On Two Sides, Two Funerals — While Death Toll Mounts In Gaza

As the violence between Hamas and Israel continues, so too do the funerals that come in its wake. NPR correspondents Ari Shapiro and Emily Harris attended two such funerals today, in Tel Aviv and Gaza respectively, and they tell of what they learned there.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The conflict between Israel and Hamas claimed more lives today. Four Palestinian children between the ages of 9 and 11 were killed by an Israeli strike on a Gaza beach. The Palestinian death toll now stands at more than 220 with well over 1,500 wounded.

SIEGEL: Also today, Israel buried the first Israeli civilian to die in this conflict. He was killed yesterday. All of this comes just after Hamas rejected a cease-fire proposal from Egypt. NPR's Ari Shapiro joins us from Jerusalem with the latest. And Ari, yesterday you told us Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to expand and intensify Israel's attack on Gaza. What happened after that?

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Overnight Israel told nearly a hundred thousand people in Gaza to evacuate their homes by eight a.m. Those were people living in areas that might be on the frontlines of an Israeli ground invasion if that were to happen. The sun came up and day 10 of this onslaught began with Hamas sending dozens of rockets into Israel and the Israeli military sending airstrikes into Gaza, destroying many houses, some of which belong to senior Hamas leaders. The Israeli navy also struck a beach area which is where the four children who you mentioned were killed. The military says Israeli forces were attacking a target in the area, but they gave no further details about the incident.

SIEGEL: Ari where does diplomacy stand now? Is there another cease-fire option on the table after the rejection of the Egyptian proposal?

SHAPIRO: Not a long-term one that's been rolled out publicly, no. Israel says it has agreed to stop firing for six hours tomorrow in order to let the UN resupply its humanitarian aid for Palestinians. But Israel warned that it will respond if Hamas uses that window to attack. And as far as diplomacy goes, the official Egyptian news agency reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo with a top Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk. That could be a sign that the mainstream Palestinian group is trying to pressure Hamas to calm things down.

SIEGEL: All this week and last we've been hearing from you in Israel and from NPR's Emily Harris in Gaza. I understand that today the two of you had parallel experiences.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, that's right. We each attended a funeral. She went to the burial for those four boys in Gaza hours after they were killed, and I went to the funeral near Tel Aviv where Israelis buried the 37-year-old father who was killed yesterday. And the idea is not to compare tragedy or suffering, but we wanted to ask different people some of the same questions about how their personal loss is shaping their views of this conflict and how they see it all ending.

SIEGEL: And what did you hear?

SHAPIRO: Well, the funeral near Tel Aviv - I found that everybody said they want peace, but nobody knows how it can be accomplished. Among politicians, we've heard so many calls for revenge - very little of that expressed among the people at this funeral. Here is Dov-Bar Elan who is related to the man who died.

DOV-BAR ELAN: I don't think because we'll take revenge, and then they will take revenge and so on and so on and so on (unintelligible).

SHAPIRO: So even having just lost a member of the family, you...

ELAN: It was very, very sad. And it's also, today, very, very sad. But you have to keep on.

SIEGEL: So that was at today's funeral in Israel. What about the Palestinian funeral in Gaza where Emily was?

SHAPIRO: Well, this came just hours after these four children were killed, and Emily found the kind of raw emotion that you would expect to see in a situation like that. She spoke to Mohamed Bakr whose 12-year-old son, Ismael, was killed today, and Emily asked if he would like to see a cease-fire. Here's what he said.

MOHAMED BAKR: (Through translator) We don't want cease-fire. What cease-fire are you talking about? I want the cost of the blood - the price of my kid's - our kids' blood. Yesterday we wanted cease-fire - now, no.

SHAPIRO: So he's saying he might have supported the cease-fire before but no longer.

SIEGEL: OK Ari, thank you very much for that report.

SHAPIRO: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Ari Shapiro speaking to us from Jerusalem. He also had that sound from the funeral that Emily Harris attended in Gaza, and we'll hear more about those two funerals - the one in Israel and the one in the Gaza Strip - tomorrow on Morning Edition.

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