Updates From Israel And Gaza After The Cease-Fire
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
After 11 days of bombing and rocket fire in Israel and Gaza, the violence has stopped. Both sides are claiming victory. This is the sound of celebrations along the Gaza Strip last night after the cease-fire was called.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in non-English language).
MARTIN: Palestinian officials say more than 243 people were killed, 66 of them children. In Gaza, hundreds of buildings were also destroyed. Israeli authorities say Hamas rockets killed 12 people in Israel, including two children.
NPR's Daniel Estrin is reporting all this from Jerusalem and joins us now. Daniel, first off, is the cease-fire holding?
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: It is. The two sides are calling it quiet for quiet, which means both agree to stop firing. But if one side breaks a cease-fire, the other responds. And officials say that probably in a few days, there will be negotiations about the terms. Egypt called the cease-fire at 2 a.m. local time - that's when it was supposed to start. And then right at 2 a.m., Palestinians went into the streets in Gaza, celebrated, also in the West Bank, also at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Worshippers chanted and praised Hamas. And right away in Gaza, we saw thousands of people who had sought shelter in U.N. buildings load up their trucks and drive home. We have not seen celebration gatherings among Israelis. But many Israelis, you know, have been up at night in protected rooms, a lot of air raid sirens in the middle of the night. And finally, they could get a little bit more sleep.
MARTIN: Both sides are declaring victory here. I mean, they can say whatever they want. But what's the reality?
ESTRIN: Well, the reality is both sides are trying to sell this as a victory to their own people, who have suffered tremendously under the last of 11 days. In Gaza, Hamas held a rally in the middle of the night on the street where the most devastating Israeli strikes took place, where whole extended families were killed. A Hamas leader said, this is one of our biggest victories ever. Thank you, citizens. You are our swords for Jerusalem. Hamas is hoping it will regain popularity that it's lost in recent years. And many people really were cheering for Hamas. But my colleague in Gaza spoke to one man, Mahmoud Matar (ph), who had a different take. Let's listen.
MAHMOUD MATAR: (Non-English language spoken).
ESTRIN: He was saying, "I don't feel good at all." He was surveying the damage for the first time on that street. He said people invested their whole lives building up these homes that were wiped out in seconds. He was placing blame with everyone.
Now, just a word about Israel - the defense minister said Israel had unprecedented military achievements. He did not elaborate. And my colleague Becky Sullivan met an Israeli woman this morning, Sheila Bronner (ph), who was asking questions.
SHEILA BRONNER: I think it's bad for both sides 'cause it's going to be the same, like, in - next year or something, four years maximum.
MARTIN: So people are already anticipating more violence...
MARTIN: ...In the future. I mean, let's just talk about the situation on the ground in Gaza now. I mean, multiple buildings reduced to rubble, as you say, extended families killed - what kind of immediate needs do people there face?
ESTRIN: They face medical needs. We're talking about over 1,700 people wounded, according to Gaza officials; 1,800 homes and apartments totally destroyed; huge damage to sewage, roads, water pipelines, electricity, industrial facilities. And don't forget COVID. Their only testing lab stopped working. One of their top COVID doctors was killed.
MARTIN: So let's talk for a second about what that woman mentioned, this fear that this could just happen again and again. I mean, they fought for 50 days in 2014.
ESTRIN: That's right. The big question here is, will the mediators bring some kind of political solution? Until that, I don't think people on either side are going to see any future here for their children.
MARTIN: NPR's Daniel Estrin reporting from Jerusalem. Thank you.
ESTRIN: You're welcome.
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