Fighting Quickly Resumes As Cease-Fire Ends In Gaza

Jul 26, 2014
Originally published on July 29, 2014 5:19 am
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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Eric Westervelt in for Arun Rath. A 12-hour cease-fire held all day in Gaza. Diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged an extension. But before midnight, militants had resumed firing into Israel. During the truce, people in Gaza took advantage of the short-lived break. NPR's Emily Harris reports from Gaza City.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Today was a day of recovery in Gaza. People who had evacuated their homes under heavy shelling poured back into their neighborhoods to inspect damage and to get what they could.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken).

HARRIS: By midmorning, the Abughanima family had retrieved a bloodstained Quran and two bodies from the rubble of their flattened home. Young men crouched under a tilted slab of concrete, hoeing, shoveling and digging with bare hands to pull out a third body. Two of the dead are brothers of Muharawa Abughanima.

MUHARAWA ABUGHANIMA: (Foreign language spoken).

HARRIS: We came here after our own home was bombed, she said. This is my brother's home. Last Thursday, because of the shelling, they told us to leave and take the children. They said they'd follow, but they never came, she said. Gazan health officials say at least 100 bodies were recovered from rubble today. That pushed the total death toll so far over 1,000. The destruction in certain areas is vast. On some streets in this neighborhood, Shujaiyeh, east of Gaza City, row after row of buildings have been destroyed. It's the same story in Beit Hanoun on Gaza's far northern edge, where there has clearly been intense and close combat. Dead donkeys and camels are mixed in with the rubble. Israel says this ground operation is necessary to root out militant infrastructure and to stop rocket fire on Israel. In Beit Hanoun, Tagrid Azahni sits on the curb with three plastic bags next to her.

TAGRID AZAHNI: (Foreign language spoken).

HARRIS: I left when fighting got bad and just came back today, she said. I didn't find much in my house. It was all demolished and broken. I just got some clothes, she said. Azahni is among tens of thousands of displaced people in Gaza. But despite this loss of property and people, for some today was a day of reunification. Hazem Abu Raydeh kisses a family member hello. He's just walked in the door after three days in Israeli detention. Interrogators, he said, only had a few questions.

HAZEM ABU RAYDEH: (Through translator) They asked him about tenants, who's working with Hamas. He said we don't know anyone who's working with Hamas. We don't know anything about tenants. What we are looking is just to work and free our kids.

HARRIS: The Israeli military says it's detained at least 150 men. All but three dozen have been released. Even during today's pause in fighting, Israeli soldiers kept working to destroy tunnels in Gaza. Diplomats hope both sides eventually will agree to negotiate a long-term truce. Emily Harris, NPR News, Gaza. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.