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Israel Fires Rockets at Office of Palestinian PM

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

NPR's Linda Gradstein is in Gaza City. Linda, it's been a week since the Palestinian militants crossed the border through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli outpost, killing two soldiers, taking one captive. What's known at this time about the condition of the captured Israeli soldier?

LINDA GRADSTEIN: Israeli intelligence officials say they believe that he is alive, that he was slightly wounded in the attack, and that he has been seen by a doctor and that he is in good condition. They believe that he is being held somewhere in southern Gaza, perhaps the Hanunis(ph) refugee camp. However, they do say they're still hoping that diplomacy will lead to the release of the soldier.

HANSEN: Can you describe the mood in Gaza today?

GRADSTEIN: But people definitely are concerned about whether there's going to be an expansion of the Israeli military strike and at least the people I spoke to so far today, many of them said that Hamas should release the soldier but should get something in return.

HANSEN: Linda, Israeli planes have attacked a school, some Hamas outposts, power plants, the Prime Minister's office, all in recent days, but the casualties have been relatively low. What have you been able to learn about the significance of the targets?

GRADSTEIN: Well, Israeli officials have said that the targets were chosen carefully, that they're meant to send a message to Hamas officials that Israel can strike wherever and whenever it wants. However, Israeli officials say they don't want large Palestinian casualties. Just two weeks ago, there was a series of Israeli air strikes in which more than a dozen Palestinian civilians were killed, and Israel says it wants to avoid that. They don't want to cause civilian casualties, and because of the public relations disaster that it caused.

HANSEN: And now the Israelis have been poised to launch a full-scale ground attack in Gaza for almost a week. What's holding them back?

GRADSTEIN: So Israeli officials say they're still hoping that there will be a diplomatic solution. The Egyptians are involved. Egyptians officials have talked to Syrian officials and asked them to pressure the Hamas military wing to try to release the soldier. And there are really conflicting reports about whether those negotiations are going anywhere.

HANSEN: NPR's Linda Gradstein in Gaza City. Linda, thanks a lot.

GRADSTEIN: Thank you, Liane. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.