though there are also conflicting reports there about whether it landed in a Palestinian area or in a - close to a nearby Jewish settlement. There are also Israeli air raid sirens that wailed in Ramallah and a rocket landed near a military checkpoint close to Ramallah. I spoke with NPR's Arabic translator, Nuha Musleh. She was at home near Ramallah, heard the sirens, heard a loud boom. And yesterday was the first time in this conflict in everyone's recent memory that a rocket landed in the Palestinian Authority area in the West Bank.

MCEVERS: Hamas was promising more rockets targeting Israel at 9 p.m. local time. What happened?

ESTRIN: Yes, Hamas' militant wing posted that threat on its website. Sure enough, a few minutes after 9 p.m., here in Tel Aviv, where I am, air raid sirens started to go off. I ran into a bomb shelter room in my friend's apartment, where I am right now. We heard a muffled boom and then a minute later air raid sirens again. And almost immediately, there were a few loud booms and the Israeli army said three rockets were intercepted above the Tel Aviv area. And in total, more than 65 rockets have landed in Israel today.

MCEVERS: Thanks so much, Daniel.

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