STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. It may be no coincidence that the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas comes in time for the inauguration of President-elect Obama. Everybody knows a new American president can help or hurt their cause. Nobody wanted to force him to act on that crisis in his first day in office. Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire Saturday night. Then Hamas followed with its own, week-long cease-fire. In a moment, we'll hear what our correspondent finds inside Gaza. First, diplomats have some breathing room here. NPR's Anne Garrels has more from Jerusalem.
ANNE GARRELS: As the firing stopped, European and Arab leaders met in Egypt on Sunday. They pledged support for rebuilding Gaza, and called for an end to arms smuggling, a key Israeli demand. But the details of a coordinated, multinational effort to block weapons getting into Gaza have yet to be finalized. The leaders also called for the opening of Gaza's border crossings, a key Hamas demand. Six European leaders then went to Jerusalem for a brief meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He told them Israel was interested in leaving Gaza as quickly as possible. Martha Myers, country director for Care International in Gaza, says Israel must open up more than one border crossing to enable aid shipments to get in.
Ms. MARTHA MYERS (Country Director, Care International, Gaza): Estimates are that Keren Shalom at present can manage about 100 trucks a day, 150 trucks. The Gaza strip needs a minimum of 500 truckloads of material a day for its basic needs.
GARRELS: That doesn't begin to include material for reconstruction. Aid teams are only beginning to assess those needs, which they anticipate will be in the billions of dollars. Reactions in Israel to the cease-fire are mixed. Some, especially Israelis in the south, wanted Hamas wiped out. They're not satisfied; Hamas, while battered, can still launch rockets. They would have liked to see the offensive continue. While the offensive was on, an overwhelming majority of Israelis support it. Now, the debate begins on how it was conducted, and what was achieved. These debates are likely to intensify in the coming weeks as politicians resume campaigning for elections to be held in early February.
A. L. Meggid(ph), a commentator for Maariv, a right-of-center tabloid, writes: This war presumed to change the situation, but regrettably, he says, the situation will only change to the worse, to a situation filled with hatred, a poisoned situation. Israeli officials have repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but one case has drawn Israeli attention, raising questions the shelling of faceless individuals and U.N. schools or the U.N. compound could not.
(Soundbite of man crying)
This is the voice of Dr. al-Aish, a Palestinian doctor from Gaza talking on the phone with an Israeli TV journalist and friend. His three daughters have just been killed by an Israeli attack. Dr. al-Aish had been a fixture on Israeli TV during the war. He was sympathetic. He was a Palestinian who believed in co-existence. He was someone Israelis had come to know. He worked in Israel. He spoke fluent Hebrew. In the final days of the fighting, he became one of the victims. His case has led some commentators to begin to ask if there was an excessive use of force. Dr. al-Aish has been evacuated to an Israeli hospital, where a fourth daughter is being treated for injuries. He says he hopes his children's deaths are not in vain, that his family's tragedy will open the eyes and minds of Israelis to what has happened. He says there were no militants in his house. He wants an investigation.
Dr. EZZELDEEN ABU AL-AISH (Palestinian): I fully believe in the moral of the Israeli leaders. I count on their professionalism, that they are serious, and they have the courage to see the truth. They committed a mistake.
GARRELS: Unlike other instances where Israeli officials were quick to say Hamas was to blame, the Israeli military says it's still investigating this case. Anne Garrels, NPR News, Jerusalem. $00.00
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