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Updates On Unrest Between Israelis And Palestinians


The U.N. Security Council is going to meet later today on the conflict. Mediators, including from the U.S., are trying to end the hostilities. But late Saturday, in a televised address, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Israel is, quote, "still in the midst of this operation. It is still not over. And this operation will continue as long as necessary." For the latest now, we turn to someone who has covered this conflict for a very long time. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem. Welcome.

BEN WEDEMAN: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ben, the latest numbers are over 170 people killed in Gaza, including over 40 children and 10 killed in Israel, including two children. What is the situation right now?

WEDEMAN: Well, it was a very difficult night both for Gaza and for Israel. There was a so-called curfew - or rather, the curfew was lifted on Tel Aviv, according to Hamas. They stopped firing rockets on Tel Aviv from 10 p.m. to midnight last night. But as soon as that ended, there was a volley of rockets, including on Tel Aviv. And Israeli - the Israeli Air Force then had a wave of strikes on Gaza City itself. The precise numbers I don't have in front of me, but it was - looks like one of the highest death tolls so far. And, of course, today, Sunday, is not over yet. There was some streets that were severely damaged. And obviously, what we're seeing is that there's no letup. There's no pause in the growing intensity of the back and forth between Gaza. And, of course, as you mentioned, the tensions are spreading.

I was in al-Bireh, which is on the West Bank, right next to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, where there were confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. That was the second day of intense confrontations across the West Bank. And then, of course, there are the communal tensions - the communal violence within Israel itself. In addition to that, yesterday, there was a protest of mostly Palestinian refugees in Lebanon on the Lebanese-Israeli border. And in addition to that, there have been protests on the Jordanian-Israeli border - rather, the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. So it seems to be a collection of flashpoints the likes of which we have not seen here in many years.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to just bring one attack up. The Israeli military bombed the media building which housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera inside Gaza. They gave an hour warning, so journalists could evacuate. But Israel has come under a lot of criticism for that.

WEDEMAN: And rightly so. Keep in mind that Israel possesses the technology, if they believe, as they claim, that Hamas was using some of the offices or rooms in this 12-story building as either research and development units or military intelligence units - they - we - getting both of these claims from the Israelis - they have the technical ability to strike specific apartments. I've seen it going back to the summer of 2001. I was in Ramallah and watched as an Israeli Apache helicopter fired a rocket through a specific window in a building in Ramallah, targeting a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The rest of the building was unharmed. So why they feel compelled to bring down the entire building - this Jalaa tower in central Gaza City - I think is beyond the comprehension of many people who have covered this conflict for many years.

And also keep in mind, you know, the Associated Press is the premier American news agency. And Jazeera, of course, has also been covering Gaza since the founding of Jazeera some 15 years ago. They possess, between the two of them, an archive of events in Gaza that may well have been completely destroyed. And also in that building, it wasn't just the Associated Press. It wasn't just Al-Jazeera. There are people living there. So I - this is - I've been covering these Gaza-Israel wars going back many years. In fact, you know, I've covered four now in the last 12 years. And why they feel compelled to bring down entire buildings I think is rather difficult to understand at this point, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, the building's owner denied that there was any Hamas intelligence there. The AP has also said that, as well. And it is also true that no outside reporters are being allowed into Gaza, so this attack is doubly significant. In the few seconds we have left, I do want to ask you, Ben, because as you rightly say, you've covered this for a long time. You say that you haven't seen violence on this scale in many, many years. There has been some suggestion that because the violence has spread, we may be seeing a third intifada or uprising. What is your sense?

WEDEMAN: There is a tendency among those who follow this conflict to look at the events of the last few weeks and say, yes, we're on the brink of a third intifada. I'm hesitant to jump to that conclusion because many times people thought there was going to be a third intifada, and there wasn't. The fact of the matter is that, if you look at the - sort of the way Israel has designed its occupation in the West Bank, building the walls and these bypass roads, the possibility for direct confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli forces is severely limited. There are just a handful of places where that can happen. And therefore - I mean, the situation, obviously, for Palestinians is getting ever more dire in terms of simply their quality of life, the ability to make a life, have a future for your children. The frustration is there, but the possibility of sort of rising up is increasingly difficult.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Ben Wedeman on the ground in Jerusalem. And elsewhere in the program, we will look at the civil strife taking place within Israel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.