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Voices from the Israel-Gaza Conflict : NPR


The death toll is rising in Israel and Gaza, as the Israeli military and Hamas militants battled for a second day.



SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

The updated death tolls from Israel and Gaza tell the story of just how widespread and how deadly this weekend’s attacks were. The surprise multipronged attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel have killed at least 700 people, according to reports in the Israeli media. Israel’s military says it’s continued to fight the militants on Israeli territory for a second day while also pounding Gaza with airstrikes.

(SOUND OF EXPLOSIONS)

DETROW: Palestinian officials say more than 400 people have been killed in Gaza so far. Thousands are injured as well in both Gaza and Israel. This latest burst of violence, shaping up to be the most serious in decades, began with an unprecedented wave of attacks by Hamas militants. The militants infiltrated several Israeli communities, using a variety of methods, including boats and paragliders. They fired on civilians and soldiers alike and engaged Israeli security forces in gun battles. They took hostages. All the while, militants also fired thousands of rockets from Gaza. Hospitals in Israel quickly filled with people injured in the attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Hebrew).

DETROW: NPR’s Daniel Estrin spoke with people anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones at one medical facility.

DANIELA ZEITUNI: So we’re here waiting.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Waiting for?

ZEITUNI: Information. Something.

DETROW: Daniela Zeituni (ph) is comforting her friend, Batsheva Aluz (ph), whose son is missing.

BATSHEVA ALUZ: (Speaking Hebrew).

DETROW: “He is alive,” the woman said about her son. Maybe they’re looking for him in the field. Bring me my son, she pleaded. Another man, Ilan Troen (ph), was mourning the loss of his daughter and son-in-law. He struggled for words to explain what had happened. He referenced the Shoah, the Holocaust.

ILAN TROEN: The world does not work in a straight formula. We know that from the Shoah. We know that from all kinds of life experiences. This is just another one to add to the long list of events that we just can’t understand.

DETROW: Israel’s response to these attacks was swift and also deadly. Israeli airstrikes rained down on Gaza. Thousands of people sought safety in crowded U.N. shelters. One man, Hassan Gabayan (ph), told NPR that most Gaza residents were struggling to make ends meet, even before this latest violence erupted.

HASSAN GABAYAN: (Through interpreter) We do not have the basic aid, like milk for the children, and no one will support us. We have no capability for this. Times are quite difficult.

DETROW: Still, he said, he supports the attacks by Hamas. One of his distant relatives, Baheera Gabayan (ph), agreed with him.

BAHEERA GABAYAN: (Through interpreter) I salute the resistance, and I am very proud of them. Until when are we supposed to live under occupation and siege? Either we live a life of dignity or we die.

DETROW: Those are voices from Gaza and Israel reacting to the events there over the past couple of days.

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