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On the 4th day of the Israel-Hamas war, the view from the ground in Israel

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And our colleague Leila Fadel is among those civilians in Israel. In fact, she is the person who placed the call to the doctor in the hospital we just heard. And, Leila, what is it like to try to get an understanding of what is happening in Gaza right now?

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yeah, that's - it's difficult. I placed that call as I was traveling here. For journalists, there is no access. We can't get in to understand the bombardments that are going on. And so we depend on witness accounts like the one you heard, calling in, texting, statements from the health ministry, videos that are coming out because we can't see. And, of course, a reminder that this is a place that's often difficult to access because it has had a blockade for 16 years. But outside of times of conflict, journalists can access the area.

INSKEEP: Now, we know that hundreds of people already have been killed inside Gaza, but it's clear that Israel's response is only beginning here. What are the prospects for the days to come?

FADEL: So yeah, the defense minister announced a complete siege on Gaza saying, no electricity, no food and said, we're fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly. After an outcry over that language, the government did clarify that when he said human animals, he meant Hamas and not people living in Gaza. We heard the U.N. secretary-general, Guterres express concern, ask for hostilities to end and also warn that the bombardment is going to take a dire situation before the hostilities and only deteriorated. Half of the population is under 19. You know, most live under the poverty line.

INSKEEP: And I want to underline something here. The minister clarified his comments saying that when he said human animals, he meant Hamas fighters who targeted civilians, kidnapped civilians. Understand that. But when he also says they're cutting off food and water and electricity to Gaza, that's something that affects everyone, correct?

FADEL: That is to civilians. I mean, people will not have food, fuel or electricity. That is 2.2 million people who have no access to anything. And that is what is worrying the international community.

INSKEEP: And of course, the Israeli response comes after the attack on civilians by Hamas. What are you hearing on the side of the battle lines where you are inside Israel itself?

FADEL: I mean, I just came out of a very devastating interview with a man who can't find five members of his family. He was in a text chain with his family about - as militants raided their neighborhood near the border. And he was speaking to them. And slowly on that text chain, people became silent. They weren't answering anymore. And now five people are missing. And the only way he knows that at least one of the people, a young child, one of his cousin's children, was taken is because he found a video online of him being dragged away by militants saying that they were taking him to Gaza. And so he's devastated. He's scared. He wants his family members back. And they he thinks they're alive. There are hundreds that are not alive. There are people giving DNA so that some of the bodies can be identified. So the scale of the devastation has touched so many people here. And there is a lot of anger and rage. And there are people who want retaliation.

INSKEEP: The absence of knowledge, not knowing if your loved one is kidnapped and alive or dead, has got to be part of the - it's got to make this even worse.

FADEL: It's devastating. And in his home, we saw, you know, the day this all started, they were throwing a birthday party for their twins. And everything is still up, dishes in the sink because all they've been doing is trying to find their family members.

INSKEEP: NPR's Leila Fadel of MORNING EDITION is on the ground in Israel and will be in days to come. Leila, thanks very much for your work, for your team's work. And, all of you, please be safe.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.